I’ve been shooting a lot of young kiddos this fall. I felt compelled to share some things on my mind and heart as I spend time with you all:
1. You aren’t being judged. I am a family photographer for a living. Every week I have my camera in a child’s space. I am more than used to children who aren’t excited about cooperation. And I promise, I’m not forming opinions about your child(ren) or your parenting while you try to wrangle your brood. That’s not my job and I don’t need or want to do it. Also, I’m a pretty laid-back gal, and I am not going to get stressed out if your child is fussy, unwilling to comply, opinionated, or cranky. I aim to shoot real life, and I often tell clients “We shoot the age”, and if the age is exhibiting particularly “strong-willed” features, that’s okay. I am not looking to capture a specific image (and it could possibly be time to let go of your hopes for your Pinterested images too); I’m looking to capture your child and your family. I have kids at home too, kids that also do not want to comply with picture taking, so trust me. I know what it’s like.
1a. In related news, I firmly believe in and support bribing. I will not be silently passing judgment if you have a pocketful of skittles.
2. Your child is doing great. If a 1-year-old lasts for 5 minutes, a 2-year-old lasts for 10 minutes, or a 3-year-old lasts for 15 minutes before having a melt-down of some variety, I consider our shoot a success. Usually I shoot families for about 1 hour. I DO NOT expect little ones to last this long. I realize from the first minute that our meter is running. They aren’t big, and do not have the attention span of big kids or adults, and that’s ok with me. I’m not gonna stress it.
3. Perfection is overrated. I personally love the idiosyncrasies of children and families. Each family has it’s own very personal and unique characteristics. I especially love the charismatic ways of children. I love the unique characteristics and personalities that exist among and between different family members. THIS is what makes your photo good, in my opinion. In a social-media-crazed world, I think many people come in to shoots with ideas, and they want to capture certain poses they have seen others do, and this is totally fine with me. BUT I tend to think that poses and props and perfection do not make your families pictures good, eye-catching, or unique. What makes your pictures different from everyone else’s pictures are the people in them. The family dynamics, the little (and BIG!) personalities. These things– if I can capture them, THEN we have a good photo. And yes, we’ll make sure to grab some good frame-worthy family shots, but if your four-year-old is striking her diva-pose in it, or the 1 year old has his passy in his mouth, it’s okay. Really. Perfection is overrated.
4. I’m not in a hurry. I don’t have an agenda. I allot enough time to work through moments of frustration, an infant’s unpredictable feeding schedule, and most of all, the very independent posing ideas of little 3-4 year old girls. So I don’t want my clients to feel pressured or rushed on my behalf. If everyone takes a deep breath and remembers to just relax, everything will be fine. Most shoots last an hour, but if we go a bit over, it’s ok. I’m not gonna stress it.
5. It gets better every year. My clients of 5 years ago look much more relaxed this year, with their little charges needing less wrangling. The 2 year old, who three years ago who screamed the entire session, today will sit with the best-ever smile for as many pictures as I care to take. When I tell you “We shoot the age” I mean it. If you want cooperative, sweet, well-behaved, and lovely-posed photos, give those little kids a few years!
6. I adore spending time with you. I do not see clients as just clients. I care about each one of you. I adore watching your children grow up. I love seeing their characteristics change, and other ones stay exactly the same. I love going from the stranger-danger stage to the hold-my-hand-and-chat-about-ElsaandAnna phase. I like talking with the parents and comparing parenting and schooling notes. I like your opinions. Photographers sit behind a computer a lot, but being out there with you and shooting is the fun part! I miss you if you go, and I like being social-media friends with you. These relationships are important to me! Being a family photographer is more than “just” a job. It’s one of those few jobs in life where you have the honor of seeing the individual beauty of families. I don’t take this honor for granted!