PRT125 – See the Light

This week we have three amazing photographers join us, and they share ideas for capturing better photos. Come listen!

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  • Seriously one of the best episodes of PRT. I may be biased because Karen Russell is my favorite photographer and blogger but this episode just rocked! Please, please have all these ladies on again. I learned so much and laughed so much, I want to “hang out at the table” with them again! Noell, you asked the questions I had too while listening and thank you for asking Shimelle’s question too. Just WOW!

  • Vera

    I just listened while I was editing photos! I loved the episode. I’m glad it was a conversation about how they each approach their photography and not what they shoot with. I’m a huge Karen Russell fan and a graduate of her class. Now I’m looking forward to getting to know Tracey and Katrina’s work more too! I’m off to go check out their blogs….

  • Lesa

    Excellent episode! Loved hearing Karen’s voice – I’m an alum of her class too. She is a great teacher and her pictures are amazing! Her blog is the first one I check out for eye candy and real life stories.

  • Idea for another Photography Episode: You’ve done a couple of Paperclipping Roundtables on reviewing layouts where there was a show & tell (episodes #63 & #109);
    I think this same kind of format would work well for a Paperclipping Roundtable episode about photography.

    P.S. Now I’m wondering about whether I’m seeing the light.

  • Such a great idea! That would be awesome!

  • AmyMpls

    I loved this episode. My comment is to all the discussion on light. Our house has such terrible light. I rarely take pictures because of it. I’m thinking of getting a DSLR so I can get better quality. But what can I do about light? Is there a lenses that helps with this?

    I look forward to all your episodes. Great show Noelle and Izzy

  • Our house has the same problem. Our dining area is the only place in the entire has that has much light.
    Yes — a DSLR will give you much more power to deal with the low light. A 50mm lens is the lens to buy. It’s definitely worth investing in both. It’ll make a huge difference.

  • Noell is absolutely right. A 50mm 1.4 or 1.8 lens will grab so much light you’ll be amazed! Look for the light near your windows or even consider opening your door to let some light in!

  • Deirdre

    Just saw found the show *again* from a BPC link—so excited you have my favorite photographers on the show. Can’t wait to listen—I’ve never heard Karen’s voice, despite reading her blog for YEARS:)

  • Just another quick comment to add that I loved this episode, it was a terrific addition to the stuff that was covered last time you discussed photography and it was so informative.

    I am not a great photographer and use my iphone most of the time because it is with me and I think of it as being is good enough to catch the memory. I felt like the show gave me so many ideas about what I can do to get better photos and how to think about it.

    One person, Tracey, I think, said that she is very careful and deliberate about taking her photos and she loves all of them. When she said that doesn’t take the photo if she won’t love it, I was so stunned. I thoughtlessly take hundreds of photos all the time. I do NOT love them all.

    Similarly when they were agreeing that they would skip taking the photo in bad light, I was again amazed. It never occurred to me not to take a photo in poor lighting, or that I wouldn’t enjoy the photo if I did. I never thought of doing something to make the situation better for photographing. Obvious to me now, but it was part of my photographing process.

    I think of photos as a way to catch something my eyes are seeing and my emotions are appreciating at that moment. My kids bonding over a game together – snap – oh it looks like crap because we are in a dark corner of the house.. but I am not thinking about that, I am thinking – what will I write on that page? When the photo is disappointing I don’t think about the lighting, I think “oh well, I’ll just scrap it anyway and chalk it up to writing the memory down with whatever I got”.

    This episode was a real shift of the paradigm for me in approaching these moments. Maybe I can step out of the situation, take my time and aim for just one good photo, or maybe I can jot down the journalling sparked from this and wait for another day that might have a better opportunity to photograph them. Its not like they will never play together again.

    PS I am excited to find some new online teachers to go check out, because clearly I am starting from ground zero in photography. It’s helpful to hear all the positive reviews from other PRT listeners.

  • Um, I guess I should edit out the word quick… wordy as usual from me.

  • corrie

    Wow, this episode was so great! I have never commented before but after listening to this one, I feel so inspired to shoot photographs, that I needed to tell you all thank you for such an incredible show. I have taken classes by both Tracey and Karen, and love their unique styles. I loved hearing what inspires them to shoot. I am very much like Karen in that my kids are what drive me to take photos. Family and friends have asked me to take some pictures of them before and I have learned to nicely say no, as I am not usually happy with the outcome. Not because of a poor photo, but because the photo does not mean anything to me. I guess I will never be a professional photographer, but thankfully I do not aspire to be one. I also loved how the ladies talked about using their iPhones so often as well. I have mine with me all the time and find that it is easy to get a good candid shot with it. Plus it is so much fun. Anyway, thanks for this show. I am off to find my camera and my girls and the light and see what kind of magic can be captured today!

