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Challenging Subjects: A Family With One Small Child

Lesson 22 from: Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Kirsten Lewis

Challenging Subjects: A Family With One Small Child

Lesson 22 from: Family Photography: Creating a Successful Business

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

22. Challenging Subjects: A Family With One Small Child


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


What Makes a Picture Successful?


Technical Tips: ISO


Technical Tips: Aperture


Technical Tips: Shutter Speed


Technical Tips: Focus


Using Light to Tell a Story


Using Composition to Tell a Story


Lesson Info

Challenging Subjects: A Family With One Small Child

Hey, so I'll just give you the run down. I had the privilege of photographing a family, on Sunday? Yes, on Sunday, and they were really lovely and what I chose to do was photograph a family with just one two year old, because I feel like that's one of the things that people have trouble with are the one, one guys, one girls, young girls or guys. So I wanted to show you that A, you can most definitely make good photos with just one child, and it doesn't have to be as boring as you think, or difficult as you think. You just have to kind of change your mind set a little bit in how you approach it 'cause it a little bit different than photographing siblings. And the second thing is I only shot for two hours. So, I also wanted to show you that you can most definitely make good photos in just a two hour session, completely documentary. So are you guys ready to see? So I'm mic-ed, so I'm gonna actually talk you through what I'm thinking, okay? Here we go. Shooting in the field. Families with ...

