Children do amazing things

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What more can any photographer ask for but the chance to make powerful, articulate pictures of your own children? 

My children are my greatest gift and provide most of the inspiration for my work. 

SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton

This is a shot from the Sand Dunes National Park and Reserve over spring break. Abby, 9, is walking and pondering who knows what as she buries her feet in warm sand at sunset. 

My kids are old enough now to take trips to exotic locations, but we didn’t need more than three hours to get to one of the most beautiful national parks in the country. What a treat to pack up the car on a Sunday afternoon and be there by sunset. 

I asked Abby if she would run up to one of the dunes for a photograph. I saw another photographer who was photographing a similar scene with children who were acting playful and I wanted her to do the same. But she was in a funk — nine-year-olds are often in a funk — and so she trudged up the hill and just stood there. 

You take what you get as a photographer, and in this case it was more than enough. It’s a lovely portrait of my daughter and I don’t think acting playful would’ve made it any better.

Feelings and photography go together like peas and carrots. A good photograph always has a lot of feeling behind it. The best pictures often come to me when I feel strongly about what I'm photographing. And whenever I'm looking at pictures, the best ones are usually those I respond emotionally to.

How do you feel when you take pictures? Have you ever noticed that you want to pull your camera out only when you feel like it? The next time this happens, take a picture but resist the urge to overproduce it. Telling your subject to do something, like smile for instance, usually takes away from the moment and the feelings behind it.

Fortunately for me, my daughter refuses to do anything but be herself. And whenever I look through my viewfinder I remind myself of the importance of allowing her to just be. Try it and see whether or not your pictures are better when you don't say anything at all to your subject.  

For me, the results are always better when the feelings behind the picture are honest and truthful.

Colorado Springs wedding photographer Sean Cayton loves remarkable photographs and the stories behind them. You can see his wedding work at caytonphotography.com, his personal work at seancayton.com and his editorial work in the Colorado Springs Independent. Submit your photo and the story behind the image - no more than two a week, please - to sean@caytonphotography.com for consideration in upcoming blogs.

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