This time of year, I start getting semi-panicked inquiries from strangers on the daily:
“Can you squeeze us in for a quick family session in October or November, pretty please?”
Immediately, I suspect that I know what this is all about.
So I tell people: if ALL you want is a set of beautiful, luminous photos of your family hugging and smiling, looking photogenic and color coordinated, I am NOT your gal. Don’t get me wrong – if this is your dream, I want you to have these photos. It’s just that I’m going to refer you to somebody else to fulfill this dream.
(I can make you a great family photo for your card, but really: it’s not my expertise)
When you and I engage with one another, it’s a different kind of animal entirely. We’ll talk about your family. Your kids. Your pets. The relationships that tie you together. Your habits and quirks, and daily / weekly / monthly traditions. What bugs you about family life. What you treasure above all else. What you fear losing most of all. Many of my clients joke that it’s like therapy lite.
It’s not because I’m nosy.
Together, you and I can begin to get at the very heart of what’s important to you. What makes your family who you are. The stories you live, and the stories you’ll tell a generation from now at an epic holiday dinner. Will those stories be about the time you put on well-matched outfits and the perfect boots, and stood together in a golden field at sunset? I think not.
A Day in the Life photo session is no small thing. It’s an investment for you, and an investment for me, too. It’s intense, exhilarating, and packed full of familyness. When I come home after a 12-14-hour day with a family, I’m dead-to-the-world tired. But my heart is so full, too. At each full day session, I witness so much of a family’s truth and vulnerability, and it’s a great honor to photograph it with sensitivity and respect.
I don’t just do this work for shits and giggles. I do it because it’s important.
I believe there’s an extraordinary value in true documentary images of family life.
The families who hire me believe it too. You’re the ones who scroll through your phones admiring the cute snaps of your kid smiling with her bestie, smiling with her muddy face, smiling with the pumpkin she chose at the pumpkin patch. And from those photos, you can see: gosh, she’s cute. But for you, that’s not enough. You love your life, chaos and all, and someday when you look back, you want to remember just how it was. All the complexity. The context. The emotion, the detail, the rollercoaster, the whole enchilada. You want not just the characters, but the STORY in your record books.
So as we enter this season of nostalgia, reflection, and planning for the year to come (and – coincidentally -- the Christmas card photo panic eases), take a moment: what is something about your family life that will change next year? What’s something from right now that you hope you’ll never forget? If you had your own Day in the Life photo session, what rituals, relationships, memories, and spaces would you want documented?
It’s never too late. And it’s never too soon, either.