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Family Photography: Modern Storytelling

Lesson 4 of 35

Skype Interview with Photojournalist David Murray

Kirsten Lewis

Family Photography: Modern Storytelling

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

4. Skype Interview with Photojournalist David Murray

Lesson Info

Skype Interview with Photojournalist David Murray

This is my friend david murray who I just love and I am the photographer I am because of him in tyler working who was my team leader the first year who's going to be young creative I've in two weeks he's gonna have an awesome class but david really taught me about emotionally connecting and I have had a hard time over my life sometimes emotionally connecting with people that really care about and I'm not much of a crier and I don't tell people how I feel when I really love them and I bawled when I said goodbye to jaime and I don't think I would have done that before um so I asked david to join us on skype because I want to talk to him about this picture that he made when he was in the news this is a no it's a little bit graphic but this is a picture that he made when he was covering events in I believe it's in jamaica we'll talk to him more about it this is a photo from newsweek and we're going to actually dress bears question about how involved do you get or is it crossing the line so...

I guess we have david is there a way that we can I can see him hi david where do I see him? Do I just look at him this way our talk from there how are you? Good welcome to creative life e I have three wonderful students that are very excited to meet you. Thank you for watching. So can you tell them about the picture that you made and then the picture that was made after that we actually are not sharing because a little graphic. But if you can talk about what it was like to make this picture and your involvement personally with it not as a photographer but just as a human being. Quarters are in hating, actually on the outskirts of the village, very northeast portion of the patient. And I was on my way up there miss the time when us was coming back had invaded the scree. But I was on assignment for the near times. Four arrived at this tomb, my journey and to see this crowd gathering all on immediately had the driver stop the car. I got out with cameras on that they were bringing in the stuff sega suspected to be a tom tom recruitment, which of course, would be unpaid home to hear bad guys that that part of the government way of keeping a large swath days on end so they were feeling the countless problems soon very confident about bringing this course men they initially had a very, very easy goal manner, and everybody was happy. It was about half a mile into the americans, so we started in course as we would go walking backwards a ziff you're walking with a bride and groom down the aisle I host shoes for our for like a half a mile with all of this commotion and of course it gradually got more more angry, more violent time to the point where they were stopping him getting in with whatever they could find stick rifle butt and it was becoming quite town since you imagine you can even see the pictures eventually get to that point where we were not about fifty yards away from where the americans who were sitting behind barbed wire bradley vehicle and they basically stopped and pointed the gun right at this head asked do you want me to shoot him right here? And I've never everyone in such a position as a journalist a portion of supposed to do be anything but a wall you know, just to find them I just finally said despite of journalistic ethics at that point I said no let's go over here and in fact they listen to me for some thank god they did listen to this because of our spirit this poses life it was a very, very tense moment any course I had all kinds of ethical questions afterwards that I do the right thing because I was being too uh was I doing too much of a costume do you ever regret that decision that you made to say no no in retrospect I mean it took me a while because it was you know, it's not every day your you're presented with a lot of deaths situation where you're judging very for somebody I never had been that way before I've been since I went a couple of weeks later another breaks with us megastar and I met up there another part of the same country I broke down and cried as I told you the story she she comforted me she can be a big help I think I I think I knew I had anyway but still I wanted to be true to form journalism itself I didn't want to I feel like I just lined ultimate human being alive if it was up to me and that's that so as far as being human as well as a photographer do you feel like it makes for stronger images when you allow yourself to also be a human when you're with your subjects or to leave a wall up? You know I don't personally I can't speak for anybody else I can speak for myself hi to ultimately feel I have to come from a place that has hoping love for humanity I know that it's it's just something that I've always felt like I take it from the