“Caught on Photograph” – Making pictures with soul!

Daydreaming - Taken on Kodak Tri-X 400 Film

Making pictures with soul- undoubtedly, that’s what all of us hanker after! This week we’ve had a house guest, friend, mentor and child – Daniel Simm who I’ve wanted for a long time to get involved with the blog and write me a post or two! Dan is a very reclusive photographer with a voracious appetite for technology. For a while now , he’s been vastly into film photography and today he’s writing about making quality pics, things to think about when framing a pic and questioning yourself about the story you wish to tell with it! This post is wholly about our joint love for photography and an extension of our conversations – mind you, we rarely agree! He’s the consummate perfectionist, I’m the free-wheeler who goes by the gut, very often to my own detriment! :)

Film Cameras
Film and Polaroid Cameras

“There’s something completely wonderful about having the ability to preserve the transient through a photograph, I guess I’m stating the obvious here! :)  In our vastly digitized world, we can take pictures whenever we like, for free.   Our low-cost access to huge amounts of data storage translates to us never having to worry about deleting any photos we take. It can be easy though, to take for granted that we’ll always have another shot left on our cameras.


Most of us reach a point when we’re left questioning whether we’ve been taking photographs just for the sake of it?  Do we find ourselves eager to fire off that shutter button with our camera set to paparazzi “machine-gun” mode?  Have you ever found yourself taking a hundred pictures in hope that one of them turns out right?  I have.
If, like me, you’ve ever wondered how we can shoot with a bit more soul, these I hope these tips help you!


1)  Slooooow down….Take your time
When we’re shooting, it can be easy to overlook some of the basics. So before pressing the shutter, take time out to ask ourselves a few questions:
– What is the light like – Too harsh? Too flat?
– Then move onto the composition – Have you ever thought you’d ‘got the shot’ only to get home and find out there’s a tree sprouting from someone’s head? I have!
– Does it tell the story you want it to tell?
– Does it stir emotion?
– Are you taking the photo for the sake of it?  Or perhaps it’s a hurried photo because it’s needed for a 365?
– Would you want to print this image?

Project IdeaIn day-to-day life, start looking at light. See how it looks. Try to imagine what your camera settings would be in your current light.  Take a look at your foreground and background and compare the contrast and light levels. Is the background darker than the foreground? Or vise-versa
Remember to check for for those tree branches on people heads. No one wants to look like a male deer!

 

photography, tips, tutorial, heart, soul, emotion, story, film, digital, storytelling, light, contrast, art

2) Find your goal.
Think about all of the things you want to show the world about your subject.
Maybe it’s to show the energy of city life, or the peaceful serenity of a landscape.  It can be easy to ‘surrender’ and shoot 500 images hoping that 1 of them will be what you want.  Instead, try to have your goal in mind, and prepare how you can incorporate that into your image.

If you’re shooting people, take your time to get to know them and draw them out. What is it that’s special about that person? What is their personality like?
Do they have beautiful eyes and a quiet personality?  Focus on that.
If it’s your children, perhaps it’s their dimple when they smile, the freckles on their nose, or maybe it’s their ‘concentrating face’ they pull when they’re doing their homework.  It might be their Dad helping with their homework.  Little things like these are a lovely photographic inheritance for your children when they grow up! Look for the little things you love.

I know that photographing your own children can at time be…well…difficult to say the least!  So once in a while, try being a documentary photographer, in other words, don’t interact with your subject, and don’t pose them. Be a fly on the wall. Let your children get used to your camera being around so that it becomes part of normal life.  But do this quietly, you don’t want to be constantly harassing them with phrases like “DON’T MOVE!” or “Can you pull that face again?”  The key is to be unnoticed.  You’ll be able to capture them being themselves in their home environment.

Project Idea:  Before your shoot, try writing down the things you want to highlight in your image. Then think about how you can incorporate that into your photograph.

