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words + photos : tuesday

I am not a professional photographer. I just like taking photos. I like documenting my life's experience with photos that reflect the emotions and the relationships and that celebrate everyday life. When I create scrapbook pages I am striving for a complementary balance between words + photos. They are equally important to me in the process.

Today I want you to think about the way in which you take, and deal with, your photos - your own personal process.


  • Do you "see" stories through the lens of your camera?

  • What parts of picture-taking are you struggling with?

  • What parts are you trying to make perfect when in reality everything you are doing is just fine?

  • What, if anything, do you want to learn about photography?

  • In what ways could you simplify your photo-taking, photo-organizing, or working with photos?


Takingphotos

My personal photo basics:


  1. I use a Canon Digital Rebel.

  2. My everyday lens is a Canon 28-105 (recommended by Tara who is super smart). I also have a Canon 50mm 1.4 (I used to have the 1.8 which was great until it died + I upgraded).

  3. Handing Chris the camera and letting him go for it is one of the best things I have ever done. One of the results has been that I actually show up in our collection of photos. I am a part of the story too.

  4. Going in with my brother and sister a couple years back to buy my parents a Digital Rebel was also really great in that they supply me with lots + lots of photos.

  5. We all shoot in automatic. My preference is the "running man" or action setting.

  6. Taking photos is a part of my lifestyle. The camera is kept out in our house. Sometimes Chris grabs it, sometimes I do, and Simon is becoming a fan as well. I don't take it with me everywhere I go, but often enough to capture some pretty cool moments.

  7. I use Photoshop CS3 to resize, adjust, add text to my photos.


Simonbench

What do I think about when taking photos?


  1. I look for emotion. I look for life. I look for connections between people, places, and things. I look for things that will support stories I currently want to tell and others that will spur me on to telling new ones.

  2. I take a ton of photos and then a ton more. I am not overwhelmed by them because I am ruthless in winnowing them down to the best five or less in a series of shots on the same subject. I don't need 50 photos of Simon playing Star Wars because it is entirely possible that I will take 50 more shots tomorrow. Read more about being ruthless below.

  3. I am conscious of light (the lack of or the excess amounts) but will take the shot even if it doesn't seem like it will come out because interesting "accidents" occur all the time.

  4. I am conscious of wanting to "be in the moment" as well as "capture the moment."

  5. I like photographing objects in my environment. I also like the way things connect with one another - the place where the sidewalk meets the grass, etc. Today I will be heading over to our local farmer's market for my first time this spring and plan to take a bunch of photos.

  6. I am often thinking of the story I may be able to tell with these photos as I am taking them. This often leads me to take different photos than I may have anticipated in the beginning as I allow myself to follow the story.

  7. I move around with the camera. I get close and I move father away. I will walk to one side and then another. Moving around makes it more likely that I will get a shot that will speak to me emotionally.

  8. I am completely happy to not have my subjects looking at the camera. I don't always need to have them looking straight into the camera to tell a story. My goal is not to invade the environment with my camera but rather to blend right in in the most unobtrusive way possible.


Iphotosample

[ iPhoto program ]

How do I deal with my photos?


  1. I use iPhoto for my photo management. Files are labeled with names (for example: Simon On Bike) and I have an external hard drive to archive/backup my photos. I do this at least once a month.

  2. Sometimes I print my photos here at home on my HP Photosmart D7360 or upload and print from either Shutterfly or scrapbookpictures.com. In general I tend to print at home for the ease of making adjustments as I am creating my projects. When I work on bigger projects (such as a book) I tend to upload photos and have them all printed and work with what comes back. I am currently storing my printed photos in 4x6 card drawers (unorganized as of today) per Stacy Julian's system (Photo Freedom). As you can tell, I don't follow it exactly. I take the parts that work for me and run with them.

  3. My older photos (such as the ones of me as a child) are scanned in at 300 dpi and often enlarged. I do as little adjustments to those photos as possible. I love that many of them are off color or grainy. They are authentic representations of the original photos. If I do anything at all I may lighten them up just a bit (using levels or curves).

  4. One of the things I do most often with my photos is crop them in iPhoto or Photoshop, or with my square punch after printing. I often crop with my focal point either to the left or right of center.

