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100 Days into my 365 project | Family Photography Melbourne

As we all do, I too was feeling optimistic at the beginning of the year and decided to set a challenge to take on a 365-photo-a-day project.

Well, short story very short, I failed in the first three weeks!

Yep, three weeks in and I forgot to take a photo one day.

But you know what, it wasn’t JUST about taking just a photo every day. It was about pushing myself creatively. It was about documenting our days again. It was about improving my eye and playing with editing. Why would I stop a whole year’s worth of intentional photo-taking (and call myself a failure) because I forgot a day or three…

So I changed my photography project to 365 moments

After all, our days are made up of countless moments - good, bad, ugly, euphoric and downright mundane.

Some days it’s easy to snap a couple of these, other days there’s just no time (or your mom-brain memory let’s you forget that you signed up to a daily project – facepalm!)

But honestly, some days have more to document so it makes more sense to take more on some days, while others just require different angles of documentation because they seem to be carbon copies of each other. And then there are other days when you’re just too busy to snap a picture or just not in the mood!

10th April marked 100 days into 2021 and so I have put together my progress of 100 moments:

The unintentional documenter

I unintentionally fell in love with documenting. Yes, I justified the purchase of my camera when I was pregnant thinking I'd get some good pics of my daughter while she was growing up. But in my mind it was going to be great portraits, capturing milestones etc.

I had no idea that I would be taking photos of toys on my floor. Of the back of my daughter’s head (deliberately). Of shadows and/or reflections of my daughter rather than her!

There are quite a few factors that lead me to fall in love with documenting my family but the most notable were that 1) I made the effort to learn how to properly use the camera and, therefore, took it everywhere I went so naturally documented things has they happened. And 2) Being a new Mum and feeling like with it I somehow entered into a perpetual race against time… You know the one I mean – blink and your child grows up!

I wanted to remember it all and my camera seemed a lot more reliable than my mom-brain!

And of course my photography journey has lead me to starting my own business and capturing lifestyle portraits for families and small business mamas… but not too much on that today, as I really want to talk about being a ‘momtog’

I want to inspire you to capture your children’s lives with intention

How lucky are we as parents to have such easy access to a camera at any moment?

girl spinning on home-office chair. documentary family photography melbourne

There is a reason why Granny always wants those perfect ‘all smile and look at the camera’ photos. Back in the day you couldn’t take 20 snaps of the same scene to get a perfect shot, you got one shot (maybe two if you were on less of a film budget) and you only found out weeks later (once the expensive film roll was completely used up) how the images looked. And so you put your best face forward and smiled. You documented with intention but didn't have the budget to document it all unfortunately!

But times have changed and we really need to let go of that notion of always smiling for the camera! It amuses me to watch parents jump, dance and bribe their kids to smile in photos. Why? We don't spend every moment smiling, so why must they smile in every photo we take?

Especially now days when it literally costs nothing to snap 20-1000 pics.

And, while there is a down side to being able to snap thousands of photos (which I will get into on another day) the up side is that it's great for story telling and capturing all those details you don’t want to forget!

Yes, I still encourage smiles from my daughter (I can hear the Grannies breathing a sigh of relief) but I also don’t press the issue often because, well I take enough photos that there are bound to be some with her smiling (and even better, genuinely laughing) and what’s more important to me is just to capture the feeling of the moment – imperfections and all.

child sitting on a train looking out the window. family photography melbourne
girl laughing while holding her hand up to her face. documentary family photography melbourne
child on a swing laughing happily. documentary family photography melbourne
portrait of a girl with her hat pulled down. documentary family photography melbourne
lifestyle portrait of a child in golden light. family photography melbourne
child with a soap bubble mustache in the bath

How I capture my family

I have a guide about how I capture my daughter’s day to day. It has five tips I follow and covers the basics to capturing your children authentically and creatively. It’s these basic principles I follow when capturing our day to day and they can work for you, whether you use your cell phone or DSLR!

strip of story telling images of a child at the beach with writing mentioning a link to a guide for taking better photos of your kids

But I also want to share with you some thoughts now that I’m through the first quarter of this 365 project

Going forward I’m going to try and focus on how the photo feels

Often times, when taking multiple bursts of photos in one go the camera loses focus for a couple of the shots. And often these are the photos I love the most. The reason being is that we don’t need crisp fine focus and lines to remember something. It's like an impressionistic paining, we just need the soft outline and our mind fills in the rest...

impressionistic blurry photo of a girl sitting at a table with her back to the camera

Other ways evoke feeling is to use soft lighting (like sunset) or play with light and shadows to create beautiful black and white images.

back of a child with her hair catching the golden sunlight
portrait of the girl spraying a window with water using a water pistol. most of the picture is blurry due to the water on the window.
black and white portrait of a girl with backlight. documentary family photography melbourne
black and white image of a cat and girl at a door. the subjects are silhouetted in the light
girl dancing with her shadow. documentary family photography melbourne

Keep things interesting by getting creative

I love to capture reflections – from simple ones in the mirror to those on our wooden floors. Whenever I see an unusual reflection it's like seeing a window into our world - watching myself brush my teeth in the spout reflection always amuses me each morning (not pictured ;)

child  looking at her reflection in a mixing bowl. documentary family photography melbourne
child looking at her reflection in a mirror with her name smeared in the mirror. documentary family photography melbourne
girl holding a remote driving a remote controlled toy car, her reflection is mirrored on the floor. documentary family photography melbourne
child looking into a round mirror putting makeup on. documentary family photography melbourne
black and white image of a cat sitting by a TV with his reflection mirroring him

It’s also always fun to break the rules deliberately to make more impactful images. Photos like these make you pause and look just a little bit longer!

child standing behind a washing line with a sheet blowing up covering her face. melbourne documentary family photography
child standing on the branches of a tree with a bough in the foreground blocking her head. documentary family photography melbourne
child in bunny pajamas hugging her knees. documentary family photography melbourne
child sitting on a park bench with a bag of flowers she's collected. her head is cropped off at her shoulders. documentary family photography melbourne

I'm also trying to capture elements of this time in our lives that will easily be forgotten when they no longer occur. I personally love the challenge of making the mundane look interesting.

toys scattered on a wooden floor. documentary family photography melbourne
laundry basket with clothes and soft bunny toy. documentary family photography melbourne
peg basket hanging on a clothes line with white sheets. documentary family photography melbourne
kitchen counter with a cup of coffee, cell phone and pencil case with rainbow colours. documentary family photography melbourne
white rabbit soft toy on a child's bed. documentary family photography melbourne

I'm also trying to focus on her creative play. I love watching her learn, from role play with her toys (or the cats) to nature play outside and arts & crafts.

When I capture these moments I either focus on the details...

child crafting with paper. Close up of paper craft. Melbourne documentary photography
Close up shot of a child playing with a house made of lego. Close up of her hands. Melbourne documentary photography
detail shot of a paper airplane being held by a child. Melbourne documentary photography

Use interesting angles where I can...

Birdseye view of a child playing doctors, holding a cell phone with xray pictures on it, over a toy rabbit. Melbourne documentary photography
low angle shot of a child sitting at a kitchen counter with her shoes on the floor. Melbourne documentary photography

And also look for other elements that add to the story.

Things I’m going to work on

One thing that is glaringly obvious is that I don’t physically feature in these images. It’s a problem! But it can be solved, I just need to put the effort in to either set the shot up or hand over the camera to someone else to do it for me!

Gill cook taking holding a camera taking a photo. documentary family photography melbourne

Watch this space and get in the frame with me, Mama!




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