  • Tracey’s comments about NOT taking photos if the situation isn’t photo-ideal was a shock to me, too! It made me feel way better. I always thought it was my own inadequacy that I couldn’t find a way to get a great photo in a poor situation. Now, if I really want the photo and it’s got poor lighting or bad space, I can take the photo but know that it’s just one of those situations!

  • I have taken photos in lighting situations where I knew it wouldn’t be a technically good photo, but was so happy to have an image to go with the memory and made the best of it. An example is taking pictures (with my point-and-shoot) in the theater where my daughter had her dance recital. I took a few shots from back stage (trying to be unobtrusive so I wouldn’t get kicked out) when they were rehearsing and the pictures were blurry, so I just used an artistic filter on them in PSE and made it artsy. I would like better gear and would have liked better shots, but I’m grateful for the shots I did get.

  • I just listened to the show for a second time (I was a little distracted the first time I listened) and a couple of thoughts popped into my mind.

    1. I’d love to hear more discussions on what legacy we are leaving to future generations with our photos and scrapbooks. My father recently passed away and I am looking at boxes of documents, photos, etc, and it totally has me thinking about what I’ll be leaving for future generations. The reason I thought of that during this PRT episode was when the panelists were talking about how many photos they take and how many photos they actually like, and how the photos become more meaningful as time passes, etc. I really have been trimming down the number of photos I keep because I want to A) not be burdened with thousands of photos, and B) I want to be more intentional about what I shoot and what images I keep. I really think about the story I’m trying to tell and the memories I want to record both for my personal enjoyment as well as for family archiving.

    2. I also can’t help thinking that maybe we’re flooding ourselves with images. Quality vs quantity. Does having thousands of images lessen the value of the images? In the days of film, many of us carried around one or two special, tattered images with us and cherished those few photos we had. Now we are constantly uploading and sharing thousands of images on a daily (or even) hourly basis. Instagram and FB are great examples of that. What does that quantity of photos do to the value of the photos?

    3. My final thought during this discussion was about audience. For whom are you shooting? With blogs, FB, instagram, etc it seems like as a society we are shooting for an online audience rather than for ourselves. I think if there were no internet, our shooting styles and habits may be very different. I am a portrait photographer, so of course I have to shoot for my clients and the assumption is that the images will be shared with many people. But, when I shoot for myself, I really don’t share those images online much. The memories I’m trying to capture really won’t mean much to a stranger, so there’s no need to share them. If I set up a scene with props and perfect lighting and dress my kids up and take some shots, I’d want to share those images because they are idealized and contrived images. But the everyday life images that I shoot really are only meant for my own and for my family’s enjoyment. I don’t have a blog audience, and I just don’t share much online, and I’m actually happy with that. I prefer real-life experiences, and printed photos in hand.

    Those are my thoughts, and I’d be curious to see what others might say.

  • Tracey

    This episode was truly stellar. I’ve been following all three of these guests for some time and find their work so inspiring! It was tough listening to this one while driving, because I kept wishing I could pull out my journal and take notes! I will definitely be listening to it again to do this, and I’m inspired to go back and listen to the previous episode where everyone discussed their “gear”.

    Regarding Noell’s question about capturing loved ones who aren’t very comfortable in front of the camera: Another suggestion is to pull out the camera when someone like this is engrossed in something they love. For example, my mom is usually extremely uncomfortable when a camera comes out, but I have gotten TONS of amazing photos of her since she became a grandmother. When she is holding or playing with my nephew, she comes alive, and nothing — even the threat of an unflattering photo — can disrupt her grandmotherly bliss.

    Thanks again for this wonderful show!

  • The opening of this episode got me to really thinking… traditional families. I’ve been scrapbooking since 2008. The year my husband and I went to Disney World. I didn’t know if we’d ever be able to go on such an awesome vacation again and one of my co workers was looking for a scrap buddy at the same time. I never thought I’d be doing more than the one album of our trip, much less the cards and minibooks that I’ve completed… whew! I was married for 15 1/2 years and lost my husband to suicide November 2011. My life got stuck after that for several months. I shut down and had a really hard time getting back to creating, even though my best friends kept trying to get me interested. Well, I’ve pulled out of my funk and started really living again (creating=living). I’ve gone on a few trips and made some awesome minibooks for MYSELF and 2012 has really become the year of Charity. It’s really nice to be documenting all of the change that has been happening. I really feel like it’s helped with the growing I’ve done, and I KNOW it’s helped with the mental therapy. I was thinking about documenting more of my experience with dealing with his suicide and about our little family that had pets but no children. Most of my previous scrapbooking included photos of our godchildren, but only a bit about us. As I am scrapping more about me, I have ideas for pages that include what our life became including what I’ll refer to as the “dark times.” I had often wondered why there weren’t more single moms getting noticed for documenting their stories, but I’m thinking that maybe a lot of examples that are shown online are only of those good times, and not many of the bad. I do have a therapy blog that is open to the public, but this week’s show has made me even more determined to just scrap all emotions. They are all equally important. You may never know who you help by talking about your troubles. I know I have one really close friend who is seeking treatment now for her own depression because she didn’t think she’d ever get that bad. When my husband died, she realized she couldn’t wait any longer. That something wonderful could come out of something so horrible helps me know it wasn’t in vain. Thanks so much for you show. It took me a while to get caught up, but it really helped bring me back to where I am happy to be (mentally).
    Hugs you guys!

