Meet Elisa

Elisa resides in Quebec and is the mother of two little girls.  She believes documenting our everyday lives is the closest we can come to preserving memories.

Where can we find you online (Website, Facebook, Instagram)?

girl with bucket on head - Documentary Family Photography - Sham of the Perfect
What’s your favorite lens for shooting this type of work?  And do you have any accessories you just love (filter, bag, camera strap, etc.)?

I only own 2 lenses, a 50 1.8 and an 24-70 2.8L. For this type of photography, I use my 24-70 almost exclusively.. It allows me to capture subjects within their environment. I am dreaming of one day owning a 35mm 1.4 prime lens.   With so much amazing equipment and tools out there, it is easy to get caught up in wanting every awesome lens, but budget has taught me to be patient, and push myself to work within the confines of what I do have today. Truth be told, I have owned my lenses for several years, and I am pretty sure my limitations far exceed those of my equipment.When it comes to accessories, I have been through a few camera bags and camera straps, but have yet to find “The One”. For now, my favourite camera bag remains my reliable LowePro SlingShot 202 AW. It is compact, light, easy to shoot with while on, and fits my at pier - Documentary Family Photography - Sham of the PerfectWhat are you drawn to document? Is there a particular composition, technique, or mood you love?

I  am drawn to document the commonplace authentically, and that has been true since the moment I picked up a camera. Photography, for me, has become a practice of gratitude because I need to ask myself where to seek out and recognize the beauty in the ordinary.  Oftentimes, it’s in the stuff we take for granted, the little details we overlook- in the way we tuck our children in, their art we  stick on the fridge door, the way we know how to cut their sandwich, just so. When you capture love right, it never needs to be embellished. Regarding composition, for many years, I loved to documents things up close. Now, I appreciate how much a subject’s surroundings enrich my photos.  I am learning to better use elements in my subject’s environment to create more context, visual interest, and to draw you in to the story.girls in costume - Documentary Family Photography - Sham of the PerfectWhat is the most valuable tip you have learned in pursuit of shooting in a more documentary style?

I am so grateful to my online world that has provided me with so much knowledge acquired from people I admire.  For me, Molly Flanagan’s Visual Storytelling class from Define school taught me so many different things,  one of which was to pay closer attention to my subject’s environment. Up until that class, there was a major disconnect between my subject and their surrounding, and when I began to understand that, much more complete stories emerged in my photography. I now strive to create photos with multiple layers, where more than one story is unfolding simultaneously, just as it does in real life.girl sips from straw - Documentary Family Photography - Sham of the PerfectWhy is storytelling photography important to you?  Why do you feel compelled to shoot with this approach?

We live in a strange world, where we broadcast our day-to-day lives online. It feels as though we are constantly competing somehow with each other, and while none of us lead perfect lives, we tend to try and  project perfection with what we share. As a result, it feels as though we are losing  the ability to notice the beauty of real life and our everyday moments. Storytelling photography is a medium that allows you to capture the truth, that this life, complete with its messes and struggles is unfolding as it was meant to, and that by being present and observant, you can find beauty everywhere. When you capture something honestly, it shows.girl in laundry basket - Documentary Family Photography - Sham of the PerfectBriefly tell us about your journey into family documentary photography.

My big camera arrived nine years ago, not long after my first daughter was born, soon followed by a 50 mm 1.8 lens. By the end of that first year, the rubber off that camera was worn, and I had taken about 100,000 photos, many of those close up shots.While those photographs remain extremely precious to me,  capturing many details of that time, looking pretty, and are lovely portraits, they somehow felt incomplete to me, and I knew I wanted more.  I decided to take on the challenge of learning how to shoot in manual, and, as my technical skills improved, it did not take long to realize that I was not taking the photos I wanted to take. That is when I really I started to pay attention to the photos I took that DID move me, that did capture what I wanted, that felt like they were in the direction I wanted to go. Most of the time, they were the shots that I had not set up, thy were candid and natural, the in-between moments, the ones that told the whole story, not just what we looked like, but who we were as a family.  I started following photographers that inspired me, one of which was Molly Flanagan, which, as luck would have it, announced her class, and I knew, without a doubt, it was exactly wanted I wanted and needed. Since taking that course, a whole new world has opened up for me. There is a spark that has been ignited, and I don’t see it dying out anytime soon. Storytelling photography is where my heart is.