I remember the first time that my wife bought me a DSLR camera. It was Christmas of 2008. I unwrapped the box and saw Canon box. I looked at her, and said, “we can’t afford this!” We had just been married for a month but knew that things were about to change in our lives. That Christmas, I was snapping pictures left and right with my new toy. Exploring all of the settings and finding out what works best in this light or the shutter speed that works best when people are moving. Yet there I was, snapping pictures, the family photographer, during family gatherings.
I’ve always had an interest in photography, so the gift didn’t come entirely out of left field. It was the most thoughtful gift she has given me. (next to my Tile that she got for my keys which I had to go out that night and get one for my wallet). When she bought me that DSLR, she was thinking about our future. She knew that there would be a time that we were sharing moments with our family… and our kids.
I Am The Family Photographer
Between the time she had gifted me my Canon Rebel XSi and when we had our first kid, I was already known as the family photographer. Anytime we would be with either side of our family, I was there, with my camera.
Then we had our first child, and I couldn’t put the camera down. I had to snap as many pictures as I could of him. Much like many parents, I believed he was the cutest thing in the world… and still, do.
That Canon XSi has now retired to a Canon T7i… and hopefully soon something even a little larger (maybe full frame rather than APS-C or mirrorless… I’ll stop geeking out)… and better!
But the more I have become known as the family photographer it has presented its own set of problems. Problems that I am still trying to figure out how to fix, but they are problems known-the-less.
Whether you are a new dad or a budding family photographer learn from the mistakes that I have made… and many times still make when it comes to being the family photographer.
Always Behind The Camera
Thanks to the advent of the cell phone camera, this isn’t as big of an issue as it was when I started out being a family photographer with my Canon XSi. But when I’m out to take high-quality pictures of my kids, wife, and family it never fails, I am stuck behind the camera taking the picture.
Take advantage of that 10-second timer built into your camera. That’s all well and good if you have a tripod. But when you are out and about finding that one thing to set the camera on so that, you the family photographer, can run, and hopefully not get winded, can be in a family picture for once.
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You can also teach someone how to use your DSLR. More specifically, I’m talking about your significant other so that they are armed with the knowledge about how your “complicated” camera works and you can get that next great shareable picture of you and your kids. Instead of being told, “I don’t know how to work your camera!”
The Camera Is Always With You
Early on this was the biggest issue that I had with my camera. It went EVERYWHERE with me. I would still say today that it doesn’t leave my side. Or my backpack when I’m commuting to work because I have this belief that I will just magically walk into a beautiful photograph. Which I might, you never know.
But as the family photographer, early on, the camera was out and always available for me to use. Whether it was sitting on the dining room table or sitting on the couch, it was ready to capture that next adorable moment with my kid.
If you were to ask my wife, my camera is still always out and ready to capture an image. But the longer I have been a family photographer, I have learned that there are times when the camera needs to be put up. I’ve learned that to go in spurts with my photography. I pick a time of the day and take 5 minutes and just hope that there is the next Instagram breaking image.
Organization: The Family Photographer Nightmare
As the family photographer, I can sometimes take 100s of photos in a weekend or 1000s of them during a special family gathering. Let’s not get into the storage aspect, because you know that you are going to need a large external hard drive. I accumulate so many photographs because I have the habit of shooting with the shutter on high speed. While that can be debated if one should take pictures that way or not, there is one thing that it does do, makes for A LOT of pictures when I open my Adobe Lightroom catalog.
One of the ways that I have figured out that works for me are to organize all my photos by month. I create a collection according to the year and then in that collection I create a smart collection that automatically brings all of the photographs that I have shot that month. From those smart collections, I go through and flag all of my photos as to whether they are picked to do further editing or if they are so far gone I don’t want to use them.
From there I will go through and tag them with whoever is in the picture, location, and whatever the event was if there was something special going on. For most professional photographers that seem backward but I don’t have the time or energy to tag photos that I’m never even going to touch… and eventually, delete.
The thing about organizing your family photographs is you need to find a system that works for you AND stick to it. There will come a time when you need to recall an image from a year, two years, even a decade ago and if you haven’t had any sort of organization, you could get lost and never find that photograph you are really looking for.
Who And What To Share The Cuteness With
Once you have your photographs organized and edited, you are going to want to think about who you are going to share them with. Let’s be honest, as the family photographer you are going to uploading them to Facebook, Instagram, Google Photos, or where ever you share your photos at. While you will want to share all of them with the world, there are going to be those ones that are special to you and your family.
Sure that picture you snapped of your kid while they were taking a bath is cute, but would you want some creep coming along and finding that on the web? Yeah, Little Johnny looks SUPER adorable in that picture but what is in the background of the photograph and what is THAT going to make us look like if we were to share it on Facebook.
If you follow me on my personal Facebook page, you might think that I share EVERYTHING that I shoot, when the reality of it is, if you were to see my Lightroom Catalogue, you’d realize that what you see there are only a fraction of the photographs that I shoot.
There it is, the problems that I have as the family photographer. These problems though, don’t stop me from pulling out my camera during the Christmas holiday or spending a few nights editing pictures… or hopefully sometime soon getting around to editing photos from a recent vacation that my wife and I took.
But when you are a new dad, you will be asked to take photographs… and A LOT of them. But if you remember to step out from behind the camera, keep them organized, share the cute ones, your job as the family photographer will be as smooth as the light coming into your living room on a cloudy day.