Shelley Reis + The Story Behind

Normally when you think of lifestyle/storytelling photos, you are just a fly on the wall there to document things that happen in front of you with really no thought process behind the photos. But technically, that’s not the case and Shelley’s image and the story behind it explains why. She wanted to capture the happiness her daughter was showing while swinging but had to put some thought into the shot to make it work and are we glad she did! The result is a brilliant composed photo full of movement, colors and pure delight

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Where was this photo taken?
At our local park in Wollongong, Australia.

How did the location add or hinder to your image?
The location was a hinderance in that it was a cluttered playground, full or children, and bright multi-coloured equipment. However, in the end, that hinderance was an opportunity to think outside the box!

DSLR, iphone, instant or film?
Canon 6D shot with a Sigma Art 24mm f1.4 lens.

What were your camera settings for this image?
ISO 160, f2.5, 1/3200

Can you tell us “The Story Behind” this shot?
This image was shot during a typical visit to the park on a warm spring afternoon. My daughter loves to swing on the swings and had just learned to coordinate her legs to help herself go higher and higher. Delighted with her achievement, she was swinging back and forth with such delight that I knew I had to capture it./em>

What speaks to you about this image? What specifically made you press the shutter?
In this moment I was drawn to the way her hair was being blown by the wind, and her gaze off into the distance beyond the frame. I felt this moment really captured that childhood sense of freedom as she seemed to swing without a care in the world surrounded by bright blue sky.

What was your composition technique with this shot?
In order to simplify the frame and minimise background distractions within the playground I had to find a different perspective, so I lay on the ground and shot upwards towards the sky while my daughter swung over my head. I composed the shot roughly in line with the rule of thirds because I wanted to include a large amount of blue sky alongside her in the frame, in order to keep the frame light and simple and colourful.

Did you have any lighting challenges/How did you light the image?
This image utilised natural lighting. The main lighting challenge was the brightness of the sky behind her, which left her relatively silhouetted. Using Adobe Lightroom, I was able to lift the heavy shadows in post-production in order to create a more even exposure.

Did you use any special techniques – freelensing, prism, etc?

Was this photo happenstance or did you visualize it prior? If so, how did you envision the image and set up for it?
This was a candid, spontaneously moment that was captured with intention. I didn’t go to the park with a vision of this image in my head, however when I saw joy on the swing I knew I needed to capture it. Before I started shooting I considered what the best perspective would be in order to capture that sense of joy and wonder in the most raw and simple way, and decided to shoot it from below and to include as much negative space as possible. While I chose the perspective I had limited control over the environment or her behaviour, and just observed and waited with my settings ready for what I felt was the penultimate moment.

Did you use a preset to edit this image, your own selective edits or a combination of both?
I used Tribe Archipelago’s preset LXC04 as a base on this image, in combination with hand edits – adjusting the colour hues, shadows, highlights and contrast.

Do you have any addition information you would like to share with our readers?
The success of this image and many of my other storytelling images is largely due to utilising a wide angle lens. For this shot, I chose my 24mm lens. Had I selected any other of my longer lenses, I would not have been able to include the blue sky around her in a way that gave enough context and visual impact. Though she looks as though she is flying high, she was actually swinging closer to me than it appears.

Continue to be inspired by Shelley’s work at the following: