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Waiting for the Story

Lesson 11 from: Family Photography: Photojournalism in the Home

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

11. Waiting for the Story

Next Lesson: Working the Scene

Lesson Info

Waiting for the Story

This is gonna be they've gone to make themselves breakfast or they're waiting for breakfast. And I had the twins at the table and I have an idea for a photo but it does pan out eventually when I go through but at the time I was disappointed, so I'll show you. I'll talk you through it. Okay so remember I talked about now I notice, verbiage text in my photo? Okay so I have Good Vibes Only and Yeah. So I wanna work with that. Now ideally I want something, the total opposite of good vibes. I want kids melting down under those words. And what I say is usually with text, it has to be, they're actually doing what it says or the total opposite. Anything in between is not gonna read well so you need juxtaposition or you need the mirroring of the words. And I just stick with this composition for a while. I can't get rid of that stupid light because if I do it's gonna cut the frames off and it's not gonna visually be good so I have to keep that stupid light in there and deal with it later. You'll...

see that eventually I just decide to take the words out altogether but I'm kinda working this. I need her to scream or cry. I was telling the producers while this is happening, this is what I'm waiting for. I just want her to have a meltdown. No one is instructing her and this point I'm not talking to her. Because I want her to naturally do what she's going to do. An awesome shot is if she's crying hysterically. Because it's the contradiction in Good Vibes Only and Yeah, and she would be in the middle. See? It never happens. After like 6:00 o'clock. Right after dinner. Oh yeah. I say I know that I can try and do this again 'cause they always eat there, so I squirrel it away like a squirrel that stores their nuts and doesn't eat them right away. I'm squirreling away this idea. Okay now the twins are together and I'm thinking okay, maybe now they both can be involved in this picture. (camera shuttering) No my (mumbles). I really want them to fight. Look at her. So I know that I'm getting close to this. But what I really need is, there we go. I need them both to be (chuckles). I think that's the shot I, I end up with that. (chuckling) (camera shuttering) I'm also not power (mumbles) them. I'm not like (shrills). I'm not making a start motion animation of this situation. I'm selectively shooting moments. Little moments and then giving myself a break. (camera shuttering) But I'm not giving up on this composition. That it might maybe she'll crawl on the table. When you're visual watching this not shooting it, you're all laughing and finding humor in it. What I want you to do, is see that while you're in the moment. 'Cause that's what I am. I am like laughing while these things are happening. But I find that with my students they get so nervous that they miss all that. They're not like taking it in. So now I've abandoned that composition and now I'm just shooting the two girls. (camera shuttering) If you also notice they're not really like engaging with me. They're not looking at me really. They're kind of just doing their own thing. I'm shooting at 2/8 so that's why, and I have to because of the light. That's why right now Gweny is out of focus. 'Cause they're not on the same focal plane and I'm not far enough away to increase that focal plane at 2/8. But I can't be any further away 'cause I don't want all the junk underneath of the table. (camera shuttering) Not giving up on this but I need something to happen with Gwen. She needs to also be doing something on her own or it's not going to work. Her just sitting there is not a picture. When you have multiple subjects in your frame, they both have to be doing something interesting. For it to work. (chuckling) (camera shuttering) So I've gone closer and lower so now I'm able to remove the chandelier. And I'm not shooting in front of their way. (camera shuttering) Also notice I'm really relaxed. I'm sitting. I'm at their eye level. But still working this idea. (camera shuttering) (laughing) (camera shuttering) (laughing) And I'm laughing. (laughing) (camera shuttering) (laughing) But now they're doing this just for me and I'm like oh maybe a foot. Just one foot out. (camera shuttering) Mommy is in the shower. She is almost done. Can I go to mommy? Yes she is in the shower. It's just me and the girls right now. (foot pitter-pattering) There she goes. Mom is gonna know privacy, right? (camera shuttering) I'm shooting from far away. I told you, there she was. Nothing happened but by shooting far away and showing the whole room. Listen you little monkey. If she had been pulling on her mom, it would have emphasized the fact that mom wanted privacy and she is now interfered by showing the rest of the house. See, I'm working this again. (camera shuttering) (foot pitter-pattering) (chuckling) I'm watching. I'm not doing the trick now, I'm watching to see what is gonna manifest. Where do I need to go for my next photo. And right now there is non. And so I'm just watching the behavior. I believe if they start playing with the tab. Again I'm far way so I'm doing what's called the voyeur perspective. I'm like picking in. So I'm waiting for them to kind of do something naughty in the tab. By themselves. (camera shuttering) Them looking at me is not gonna work. (camera shuttering) (kid laughing) You silly, (laughing). What are you doing Gwen? And the thing is not every scene, I'm gonna make a good picture of. And that's okay with me. Like I don't care. If I don't get the shot, I don't get the shot. It's