Danielle Jackson | Hampton Roads Virginia Leading Family Photographer
Each and every year my new year's resolution is the same-- THIS year I'm going to declutter and get organized. And you know what, it didn't happen last year, or the year before and it's not looking likely for it to happen this year either. It's just not how I roll. It ain't happening people. It's a pipe dream my friends. Over the holidays my home was filled with extra decorations, people and a ton of misplaced stuff in addition to my normal household clutter. I snapped away despite all the chaos around me. The portrait photographer in me desperately wanted to have every shot be Norman Rockwell perfect, but the photojournalist in me also knew that wasn't about to happen with my people or in my home. So while I can't offer you any suggestions AT ALL in organizing or decluttering your home, I can offer some suggestions on how you how to take family photos you will cherish without all the fuss of tidying up.
1.) Snap first, then make changes (if you can). Once you've decided you have a moment you want to remember, take at least one shot no matter what- just do it. Often times with hesitation the moment is lost. I always take at least one photo, then try to move things out of the way if I think my subject will allow for it and if the moment isn't lost. In the above photo, I no doubt was stressed over all the junk on the table and around the room. I would have loved to have had this happy memory of my girls taking pictures with my mother after my oldest (my makeup guru) had done her makeup without the distractions of the clutter all around them. My mother hates having her photo taken and I had caught her in the act of enjoying her grandchildren AND being in photos! I found this moment so irresistible and wanted to hold on it forever, clutter and all. There was no time to move a thing. Plus, looking back, I like that the makeup brushes and kit that are now a part of the memory.
2.) Get up close. There is a popular quote amongst photographers by Robert Capa that says "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough." I believe he was referring to becoming more involved and intimate with our subjects, but I've found this to also be a great way to get the extra clutter out of my images as well. If you fill the frame with nothing but the subject you will only have captured the exact thing you want to remember. If you are unable to take the shot any closer, consider cropping out whatever you find distracting when editing your shot.
3.) Change your angle. Try taking the picture from above or below your subject. Walk around your space and try to see a cleaner view. From below perhaps you can capture the blankness of a wall or the area on the floor that is uncluttered.
I can't even begin to tell you the craziness and cluttered chaos that occurred in my home around the holidays. In the photo to the left, I was trying to capture my sweet baby niece with her chubby hands who was quietly focused on discovering how a box works in the middle of the craziness. From above and far away I got no sense of her concentration and my appreciation for her quiet thoughtfulness. I got down on the floor and captured a close up from a lower angle and captured what I was enjoying in the moment.
4.) Look for the cleaner spaces. For the most part, I know the places in my home where I can count on a (mostly) clutter free space- a wall, counter, couch or bed. (The one thing I do manage to do each day is make my bed!) Of course over the holidays these places were a little fewer than normal, but I tried working those angles in those reliable spots as much as possible.
5.) Use your windows. Not only do windows allow for great natural lighting, but the view to the outside is always beautiful. I love it when I can find happiness in front of my windows. Even if it ends up blowing out with light it's an uncluttered photo.
In the end if nothing else, simply decide to embrace the mess! Your home and life may or may not ever be neat and tidy but the memories you capture are fleeting and ten years from now when you look back you won't care an ounce about that clutter.
Now that we're already into January, I've decided a much better New Years resolution this year would be to embrace the present moment and to find a way to love it as if I had chosen it exactly the way it is. It's a good thing I'm over my past yearly resolution to be more timely or it would be too late for me to change my New Year's resolution. Shew.........
[Insiders Pro Tip- I'm also a fan of making photos with distracting elements black and white to give further attention to the subject. You have no idea how bananas that bottle of glue in the upper right-hand corner made me in the top photo, but in black and white I found it to be a lot less distracting. Now, how many of you noticed it before I said it? Well, if you are a fan of black and white photography you may also want to read about The 7 reasons I Adore Black and White Photography by clicking here.
These photos also are also a few more examples of my personal photojournalism. You can read how a little more about Posed, Lifestyle, and Photojournalism And Your Session by clicking here.
Thanks for stopping by my blog and feel free to give me a call when you're ready to schedule your session. (757)358-3305