The first thing I tell my clients when they step out of their car and meet me at the session is to take a deep breath! I tell them that their NUMBER ONE JOB is to play with their kids!
I squat down and smile and tell the kiddos that their number one job is TO HAVE FUN!!!
I do this because I want all of them to let go of any expectations that THEY NEED TO BE PERFECT!
It’s my job to worry about behaviors. It’s my job to worry about if everyone is looking where they should be. It’s my job to worry about “what everyone needs to be doing with their hands!”
Their only job… is to spend time with each other! When my clients come to a session with me, it’s a family play date!
Let me ask you a question: When you look back at the photos you love the most what do they look like? Are they the perfect pictures where everyone is smiling at the camera? Or are they the ones where you can truly see your family connection?! The pictures of everyone laughing, cuddling together, living life candidly the way you do day in and day out. The real, raw pictures of emotions and love. Those are the images that you hold on to because they represent YOUR special bond right? They tell the story of YOU!
So how can we capture that?! How can YOU capture that?
Whether you are a professional photographer or a mom photographer doing her best to document your family legacy: we all are the same!
I want to share with you my best 3 tips to capturing that real, raw family connection!
Set Clear Expectations and build trust!
If you are a professional photographer, you need to get to know your clients and build that trust before you meet your clients at that session! Trust is everything! When someone is comfortable and relaxed, the vibe changes! The images will show that level of comfort. Trust is huge. It’s essential for capturing connection and providing beautiful, authentic images!
The same is true for your own family! I always have my camera available but my son is entering the tween phase of life. Someone please come take my hand!!! It’s not the same as it used to be. I might have the most creative, wonderful idea but I can’t just dress him up and expect him to play along anymore. I have to ask his permission and accept now that he might not want to participate. Or he might want to participate but maybe not want me to share on social media! It’s all about trust and boundaries!
I also set clear expectations for my clients and that leads me to my second tip!
PLAY IS EVERYTHING!
Everything I do is wrapped in play! If I am at a family session, we are playing family games until it is time to go home! There is not a single moment where the family is not engaged in a game with one another. This allows them the freedom to laugh and be silly with each other. They aren’t worried about what to do or how they look because I am constantly talking with them and they are in constant motion. They are given direction and have purpose. They aren’t focused on me and my camera. They are focused on each other! They are truly playing with one another.
If I am at home with my family, I am looking for the ways in which our family loves each other and plays with each other. I am the mom, so I KNOW the ways in which our family connects. I know that my son loves to cuddle but only does it behind closed doors. If there is an opportunity for me to capture that, you better believe I will! I know that he loves our dogs and they are important to him. If I can capture a rare moment when they are still, send that my way please. I’m still trying because it happens in the blink of an eye!
We love to be outside together. My son jumping on the trampoline, my husband throwing the ball back and forth. That’s connection! That’s part of our nightly routine and how we connect after a busy week day.
Sometimes building trust and understanding HOW a family connects is important too. Which takes me to my third tip.
UNDERSTANDING THE INDIVIDUAL MAGIC
Not all connections is the same! Every family has their individual magic! Be the magician and find out the “how” and the “why” of each family, including your own.
Every family has a story! Your job as a photographer is to shoot it like a story. Let that connection unfold! Tell the story of how and why in your images. Show a variety of ways in which the family or your family connects. I’ve talked so far about how my family cuddles, we play outside, sometimes Linc likes to hold my hand. Family connection is many things! You are the artist and it’s up to you to find out how to paint that connection and show why this family is so in love with each other, show their love story with the images.
At the end of the day, we all want to leave our footprints in the sand. We want to be remembered, especially by our children. Connection is our legacy!
How will you chose to show it in your images?!