Over the past few days I've been reading bits and pieces of Austin Kleon's blog and books (Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work). One thing that stuck with me is the idea that you should write the book you would want to read, or in my case, take the picture of another family that I would want to have of my own family.
For awhile I thought that my goal was to eventually become primarily a documentary style photographer. I would do what I needed to in order to get there, but that was the goal. I felt like that's where the most honest, true moments were to be found.
But then it occurred to be that my favorite family photographers aren't documentary style photographers (Yan Palmer, Tara Whitney , and Ashley Jennet of The Stork and the Beanstalk, in case you were wondering) They do take plenty of candid, beautiful pictures, but they also pose families in such a way as to highlight real, raw emotions. It makes for flattering pictures with the whole family in the frame, which is the kind of picture I want of me and my family.
Truth comes through even in staged moments. The wily grin. The disheveled hair. The bandage over the scrapped knee. Once my friend Joanna excitedly shared with me a late night epiphany: nothing you do can ever not be something you would do. There is no escaping our true selves. Every text message we send. Every outfit we choose. Every expression we make. They are all a part of who we are. Which means that for me as a photographer, I don't have to feel like I am not being true to my style when I instruct someone to lift her chin, or tell her to angle herself towards the light. It's okay. She's still her true self. I didn't undo that.
The picture below: I wanted that picture. I wanted a picture with my husband and children, at the water's edge. Yes, it is staged. But it is also chocked full of honesty.