Last year I had family photos taken. Finally.
(***All photo credits for this post belong to My Four Hens Photography)
I was the cobbler with holes in his shoes. Yes, I take photos of my family almost daily but it had been 7 years since I had had a full professional session done…Grace was 10 months old (she’s now 8) and she was our one and only (she now has 3 little brothers). I preach existing in photos yet I existed only in a string of silly selfies.
Shame. On. Me.
I knew it was time, so despite being super pregnant (and not even remotely cute about it), I signed up for a mama and me mini session from the insanely talented Sara Cornish of My Four Hens Photography. I saw her ad come across my Facebook feed and didn’t even hesitate, I booked it without even thinking. Then, after Levi was born, we were lucky enough to be the model family for one of her mentoring sessions. SO, from no pro pics in 7 years to two sessions within months of each other, here’s what I learned by being on the other side of the camera.
YOUR CLIENT/SUBJECT IS MORE THAN LIKELY NERVOUS
Friends, I was so giddy about this session I can’t even tell you. But despite knowing how important these images would be to me and how excited I was to work with Sarah, I was flat out self conscious. I felt awkwardly large with child, I was chronically tired and my face showed it, I unconsciously make funny faces without knowing it (and I don’t mean adorably funny). I am easily attacked by my insecurities, even though I know better.
But as I stepped out of the car, Sarah immediately made a comment about how beautiful she thought I looked and how excited she was when she saw my hair <3 Talk about a way to a woman’s heart. She melted away those insecurities before I could even heave my big ol belly completely out of the car. I was smitten. Lesson learned: compliment (sincerely) your clients. For real, do it.
Next thing to note:
IT’S HARD TO GET OUT THE DOOR
I tried to determine that perfect window of time when to dress my children (and myself) early enough so we weren’t completely rushing and not too early so that something got spilled, or wrinkled or my make-up melted, or suddenly one of the kids decided they hated what they’re wearing and started to strip…you catch my drift. However what I’ve discovered is that such a window of time does NOT in fact exist. It’s an illusion.
Therefore, give your clients grace.
When we were headed to our second session later last summer we left just in time to be a few minutes early, then I went to the wrong location. There were two spots with similar names and of course I picked the wrong one. I felt terrible knowing that it wasn’t just Sarah waiting on me but also the woman she was mentoring. Plus every second counts with the afternoon light. I was pretty much freaking out. Jared called her from the car and I could hear her laughing and soon he was laughing too which I knew meant she had afforded us a whole heap of grace just then.
“It’s fine, just drive carefully and arrive here safe”.
She was all smiles when we pulled up so immediately my stress melted away. So know that if you’re stressed about your clients getting there on time, they will be even more so. Give them your understanding and start your session off on the right foot.
And so began our session…
And well, as often happens in sessions with little children, they don’t always cooperate.
KIDS/CLIENTS DON’T ALWAYS COOPERATE
The baby needed to nurse pretty much right away. So instead of putting everything on hold Sarah simply gave me a blanket and grabbed some shots (which turned out to be some of my favorites…of all time).
Meanwhile Daddy and the kids explored and played in the warm sunshine.
Then, when it was time to come back all together we were dealing with a little bit of solemness from this sweet boy.
If you happen to follow my blog you’ll remember this post where he was having an incredibly difficult time the first few weeks of kindergarten. It wasn’t just before and after school, it was all day every day. Even on the weekends. So it was a group effort to get some smiles out of him.
Sometimes its okay though not to smile. It’s really okay.
Because it’s authentic, and it evokes emotion when you look at the photo, remembering just what was going on during that time. So remember to let your clients just be who they are. Let the kids be kids, not perfect models. I always tell my clients you’re kids can do no wrong today.
Which brings me to my final point.
AUTHENTIC MOMENTS EQUAL GORGEOUS MEMORIES
Posing has value, don’t get me wrong. But there’s just something to be said about allowing someone to capture the raw, real moments. The ones you never want to forget.
When you create a relaxing environment and encourage your clients to simply interact with one another, the result is simply beautiful.
All this being said, now I challenge you to go book your own session. Learn what it’s like to be the one on the other side of the camera…I promise it will transform the way that you interact with your own clients. From families, to brides, to high school seniors and beyond, it’s not easy getting your picture taken. And while there are thousands of photographers who are incredibly talented and can produce a beautiful photograph, only the truly gifted ones can also provide a wonderful experience at the same time. Besides, it’s time you existed in photos 😉
Jennifer, you are an amazing woman, photographer, Mommy, wife, and all around great human being. I love looking at your pictures and reading your blogs.
Happy to call you Cousin!
Thank you cousin <3
Oh friend I absolutely loved this post! Even coming from a nonphotographer, it totally resonated with me! I love you!
Great Read! Thank You for that! You have a gorgeous family!
Thank you so much Jessica!