If doctors make the worst patients, then photographers might make the worst clients. At least that was me a few weeks ago…
A little over a month ago, for my husband’s 40th birthday, I gave him our FIRST professional family portrait session as a gift. I suppose we waited to finish having kids before doing “family portraits”, and so it seemed like the perfect gift. Little did I realize until the session was over and I sat down to a quiet cup of coffee, that I had been thinking about it subconsciously ever since I had booked it. What a lot of stress for the non-stressed gal that I normally am!! Perhaps I had more to obsess about than the normal client, but then again – perhaps not.
I had been thinking about my house… everything “wrong” with my house. I was worried. My house had a pile in every single corner. My piles gave birth to multiple piles on a daily basis, and at that rate I would probably need a week without my kids, dog and husband to get it under control. AND for what? Just in time so they could come home? Even with my recently done Martha-Stewart-organized pantry I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago, I’ve already had to go and put it back in order. A clean house is over-rated right? Maybe so, but it is a contributing factor to whether I am a sane or insane person. The bottom line is that I strive to find balance (don’t we all?) between my home, husband, children and work. It is an unspoken agreement I have with the universe, to please help me turn a blind-eye, so that I can enjoy my life with my children, husband, dog and friends, and to help feel the joy so great that I will not find myself at fault for every single item being in the wrong place.
I tried to think about the good, wonderful things about my home. Great light, great windows, great old-house-charm. Ever since we did our renovation, I’ve commented that the house is now a natural light photographer’s dream. So, I knew the piles would be blurred out in the background and would not be the main focus at all…Of course we could move anything on the actual day of the session, depending on where she wanted to actually shoot… Certainly my amazing photographer didn’t care if there was a pile (or two, or three)… but for whatever reason, I was still nervous about the outcome. What? Why??? Funny now that it was my home being photographed, it suddenly seemed to matter! If I had a nickel for how many times I told myself that I knew better- that the light in my home was especially dreamy, that it was all about the kids and our dynamic as a family. It didn’t really make it go away… There were still piles and there was still an underlying STRESS.
Next, would you believe that I worried about what
not to wear. Again, I chuckle because I love to help my clients with styling and feel very comfortable in this department. I always work to tie it all together in subtle ways, and I am not afraid of prints, colors and textures, (because I happen to love photographing them.) Yeah, um… ahem… so picture me, the night before our session, at 6:30pm on a Saturday night, with David, on a mission for style at the mall… We end up at Gap for Kids. There we were piecing new outfits together for the kids as if we were literally in a Tim Gunn reality TV show. I haven’t had that much fun in… gulp… well let’s just say I haven’t been shopping much lately (and I love me some shopping!) We had such a blast choosing their outfits- styled to represent each of our kids as individuals but also tie us together as a family. So after that I should have been relaxed right??
Of course not. I was totally procrastinating on figuring out myself. How many pounds could I lose in four weeks? Maybe we should have waited until the baby weight would *hopefully* come off in another couple of months?? Of course not. No one should wait. Don’t wait. Truly no one will look at these images and see anything but the precious moments from a time long passed. I knew that. So, I should be relaxed right?
I wish. The list was endless… I had just gotten my hair trimmed/highlighted. So which was best? Up or down? Half back or down? Big earrings or small? Necklace or earrings? Black top or white or both? Glasses or contacts? Red Lipstick or light lip gloss?
Four weeks to exercise everyday, to put away the piles, to put together an outfit (or two). Four weeks to get a pedicure. Four weeks to plant some flowers and clean off the porches. Four weeks until we document permanently and forever our life as we knew it on June 26th, 2011. Our happy, crazy life. Our happy, crazy, messy, life just exactly as it really was… Yes, that was my goal for the session- that LAUGH OUT LOUD true-life photography starring The Cardon Family. I actually heard the light bulb CLICK. Incidentally, we have those old light bulbs in our old closets- the pull-the-string kind… so my “a-ha moment” had an audible CLICK True-life-lifestyle photography. That was the focus.
During the actual session, I found myself listening to my three and a half year old misbehaving a bit (just not really listening to the photographer), and let me tell you, I wanted nothing more than to go and ask him to listen. To bribe him with something later… Um, H-E-L-L-O ?? I always ask my clients to trust that I want to handle their children and their behavior, whatever it may bring, as it is all perfectly expected and normal. In fact, every child you’ve ever seen on my website was just being a kid, being themselves. I always ask to be given ‘temporary custody’ in order to gain trust and develop a connection with the child(ren). Not only do they establish a relationship with me but inevitably with my actual camera as well. That is why you can see their true spirit in my work… I always expect the unexpected, as children always do their own thing, and that is usually when I catch the moments and expressions that I am looking to capture. OH YEAH! MAYBE IT’S BECAUSE I AM A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER? I realized during my own session, that the real reason I wanted to intervene was to make sure my child was not doing something embarrassing or disrespectful. I knew NOT to interrupt her. My brain YELLED AT ME: “He is a good kid… he is only three. He is doing just fine… She knows I am a good mom, and his behavior is in no way a reflection of me today during this photo session… she is working it out with him, and this is not about me! CHILL OUT ELYSE!”
TRUST the professional photographer, that she would be able to determine the most flattering light, which would smooth out imperfections… not to mention her awesome editing. TRUST my professional photographer to capture the specialness of each of my children and their varying personalities, as well as all of us together. Total TRUST. I got it. CLICK. It is easy for me to invite my clients to TRUST me, but so incredibly hard to actually let go and TRUST, even when I know I love the photographer’s work. CLICK-CLICK-CLICK… I got it. And of course, she, my photographer clicked too and GOT IT.
And this is TRULY how I feel when I am in your home… the kids can really do no wrong. The individual spirit mixed with the family dynamic is what I need. The genuine belly laughing, downright honest emotion is what I need. That is what fills me up as a professional photographer. TRUST me…That is what you will want to remember in ten years when your little princess is a a grown teenager. Memories are memories because of these very images. Most of our memories stem from photographs. Own them. Be them. Do not stress over them like I did for four weeks. RIDICULOUSNESS! Do your research. Examine portfolios. Do you like their style? Is there consistency? Can you imagine your family in a similar photograph? Take the time to find the photographer that you know will capture the spirit of your family for you and then you will easily make the investment. TRUST in your decision. And do it again…and again.
I truly enjoyed being on the other side of the camera. I was able to be a part of a process that will become a treasured piece of art in my family forever.
And for my future clients, on being the client- I know for sure I will be an absolute pro in explaining to you how to relax about all the details. I will capture YOUR inner beauty, YOUR best angles, YOUR beautiful home and YOUR unique family dynamic and always, of course, ALWAYS in the very best light.
Below are the items we picked from the GAP for our two older girls. They wore them for some of the shoot, and then we changed it up a bit to be more casual on the bed for our family shot.
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