The Family Photographer 3: Spencer Lum on Looking for the Unexpected

screenshot-2016-11-28-19-39-57On this episode, I share my conversation with Spencer Lum. Spencer is a father of two, a Brooklyn based wedding photographer at 5 West Studios, the author of the award winning and fascinating photography blog Ground Glass, as well as a speaker and educator.

I talk with Spencer about the in between moments he looks for when photographing for both his clients and his own family. We explore the question: What is a snapshot? Spencer talks about why he loves a mysterious, unpretentious snapshot. I ask him when it’s a good idea to copy other photographer’s work, and we talk about why asking a photographer what lens they use isn’t the best question to ask.

Spencer also tells us about the challenging and strange projects he makes for himself by giving himself many limitations and what he has learned from the projects.

You can see Spencer’s projects on Instagram, 5 West Studios, Ground Glass

After the interview, I asked Spencer what the best and worst money he’s spent on photography. I also asked him something he’s learned in his years as a father. To hear his answers, sign up for email updates. His answers are included with this episode’s email.

I love photography projects. I’m in my last month of a daily project, a 365 Project. I’ve been joined by a fun, friendly and talented group of photographers. You can join us and see everyone’s projects in our Flickr Group.

Next week, I’m sharing my conversation with Kate Densmore. She recently released the e-book Stories of Home at Craft and Vision.

Is there someone you’d love to hear on the show or a topic you would like to learn more about?

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The Family Photographer 2: Starting a 365 Project – Part 2

On this episode of The Family Photographer, I share conversations I had with Zane Kathryne Schwaiger and Simon Boyle the day before they started their 365 Projects. I wanted to know why they decided to start a project and what they hoped to gain from a year of making and posting photos every day. Both Zane and Simon are parents of small children. I knew that they weren’t taking on a photography project like this because they had time to kill.

I talked to Zane and Simon together for an episode of TWiP Family when we were all about halfway through our year. You can listen to that show here.

When the year is over I’m planning another conversation to hear how they feel now that the year of photos is behind them.

The Family Photographer 1: Starting a 365

Welcome to the first episode of The Family Photographer.

paulineOn this episode, I’m sharing my conversation with Pauline. A year ago I got an email from Pauline. She wrote, “You mentioned in the latest podcast that you’re considering doing a 365 again, and that it’s “easier” when you can do it together with other people. I thought right away, but wait! There’s certainly a whole community of TWIP Family listeners who would join you. I bet if you asked there would be a bunch of grateful listeners who would gladly jump on the 365 wagon to share support and feedback.

I know that for me, it could be just the kind of thing to get me to do a 365. Finally.”

She was right. A community of TWiP Family listeners did join me and it’s been a great year of photos and conversation. 

Pauline started as soon as she decided to do a project and just finished her project. On the show, she talks about how making and posting photos daily has changed her photography.

You can hear more from Pauline on her photography podcast, 10,000 Crappy Photos.

Beginning Again


 Last week, I was talking to Danielle Hatcher for this week’s episode of TWiP Family. We talked about how hard it is to get into photos with our kids. The photo I’d been thinking about was one of my boy’s face when he feels the new baby kick. In this photo he’s waiting for feel something. It’s not the photo I set up the tripod for and I’m glad I stopped thinking about taking a photo and took one. (I’ll still chase the photo of him looking surprised when he gets a good kick.)

Danielle suggested making list of photos your thinking about when doing a 365 Project – daily photos for year – to keep from getting bored. I’m nearing the end of this year’s project and still had a long list of photos I would still like to make. For me more important than making the photos is thinking about what is happening at this time in our lives that I love and want to remember.

Like most people, my days go by quickly unless I’m waiting for my car to be serviced. It’s easy to feel like today was just like yesterday – filled with laundry, food, complaints, fights. (Laughs and hugs too.)


Do you have a list of photos in your mind that are waiting to be taken. Something your kid does that they won’t be doing in a few weeks or months? Something you’d rather they never do again? Can you find a pen and paper? Write it down.

I’d love to hear know what photos you’re chasing. Tell me in the comments.

Listen to the podcast with Danielle.

Check out my 365 Project and projects of other listeners at TWiP Family 365 Project 2016.

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.


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.


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.

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.