Take a Step Back: A Personal Approach to Portrait Photography with Melanie Anderson

Take a Step Back: A Personal Approach to Portrait Photography with Melanie Anderson

Take a Step Back: A Personal Approach to Portrait Photography with Melanie Anderson

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the October issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

 

For this month’s theme of families and portraits, I want to share some new ideas for how to capture images of your family. Whether traveling or enjoying a day out, document your favorite times with your family—but take a step back, and capture from behind.

 

While traveling in Paris and Italy recently with my oldest daughter, Sarah, I took tons of photos with my iPhone, using filters to create cool effects and appeasing my ADD by being able to upload instantly to Instagram and Facebook. I wanted to share this experience with everyone. This was my first time in Europe, and I was blown away by the culture, landscapes and architecture. Breathtaking.

 

There were moments when I would take a step back and watch as my daughter took in the sights. I came up with a new idea: Showcase her within the sites we were visiting. Document our time seeing these locations through her eyes, all from behind.

 

The images in this article are very personal to me. They are intimate, creative, artistic. They remind me of our time together. These photos take me back to this time in a way that other vacation photos I have taken do not.

 

Emotion

 

Family portraits are meant to be personal, to reflect the family bonds that tie us together. I have taken hundreds of family portraits for clients, and dozens with my family and extended family—in studio, on location, urban and traditional. Every aspect of the shoot—clothing, posing, groupings, locations—were either discussed prior to a session, or devised in the moment.

 

Most of the family portraits I have taken are more thought out—I spaced and posed family members, ensuring hands, chins and smiles were all as they should be. The approach I took with Sarah was about taking a step back and seeing her within the scenery, making these some of my most treasured images. These are the types of images I want on my walls.

 

Capturing the Moment

 

Whether you are on vacation, taking a walk or enjoying a day trip, take a step back. Watch the interaction. Capture a moment with your child in her favorite places—strolling through the city, interacting with a sibling, taking time to smell the roses. Whatever it may be, take a step back and soak it all in. Document this moment. Create with this moment. Celebrate this moment.

 

More Candid

 

Family portraits tend to seem very posed. Let’s step out of this style and create differently. This trip with my daughter gave me a new idea for documenting the moment—breathing the air, capturing her from within, allowing me to enjoy these moments over and over again. If I’d had my DSLR with my many lenses, not only would I have been burdened with the weight of all the gear, but I think my mindset would have been more about documenting the beauty I was seeing, as opposed to being “within” the beauty. Without all my equipment, we were able to travel much lighter, walk faster, be more intentional about the locations we were visiting, all while living in the moment. Sure, there were many times that I stopped to capture a doorway, some scenery, a sunset, but I was able to do so quickly and artfully.

 

Nontraditional

 

Would you consider these images to be portraiture? To me, many of these images represent a subject, my daughter, in a moment that captures the essence of so many things. They stir emotion and a beauty that I would not have captured if she’d been posed facing my camera. Notice that not one of them is of her looking at me, no smiles, no controlled emotion in her face. The emotion I captured was told in the creation of the final image. The story and how I want you to feel about each image were determined by the processing of each one. I was able to blend landscape, architecture, art, creativity and a person, all in one image. Many of these images are worthy of being enlarged and placed on my wall, in a blending of art and family.

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Tools

 

My favorite iPhone photo app is Snapseed. It allows me to create art with the click of a few buttons. Most of the images here were created with Snapseed. The filters I used were a combination of HDR Scape, Drama, Black & White, Vintage, Retrolux and Lens Blur. Another photo app I like is Mextures. Even the Instagram filters are great. Play around till you find the look and feel you are after.

 

Instant Sharing

 

In a world of instant gratification, iPhone pictures and apps are wonderful tools for capturing a moment in time that you can jazz up and then upload immediately. I love creating this way. I don’t always have the time to download images and fiddle with them in Lightroom or Photoshop. But by the time you begin that process, the moment and inspiration have often passed. IPhones shouldn’t replace DSLRs or film cameras, but a camera phone offers an ideal way to capture and share life moments.

 

When I look back at these pictures, although I now call them portraits, I think about how special this time was with my 20-year-old daughter. I can’t help but relive the day, the experience and how grateful I am that I took a step back. We only get one chance at this life—experience and document it to the fullest.

 

 

Action Plans

 

  • Take your family for a walk, take a step back and watch your children interact. Document the bonds they have created with each other.
  • Next time you take a day trip or a vacation, document from behind. Travel light, and create instantly with filters.

 

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the October issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

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Take a Step Back: A Personal Approach to Portrait Photography with Melanie Anderson

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