  5. I am ruthless when it comes to deleting my photos. As I mentioned above, I don't need more than five (and probably less than three) from a similar series of shots. I simply delete, delete, delete. It makes for a cleaner folder of photos, less to choose from when I create a page (which can be a good thing), and I think I learn a bit about my self as a photo-taker in the process. Obviously this whole process of deleting depends upon the event and the story you plan to tell.


Thetie

[ look for a layout using this photo later this week: notice how it tells a story even without words ]

How do I choose which photos to use?


  1. I look for photos that will complete my story.

  2. If I am going to use more than one photo for my story I often look for contrast between the images: some up close + some far away.

  3. I love enlargements. When choosing photos for a layout that I know will include a bunch of photos I tend to choose at least one to enlarge. I like the resulting contrast in size and the impact that an enlargement can make on the overall feel of the page. Think about the layout with the boots from yesterday's post - I could have enlarged any of those to use for the focal point but I chose the boots. The boots told a story in and of themselves.

  4. There's really no right or wrong in deciding which photo(s) to use. Just pick one/some and go for it. Stop worrying about whether it is the "right" photo for your story.


Wonderfulboys_low

[ 12 x 12 photo enlargement on the left : from Life Artist ]

My favorite things to do with photos on a layout:


  1. Enlarge. I especially love enlarging to 12x12 and using the photo as one whole page in a spread.

  2. Add type directly onto the photo in Photoshop.

  3. Create photo gatherings where a bunch of photos are grouped together without spaces in between (this can be done by hand or in Photoshop).


123play

[ photo gathering : from A Designer's Eye for Scrapbooking ]

Things to think about:


  1. Stop messing with your photos. One of the cool things about the day + age we live in is the advances in digital photography. I know I take a TON more photos than I ever did with film - I am definitely capturing more moments. But what I have found in chatting with people during classes is that people spend way too much time messing with their photos trying to achieve the perfect lighting, perfect color, etc. In many ways it can become another distraction from getting your stories told.

  2. If you can, turn off your flash. I rarely, if ever, use the flash on my camera (this is more challenging to do with a point + shoot vs. a SLR)

  3. Decide how much you want to learn about photography and go for it. One book I love to reference from time to time is called Seeing Creatively: Design, Color & Composition in Photography.

  4. I think I often "see" in stories. The next time you are taking photos, see what sorts of stories you can "see" while shooting. This is just another reason I like to carry a small notebook.

  5. Many of my most favorite photos have come from our everyday life. Don't feel like it has to be a special occasion to pull out your camera and capture life.


Dottedline

[ The full words + photos series can be found here: monday, tuesday, wednesday, thursday, friday. ]

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61 thoughts

  1. Ida says…
    05/06/2008

    Thanks for sharing Ali. You have no idea how's you;re inspire me everyday! xoxo Ida

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Tracey Mc. says…
    05/06/2008

    This is SO VERY AWESOME!!!!
    You're answering questions I've been pondering. For me the pics are the most important. Thank you for letting us know how you do it - what your focus is.

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Jenny A. says…
    05/06/2008

    I am LOVING all of this! Thanks for all the inspiration.

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Barb says…
    05/06/2008

    Aeeeeeeeee! This is so perfect. Thank you for your insight into photographing everyday life. I do a few of these things, but I find I need to remind myself to do more. I bought a small Canon Elph to carry around in my purse, to capture the everyday moments even when I don't have my big Rebel XTi with me.
    I'm loving your designs. My goal in the coming weeks will be to select, print and scrap some multi-photo LOs with cardstock, pen, adhesive, one alpha and one or two decorative products. Thanks for the inspiration, Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Sharyn (Torm) says…
    05/06/2008

    oooh, excellent post - I'm saving the bulk of it for my coffee break

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Kim Garner says…
    05/06/2008

    I am excited to look at my past photos and my photography from this day forward as a way of telling the story of my life and the life of my family. Thank you for this week of education and inspiration. I can't wait for Wednesday.