Natural Light - Bronica SQ-A  Kodak Tri-x 400
Daniela @ The Sloop Inn – Natural Light on Kodak Film

3) Environment – (Part of the story, or background clutter?)
Before shooting, ask yourself if the environment is relative to your story.
If the environment is an important part of the story, then include it :-)  If it’s not relevant, then exclude it from your composition.
For example, if you’re shooting a portrait of a blacksmith, you might want to include the tools and workshop as context.
(On a side note whilst speaking of environment and context, check out photographer James Mollison with his ‘Where Children Sleep’ project.   It’s a fantastic example of how background context alone tells a story).
If you want to photograph your child daydreaming as they look out their bedroom window, you probably wouldn’t want to include the carpet of toys and jigsaw pieces. Or maybe the toy covered carpet is part of the story of childhood! It’s your story, there is no right or wrong

Project Idea: Spend a few weeks taking 5 photos that tell a story.  It could be that you’ve taken a photograph solely of your child’s chocolate covered fingers after they’ve dived into some cake! It tells a story right?

 

Natural Light - Bronica SQ-A  Kodak Tri-x 400
Jaime – Wonderful chap from Haywards Heath, with his own tankard at the bar :-)

4) Setting a limit.
Our cameras can take hundreds of photos before running low on space. It can be easy to fire off images willy-nilly without thought.
Pretend your camera only has 10 shots left to take before it runs out of space.  It’ll get you thinking before you press the shutter, “is this image going to be any good?”.

Project Idea:  Why not try shooting film as a project?
Who remembers their 36-shot disposable camera that you’d make last the entire duration of your holiday?
With film you’re generally restricted to either 12, or 36 shots per roll (depending on your film format).  It forces you to think about every aspect of your photograph because you don’t want to waste your shot.
You’ll find it completely refreshing, and it’ll also free you from using Photoshop Actions & Presets!

Note: You can pick up a film camera with a prime lens for around £10-15 in charity shops, and the results can be stunning! Keep your eyes peeled, they’re a whole new world to those of us who’ve become comfortable with digital photography!

 

Black and White street photography
Taken at ‘Le Pure Cafe’ in Paris – As featured in the movie “Before Sunset”

5) Experiment!
Don’t be afraid to go for a shot that’s a little experimental.  Try letting go of being technically correct, and let your vision and heart speak. You’ve learnt the rules of photography, now go and break them in your own special way!


Project Idea: Set yourself your own photography project that’s inspired from a personal experience, or something that moves you.  It can be anything! Making a family recipe, walking down a path that’s been special to you..capturing a special part of the day. You have some gorgeous light early morning and late evening!
And remember to shoot for yourself.  That’s really important. Give it your heart and soul.”

– Daniel Simm!

Dan has his own blog under construction at the moment, you can find him *here* !

It’s been a great Bank Holiday Weekend here as we got to explore a lot of photographic styles together with the family which led to some seriously good family fun! Though I was exposed to the camera as a child, I really learned through experience as an adult. Don’t let that learning curve block you, you’ll get where you want to be if you try. I personally never got aboard with the whole “rules-thing” myself :)

Happy Shooting from all of us here at The Intrepid Misadventurer HQ!  <That includes happy houseguests, hooligan children, daddy pig and waving-with-mucho-gusto me!> :)

 

If you like the writing and photographs you see on this blog, could you please *nominate* me for the Britmums Brilliance in Blogging Awards? I’ve been shortlisted in categories 1 and 8! :) Many thanks!! xx

You might also like a few articles written wholly by me to help make up your mind 😉 Please click on the inviting links below! :

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“Arrivederci Roma!” – A Photo-essay.

IMG no 11625

Well, I’ve returned from Rome having eaten my body weight in pasta and prosecco flowing through my veins! It was a well needed and if I say so myself, a very well deserved break too. :) For a while now, I’ve been looking into how people lived during the 30’s and 40’s ,  the war and post-war times when they had little to go by and while researching about places to stay at in Rome, we came across this old pre-war apartment that promised no bells and whistles but had managed to retain a lot of it’s antiquated glory. Slatted windows, high ceilings, ornate ghouls sculpted on the ceiling – the allure was endless! It fit in beautifully with the image I had built up in my head about what it might’ve felt like to live in Italy during Mussolini’s time. Since I wanted a complete break with life here in the UK, I wasn’t troubled by the lack of wi-fi or any other technolgical amenity, though the younger amongst us felt decidedly bereft of oxygen! The place was spartan, run by an 80-year-old who understood very little English so though it worked for us, I won’t recommend it.. It’s not what most would look forward to on holiday. :) If you’re a first timer in Rome, then you will probably want to click away at every building you see..I did – until I realised ‘I’m in Rome, and everything’s beautiful!':)

The song that stayed with me all through the holiday was El Pasador’s Amada Mia, Amore Mio- Have a listen while you scroll through the pics! :)

Apartment, Rome, architecture
Where we stayed on Via Ottaviano
Apartment, Rome, architecture
On the other side, a beautiful breakfast room!

