I have been reflecting on my “shoulds” lately. That self-destructive inner voice that most artists and creatives grapple with from time to time. Two of my most significant and self-limiting “shoulds” as a photographer include:
– I should seek to capture joy in my children. (People really love this “should.”)
– I should always let the moment unfold naturally; I should never direct the moment. (This is a common conviction of a some photographers who like to capture families in a photojournalistic style.)
When I first began on this photography journey my beliefs – the inner rules I had adopted based mostly on external influences – were that the best children’s pictures were of kids who are smiling and laughing. Yet many of my favorite images of my own children – and of my clients’ children, too – are of the still, quiet moments. I have had to work to shake the notion that effervescent joy is a prerequisite for a great children’s photograph. (On the other hand, my kids are so easy to make laugh when I am photographing them, I find it is usually much harder to capture a non-laughing image than the other way around!)
The other “should” is around the idea of letting the moment unfold naturally. I sometimes slightly admonish myself when those moments arise where I want to direct the subject, or when I want to stop what they are doing and give them some specific direction so I can capture it in a way that appeals more to my personal vision. I like creating images that are charming and peaceful. I strive to elevate an ordinary moment by way of thoughtful direction in order to capture something sublime or magical.
Here is an image that I took a few weeks ago during our visit to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum here in New York. The place was hopping and crowded on a busy holiday weekend, but I was still on the hunt for a quiet moment. This image, taken in the Space Shuttle Pavilion (which, incidentally is freaking awesome; I think I am in love with human ingenuity) is an expression of that quiet moment during which I gave them some small direction. I liked the moody lighting and the use of color. I also love when I can capture an image that conveys a sense of place.