Wednesday, 11 October 2017

What happens when I show up at your home?

A little behind the scenes look at in-home sessions with me

A client sent me these two photos that her mom had taken during our session (thank you again for these!). I had no idea that she was taking photos but I’m so grateful that she did because having photos that show me in my element, doing what I love, is really so special. Coming across these photos again recently got me to thinking that maybe some would be interested in learning a bit about how I work for in-home photo sessions. 

So what happens when I show up to your home? To answer that, maybe it’s better to back up a bit. Before a session, I have clients fill out a questionnaire about their family - a few simple questions that help me get to know them a bit and to highlight what’s important to them. Reading about clients beforehand is one of my favourite parts because I start to get a sense of what their story is and how I can capture it. I re-read the answers several times before the session and I’m not gonna lie, I have cried more than once when reading some answers. It’s very touching that some will share personal stories with me and I start to put myself in their shoes and imagine what their life may be like.

Getting back now to the earlier question about what happens when I show up at the door - after a quick introduction to put faces to names, I take out my camera and start shooting and following everyone around. It plays out differently every time with some falling into it naturally and others needing a bit of time to warm up or for the novelty of the camera to wear off. Sometimes I think clients may feel like they aren’t doing anything ‘photo worthy’ but it’s never true - the little things matter and that’s what I’m there to show. I always have the client’s answers to the questionnaire in the back of my mind and I wait to see some of those interactions or pieces of their story to show up in one form or another. It can be a glance, a smile, an object, a small detail that tells a bigger story. I ask questions, talk a little to the family and I wait for the moment I can see in my mind. I look for things like lines, light and shadows and think about how to compose the image to use those to shape the photo. I take a lot of photos, many won’t work - I try different angles, exposures. I don’t give much direction for the most part - you won’t often hear me ask “do that again” and instead I wait for moments to happen naturally. I may suggest that we switch activities or move towards a different part of the room for variety or light but most often, I let things unfold. Because of this approach, the majority of the photos that I will send clients will be candid, natural and real. I do include some more posed shots if the family wants those but I try to keep the feel more natural - for example, maybe not every shot shows everyone looking at the camera and smiling. Maybe the parents are looking at their child instead of smiling at the camera, maybe the kids are making silly faces. People hire me because I capture people in an honest way and so my posed work with families will be in keeping with that. 

Once I finish a session, my work has really just started as I start the culling and editing of photos.

So there it is, it may seem like I just show up and take a bunch of photos but there is more to it than that. I work hard to see those answers from clients come to life to tell their story in a way that makes you feel something.