just one baby. This is what I hear all the time, I'm bored. So there's not much of a photo right now, so I'm just waiting and watching. I'm not gonna shoot just for the sake of shooting. I'm just gonna wait until I can get a good composition. Come here, do you wanna do this one? I'm gonna put this upstairs. You wanna do this one, or this one? Can I just put my bread pan in the... Okay so he's stationary so I'm going to move over there. Do you want to do this one? Or they also have the little bits of paper that we can do and we can color. We can pull out the paint. Mommy? Yeah? I want a blue pen. Well you've got lots of blue pens. Do you want this one? No, blue pens. Oh okay. The big blue pens. These ones? So I've noticed that I had really nice light from this sliding glass door to the right so it's creating 3/4 light on both Mishka and Ethan. Where do you want your other ones? Cause you can pull out your paints and do both. I'm looking for them to have interaction and exchange in facial gestures with one another. If you grab that high honey it'll break, remember last time? Do this one. Oh that's so good, do you want to do red? No. Silver or red? I'm waiting for Mishka's reactions to Ethan. (talking in background) Oh you can barely see it on the white paper. Why don't we try the red? If I do a heart can you copy curves? A little heart. I'm also getting low and close. So it's making the viewer feel like they're there. Green. I'm not shooting at it, I'm trying to get a picture of it and there's a difference. I'm filling the frame from the right to the left. Trying to balance. You also have these, you want these? Did you paint that? That right there. Ethan? Are you done? (laughing). There was not a single picture there. I tried but I ended up not making any. So one of the things when we're photographing one child is we're going to end up focusing more on the relationship between them and their parents, right? 'Cause they do get more attention from their parents when there's just one. So you want to acknowledge that and instead of feeling like you only photograph the kid keep in mind that the engagement is going to be between the parents and each other, and then the parents and the kids, or kid, one kid, rather then looking for siblings interacting with one another. Does that make sense? Yes. Okay. I want the cold. Just don't touch, just don't touch here. I want! What? I don't want it hot, I want it cold. You want it cold? Yeah! What's that mean? No, no, no! What's that, wait, wait, wait, what's that mean? (mumbles) Look, look, it's still baking, it's still baking. Making sure I'm focused correctly on Ethan cause he's in front. I think his reaction to it is most important. I've moved because this is a better angle to see his face. Can you put the door back up? I can't. Yum, yum, yum, banana bread. Oh let's see, can you see, you like that? Now I've got the reflection. That's the best part, can you smell it? Can you smell it? Can you smell through the glass? Can you smell through the glass? So in that situation, it wasn't about, for me, the act of looking through there. I was waiting for something extra to happen. Whether he's hanging off of it or he like kind of looks up. It's how he feels, again, about the banana bread. Some of this is going to sound redundant but I just want to keep saying it over and over again that the idea is not the act of. You don't want to just make a photo of him looking at the banana bread. That's, in my opinion, boring. It needs to be something else in order for it to be an interesting picture. And so that's what I was trying to do. And also, if you notice, I was in the wrong spot. First I was above and I felt like I had to be at his point of view. So I quickly get down and then I feel like I'm not squared up and I tell you guys all the time, you don't always have to be squared up but if something feels off, it's usually, if you square up, it'll feel better to the viewer and to you. And so that's why I moved closer to the oven so that I could see his profile and I could see his mom's profile and the banana bread in the oven. Those are also three key subjects for me to keep in the picture. Ready? Ready, boom! (excited yelling) There we go, boom. That's how we do it, huh? I'm next to that at this point and I'm okay with that. I didn't have a good composition so it wouldn't have shown up or it wouldn't have translated very well from what I saw. I think that's important to notice and know what would translate well in a still photo versus what won't and it will help you make decisions as far as what you're going to shoot. I don't know that one. It's a squeaky toy. What's that one? Getting low and close to make you feel like you're there. Squeak it. I'm waiting for some sort of good facial reactions. There we go. Upside down. Hey what does Auntie Sara call you? What does Auntie Sara call you? So this is a nice composition because there's a cream wall behind them. So I noticed that when I walked into the living room. Squeaky. So he's going to keep doing that. So I'm going to focus on the chair and wait for him to do it again. Squeaky. Ah! I'm watching where is head is landing. Squeaky, squeaky, squeaky, squeaky, squeaky, squeaky. Ah, the squeaky sam. Do you like squeaking? I need to square up this. Oh yeah, how about like this. Ping, ping, ping, ping, hello. Would you like to be my friend? Yeah. Ping, ping, ping, ping, hello. Would you like to be my friend? Yes! I clear my frame so I'm not cutting off feet. Do you want to be my friend? Yeah! Ting, ting, ting, ting, hello. Still not entirely squared up. I do. Okay, I love you, I love you. I'm looking for the reaction more than anything. I love you, kiss. I'm waiting for, there we go. That was good. Kiss. Kiss. (laughs) I immediately started looking at my edges while I'm making the photo. One thing that I've learned to do and it's something that you can teach yourself to do. Is once I know that there's a good moment going on, I immediately take my eyes off of that moment, and I start scanning the perimeter of my frame to see if I'm cutting anything off, if something is off balance, and then I'm gonna step back or move closer, depending on what I need to do to make a cleaner composition. The other thing that I've learned to do, is while I'm watching and shooting, I can, I can, like, watch the moments happening and shoot with my, like, my peripheral almost, but I can take my eyes off of focusing on them, and look at the backgrounds to make sure then, that I'm checking to, to like, cover up anything that might be distracting behind them. I can use heads to, to clean up my background. I can move slightly to the right or left. And that's what I was doing there. When you hear me say, "Oh, I'm cutting them off. "So, I'm going to back up a little bit "so I'm not chopping off heads or feet." He's been left alone with the paint and I'm anticipating something. I don't know if he'll open them or not. Four. Good counting, buddy. Five! Good counting. Is that five or is that four? Let's count 'em again. Let's count 'em one more time. Ready? I think you might've counted one, one too many times. One. Two. Two. Three. What I'm looking for is the effort he's making to try and hold all of them at the same time and I'm trying to show that in the picture. Oh, hooray! Hooray! Hooray! Yeah. Oh you got out your paints? All right, so let's, let's put these shorts on, okay? Mommy take them. Mommy take them. Ping. Superman! Superman. Did I get your toes? I'm getting low to clean up that background a little bit. I love that they're very affectionate with him. It's something that I notice. They're both really affectionate. You have superman muscles. There you go. Now give Incredible Hulk muscles. Yeah, there you go. (growls) Okay, so what color do you want to start off with first? Green. Okay, let's put it, mommy's going to grab a plate. Does it have a seal? Let's see if it has a seal. Let's see. (explosion) Just jokin'. It doesn't have a seal. It's a good thing that mommy helped, 'cause it would've went splat. So, we're gonna do this right here, buddy. And we'll do, you wanna do that green and this green? There's two different colors of greens. Okay, do you want me to get the Christmas paper, for underneath? Yeah, that's fine. Yeah, I'll do that. Okay, you wanna squirt it? So, again I'm looking for the effort, photographing the effort on his face, the reactions. 'Cause when you just put these actions, don't make for a good photo. Unless there's a good response. But, I'm ready for that good action reaction. There's his face. Is showing effort, I don't know if that was in focus. The good thing is, he'll probably do that again. So, I have an opportunity to make that picture again. Waiting for that effort. There we go, just that turn down of his mouth. I'm also framing him and her in between my two, the two window panes. (laughs) I made a mess. I know you did, you are very strong, huh? It's my one more opportunity to make this photo in case I didn't. Oh, you're shakin' from it. Squeezing, oh there you go. Is that good? Okay, these are the colors we chose, so. So, I shoot a lot of photos, when I have a good moment, and then you'll see that I kind of pause when I know there's not a picture. So, do you wanna do your fingers or do you wanna do paintbrush? The paintbrush. Okay. The paintbrush. Uh oh. What'd we do with all the paintbrushes? This is not a picture. I'm watching for one. But, this isn't a picture right now. Now, there's one. Weird behavior. Oh wait, here we go. What's that? What's that. (Ethan screams) What's that. I'm being conscientious of trying to keep keep the legs from being cut off. Okay, ready? We're gonna use this one right here. 'Cause this will have a good little edge, okay? I have a bigger brush. I'm also anticipating paint getting everywhere. We could do a bigger one too, but this one's nice, quick. Okay, ready? Dab what ever colors you want. Try one color first and do-- So the act of painting is not interesting. What I do find interesting is these shadows happening. Okay, there you go. You probably want a bigger brush. So, I'm gonna work on a more artful photo here. And it's gonna be graphic, looking at the graphic elements. What I really need him to do is paint in the left part of my frame, which would be his right side. You gonna do a, what are you drawing? I'm drawing a... Is that underwater? Or is that-- I'm looking to see if there's another graphic photo. This one seems to be the best composition. It's a pretty bath. No (mumbles) Do you want your other colors? Or are you done with those colors? You can go up here, you can go up that part. That was good. Her arm reached around, into the frame. Him reaching is better for the balance. Now, I've got mom's. Oh, that's so good. Okay-- Okay, I think I've got that shot. It might not even be good. Can I have some more? Yeah, do you want the other colors? Or do you-- I'm watching the background here. Can we do it together? Yeah, do you want me, can I use my fingers? No. I'll use my fingers. No, no, no. Do you want me to use a paintbrush? No, no, your fingers. Okay, it's okay. You're okay. (laughs) I'll get a paint, I've got this other paintbrush right here, okay? I've got a big paintbrush. Whoa that's a big one. I'm not getting up and following I'm waiting, 'cause she's, they're both gonna just come back here. Or and then this one? So, this should be interesting. Oh, goodness. Whoa! That's gonna be magical. Go over here on this side. Go over here. I'm gonna try this photo one more time. 'Cause this is definitely graphic. That giant paintbrush in the little hand. (laughs) There you go buddy. You can get up over there. I want some more. Okay, here you go. Here you go. No, I don't want. I want some more. Do you want me to squish it? And then blue and purple and green. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Will you bring the other plate over too. I know a lot of this is not going to be visually interesting, so I'm not shooting it. I'm just gonna commit to tryin' to make this photo one more time. Oh, there you go. Ethan, Ethan, what if you stood up and you were like this? Let's go over there. Go on the other side too honey. Yeah, there you. No, stand up and like this. There you go. Can I have some more? Yeah, you got, this is very-- That was nice, I had all three hands at one point. Like this. No, I want some more. Some more what? Paint? This one's mine. You can use that one too, that's fine. Do you wanna use, wanna draw on this one first though? Like this? He's gonna paint by himself. So, I'm going back to this photo. Slightly different perspective. What I do like, is I can photograph him out of the paint, while his moms are behind him. He might do that again at some point. So, I'm just gonna pocket that away. Squirrel it away. I know, I know, do it on that side right there. On that side, on this side. Whoa, there you go. You can step on this paper if you want. You can step on the Christmas paper if you want. So if I... There you go. Oh cool. This is gonna be beautiful Ethan, I'm so excited. Whoa, look how fun that is. So I'm framing mom's head in the corner, she just moved. It was a cool composition there. Wow, Ethan. That's so good. Okay, so my light is totally different now. Because my light source is behind me now, i.e the sliding glass door. So, this gives them direct light. It's a little flat, but it's good for at the end, an emotional moment, from this composition so far. Ethan? What color do you want? Buddy? So, kids around three, which is Ethan's age, they have a very short attention span. So, his behavior will become more testy, the longer this activity goes, so I'm preparing for that. I'll put it on this plate. Or should I put it-- How about some blue on this one? I'm gonna shoot this same scene from the other point of view. To see if I can make a better composition with everyone in it. Can I do it? Yep, squeeze it hard. Do it on this one honey. Let's do the blue on this plate. That way he doesn't mix the, or you can do it. Oh, there we go. Get it. Get it. (growls). (laughs) So that's probably good. I feel like it was in focus. I'm double checking. That was the best shot. So, it's good to sometimes go back to the scene, because it was a much better composition in my opinion. We'll take a look at the contact sheet paper. But you just did blue? Yeah, you have blue right here honey. So, just put that, let's do blue. And then we'll come back and do that one. That's the one you just did baby. Right there. See, you just did that one right there. Okay, so here. You want to do blue? Next the pink. Pink? I'm trying to think if there's a different photo I can make now, with this. This would be maybe more graphic, but I don't see anything. Okay, we gotta go put that thing back on like that. Nothing good, nothing good. Okay, there we go, all right. Now squeeze, like, Hercu-arms, like Superman muscles. Hercules. What do we call it? Hercules. Incredible Incredible Hulk muscles. Get your Incredible