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Capturing Authentic Photos of Children & Families

Lesson 13 of 19

Photographing your own Family: Mother

Chris Orwig

Capturing Authentic Photos of Children & Families

Chris Orwig

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Lesson Info

13. Photographing your own Family: Mother

Lesson Info

Photographing your own Family: Mother

I told you already, she taught me a lot about creativity which I'm very grateful for. Here's my mom, let's give it up for-- (audience applauds) Oh, thank you for being here. It is brave. (laughs) To start this off, I need you to take a picture of me and my mom here, so we can have a document of this. Oh, you know how you can swipe up. Oh, just like that. So earlier, Mom, I was telling them how you taught me that there's no such thing as bad art as a kid. It's true. And did that by just being creative. My mom, another thing, tell us when you're ready. Can I switch light? Yeah. Yeah, yeah. (audience laughs) Another thing that is fun about my mom is, which I often tell... You tell me when you're ready, oh, you got it. (woman laughs) She used to take us on these trips to factories where we'd go in San Francisco. And why don't you sit down here, Mom. Okay. And, I'm gonna grab a camera. And what that did for me was, as a kid, and I don't know if it was intentional or ...

not, but it taught me about the process of creativity because we went to, I mean, what are some of the factories we went to? The Hostess Twinkie-- Hostess Twinkie factory. (audience laughs) Licorice factory. Yeah. Fortune cookie factory, pasta factory, Jelly Belly factory. Yeah. Yeah. Cooking factory, right? Oh yeah, Mother's Cookie factories. Yeah. But, for me, it showed me that process matters, 'cause you start off with ordinary ingredients and then there's a process and then, as kids, we would get to eat Twinkies or something like that. So, you can sit just like that; no, just like you are. Don't you think she looks great too, by the way? And I'm just gonna take picture. This one doesn't really count 'cause my camera isn't even set or anything. And then I just have to see if it's going. (camera clicks) Yeah, just like that. And it isn't set, so I need to definitely change a few settings, here, this one doesn't count either. (audience laughs) Okay, that's closer, there we go. And, all that you have to do, Mom, is just sit there for a second. And I'm gonna get a different lens. While I'm getting a different lens, do you want to tell them something about me from when I was a kid? This is your chance to embarrass me a little bit. Okay, well, Chris was always full of adventure, let's say that. (laughs) You can tell that and he loved animals. I remember one time when he came in crying 'cause a frog had died and he was just so sensitive, caring. Don't you remember that? I don't remember that. Oh, gosh. That was my brother. That wasn't me, I'm the tough one, no. (laughs) Oh, that's so fun, let me try this one. A lot of things, okay. (camera clicks) And then, I was telling them, yeah, this is great. And then, just take a breath for a second. Okay. And relax. (Chris exhales) Yeah, just like that, that looks really nice. Do you guys agree that it looks nice, is it just me? Yes, we do. Because my mom. And then, try looking over at, maybe just over at this room here, for one. And then, look back towards me. Yeah, look all the way back, yeah, like that, like that. And then try to do one where you're looking out the window. That's a pretty window. It is. We used to come to San Francisco, we went to, 'cause I grew up in East Bay. Went to the Sourdough factory as well. Yeah. The furniture store, you were saying. Yeah. (camera shutter clicks) And then, what I wanna do too is... My mom, her name's Mary Jane, her dad's Ivan. I wanna do a picture with this. Yeah, okay. I was able to get it out. Good thank you, good. And, I never knew him because I was born after he died. But tell us about Ivan-- Well, you know-- Well, tell me, you-- I was thinking about him. Just keeping talking. I'm gonna shoot-- Okay. His hands were always full of paint. He was a commercial artist but he loved fine art really, and that's we got along, but his hands... Yeah. Always resembled something that he was doing. You know, like a little dark paint would be in the lines of his hands. Yesterday, I was touching something up and I thought my hands look like his, a little bit, and I like that. He was a hard worker, creative, loved nature, loved... I come from three girls, so he never got a boy. But I was the little boy, my family calls me Janey actually. My sisters used to say I was Johnny. (laughs) (camera shutter clicks) That made me mad but I would go, he liked fishing and picking berries but we lived... Look towards me for one, just like that. Yeah, yeah, look right at me, yeah. So you lived, keep going. Well, in... We lived in Wisconsin for my first years of life but the outside of Chicago, he was a commercial artist there so it wasn't his favorite area. What kind of commercial art? Tell them a little bit about what he did. Oh, he worked for 3M and he designed signs. So, he was a sign painter, back when that-- Yeah. They were all done by hand. Yeah, taught us a lot about contrast. And... (camera shutter clicks) He did actually take me painting outside sometimes, you know, landscape. When I was older. He did? Mm-hm. I didn't know that. Yeah. Hold the painting, let me see it, yeah, hold it with two hands, like that. This is one he did when he was younger. I probably wasn't even around, I just like this one because I love fall. Yeah. And the colors are pretty and it's simple. And... He would always do things with his hands. (camera shutter clicks) And didn't have to have the fanciest materials to be an artist. And see, this was already something else. (all laugh) You know, he can recycle. No, I think people-- (camera shutter clicks) So that was fun, that was good. Liked hiking. Actually, Chris is a lot like him and he loved collecting things. He would come home... Yeah, like what? Look right towards me for one, yeah. Like a record player, you know, that used to crank up. My mother got so mad about all that stuff. But he would always find those things. Yeah, look right towards me. He would find those things and just bring them home? Uh-huh. Let's do one, too, where you hold it out, or maybe you hold it, kinda like this, corner to corner. A little bit in front of you. Okay, alright. I ways away? Yeah, maybe up-- Or like this? (all laugh) Maybe a little closer to you, a little closer, like that, yeah, that's fun. And... (camera shutter clicks) What was his... Yeah, this is nice. What was his-- (camera shutter clicks) And then, turn it, it's not quite straight. Oh, I'm sorry. It's okay. Help me. Yeah, I'm gonna help you get it straight here. Turn it like this, right there. Okay. And what was his approach to life? He was really caring. He