Don't fall into the trap of leaving your camera at home

Here’s the rub with family photography… precisely the time you feel like you need to put down your camera and enjoy the moment or take a trip without worrying about taking photos is exactly the time that you’re going to miss great moments. I read articles from time to time aimed at pros like me who are working as photographers and also parents and it usually goes something like this… if I take my “real” cameras then it makes me take making images too seriously and it’s overkill for my family and will ruin my enjoyment of our… vacation, activity etc. Well I think this is terrible advice and thinking.

The fact of the matter is that if you believe in the power and legacy of family photography and making photos is part of who you are then having a camera with you isn’t going to ruin anything it’s a part of your life. Here’s the what I think the problem really is:

1. If your gear is too big and cumbersome, that is a real problem nobody wants to lug that around while also caring for kids – so find something that you love that’s not going to do that: hint *look into the Olympus system*

2 You have to be fast. No one minds taking 3 seconds to take a photo, your spouse or your kids won’t mind BTS images made of them while their having fun… that the world has enough images of kids in t-shirts. The fact is that if you are actively and taking photos you’re going to remember the day, the light the details, the expressions better than if you didn’t have your camera. Great moments will not only be captured but also engrained in your mind.

This Father’s day… I implore you to take up your camera, let it blend into your life and don’t stop making images. Capture your father, husband etc. in action, teaching, caring or working, show them in a way that tells a story and isn’t just what they look like. Bonus if it something near and dear to your family story. Get beyond smiling heads, do it stealth or at least casually so that no one as to stop.

The second lens I recommend to every family photographer

Everybody gets a lens when they buy their camera but is the zoom that came with it really the best choice for a family photographer? The zoom lens that came with your camera is a great piece of gear but often times it isn't solving the problems we have when trying to capture our families. So the first lens I recommend parents get (especially if they have small children) is a fast prime lens like the Olympus 25mm f1.8 lens. How does this help? It can do two things your zoom lens cannot: 1. It will allow you to shoot in lower light situations like inside your home without needing to use a flash. So imagine you're wanting to take pictures of your baby or toddler just playing around the house without a harsh flash or you're at an indoor birthday party and you don't want to get blurry photos. 2. By using the fast/big aperture (that's the iris of the lens) of a single focal length lens we can make the background of our photos go soft and out of focus which is a powerful tool for cleaning up distractions and making beautiful portraits. Watch the video for more!

5 Times you need to understand your shutter speed as a parent photographer

OK, so I really want to keep advice that I give from being too much about mechanics and physics and more about practical application and easy to follow advice. This video is about one of the core tenants of photography... shutter speed. Shutter speed isn't really hard to understand it's really just the gate inside your camera that opens and closes to allow light to strike the sensor and make an image. Have a watch and learn about 5 times the shutter speed you choose is important to the final outcome of the image.  

Episode 01 of Family Photo Life - The family portrait with 'you' in it.

Here are my tips on getting a great family portrait with you (the photographer) in the frame. We all need to do this once in a while either for something like a holiday card or just because our whole family is in the same place at the same time. To quote Ferris..." life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once in a while you could miss it." On a technical note, this video also contains the basics of how to set up your Olympus camera's WiFi connection and use it as a wireless trigger.