TWiP Family 051: Francesca Russell on Using Projects to Improve Your Craft

headshotOn this week’s show, I talk with Francesca Russell. Francesca is doing a daily photo project this year, a 365 project. She is part of the TWiP Family 365 group. I loved seeing her daily photos and wanted to know more about her. We talk about the years she worked as a stage manager traveling the US and Canada. That is when she started taking photography seriously and did her first 365 project. She took her first class at was Clickin’ Moms and is now Click and Company. Now, she’s done more 365 projects as well as many other projects and is always pushing herself to learn more.

Francesca talks about how she documents life with her two children. She’s loves looking for dramatic light and storytelling. And, she also loves using her DSLR for making videos/movies as well. We talk about why video is great and not as hard as I think it is. In part, when you are making family movies, you don’t need to worry about everything being just right. Francesca says, just try a little at a time.

A highlight of the conversation for me was about looking for what your children are doing right now that they may not be doing in six months. I love this idea. Since recording with Francesca, I’ve thought about it every day since.

More about Francesca Russell: Website, FlickrVimeo, Instagram

  • Hello Jenny and Francesca! I so, so enjoyed this week’s discussion! You both put into words my recent thoughts about environment, and how even the messy corners can have memory goldmines. When I look at older photos, everything changes- food logos, sippy cups, the totally clear coffee table because toddlers just push the stuff on the floor :). The environment matters.

    Jenny, when you asked, “What do you do with the videos?”, I have an idea that we use in our family. When my kids were young, I posted a lot to my Youtube channel- the songs, the random games, the “tell me a joke” giggles. The clips weren’t long or polished. Many were the random everyday stuff. Now, my kids spend ages watching my channel. I use my personal guidelines of keeping everything appropriate and not embarrassing. You could even make it private and login so kids could browse the videos if you don’t want them available to the public. I also disabled Likes and Comments on most of the clips because I didn’t need my kids seeing other people react. My kids love the random clips (even the ten second ones). At some point, I felt like they were so, so big, and stopped, but I need to get back to that habit.

    This was an area where my growing knowledge kinda ruined the fun, because I wanted higher quality clips and compilations and steady camera angles, so that also made it that I didn’t post very often (must change that).

    I also, at some point, let my daughter have her own channel (that I helped her post so I knew what she was putting up there). She gave tours of the house that she now finds hilarious. She loves the background conversations, too, which happened between her visits to the different rooms. I definitely disabled Likes and Comments on her videos.

    I first learned iMovie at a free workshop at the Apple store. A very simple way to learn. Last summer, I needed all the kids entertained for ten minutes so I told them to go in the backyard and make a movie. They created the Locked in a Haunted Backyard series which lasted way longer than ten minutes. And made epic memories. She attended Summer Camp, free at the Apple Store, where she learned iMovie (and taught me a few things!).

    Thank you for another insightful show!

  • Hi,
    What’s the name of that lady which provides family video lessons that Francesca is taking to improve her videography skills? I was unable to google it as I had no idea how to spell her name. Tried some guesses but without any luck.

  • Hi Lenka,

    Thank you for the great ideas about what to do with the videos. I’m working on including environment too – I’m glad you liked that part.

    Thanks for listening and taking time to stop over here too. – Jenny

  • My kids love watching the films I make too! I actually had to put the Vimeo app on an old iPod for my daughter so she could watch herself without bugging me to use my computer!

  • Just a quick tip about taking videos of your kids that’s worked for me and could be useful to others. I take a lot of short clips of my kids and almost always say the date out loud at some point, usually near the beginning or end. My oldest son is turning 5 this summer and on a lot of the clips we have when he was younger I really enjoy hearing when they were recorded because the time passes so quickly! Of course you could just look at the date the video was created too, but that’s not always easy to find especially if it has been transcoded from one format to another.

  • Hi,

    The names are Xanthe Berkeley and Everyday Films with Emily Mitchell.

    (Disqus doesn’t like links – I posted an answer for you once with the links but sometimes it takes awhile to show up or just doesn’t show up at all.)

    Thanks for listening, Jenny

  • I’m still an episode behind, but I really enjoyed this one! However, by the end I was tired thinking of all of the projects. 😉 I listen while I drive and can’t remember all of the names and classes she mentioned. I see the video links below, but I thought there were others. Thanks again for a great show!

  • Hi Sunny,
    She does keep herself knee deep in projects. She also mentioned classes at Click University (formerly Clickin’ Moms). Glad you enjoyed this one and thanks for listening. – Jenny

  • Just listened to this episode. Francesca, I’m so impressed at your productivity – and most impressive at all is that you don’t just start projects, but you also finish them.

    Jenny, yes, you know I will be happy to help you with video any time.

    My tip for anyone shooting video of their family… try to think beginning, middle and end. Your videos will be much more interesting to watch if they tell a story, and you can’t have a story without a beginning, middle and end. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy. If you just want to capture your kids playing in the backyard, even having a shot of them walking out the door is enough to give you that momentum of getting started. And then anything that feels like a conclusion is all you need to wrap it up at the end. Walking back into the house, kid lying on the ground exhausted, whatever.

    And I agree for sure that the editing software is overwhelming. But, the good news is that to edit a movie you only need to know how to do a couple things. Making a simple video only takes a few basic tools and is easy to learn.

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