2011 Reflections: Working With Human Subjects is Really Difficult….

Posted on December 31, 2011

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Happy Holidays everyone!

As we approach the new year I thought I’d do a series of blog posts looking back at 2011 and some of the valuable photography lessons and tips I learned over the year.  With it only being about 2 years since I finally gave into the DSLR from my film SLR, I find that every time I take out my camera I learn something new.

My most recent lesson is… that working with human subjects is really quite difficult!

Back in college I had the opportunity to photograph a wedding.  I had a color film camera and did not have an opportunity to look at where I would be taking photos ahead of time – not that it mattered since I didn’t have the proper equipment anyway.  My ceremony photos were dark and grainy because I didn’t have a strong enough flash.  My posed photos were much better and in the end I was quite proud of them, but there was plenty room for improvement.  At the reception I didn’t know what should be photographed or how long to stay and again had grainy, dark photos.  After this experience I figured I would stick to what I did best – at that time industrial photography.  Since then, my interaction with human subjects has been very limited.  If you take a look at my website you will see that none of my photography includes people.

This year I did two photo shoots involving people.  The first was an outdoor shoot with a good friend of mine.  I had already met her family numerous times and I was very familiar with the park we were shooting at.  What I was not familiar with was a 3 year old and 11/2 year old twins running around that park not giving me any mind with my camera.  While this made for some truly beautiful and candid shots, it also made for some struggles getting those children to stand/sit/just be still for more than 5 seconds.  After this shoot I could barely walk from all the crouching and kneeling I did that day.  Basically I not only realized how difficult it is to keep track of children, especially in open spaces to photograph them, but that I am somewhat out of shape.

Then, last week, I was afforded the opportunity to do a four generation shoot.  Now I was working with adults (and a very small baby). I figured this would be much easier since they would listen to verbal instruction.  Not the case!  One thing I learned from this shoot…. it’s hard to get 3 grown men to look forward and SMILE at the same time.

In the end these were excellent learning opportunities and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.  The people who commissioned the photos seemed pleased with them and ultimately that is my goal – to bring joy to people through my photography.  It helped me realize however how much work I have left to do and how very much there is to learn.

Thanks for reading…. stay tuned for more reflections on the year…

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