Your a photographer, be it Amateur or Pro and you would like to get your spouse involved in the hobby with you. This is an all too commonly asked question that may or may not have a specific or direct answer. What can we do to share something that we love, with someone that we love??? Keep reading to find out.
Ok if your like me, you have been shooting for a while, you love it and you want your wife or husband to enjoy it too. So the first thing you must accept up front is that they may never enjoy photography to the extent that you do. They may come to appreciate it, but not find it as intriguing and all encompassing as you do. Don’t take this as failure, just enjoy it and have fun sharing. As photographers we find it difficult to understand why everyone isn’t as fascinated with the hobby as we are. It really doesn’t make any sense. We come home with a new sought after, saved up for, must have f1.4 prime lens for our DSLR and our spouse comments “That’s nice dear, what do you want for supper?”. It is very frustrating sometimes for us as artists to not get the attention we think that lens deserved. But more seriously, we can share the hobby with our spouses, we just have to be patient and make sure they want to do it. If you force it on them, they will never get the enjoyment from it they could. You also will suffer from the stress of the situation. SO go slow, and let them decide first of all.
Where to start?
To start we of course have to get our spouses taking pictures. If they already do with a point and shoot or their phone then your already halfway there. You just have to get it to progress a little further. Now don’t get me wrong about the motives of this. It does not matter if at the end we are getting our spouses to shoot with a DSLR or a better quality point and shoot, as long as we are doing it together. That being said, we hope they are shooting with your old DSLR and you have nice shiny new one.
Realistically, we can’t go out and drop several hundred to thousands of dollars on a camera that may or may not get used. Then hope they will enjoy our hobby. So what do we do. The initial steps in introducing someone to photography are the same no matter what they are shooting with. We have to get them taking better images and not just taking snapshots anymore. I have found that once someone is aware that they are taking exactly the same quality snapshots that every other human being on the planet is capable of taking, that they tend to want to improve and take better shots. So we must start by simply educating them on the basic of good photography, without getting all technical on them. My wife started on a basic 1 Mp HP C200 point and shoot, and she stayed with point and shoots for years, but with me progressively increasing the quality and ability of them with each upgrade. The last one being a Sony 12.1Mp model that basically shot just like a DSLR. We have moved on from there, but more on that later.
What steps do we use
The order and types of steps is going to vary from person to person. One fact will hold true though. If you dump a pile of technical data and references at them all at once, they are going to run for the hills and never revisit the camera equation again.We are not trying to get them into manual mode on a camera within a few days or even weeks. We simply want them to start being aware of how they are shooting now, vs how they could be shooting.
The first steps are to slowly introduce the most basic rules of photography as we know them. A good place to start is to use the Rule of thirds. This one rule alone has piqued more interest in photography than any other. Don’t cram it down their throat. Let them experiment with it for a little bit an only then critique lightly. You may be surprised how little you need to comment on. Following this I try to teach a little on Composition of an image. Nothing too complicated at first such as face the void where your subject faces the larger portion of the image. By adding this to the Rule of thirds your helping them to make choices one at a time that dramatically affect the image their taking. It also doesn’t hurt that you are revisiting these subjects. They may serve as a needed reminder to help you take better images as well.
Where do we go from here
OK so we have kind of gotten started taking a few much improved shots. Don’t go on that photo walk just yet. Your not here to compare your shots with your spouses or anyone else. They are new, and we want them to keep getting better. If your really good at this and they see that, it may very well derail your attempts to share. On the other hand if your not that good and the shots they are taking are already overshadowing yours, then you might bail on wanting to teach them.
By now you should know if the bug is going to take a hold. When important family events come around, such as holidays, they will run and grab their camera instead of telling you to do it. Let them. Don’t run and grab your camera to make SURE you record the shots right. Give them a chance at it and let them get the feeling you get when your shooting away at a family gathering. There will be hundreds more days like this that you can shoot. Let them have the spotlight for a while. You can make suggestions about shots (if they ask) and you will see improvement immediately. Just don’t get too technical. Add one or two things at a time and give them some time to soak in. You can add a refresher if you notice a shot that blatantly broke a rule or two, but don’t get too stiff about it. But remember that artists break rules, sometimes unintentionally with good results. So be flexible.
How will it come out?
OK worst case scenario, your spouse absolutely hates photography with a passion and demands you stop buying gear for ever! Not a problem, time for a new spouse. But really the chances are your going to end up one of two ways. Either they are going to love it and start enjoying it with you. In which case the possibilities are endless. Photo trips to exotic places together can do wonders for a marriage. Or at the very least, they may not love it, but their photography has improved to the point that they now understand why you try and use all this gear when you take pictures and will support you in it more. Hopefully Either way your photography gets a little more appreciation at home.
How did Photography with my Spouse turn out
Though it is still a work in progress it has turned out nice for us. I recently picked up a Nikon D60 10Mp body in a pawn shop for $35 and added a refurbished Nikon 18-55mm kit lens and a few nick knacks and for under $200 my wife has a really decent dslr kit to learn on. I am taking my time showing her how to use each piece one step at a time and she is doing great. She takes time to analyze her own images now, and will ask me occasionally what is off about this or that, but in general takes care of her own.
I will occasionally take a couple of minutes to give her a new tip. But now I find writing articles is my best bet. Then if she needs assistance beyond that she will ask. It is working great. I am planning on trying to put together a photo-walk for just the two of us as soon as the weather gets a little better around here, and see what kind of shoot we get together. At least for now I know that Photography is one thing that can bring a couple closer together and give them something in common to share. Even though one may love it and the other only appreciate it, it can still be enjoyable together.
So until next time Keep Shooting Str8 Together!
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