It has been a long day, and I’m absolutely exhausted… so I have to admit to some relief knowing I can let my photography do the talking tonight. 😉
A couple of weeks ago now, I did a shoot with an absolutely charming couple – who seemed to think I’d have a hard time capturing even one good photograph. I knew very early on that not only would I get one, I’d get dozens.
Sandra and Keith were absolutely wonderful. They were such convivial company, and they had such infectious smiles. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them, and editing their photographs just brought it all back. Funny how that works. 😉
As I was waiting for this evening’s clients to arrive at our location, I had the chance to observe another photographer. I always arrive early for any shoot by fifteen or twenty minutes which gives me time to mentally prepare, and to scout the area for light – because even if you shoot at the same location three days in a row at the same time, the light will be different each time. I’m always surprised at just how different my approach is… For me, what I do is normal, it’s natural, it’s just how I am. And I can, and do, forget just how different the experience I provide is.
When I first arrived on the scene, I knew the family gathered there weren’t my clients. The ages and number of people were wrong… but it was clear they were nervous. So I laughed with them a little about how popular this particular spot is with photographers, and how it’s unusual to find less than two or three there at any given time. They invited me to photograph them if my clients failed to show. LOL It was casual, easy going, and fun. We all shared some smiles and laughs – which made everyone feel better. That’s when the patriarch of the family pointed out their photographers, saying “They’re supposed to be taking care of us.” The two photographers, or photographer and assistant (their relationship wasn’t clear), were off on their own standing and talking secretively with their backs to the family.
From the moment my clients arrive, it’s my job to help them relax, to put them at ease. It’s an odd situation – trying to look and act natural in circumstances that are anything but. If I can help make my clients feel better about things, especially if I can get them to trust me enough to laugh and let go of their fears a little, it makes a world of difference. Not just when it comes to their experience, but for their photos as well. Not every photographer does this… and sometimes I can forget that.
After a while I watched the photographers call the family over and begin setting up their posed shot. Now, I don’t do posed photography, but many many photographers still do. It’s a personal preference, and there are clients who feel more at ease being posed. It certainly requires less effort from your subjects. Working with me is about give and take, you have to be willing to put yourself out there a little. Share a little with me, and I’ll give it back to you in a beautiful and amazing way… it’s exhausting though. Most of my clients end up pretty tired by the end of a shoot, we’re busy and engaged, a shoot goes fast and by the end you’ll be tired. Posed shots are easier, they don’t require anything of you. Just hold a pose and paste on a grin. But when you don’t give of yourself, the finished product won’t be personal either. Take a look at the snapshot above, it took the photographers fifteen or so minutes to set it up – and while it will likely be a nice keepsake, it doesn’t tell you anything about the family or their personalities. There isn’t anything wrong with it, but it’s not a style I can understand or would ever emulate.
When my family arrived, and I say “MY” family quite purposefully, we got the necessary paperwork out of the way but then it was all fun. We were laughing and sharing. I get to know their quirks, and how they relate to one another. I watch the dynamics present, and do my best to capture those quiet moments of knowing. Sure, we get the portraits where everyone is looking at the camera – the ones for the holiday cards… but even those share a whole lot more about who each person is. Their individuality shines through in a big way.
I love my clients, I love working with them. I love that a photo shoot is about sharing, and supporting one another, creating together. That is what portrait photography should be, at least in my eyes.
If you ever walk past a family I’m working with, you’ll hear laughter, see people being silly with one another, people being honest and having fun. The couple of times we walked past the group above it was quiet, I sensed a lot of apprehension and nervousness. My clients may feel those things at the very onset of a shoot, but in the end? They are MY families. I do my very best to take care of them and make them feel great. It’s not just about creating photographs, it’s about creating memories, it’s about photography as legacy… and that just means so much more.
When I first received the booking form filled out by Reche, I knew hers was going to be a fun shoot. You see, the two of us have a past connection. Her brother and I were very good friends back when we were still teenagers and young adults. It seems like a lifetime ago now, but good friends never really stop being friends – even when they lose touch. So getting to see Reche, meet her family, and work with them all really was a treat. 🙂
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… the best family sessions, are those when the kids are allowed to just be themselves. Let them play, let them show off their personalities. Sure, it’s nice when everyone is looking the same direction, but those captures that really show how a family is together, that shows those connections? It really is SOOO much better.
Thanks for the chance to work with your family, and reconnect with you Reche. It really was a treat!
As I was working through some of my enhancements, I realized that it’s been a while since I’d posted a preview here. I’m terrible for that. LOL I go in streaks where I’ll share photos on a regular basis, and then nothing for a good long while. I’ll try to be more regular about it, but feel free to remind me if you haven’t seen anything for a while. I am shooting, I just don’t always think to share on the blog.
I enjoyed working with the Kaminski’s. Any chance to work with a family that includes four leggers as well as two leggers is always a good time. No, working with animals isn’t easy, but it’s a challenge I really enjoy. I know dogs, I love dogs… and I’m perfectly content to wait for them to give me exactly what I need. Hmmm… clearly I’m too tired to be writing this blog post as I’ve completely lost my train of thought. It’s just one of those days – and I have a feeling it will be one of those weeks. Gotta love getting ready (physically and mentally) for an out of town dog show.
Ah! Speaking of which!
I’ll be in Regina this weekend. And I may have time to fit in ONE more photo shoot. So if you’d like to grab that slot, drop me a line by filling out the booking form at TD Photography (http://photography.tobi-dawne.com/) as soon as possible, and I’ll do my best to work it out. As I’ll be in Regina already, there will be no additional travel expenses to cover. Just the regular session fee. But better be quick! Like I said, I’ll only have time for ONE additional shoot.
Okay, onto the preview:
I had the opportunity to photograph a lovely family of three – two thirds of which are completely enamoured with the newest third, as it should be. It really was an absolute delight. All three were completely natural and relaxed in front of the camera, and for the most part were able to just be themselves… forgetting that I was sticking my nose in all sorts of interesting places.
So Baby A, I’d like to take this moment to say: “You nailed it!” Nice job. You could have a future in front of a camera. 😉
This evening I got the best email yet from someone looking to redeem their groupon and book a photography session:
“I know you must be swamped with emails. If you get one from name-removed (she is my sister) so you can ignore hers and book my first.” — B.J.L.
It just made me laugh.
Totally looking forward to photographing you and your family B.J.L., and will get you booked in as soon as I sit down to work on my next batch of sessions.