Don't lie, most of us are guilty of not bothering to pick up our camera and photograph what's close to our hearts and homes. But why should we push ourselves to do it more, even if there's no immediate reward (or is there?)?
If you're earning money with your photography, it's likely that you will do a few personal projects here and there, but almost completely avoid picking up your camera when it comes to events or days that you spend with your family. In fact, it's probably more likely that you will snap something that's passable on Instagram but it will be deleted and forgotten in just a few weeks. So, why should we start photographing our family life more when we're already buried under a million and one photography related tasks that need doing for our businesses?
You may roll your eyes in embarrassment as your parents pull out the family photo album for the hundredth time to look through your baby years, and how you grew up to be the person that you are today. But, I'm sure that you'll admit you'd upset if all your family photos were to be gone one day. What if your children were never to have any of that when they grow up? Sure, you're probably taking quick snaps of them on your mobile phone, but what happens when eventually you delete the shots off your phone? What if the phone gets stolen or the memory card corrupts or breaks?
We would aim to deliver a good product to our clients, so why not do the same with your children? Making sure they have nice, coherent, and good quality photographic evidence of their childhood will also make you think more about putting the work together and printing it. Don't let your business take over your passion for photography when you could also be implementing that in your personal life to create long-lasting photographic heirloom for your family that will be handed down in years to come.
Mind you, not all families are the same. And, sometimes we end up creating family units that are not bound by blood, but at the end of the day whether it's just one person or twenty that make up your family, why don't you get them involved in creating photographic social history of your family? Just because you're a photographer doesn't mean you should be excluded from featuring in the photographs. If you have children, it could become a ritual of documenting certain times of the year or events by teaching them basic photography skills. Or, if you put some time aside to teach that to your partner, it'll give them more confidence to take the camera off you for once and document who you are and what you do.
Stiff posed group shots of your family may work for some, but think about the little things in a big scheme instead. Wouldn't you love to have memories of your children playing and being themselves; they may perhaps be doing their homework or your mum may be cooking her signature dish, or maybe your partner working on their hobby. It's these little things that describe your family members more so than false smiles while they stand in a line waiting impatiently for you to press the shutter. When was the last time you enjoyed being told to stand up and smile at the camera? You won't remember what you were thinking in that moment because you were being posed, however, you will associate certain things or thoughts when looking at candids of yourself.
Concentrating on a more documentary approach to recording your family's life will make you more focused on what you're looking for in an image when you're shooting and it won't be as intimidating for the people involved, especially if you're not using a large camera body and a telephoto lens. Choose something that's quite compact to use and yet still delivers what you're looking for.
Have you already been putting time aside to document your family?