I feel the need to put a little blurb on my website here about authenticity. It's always a topic in the photojournalism realm of photography. I want to be as authentic as possible in my work. Click on my home tab here or above- what do you see? One of my "words that describe my business" is authentic.
Why? It's important to me.
Why? Because I'm not into the pretty or the perfect. If I happen to direct a shot-even loosely directed- I will call it a lifestyle shoot. My main goal with a documentary (or family photojournalism, whichever term you prefer) photography is to show you how beautiful your real life is. Even the ugly parts. At the root of it is love and there is nothing more precious in this world than love.
So what does that mean for a full documentary shoot?
I'm not directing you or your posing. I'm not telling you what to do with your day or what to wear or how to act. If your child happens to start pulling books off the shelf when your back is turned? I'm shooting it, not stopping it. Big brother has a meltdown over not getting candy? I'm shooting it. You get a phone call in the middle of our session and the kids start going bananas? Yep, I'm shooting it (that's motherhood after all). Dog licking the food off the table? I'm shooting it. Why? Because it's real (and it happens to us all the time!). Because it's your life. Because these are the moments that make up your everyday. These are the little moments that make up the big picture of childhood or parenthood. One day, years from now, you'll look back at these moments that didn't really seem to matter at the time and
they matter so much now.
What will I NOT shoot? Clear and imminent danger. I obviously will step in and intervene if there is danger. I'm a mom and a decent human being. I won't allow someone to be injured because I wanted to get the shot. Nope, not going to happen here.
I also won't photoshop in documentary photography. I won't remove something from the room or smooth out wrinkles and call it documentary- if it's discussed beforehand and it's something you really feel passionately about, I'll call it a lifestyle session- which doesn't mean much for you- the client- but in the photography world, it does. I strive to show the truth, the beauty of our lives, just the way it is. You don't need to be 4 sizes smaller to be beautiful (and hear me when I say this- it's a HARD pill for me to swallow too...I'm trying everyday to be okay with it because honest to goodness no one cares what I look like but me- my family loves me just the way I am and you should love yourself too. Seriously. I struggle too and I will talk with you openly and candidly about it before your session if you need to!). Your house doesn't need to be spotless and look like a Pottery Barn magazine to be beautiful.
So, with all this said- it's important to me to be authentic in my work when I do a documentary/family photojournalism session. Like a journalist out in the field, not interfering with the scene they are shooting, that's what my aim is to do. Present the truth. And I think you will be moved by the beautiful everyday moments that make up our days.
Ready to schedule your awesome session? Whether is a couples session, maternity, family, or newborn session, wedding/elopement, or anything in between- contact me here and let's start planning.
I love newborn sessions. I love it even more when they have siblings. I love it the most when it's a family of all boys- the baby makes number 4 to be exact. I was invited into this family's home to document a normal morning in their household...well, their new normal! You know what I love even more? Skipping a few hours of school for irreplaceable family time. Priceless!
As they ran through the house and their joyful voices filled the hallways, I felt instantly in my element. Mismatched pajamas, bare feet, legos and all. One little guy excused himself and reappeared a few minutes later with jeans and a nice button down shirt. He said he was ready for his pictures! I had to laugh and said, "Hey buddy, go get comfortable, these are fun pictures!"
*note: he later reappeared in comfy clothes, expertly curated by himself
Newborn sessions always give me all the feels. Add this to the list of motherly superhero powers, but just seeing a newborn instantly transports me back in time to my own babies and their newborn stages. There is nothing in this world like feeling the weight of a newborn baby cuddled up against your chest or in your arms. The way their sweet breath smells and velvety skin feels sends a massive oxytocin rush straight to the brain. And I. love. it.
So when this little guy (who, don't be fooled, was wide awake the whole time I was there) let out a big yawn, my heart absolutely fluttered. One of the most beautiful things about newborns is the way their little yawns take up their whole face. So, so cute.
But I don't mind that he was alert and awake, he was full of wonder and quietly taking in all of his surroundings. He probably fills like this is exactly where he needs to be, somewhere amongst the noise of his big brothers and the quieting shhhhhhhh of his mama.
