FEATURED: Diversity in Homeschooling

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    Publisher: Christian Home Educators of Colorado. The goal of CHEC is to defend family freedoms and to help parents homeschool with confidence. Not only do they serve homeschoolers in Colorado, but also throughout the world via training conferences and seminars, publications and resources, legislative work, and more.
    Purpose: Their publishing team needs general, homeschool-family photos for their publications! Since there are plenty of photos on stock websites of the traditional “mom with a child at a table” shots, they would like more variety if possible, as described below.
    * Children schooling and playing together (outdoors or indoors).
    * Moms & dads doing activities with children (school, sports, board games).
    * Moms doing kitchen/organization/schooling projects.
    * Dads doing home/family things.
    * Struggling learner type photos: parents helping students, special needs like wheelchair-bound or Down’s Syndrome, different learners doing hands-on schooling things, not just textbooks.
    * Young adults working on projects, young parents with little ones (for our 2nd generation homeschoolers).
    Special Instructions: In general, a wide age range is helpful (elementary to older, not just toddlers), and large numbers of children or multi-ethnic families would be helpful. These are the types of photos that would be generally helpful for upcoming projects. If your photo is chosen, you will be asked to provide a model release (like this one) for all subjects in the photos.
    Orientation: Any orientation.
    Photo Specs: Highest quality possible, but any size will be considered.
    How to Submit: Members can follow the A, B, C process outlined here. (Instructions for non-members can be viewed here.)
    Remuneration: Any number of photos may be chosen and used by CHEC at no cost to them. However, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the best Lenspiration member’s submission, as determined by CHEC, will be awarded $27!
    Terms: By submitting your photo(s) on this forum, you agree to the terms outlined in the STS Photo Assignment Agreement. CHEC will seek to give credit to the photographer if used in a printed publication.
    Deadline: Midnight Saturday, July 25, 2020 (or until this topic is no longer highlighted yellow).

    Watch how I shot this assignment and get related training on how to shoot it yourself at Homeschooling Photo Shoot!

    Watch the photos submitted for this assignment get critiqued live by registering for the July 28 Photo Critique Webinar!

    Shoot and/or Submit

    • This topic was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by Lydia Bennett.
    James Staddon

    Here are some of the photos I liked from my homeschooling photo shoot. If nothing else, try to duplicate the one of the dad on the couch with the kids. There are lots of other options, though, beyond the normal “mom and child at the table” perspective, so see what kind of variety you can get like they provided in the details!

    Esther Marie

    @jamesstaddon or others, do you have any tips to share on how to get real smiles on kids? I know your nieces are really expressive, lol! 😂 I was just wondering what you did/said.

    Lydia Bennett

    or others, do you have any tips to share on how to get real smiles on kids?

    That’s a great question, @esther. I think a lot of it has to do with the age and maturity level of the kids, and whether or not they’ll smile “on cue” (i.e. “Hey, so-and-so, can you give me a grin?”). If they’re a little bit older, it can be easier to get this done. If they’re younger, more distractable, or shy, that’s when it takes some creativity. I’d say one of the biggest factors that will get kids to smile naturally is if they feel comfortable and happy with whatever they’re doing!

    Just the other day, I was doing a session with the family, and for most of the time I was doing the full family poses, I could not for the life of me get the 18-month-old to smile at me. He was too young to laugh at silly jokes I made, and, why on earth is he going to grin just because this over-energetic stranger is grinning at him for all she’s worth saying “Where’s a smile?” and whatever she can think of to make him pop a grin?! (I think my smile eventually became contagious though, because I did end up with some photos where he was smiling.)

    However, later when he was just playing around, he started to climb around on a tree, and it was when he was playing peek-a-boo that I got these adorable grins. He was comfortable, playing and having fun so I didn’t need to “ask him” to smile. He was smiling because he was actually happy, and he was looking at the camera because it was in the same vicinity as the person (me) he was playing peek-a-boo with. 🙂 If you have a parent, sibling or someone behind the camera doing things to make them smile, that usually works too.

    When you’re working with multiple children at once, it can be a challenge. In that shoot, by the time the 18-month-old would stop frowning curiously at me, the 3-year-old had decided he had smiled enough and wanted to wanted at the geese in the nearby pond – in the opposite direction of the camera. Once I got his attention back on me, the 18-month-old had lost interest.

