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Family Photography: Photojournalism in the Home

Lesson 32 of 37

Critique: Photographer's Perspective

Kirsten Lewis

Family Photography: Photojournalism in the Home

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

32. Critique: Photographer's Perspective

Lesson Info

Critique: Photographer's Perspective

This is at home as well, and we think that this photo is too close, for one, it needs to be further away, because we're cutting off mom here. One thing I do like, and that we're missing, is she is in the middle of a stride. That's the thing that we look for. We want them to be in stride, like stretched out, versus one leg in the middle of it, the transition of it. So, a lot of times, with street photographers especially, they'll look for the longer stride. She's also in between a moment right now. Her eyes are closed. So, she was blinking. I know that she was blinking when this photo was made, and that's why we need to shoot through that, so that we can catch it when she's not blinking. It's very interesting what the boy is doing. It's a little bit surreal, 'cause we have no idea why he's doing it, and we also don't want the girl to be looking at us, camera aware. So, we need to be further away. Show more context maybe. And tell, I think the most important thing for me is that I don'...

t know what he's plugging his ears, is he plugging his ears, at. Is it mom, or is it traffic, or is his sister, or what? And so, I think if we could add an exaggerated look on the mom's face, or we, maybe this is where you add cars if it's traffic. I wanna see context, so that I know exactly what he's mad about. This is a reaction without context. We don't know why he's doing it. So, we saw this photo, and we felt that this is very distracting. This faucet is extremely distracting. So, we said, "Let's just go for it, "and go weird and abstract." Right? Might as well. And so, it changes the whole feel of the photo by getting rid of the edges here, and my favorite part is just these few strands of hair right here. I want a little bit more of a moment with her, but kids that put their heads down, I know I used to do this, they're like trying to hear what it sounds like underneath the water, so she's gonna be doing that, or he's gonna be doing that for a minute, or at least 30 seconds. So, you hope that they open their eyes, and then they look big to the right, or the left, or maybe she's getting ready to go under, so we want the big expression of holding her breath, something. I think I just want a little something more in the face. [Woman With Glasses] Yeah, let's keep exploring that. So, we think yes, the teeth are interesting, but it doesn't, we don't feel as there's a moment here. What we want is for her to put it up to her mouth, or look in the holes of it, but the way that it is right now, there's not much going on. You could say that for almost any object, and that's why it works for the spoon. Unless there's an interaction with the object that's very clear, you don't necessarily need to photograph it. It's one of those things where it's pretty. We use a wide open aperture, and so we like the feeling of it, but it really is lacking-- A moment. We just want more of a moment. We think that her reaction, or her face, might be interesting. Now, if you really thinks it's interesting, her holding the teeth, the one thing that I do notice is she has very dirty fingernails, right? And so, if that, if you wanna do the juxtaposition of the soft hands with the dirt, and then these sharp teeth, then you need to be very clear that that's what you want to be showing, and you need to be right here. Like, I mean, seriously, like squared up right here, and then you have to wait for a moment to happen with the fingers in order for it to work. Does that make sense? And, I think this is, to sort of sum it up, this is a good example of what's missing is your point of view, because what right now you're saying is this is an object. And so, this might be an interesting object for a kid to be holding, but I want you to tell me that. I want you to say, "She should not be holding this," or, "She's dirty," or there's not the actual story in it. She collects bones, animal bones. And so that was part of the reason why I wanted to make that picture, but that's what I've struggled with with this image. That's good to know. This is one of my favorite things. It's like what about this information are you trying to tell me? So, then, in that case, to translate it to a stranger, 'cause, again, they're happy, are there other bones around her? Yes, that's what I'm thinking about. Yeah, I wanna see some more context. Yeah, I have a few from this particular set where she went with family, and she found some animal bones as well, but this one was her very favorite out of her collection, so she was showing it to me. [Woman With Ponytail] I think we need the collection in there. I think I have one of her-- I want you to have a hundred. (laughing) Well, I have one of her pointing them out, but she had laid them out on a table. She wasn't near the table at this particular moment, but, yeah. Yeah, 'cause it's not a product shoot necessarily, right? Yeah, we don't, we're not selling this weird animal's-- But this comes up all the time, 'cause there's all kinds of photos that we see of rattles, kids playing with blocks, and we just wanna know why you want us to look at that. So, that works across the board for a lot of objects.

Class Description

Families are in constant motion. The relationships between parents, among siblings, and across generations are complex, fluid, and intense. Capturing the nuanced interplay of emotions in a family is no mean feat, and traditionally, photographers have chosen to summarize these relationships in pre-scripted, highly posed images.

