My core business is as a documentary wedding photographer but I also shoot, and greatly enjoy, ‘Day in the Life’ family sessions.
A ‘Day in the Life’ session is a photoshoot based on the same ethos as the way I shoot my weddings; 100% candid.
It’s critically important for me that my clients can look back at these day in the life images in 10, 20, 30 years’ time and remember the actual moments with their family. Moments that happened naturally, rather than ones that I, as the photographer, stage managed.
By using the very small and very silent Fujifilm X Series cameras I can really blend in as much as possible and just observe the family, photographing the moments that I think are important to photograph.
I don’t shoot thousands and thousands of images and hope that some are useable. Rather, using X Series features such as the electronic shutter and tilt screens I purposefully slow down, compose and shoot with the aim of not interfering with the moments that are occurring in front of me.
This part of my business began when I was approached by past wedding clients to shoot a family session “like you shoot our wedding”. Of course, I’m far from the only person to shoot family photography like this, and there is a growing demand for it.
Sometimes, I’m required to shoot extremely delicate situations like a birth. I don’t think it’s reasonable to shoot in environments like this without absolute attention to the professionals doing their job. Using the very light XF23mmF2 lens and the electronic shutter of the X-T2 enables me to shoot a whole session with the doctors and staff noticing me as little as possible.
When I’m approaching any kind of shoot where I think a story should be told, I’ll remember that I need to fulfil a few conditions.
If I’m struggling to coherently tell a story I will remember the five Ws:
A visual essay, like a book, also needs a start, middle and end and there are contextual linking images that can be used to make the story flow more coherently.
In the above full session, you can hopefully get a sense of the story just through visual imagery. There is no need for text or words and I’m hoping that the images do the story telling.
The longer I’ve been shooting, the more I realise how I can harness the natural light that surrounds us when shooting.
It’s not always possible of course, but in a vast majority of cases, I find using spot metering when shooting can make the difference between fighting the light and working with the light.
I think ultimately, for all of us, we want our images to evoke emotions. We want people to look at the pictures and smile. A picture that makes somebody smile is the benchmark that I shoot by these days. It’s not necessarily about perfect light, or perfect composition. It’s about humanity.
The absolute best thing about this style of photography is that anybody can do it. You don’t need a wedding, you don’t need a studio, you don’t even need a flash system.
All you need is one Fujifilm camera and lens, or even an X100F, and your own family.
I have a personal mission to photograph my own family and friends whoever possible. It’s a wonderful way to get into the zone and practice shooting reportage.
In the Kit Bag
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