I get asked a lot if I shoot portraits. It’s a fair question really, since I don’t post as much portrait work as weddings and engagements. That is mostly because every photographer defines “portraits” a little differently. I’m not a *studio- with- a- painted- background, -everyone- in -matching- sweaters- looking- into -the -camera -painfully- smiling* kinda photographer. I shoot lifestyle portraits. *Life* is what I love. I don’t want to manipulate or manufacture an alternate reality. I want to know who you are as a family when no one is watching. I want to see you play and laugh and catch those moments that our iPhones and selfies can’t get. I believe this even stronger this year, as a new parent. The truth is, kid or not we should be jumping in front of the camera at least once a year. Life goes by so incredibly fast! With spring around the corner and scheduling mini sessions coming up rapidly, I thought I would do a little post on what you should expect from portrait sessions with me. Plus it gives me a chance to give a little love to my amazing portrait clients too.
Here is my list of things I WON’T do during our session:
I won’t ask your kids to sit still. Especially if they are little. Kids are meant to be in motion. Luckily, so am I. I know you and your 9 month old aren’t sitting quietly in a corner playing bridge. So that’s not what we’re going to do. Laughs and adventures and exploration bring out the best of everyone, young and adult alike. Let’s do those things together. It will quickly make everyone, including the parent, at ease. Once that trust and comfort is established, we’ll get that picture of everyone smiling at me, I promise.
I won’t care if your kid doesn’t like me or has a fussy moment. It’s something I don’t want you to think about as parents. I know how stressful it is to try and create lasting memories. Trust me. I organized a shoot for my own family and my child was a hellion the whole time and all my words of wisdom went out the door. There I was, trying to logically plead with my 8 month old to be on good behavior. Life happens. But that’s the beauty of it. My favorite shot of my son and I are from that shoot was taken when I was away from the rest of the family just looking off with Rowan perched on my hip-looking cynical. But that shot couldn’t have happened until I just let go. Without question, kids can read your anxiety. If you let yourself enjoy the process, more than likely even the most fussy kid will eventually follow suit. And you know what? Some of my very favorite portraits aren’t always when people are smiling. I would so much rather have calm parents and a fussy kid, than a forced-smiling kid and anxious parents.
I won’t ask you to match. Please wear what you feel beautiful and comfortable in. We are past the time of matching sweaters or jeans with white t-shirts. Wear something that feels like you and your family. Pinterest is a blessing and a curse, no? I know it can feel overwhelming to try and coordinate everyone. What I tell people is to not be afraid of colors, patterns or layering. You don’t have to match each other exactly or even close to exactly. Perhaps don’t wear full rainbow sequins or pants that light up when you move, but beyond that you’re going to look amazing. Along those lines, I would probably argue against forcing your 2 year old into a tuxedo, unless that’s what he rocks out on the daily. (Props to him if he does.) Kids are much more likely to smile, laugh, run and cuddle if they are comfortable and in clothes (and shoes) they’ve worn before.
I won’t stop shooting. 1, 2, 3 smile! That’s what everyone is used to right? What we were raised and conditioned to do in response to a camera in your face. Well, we’re gonna change that. I know you know how to smile into a camera. I also know, that more than likely you have a lot of pictures of just that. What I bet you don’t have many of is interacting with your children. Those fleeting moments that are ingrained on our mind, but rarely captured. That’s my goal. I want to freeze those moments for you. I won’t stop shooting in between the shot you THINK I’m getting. It’s probably true that maybe you, or your parents will blow up the picture of everyone smiling above the mantle. But I also know that the picture of your child hugging you so tight you can’t stand it, or of your spouse getting tackled by all the kids at once… that’s the one that makes it into your heart, the background of your phone, the baby book, the picture frame on your desk.
I won’t ask you to bring props, unless you want to. All we need to make amazing photos is you and your loved ones. I have clients who love props. And I love those clients. If that is what you love, let’s do it! But I don’t want there to be any pressure to add that to a shoot as you plan and visualize. We don’t need them! I will constantly be on the look out for ways to give you a beautiful artistic image. It’s what my eye naturally is drawn to.
I won’t stop chasing the sun. Light is my life source. Even when I’m shooting indoors, I am looking for where the natural light lands the best. Sometimes you may think I’m crazy, but I will chase the sun our whole session. Beautiful light is a priority of mine and makes all the difference in photos. You can find beautiful light any time of day, but it will matter to me where we shoot and I will suggest places accordingly. Sometimes those places are off the beaten path, sometimes those places are spots you’d never think of.
I won’t take for granted that I’m eternalizing your moments and memories. I cherish everyone I get the privilege of working with. I’m honored and thankful that you have put your trust in me. It’s pretty amazing that I get to wake up and do what I love everyday. I’ll see you soon at a mini session or a full portrait session, I’m sure. All the love. XO