a soft spot for gingers

It doesn't take much poking around on Facebook groups before you find photographers clamoring to get you to notice them. When some unsuspecting soul asks for a recommendation for a spring-mini, the photographers swoop in like seagulls to a french fry. They yell and scream and wave their hands and beg to be noticed.

And I'm no different.
I want you to notice me. And more than that, if I'm being 100% honest, I want you to hire me.

But the truth also is, my style isn't for everyone.There's plenty of people who don't want what I bring to the table. I don't use props or Photoshop. I do very minimal posing. There's no cute/ clever/ creative concept.

What I offer instead is the promise to capture your family in all its wildly imperfect glory. To find your beautiful truth. To capture your now as it really is: full of love, chaos, dirty knees, messy hair, and joy.

It feels great when my style resonates with the people who hire me- when we're on the same page and want the same thing. And Sarah, with her family of red-headed women, she gets it. I will always be thankful for the first person to ever book be for money (Rita), the first person I didn't know to book me for money (Mylene), the first person to hire me for their wedding (Kerry). And I will be thankful to Sarah because she was the first person to book me for a second time. Return customers validate you. They make you feel like you're doing something right. So thank you, Sarah, for giving me that. 

More of Sarah and her family come. We've got a third session coming up..this one with newly toddling babe-o.

finding home

I can't decide what was the best part, the thing I most need to tell you about. Do I explain how spending time with someone who is so different from you will remind you of the importance of spending time with someone so different from you? Or do I tell you how when you spend time with someone so different from you, you are reminded of how similar we all are? The way that mother's will always fight for their children. The way that daughters will always miss their moms.

I could have talked to Siheme for hours that turned to days. Because she is smart and funny and warm. Because she is brave and kind. A French-Tunisian who has lived across the globe. Who still sees the whole world as her home, even if her son is decidedly American. 

I think of all the things that I want to say, though the most important is how she reminded me that immigrants are our greatest hope in this country. They are who will remind us to be our best selves. Remind us to be the country we claim to be. With the exception of a very few, most of us came here. We left something in search of something else. That spirit is a beautiful thing. Cripplingly beautiful. Something I have completely taken for granted. Something I will try my best to remember from here on out.

long shadows

I'm in the middle of reading Originals  by Adam Grant. I love it. I keep writing things down. I want to interrupt Tom while he's reading on the pillow next to me to tell him things, but I stop myself because I hate it when he interrupts my reading to tell me about his book. So I'll take to the internet to tell a few of my favorite bits. 

In one part Grant references a study about architects: "Years ago, Berkeley psychologist Donald MacKinnon discovered that the most creative architects in America tended to be more spontaneous than their technically skilled but unoriginal peers, who rated themselves higher in self-control and conscientiousness."

Another point he makes is the value in acknowledging flaws, citing the founder of Babble who opened his pitch to new investors by listing all the reasons they shouldn't invest in him. Grant assures me that you all will trust me more and think I'm smarter if I acknowledgment what I lack.

Here's what I know: I do not have the technical skills of many photographers.They've been doing it longer. They have better equipment. They *like* the technical side.  That's not who I am. That is not the reason to hire me. I'm hoping I am more like the less skilled, more original architects. Original excites me in a way that conscientious never will.

Here's some other things I know*: Your pictures will look like your pictures. They won't look like the family in the picture frame when you buy it off the shelf. They won't look some other set of pictures you've seen in my galleries or on my portfolio. They will feel specific to you and your family. That's what I'm worried about while I'm taking your pictures. I'm worried about finding who you are and exploring your family's dynamic.

I want pretty light. I want perfect exposure, but those things are secondary to the feeling that I want to present to you. I keep saying this, but I want to give you pictures that make you feel something. Maybe one of those pictures will happen to be all of you looking at the camera at the same time, but most likely, it won't. If that's what you want, there are so many talented photographers for you to hire. Even if you are my friend, even if you are my family, if you want those pictures, I will not be mad if you hire a portrait or lifestyle photographer who better suits your aesthetic. My feelings won't be hurt.  I promise. It is okay to like different things, wear different clothes, eat different foods. Likewise, it's okay to want different things from your family photo sessions.

Two other things worth noting:

  1.  I am good at making people feel comfortable during a somewhat uncomfortable situation; it's weird getting your pictures taken. I will make it feel as not weird as possible. 
  2. I will get your pictures back to you quickly. I'm usually so excited to edit and deliver that I can hardly sleep until I give them to you. 

These are some pictures from earlier this week. Taken in their home and on their family's farm. Pictures of kids playing with their shadows. Pictures of a brother and sister rushing towards me in a game of red light, green light. Pictures of an apple thief. Of parents still in love.