My daughter enjoying the first day of sunshine …we’d had two very rainy days before this which was just tragic :)

apartment, rome, architecture
Rayna at the window…enjoying the sun in Rome. This pic was taken by Daniel Simm

We braved the weather and went into Vatican City on day 1 given that we were staying a ten minute walk away from it. Thankfully, the queue lasted about 20 minutes and we were in, macs, brollies and all!

St. Peter's Square, Vatican City, Rome
Piazza San Pietro, Vatican City, Rome

Nothing prepares you for the scale of opulence that awaits you. The medieval art and architecture are breathtaking and it all starts becoming real – the art of the most grandest artists in history right before you in unimaginable grandeur just leaves you spellbound. My daughters on the other hand were left a tad underwhelmed that all that talk about Raphael and Michaelangelo wasn’t really about the Ninja Turtles after all! 😛 Here are a few pictures from inside the Basilica, I’ve limited it to the well lit places where I could focus on the details of Michaelangelo and Bernini’s art!

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
Piazza San Pietro Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
The ornate domes at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
Michaelangelo’s paintings on the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
The gilted plasterwork inside St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
Gilted plaster engraving on the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
Bernini’s masterpieces at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
One of the showstoppers at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome
Michaelangelo’s renowned Pietà at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Rome

 

Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum
The opulent hallway leading to the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum. Sadly we couldn’t take photographs in the chapel!
Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum
The gilted spiral stairway at the Vatican Museum

The best advice I ever got was to take my walking shoes… We walked pretty much everywhere and by the end of our stay, we realised we’d walked almost all around Rome. The magnificent ruins, the gorgeous Piazzas never seemed to run out of things you could see…Most of the newer buildings in Rome are built in the style of the old, blending seamlessly into the renaissance landscape of the city. Here are some pics of the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, The Forum and The Pantheon.

The Colosseum, Rome
The Colosseum, Rome
The Colosseum, Rome
The Colosseum, Rome
Palatine Hill, The Forum, Rome
Palatine Hill, The Forum, Rome
Palatine Hill, The Forum, Rome
Palatine Hill, The Forum, Rome
The Pantheon, Rome
The Pantheon, Rome

I was personally bowled over by the Fontana Di Trevi! There was something so large and overwhelming about it that held you captive for the longest time – that for me was the highlight of Rome! The buskers that played nearby, amplified by the natural accoustics that the ancient world knew so well left an indelible impression of the place. For a while, with one particular Spanish guitarist playing Ottmar Liebert, Paco De Lucia and other Bossa Nova artists, I almost believed my Spotify playlist had been hacked ! :)

Trevi Fountain, Rome
Trevi Fountain, Rome
Trevi Fountain, Rome
The Majestic Trevi Fountain, Rome. This pic was taken by Daniel Simm who’s great at long exposures! :)

There was a small carnival on at the Piazza Venezia during our stay and the local children were out, dressed up in costumes, throwing rice and confetti at the performers! There was an air of celebration as vibrant tunes of Electonica and Italian Pop filled the air.

Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Every woman’s beautiful 😉 -Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Venetian Masks at the Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Venetian Masks at the Carnival at Piazza Venezia
New Sheriff in town - Venetian Masks  and more at the Carnival at Piazza Venezia
New Sheriff in town – Venetian Masks and more at the Carnival at Piazza Venezia
 Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Carnival at Piazza Venezia

 

 Carnival at Piazza Venezia
Levitating Yogi at the Carnival at Piazza Venezia

We wandered into a lovely restaurant right near the Trevi Fountain called Sacro & Profano, which boasted the best Calabrese food in Rome. We weren’t disappointed and I highly recommend anyone visiting to snag a seat here in this deconsecrated church dating back to 1199! The price tag is modest for what it offers and we had a meal with drinks and coffee for 3 adults and 2 children for around €125 . The owner was very accomodating and welcoming, inviting me to take pictures anywhere I chose to and use it as I saw fit. The more than affable staff made our meal very comfortable, conversing amiably about restaurant favourites and the history of the place! The interiors date back 100’s of years and the improvisation is achingly cool. It’s a pity that I got there after dark and couldn’t get good pics as I’m dead opposed to artificial lighting :) but here’s a taster, you’ll pretty much get the picture of what awaits you when you visit.