Hulk. (growls) So, I'm showing Mishka in the back there working on dinner, while Leah's helping with Ethan. I'm gonna get low. Now, buddy. He just likes squeezing it now. Mommy's going to paint. Do you wanna squirt, actually on that? Yeah, this is gonna be so pretty on the wall. You wanna try the yellow? Yeah. Just kind of dabble it. It kinda looks like a person with like a weird lookin' wig here. And then like a-- Oh shoot. Okay, that's good. Got Incredible Hulk muscles on the side. That was amazing. That's okay, look then we can kind of do that. You got Incredible Hulk muscles. On the outside. There we go. No, no, no. But we're not going to do the same thing again So, this was the behavior I was just talking about. He's starting to test them more, because this activity has been going on for longer than 10 minutes and so he's getting bored. Also, keep in mind the time of day. It's, I think, 5:30, somewhere around there. So, kids' behavior around this time of day gets a little bit wild. Okay, okay. All right, what do you think about, what do you think about the masterpiece we did, Ethan? What do you think about the masterpiece? Is it done, is it completed? Yeah? This is kind of a boring composition. You think it's done? It's straight forward. Which works sometimes, but this is just kind of literal. And not that (pot clangs) activity. I'd like to show how he feels about eating the cookie. But, the way that he's holding it. But, I'm not going to chase him. I'm just gonna, he's holding it next to me. I don't know if this is stuff that can go down the sink. Yeah, it's acrylic. I'll just let it I'm gonna wipe it off and then-- I'm isolating the cookie and the fingers to emphasize that, that is what I find most important or interesting. Hey Ethan, would you be interested in putting your hand in here? And putting your hand print on there? No. No? You're not interested in that? We're beepin' That's okay. I got it. You got cookie in the floor. Where's cookie? Can you please pick that up? Did I step on it? No, no. Don't you dare step on that. Don't be naughty. Come on. Notice how he's challenging more and more. Throughout the time that lapses here. Nothin' real interesting yet, I'm just watching. Come over here, please. Come over here, please. Mommy, (mumbles) Yeah, but let's not just, okay. (laughs) That's gonna be for later. Hey, hey, hey, Ethan. Did you see this. Look. Did you see this? We made that. Isn't that awesome? Yeah. 'Kay, no, no, come here, please. Come here, please. I wanna know something. What? Okay, so, like, his body gesture is really interesting to me. How he's hiding back there. Yeah, you like doing art projects? You like doin' art projects? Yeah. Can I have a hug then? I find it funny, because funny as adults don't sit like that, or squat like that. So, I'm using Mishka and that painting as a layer in the front. I let them just move in front of the lens. That's cool. We gotta get this paint up off the floor. Mommy! Hi honey. What do you want, what do you wanna do? You wanna do that? There you go thank you. So, we're gonna just rip this paper right here, and we'll save the other paper. Oh, there you go. Bad (mumbles) Watching his behavior 'cause they are occupied, so I'm waiting to see if he does something interesting while Mishka's not looking. All right, Ethan. High five for doing the painting. Can you give me a high five? No? High five? No? No high five for me? Testing, testing. He's just testing them and their limits right now. Which is perfect for his age. Yeah, so, bread's done. The bread's done? It's just cooling now. Is that a new sword? Yeah! I figured that'd be used for something other than just paper. You know what it also looks like? It looks like your Fireman Sam's pole. ♫ Fireman Sam pole ♫ Where's that? It's Fireman Sam pole. You want your Fireman Sam pole? Yeah. It's my knife. No. What? It's my knife. It's a bug. What are you talking about? Whoa. (mumbles) A bug? I think there's a bug. That's like, "Squirrel". All the sudden you just saw a bug. How'd you see that? Huh? That was amazing. How did you see that? So I had the right frame to make that a silhouette if I wanted, but the problem is the trees are in his, let's see this might not translate well, nope. Did you get it? Yeah. So I'm gonna address a couple of things. The first thing I kept reiterating over and over again, is his behavior is declining as each moment progresses. Because we got there right before dinner time. So, one of my suggestions whether you're photographing a solo kid, or many kids, if you're doing, like, a three or four hour session, I always suggest doing first thing in the morning, when they wake up, because there's a lot of routine, or later in the day, so, like, around this time through dinner and bed time. Because you're gonna have the most opportunity to make great photos with moments. Because, especially later in the day, the kids are melting down, right? It's very normal and natural and it's a beautiful present to you. In terms of photographing them, right. Especially with one kid, if you only have a couple of hours, and they need to be interacting during those normal daily activities. My suggestion, again, is to shoot either first thing when they wake up to maybe a little bit before lunch, or an hour or two before dinner, through dinner and then bedtime. Does that make sense? The more regular their day is, the more natural they're gonna be and they're gonna exhibit honest behavior and then you can provide them with you know, an honest account of what life is like at that point. The other thing that I was gonna mention is, that I move really slowly, I don't run, I don't rush, I don't panic, I'm moving really slowly. And part of that is my body language, my energy, is going to contribute to how they receive me, in their space. So, a lot of times, so I'm thinking and talking it out. But, normally I'm just chatting with them, and watching and waiting, "Oh, this is gonna be a good photo." I'm really just hanging with them for the day, and I have a camera in my hand. I have some students in the beginning that are like, (imitates ricocheting bullets) and I explain that kind of energy is going to effect how they behave. So, just calm and quiet and the more chaotic things get, the slower I work because I'm really working on just one photo at a time. I just need to make one good photo at a time. The other nice thing about having one kid, is someone asked, oh it was, was it you Ebony? When you have two things equally happening in the same room and you can't decide, well, with one kid, he is it. So, you don't have to worry about that. About if there's something better going along, you don't really have a donkey pull situation, when it comes to photographing one child. Whee. Whoa. You wanna get a shirt on, so you don't because last time you got those little sores. Yeah, I know. No, stop. I can do it. Okay, okay, no, can you hang on and be a koala? One, one thousand, two one thousand, nice. So, I'm getting Leah's body out of this shot, so it's just the arms on the pole, to emphasize that. With Leah in there, she is almost distracting the eye. (Ethan yells) (laughs) And actually I'll take both photos so you can see the difference. Okay, show 'em how it's done. 1, 2, 3 go. (Ethan yells) First of all, I have to make a decision head in or head out? If I include her face. (laughs) It simplifies the photo, and it's nice that it's in the clean spot in the window. So this is a good photo. Also, I'm blowing out the background, in case