When people first get a digital camera (and I was no exception) they take lots of photos in the hope of getting a couple of good ones. The power of digital photography is that this doesn’t cost you anything but the time it takes to look through and extract the good ones.
I still take lots of photos. When I take a photograph now though I first think carefully about the light and then how I want to compose the image. This is a good start but for me the most important element of my photographs is that the moment is real. By that I mean that I want to capture a real moment of fun and interaction between my subjects.
These photos of my own children with my mother illustrate this. I love the motion and energy of my daughter swinging and I knew that I wanted to use the lines of the swing frame and the lines of the swing in my composition.
The fact that my two eldest can be seen playing the background tells part of our family story at the present time, as at the moment it often happens that my two boys play together while my daughter demands the adult’s attention.
With this image I knew I could control when I would take the photograph in terms of the position of Beth’s swing but I did not want to control the other elements in the image. I could have called to my family to get their attention and sometimes I do take this approach. This would have given me a greater chance of capturing the groupings but my family's interaction with each other would have been lost.
So my approach was to set my camera to burst mode (this tells the camera to take a number of photos in quick succession when the shutter button is depressed) and when Beth’s swing reached the place I wanted it I took my photographs. I repeated this a few times until the moment had passed. As you can see from the example above, in some images while Beth's swing was in a good position, the boys were obscured.
The photograph above is my favourite for both compositional and emotional reasons. I love it because the diagonal lines created by the swing frame emphasise the energy in the photo. I like that Beth's motion brings our eye towards my mum’s outstretched hands and that the way Beth is looking also does this. In addition I like that Beth’s feet are almost but not quite touching my mum’s hands. This ‘nearly there’ point adds interest to the photo, for me at least. I also love that the boys are playing in the background. I think the rough play broke out a minute after this photo! The colours add to this image for me too, even the grass stains!
The reason I will keep this image though is because it tells a story of this time in my family’s life and that for me is the most important part.
So don’t be afraid to take lots of photos and to use the power of your digital camera’s burst mode but know that the more you learn about the technical aspects of photography the better chance you have of all the elements coming together in an image.