An Octogenerian - Captured by My Camera
My Mom isn't camera shy, but it isn't easy to capture the essence of this octogenarian with my camera. First of all, I usually take photos of wildlife and flowers.
People are not comfortable subjects for me. I feel awkward making everyone sit stiffly and smile for the camera. While posed pictures didn't suit me, the candid photos weren't satisfying either. Sometimes they were blurred or the expression wasn't right or there were distracting items in the background.
It disturbed me that the more recent years of my parents' lives were not being documented. We have always treasured our vintage family photos and took pleasure in leafing through the family photo albums.
Getting Mom and Dad to go to a professional photographer seemed unlikely too. On a visit to the family in Kansas in April 2011, I took this lucky shot. I was elated to have a photo to represent my mother at this time in her life. I'll share some tips for getting a good photo of a senior citizen.
Isn't she lovely!
Photo of Gail Lee Martin taken April 2011 by Virginia Allain.
Looking Great at 86
Card available from Zazzle: Fabulous at 86 postcard by DesignsOutOfMind
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What Makes This Photo Succeed?
- Be Ready - I had the camera at hand and was able to quickly snap the photo as she was engaged in looking at some pictures and commenting on them. Having the person participating in something they like gives them a good expression.
- Expression - Although she is looking down, she has a smile on her face. Look for a situation where the person is doing something they like. Having the person participating in something they like gives them a good, natural expression. I prefer these over the fixed smile of a posed photo.
- Lighting - I think the natural light from the window behind Mom is a plus. It highlights her white hair to frame her face. If I'd used a flash for the indoor photo, I think it would have been too harsh.
- Get Close - I got in fairly close, but photos can be cropped too. You want to minimize distracting elements in the background.
- I used a Canon Powershot SX20is which is a great camera. Even a quick snapshot with a cell phone will get a decent photo if the expression and lighting are right.
Beautiful Older Women of the World - Enjoy this Youtube slideshow of older beauty
What makes these women beautiful in their 70s, 80s, and 90s? In some cases, it is their smile or the look in their eyes or the energy in their pose. I need to watch this over a few times to figure out how I can apply this to my own photography. Maybe I'll be getting more photos of Mom that I can be proud of and that she will like.
Tips I Found for Photographing the Elderly
- Photographing Old People - Canon Digital Photography Forums
Serious photographers talk about how they take successful portraits of older people.
- How to Take Good Pictures of Older People with Your Digital Camera
Ten excellent tips to help take good pictures of older people with your digital camera.
One Year Later at 87 - Photo Taken April 2012
I could probably crop this one a little tighter. That would remove the distracting knob on the furniture in the background. The light is a bit too strong and there's a little glare on the glasses lens.
Still, it shows my mom at 87 chatting with a visitor and I like the photo. I think pink is a good color for her.
A visitor suggested that I touch up the photo using Photoshop. Using that, I could remove the things I don't want in the background or blur the edges to make a more artful and focused picture.
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Graphic available from Zazzle: bee trail sunflower - 88 years old greeting card.
My mother loved sunflowers, being a Kansas girl all her life.
Gail Lee Martin at 88
This photo was taken by her sister, Carol Jean Garriott about two weeks before Gail died of a heart attack. Despite a month and a half spent in the hospital and in rehab, Mom's spirit still shines through even in repose.
When I Am an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple - A book celebrating older women
Older women share in their writing what it feels like to be elderly. Over a million and a half copies have sold of this thought-provoking anthology.
Gail Lee Martin - Sixty years ago
Read More about Gail Lee Martin
- Octogenarian Self-Publishes Memoirs
I self-published my mother's childhood memories. My Flint Hills Childhood won a book award. Learn more about this 85 year old Kansas author.
- Gail and Clyde Martin - Lasting Love
What does it take to stay married for over sixty years? Well, first you need to live a long time. Fortunately a good marriage helps you live longer. The nurturing in a committed relationship aids that. This page is a tribute to my parents, Gail and..
- Gail Lee Martin in World War II
We need to preserve the memories of those on the homefront during WWII. Here's my mother's experience, most of it in her own words and illustrated with her photos.
© 2012 Virginia Allain