Create: Photographing Family

I’m a filmmaker now. Did I mention this before? Yep, it’s official. Get my name on those shortlists. “And the Oscar goes to….Uncle Danno.” I’m slowly getting my sealegs when it comes to technique. I’m a long way from anywhere but at least I can fumble through post without wanting to jump off the roof.

I’m a believer that one of the most important things a photographer can do is to photograph their own family. This can be effortless or a battle that leaves all parties spent and foaming at the mouth. Portraiture is a specific psychological game and practicing with family can really help out when you venture forth and begin to work with strangers.

For most of my life, my mother was the family documentarian. Armed with her trusty Pentax K1000 and weathered Haliburton case she snapped year after year, chronicling the good, the bad and the Milnor ugly. Then one day she stopped, handed the baton to me and said “Time for you to drive.”

Recently I aimed Dusty south and ventured to my mom’s cabin to photograph her and to learn how she came to carry the camera that recorded our lives.

If you don’t photograph your family you really should. Even those members who fight tooth and nail to avoid the lens. In fact, start with them. Go forth my photo-children.

14 Comments on “Create: Photographing Family”

  1. Oh Danny boy you are really one of my favorite guys in the world! The first two or maybe the first second I played the video and saw you with a huge hat in the car kept me laughing so loud!

    And the Oscar goes to…haha!

    1. Wim,
      That had is mandatory in Texas. And that’s the small one!! The large one subs as a satellite dish.

    1. Jim,
      Gotta support our Latin brothers and sisters. Although in all honestly this isn’t QUITE a sombrero but it’s close.

  2. Great film, very much enjoyed it. Until I saw the Instax Wide. I got one about two months ago and loved it. Then one day it just became a useless piece of plastic that whirrs and grinds. Broke as broke can be. I hopped online to see if there was a fix, pages and pages of people experiencing the same problem. I might try my luck with the Instax Square.

    1. Scott,
      Mine is now stuck on flash all the time. They are really poorly made but when they work, from time to time, they are great for the journal.

  3. Realized last night while walking around that I have no idea how you filmed the opening driving scene. I hope you didn’t have some poor assistant strapped to the hood.

  4. Great inspirational and beautifully crafted video, Dan. I’m going to visit my 85yo Mom tomorrow after I shoot a horse show and I will definitely bring along my M4 and a few rolls of Tri-X.
    BTW I wonder how many know what a rumble seat is.

    1. Joe,
      At least three people know. You, me and my mom. Thanks for the note. Have been on the road for two weeks. I will be using my M4 soon too.

  5. A successful example of photographing your family would be Summer of the Fawn by Alain Laboile (Author). Incredible photos.

  6. I almost missed this one, how could this be? Family is so important.

    I recently realized that I neglected taking pictures of my family in the past months, not that I don’t have many pictures of them, I do. But pictures of those things which seems irrelevant today, those things which will bring back memories and stories. Given the choice would you want a picture of your great grandma’s portrait all dressed up or of her washing clothes or doing her shores? It answers itself.

    And yes, having a way to archive them so that my kid or old cranky me can come back to look at those images down the road is equally important as capturing these moments!

    1. Mathieu,
      You do what you can. I live a long way from my family so I get those rare moments only. But that’s the way it has to be at this point.

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