not a big deal. (camera shuttering) I'm gonna work it. I need her to fall, pull the shower curtain, something. (camera shuttering) None of that is interesting. (Gwen laughing) So it won't end up in my slide show. Did you get in and out of shower? Yeah. Yeah. It's my ring. (door slamming) Oh! (laughing) (camera shuttering) Okay. So now we have two different things, happening at the same time. And so I need to decide, I'm I gonna focus on one thing or the other. I'm I gonna try and include, both happenings at the same time. Again nothing exciting at this point is happening. I think Adelaide is gonna be the instigator, when they're older, yeah. (mumbles) totally. Right? (chuckles). (laughing) That's Adelaide in the back. Yes, yeah. I think she is gonna be the one of the two, of these two. She would be the one like, no we should just take the car mom will never know. (laughing) That's right. Could be in a (mumbles). Okay so I see her making this ridiculously angry face. So I wanna focus on that but make it more interesting. By adding her sister to it. So I'm using her sister. Gweny is the layer. Cleaning it up as best I can. (camera shuttering) (laughing) Chocolate cake. What? Chocolate cake? It looks like a doughnut. No cake. No chocolate. Chocolate doughnut? Chocolate or doughnut. Yeah or a doughnut Oh it looks like a whole candy land. (Gwen mumbling) Daddy is in the shower, right? Now he's taking, No Yeah he's taking a shower. Andy. Oh is that Andy? The more present you're. That's not Andy. Andy. With their family, the more invisible your camera becomes. You have to be present. If you're trying to do the fly in the wall thing, that's the opposite of photojournalism in my opinion. Questions from that. I'll take a couple if you guys have any. Otherwise we move on. Yeah Jane. Ever worry about following the parents at some point in the morning? That I should follow the parent? Yeah, I mean do you like-- No. No, you just hold it on the kids if there-- Wherever the kids are, that's where are the interesting photos are going to be. And Jenna and I would talk, about this also (mumbles) critique but the idea of a muse. And with every shoot that ends up being, usually ends up being a muse. Someone who is the most interesting to shoot throughout the shoot. That doesn't mean you only take of the muse but what it does mean. Is that if you stick to the muse, interesting things happen around the muse with the other people that they all have relationships with. In this situation I actually didn't have, one particular muse. But Adalaide is the naughty one. Out of all of them and so if Adalaide was somewhere, I kinda kept my eye on her. She also had the most expression, when I shot her. Which adds to making better photos. With the parents, their daily routine is kinda boring. If the kids are not involved, right. So I stick with the kids and then the kids interacting with their parents. Does that make sense? But the parents by themselves usually not. I don't worry about that. I want our kid in every picture if I can. This question, I think you might address it later but it came in from Wendy. What happens if you accidentally encourage behavior that ends up getting a child reprimanded? Like maybe one kid is plowing to climbing on the table and the parents are trying to cub that habit. Well I'm not verbally telling them to do it. But I'm not stopping them, right? So I am just letting what happening happen. I just recently shot a... Or I was actually on a mentoring session and the mom home schools, right? And so her two older ones were schooling and her three year old, on top of just kind of hanging out. Was hanging out with no pants on because she was potty training. So you know the three day no pants thing that's what she was doing, we happen to be there. And so she was busy working with the kids at the like the learning table and I watched the little boy with no pants on, get on right couch. With a permanent blue magic marker and I just watched and shot as he painted his entire scrotum and penis blue. (audience laughing) Now it's not my job to inform her of what's happening, unless that's going to kill him. But a blue penis never killed anybody so I just shot it and let it happen. And he got in trouble but that's not my job and in my contract it says I am not a babysitter. It is not my job. If it looks your child he's gonna kill themselves, kill each other or kill the household pet, I will get involved. Otherwise I am not getting involved. Like that's not my job and if you choose to leave me alone with your kids, please know that it's the same as they are alone. My only job is to photograph. So if they're gonna paint the whole scrotum and penis blue. I am gonna have pictures of it but I'm not gonna stop it. Does that make sense? Absolutely. Okay. (chuckles) Same with kids fighting. I will not get involved unless like a child, like gets ready to pull the bookcase and like throws (mumbles) something like, I am just gonna let them do what they do. And it's never happened where they get reprimanded because I was encouraging something. Because I don't encourage it, I just shoot it. But I don't stop it. I let it happen. And they know that. The parents know like oh crap, the kids... Jenna interestingly talk about this time that Charlie they're photographing Charlie. And Tristan was photographing Charlie on the beach but he was by himself and he is really naughty. He like does naughty things and the mom Kate was like, "Oh crap where is Charlie?" and her mom goes, "Oh she is with Tristan". She goes, "Yeah that doesn't count". So she like had to run and get to him because she knew that Tristan and Jenna they're not gonna get involved. They're just documenting so all my parents also in the contract that I'm not babysitting so.

