Rachel Devine is a professional children’s photographer and award-winning blogger whose work has appeared in People, Parenting, Popular Photography, and the book Photojojo. Her photographs of her own children have earned her acclaim and as well a stead stream of questions from parents trying to photograph their families’ daily lives. Her book Beyond Snapshots, co-authored with Peta Mazey, is due out on March 20th and offers wonderful advice for new photographers.
Read on for a chance to win her book along with a Lensbaby Composer!
Getting Started – When did you start shooting?
I began taking photos as a teenager, around 1984. Luckily my parents were very supportive and paid the lab bills for all that film!
Was there a particular life event that made you value photographs?
While there was no particular life event, photography was valued and practiced by my father. All of our holidays and weekends were punctuated by posing for pictures.
My nieces and nephews were growing up and that began my love of capturing childhood. I documented everything that I could even though it was more expensive to do so back in the film days. My father was very interested in cameras and the art of photography so I was lucky to be exposed to museums and art books and photography magazines at an early age. I do think though that seeing the proof sheet come back full of black and white images that I took on the Hasselblad sealed the lifelong love affair for me.
How has having children impacted your photography? Did you remember making a conscious decision to document their lives? How have they effected your shooting style?
As a parent who was photographed as a child, I try to stay aware of my own children’s needs. I try not to make photography a chore in their lives by rarely stopping them from what they are doing just to take a photo. Instead I make sure that photographs simply flow with the rest of our activities. I want them to grow up to appreciate the art of creating in general and find their own paths. It does make me really happy to see Gemma get excited over photos she takes.
Advice for Others – What are some easier photographic subjects or situations for a photographer just starting to shoot in manual mode?
Kids are not an easy subject to jump into when you don’t have manual mode down yet. Not being prepared for the lighting and having to check the camera, reset and shoot again is exactly what makes children start to dread being photographed.
That does not mean that one should not attempt it though. Children are not little for long, so parents absolutely should capture that time in their lives. Just get the camera set up first before engaging the child. Before you have their (short-lived) attention, make sure your settings are right.
How can someone more easily incorporate photography into their everyday life? Do you find 365 photo projects or tips like “always carry a camera” useful?
Absolutely keep your camera out and use it often. Practice to get to know the workings of your camera and properties of light and exposure. Also, you never know where you will find subject matter, but you can’t take anything more than a memory away with you if your camera is at home, safe in the closet. I am not reckless with my gear, but I use it. I don’t keep it stored away in a bag.
I am not very good at self imposed deadlines, so 365 projects actually stress me out a bit. I work well with a more loosely defined project idea or a longer time between deadlines. This year I have joined an amazing group of photographers for a monthly round robin blog series called 10 on 10. Each month we pick a day and photograph for 10 hours then post 10 photos (or lines of photos – 1 from each hour) on the 10th of the month. I have decided to go a bit further and give myself an overall theme each month as well since I needed to challenge myself further than just photographing life on a daily basis.
This past month was completely shot with my Lensbaby. I used the Sweet 35 on the Composer and the Edge 80 on the Composer Pro.
Nostalgia Time! Tell us about your first camera.
My first serious camera was a Contax 35mm film camera given to me by my father. That camera is not with me anymore, but I do have a Hasselblad system and a later model Contax 35mm, both from my dad. He passed away in 1999, so I will be keeping those cameras forever. They don’t get used much anymore, but when I do shoot film, I always shoot with the Hasselblad.
There are a few images of my nieces as babies and small girls that I have, but the most precious print from my early days would have to be the black and white photograph I took of the girl who would later become my best friend in the world. She was a friend of a friend and the first day we met we all went out for lunch. I took her photo because I loved her huge vintage sunglasses. Over 20 years later, she is the godmother of my first child and I can always remember the very day we met.
Enter to win a copy of Beyond Snapshots along with a Lensbaby Composer simply by leaving us a comment below! A winner will be randomly chosen on Monday morning at 9 o’clock Pacific and announced on our Facebook.
See more of Rachel’s Lensbaby photos on her blog Sesame Ellis by Rachel Devine.
Find more of our favorite photographers including Deb Schwedhelm, Fritz Liedtke, and Kathleen Clemons featured in previous Pro Spotlight interviews.