If your family already does homeschooling, this month’s photo assignment should be easy!

To make it more challenging for me, I focused on lighting and doing what I could to get it just right….

While bounce flash certainly is better than direct flash or no flash at all when photographing not-so-well-lit areas, I feel like on this shoot I defaulted to what was comfortable. I use bounce flash fairly often. I’m pretty comfortable with it. I don’t have to think too much about it.

200630_James Staddon_7895 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 28 mm, 1-250 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400

What I do have to think about is off-camera flash. I don’t use off-camera flash a lot. I’m not comfortable with it yet. If I really wanted to challenge myself, I should have pushed myself to use off-camera flash. I had the equipment, but somehow I convinced myself that I still needed to practice with what I was more comfortable with. I think off-camera flash is the secret to the light and airy look that you see in a lot of stock photos (like this one). I want my photos to look like that. But I don’t think I’ll ever get there if I don’t challenge myself in the areas that I really need practice in.

So, use this assignment to challenge yourself! What are you not comfortable with yet in photography? The settings on your camera? Shooting in manual? Using no flash instead of the on-camera flash? Buying or using a speedlight? Interacting with your subjects? Setting them up? Creating a fun and relaxing shooting environment? Your challenge is going to be different than my challenge. Use this assignment to practice what’s challenging for you! That’s how we take the next step.

That’s one thing I learned from this photo shoot.

Here's another takeaway: I really should have taken more photos! I did take over a hundred, but really, I only came away with a handful of ones that I really liked. Of course, this is to be expected when working with kids, especially when you have lots of them in one shot, but I feel like if I had taken more photos, I would have been more likely to come away with better ones. I tend to be sparing with my shots. Perhaps this comes from my landscape photography background. And it certainly is a discipline you should have in some situations. But in this situation, we have lots of momentary expressions and positions that are changing all the time. Of course, I’m going to change the things that I can change, to make the the smiles and genuine expressions as commonplace as possible, but then it’s my job to shoot those smiles and expressions while their happening.

For instance, these are the only 4 photos I liked from all the kids on the couch. But which one is actually great?

200630_James Staddon_7925 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 24 mm, 1-250 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400

Good, but I think I bounced the light too straight on.

200630_James Staddon_7948 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 31 mm, 1-250 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400

Good, but the dad is really the only one who looks happy.

200630_James Staddon_7952 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 50 mm, 1-250 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400

Good, but now the dad has an odd expression and evidently the baby has found something quite disturbing on that page. 🙂

200630_James Staddon_7966 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 47 mm, 1-250 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400

Again, good, but not stellar. It just feels like a normal shot.

If I had just taken more photos surrounding each one of those moments, I think I would have been able to come away with shots that were better than the ones I got. Also, I could do some Photoshop to pull expressions from other similarly-framed shots, but it is better when you don’t have to do any Photoshop.

And one final takeaway. If I were to do this photo shoot again, I would do it during non-school time. This time around, I thought it would make the photos look more authentic if the kids were actually doing their school work. And that’s exactly what I got. The problem is, I realized that when folks are truly engaged in their school work, their authentic expressions are quite somber.

200630_James Staddon_7864 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 51 mm, 1-250 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400

I think next time I would create a more playful environment where folks aren’t really trying to do their school work, but instead, are pretending to do school work with jokes and laughter the rule of the day. Nothing makes a photo more amazing than a genuine laugh or smile.

200630_James Staddon_7888 Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 55 mm, 1-250 sec at f - 2.8, ISO 400

Going Deeper

The premium training for this month is all about the incredible affect focal length can have on your photos. Have a distracting background you can’t work around? Want more ideas on how to emphasize your subject? Have you ever thought about how focal length effects the way your subject looks? or how focal length completely changes the appearance of your background? It’s amazing to see the difference that focal length can have on your photos, and you can see the proof of it in the precise comparisons presented in the new membership-exclusive video, Exploring Focal Length Effects!

Now It’s Your Turn!

Yes, pictures with lots of kids are more difficult to shoot. But perhaps that’s why a search for “homeschool family” on your typical stock photo website will get you tons of photos but practically none with more than 1 or 2 kids! This truly is a unique opportunity. You’ve seen me shoot this assignment. Now it’s your turn to click below to Get the Details and go shoot this assignment yourself!

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