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Martha says…
    05/06/2008

    THANK YOU ~ this will help me so much! I take TERRIBLE pictures - I have to rely on other peoples phots - I love to use my pictures in altered art projects - I do few layouts because of a limited supply of pictures. It is one of my goals to be a better photographer!!
    :) Mart

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Molly says…
    05/06/2008

    fun post. fun series ... so very valuable. It is all article-worthy.
    I love enlargements too.

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Cass says…
    05/06/2008

    Thanks so much for the tips. So many great ideas/thoughts in there, especially your comment about deleting the excess photos. I have a bad habit of keeping too many of the same moment.

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Michele Attaway says…
    05/06/2008

    Ali - thank you - you rock! Are you still doing the photo workshop in the Bay area this August?

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. amanda says…
    05/06/2008

    wow, these are some great tips, Ali - I'm nodding my head in agreement! Shoot lots, delete lots, and don't fuss about too much with editing, 'perfecting' the shot when it's done.
    Enjoy your Tuesday! xoxo

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Melissa Blair says…
    05/06/2008

    this is beyond wonderful ali! thank you for all the work it took to write this. i can't wait to see more!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Joanne says…
    05/06/2008

    I'm loving this series Ali!!! Thanks so much for reminding me what is important.

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Lesley says…
    05/06/2008

    My question is this...what brand/type of scanner do you have? I have an HP multi function and the scans are kind of pixelated and I don't like it. They look washed out and no amount of increasing the resolution or modifying settings has helped. I'm probably going to buy a new scanner but wanted to hear from someone who scans a great deal what they prefer or look for.

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Miranda says…
    05/06/2008

    Wow!!! Thank you so much for sharing all of this. As someone who is still getting started with photography/editing/layouts, this is SUCH helpful information.
    You are so inspiring :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Debby Schuh says…
    05/06/2008

    I love the opportunity that you're giving us to crawl into your brain and see how you think about this process. You are so generous with your thoughts and I really appreciate it.

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. jennifer says…
    05/06/2008

    I am really enjoying this series. I think I tend to fall into that trap of spending too much time messing with my photos. I've been working on the deleting part too (digital photos) and am SLOWLY getting better. Still working on this b/c I definitely don't want to be buried under a gazillion photos. Over the last year I have begun to simplify my layouts and doing this digitally has made it easier for me to include my photos and type my text right then and there. I used to always leave the journaling until last and well, you know what happens...great insight and looking forward to the rest of the week. Very cool!

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Angi Smith says…
    05/06/2008

    Wow! That's an awesome photo of Chris and Simon with the ties. How many of us with sons have seen this very thing and failed to get a picture?!

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. sarah says…
    05/06/2008

    Thank you thank you thank you! This is so great. You've answered many of the things I've wondered about in the last couple years. One other question. What resolution setting on your camera works best for you? Since you do so many enlargements...Thanks again and I can't wait to see some more of your useful information. Sarah

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Karen Firstbrook says…
    05/06/2008

    OK, so if you shoot in Automatic . . . how do you turn off your flash? Doesn't it automatically pop up in low-light situations when you are in an Automatic mode?
    And, thanks for this series . . . I'm looking forward to all I will glean and learn!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Helene says…
    05/06/2008

    hello, this is HELPFUL information, and if I do some of these things, taking photos is often a problem for me ( I always have a small digital camera in my bag, as well as a notebook) I'm never satisfied with my pics !LOL !looking forward to next !

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Bree says…
    05/06/2008

    This is fantastic information Ali. I am so grateful that you take the time to share your expertise with us -- for free ;-) Your experience and time are valuable and I appreciate it all!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Mary says…
    05/06/2008

    so much to think about...
    mary

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Georgina Carvallo says…
    05/06/2008

    This was as a photography lesson to me, thank you Ali! Last sunday my mother in law was taking a look to all my daughter's pictures, and I told her that those photos ment "just beautiful photos of my daughter" to her... but to me, those photos mean different stories about my daughter's life, and as I watched everyone I was remembering every little special moment. Thank you for sharing this with us!
    Regards from México!

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Alana M says…
    05/06/2008

    CUTE! I'm doing a LO of the father tying the tie on the son as well. I love my photo too!

    Reply 0 Replies

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