I’ve been a family and business photographer for nearly a decade and I’ve learnt over the years that it’s ok to have validation from many different types of sources. First and foremost for me, my validation is predominantly based on my huge base of repeat clients. However, every now and again it is nice to be recognised and valued by the industry I work in. This is exactly what happened at the end of 2020 when I was contacted and invited to write an article for the photography industry magazine, This Detailed Life.
The brief was, ‘how I bring joy and connections to family photography’ I mulled over how to approach the article for a couple of weeks before I started to compose it. I didn’t want to write a predictable answer covering prompts and un-posing. Equally, I didn’t wish for it to become about prep packs and all the other paint by number formulas you tick off your list as a family photographer. Joyful connections with family photography goes deeper than simply having all boxes ticked and courses completed.
Anyhow, here is the article I hope you enjoy it.
Magazine article published – Creating Joy in Family Photography
Photography is all about light. It’s right there in the name. Photography literally means drawing with light. But I’ve found that it’s not just about how you illuminate a scene. It’s also about how *you* illuminate a scene.
Personally, I love natural light, both indoors and out. I’m always watching the sun, seeing how and where its light falls. If I could eat sunbeams for breakfast every day I would. I love the adrenalin of the unknown power of it, and the magic it brings. It forces me to constantly create and adapt.
But no matter which light source you favour or how expertly you paint with it, there’s another form of illumination that matters more, particularly with Family Photography, and this one is behind the camera. This one is you.
Like many of life’s lessons this truth crept up on me. Early on in my career I recall mentally tick boxing everything the ‘pros’ did, reverse engineering their approach and spending £1000’s on courses. I’d have an epic location – check! A styled family – yep! I’d mastered the perfect camera settings and natural light conditions – spot on!
But for some reason despite all these components and a few of the usual family games everyone plays, my pictures didn’t have that glow.
I grew frustrated, tired of trying so hard and I was second-guessing everything. My perfect check list was not giving me the photos I had hoped for. Deflated and sad I screwed up my list.
My light was dim. The sun was perfect. I was the problem.
I was emitting a deeply distracting light to the sessions.
So consumed was I with achieving perfectly posed and technically amazing photographs, I’d entirely overshadowed one of the most important light sources there. Me.
I wasn’t illuminating my clients the way they needed me to, responding to and amplifying the joy that they brought.
I decided there and then to stop trying so hard to create something specific and instead simply show up with the same openhearted and uninhibited vibe that I have every day with my own family. I decided to be me.
Photography is about capturing light and, while we can spend endless hours consumed with technical perfection, for me the light that matters most in creating pure joyful connections is the one that we vulnerably shine ourselves.