 

Ristorante Sacro&Profano
Ristorante Sacro&Profano
Fresco inside Ristorante Sacro&Profano
Fresco inside Ristorante Sacro&Profano
Fresco inside Ristorante Sacro&Profano
Fresco inside Ristorante Sacro&Profano

The menu was extensive and I ordered me a linguine with squid ink and calamari, the photograph was lost to the low lighting and the jet-blackness of the dish, but it was lush and I won’t hesitate to have it again! This is what the rest of the family ordered :)

Pizza Rustica Calabresa

Pizza Rustica Calabresa, italian food
Pizza Rustica Calabresa

Gorgeous lasagne with parmigiano and meat sauce which was a massive hit with my daughter who’s not keen on food! It doesn’t taste like British Lasagne in the least, I wish I knew why :)

Lasagne Rustica Calabresa
Lasagne Rustica Calabresa
Fettucine with pancetta and fennel!
Fettucine with Pancetta and Fennel!

 

Spaghetti alle Vongole
Spaghetti alle Vongole

Spaghetti alle Vongole

I manged to bag the recipe for the Spaghetti alle vongole, a classic central and southern Italian dish –  here it is :

500g (or 300g, if dried) Spaghetti, fresh
50g Shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
50ml Extra virgin olive oil
500g Clams with their shells
100ml White wine
20g Parsley, flat leaf, roughly chopped
½ Lemon, juiced
Get cooking…
  1. In a large saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook your spaghetti following the cooking Instructions on the packet, and keep aside covered with a damp, warm towel
  2. In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, soften the shallots and garlic in the olive oil for Three minutes with no colour. Add the clams & white wine, cover with a lid and cook on full Heat for 2 minutes until the shells just open. Add lemon juice, parsley, the cooked spaghetti and mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  3. Serve in a large bowl immediately with fresh garlic bread and a glass of white wine. Birra Moretti or Birra Peroni goes well too!

No day ends well if you haven’t had Gelato-the classic organic, fresh, natural ice-cream that’s synonymous with fun, not just for kids! How can anyone resist the lure of flavours like hazelnut and butterscotch praline, sour cherry, nougat, coconut & lime and cinnamon strudel? That apart from the regular strawberry, chocolate and crema; albeit they’re all amped up a few notches from our best supermarket buys…Ben& Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs paled in comparison to even the more casual gelatos we had at L’Arena del Gelato , a delightful Gelato house right outside Vatican City! Again, a fine little place for little ones to be themselves, you’re not rushed, in fact you can stay as long as you like and taste as many flavours before you make up your mind. Giuseppe Longobardi, the owner,  is friendly and warm and is keen on making his business a place you associate good times with!  At a gentle 21, he’s keenly focussed on getting L’Arena Del Gelato a big spot on the culinary map of the city. All the gelato is handmade by his family and is totally free from any nasties!

Giuseppe Longobardi, owner of L'Arena del Gelato
Giuseppe Longobardi, owner of L’Arena del Gelato. In many ways, the man makes the place; check out his fab Tripadvisor reviews and make sure you visit!
Butterscotch and Hazelnut Gelato
Butterscotch and Hazelnut Gelato
Fresh organic gelato, homemade
Fresh organic gelato, homemade
Heaven in a cone! Gelato
Heaven in a cone!

Ever since I’ve been back, I’ve had to remind myself that No, it’s not Ok to want to have a Prosecco with your lunch in England, especially if that lunch is had at home, by yourself! 😛

Prosecco, bubbly, wine, spumante
Everything’s better with Prosecco!

I didn’t throw a coin in at the Trevi Fountain, I’m far too much of a realist for that ; but there’s something magical enough about the place that draws you to it long after you’ve left and I don’t doubt that I’ll return someday!  For now, I’ll have to be content with my Duty Free pleasures of Rome and with every biscotti and every sip of Limoncello, it’s Arrivederci Roma! :) x

My daughter's goodbye note to Italy! :) Postcard, Rome, arrivederci roma
My daughter’s love note to Italy! :)

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