would talk to everybody. His best friends were the elevator operators when they used to have those. (camera shutter clicks) And he would always talk to everybody. Yeah. So that was nice. (camera shutter clicks) And then? And he was creative. Yeah. An inventor. He invented the rolling, you know, the roller. Yeah, listen to this real quick, tell that story. Well, you know, roller painting, he figured that out and he would invent a lot of things. But he didn't actually get the benefit from it, that's the way it is. These are some of my mom's brushes. And I was never good at cleaning out brushes, I'm still not, matter of fact, one is wet. I was trying to clean one. (all laugh) And my mom always told me, that's a neat photograph, don't you guys thing? (audience murmurs) I'm going to need to crop them, I'm shooting, I mean, just step out for a second with a but I'm okay with that. And, again, hopefully, could you see how I'd crop it? Top comes down. That side over there that has a little light, that's fine as well, too. So, brushes and then, the other thing my mom taught me about art, yeah, I thought-- Hey, we gotta get this little magician-- Hold it just like that, that's fine, just like that. Is that artists are usually messy. 'Cause they're involved and they're in it and the translation in photography is that, you probably saw that as well, someone said from the family shoot, they were encouraged by how many shots I missed. And I thought that was a great compliment because it is, it's like you keep trying and if you're a little messy in painting, that's good, right. Hold just like that, Mom, hold just like that. And then, what was I like as a little kid? I didn't get to hear that part. I would like to hear, I know the animals. Well, you would dare (all laugh) all sorts of things, jump off edges, cliffs. (Chris laughs) And he was the kind that would put the peas on his head when he was a baby. (audience laughs) I remember, in the sandbox, he was always the dirtiest. (audience laughs) But he just really enjoyed everything, you know. He was very happy, he was born on Easter which is a really fun day. (camera shutter clicks) Yeah, hold that. Yeah, this is great, this is great. You guys, 'cause I'm not really checking that, how's my exposure and everything going there, is it okay? (audience murmurs agreement) What if you turn a little bit towards me with your knees, yeah. This way? Yeah, just like that. Just a minute, this skirt might be not right. Wait a second. Yeah, just like that, that's nice. Like that, like that, Mom, that's really nice. I'm gonna have to fix my exposure a little bit. But this is, I mean, from the teaching side, you know, Mom, I'm just kind of doing something where we're, now, facing the window. So you guys can see, it's really filled in with light. And it was just a slight move, so different thing. And then, take a breath for me. Yeah, good. (camera shutter clicks) And then, let's do, I'm gonna steal these from you. Let's do a picture with one of your paintings. Do you mind helping me-- I really don't like that painting very well. (audience laughs) I just couldn't find it-- I can flip it over the other way. Yeah, let's look at the back and if not, even stay-- Actually, let's do that. Let's do a picture with the back first. This'll be fun. (giggles) And then, frame it right there, that'll be great. (audience laughs) Thank you. This is cool. It's like the creative process here. Wait one second. (camera shutter clicks) Wait one second, my exposure's all off here. (camera shutter clicks) Okay, then flip it around, we're gonna do one-- That isn't even a good stretcher. I didn't even make that one. And then, I'll have you move around but tell us about the painting, I know you don't like it but it's-- Well, I was taking a class and I really like looking at people in restaurants and interactions, how people are. And so, I was trying to do that. And it was-- Look right towards me for one. Do one, no smile, no smile. No smile? No smile, yep. (laughs) And then, just a little smile, yeah. And then, take a breath and look out the window for a minute. Okay. If you tilt the painting up just like that. Yeah, like that, that's nice. (camera shutter clicks) Okay, look back towards me, okay, tell me about the painting. Oh well, I just liked the idea of the interaction of the people. Lots of time I'll see that in different things, it's fun. I really actually think I was more successful with drawing them, you know, black and white drawings with the people. I don't know why I like that, it interested me. And I like, I do other things too, I like that. But I just think it's fun to, it was sort of a gloomy one. I did a gloomy, I don't always like gloomy. Just like the corner of it right there. And I might have gotten inspired by another painting I saw, I think. You know, you can do that. Yeah. (camera shutter clicks) And then, hold it in right behind her. Keep going, keep going, right there, right there. (camera shutter clicks) And then... Yeah, hold that right there. I need to open up a little bit. Just keep holding it for a second. Okay, just like that. (camera shutter clicks) Okay, now, we'll pull the painting down. And then, if someone can help me take the V-flat down. Who can help me with that? Or actually, yeah, do you want to help me? I don't want really want to take it out. Can you do a couple more shots with the V-flat? Yes. And then we'll remove it. Okay, yes. Thank you. And then, let's see, okay, we'll do a couple. Alright, Jim's kind of the boss over here. (laughs) And then... (camera shutter clicks) We'll just get a couple more, just keep like that, Mom. This is great. (camera shutter clicks) And then, I haven't really mentioned many details but you've been through some health stuff lately. I have. And... What has helped you get through that, I guess? And you can answer-- Well. I found I had colon cancer, so I've had chemo and radiation and then I had surgery. And really, all my sweet friends, actually, I was just doing a survey yesterday and it was saying, do you feel closer or do you know who your real friends before or after, and I had to say I sorta knew but now I know, you know. Yeah. It's really sweet, people have been so kind and they pray for me and they help me and I just, I have really been thankful. It's been really sweet. Hmm. Let me get one more picture like that. (camera shutter clicks) And then, just hold that for a second. And then, I brought a surprise. (exclaims and laughs) Who's that blonde girl with the cute hair? Yes, hi! Hi. I didn't know you'd come. It was so fun, I could hear you in the back-- The green room? Yes. Why didn't you tell me? I really wanted to surprise you. Just drag it over there. Oh my gosh, I think-- So, did you have any idea. No, not a clue. Well, part of this, too, was then like next scene end to the, thank you. Young and old. (laughs) Yeah, stand next to Mom for a second. Was generations.

