Empty Places

This week on my podcast with Davina Fear, Davina talked about the photos she made at her grandmother’s funeral. I talked about how I felt about photos when my grandmother died in September.

I didn’t want to take many photos during the visitation, burial or memorial service. I wanted to just look and not put a camera to my eye.

Davina talked about photographers processing experiences by making photographs. I remembered some photos I took the day after Grandma died. I went to her house, which was not going to be her house anymore.

I wanted photos to help me remember her house. I wandered around and took photos of little things. Already, it wasn’t her house. I wasn’t satisfied until I took this photo of her empty chair at the dining room table.


I turned around and took a photo of her empty kitchen.


I collected photos of Grandma to display at her service. There were many, many photos of her holding babies.

This photo, from five years ago, was my favorite – the very familiar sight of Grandma doing dishes.


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Twice A Year

Getting in the car. Grocery shopping. Making dinner. Many days are filled with routines. We did it today and we’ll do it again tomorrow. It’s easy to forget to take photos of routines because they are so familiar.

It’s also easy to forget routine events that come around just twice a year. That’s right. I’m talking about trips to the dentist. I love our dentists. Love them. And, the kids still would rather clean the kitchen floor and toilets than go get their teeth cleaned. (I’m the opposite.)



Want to hear more about photographing routines? Listen to my family photography podcast, TWiP Family.

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Beyond the Camera Smile

For my new family photography podcast, TWiP Family, I interviewed Jesh De Rox.

He teaches photographers how to create spaces where the people they are photographing are feeling amazing. So, they look amazing in the photos.

Before the interview, I tried out some his simple ideas for helping people go beyond the camera smile into joyful moments.

Here are a few I talked about in the interview.

Five Hugs:


Jump Three Times:

After talking to Jesh, I tried what he calls, Same Time. I asked the people I was photographing to try to say the same color at the same time.

With this one, I asked Duncan to whisper something in his brother’s ear.

I’ve been surprised by how easy it is to get people to go past the camera smile… when I asked the right questions.

I hope you listen to the interview with Jesh De Rox. If you give any of his ideas a try, share your photos. I’d love to see if it works for you.

You can listen to the show on iTunes. Or on the This Week in Photo website.

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Time Travel

In second grade, I looked on with envy as my third grade friends from church went to Tionesta. They were going to a cabin for the weekend to eat candy and run wild. I couldn’t wait until it was my turn.

This year, I took my girls to the same cabin. A group of people from my church has kept the tradition of Tionesta alive. For years, a group of kids in grades third through sixth go to a hunting cabin on the Allegheny river in the town of Tionesta, Pa. The cabin and surroundings have barely changed since I was eight years old. There are a few less deer heads on the walls but the bright plastic tablecloths are just the same.

The first night we were there, dinner was ready. I got ready to serve salad to the kids. My brother took the tongs and said, “Wouldn’t you like to take a picture of this?” I began documenting the weekend.

I took pictures for this year’s group of kids and parents.  I also was thinking of the much bigger group of people who spent weekends together in this cabin every spring and who I knew would enjoy traveling back in time.

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Ride On!


March 16

The first really warm day and the bikes came out. I love the snow but was ready for this. You too?

A few years ago, I learned how to do this kind of motion photo – a pan. Now, it’s one of my favorite tricks.

(I moved the camera while taking the photo to show how Elsie is zooooooooooming.)

I’m going to be talking about this very thing on my upcoming podcast about photographing your nearest and dearest.

I’m looking for questions to answer on early shows. Do you have a question? It can be about anything related to photographing your family. (You don’t have to sound smart or like a photographer. Just yourself, a curious parent.)

Email me – jenny@familiarlight.com or find Familiar Light (a brand new page) on facebook. I’m also on Instagram @familiarlight.

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