Did the title catch you a bit off guard?
I believe it with my whole heart. There are somethings I just don't do in a session and this is one of them. The same goes for everyone in the session. (For Day in the Life Sessions, I reserve 10 minutes for a loosely posed, smiling family portrait at the end!!) One of the things that makes documentary photography really great and unique is that there is a level of trust established between you, the photographer, and the camera. And one of the most important lessons I've learned over the years of documenting peoples lives and intimate moments is that it's imperative that you convey that you accept them right where they are and exactly where they are at in their life.
One of the ways I do that is to express to my families the desire to blend in. I always say right from the get go, I'm like the adorably awkward, yet fun, Aunt the kids haven't seen in a while. I tell them that there are zero expectations from me and that this is meant to be a zero stress experience. And lastly, I don't ever ask them to look at the camera, be fully aware of it, and smile. Because let's face it, a lot of us don't love to be in front of the camera.
*But it's so, so, so important! Click here to read some of the reasons why I want you in front of the camera and being an active participant in memory making*
I believe that when you ask someone to look at the camera and smile, you are subconsciously telling them that this is the way they need to appear. They need to always appear happy and smiling. The truth is, sometimes life isn't happy and smiling. But that doesn't make it less beautiful or worthy of remembering.
Sometimes there are quiet moments.
Sometimes there are chaotic moments.
And every single human emotion in between. Humans are complex and we have such incredible minds. We have such a wide range of emotions and they make up who we are. I value that.
As a mother myself, I can often romanticize memories and look back at them with a rose colored lens (and that's okay!). Having pictures that document our days helps me to remember the hard times, the quiet times, and just exactly how fleeting these moments were. And it puts it into perspective that all of these moments make up our lives, not just the good and happy ones.
Our emotions are valid. Our feelings are valid.
I won't ever ask you to smile if you don't want to. I'll take the picture with a quiet reverence and feel grateful that you trusted me enough to let me in your space. It's really an honor to share your days with you.
If you want to book a storytelling session with me for your family (or if you're expecting a new little one!), please click here to reach out to me or use the Contact tab above. I have a super helpful little guide to send to you that will have all the important information you need to book your session with me. Got questions? I'm here to help. Reach out to me here or on Facebook or Instagram.
There's this running joke in the photography community, photographer's children hate the camera, anything to do with pictures, and will act like wild animals if they even sense the camera turning on. Back when I did portrait photography (seems like a lifetime ago), I would always chuckle and cry because I knew it to be so true.
But then, oh glorious day, I made the decision to do a 180 and follow my real passion- capturing authenticity. That's a whole other blog post I'll write one day, but for now, just know that my kids no longer have "photographer's child syndrome". Which is awesome- I feel like they feel respected and appreciated just the way they are, in their natural habitat. And I am over the moon because I get real, meaningful portraits of my kids. Portraits of them just the way they are and exactly how my heart will always remember them.
So, let's get to it. What are some ways YOU can prepare your kids for a shoot with me? Here's 5 easy ways to help them (and you) prepare for your awesome family storytelling session with me!
I hope you found this helpful and I hope it eases any worries you may have had. I'm aiming for zero stress over here.
If you'd like to chat a bit about a session with me, I'm all ears. We can do a quick video chat or simply send me a message and I'll send you a digital magazine with all of the details.
I want to preserve this time for you. The whole family deserves to be in the frame and your children will cherish this keepsake for years to come. These pictures will only get sweeter with time.
This Virginia Beach family will probably always hold a special place in my heart. You know when you meet someone and you think to yourself "These are my people." Well, these are my people.
This family hired me for the newborn session of their littlest one- and during that session, I snapped one of my very favorite photos. The second to the littlest greeted me at the door in his diaper and a pajama shirt (how cute is that?!) and ran up the stairs. I slipped off my shoes and crept up the stairs behind him...and I found him in a dark hallway, standing perfectly illuminated in the doorway of the bathroom. That was my shot.
I know that the story they hired me to tell is that of the newest babe, but the story evolves and develops with other characters, highs and lows, action, conflict and resolution.
So when they scheduled another session a few weeks ago, I was thrilled. I couldn't wait to see how the littlest had grown and to witness his role in the family. What story was waiting for me?
Needless to say, the little one established his role and he fits in just fine.
But what I really, really loved about their session is the fact that they just get it. They are so unapologetically themselves and it shines in their images. That is a truly beautiful thing.
I hear lots of mothers say that their little wildlings can be a lot to handle- they can be kind of rambunctious, a little loud, a little whatever. But I am here to tell you- it's okay and I see you, mama. I embrace little ones and the adventurous sense of curiosity. I love it. I look for it. This is your story and it's unique to your family. And wouldn't it be so boring if we were all the same?! I promise I go with the flow and the session will be a piece of cake- there's nothing to stress about.
Throughout the course of our day, there were cuddles, loud moments, mischievous moments, a little chaos, with some quiet and introspective moments sprinkled in. All of it is beautiful- the range of human emotions is an incredible thing to witness.
Are you interested in scheduling your own in home session with me? Do you have questions before you book? Reach out to me via the Contact tab above or simply just click here and I will be happy to talk with you more about my process and booking your family storytelling session.
Jess is a photographer serving families located in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She specializes in documentary and storytelling photography.