I have a confession. I ask people do horrible things.
( Maybe I shouldn't tell anyone this, folks may stop booking! )
Why do I make my clients suffer?
I was so blessed to meet the Maloney family this Christmas and share some time with them for portraits. They did so amazingly! I asked them to do some 'crazy poses' like I ask all my clients and wanted to share what I saw- these people love each other and it shows. Isn't that we all want? I truly believe all families love each other just sometimes its hard to relax and express that. We are not all trained actors, we are real people with feelings we cannot always express or successfully emote.
But my partner has cooties!
One of my favorite parts of a family session is where I have the kids hang with me while I "make" mom & dad take a photo together. Its funny as initially its definitely NOT the clients favorite part so perhaps that makes me a terrible person since it always makes me giggle. Oh the horror- stand beside your partner!
Parents stiffly line up as if they have never met, they politely decline holding hands, the dads usually say something like "no, gross, ew we are not that kind of couple" etc. Some flat out refuse to do any of that "ridiculous hand-holding nonsense" (and that's a direct quote)
Now, NONE of the Maloney's said this! They were so sweet and friendly and made the morning a breeze- I merely mention that quote to point out how it can feel when you are out of your element. That was not even said in anger, merely out of discomfort. It was kinda hilarious.
Seriously, dads, you kill me.
I don't know what to do with my hands
Thou doth protest too much! After a few minutes of bribing parents with candy to stop stiffly looking at me like American Gothic I ask them to do something truly awful- make out or dance! Heck portraits are AWKWARD I am in total agreement and I get it! I really do!! I am SO awkward. If you have met me, you know this.
Do it anyway. MAKE OUT in front of the kids!
(Pro tip from a wife: make portrait day easy for your partner. Help make this as happy and easy session as you can or at least be pleasant and friendly...it may work out for you. It will certainly make for a faster is-it-over-yet session. Maybe a more relaxed family and wife! This is a family blog post so I will just wink and nudge and let you figure the possibilities of that cryptic message out.)
I sincerely do not mean to be harsh to dads. I feel for you. I know it is an uncomfortable place. That what do I do with my hands Ricky Bobby quote. That's for real, that's how it feels. Weird. Like my legs don't know how to bend, and my head feels like a bobblehead, what am I even doing, why is this person staring at me. Joking aside those awkward feelings are legit! Your collar is itchy as all and now this strange lady wants to gawk while you make out with your wife? The kids are laughing and you have no idea how to feel natural in this mess much less smile naturally. So stop trying! Unless I specifically ask you to look at me you have my permission to just look at your partner- and breathe. Please don't forget that. You know each other the best right? Best friends?
So look deep into her eyes, lean your body close, and softly whisper in her ear "oh my God this is so stupid why are you making me do this?"
And the LAUGH. Embrace the weirdness and channel the awkward feelings- the laughs look amazing! We have been conditioned that laughs and our smiles look weird. Lies all lies! And while you're faking it just happens, and the joy is real. The silliness becomes genuine. And maybe even accidentally fun!
So WHY would I force folks to do these things?
In front of the children??
Think of the children!
Because look at those smiles, look at that love! The kids need to to see this. Portraits can be stressful, so much emotion and expectation. Growing up I dreaded photos with stiff itchy clothes and the smell of burning hair curlers, fake smiles directed to camera left. Shudder.
We think we need the 'perfect' image. I want to give you the perfect image, its just not may be what you think it is. Trust me- the awkward gives way to the laughing because really, make out in front of the kids? That's a hysterical scene. The affection and giggling and genuine smiles MAKE the perfect image the kids stand by me hysterical and relaxed-y'all are having a good time and bam that's a memory worth keeping and hanging on the wall.
My family sessions include as many break out portraits as you will let me take- so let me take them! Just the grandkids, individuals, grandparent, the whole dang group...and mom and dad. Alone Together. Making Out. Do it! those kisses are a treasure for great grandchildren you haven't even meant yet! -Anjeanette
MAKE the perfect image
Start with dancing, silly giggles and get genuine emotion
Remember this rant is given with love and empathy. Enjoy dancing or making out in front of the children? WHY on earth do I make clients suffer so! This! The last frame of just mom and dad together- happiness is a memory to pass down and hang up. This is where the family started - two people in love. I know most folks are nervous, I know most don't think they want to listen or do the silly things I ask. Heck, this may not be some folks favorite image from a set! I am so happy you did the silly things I asked anyway! Not only does it make the formally posed images that much better, it is just so good for the heart to see parents IN love.
There are lots of posing guides and information out there to make your portraits more successful. Obviously nothing new under the sun, this information is available from lots of places and I certainly ain't an elegant writer of prose. I care deeply about memory making. I just want everyone to GET photos and have permission to enjoy getting them done. The reality is not everyone reading this will book me for their portraits- but that's ok! I want you to have fun with your family, make memories and find an awesome professional small business mama like myself to capture those moments- they have been researching, memorizing flash cards (no kidding), and obsessing over ways to help you feel more yourself and get amazing images. Trust them.
Enjoy your family portraits and treasure these fleeting moments, even if it seems awkward as hell its worth it. They are worth it. Little eyes are watching. Make memories more than a newsfeed!!
Get in touch for your Arizona family portraits!