Hello, my name is Rick, and I’m an amateur photographer. I don’t really have aspirations to become a professional, but I do enjoy expanding my skills through practice, reading, and feedback. I tend to be the person at family events holding a camera, trying to not be noticed as I grab candid shots of people in conversation, and kids frolicking about.
Yesterday we had a family picnic after the interment and memorial services for the family matriarch, Lillian. Including myself, there were 45 people, including 10 kids. For a photographer of my skills an interests, this was a target rich environment. These are some of my thoughts on the event and the pictures I took.
The 35 adults came from a number of different family and friend groups–not all were descendants (nor married to descendants) of Lillian. As such, there were a number of interesting conversation groups as people got to know each other. I really enjoy trying to capture these moments of natural conversation. There are several more in the set.
There were also a number of conversations among well established friends and relatives. It’s sometimes hard to find something new to photograph in these situations, since I’ve seen many of them before. I’m very pleased to have captured this moment between Theo and Van. Both normally pose in their own goofy ways when they notice the camera. I guess the camera has finally largely become a part of my face, so they either didn’t notice, or didn’t care.
We generally try to get a group picture when lots of family gathers. This group was bigger than normal, so I was skeptical that we’d be able to get a decent shot in our usual location on the deck. I originally had cloudy sunlight to the back of the camera, which made for diffuse lighting, and I figured it would be nice to be framed in by the trees. Then the sun came out, and the group was larger than anticipated. So, alas, the left of the group was in shade, while the right side was in sun. I was able to adjust it a bit in GIMP to make it less dramatic a difference. I decided that was better than trying to reset everyone in a different location. The other major learning part of this for me is to be patient–we normally do this group shot as an after-thought just as people are trying to leave and kids are wearing out. This time it was still early, and I had plenty of time to arrange folks had I chosen to do so. I did a small amount of that, but I still felt rushed to get the shots taken. Next time I’ll try to pose folks a little bit more so that it looks a bit cleaner and less…well…noisy.
After the full group shot, a number of folks asked me to take some smaller family shots. This was one of the greatest compliments I could have received yesterday. Its not just that they wanted someone to take a picture of them–they wanted me to do it. That’s high praise in deed, so I really wanted to live up to their expectations. As a result, I tried some slightly unique shots, like the one above, taken from a second floor bedroom, or taken from the ground in front of the group. Unfortunately, I had a couple of poorly composed family shots: one where the location of the people in the shot throw it severely off balance, and another where a child is obscured behind plants. I think my greatest sin here was a lack of patience. Had I taken a chance to review the shot (before or after) I would have caught these problems. I would say “lesson learned” but patience (or lack thereof) has been a lifelong shortcoming for me. As a result, I may never be a good portrait photographer, whereas my candids probably will excel because I’m usually ready to take a shot immediately.
Then there’s my favorite accomplishment of the day. Erika and I had been talking for several minutes, and the low sun came out from behind the clouds, lighting her with a warm glow. I also thought there was an interesting moment on the deck behind her, and pulled out my camera, exclaiming “Don’t worry, I’m not shooting you. I’m getting them…” I took one shot of her back ground that didn’t turn out. I changed focus mode and took this shot of her, relaxing in the glow of the sun.
This shot, for me, really captures the possibilities of these family events–beautiful weather, time to relax, or play, or enjoy conversation with family and friends.