    A big take-away from that fast-paced challenging shoot for me was, take time to really interact with the kids, get them comfortable with you, and comfortable with the camera. Again, TOTALLY easier said than done, especially if you’re trying to put together a pose with the full family. 🙂

    But for this assignment here, it allows for a more candid feel, so that’s really nice.

    Hope that helps a little bit!

    James Staddon

    Great comments @bennett-family! True, @esther, the kids are expressive in the photos, but that’s only because I chose the ones that were expressive to post. 🙂 They are shy and don’t want to smile at the camera and want to go do something else just like any other child. Like I tried to show in the video, I spent a lot of time with the kids getting them warmed up and used to the idea of their pictures being taken. They knew Uncle James was going to be taking pictures because their mom had told them, but when I arrived I took the time to explain the lights, what I was doing as I was setting up, answer their questions about EVERYTHING, let them play with the camera and take pictures themselves, etc. This was all done in the room where I was going to take pictures, of course, so the transition from the camera being in their hands to my hands would be almost unnoticeable. They started doing their schoolwork and seemed to forget I was there; the flash was still going off and the sound of the shutter was still there, but it had been going on like that for the past half hour, so for it to go off again was normal now. For the older kids, I would frame up a shot, get it just perfect, then quietly ask “Can you smile at the camera for me?” and immediately snap that first big smile that they gave (if they gave one). I’d check to make sure it was good on the camera screen, then say “Thank you, SO MUCH!!” and they would probably want to look at the photo too. Then I’d move on to the next child and do the same thing a couple rounds.

    But it isn’t about doing exactly what I do. The goal is NOT to follow a certain process or to get a child to do something for you. The goal is to get a child to do something THEY want to do. I can’t stress this enough!! If the child WANTS to smile and look at the camera, then you will have all your problems solved. The trick is getting there. And to get there, it often takes TIME, PATIENCE, and CREATIVITY! And it’s not just taking pictures of what the child is enjoying doing. You’re still in control. It’s you getting them to want to do what you want them to do. (I’m talking about children over the age of 2 or so; it’s different for babies who don’t really understand what you’re saying.) I tend to want and snap the very first hint that the child gives of a smile. But I think that’s too early. They’ve got to be enjoying what they’re doing enough to be smiling even when they just glance in your direction. Some kids are really good about it and have been taught by the parents to smile nicely as soon as mom says “smile at the camera.” But that’s a rare child. Sometimes, when mom tells them to smile at the camera, they take it as another command that they don’t want to obey. Other times, they give a very unnatural smile or some strange expression because they feel insecure.

    So, to get them to WANT to do what you want them to do takes creativity. I’m just learning how to do this (and you don’t always have time to do it), but here are a couple of ideas:

    * During the homeschool shoot, I didn’t just let the older ones play with my camera….I TAUGHT them a thing or two about it. Every picture they took wasn’t just “awesome!” I showed them how to focus. I showed them how to point the speedlight. I taught them how to play back the image. They saw a blurry picture turn to be in focus. They saw a dark picture become bright. They saw how if they obeyed what I said, the picture would be better. The rest of the photo shoot, they obeyed what I said (for the most part :))! They seemed to understand that if they did what I said, the pictures of them would be better looking.

    * During a family photo shoot a couple of days later, I asked Sauntina if there was any place around outside that she would like to have her picture taken. She didn’t suggest any place, so I suggested a place with flowers. She literally ran ahead of me to get there! She wanted to have her picture taken there.

    * A swing was wrapped around a pole. I could have easily freed it. Instead, I asked if Jason could free it. It was a challenge. It required climbing around to get to it. What was I doing while he was climbing around?? In his mind he was on a mission. I paused him along the way to “look at the camera” a ton of times (I didn’t have to ask him to “smile” because he was already “smiley” on his mission), and asked him to re-climb things, etc., but every time we had eye contact, I wasn’t the “guy with the camera”….I was the guy he was accomplishing a great mission for.