lights of capitals and some of the great fun drove us it was I think he's captain himself who said that you have to you have to love people you have to let it show I mean that's always been one of my standards ultimate way have to work from your point of view not just good passionate way have to just I want to be in their shoes and have but I've been there and there but for the christmas party that's how I work how in your days whether it be photographing weddings or families or when you were a news photographer how much uh involvement connection uh interaction did you do you have with your subjects are you talking to them often? Well certainly in the case of way just saw in that picture there wasn't much communication all with universal ocean living that level I just had empathy for this person and I think that so that's what happened in that particular situation but you know yeah I mean in dealing with what would be a family issue or a wedding like that keep brought this out already that's certainly in pictures of the children seeing their grandfather that's the last time I mean these air these connections that make their way around them they get to know us they come from the here with us and they allow us into their lives because they understand that where we're coming from and that we're not there to anything cell of your being wants to understand them I want to talk as a photojournalist, what would be the best piece of advice that you could give to family photographers that are really wanting to approach their work more from a documentary photojournalism point of view, what's the best advice that you could give way you have to understand the tools that you have in front of the tv atmosphere as you, I already brought up, like composition moment. I don't know that you really you're totally in a position to do what you want to do, but let's assume that you have those capabilities and everybody works on it. To some degree, I still want those three, but then eventually, and I knew that your problem couple this they want it's, it's finding your yourself who you are and understanding, understanding who you are, you can therefore understand to a greater men and apply what you know about yourself in dealing with other people. I think that's a really, really are exported is the ability to have that connection with other human beings and know that there's there has to be empathy and love. You won't shoot that's how I put you guys have any questions for virtual man, that I is actually riel he's in the box right now, somewhere in any questions, I appreciate you joining me, david, I was telling them that I really don't feel like I would be the photographer am had I not worked with you and had you as a inspiration and mentor leader you full wealth full of knowledge um you really have a heart for photography that I don't know if I had had it as much until I worked with you I'll just say that because I'd like to say I made it to the door you want to thank you thank you I'll see you soon if you get a chance to look up his work it's phenomenal he's amazing and he just motivates me and inspires me um we're almost done what I wanted to something that he brought up that I want to talk to you guys about do you feel one hundred percent confident with your equipment? You could be honest that's a great question that's something I've been thinking about a lot because as I become a stronger storyteller, I see those chinks in the technical side because you can't control everything you're not controlling you you're really not controlling much except your point of view and your position and, you know, using the light that's already available, so I would say I feel fairly strong, but the moments passed so quickly that um I'm finding I really need thio sort of going to go into a setting anticipating what am I setting is going to be am I gonna, you know, just everything. And I need a little bit of a little bit of strengthening their I mean, I could always learn, you know, I feel confident using manual and, um, there's a lot of stuff I do. I do a lot of rescue, pet photography and live music photography. Um, on both of those keep me really challenged as faras changing settings are lot and being in small spaces and, you know, and not being able to control my environment or the lay and the light constantly changing, and so I feel like those keep me on my toes a lot in those respects also, my backgrounds and film and video, um, I have recently got a few new lenses, and so I'm really trying to, like, figure what are the ones that I really just want to hone in on? I love my thirty five I absolutely love it for a lot of the things that I do. Um so it's really determining what what lenses? I feel great about using a lot of time, but as faras there's other things, I feel like I'm constantly challenging myself, and I gotta keep doing that gin e I feel pretty confident. More so when I'm going to a place that I've shot before or if they really have the time tio walk around before we shoot and really get do some test shots and lay of the land and that sort of thing and I think just