people are curious. Otherwise, it's too busy, but right now I'm shooting at 1/80th a second, so I'm gonna use this for a layer, right now. So, I missed that, because I didn't have it in focus. And I will say this for people who are slower with focus But, they repeat their behavior, so, I'm just gonna see if he goes back. I can also do something interesting here. Those were super strong muscles. Good job, buddy. So, I was getting pretty close, to them with the camera and they didn't care. They just kept going about their business, so hopefully that helps to see how close I get to them. I will say, again, my camera doesn't make as loud of a sound. But, I used to shoot the exact same way with a louder shutter and it wasn't, it really just wasn't an issue. And, I wasn't talking to them for most of the day, and I still was able to get pretty good access. Whatever I wanted to shoot, however close I wanted to get, it was totally fine. They, they do not care. And you have to remember it's not just me in there. It was two camera people, and, you know, in that room at the same time, and they still were fine. The funny thing is, he was very curious about the camera guys and was kind of chasing them around the whole time. And it, I've done this shoot before, a shoot like this before, and the other kids weren't like that as much. But this kid was, like, chasing the camera guys around, going, "Guy, guy, guy, guy, hey guy, do you talk? "Guy, hey talk to me." So, when I show the slideshow, I'm gonna show it tomorrow, when we talk about building a slideshow, you'll see that I chose to include, in their slideshow, some photos with him with the camera guys, because it was part of their experience. It was so cute. Like, he was just enamored, he wanted to know how the camera worked and everything. So. When you get a composition that you want and you're waiting for the moment, do you ever toggle, to say, like, your far, like a single focal point? So I only toggle if my composition includes the subject at the far edge or the far corner and I don't trust that I can move far enough and stay on my, the same focal plane. If I feel like, I physically can't do it, and I'm gonna move a little front or back, then I will toggle. But, I'm only toggling maybe 5% of the day. For the most part, I'm just back button focusing and recomposing. Then a question for the newer gear that you have, they have a lot more focal points. Do you, like, stick to a few, I know some are like, stronger than the others, or... I just stick it in the middle (laughs) Okay. And then if I need to toggle, it just goes all the way to the edge. But, otherwise it just stays right in the middle. Okay. Yeah. Are there any, do you see any tomatoes we can pick to eat? This. Oh, there's one. I think you can get it. That's not ready. That one might be good. Wanna try it? What about that one? What about that one? That. Yeah. It's good. So, that was a good reaction right there. On Leah. Check the bottom. Did you check the bottom? Oh in the mouth. Look there's that yellow one too, this one right here. Okay, (mumbles) So I'm tilting a little bit. And that's to put them corner to corner. I purposefully tilted. So, I'm backing up, I'm gonna just do a wide, of them, of their back yard. That'll be more for them than me as a photographer. The green beans? Yeah. Yeah, the green beans. Green beans. Look there's a whole bunch right here, buddy. Look, right here. So, I can't really climb in there, I guess I could. Oh my goodness, look how long those are. Get that one. There's not a whole lot happening right here. It's not very interesting. The backs of people, it's hard to make for great photos. I can try to climb up here on the deck. He's feeding her now, he's feeding her now. There's more, there's more. There's a whole bunch. There are, that's so good, I'm so happy. Second, second growth. (mumbles) What? What? Did you say, "Tag, you're it?" Tag. You're it. Tag, you're it. Tag you're it, mister, bister, bister. I'm not moving, I'm going to let them run in and out of the frame. That ball makes for a really interesting detail. I like the wide of this. Here's that interesting ball again. There. That was a good shot. That was a good moment with the ball. Gonna let them run through. (Ethan screams) Let's get 'er, Let's get 'er, Let's get 'er. Get her. You got her, go get her. Go get her. I'm staying with my compositions, which are here, like I said, letting them run in and out of it, rather than chasing them. Oh, shoot. (laughs and snorts) Get you, get you, get you. I'm gonna get you, I'm gonna get you. I just need one photo of this, of them running. I can also play with my exposure a little. I'm gonna slow down my shutter speed to 1/30th of a second. Now you're gonna be all wet. Now you're gonna be all wet. Ready? Ding. So, now I'm gonna have them move in. (Ethan screams) He's getting tired too, so we'll see. Right there. Get it. He's got bean in his mouth. So, I'm at 1/30th of a second, so I'm gonna stay really still if I wanna make a photo of this. What I want is him with, I want, really want three sets of legs moving, so Mishka's going inside, so it's just gonna be Leah with, with Ethan. There's a bug? Who cares? What, what, what? Oh, you see the, oh no it's a bee, okay. Get that soccer ball. Go score a goal. (sings about goal) I'm just gonna play with making a movement photo. You better go around a score a goal. So, I'm anticipating he's gonna come around here. 'Cause she said, "I want you to score a goal." So, I came back over here. I'm tryin' to follow their movement. (Ethan screams) You did that on purpose, you're like, "I wanna dig a hole." (laughs) Ready? Go. (Ethan panting) Yeah! That's good shot. Gimme some fives, gimme some fives. Yep, that's the one. I'm not squared up and that was not good. I'm gonna try this one more round of them running and then I'll switch my settings back. Mommy, can you wash the soccer ball? (laughs) Ethan, that's what soccer's about. It's gonna be dirty, water, dirt, grass-- Mommy! No, no, no, absolutely not. We're not washing the soccer ball. All right, I'm gonna switch my settings back now. Yes, it is. Your feet are gonna get a lot dirty. When you play soccer down the road. You just, you just clean them off when we go inside, it's okay. I'm waiting for him to turn that on. This could go awry, we'll see. Does it feel weird? Okay, you wanna clean the other one then too. Okay, is that better? That better? He's gonna take advantage. Well, mom turned it off. He would've taken advantage, yep. You need to clean the grass? No, you do not need to clean the grass. Yes. No. Yes! No, you do not need to clean the grass. Yes! The grass is cleaned by the rain. No. He's pushing the boundaries. Always makes for good photos. He might hit the ball with the, that's what I thought he was gonna do. This (mumbles) Honey, that's the baseball is different than the soccer. So, that's fine. No! It's not mommy. It's okay. It's not mommy! Listen, listen. It's not mommy! Okay, do you want Many parents refer to this time of day as the witching hour. You love tomatoes, why you do that to the tomatoes? I'm gonna go around. Listen, time out. Okay, listen to me real quick. Okay. Okay, do you wanna play baseball or do you wanna play soccer? Baseball. Okay, let me get a ball then that we can hit. You can't hit the soccer ball, it doesn't go anywhere. Okay, so just, time out. Let's hit this. No, let's not hit that. Mommy will be not happy with you. So, she's gonna have to leave for a minute