How to shoot tech at home

This tutorial is part of the “No Place Like Home” Campaign. We’ve partnered with some of our Licensing contributors to create these “conscious living” tutorials and Quests to encourage you to pick up your camera, maybe learn a new skill, and continue to do what you love despite these difficult times.

This tutorial was created by Marvin Herrera, a top Licensing Contributor based in Vancouver, Canada. He is a portrait and wedding photographer.

The Quest associated with this tutorial is sponsored by Logickeyboard. Learn more about Logickeyboard here.

Let’s see your working from home setup! Practice photographing your tech, then submit your photos to the Working from Home Quest and you could win a Adobe Photographer Shortcut Keyboard by Logickeyboard.

Setting up and coordinating a shoot can be difficult. You have to put a lot of thought into developing your idea, consider what may or may not look good, as well as keep your creative energy high for the impromptu shots you may capture along the way.

This can be especially challenging when you are confined to a small space and want to avoid repetition. Accidentally capturing the same shots and scenarios can be discouraging, and with 2020 progressing the way it has, many of us may have already begun to feel stifled in our photography practice.

That being said, applying some perspective to your current situation may be the best tool you have. Being stuck indoors, whether because of a violent rainstorm, a brisk snowstorm, or a global pandemic, is not ideal on any level, but it is a good opportunity to challenge yourself to shoot, remain creative, and find new ways to embrace creativity in situations we may not have previously considered within our scope.

Today we’ll go over some simple steps or ideas on how you can let go of all that stress for a little bit and try capturing beautiful moments with your family, while also incorporating a theme. For this shoot, we’ll be utilizing technology, a theme becoming increasingly relevant as social distancing measures continue to tighten.

Step 1: Bribe your tiny house mates

Being a family of four and restricted to a small condo in Vancouver, British Columbia has been difficult. My wife and I can count on finding toy cars, dolls, food, and basic evidence that the two kids and possibly the dog have swiftly moved through the area. Capturing your kids playing can make for great content, however, ensure your space is relatively clean and uncluttered.

Encouraging your kids, let alone your dog, to tidy up after themselves is a challenge unlike any other, which is why I have no shame in admitting this often requires bribery. Whatever their carrot is, dangle it in front of them and if you’re lucky, maybe they’ll clean up at least half of the mess they made.

Now, you can set the stage for your shoot.

Young Viewer by Marvin Herrera on 500px.com

Step 2: Create a theme for your shoot

Utilizing technology within your shoot should be a no brainer. The world continues to advance itself and tech has become ingrained into our daily lives to the point where it’s hard to think of the last time I went a day without using something tech related. Technology is also a very broad theme that has incorporated itself into a variety of daily life scenarios and rituals. From cooking, communication, movies, games, controlling the light switches remotely, or even battery operated toys—this is something we all use, now more than ever.

When choosing a theme for your shoot, consider scenarios that are globally relatable, this will help to increase the appeal of your content, as well as keep your content relevant for longer. When creating your shoots, you want your photos to be current, but you also want them to work in future scenarios as well. Choosing themes that reflect this will ultimately keep your portfolio up to date and commercially relevant.

Funny Faces & Video Call by Marvin Herrera on 500px.com

Step 3: Use your kids as models

Your kids may be the most demanding models you attempt to work with. For this reason, it’s essential to try and keep these shoots as fun as possible. By keeping it fun, you allow them to feel like they have a strong role within the shoot. I would highly encourage parents or anyone shooting kids, to let them make some decisions within the shoot. Things such as choosing their wardrobe, deciding what props to include, or building a fort will contribute to the authenticity within your shoot, allowing you to capture more genuine moments. This will always work better than telling them to just “sit and smile”. Allowing your kids to have a say in the styling and what they want to do in front of the camera will always result in something entertaining and photographs full of energy and life.

Bedtime Video Games by Marvin Herrera on 500px.com

Step 4: Shooting Technology

Now that your space is clean, you’ve decided on your theme (technology), and your models (kids, dog, wife) are out of wardrobe, you’re ready to shoot. There are a number of ways you can shoot technology, but you will get the most authentic shots if you are actually using it. To figure out the most relatable scenarios, think of the ways that you use technology within your everyday life, from something small and inconsequential, to larger action items that help you achieve something.

Some basic scenarios I covered:

  • Flipping through TV channels, with a focus on the remote
  • Playing a game on a mobile device
  • Using a laptop in bed
  • Taking a photo on your phone
  • Cooking food

If you are shooting technology themes for commercial usage, you will want to avoid shooting the screens of your devices, or if you do want to include the screens, leave them off. This will help you avoid any potential copyright issues.

Bedroom Browsing by Marvin Herrera on 500px.com

Step 5: Composition

Having a keen eye for composition is one of the most essential tools you’ll need besides your camera. There is no real step by step process or guide to this. I would encourage everyone to feel it out and ride the wave of the shoot. If I were to summarize some tips to help you achieve the best variety in your compositions I would suggest:

  • Capture everything, in a variety of angels
  • Don’t be afraid to move around the space, shoot from opposite corners, from high and low, tight and wide shots
  • Leave space around the subject as this gives your eyes room to drift around the photo, making it more appealing

Capturing a variety of angles and movement within your composition gives you more selects to choose from at the end of your shoot, but it also provides you with a stronger visual narrative to work from. Documenting the entire process of your shoot can give you some great before and after scenarios which will increase the bulk of your shoot without having to coordinate additional shoots.

Brushing Brushing by Marvin Herrera on 500px.com

While we all may be stuck inside planning shoots with our family as the models, it’s important to remember that this is not only an opportunity to challenge yourself and create some fun commercial shoots, but that you’re also capturing time spent with your family. Your kids will only be this young once, so take advantage of the chance to capture them full of energy and imagination.

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