Be Memory Takers and Makers {The Art of Getting in the Photograph}

Memory Makers and Takers: the Art of Being in the Photograph

Photographs move me

Emotionally, they connect me to a moment in time. When looking at them I can truly be transported back to the exact moment they were taken. I can describe minute details that others would most likely miss.  Physically, they warm my heart and make me smile. They conjure up conversation and laughter or even tears. Holding these tangible links to the past are some of our greatest earthly treasures. At least that is what I believe.

Be Present

I also believe that as a mother and photographer it is our job, our mission, to be our own family historian. Today, photography is accessible to pretty much anyone. You do not have to have the top of the line digital or film camera to be the documenter of your family's memories. You just need to be present and have the ability to click the shutter at the right moment. And never, ever forget to get yourself IN the picture.

My Granny

Earlier this year, I had a chance to look through albums from my mother's childhood. I had never seen the pictures before, and I cried at how lovely and perfect they were and still are. (iPhone snaps of some of my favorites.)

Mom's in Photographs

Perfect moments captured by my Granny. But you know what I noticed. She was in ZERO images. Well, I take that back. There was one 8x10 of the entire family from a posed studio session. I absolutely loved that I was able to see those moments of my mother's childhood through her eyes, but I would have loved even more to see my dear Granny IN some of the photos.

My Mother

This inspired me to look through my collection of my own childhood photos. And you know what? I found a literal handful of images of my brothers and me and our mom. And in that instant, I was changed. I knew I had to change that pattern for my boys.  (Just for fun, check out these awesome 80's images!)

Memory Makers Movement

MOMS, Get in the Photo

Moms, I plead with you, get in the frame. You've been blessed with a camera (whether it's an iPhone or a top of the line DSLR) and the talent to capture memories, so do just that (and not just for other people's families)!  Document your family's history and do not forget to include yourselves in these moments. Please, get in some photos!

This year I embarked and successfully almost completed a 365 project. It was the perfect platform (and excuse) to get myself in the frame. Real moments. Real connections. Tangible memories my boys will be able to pass down to their kids and grandkids when that time comes.

Allison's 365

So, now the question is HOW do you do it? Let's get technical.

Gear Needed

A Camera. I'm pretty sure every camera (even iPhones-search Timer Cam app) have a self timer. If you are unsure, just find your camera manual and look. I have used my phone, my Canon t3i, and now my Canon 5D Mark iii. Some timers have different settings. Currently my Mark iii has a 2 second timer and a 10 second timer. I only use the 10 second. I cannot move fast enough to get the 2 second haha! If you have seen me in an image, it was most likely taken with the 10 second timer.

A Remote. I just got a little cheap one from Amazon. Honestly, I am not much of a fan of this. I can't ever seem to hide the remote well enough and the batteries seem to die quickly. Below is an example of the family photos I did for our Christmas cards last year. Love the image, but you can totally see the remote in my hand.

Allison's Family Portrait

Camera Timer. So, I definitely prefer using the 10 second timer versus the remote. However, the other day I learned about using an introvelometer. Basically this is a remote timer. You can plug it into your camera and can program it to take pictures at different intervals. My style is very natural and unposed, so I having to interrupt the moment to get up and reset the timer kind of ruins the mood. Or even with the remote with my arm outstretched trying to get the darn signal to go through.

A Tripod. Other gear you might want to consider is a tripod. I have also just used sturdy surfaces to put my camera on, like a table, bookshelf, or goat pen, yep, our goat house. Just a sturdy, flat surface that you feel safe placing your camera will work, too! I've moved tables around in my house to get them in the position I need. Think outside of the box about safe places on which to place your camera.

Lenses. My favorite lens I use when using the timer option is my 35mm. It's small and not heavy and gives me lots of room to work with. You can really use any lens. There's been a few times I've used my 85, too.

Getting Sharp Photos

1. Practice

I think the most common question I get is "how can you get them so focused and sharp?" Well, honestly, practice. I have been using my timer since the first month of getting my camera four years ago. The results have not always been spectacular. Just like learning to shoot in manual mode, learning to use your timer and remote takes practice!

2. Take Selfie's

Another suggestion, get good at your selfie game! Your kids will get tired of being your "props" so just be your own model! An added bonus, you can get super creative with your self-portraits. Be inspired!

Allison Wheeler Self Portraits

Steps to Great Images

    1. Stand where you will be putting your camera and get your settings. I use Manual mode, so I set my ISO and f-stop first then use my dial to get my shutter speed. And then make sure you are in timer/remote mode.
    2. Once my exposure is set, I get my camera set up, whether it's on a tripod or on top of the goat pen or other sturdy surface. 
    3. Then I compose the image in my head. I ask myself, "where do I (or my family) need to be in the frame?". 
    4. Once that is decided, I will find something or someone to lock in my focus on. I use Auto Focus. You can use Manual Focus, but I have found success in using AF. If I am doing a selfie outside I often stick a shovel in the ground where I plan to stand. I have even built a tower of pillows. The idea is to make a "fake" you to knock out of the way once you're ready to get in the picture. Or if it's a shot with someone else in it, I will position them and lock in the focus. 
    5. When the image is composed and you're ready to focus, click the shutter to focus (if you're using your timer) or hop in the frame and get ready to push your remote button. If using the introvelometer follow the directions in the manual to set up the timing.

It really is that easy!

Do not waste another moment not getting in the photo! You are part of the family, too! So, prove it by getting IN the frame.

I will close with a little pep talk. Please, dear mom friends, do not be discouraged by your appearance or weight. I promise your children see you through the eyes of love and kindness. They cherish you. These warm feelings will carry them through their entire lives. And one day, when they are grown they will look back at the images and see them through the same eyes. Think on that before you hesitate.

Now it is your turn! This Memory Makers Movement is going to be great! Be sure to keep checking with the Pretty Forum for all the details!

Allison Wheeler Poetry and Prose Photography

Allison Wheeler is a lover of lifestyle photography from Norman, Oklahoma. Her eyes were opened to photography by toying with Instagram in 2010. She got a camera soon after and learned to use it by documenting her life with her husband and three young sons. She now happily does the same for others, from births to weddings and almost everything in between. To see Allison's most recent work, visit her Facebook page. She often gets on Pinterest to avoid cleaning her house.