which leaves this, they're gonna hit the basketball. I like how Mishka keeps, like, looking. Do you want a smaller ball? Get in position. Get your position, sideways, yeah. Ready? Turn. This is nice, composition's really balanced. I just like seeing Mishka in the back where you can tell because she's got the towel in her hand that she's probably cooking dinner. So, that's a nice detail. Oh, now she's gone. But, she does keep coming back, so. Oh, buddy. So, a couple of notes. I missed two good photos. I missed the one where he was feeding Leah the green beans. Because I wasn't there, I was trying a different composition. But, I don't care, a just let that go. The other photo that I'm kinda bummed that I missed is when he ran, head first, into the goal post. But, it was outta focus, I wasn't preparing for that. So, I missed that too. The other thing I want to mention is, there were things going on in between them running around, but I had committed to trying to pan and create motion. So, I wasn't switching back and forth between my settings, to be applicable to whatever was going on. I just committed to the panning and if you heard me say, "Okay, I'm gonna give this one more round of panning, "and then I'm gonna go back to "my regular settings that's gonna stop the motion." So, that's the other thing, I don't think you should feel like you have to panic and, like, keep switching back and forth just commit to what photo you're trying to make and at least give it a little bit of time, and if it doesn't work then you can go back. And I made a motion shot that I really liked. I also want to note that, I just want to know what's going on with that big circle, like, crop circle in the middle of their yard, with a giant ball, like, I should've asked, like, " Why is the grass, like, so much lower, "with a, with a ball?" But, it made for really interesting composition. So, it was just like this interesting detail that they had in the back yard. But, yeah I miss photos all the time. Yes, Sarah? Do you have any tips or tricks on focusing when they're running around like that? Yes, good question. So, if you're not panning and they're running around, my suggestion is, if they're running across from you that's easy, like, back and forth, because you can just focus on the one focal plane. If kids are running to you, or away from you, one thing you can do is identify if there's a pattern. If there's a pattern in their behavior, then you can anticipate that they're going to keep coming around, where they're gonna keep coming around, and position yourself with a good composition. Then, you just focus on where you want the focus to be when they come through it, and instead of chasing them you wait, and let them run through it, and then as they run through it, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, and then part of them will be in focus, you know, at some point they'll be in focus. Kind of like, the same idea as on the swings, right? Like, you pick where you want it to be in focus and then you let them come through that. Is that, does that help? If they're, you know, going back and forth like I said, then you can pretty much anticipate they'll be on the same focal plane and then you can shoot. Keeping your shutter speed high, right, so that you can get it in focus. The one thing with the Fuji, it's a little bit slow, I mentioned that. When it's, the light is too low, there's a grip they make for it, that you can add to it and it increases the performance by about 30%. So, I always have it with me for at night, if I need it, if it's getting really grainy, or the focus is really slow. Then I'll put the grip on there and the extra battery increases the performance of the, of the camera. This could potentially be dangerous I think something is gonna break, maybe, it has potential. So, I'm waiting for that. Okay, you gonna get it? Yeah. So, it's not actually hitting it and the reaction, it's if something breaks. This is the one you chose, you ready? All right, that's a good hit buddy. Good. You wanna back up a little bit? Good. Ready? So, this is reaction, to trying to hit, but, I have this nice clean background behind, so I'm gonna try and use that. Why are you striking a pose, literally? (chuckles) You ready, oh he's like, "Oh, I can do that?" I hate the TV in the back of this composition but..." You ready? Yeah. Okay, oh that's your warm up? Wow. Whew, that's your warm up, okay. Are you ready to hit now. You're still swinging the bat. Go. I can't go, are you ready? Are you ready? Oh, a swing and a miss. (laughs) Oh, oh good, ready? Oh, swing and a miss. (laughs) Ready? Okay, here we go. Oh you got it. That was foul tip, foul tip. Okay, you ready? Yeah. (groans) Weren't very many, very many pictures in there. But, again emphasizing that it's the interaction between the two of them, right? And, you see a lot more of that when you have just one child. So, it's actually an advantage. You just get to show the relationships between the parents and their kids. I think there's only a couple more videos. The one of him going outside is pretty funny. Do you wanna help smash up this? This is a common situation that a lot of people find themselves in. And it's very hard to photograph. I cannot get where I need my body to be. Do you want butter on that or do you want it just like that? Really hard to shoot this. Thank goodness this is where the Fuji comes in handy, because I at least have the screen, immediately got that. I don't even know if that's in focus. That's good huh? (hums in approval) Good job! Did we mash all those bananas up? Is it good? Oh, you want that piece now? Yeah? Can I have more banana bread? What's wrong with this one? Just finish that one. (laughs) Silly. You're really good at that though. You wanna try it? It's hard for me to show what they're doing. Yeah! Yeah? Do you wanna get the rest of this avacado in there? Yeah? Let's get it, scrape it out, okay? I'm trying to frame this corner to corner. Oh, your gonna eat it like that. Okay, we're not gonna--, You just want it like that? Is he lovin' the banana bread? Yeah. I'm just gonna back off and give 'em some breathing room, because it's really not photo, at this moment. We got sweet potato fries in here. I'm not inclined to shoot the backs of them right now. It's just boring to me. If he puts his arms around his mom... Whoa! That's a big bite! There that's good. When she, there we go. That was a big bite. Your mouth is so full. Can I see? Whoa! (laughs) that is a big bite. Did Ethan eat my bite too? This one for me? You get one bite. I get one bite, thanks. You guys are enjoying so, I was like, "I wonder if that's good." There's more. It's good? It's pretty good. I want more. You want more? Your mouth is so full. Look at your little mouth. What you got in here. Okay, that's good though. You didn't see my face. No, was it good? I was like... I hate you. (laughs) Were you like... No that's good stuff. It's a little dry but... No, that's because it was the end piece. It's good. I'm just joking. It's good. It's good. Everything you make is good. Whatever. I love this affection right here. It's really sweet like that. Three hug kiss? Oh, three hug kiss. Thank you. Okay. Oh more? Oh my goodness, that's a big bite. That's a lot. What's your food doing? What do we have? We have some burgers and look, look, look we have sweet potato fries in here. Sweet potato tots, which is even better. Tots, you're right. Mommy. Okay, you wanna see what they look like? Ethan, try