Saturday, July 02, 2011

Reflecting on family snaps

click photo to enlarge
In terms of the number of photographs taken, family snaps must easily top any list that seeks to measure the uses to which photography is put. That must have been the case since the advent of Kodak's first home-use cameras, and it surely remains so today. Photography eminently fulfills the need of people to record their lives and the lives of their nearest and dearest. But, in terms of the hierarchy of the uses of photography - at least from the point of view of "serious" photographers - the family snap props up any such list, with all other branches of photography above it.

I suppose the reason for this is that such images are sometimes thought of as "unconsidered". That is to say, the thoughts about composition, colour, mood, etc that usually characterise the images made by professionals and enthusiastic amateurs are often absent from family snaps, or present only in fairly basic ways. But, whilst this can lead to photographs that conform to "types" - figure in front of landmark, figure at party, figure on beach, figure pulling funny face, figure with immediate family in a row, etc - it also, periodically throws up creative compositions and ideas that sometimes wouldn't have occurred to someone steeped in the art, craft and traditions of photography.

I was reflecting on this a few days ago when we were near Stave Hill, Rotherhithe. I've photographed this man-made hill in London before, and the view from its summit. On this occasion we were admiring the wild flowers - mallow, yarrow and much else - that was growing on its slopes. As my wife climbed the grassy cone I noticed the fine, white clouds against the blue sky and took a couple of shots of her as she scrambled upwards and away from me. But, when she got to the top she turned to me and I took the shot above. Looking at my images on the computer it is the one I prefer. I hadn't set out to take a family snap, but it will serve nicely as one even though she's quite small in the frame.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 47mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/800
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On