What started as a fun hobby taking pictures turned into a full time profession of making photographs.  Over the years, I have spent a lot of time contemplating why I do what I do and how to make the transition from taking photos to making photographs.  Ultimately, I want to make artistically and technically beautiful photos but I also feel a responsibility to document the connections between people, to create images that communicate the crazy, chaotic and yet beautiful life to new parents now and to their grown children later.  So how do I make that happen?  Certainly, it is my job to facilitate an environment that makes my subjects feel comfortable, to provide suggestions for clothing, location, time of day, poses, etc, etc. Of course I need to know my equipment, I need to recognize good light and I need to be able to shoot fast (specifically with those speedy little 2 year olds…)  Perhaps most important of all is to be open and aware of emotions and the nuances of relationships.  But I also rely on my subjects for a variety of things and  there’s no better way to share that perspective than through the eyes of one of my favorite subjects….plus she’s way better with words that I am!

Thank you, Heather Ritenour-Sampson for sharing your beautiful perspective:

A few weeks ago, Emily came over and took pictures of me, my husband and our two boys. At the end of the shoot, we literally looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and said “well, we can always shoot again another day.” The shoot was “less than perfect.” Not because of the talent of the photographer (obviously), but more due to the willingness of the children to “smile pretty” for the camera. We were under a time crunch and light was fading, along with the boys’ temperaments. Big brother wanted to do nothing more than make toothless growly faces, while hanging upside down on the swing. Little brother wanted to run, slide, and stay as far away from big (annoying, poking, needling) brother as possible. Meanwhile Dad (just home from work), and Mom (with kids all day) tried to rope in the cattle, line up the troops, you get the picture. Then Emily sent these pictures of the shoot, with the idea that we share our collaborative tips on how to take the “perfect” family photo. Because whatever happened in that hour worked, despite how we thought things went (see photos).

So here it goes:

1. Get over getting a perfect family photo. The best pictures don’t come from orchestrating perfectly matched outfits, or because the background is breathtaking, or because everyone in the picture is in palpable harmony. The obsession with getting a perfect photo leads to stress, which leads to not smiling, or fake smiles, which definitely don’t make for lovely photographs.

2.  Stay in the moment. Breathe. Smile. Enjoy. Acknowledge that the camera is there, of course, but try not to consider it an intrusion. Think of the presence that you give that little round capturer of light and shadow, as a gift. Let the camera decide what to do with your presence. Just stay present, stay in the moment, with your family. Not everyone needs to be looking at the camera for it to be a great picture. If everyone is looking at the camera, it will catch it. But let go of directing the shoot. Stick together, try different things, but do what works in the moment, not what you think SHOULD happen, or what it SHOULD look like.

3. Go with the flow. Be flexible. Welcome humor. If one of your kids (or kid, or dog, or partner) is acting a little nuts, let them get over it on their own. Give them a little space. The minute they feel pressure from you to change their behavior, especially in front of a lovely doe-eyed lady like Emily, and especially if they are boys (as the mother of only boys, I like to fantasize that photo shoots with families of only daughters work like a dream), they are going to go in the OPPOSITE direction of what you intend. So if one kid makes a crabby face, join them, and maybe the family photo of everyone with crabby faces turns out the cutest, who knows!

4. Don’t make any assumptions. Don’t make assumptions about what your kids/partner/dog will or won’t do in front of a camera, or what does/doesn’t look good. They will surprise you. You will surprise yourself. Let the photographer and the camera take care of the angles. Come into the shoot with an open mind. Give each person in the shoot space to try something fun, new, different, sassy, wild, quiet, calm, or strange (within the assumed realm of decent human appropriateness, of course)! Release your inner critic!

5. Trust your photographer (especially if it’s Emily). The minute that you start doubting whether or not the photographer is going to get a great picture, whether or not the background is right, whether or not they know what they are doing, the less “in the moment” you are, and the harder it is for said photographer to capture you and your beautiful family in an authentic, honest, beautiful moment.

6. Remember you ARE beautiful! There is nothing more needed than you showing up. Sure, polish up a bit, but don’t overdo it. Be yourself… Because Emily doesn’t take ugly pictures, or take pictures of ugly people. All she needs is a moment, a camera, and YOU!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...