Gosh. I look outside and it’s all sunhats and skin. Conversations have turned to the long awaited summer holidays as the exodus begins to take a break from our everyday. As a lovely friend just put in her text ‘I’ve got all the “school’s out for summer” feels’…
So summer holiday’s are imminent and I want you to take better photos while you’re there. Why? Because photos are the memories that you will carry with you… they bring our hazy minds back into sharp focus and hold onto that moment in time… mostly because something about that point in time was wonderful for you and you want to remember it. In a week. In a year. And especially in a decade or four. Isn’t it amazing to have this tool which can transport us back to a specific moment in our lives?
Now is the time that you are going to have a moment to think about this stuff as you forget your endless work/life to-do list and get to relax with your family. Because I want you to remember their funny nuances … one’s that might not be there next year as we all grow up a little bit more. And I’ll hazard you aren’t bringing me on holiday with you so here are my top tips to doing it yourself.
1/ Your phone camera is just fine. Heartening (or not), great photographers can take great photos on that phone you have in your pocket… it might sound callous… but it’s just down to practice. And the best camera you have is the one that’s to hand. Start here. You will get better!
Here are the things I wish you’d do with your phone
Move your body, don’t zoom. That zoom on your mobile phone is just equivalent to cropping the image and that’s why it gets all grainy. So move your feet. Get closer to the subject. As close as you can!
Turn OFF that flash. I’ve yet to see a great photo with a phone flash… and the camera copes admirably without it. Just hold your hand steady.
Use ‘burst’ function when capturing action - then later go through the photos and choose the best one.
… and then put your phone away. Or turn it onto airplane mode. You’re on holiday- it’s time to switch off. Post them to instagram at the end. The world will wait, your holiday won’t.
2/ No cheese please. I cringe when I hear well-meaning parents telling their child to smile for a photo. Interrupting their child’s flow for a forced picture of fun… (what you normally get is a pained grimmace or a negotiation for an ice cream! )
If you think about a photo being short hand for 1000 words… then a posed photo is saying
“This is Jack* and Jill* aged 5 and they are at Butlins*. They looked like this on this day and I dressed them in these clothes.” It is a mere record of who was there and what they looked like at that moment in time- it’s important to have perhaps once on a holiday… but it doesn’t help you remember much about the time you had. In short: it’s not got soul.
(*Insert person’s name and location here)
A different photo - one taken when Jack and Jill are on the beach, digging the biggest hole, believing that they are going to make it to Australia … that photo - taken whilst they are oblivious, deep in their game, is one where you remember their dedication to the make-believe, how they worked together, how glorious those long sunny afternoon’s were on the beach. That photo helps you remember the brilliant stuff, the nuance of your holiday. It doesn’t have a famous monument, nor possibly a smile, but it does connect you exactly back to that moment and how it felt to be there and the things you loved about your kids. The stories lie in the moments and the details… start watching for the joy and taking those photos.
3/ And finally - Print. Print your photos. Please, please, please. They don’t have to be perfect images… but please let these memories which are the story of you, your life and your family become real tangible things. We take thousands of photos and most of those will be lost in a world of digital clutter and broken hard drives as technology moves ever on. Paper never goes out of style and it can’t be lost in an upgrade.
I make an effort to ensure that I make photo books of my family growing up- they are probably my most treasured things and always raise a genuine smile… when I pick them up or my kids or even my mum when she comes to stay… a window into our life at that time. Something you can’t ever recreate or recapture. Print them- yours will bring so much joy.
If you’re looking for a company who does this well - (I mean there is always Boots but I personally don’t like their printers or colour rendition) try Cheerz who have been great and recently expanded their product range. This link is a £4 off voucher for us both.
Don’t overthink it… Just capture and print those memories.
(Writing this blog has been a great prompt to me to order another photobook of a magic weekend we spent on Loch Tay in June - canoeing and adventures with the kids to an uninhabited island with beavers … and hot chocolate… I hope you enjoyed seeing my family snaps too)…