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Ratings and Reviews


Kirsten is an incredible teacher. When deciding whether to purchase this class, you should first take a look at her first CL class--Modern Storytelling. It's the best way to dive into this material and is a good starting point. If you're interested in this genre, buy BOTH classes. Both are so packed with helpful information about the family photojournalism genre. The first class was a solid, well rounded introduction to family photojournalism, and this class is more in-depth, specific, direct, intense, full of composition technique, and really just takes it to a new level. She doesn't waste time in this class repeating all of what she taught the first time. Kirsten is very candid and personable which I find really helps us viewers learn from her authentically and enjoy the class. I feel like I know her from watching so much of her class and I know that helped me to connect with the class and understand the material better. I feel like I finally have the tools to really tackle this genre and a better idea of what I'll face. I HIGHLY recommend this class--BUT only if you have an interest in this type of photography. THIS ISN'T A CLASS ABOUT MAKING PRETTY PICTURES, IT'S A CLASS ABOUT CAPTURING REAL MOMENTS IN A BEAUTIFUL WAY AND STORYTELLING THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY.

Image by Marcy

I'm adding my review in hopes of giving some perspective to the few negative comments. I've been a fan since Kirsten's first course, and have been hankering for more ever since. I wish the viewers who decided to jump ship before watching the whole course had reconsidered, and hung in there. Here's why. Kirsten describes this class as more of an "advanced" class. To my way of thinking, it's an excellent adjunct to the first. I took notice of a good bit of the questions in the chat room on CL while the class was live. It was clear to me that there seemed to be plenty of viewers who had not watched the first based on their questions. To get the most benefit, you really need both courses. There is overlapping content, of course. But there is specific and pointed information that was really only generalized in the first course. Invaluable is the segments that were taped live at a family's home, where Kirsten shot a DiTL. That filming was shown and dissected in this new course. VERY informative. To put it succinctly, yes, there is some repetitive info, but necessary to bring it all together, and yes, new content. YES, the front end is a bit heavy on the personal. If I remember correctly, that viewer choose NOT to stick with the program, which is fine. BUT, had they stuck with it, that person might have had a change of heart. You see, I think you have to take all the information in it's entirety. Because, the openness, the vulnerability, the honestly to me is *endearing*, for one thing. But also, she definitely USES that personal information in the context of her teaching. Listening to her personal experiences (KLB's) gives US an opportunity to look deep within OURSELVES and CONFRONT our own past. OUR PAST is what shapes our future, good, bad or indifferent. We can allow our past to propel us to success, or sink us in despair. Either way, our past helps form our POV which is very important for our photography (as well as how we approach or avoid life in general, and affects us in business too...) I appreciate her honesty. I appreciate how she shares her struggles, both past and present. Both personally and professionally. For me, the whole package is more important that the individual "pieces". Who knows about that viewer.... maybe this genre is just not their thing. Maybe that person wants or needs to shield themselves from their own personal issues. IDK. Also, it's just a fact of life that *not everyone will LIKE .... ___ (you, me, her, etc). Whooo knows. That's their right, their choice. And it's true that this genre is not for everyone. But if you love it, then get the course. If you missed the first one, then get them both. You'll be happy you did, and you'll have saved yourself time and frustration trying to figure this out on your own.

Meredith Zinner Photography

She is outstanding. I love her candor, honestly, openness and extraordinary eye for talent. I love how true she is to herself and how fiercely yet seamlessly she works to show the truth and people's real stories. I love how she is a real person and shares true stories about herself that keeps her human. I'm so tired of this culture being so damn 'precious' about a baby's bottom fer crimmeny's sake... she's extraordinary, refreshing and unlike anything else youve shown. She's got an incredible eye, sense of humour, talent and so much to share with her very thankful audience. Thank you so very much! Thank you Kirsten!

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