Spoiler alert--it's not about the camera.
Flashback to a week ago -- my husband and I, along with our 2.5 year old and 15 month old daughters went to get our family photos done by a professional photographer, as we do at least once a year. When I shared our beautiful finished images on social media, I had a few people ask me why I (of all people) would hire another professional photographer, when I could do it myself. After all, I have the best gear, the perfect backdrop, and of course the eye and the ability to do so, right? Technically...yes, that is all true.
But it forgets the most important part of the entire photo session: THE CONNECTION
Don't get me wrong, I have done plenty of pictures of my own family. I get out the handy dandy tripod, or on occasion will hand the camera over to a family member or friend who looks completely mortified. But these sessions never turn out how I want them to and I think to myself: why can't I take my own family photos?
Because my favorite photos, whether it is of my own family or a client, are the ones that capture the genuine connections and freeze a precious moment in time. Sure, that picture of everyone smiling at the camera is great, and as cell phone and camera technology improves, more people are able to take their own photos with pretty good image quality. Don't get me wrong, that is amazing and I always encourage people to take all the photos they can! But it does not replace the need for an artist like myself to create stunning artwork that will last a lifetime.
So...what happens when I try to take my own family photos? Why can't I capture the connection? If you haven't had the pleasure of doing it yourself *insert sarcasm here*, let me paint you a picture. For one, on top of being in charge of getting myself and the kids ready (and my husband too, if we're being honest), now I have to set up the camera and tripod (which eats into the very little amount of real cooperation time I get), and then we pose ourselves blindly, and try to somehow get my children to look over at this stationary object at the EXACT right time when I click my remote (which I then need to hide) or attempt to time it out perfectly as the timer counts down. In all of this, my mind is going a million different directions and therefore I'm not in adoring-mom-and-wife mode and I am missing the real moments that I strive to capture for every other family. We may get one decent photo after an hour of work, which I never feel is up to my standard because I can't look through the camera and make those tiny little adjustments that make ALL the difference in the angles, and I also can't direct myself on how to pose because I just can't see it. I look through the final pictures to realize I have a double chin, I am sweating my face off from running back and forth, I look wide as a bus, and you can tell that everyone is fed up with this photo session (myself included). I just wanted one good picture #thestruggleisreal
This is where a professional photographer comes in. If you work with me, you get a style guide to reference along with someone to send options to, so before we even take the photos I help guide you on what will look flattering and how to dress your entire family! Then on the day of, you can show up ready to have a truly fun time with those you love the most. You can share any specific requests or insecurities and I will work my magic to make sure we document you and your loved ones in the best way possible. I will work the angles and make all the small adjustments in real time that you just can't do on your own. I will guide you on what to do and provide fun prompts that will evoke the real genuine emotion we want to capture. During the session I will also let your family show me all your unique personalities, and then capture all the little moments that you want to remember forever. The moments you wouldn't be able to capture with a tripod, or the details you wouldn't even think to document.
Though budgets are tight and the economy is basically in shambles right now, don't skimp on one of the only things that actually gets more valuable as time goes on. The photos you are in will one day become your legacy, so be sure to leave behind images that truly capture what is important. You wouldn't believe the number of times I have heard "I wish we did the picture before they passed, it was so sudden", and it pains me to say it is not just adults or elders, but teens, children, and even infants. No one knows when it's their last family get together, so take the time to turn those moments into memories and capture every detail you can, while you can.
"If you don't think photos are important, wait until they are all you have left."