Today, my oldest son turns 7 years old. When I think about the years that passed, I am so thankful I have a photographic record, because quite honestly, I remember very little nowadays (I blame my two pregnancies and parenting in general).And I don't always take lots of pictures of Graham. In fact, I don't want hundreds of photos on my phone to be the only record of his childhood.
When you get a beautiful family in the Studio, things tend to go pretty smoothly. But that doesn't mean that a little bit of help doesn't go a long way! For sessions like these, with little kids (especially when there are two), I have my assistant, Jesse, help out.
And Jesse is wonderful with kids. She babysits and has this natural way with children and babies. In fact, Greyson (who isn't fond of strangers) was quite happy to be held in her arms when I photographed Mom and Dad with his older brother. Jesse hands me things that are out of reach, entertains older kids, and most of all, makes sure all children and babies are safe in the Studio.
She hovers by the side of the bed when a crawling baby starts exploring the space or when his big brother wants to give jumping a try. This allows the parents to get dressed, change a child, or do makeup touch ups as I photograph their baby. Having Jesse around makes everything easier! And I am so thankful to have her.
It's easy to think that entrepreneurs and small-business owners work on their own, in a vacuum. That success is the result of one person's hard work or luck and circumstance. But in reality, it's the help we receive from others that makes things possible. It's the connections we make and the dedication to listening, learning, and growing that makes all the difference.
I'm so thankful to have Jesse as an assistant (which improves the session experience), to work with some amazing local businesses (which supports the community and helps them grow), and to source all of my print products from US companies (beautifully hand-made products that are the highest quality). A photograph is just a small part of all of this. There is an incredible amount of work and thought that goes into every part of my business, and literally a "village" that makes it all happen.
What do you get when you have a family with two boys in the Studio? Pretty much utter chaos. Which makes for some awesome family photos!
Getting kids to laugh and relax in front of the camera is one of the most challenging aspects of photographing a family, so when a couple of boys feel comfortable enough to run around and be silly, I full encourage it. In fact, I don't even have my light stand set up for this type of session because I know nobody will be staying in one spot for too long. The way I photograph in these instances is very similar to what I do for in-home family sessions. I bounce my flash off the wall instead of relying on a static light setup. It allows me to move, get different angles, and follow the action, so to speak.
And that freedom of movement means we can photograph quickly and efficiently.. because an hour into the process, everyone is pretty much DONE.
So yea, it's a little crazy and a whole lot of fun! And totally not what most parents expect a photo session to be. And that's the whole point. Little kids don't sit still. They honestly don't really listen.. at all. And expecting them to be someone they're not just isn't realistic. We can all hope for perfectly-behaved children, but I know never to rely on it (I have two boys myself, after all!).
So let's accept the wild and silly giggles and let's celebrate a photoshoot where misbehaving is totally allowed, and sometimes even encouraged! ;)
Doing an in-home family session with an 11-month old baby boy is kind of like setting aside an hour or two to play, read books, go for a walk, and generally just do whatever makes him happy. It's all very casual. And relaxed. And really pretty perfect for a super-casual Riverside family who isn't into a Studio setting.
It sometimes feels a little odd that I provide both in-home photography and Studio portrait sessions. They seem like total opposites. But I truly feel like my approach to both is pretty much the same.
The fact is, I use artificial light for in-home sessions. Most of the indoor shots were taken with the help of an off-camera flash. It's the kind of lighting that helps me take a beautifully lit photograph in any space, and not the kind that overpowers the photo with hard shadows. It took a while to master this technique, but it's so incredibly helpful when I walk into a space I've never seen before.
And my Studio sessions? They include a lot of the same posing direction as the home version. The big secret, of course, is that you really can't do any detailed posing when you have a baby or a small child in the photo. So I watch for the big stuff: an awkward expression, unflattering positions, and tension in the hands. And then it's pretty much a free for all. Ok, not completely, but you get my point. :)
So, it really doesn't matter what the location is! At home, where everyone feels the most comfortable, or in the studio, where you just have to show up.. family is worth documenting! And I arrive with the tools (and that means both the equipment and the knowledge in my head) to create beautiful portraits no matter what.
How much does a baby change within one year? The first 12 months include the most incredible growth for that tiny human being.. and it's absolutely amazing to see how much Troy has grown since I last saw him. I mean, seriously. It's incredible!
Even the home is different. Last time I photographed Troy and his mom, it was winter. The home had fur throws and cozy textures.. now, there are Springtime flowers and greenery that gives a completely new look to every room. Troy is becoming more independent and has developed preferences for toys (his boat mobile, for instance) and routines (reading with Mom). He's even playing the piano with Dad, or at least trying to! And his favorite toy is a little plush Octopus named "Captain Calamari."
Babies are pretty amazing.. but a lot of people wonder how often (really) they should be hiring a photographer to document their family. I always encourage parents to take photos (and videos!) of their kids, at least once a month, to really track the wonderful growth that is happening. And trust me, Troy's Mom takes gorgeous photos of him. But here's the thing, it's very hard for her to take photos of the two of them together.. not to mention the whole family. And that's where the need for someone who can get those beautiful family images (where the whole family is in the frame) comes in.
It's important to have a record of the home, too... and parents often forget about the ordinary surroundings they pass every day. I remember digging through old photos from my childhood and being amazed at how my memory of the home I grew up in was completely wrong. Rooms change year to year and grow with the family. Troy's nautical-themed room is perfectly set up to transform into a boy's room.. and when those little details change and evolve, Troy will still be able to look back and remember what his room looked like when he was a baby.
It's not really something I advertise, but I capture those room details for the family during every session. They simply come as part of the package, and no, parents don't have to pay for them separately. They're included, regardless of how many photographs the family ends up taking home in the end. I think it's important to have those images.. for them to be part of the family's history, ready to remind those babies where they spent their childhood.