Hi, I’m Brianna Doby and welcome to my blog. Please take a spin around the blog to find samples of my work, tips on how to make your photography session a success, and some general musings about my craft.

Entries in families (25)


The Elegance of the Hedgehog

I've had a post brewing for the past few weeks, but I haven't quite gotten it to come together.  Instead, I get distracted looking at photographs like this:

This is a picture of my daughter sitting on my feet and my son sitting with his feet in between her feet and both of them laughing. I'm laughing, too, which is why this isn't maybe exactly in focus.

Focus shmocus.

Sometimes I think about what photography is now, and what it will be in the future.  I think about how it might become more rigid, or more flexible.  I think about how cameras in phones have made the whole photography world so topsy turvy.  I think about how much easier it is for me to be present and enjoy a moment and still capture a beautiful image--without reaching for a large DSLR.  

 Do you ever think about that?  A cell phone is damn near ubiquitous today; tiny cellphone cameras, therefore, exist along side us nearly everywhere we go.  No one has to remember to carry a separate camera, or race to find a camera, or stick a big, intrusive lens and flash in your face.  A small, effective camera is with you all the time.  You don't have to have a break in the action in order to capture it.  

I appreciate that about technology.  Seamless integration is more than efficient--it's transformative.  My kids don't flinch or react or rethink or retract or withdraw when I pull out my handy iPhone (and, sometimes with my large DSLR setup, they do).  They stay immersed in where they are.  I don't have to pull out of the moment to become BIG FANCY PHOTOGRAPHER.  I stay where I am, and I still get to take a photograph, just the same.  

This makes me think of Muriel Barbery's book, a book whose title I borrowed as a consequence of my own postmodern habit of pastiche :).  In her book, she effectively investigates not just the elegance of that which is unexpectedly graceful, but also the grace of that which is unexpectedly elegant.  Does that makes sense?  I think, today, I am amazed at the elegance of something that is unexpectedly graceful.  I think of cellphones as many things: invasive, meddlesome, loud, aggravating, and addictive.  But what grace!  How they allow the device to also, at times, disappear into its own function!  An iPhone is elegant in design, to be sure, but graceful--truly a "courteous goodwill; or an attractively polite manner of behaving"--that is a shockingly different characterization for me.  (I don't deny, you know, being an iPhone addict.)

I will think about that the next time I use any camera.  Does this camera place itself in between me and my subject, or does it gracefully enter the background because of its own elegant ubiquity?


 Here's hoping you pick up your cameraphone and capture something in the moment, of the moment. --xo


the presentation of self in everyday life

Have you ever read Erving Goffman?  I've been kind of obsessed with him lately.  This photograph reminds me of something he once wrote in the book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life:

The expressiveness of the individual appears to involve two radically different kinds of sign activity: the expression that he gives, and the expression that he gives off.

Goffman takes hundreds of pages to gloss this statement (he does so beautifully--please go read the book--it is great for geeks like you and me).  Since I am now facing the world as a photographer, I have worked through his densely packed text by (quite sensibly) taking photographs:

That's not, technically, a PERFECT shot.  Not even close.  Hell, not even remotely close.  It's an imperfect shot of imperfect subjects at an imperfect time in an imperfect world.  Yet, I love it.  I really treasure this image.  Why?

Like Goffman said, we are the sum of two aspects in any conversation: what we say ("give"), and what we portray in and around and behind what we say (or "give off").  A picture of a mother, with her child, and her child soon to be born--that's what I'm saying.  That's what the subjects in the picture are saying.  But, what makes me look again and again at their faces, their hands and feet and knees--it's what they are portraying that makes the image whole.  Two people, loving, comfortable and comforted, facing a future of siblings and uncertainty and happiness while wholly connected.  That's what this image "gives off".

I'm going to keep thinking about that.  I come into photo shoots with goals: take pictures of X subjects with X types of shots with X poses in X locations.  These are FAMILY PORTRAITS.  That's what I'm saying.  But what is the other aspect of the conversation?  How is what I am expressing both what I give, and what I give off? --xo


Pictures of the gone world

I had a nice weekend.  Did you?  Were you caught outside in the thunderstorms?  

I kind of like being caught outside in a storm (except for that whole chance-of-lightning-strike thing.  that's lame.)

We had a nice weekend because we celebrated something special: the birthdays of my two little ones.  They are growing and growing.  I can't really even believe the time has passed.

You know the old saying about how the cobbler's children have no shoes?  Well, the poor children of photographers are usually the most photographed people on the planet, perhaps with the exception of the cast of Jersey Shore.

This time, I tried (very hard!) to put the camera DOWN.  This is counter to my very nature.  CAMERA MUST BE UP.  But no, camera down, have fun, enjoy the day.  We threw little F and H a big surprise party (they had no idea it was coming--so cute to see their shocked/ecstatic faces).  My darling Daddy took most of the shots, but if you have seen my work at all, I think you will see the point in the photo set where I picked up the camera and did what I had to do--I took pictures.

Wishing you a surprise party (and all the fun that goes with being both surprised and celebrated in one sweet space)--  xo


Photos de Racines

There's a lot of debate in current photography critique about gimmicks, authority, and art.

I can honestly say: I don't care.  Not that I don't care about philosophy, art, skill, culture, etc.  It's a matter of choosing my investment in a conflict.  I don't care whether you take photographs with toy cameras or large format behemoths or with your sister's cousin's wife's cameraphone.  I'm just...unconcerned.  I'm much more concerned with the light and shade and composition and feeling that your image transmits.

I find myself looking at my many nikon and canon and polaroid and argus and holga and iphone bodies and lenses and seeing the same thing: apparatus for a common language, but a language with many dialects.  I'm not really concerned with your accent, I suppose, just the fact that we have a discourse.  My technical photography--my medium--is my idiosyncratic entrance into the discussion; my images are the message perhaps even in spite of my medium (sorry, Marshall McLuhan).

Meandering thoughts now put aside, here are some shots I took with a lowly camera phone and a hacky (but fun) application to finish them with.  Regardless of your opinion on high- and low-culture images and imagery, I challenge you not to see children enjoying a tree, some shade, and a small swing that made them fantastically happy.

Wishing you a sunny day and a swing to enjoy it with. xo



Remembrance of Things Past

One of my favorite images to capture is a mother holding her child.  That's an easy pick--who doesn't love a snuggly mama/baby photo?--but it's more than that for me.

I lost my mother a few years ago.  She was a mother, but that was not the only thing that defined her; she was a mentor, a guide, a friend, a sassy smartypants, a bright and shining light, a philosopher, a challenge, a woman of faith.  I look at the mothers I photograph and see a reflection of what I shared with own my mama for 27 years.

I see warmth and loyalty and unconditional love in all of these beautiful women, and it's a swirly-kind-of-Proust-ish moment to realize that my mother held me in the same way so many years ago.  I drop out of the immediate present and feel like I did in the past.  It's not the 31-year-old Brianna that clicks the shutter in that split second, it's 10-year-old Brianna who loves the love shared by mother and child, and is so excited to capture that moment for someone else.

(Thank goodness 10-year-old Brianna is a decent photographer--otherwise we'd be in trouble :)

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