that. Milk? Coconut milk, so good. It tastes like milk, but it's even better. Now wash that banana bread down if you can. That good? That's good stuff huh? Mommy. I wanna (mumbles) The thing is that... What are you doing? That's not, you don't sword the banana bread, get out of here. All this behavior is why I like shooting later in the day, this is beginning. You don't do that. That's naughty. I put your banana bread on the table, okay? Why would you do that? How many of you find yourselves in that situation where they're cooking or baking at the counter and you cannot get in front? It drives me crazy. That's what I was saying, this is like, it's so challenging when they're like, "We're gonna bake." And I wanna be like, "Do you have an island?" (laughs) Because it makes it really tough, so I was basically shooting blind. And before, I mean even with the screen, I can't really see. I'm just kind of guessing. I love the affection they were showing at the end, and for me I felt like, okay, I have a closer for their collection. Those big embraces are really important, to me. I'm sure you guys noticed, so Mishka is going through chemo and I didn't want to make it about her going through chemo. It's just, part of her story, but it isn't their story. Their story is their relationship, the three of them to each other. There's no video of it, but you'll see in the slideshow tomorrow, I did photograph when she had to get her shots, and they gave me, I asked for permission about that, I normally don't ask permission, I just shoot, but because of, given the sensitive subject of also us also being there and filming, she said, "You're more than welcome. "This is part of our life right now, "you can photograph it." And what I liked was that, you'll see, Ethan is involved with that. He watches the shots, he helps clean Mishka up. And so they just didn't include the video for whatever reason, but I just wanted to mention that. I'm sure some of you were curious. She is going through chemo right now, but she's doing, she's doing really well so. Okay, so I'm going to try and make a photo of him eating at his little table, while his moms are in the background. Kind of a scene setter, now what I want to see is him doing something a little bit naughty, ideally. We're actually eating a little bit earlier than we-- Oh my goodness, this kid, he is wacko. Oh my goodness, there's banana bread all in your mouth. (laughs) Wacko with his banana bread. (laughs) (growls) Wash it down. No. Yes. I'm close, because the environment is not necessary to understand what's happening here. (laughs) Banana bread. Okay, easy cheesy, why is, there's like 10 pieces of banana bread in front of this kid. He's gonna be like, okay, you're gonna turn in, okay, your gonna turn into a big banana bread. The rest is mommy's I think. You've had so much banana bread, I can't even believe it. (Ethan screams) I need to watch them. Watch the man. Are you gonna go down the pole? Or should I take it away? Are you all done? Are you all done? Yeah. No, you're-- Yes! You're just gonna go from couch to couch, okay. Pole's going bye-bye. What do you do? Bye-bye, it's going bye-bye. Oh, see ya later. (laughs) I'm looking at making environmental portraits. Although I hate that TV in it. (laughs) Okay, so, I think he's gonna jump from couch to couch, here. So, I can shoot this two ways. The way that I've always shot it. Which is safe, wide, leaving space for him to move around. If he does it again, I'll shoot it with motion. Ride your motorcycle or something. And it looked like I take it out, but I really had a hard time trying to avoid that TV. So, I think the last video is my--. (toy whirs) All right, I'm gonna do another panning of this, or adding motion. I'm going ahead, so I can photograph as they come, they come through my frame. Being very careful not to have the other camera guys' legs in my shot. I know I see (mumbles) No, mommy. All right, I'm done with, I think I got one motion photo. Let's stay in the cul-de-sac The cul-de-sac. No, no, no. You're gonna go down the hill? Yeah. Full force? Just let you go? I'm probably gonna fall on my ass right now. You wanna do that? Okay. No way, Jose. All right, so I have this interesting clean, possibly clean, frame. I'm expecting him to just come down here, but I hate that Suburban. No? Okay, you don't have to. Go this way.Go this way. I don't want to. Well you don't wanna run into the curb here. Yeah, that's what I'm sayin'. Ready? Pull your feet up, ready? I'll hand it to you. He just wants to go a little bit. (mumbles) Well, you have to get out of the groove. Gotta get out of the groove, kiddo. You are like the, you have such a hard head. Why do you have a hard head? No, no, stop, stop! Why you have such a hard head? Okay, I wanna get a photo of just the hands pushing, there we go. I can do it. You can do what? I don't wanna do this, this is crazy let's turn around. There might be a fight. There might be a fight. Or a temper tantrum. I'm going to be waiting for that. It's like storming. Look at mommy. Look at mommy. Can you see me? Like, look, you see how harsh it is right now? I'm getting blasted. You see how harsh I'm getting blasted and these poor people. Come on think of other people. No, I can do this. Hey, listen you wanna be like, you wanna be like Superman and those guys that help people. Then help us get back 'cause we're gettin' blasted. Help us get back. I can do this. Okay, help us get back. (mumbles) Okay, then help us get back. I want to get a really wide shot of this. Help us get back. (Ethan shouting) Go, go, go, go. Turn right. Turn right. (Ethan chanting) (toy whirring) So, already really have good photos of this scene, so I'm just gonna come back up. So, I want a photo of Mishka, waiting for them. (Ethan crying) Aww, here's that meltdown I was talking about. No, no, no (crying) It's okay. Ethan, it's okay. What happened? I don't know what I did. Use your words, use your words. (crying) Can you use your words, tell us why you're upset? We all made it up here safely, you saved the day, buddy. Yeah. See, they all made it up here, look, look, you guided 'em all up, look they're still here, in the storm down there, see they made it. That's what I was tryin' to tell you. That was nice, both the moms put their hands on him. That was really nice. You should give me a hug instead of pushing me away. So this is gonna be a temper tantrum, probably. There's gonna be tears. I can do that. I know you can. Can you do this and bring it up to the garage? I wanna be (mumbles) Honey they made it, they made it up here, but see how stormy it is, they need-- Lots of hand gestures right now which is good, for storytelling. It helps so that the viewer can read what's happening. (Ethan shouting and crying) So, what I think is they're just gonna pull him off of here. Their gonna pick him up, that's what I thought. (Ethan crying) It's okay. It's okay buddy. Look how wet it is. Normally, we don't go outside in this. So, I just finished up with the family. And I'm really excited to look at the photos, I think it went really well. I only shot for two hours and I feel like I have a nice balance of good emotional moments and you know, the kid being weird, those kind of photos that I look for. There's a lot of energy in some of my pictures. I was playing with my shutter speed. We have real action reaction, all things that I'm looking for in the shoot. So, I think this was a really solid two hours, where I might great photos for the clients.

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Ratings and Reviews


I own Kirsten's 3 classes. And they are ALL amazing, inspiring and refreshing. She is not only a super talented photographer but an amazing teacher and person as well. I have learned so much from each one of her classes. I have never met a photographer so willing to share and see their students succeed. I highly recommend people not only to buy this class, but all 3! I would not be the photographer I am today if it wasn’t for her. After following her advise for the last 3 years I am finally engaging with the audience I want and I feel true to myself in the way I shoot. This makes a huge difference in my everyday. I am am truly grateful to this photo wizard lady. ps: warning, make sure you are on birth control. These classes might make you want to have children, just to get amazing images like the ones she takes LOL (joking) #not

Carrie Littauer

This workshop was by far the best photography workshop I have ever been a part of. Kirsten's work, her humor, her authenticity, her expertise and perspective will forever change the way I work with families and go about documentary photography. I am so motivated and inspired to dig deeper into my role as a photographer, and as a person, to make a real difference in the lives of those that I photograph and with my art. I'm thrilled to have been in the LIVE studio and am so grateful for Creative Live for giving phenomenal artists like Kirsten this exposure and opportunity to teach other creatives like myself! Thank you.

Johanne Lila

In the very minutes Kirsten Lewis' first class (first of three) for cL aired, I realized I needed in on this awesomeness. I became a 1 Year Mentorship student with her right away, and now I have been so incredibly fortunate to be in the studio audience for the live taping of her final class (or the third of the three, who knows what the future might hold!). For me as a 'Kirsten Lewis alumni' taking this class was perfect. I was reminded of things I knew, but had forgotten. I learned a ton of new stuff. But most of all, I remembered why we do this work in the first place: The love that is right there in the reality of life. How much this work matters to real families out there. And how much it matters to keep getting better at this, to give our families better work. I will be forever greatful that I chose the best mentor, Kirsten is such a gift to all of us. And if you're still in doubt: This class is AMAZING! If you're new, if you've at it for a while, if you're alumni: Gold is HERE!

Student Work