that preparation um makes me feel more comfortable with with my gear or the lighting situation so not so much my gear but I guess the situation at hand I feel pretty pretty confident it's make your but same thing I just got a new lens to so each time you add something or each time you challenge yourself in a new way it's always a new opportunity for growth so yeah, I am with my mentor students I I tell them this it is this the best analogy I have any of you drive stick anybody drive stick anybody learn how to drive stick so my parents said I was always a worker bee like I had a job I was fifteen they supported me getting a car when I was sixteen because I want to go to work but they got me my step dad always treat me like a boy or not a boy but like non girly like I was to learn stick and so they got a car for me to drive but I could not drive it until I learned how to drive stick and it took forever remember once, like trying to get up a hill, and I was in third gear when I should have been in first and just like bucking, but I say it's like learning drive stick, you can't be a good driver until it naturally comes to you, and you're not thinking about having to put the collection and then shifting gears are downshifting. You can't focus on anything else, avoiding squirrels, not running over the graham on the side of the road, emerging on the highway. You can't focus on any of that until you have the mechanics down its exact same way with dr mary photography until you know how your camera works without thinking about it, where it is automatic and innate, where I know that when I am walking from the bathroom, which is really loud, well lit to the playroom, which is downstairs, I am wall, I'm walking, I not even thinking about it, I'm changing my eyes so like, I'm not even thinking about it, and then when I'm going outside, I'm changing my eyes so again, and I know that when I'm looking at a particular type of light, I can pretty much set my camera to that, which I what I expect I can chimp. You all know what chimp is just looking to make your camera I use that to just make sure that my mu during is right because I don't trust the meter on my camera and then I keep going if your brain is so filled with thoughts of how your camera's working you have no space left to photograph moments there's no space left you're too frazzled about how the mechanics of of what choices you have to make because asses photographers especially me is it a day in the life shooter I am so exhausted at the end of the day way more than I am with a wedding because I am making decisions multiple decisions every minute and that is a lot of work so if there's anything about your camera that you want to work on in these three days like you have a question please ask people in the audience if you have questions I can't do a whole lot on technical thes three days but I'll do as best I can the best advice I can give is you have to get that innate like you have to get it automatically working so you have the room left in your brain to relax and allow the moments that happen and you have that space to make those decisions to make those pictures that makes sense that makes sense jim e a question for you about that so I feel like I'm at that place for the way I shoot, which is to say, ninety five percent of time, I have my thirty five, and I'm usually shooting at two point eight and just adjusting everything else I feel totally comfortable with that, I think, where I'm sort of maybe wanting to grow and maybe not, and this is what my question is, once you kind of find a way of shooting that fits your style in your voice, do you feel like in different situations, you need to change it, to switch things out, switch out your lunges, switch, switch out your depth of field? I mean, I don't want to feel like I'm in a rut shooting in particular way, but I also want to feel comfortable with my particular vision in perspective and voice, and but I want to stretch myself, you know, you have multiple f stops for a reason. Yeah, and it isn't to stay on two point eight, you need to learn why you make good choices for the whatever appa traitor you're choosing to shoot in, and that is about storytelling, like the choice of aperture, like the choice that you make for how much light you're letting in and what kind of depth of field you want that adds into what type of story you're telling if you want to make layered pictures like really good layered photos, where you can see a lot of detail what's happening with the subject behind as wells in front, you have to change your amateur and you to be comfortable doing that and to know the circumstances when your aperture needs to change. And when you said I am always on two point eight, that, like, was like, we're going to get you out of two point eight. Or at least I want to inspire you to play with other amateurs. When it's appropriate. I'm going to eat a lot, but not all the time. I was sam on two, eight, maybe fifty percent of the time, the other fifty percent of the time, and making choices for when I need different, apertures said, makes sense.

