For me, photography is an art form based on capturing families, and specifically young children, just as they are.
No more. No less.
This means capturing families not as they wish they were.
Not as they like to be.
But rather, just as they are.
As an outsider in the room, I can then show these families the beauty that I see.
That moment that they may consider every day and mundane.
So often I have families who tell me you captured expressions and moments I never even saw.
To me, posing someone just doesn’t hold the same heart as capturing an unguarded moment.
Dad the hero, Captured in black white, shot wide, blowing out a sea of bubbles as the kids dance around in joy around the front yard and mum is busy engrossed with the youngest one. It’s almost as if dad’s doing all the hard work and not everyone is seeing it and appreciating it. But I see you. And I’m capturing this moment so your wife can see it too.
Mum sipping a cup of tea on the couch as her little one climbs up, refusing to give her space. One of those in between moments that are completely true to her life In This Moment. Unscripted. Unprompted. Just life happening before my eyes. And so so so worth documenting.
The lines of her body as she runs with her dogs on her property. Her dress kicked up in the air as she runs, the dogs chasing around her and following her lead. It’s just them and their Boss, checking their fences. You don’t see her face, but you don’t need to. It’s all about the expression in her body, and the dog’s tails as they wag and run with her.
Every day moments, true, authentic, and completely spontaneous.
Those are the moments and expressions I am drawn to. It’s never truly about the smiling face staring straight down the barrel of my camera lens.
It’s about the wistful look on their face as they stare off into middle distance dreaming about fairies and dragons and mysterious creatures hiding in the trees.
It’s about the way they look at their loved ones or the way their loved ones look at them.
I’ve had clients tell me it made them step outside of their own lives. Effectively showing them the forest rather than the trees. The love, joy, connection that is in fact their life. So often forgotten in the midst of the whingeing, and the crying, and the tantruming.
So for me, I will never pose or prompt my families.
The furthest I go is to chat to you while I hold the camera. But the things we talk about are just every day conversation. I’m not asking you to think about the first time you saw your child I. Hospital, or to look down and smile to yourself, or tell me who has the smelliest farts.
Instead, I might be commiserating with you about how hard night sleeps can be, or telling you about my 6 year old’s meltdown this morning over a rotten pear she left in her school bag (true story!). So you know, all those conversations you have with friends over a cup of tea. Except you’ll be playing with your kids and I’ll be holding a camera . That’s not so scary is it?
But like anyone who is self taught in a skill can tell you, we can get caught up in it and end up with a bit of a chip on our shoulder. Wishing for that piece of paper so that we can feel Qualified. Forgetting that living and surviving life by its very essence *is* a qualification. Often getting sidetracked, paying for additional education, partly so we can keep on improving, and partly out of pure and utter fomo.
I’ve caught myself a few times watching posing videos from other photographers, in an attempt to speed up my workflow, be more profitable and appear more “professional”. When I first started, I would buy posing cards and see how the Professionals did it.
Yet each and every time I come away shaking my head.
This isn’t what I do. This isn’t how I operate.