As a photographer, there are times when taking pictures provides a great personal reward.
Capturing images on a family outing where everyone is having fun is just one of those times.
The pure joy that comes through in the pictures, makes you happy when you look back upon
those images; truly capturing memories and the moments in our lives.
Recently, our area was blanketed with a several inches of snow, which is a fairly rare occasion.
It provided an opportunity to get out and enjoy a family sledding day. Photographing the kids
in action, led to some great shots and I would like to share some tips for capturing moments
such as these. And while this outing was a day in the snow, the tips are applicable to capturing
family fun any day of the year.
Get close to the action. On this day, that meant getting at bottom of the hill to catch the action
shots as the kids came sledding down the slope. In several instances that led to capturing the
kids totally airborne on their sled. And oh... the joy on their faces!
To ensure you catch the right moments, pan with action following the subjects in your
viewfinder and shoot, shoot, shoot! Also choose a high shutter speed if your camera provides
you that option. If your camera is totally automatic and provides a choice for a type of scene,
try a setting for sports or action shots.
Check your images, early. Nothing is more disappointing than to look at all of your pictures
after an outing, only to discover something went terribly wrong with the exposure or shutter
speed. In challenging situations, it is especially important to check your images you have taken
early in the day. Snow and beach scenes can sometimes cause your camera to over
compensate. Many automatic cameras also have settings for snow, so give that a try. Take a
moment to take some test shots or check your first few images and adjust your settings if
Take lots of pictures. When your subjects are in fast action, take lots of pictures. Again if your
camera provides an option, set it to a rapid fire mode. With today’s digital cameras it is so easy
to take lots of pictures and then edit and keep just the great shots later. While the action is
going, taking several images in a series may just capture that one ‘great’ shot.
Capture the quiet moments too. In addition to action shots on a day like this, there are also
lots of opportunity to capture the quieter moments. This may be kids making snow angels,
resting in between sledding runs or enjoying a cup of hot cocoa when the day is done. Kids
having fun, have a way of expressing the joy of the day in their facial expressions, even when
they are not careening down a hill.
Tell a story. In addition to capturing single shots of the activity, look for opportunities to take
series of images that tell a story. For example, in this outing my son-in-law Wayne made sure
that our granddaughter, Sage could enjoy the sledding action as well. He made sure she was
safe by sledding with her and then trudged up the hill with her in tow on the sled. I am sure
someday, Sage will look back fondly at this father-daughter experience and the pictures will
help to preserve that memory.
Mind your manners. After the day is done, it is great to share the pictures. And as popular as it
is to share photos on social media, it seems far too common to see examples where individuals
have forgotten some simple rules of etiquette. Be kind when posting to social media and
make sure the pictures you post of individuals show them in a good way and you are thoughtful
of the impact on others. If a picture is a little too humorous or questionable of whether that
person would like the image posted for the world to see... simply ask them first before posting.
Also, if you post images of a group day make sure everyone is included in the posts. Do not
post a series of pictures where only one or two of the individuals are left out. If you simply
forgot to take pictures of every person, select just a few pictures to post on social media so it
does not appear exclusionary. It is always fun to share our images with the world, but just
remember to be considerate of others when doing so.
Remember to join the fun. Lastly, remember to put the camera down at some point and join in
on the fun. It is far too easy as a photographer to forget to do this. The pictures I have taken
over the years of our family life are some of my most treasured possessions. But over the
years, I have realized many times that I am the invisible participant in some of our family
events, since I was behind the camera. Capturing the moments in our lives with photography is
rewarding, but experiencing those moments ourselves is even more fulfilling.
***For more from Sarah, visit Schroder Photo Works on Facebook!***