Class Description

Learn how to capture genuine, emotional images of families. In Family Photography: Modern Storytelling, Kirsten Lewis will teach you how to take meaningful documentary-style family photographs.

Kirsten Lewis takes a unique approach to family photography, leaving posing techniques and studio light at the door to capture real moments, as they are lived. In this class Kirsten will share her techniques for creating the relationships and environments that help her subjects feel at ease and open-up in an authentic way while she shoots. You’ll revisit the art of storytelling through still images and how to bring storytelling into your work with families. Kirsten will teach you the steps to developing client relationships that allow you to honestly document a family, from birth onward, while nurturing your business. You’ll learn new ways to approach composition and editing so your final product is both beautiful and true to reality.

If you want to deepen your relationships with the subjects you shoot and deliver photographs that are joyful and authentic, join Kirsten for this in-depth class on documentary-style family photography.



I cannot recommend Kirsten's course highly enough. I've tuned in to a couple of CreativeLive courses on photographing families and children, and they were both very "studio"-centric. A lot of posing, a lot of gear, etc. I don't have a studio and a lot of gear, I don't desire to, I'm uninspired by the outcomes, and I tuned out pretty quickly. I love capturing people, especially kids and families, in their moments. I love a great candid. I love "documentary photography" (as I learned to call it from this course). And loving and creating photos that tell a story or capture a genuine moment is exactly what this course taught us to do, and did a fantastic job of doing. A few things I loved about Kirsten from the get go: she is not pretentious, but intelligent and genuine; she as a person and her photography are inspiring; she knows how to teach - technical without being 'technical', knows how to explain her process, draws on her mistakes so we can all learn from them (and our own - and this is a HUGE element of teaching most people lack!), all the while packing in an enormous amount of information that could improve anyone's photography. is very accessible in her explanations and her language; she is honest: a good teacher will be critical because again, if she's not (and if we're not open to it) how will we ever learn? Although I felt sometimes her language was a bit harsh or her assessments "right or wrong" where more nuanced language could be merited - my one critique. really seemed to be teaching first and foremost to have people learn and be excellent photographers, and to enjoy the gifts photography can offer (personally and productively), which made it so much more appealing to be "in the room". Best of all, I had an awakening that I am allowed to be myself in my photography. As much as I love candids, I get caught up in the expectation to take posed pics, for those I'm taking the photos for more than for myself. No more. It makes me impatient and disappointed with the outcomes. I'm going to cultivate what I love. I also finished each day inspired to take and process photos - visiting my nieces, bringing my camera everywhere. During the class I kept going into lightroom to look at my pics while she was teaching, to compare my past photos to what she was teaching. It was such a wonderful learning experience. Thank you Kirsten for being true to yourself, going out on a limb in your approach, and sharing all of this with us!

Kathleen Petersen

I started out in photojournalism, but it was a long time ago. Back in the 70s, I would play with the little ones, in their backyards, or at their breakfast tables, to get lots of beautiful, real images. Then, over the years, with the need to earn income, and then later, the need to compete, I got side tracked. I still did photojournalistic images of my kids, and eventually, their kids, but clients were wanting specific things. I called it the line-them-up-and-shoot-them style of family photography. The creative soul within was always longing for the more natural, more real images, and I have always been able to sneak them in to any session. But my business was mostly about everything else. I shot some weddings early on, to pay my dues and my rent. But discovered that I much preferred being a second shooter and capturing the candid moments and the details. As I am now a grandmother, I have been making changes gradually in my business to get back to my roots. Taking this class has been life-changing for me. I was making these tiny little baby steps, as if I was afraid that I would fall out of favor with my current and future clients. The competition is huge here in socal, so how could I dare step away from the white shirts and khakis? I dare. I am about to completely revamp my business model to return to where I started from. I plan to march to the beat of my own drummer. It really does make one happy to follow one's passions and to be true to one's self. I don't even care if I lose any clients. I want to provide for people something that is so essential. Real images that will nail down the memories forever as they interact and love each other. This is so important. At first, I wasn't sure if I would like Kirsten. But by the end of the three days, I loved her as if she were my best friend from forever ago. I love her for her personality, the things she taught us, and her great example. Best class I have ever taken at Creative Live, and that is saying something! Thank you!

Jo Benoy

The great thing about photography is that it can be all things to all people: a hobby, an art form, a profession. As long as I can remember, cameras and pictures have been important to me - for different reasons in different seasons. I have never been particularly interested in formal photos, and I thought my preference for "catching moments" in a style three or four notches above a snapshot made me seem like some sort of slackard. Enter Kirsten Lewis. In three days, she explained, modeled and taught the sort of shooting that I've loved for as long as I can remember. She mirrors my philosophy that good photographs aren't necessarily pretty, and that if a picture is compelling or evocative, it's a good one. Lewis is not only a gifted photographer but a clear and cogent teacher, which is always a welcome combination, and as strong as her tangible skills are her confidence and dedication to her own style and voice. I've watched and bought several CreativeLive courses, but I have enjoyed none more than this one: ever since watching it, my brain has been spinning and my shutter finger has been itchy. I loved, loved, loved this workshop.