Class Description

  We love photography because it helps us celebrate and savor life. Capturing those images can be difficult, especially when it’s your own family or friends. Photographer and artist Chris Orwig walks through all the techniques that go into capturing a photo quickly so that you can focus on your subject while relaxed and confident. He’ll discuss tips for working with available light as well as how to develop your own creative style. He’ll discuss gear recommendations and location scouting tips to set your photo shoot up for success. 

He’ll also cover: 
  • How to connect with children and capture real emotion 
  • Finding moments that photograph well and how to set them up naturally 
  • Wardrobe tips that make your photos timeless 
  • When and how you should turn your passion into a profit 
  • Essential Lightroom workflows for quick processing of your photos 
  • How to deliver your images or prints and share them for all to enjoy 
Start improving your photographs of your family with this course and learn the essential skills you need to make photographs that last a lifetime. 

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Family Resources

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Meredith Zinner Photography

Chris is a FANTASTIC teacher (and photographer). He is so very very authentic, warm, REAL, talented, knowledgeable, honest, open and true to his wonderful self. This class, in addition to endless nuggets of knowledge and insights, highlights how being true to your own self makes you a better photographer- emphasizing connection, authenticity, fun and easy relaxed simple joy. A refreshing take on children's photography for sure! Thank you Chris and CreativeLive!

lisa james

Wow, I have been in search of my style. I've been reading and researching and listening to inspiring speakers and from each one I've gathered pieces of information that help guide me. This class, however, has been the most successful for me. Chris's approach to teaching and his material that he provides is Spot On for me. Thank you, Chris. I am so inspired and eager to move forward now that I can see my vision more clearly. I highly recommend this class.

Neeraj Arora

Oh my god!!!! What a class. I couldn't stop watching. Chris you are an inspiration, loved every word you said, loved how you said it. I am in the process of getting a plan together for doing photography professionally on the side, on top of my research career, and you just hit a home run in getting me motivated and excited in taking the plunge. My photography of people gives me a lot of satisfaction and meaning and you just validated what I have been thinking of doing lately. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.