  • Betsy

    It was so interesting to hear someone discuss feeling like somewhat of an outsider in the scrap world. By no means am I trying to compare myself to a single mom, but I feel like the industry can be very intimidating to anyone who is not a stay-at-home married mom to 2.2 children. I am a recently married, childless 20-something, but I have been scrapbooking since I was 18. I am completely happy with what I have chosen to scrap, and I don’t need my memories validated by anybody, but there was always this pang of discomfort sitting in a crop, surrounded by pregnant scrappers discussing bedtime rituals while I put a page together about college graduation or a fun night out in the bar with friends. I remember feeling an instant connection to Shimelle when I read the story on her blog about going to a crop and people asking her what she was going to scrap if she didn’t have any children? How judgmental and rude!

    I’m not saying there are no “non-traditional” scrapbookers out there in blog-land, but they are few and far between. Where are all the teenaged-scrappers, the male-scrappers, the single scrappers, the child-less scrappers, and any combination of all of the above???? I will take inspiration from anywhere, I love a good kid page, and I’ve spent plenty of time scrapping nieces, nephews, and cousins, but it would be so nice to see a different perspective every once in a while.

  • CarolineD

    Awesome, awesome, awesome. Loved the episode! And thanks for reading my comment – I feel so loved on. And I’ve been a Karen Russell blog reader for years – probably 6 or 7 – and I have read her stories on family and the way her family has evolved and it’s always been so moving – she’s so honest and real about it. So her comments were extra special to me.

    I work in a camera store, so I LOVED this episode. I’m a technical person by nature and I didn’t mind the equipment show, but this was so much meatier, I think. I teach classes at work – NOTHING like what Karen, Katrina and Tracey are doing, just the free 2 hour classes that we give when people buy a camera from us. And one of the things that I try to convey is the notion that “crappy light yields crappy photos” and sometimes you just need to put the camera down and enjoy the moment. I feel sort of cynical saying that, but it’s so true. So I loved that the panelists said the same thing (with tidier language).

    Noelle, I struggle with light in my home, too. I live in northeast Ohio where it’s often cloudy. I live on a woody lot and the only big windows are north facing …and in rooms that aren’t “lived” in. Next summer I’m moving and I don’t care if I look like an absolute nutcase, but when I go look at places, I’m taking my light meter and outright rejecting any place that can’t pull an f/8 in the living areas. :P

    Thanks for another great episode. I hope we can revisit this topic and these ladies again – they did a fantastic job!

  • Such interesting questions. I’m going to save these for a future episode. Thanks so much!

  • Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your experience. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through and your loss.

  • This does sound like a good episode. I’ll have to see if the photographers are willing to do that. Thanks for the idea!

  • Julie R. Filatoff

    Part of the discussion was about “highlight reels” and not scrapbooking negative emotions and events. I’d like to suggest two wonderful books that I got at my LSS: “We Dare You: Scrapbook Challenges About Real Life,” by Kristina Contes, Meghan Dymock, Nisa Fiin, and Genevieve Simmonds; and “Imperfect Lives: Scrapbooking the Reality of Your Everyday” by Tara Governo. Do it! Scrapbook those less-than-ideal stories. It’s cathartic. Thanks, Noell and Izzy, for all you do! Julie Filatoff

  • I didn’t know about that second one. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  • Rosa

    This has nothing to do with this episode but I thought this might be the best place to post this question. I recently started volunteering at a nonprofit and since I am scrapbooker they asked me to make an album with a lot of newspaper clippings, marketing material, thank you cards, etc. I thought to make a mini, but i am really at loss as to what to do with the newspaper clippings – I know it’s oldschool but do you have any ideas? examples? I want it to feel colorful and not just put them into sleve protectors

  • I LOVE it when I get a chance to work with news clippings. I spent a lot of time experimenting and searching for a good way to adhere newsprint so it would lay flat like a part of the background and not just taped and laying unevenly, as newsprint does with all the typical adhesives. I shared how to do this in a paperclipping episode – it’s super awesome. I also showed 2 different completed pgs of mine.
    So if you’re a member, look for it in the archives. I think it’s called Working With Newsprint, or something like that.

  • Jenn Serrano

    Ohh yes, I like that idea. Maybe they can show all the different angles and how they moved to get the light?