Kit used: Canon 5D Mark3 | Sigma Art 35mm 1.4 | Tripod | Canon RC-6 Remote Control
Settings for featured photo: f/2.0 1/200 ISO 320
Story: This is another installment in my 52 week project to get in the frame. We all had a work free Sunday together (so rare!) and we decided to just potter around at home, listen to music and cook together. It was slow and welcomed and lovely and whilst many days of parenting are less than perfect, I would rather remember the ones that are.
I love my job as a photographer so much but when I deliver photographs to clients I often feel a little sad that those natural and beautiful ‘in between’ moments captured don’t belong to me. I often ask other people to snap a quick photo of Arthur, Paul and I but the problem by that point is that the lovely natural moment has passed. It is no longer a real moment of fleeting reality but a staged photo where we are all aware of the camera. I have really struggled to capture our reality in self portraits until now and I think these three things made such a difference this time around:
- We did something fun, something we do as a family and all enjoy. We accepted that it would be messy and just let go – if Arthur is allowed to make a mess then he will stay in one place for much longer. It was genuinely fun and I hope that comes across in the images.
- We were at home. I think these images tell more of a story because we are at home and in the room where we spend most of our time. The wall behind us is covered in our memories (Arthur’s scan photos, old photos of parents and grandparents, a picture drawn by a friend when I was expecting Arthur) and for me this adds so much warmth and love to the images. As a viewer you may not know what those photo frames contain but I hope you would be intrigued and drawn in by the slightly wonky, cluttered warmth that is our home.
- I am becoming much more used to using the remote and it is becoming easy to carry on in a natural way whilst intermittently pressing the button. The more you do it the easier it gets which is why I’m excited to see where this weekly project takes me (I am also feeling I may have lucked out with these images and peaked a little early!)
I started taking photos from our waking up together right through to the evening. The baking ones are my favourites but I will share some others from our Sunday later on too. I know I may have mentioned this in a previous post but living with the camera is the only way to capture reality. It isn’t laborious and it takes no time at all but it does require a conscious effort to see the beauty in your everyday life and to make a project of capturing it. The camera didn’t affect our day and although we may have set up our baking in the loveliest light we could find (more on that later) we didn’t interact with one another any differently than we ordinarily would.
If you don’t already then please make sure to get into the frame more – I can’t tell you how much these images mean to me and Paul. I cried a lot of happy tears when I saw them and am so grateful to have them. I know that Arthur will treasure these too and that in itself makes these images worth their weight in gold. Some of the tears came because it’s so oddly beautiful to see yourself in genuine mothering moments. I know I’m a mum of course, but seeing it real and captured makes it more real somehow. I never feel beautiful in photos but these photos of me mothering have made me feel so assured and lovely. It’s nice to see myself through my partner’s and my son’s eyes. I only ever see the flaws but looking at these photos makes me realise that, no matter my hang ups about the way I look, they see love. And that’s all that matters.
Process: These photos are a mixture of me taking them, using a tripod and remote set up, and setting up the camera and asking Paul to take some. I have mostly been asked about the tripod and remote set up for these so I’m going to go into more detail about that in particular today:
Firstly, I moved our dining table into a spot which had soft, filtered light just hitting the table and the area we would stand. People usually bake in the kitchen but ours is an awkward shape and presents too many challenges with angles and light, so we moved the baking into a different room and, as long as you don’t mind the mess, it makes no difference. If I’m going to photograph Arthur baking or painting then I always move the activity into a more photogenic spot to make life easier. I had the choice of two walls to work with – a plain white painted wall or the one filled with photos. I’m so glad I chose the latter. I feel that it not only adds to the images in terms of interest and homeliness but the light was softer and better filtered in this position – so much more flattering than the harsher light if had we faced the other way.
We set up the baking ingredients and whatnot on the table and discarded things that might not photograph well like a butter carton and some other bits and bobs. I loved the blue of the flour bag and the red of the cocoa tin so they stayed. I am such an aesthete and have always loved the way my Granny’s house has old tin scales, big mixing bowls and paper flour bags – these things feel like home to me because they were a part of my upbringing. I love to include things I love in photographs, especially if I’m taking them entirely selfishly and for my own use. It doesn’t matter if it’s messy… it’s our life and I love those little pieces of mess and chaos.
I set up the tripod about 10 feet from the table and at a height that would capture some of the table itself to allow the story to come through. Setting the tripod higher didn’t work as well from a framing and story telling point of view as we lacked purpose in the image without the bowls and mess being incorporated.
I focused on Paul and Arthur’s faces manually, using their eyes as the main points of focus. I felt confident in working with a fairly wide aperture of f/2.0 as I had real people to set focus on and the table meant we would all naturally fall on the same plane. I have never nailed focus like this on self portraits before – using the table has taught me to better mark a position for the portraits and to think more carefully about the plane we will all be positioned on. I also find that the Sigma lens I use for indoor work is super sharp in lower light and I’m rarely disappointed with it for indoor shots.
Once the camera and tripod were set I joined Paul and Arthur and we just baked. I pressed the button on my remote every now and then and just fell naturally back into what we were doing.
Edit: I edited these photos in Lightroom. I was happy with white balance which I had set in camera using Kelvin. I went a little warmer than usual as I wanted the images to feel welcoming and homely. I added a little contrast for enhanced richness and depth and bumped up clarity slightly. I brought up highlights a touch and took shadows down a little to bring focus to our faces. I added the LXC04 preset which I love so much for indoor shots as I feel it adds a real richness and warmth. I cropped the image until I was happy with composition. Here is a before and after:
Thank you for reading!
Some more images from our day: