In my last column, I asked readers to submit a portfolio of photographs as if they were applying to a publication for a job. The choice of publications ranged from Rolling Stone to Vogue. Thirteen photographers submitted portfolios and all are viewable at links listed in this column online at LJWorld.com.
One portfolio, geared for Parenting Magazine, submitted by Lawrence resident Kiana Griffin, caught the staff's eye, and I choose to interview her for this week's column.
Q: Kiana, first tell me about your family.
A: Our family moved to Lawrence 12 years ago. We have a daughter, Aubrey, 14 and a son Cale, 7. My husband's name is Don.
Q: When did you take up photography and begin documenting your children?
A: I started taking pictures with a purpose almost two years ago. I saw how quickly my children were growing up and desperately wanted to capture some of those magical moments of childhood before my kids were grown and gone.
Q: Your portfolio demonstrates a good eye for composition and use of light. Do you have any art background or training in photography?
A: I don't have any formal training, but my mother is an artist, and my father is an archivist. That could explain some of the strong desire I have to document moments in my children's lives in an artistic way. Much of my inspiration comes from the beauty of nature and the wonder and discovery of childhood. I especially love to combine the two.
Q: What equipment do you use?
A: I have a Nikon D80 digital camera. Most of the portfolio pictures were taken with a 50mm f1.8 lens. I use Adobe Lightroom for any post-processing.
Q: Do you set aside time to photograph your family, or is it a part of your everyday life and you always have a camera with you?
A: I will get out my camera when I am inspired by a setting - for example, a gorgeous sunset or a field of sunflowers. If it's been too long, I'll create my own setting with a prop - like a wooden stool or an interesting hat. I don't always carry my camera, but I've kicked myself often enough for not having it, that I probably should.
Q: There is a photograph in your portfolio that has a unique crop that excludes most of the heads of your subjects. Most people might reject that print. Tell me a little about that picture.
A: I love that shot - you're right, it's definitely not traditional. I think that this composition allows the viewer to see some of the details that, otherwise, may be overlooked - like the flip of the girl's hair or the way the boy's hands are folded. I especially love the details of the dress and the boy's smile.
Q: Got any tips for parents inspired to take their home photography to the next level?
A: First, deliberately choose your setting. I think we all have those pictures of children standing in a cluttered living room with the TV on behind them. Just take a second before you click the shutter and look through the lens. Is there anything visually distracting behind or around them? Sometimes you can improve a photo just by changing were you stand or the angle of the camera.
Also, I want to encourage parents to head outside. There are so many beautiful areas in and around Lawrence. Lastly, your children don't have to be smiling or looking at the camera. There are so many other emotions that your child experiences, and it's good to document those as well.
Access portfolios submitted by the following photographers: Janie Goulding, Colleen Prohaska, Kevin Sontag, Leslie O'Brien, Matthew Avila, Tom Soetaert, Korissa Gillespie, Haley Fischer, Nancy Scott, Rachel Cin, Rebecca Kellerman and Stef Stuever.