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Family Photography: Photojournalism in the Home

Lesson 13 of 37

Shooting the Morning Routine

Kirsten Lewis

Family Photography: Photojournalism in the Home

Kirsten Lewis

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Lesson Info

13. Shooting the Morning Routine

Lesson Info

Shooting the Morning Routine

So we're gonna watch the final morning preps and looking, struggling for moments within the mundane. Which, I mean, I love my job, but sometimes it's boring, right, not every part of the whole day is interesting, so. (camera shutter clicking) (background chatter) So, her trying to put on her socks is kind of interesting, but her doing it with a toy in her mouth is way funnier. Like, why does she have that in her mouth? But I had to be careful, 'cause I got people walking in and out of the back of the frame and that makes it cluttered. (camera shutter clicking) I also know that Jake is leaving, so I do wanna try and get a photo of him saying goodbye to the girls. I have two girls that are zombie mode at the TV, but that's not interesting to me so I'm sticking with this. (camera shutter clicking) It's that finding a little bit of extraordinary in the ordinary. Three zombie kids. What I need is all four of them, because then it makes it funny like, you have couches, why are you standing l...

ike zombies in front of the TV. It doesn't manifest, so I don't really stick with this very long. See how I'm watching, I'm just kind of waiting and watching. I'm waiting for there to be something interesting on the television. You guys also know that like, to get the television to stop flickering, do you know? It's 1/60th of a second, I believe for TVs. So I've gotta go all the way down to 1/60th of a second, and then hope they don't move. But it's very hard to get something, like that photo of the girl doing the weird walk, naked, out, with the Aladdin figure that's like, looking at her like that, that's when it works, and it's very rare when the TV and the human behavior work together. What's more interesting to me is her changing. Right now you'll see that I've metered for the TV, so now I'm gonna change this. (background chatter) I'm aware of the fact that I've got a kid, see how I saw the kid going up on the sink, so I immediately ran, 'cause I was watching my background. And what I wanna do is a little person doing a big person thing. (camera shutter clicking) (background chatter) By pulling back, it's that voyeur point of view where I'm peeking, you know how they. Now I've got, before you talk, now I'm like, what, what is happening, they're all climbing up here, like, this is crazy, so now they're all getting into the bathroom. (background chatter) So now I've got four kids brushing their teeth at the same time in the teeny-tiny bathroom. My only option is I have to use the mirror, I have no other option, I can't get it without the mirror. And I wanna try and show as many of them brushing their teeth as I can. So this is a very difficult composition to work, it's super tight, you have to be close. I'm trying to fill the frame in a clean way. (camera shutter clicking) Using the layer on the right side and left side to balance. I try getting low, thinking maybe I can shoot into the mirror, but it's too high, so even if I get low enough, you're not gonna see enough in the mirror, so then I realize, this is my only composition at this point. (background chatter) I'm watching Gwenny, my eye is on Gwenny, waiting for her to make a funny face. (camera shutter clicking) (background chatter) I'm working this really hard for one picture, I just need one. (background chatter) They were probably gonna have another baby, and I was like, I can't imagine if you have a boy. (background chatter) (camera shutter clicking) It's out of focus, there we go. I like that Gwen was watching. (background chatter) That's unusual, teeny tiny people with regular sized toothbrushes. Look at Gwenny, she's. (background chatter) And as much as that's interesting to me, I didn't have enough space to shoot it, so as much as I love it, and some people are like, oh but it's such a good moment, like, situation, I'm just gonna keep it, but it's not a good photo, I just couldn't execute it, so I just have a little funeral for it and say goodbye, and like keep moving on. (camera shutter clicking) (background chatter) Over 300 frames I did of this scene to get one picture. Never moved, kept my composition, never changed my exposure or my shutter speed, or my aperture, I just stuck with it through the end to try and get one, until all the kids were gone. Look at Mom. (camera shutter clicking) (background chatter) The struggle is real. This happens a lot with the littler ones, with the parents trying to brush their teeth, so I'm always expecting that that's probably gonna happen. (camera shutter clicking) (background chatter) Another thing that kids do not like is having their face washed, so that, I know, every time, the other thing they don't like is getting sunscreen on, that's another tip, like, there's usually a struggle with sunscreen, with hair being brushed, and with their face being washed. So I always prepare for that. Kids repeat their behavior, see, they're doing it again. So I missed it the first time. But none of this is interesting to me, I won't keep any of it. (background chatter) (camera shutter clicking) I really was waiting for a fight, they didn't fight that much. A little bit, not much. It's a really messy scene happening, I hate that the TV is on. Notice I'm exposing for the highlights on their faces that's coming from the light source on the right. You'll also notice that the better photo's when you cut the light source out. You use the light source for the light on their face, but you physically cut it out of the frame. (background chatter) Kids doing weird stuff. (camera shutter clicking) I'm looking to photograph struggle or effort. I'm also sticking here because if Mom's with one little one, she might be with more little ones later, and just stay with that scene and wait for more to come into the scene. Okay, so hair brushing, mirror time, and the last minute prep, this is pretty much it for this segment. Remember what I said about hair brushing. So I'm prepared for it, but all of a sudden, I realize Gwenny is on the floor putting her socks on her hands, so that's adding something to the photo, so now I'm shooting both scenes happening at the same time. Thing I love is, Mom has no idea what's happening here. Look it, Gwen's now got both her socks on her hands. (background chatter) (camera shutter clicks) Mom doing double duty, trying to be a parent to multiple kids at the same time. Now her back is to me, so I cut her out of it, because kids' backs are not interesting. So I've decided to just shoot this. So she's getting her socks back on in front of me, but I'm choosing to take her out of it. I need some sort of sign of pain. Like that. Filling the frame, 'cause that's what's most important to me. She's also ignoring me. (background chatter) I'm trying to redirect her off of me by asking her questions to get her back on her routine, what she's supposed to be doing, rather than being mean and saying, "No, don't touch me," or like, "Don't touch the camera," I just try and redirect her brain. (camera shutter clicking) (background chatter) They're almost ready to go, we've got two people with coats on. (laughs) So now she's gonna do the little person, big person thing. That's what I missed the first time, but like I said, kids repeat their behavior. And I love the fact that she's on the sink doing that. Resourceful little kids. (camera shutter clicking) I've got something happening in here and here, so I'm trying to maybe get both, and I can always bring up this stuff in here, but it has to work with the other one, or the photo's not gonna work. (background chatter) Sticking to one composition, hoping to get one good photo of the rest of them getting ready. I'm not worried about the yay at this point. (laughs) (camera shutter clicking) Notice how I'm just waiting, I'm watching through my camera, but I'm not shooting the whole time. I need some sort of struggle to get the hats on. I've got one girl hanging by the knob, the doorknob. I've got Mom helping her, so I'm hoping it all comes together, I don't think it does. (background chatter) Even though it's just the two of them, I'm just sticking with this composition. And at the end of the day, I didn't get any good ones there, I don't think. I took more than they show, but I don't think I got any good ones. Look how excited Adelaine is at the back. So, everyone in the car, so this is the last part of this day that I shot, and you'll see, as they were leaving the house, I meter for outside. I don't meter for the inside anymore, thinking I might get one photo with the four of them all leaving together. That's my goal. (camera shutter clicking) (background chatter) I'm trying to show like a little person trying to open up the gate by herself. I shoot from one side. Getting all four girls in the car was no easy feat. Not panicking, I'm just choosing a couple of compositions. I'm waiting for the fit, that's what I need. I'm consciously including someone in the back just for added context. And I shoot all the way to the school. And I actually ended up not getting any good photos. And then these girls come home. And that's it. So that was the first day.

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!