    * Cadance is super shy! I sat her in a swing and Mom told her to smile at the camera. Didn’t work. At all. I took her off the swing and asked if she could hold the swing “super still!” for me. It worked! She was no longer thinking about me or Mom or smiling….she was transfixed with steadying a swing so that it wouldn’t move a single milometer! When it was still, she looked at me with incredible glee in her face! Was I ready to snap it? Of course I was! That was the reason I gave her the challenge. 🙂 I did a few other things with her too, like while sitting on the swing, I asked if she could push the chains away from her as far as she could. Mom thought “that is a weird picture!” but it wasn’t WHILE she was pushing that I wanted, it was when her arms got tired and she released them and looked at me with this like “can I do it again?” expression on her face that I was snapping photos. Of course, I snapped a couple with her arms outstretched too, but they aren’t the ones I kept.

    Like I said, I’m still learning this. But the more you can control directing the kids to do what you want them to do in a way that they feel like they are doing what THEY want to do, I think it will help bring out those natural expressions.

    Anyway, that’s what I’m learning at least!

    Esther Marie

    Thanks, @bennett-family for your comments!

    A big take-away from that fast-paced challenging shoot for me was, take time to really interact with the kids, get them comfortable with you, and comfortable with the camera.

    I have some friends that can be my models for this assignment, and they have a couple small kids that are totally adorable, but super shy at first! So, I’ll spend some time first to get them acclimated, which will take some creativity, but I’ve got some tips now to start with!

    , I appreciate you writing a free e-book for me!! 🤣 So much amazing information! I loved hearing about your experiences!

    Thanks again, I’m looking forward to doing this shoot!

    James Staddon

    Yay! Glad to help @esther!

    Blessings Captured

    Here are some that I pulled from my portfolio. Younger siblings are great models!

    Lydia Bennett

    Those tips you gave were super helpful, James, not just for this assignment (obviously), but just in general! It was actually kind of funny with both families I visited…I was all prepped to “get the kids comfortable with the camera” and ease them into getting the photos going. With the first family I visited, the kids were so comfortable with the camera, it was almost like I (and the camera) wasn’t there. 😀 The second family, the kids were more “camera-aware”, but they were just so excited for me to be visiting them, there was no shyness going on.

    Both shoots were fun, and both were good learning experiences in different ways. 🙂

    This assignment also gave me lots of good practice with bouncing the flash! Still have a lot to learn with that, for sure!

    Lydia Bennett

    Here are the photos from my shoot with the second family. They’re such a sweet family, and were so excited to show me all their gardens and what they enjoy doing inside too! 🙂 Here are the outdoor photos.

    Lydia Bennett

    Then we went back inside to cool off, build with lincoln logs while their mom read about westward expansion, chop the veggies they had just picked from the garden for lunch, and finished off with eating those veggies! 🙂

    Ernest Lloyd

    Okay, I feel like people photography is not necessarily my thing, but I finally found a little time with my younger siblings and shot a few photos.
    There isn’t much variety, but it was all I had time for.
    I loved the idea of having those Math U See blocks in the background 😉 ! (Secret advertising going on there.)

    James Staddon

    Wow, guys, WOW! This is amazing! Just now sitting down to look through your submissions. It WAS a hard assignment, but you did well. These are rare pictures. Very few people are able or willing to get these kind of photos! And I am very grateful for the variety! We’ll see what CHEC thinks….not sure if I’ll be able to get a response from them before the webinar tomorrow, but I’ll try!

    James Staddon

    FYI, here’s the link to the replay: https://www.lenspiration.com/video/webinar55/ In it, you’ll see which ones CHEC liked best. They haven’t officially decided on which ones to use yet, but I’ll try to keep you informed of that here!

    James Staddon

    And a winner has now been chosen! From Katie:

    “Wow this is so fun! My favorite batch of photos for the style we typically go for is Lydia Bennett’s with the ethnic family – I could see us using those for sure. Two main thoughts that might be helpful for the review (thinking about how CHEC would use these):

    1. A mix of close-ups (like most of these) plus some with lots of white/otherwise blank space, would be good. We often need a photo that has about 1/3 in focus and another 2/3 (roughly) that can be faded out, behind a magazine article or something. So not cropped quite as tightly.

    2. More of just children playing/families being together – not just schooling itself (although I loved these!) This is part of why I liked the batch I mentioned above – good variety.

    Just heard back from our designer. We vote for 20200717-Lydia Bennett-0037 as our favorite!”

    So congratulations @bennett-family!

    Everyone’s photos have been delivered to CHEC with your name, so if they decided to use your picture, they’ll make the effort to credit you!

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