After delivering the client's gallery, she emailed me and said that the pictures brought tears to her eyes and that they would for years; that I'd captured her family perfectly. Can I just tell you how wonderful that made me feel? The photographer side of me is saying, "Awesome, happy client, memories preserved, job well done!" but the mama bear side of me says, "I'm so glad she has these. I'm so glad that this particular morning is frozen in time for her. And I'm so, so glad that they speak to her heart."
To book your newborn session, contact me here and let's start planning how to best tell your story and preserve your once in a lifetime memories.
I get this a lot- I come into a client's home (or whatever they are doing, where ever they are doing it at!) and do my thing. They do their thing. And when it's time for me to leave, I almost always hear this- or something along the lines- "This was the most laid back session we've ever had!" Ya'll, I'm all about that no stress, no drama life.
So, you've taken a leap of faith. You've contacted me, we've agreed on a day and time, you've signed your contract and paid your retainer. Here's what happens next and what you can expect from me and the session.
You can expect:
1.) No stress. I promise. There's no posing, no saying cheese, no coordinating outfits. I know that sounds crazy if you are used to traditional, formal portraits. But know this- your real life is awesome. It may not be magazine perfect or Pinterest perfect and that's okay. Ya'll, I'll take bare feet and mismatched Halloween costumes from 2 years ago any day over perfectly coordinating, brand new outfits. And again, there's nothing wrong with that! Nothing wrong with it at all. It's just that when you book with me, that's not our purpose. Our purpose for the session is simply to show your everyday life and document those fleeting moments. We are here to document what matters.
2.) To not need to prepare for anything. Really. You don't need to make the house look spotless. You don't need to spend hours cleaning. You don't need to get ready, curl your hair, or put on makeup. There's no need for anything like that. Some of my client's favorite images have been of their kids brushing their teeth, tangled bed heads, and undies! This is about you being real with your loved ones. It's about documenting your day to day so that when your kids are grown, they can look back and recall those ordinary moments and I have a feeling that they will absolutely cherish them. DO NOT underestimate the value of daily routines. They make up so much of our lives.
3.) A no frill approach to wardrobe. I will tell you this- just be yourself. What you'd normally wear on a normal day. If I'm coming over in the morning and you still in pajamas, that's okay. The only thing I would suggest is to stay away from super busy prints or neon colors. The colors can cast colored shadows on skin and prints can be distracting. HOWEVER, if that's who you are and you LOVE plaid and floral at the same time, ROCK IT. OWN IT. I'll go with whatever flow you got going on. And honestly, whatever you do would probably be awesome. For myself, I'll probably be in the most comfortable thing I own...probably leggings...because I will be all over the place getting just the right shot. Which brings me to my next point...
4.) To assimilate into your home like an old friend (this is my favorite thing you can expect!). I don't want to take a fly on the wall approach- unless I need too- because that's kinda awkward. I won't intervene in ANYTHING, but I will chat with you, take a glass of water, and play with the children a bit- maybe like an old friend would do that you haven't seen in many years? I have cheesy jokes, silly stories about my own kids, I like hot tea and love animals.
5.) To capture what matters to you. In our initial consult, we will talk about things and get to know each other a bit. Why you want the session, a little background on your family, what's important to your family, what you like to do, etc. through doing this, it gives me an idea of important things to be aware of throughout our session; whether it be a special lovey your child has, a mannerism they display, your favorite thing about your home... you get the picture. Think about their personalities and we will go from there. This is so important because it helps me to make more intentional photos and make the most of our time together.
Now, the type of documentary-storytelling sessions I offer don't have to be at your home. If you want to take me on a family adventure, then here I come. Some favorites are a hike, the beach, the playground/park, or putt putt down at the Oceanfront would be amazing! The options are endless. I can help you decide further based on your family once you book.
After your session, you will have about 2 weeks until I deliver your gallery. If I happen to hit a bump in the road, you'll be the first to know. But I only take on a few clients per month, so this rarely happens. You'll get a gallery of images that are fully processed in my signature style, printing instructions and recommendations, and if you decided to invest in wall art, gift prints, or to have your images displayed in a custom designed album- then we talk about that once your gallery is delivered. I love to see beautiful statement images hung in a home.
If you are ready to book, click here and fill out my contact form. We can get the ball rolling from there!
Jess is a photographer serving families located in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She specializes in documentary and storytelling photography.