Lessons from the Scene: Mental Visualization by Ginny Felch

by Ginny Felch, www.photographingchildren.com 
Click on photos to enlarge

This article is an excerpt from "Chapter 7: Evoking Expression and Emotion" of her book "Photographing Children" available from Wiley Publishing:


Figure 7-1Figure 7-2

As you look through photographs, whether they are your own family photographs, a friend’s collection, or even magazine images, you intuitively flip through them at a certain pace. Every so often you might come across one that stops you, slows you down, and invites you to explore or engage more deeply. It might make you smile, think for a minute, or take you back to a place in time. What a wonderful exercise this is to encourage your own observation skills and to see what pulls you in. The chances are very good that the photograph that stops you or slows you down contains something profound or alluring in the expression, mood, and emotion.
The great advantage of digital photography over film is that you can be spontaneous and capture special moments and a child’s natural enthusiasm as in 7-1 and 7-2 without the high cost of processing. This technology offers you the opportunity to learn as you shoot, and the immediate results allow you to erase and try again. For those who learned to photograph with film, this convenience is really a dream come true.


If you are a parent, you have probably stumbled on many instances when you wish you had a camera in your hand. How many times have you looked through your rearview mirror to see the soft, round cheeks of your sleeping toddler in the backseat of your car? Wouldn’t it be great if all you had to do was blink and a photo would be recorded with all the emotion you were feeling about that person at the moment? Actually, practice in visualizing these moments makes it far more likely that you can capture them in the future. As you go about your day and see childrenaround you, compose and mentally click off a fewframes; it will make you a better photographerwhen you actually get the camera in your hands.
Figure 7-4 
In an ideal world, you would just come upon “the moment” and photograph it (as in figure 7-4), but those kinds of happy accidents are few and far between. It is more likely that you either won’t have your camera with you, or that the moment you turn toward the subject, all spontaneity dissolves, and the magic moment disappears, only to become another beautiful memory.
Take your camera everywhere you go with your child, and you will have opportunities galore to capture innumerable precious moments. Your kids will become used to the camera if it’s part of their daily life. They will quit mugging and go about their lives, which is exactly what you want.
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