October 6, 2017Comments are off for this post.

7 Things I’ve Learned From Photographing Children

Photographing children always charges me up with positive energy. I’ve been doing it for years now and not only I believe they can be great teachers, but also that I’ve became a better photographer by spending time with them.

In no particular order, here are 7 ways photographing children has improved my work.

1. Perspective

children photography

Writers often tell the best stories by choosing the best point of view available and children teach us a lot about this.

Sometimes, shooting from eye level isn’t the best option when composing a frame. It can be dull and lifeless and chances are others have already picked it as their first choice.

Kids jump and crawl and walk in four legs or stand upside down. They get closer or look at things from all these weird positions, sometimes you wonder how they do it.

children photography

Getting the best images sometimes requires for us to look from all sides and angles until we find the best one.

In time, knowing when to change perspective becomes as natural as using your camera.  You won’t need to contort your body in hilarious or complicated ways every time - a right turn of hand and a wide lens will usually do the trick. Other times you’ll duck or lie on your belly or climb on a chair and that will be fun too.

2. Curiosity

One of the best ways of learning for human beings is through curiosity. Children have plenty of that, so much that at times adults get frustrated with it. But being curious is one of the best qualities and skills a photographer can have. Among others, curiosity manifests through exploration and discovery and through asking questions and figuring things out.

2.1 Learning through exploration and discovery

Children love to explore and discover new things. To them the entire world is amazing and interesting and they use all their senses to get to know it better. We usually get curious about things that excite us and study says we can even cultivate our curiosity.

So allow yourself to feel like a kid again. Go out and explore, discover your city with fresh eyes, pay attention to people who live around you, listen to sounds, pay attention to smells. 

children photography

2.2 Learning through asking questions

Children are a never ending source of questions, predominantly they ask a lot of whys but they also asks things grown-ups never even considered.

Follow their example and start asking yourself questions like:

Why do I want to learn photography? / Why do I like photography?

What is it about this image that I like?

How did the person make this photograph?

How can I make better photographs?

What is the first thing I need to learn to make this type of image?

3. Emotion

A good image should excite us emotionally, spiritually or aesthetically. Emotion makes our photos alive and a great way to observe and capture it is through kids. Children have raw, authentic feelings and they express them no matter what.  As you pay attention to them you will learn to recognise and anticipate emotion when photographing grownups as well.   children photography

children photography

4. Meaning

Kids take the materials they have and create their own things. Even if all they have is a string and a stick they will make something out of it. One of the reasons photography is so much fun for me is that it allows us to use our imagination and create new meaning through our photos. We decide what to include and what not to include in the frame and create new realities.

children photography

5. Stories

Kids love stories. We all grew up with them, but do we ever stop and think how much they connect us, how powerful they are?

Often, when children play or create things with their hands they make up tales about them.

What I think makes a memorable photograph is an image that starts a story in the mind of the viewer.  An image that makes you interact with it, ask what happened next or ponder at what’s behind the scenes. 

children photography

6. Experiment

From my observations, when children lose their interest in something they switch to something different. I think that’s a very good way for photographers to get past a creative rut or expand their boundaries.

If you feel frustrated with your own work experiment. When you get bored or stuck in your photo endeavours try new things.

You like shooting landscapes? Try portraits for a while. See what you learn, what you like and don’t like. You shoot only in colour? Try black and white.

Give your mind more material to work with and in time it will make the right connections.

7. Be present in the moment

Have you ever seen how kids get engrossed in an activity? They are there 100%. They are far less self aware than adults are and don’t care about how they look or what others think of them. All they care about is their game or activity. They live deeper, fuller authentic experiences.

When photographing, have your mind and thoughts in the moment. Connect to your subject or environment and be open to it.

And last but not least, have fun!

*This article first appeared on Picture correct.

April 3, 2017Comments are off for this post.

On learning photography and anything really

I started taking photographs because my brother did it and I wanted to see if I could do it too. I found it fun and interesting and in time it became a way of self expression. After several years it also became a source of income.

So how did I learn doing it?

I’m seeing my learning process as a journey that hasn’t ended yet. I started with nothing but curiosity, I made a lot of mistakes, met new people and learned to pay attention. And above all, I took a lot of photographs. Like, A LOT. But let’s start with the beginning.

Alexandra © Ioana Bîrdu

I started with the basics

The most important thing when learning photography is to know these three elements of the camera - the aperture, the shutter speed, the ISO - and the relationship between them. But when I started I was too impatient, I wanted things then and there. After a long process of trial and error and a lot of frustration that the images in my head were miles away from the ones I actually made, I took learning the basics seriously. So I began reading books and I also took an online free class that explained all the technical things in an easy to digest way. And then a new world opened up to me.

This was one of my first photographs

I played

Photographing was always fun for me and I believe we learn things faster and easier if we find joy and excitement in what we do. Like most beginner photographers, I started with macros of flowers, animals or random things I found on my way. I was always delighted and curious to discover the small worlds living around me and I never stopped playing.

This was one of the photos I was really proud of. Can't even begin to tell you all the wrong things about it 🙂

I learned from others

As I moved along I decided I wanted to connect with other people who were doing the same thing.  I also wanted to show my photos which I believed were amazing. Needles to say they pretty much sucked. Anyway, I started joining different photography forums and communities where I got a lot of feedback, I began consuming a lot of images and educated myself visually by learning how to look and analyse photographs. I also found out the camera is less important than what you do with it and that there were photographs that despite their perfect technical delivery didn’t have much else.

Raluca © Ioana Bîrdu

I tried different things and found out what I like.

As I started doing more and more photography and got a hang on how the camera works, I began playing with a lot of different photography genres and subjects. I photographed people and building and landscapes and food to discover that what really interested me were the people. Then I began photographing them in different settings. I went to concerts and tried event photography, I worked as a trainee for professional photographers and learned how to do wedding photography, I worked at a magazine and did some commercial photography. I also took a photojournalism class where I learned I didn’t want to do that, but I learned precious lessons on how to tell a story and how to look at things.

Andrea © Ioana Bîrdu

I practiced a lot

No matter what you want to learn, the thing that will bring you most knowledge is to do the actual work. No matter how much you read or look at what others do, nothing will teach you better than practice. This is how I learned how to use my camera, how to see the light, how to compose a photograph, how to be less shy around people and how to capture emotions.  

I continued learning

I am a firm believer in the act of lifelong learning. I don’t think that once you’ve finished school or passed a certain age you stop learning. Now I’m in a point where I’m looking to expand my knowledge and learn new things. I want to study more about color and light, learn stuff from other fields and use that in my photographs.

Lastly, if there’s anything I want you to take out from this article is this: start small, practice a lot and try to keep it fun as much as possible.