Kirsten Lewis has developed a new way of photographing family dynamics. Bringing photojournalistic principles into this practice, she follows the family as they live their lives to create unique, powerful imagery. 

In this class, you’ll learn:

  • How to capture a full day in a family’s life, including conflicts and resolutions
  • Adapting your camera to changing lighting and settings as you follow the family
  • How to narrow down day in the life images for final delivery  
For the first time, Kirsten is allowing cameras to follow her throughout an entire day’s shoot with a family. Learn her process as she finds meaningful moments in a day full of activities such as morning routines, mealtimes, and the small moments of bickering and joy that make up the life of a family. Leave this class with the confidence to walk into any family situation with strong ideas, and create compelling memories for your clients.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



Kirsten is an incredible teacher. When deciding whether to purchase this class, you should first take a look at her first CL class--Modern Storytelling. It's the best way to dive into this material and is a good starting point. If you're interested in this genre, buy BOTH classes. Both are so packed with helpful information about the family photojournalism genre. The first class was a solid, well rounded introduction to family photojournalism, and this class is more in-depth, specific, direct, intense, full of composition technique, and really just takes it to a new level. She doesn't waste time in this class repeating all of what she taught the first time. Kirsten is very candid and personable which I find really helps us viewers learn from her authentically and enjoy the class. I feel like I know her from watching so much of her class and I know that helped me to connect with the class and understand the material better. I feel like I finally have the tools to really tackle this genre and a better idea of what I'll face. I HIGHLY recommend this class--BUT only if you have an interest in this type of photography. THIS ISN'T A CLASS ABOUT MAKING PRETTY PICTURES, IT'S A CLASS ABOUT CAPTURING REAL MOMENTS IN A BEAUTIFUL WAY AND STORYTELLING THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY.

Image by Marcy

I'm adding my review in hopes of giving some perspective to the few negative comments. I've been a fan since Kirsten's first course, and have been hankering for more ever since. I wish the viewers who decided to jump ship before watching the whole course had reconsidered, and hung in there. Here's why. Kirsten describes this class as more of an "advanced" class. To my way of thinking, it's an excellent adjunct to the first. I took notice of a good bit of the questions in the chat room on CL while the class was live. It was clear to me that there seemed to be plenty of viewers who had not watched the first based on their questions. To get the most benefit, you really need both courses. There is overlapping content, of course. But there is specific and pointed information that was really only generalized in the first course. Invaluable is the segments that were taped live at a family's home, where Kirsten shot a DiTL. That filming was shown and dissected in this new course. VERY informative. To put it succinctly, yes, there is some repetitive info, but necessary to bring it all together, and yes, new content. YES, the front end is a bit heavy on the personal. If I remember correctly, that viewer choose NOT to stick with the program, which is fine. BUT, had they stuck with it, that person might have had a change of heart. You see, I think you have to take all the information in it's entirety. Because, the openness, the vulnerability, the honestly to me is *endearing*, for one thing. But also, she definitely USES that personal information in the context of her teaching. Listening to her personal experiences (KLB's) gives US an opportunity to look deep within OURSELVES and CONFRONT our own past. OUR PAST is what shapes our future, good, bad or indifferent. We can allow our past to propel us to success, or sink us in despair. Either way, our past helps form our POV which is very important for our photography (as well as how we approach or avoid life in general, and affects us in business too...) I appreciate her honesty. I appreciate how she shares her struggles, both past and present. Both personally and professionally. For me, the whole package is more important that the individual "pieces". Who knows about that viewer.... maybe this genre is just not their thing. Maybe that person wants or needs to shield themselves from their own personal issues. IDK. Also, it's just a fact of life that *not everyone will LIKE .... ___ (you, me, her, etc). Whooo knows. That's their right, their choice. And it's true that this genre is not for everyone. But if you love it, then get the course. If you missed the first one, then get them both. You'll be happy you did, and you'll have saved yourself time and frustration trying to figure this out on your own.

Meredith Zinner Photography

She is outstanding. I love her candor, honestly, openness and extraordinary eye for talent. I love how true she is to herself and how fiercely yet seamlessly she works to show the truth and people's real stories. I love how she is a real person and shares true stories about herself that keeps her human. I'm so tired of this culture being so damn 'precious' about a baby's bottom fer crimmeny's sake... she's extraordinary, refreshing and unlike anything else youve shown. She's got an incredible eye, sense of humour, talent and so much to share with her very thankful audience. Thank you so very much! Thank you Kirsten!