This month, I’d like to challenge you to include your significant other in the frame. I understand that many spouses (mine included!) may resist your efforts a bit. However, you don’t necessarily need him to pose for you, and perhaps he just doesn’t realize how important it is to you (and will one day be to your children) to have a visual record of his presence, the way he looks, and the way he loves his family… so talk to him about why these images matter! Once you have his cooperation (or at least his consent!), here are some possible approaches:
1. The Single Portrait
Focus exclusively on your spouse. You might shoot a traditional portrait, capture him engaged in a favorite hobby/sport/activity, or take an approach similar to the one we took for “the unconventional self portrait” creativity exercise earlier this year — neck down, extreme closeup that captures a facial detail you love, out of focus and dreamy, etc. Play with light, perspective, posing, and composition to help capture the strength, ruggedness, size, or other qualities that you associate with your significant other. Try to illustrate what you see in and love about him with the way you approach the image.
2. The Two of You
If you’re like many photographers I know, your wedding photos are the only “good” pictures that you have with your husband … and in many cases, your own photographic skills have surpassed those of the photographer you hired back in the day or the photos simply don’t reflect your personal aesthetic. Happily, I know a photographer who can shoot pictures of the two of you that you’re going to love – yes, that would be YOU! Head out to a field filled with the golden light of sunset, set up a tripod and an intervalometer as you prepare dinner together, shoot some quiet moments adjacent to the best window light in your house, choose a meaningful setting (the restaurant where you got engaged? the campus where you met? your favorite city street?), …. the possibilities are endless!
3. The Family
How long has it been since you’ve captured a photograph of your whole family? Have you done one since that last session you did for your holiday cards? Your children are growing and changing, and you and your significant other aren’t getting any younger with each passing day – so get everyone together, and take some pictures. It doesn’t have to be formal (though it may be); try documenting some day-in-the-life type moments of all of you together (and again, resist that temptation to focus only on the children … however compelling it may be!).
4. The Children
What is your significant other’s dynamic like with your child(ren)? Is he the supervisor, the playmate, the tutor, the nurturer, the coach? Capture those interactions! Is there a certain side of parenting that is your husband’s domain? Document the part of the day when he’s in his paternal element. Does your oldest look just like dad? Photograph a portrait of the pair of them, and compare them side-by-side (repeat with each child in the family). Courtney Keim also has some great ideas for dad/child photos and wonderful visual inspiration in a recent CMblog post, so be sure to check that out as well!
I’d like to challenge you to capture all four approaches – and to start doing so on a more regular basis – but if your significant other is anything like mine, successfully getting one this month will be no small feat! Remember that a portrait doesn’t have to be formal, and if your husband doesn’t like to in front of the camera or has no patience for direction, you can always take a more documentary approach. The idea is simply to begin incorporating his presence more frequently in the frame, so start with the goal of getting one shot of your significant other that you love this month, and take it from there.
What’s the best way to improve your photography? Shoot thoughtfully and frequently! Try new things and embrace creative and technical challenges. Every month, Sarah Wilkerson posts a new tutorial and challenges our members to join in a new Creativity Exercise on the Clickin Moms photography forum. At the conclusion of the exercise, we select Editors’ Choice images from among the exercise submissions and share them here with you on the blog. Congratulations to the ladies whose photographs included in the exercise above were selected as this month’s Editors’ Choices, and thank you to everyone who participated in the exercise!
And be sure to participate in the next exercise! Visit the forum where Sarah has posted “Day in the Life.” We’d love to see your work!
Sarah Wilkerson, New York
CEO | CMU Instructor
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Duke graduate and former attorney Sarah Wilkerson joined Clickin Moms as a member photographer in 2008 and quickly became a leader in the community. Together with Kendra, Sarah has led the evolution of the company’s mission, program development, and position within the greater photography community. She currently resides in New York with her Army JAG husband, three sons, one daughter, and two dogs. Sarah shoots with a Nikon D4, enjoys tilt-shift and atmospheric black and white work, and instructs CMU’s upper level composition courses: Elements of Design and Composition and Creativity.