I have a confession.
I'm bored. It's not you, it's me.
(chyeah, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that.)
I've been photographing children and families for almost 8 years now. It makes my heart full to see my images as your profile picture, to walk into your home and see your photos framed on the walls, and to consider YOU, my clients, as my friends. But something has been on my brain lately, and if you know me at all, you know that once I've made up my mind, I'm going to do it.
While most of my sessions yield beautiful images, and I have an awesome time with the family, sometimes it happens like this: a mother emails me and says she'd like photos of her family. We discuss location options and end up at a park that has no real meaning to her or her family. It takes a few minutes for the children to warm up to me, dad's worried about missing a phone call, mom's concerned little Billy won't smile, and let's not forget the Florida heat and mosquitoes. I'll go through my usual "poses", asking dad to sit on the grass, but he has a bum knee (I feel you, dad! Just listen to my knees crackle and pop!) Little Billy would much rather watch the turtles in the lake, and mom is growing more and more impatient with the whole experience. But we power through for an hour or so, and a week later mom chooses her favorites and makes her purchase. Same thing over and over. Done, job closed, and I can't help but think I missed the connection.
Why the heck am I not photographing the majority of my clients the same way I photograph my own life?
And while there are photographers that do posed portrait sessions BEAUTIFULLY, (seriously, I could give you a list of some amazing photographers that crush these!) do they trigger anything emotionally for you when you see them? And if you've had a session like this, do you look at that image on your wall and think "man, what a great day." Be honest. I invite you to take a look at the reviews on my Facebook page. Does anyone mention how much they loved the pose I asked them to do? Nope. My clients value my patience, my imagination, and those natural moments in between. I'm not bashing that style of photography - it's gotten me to where I am today, and I am grateful for the families that trust me and continue to book. But while Sonju Photography is my business and what pays my bills, it's still an art, an intimate art, and those natural moments have been screaming at me for quite some time.
Think about some of your favorite memories with your family or with your children. I can almost guarantee the pressure that comes out of a posed photography session isn't anywhere close... Maybe it was that camping trip last summer, or the day you told your husband you were pregnant, or a Saturday with your daughter at the farmers market. Whenever it was, wherever it was, I bet those memories shine a bit brighter than posed photos in the park.
So why the change now? The good news is I'm joining one of the best wedding and portrait studios in Miami, which will allow me to be more selective with bookings with Sonju Photography. So it's time to shoot what I want to shoot, from my heart. I look back on some of my all-time favorite sessions and they have a common thread - they were activity-based, REAL moments. The birth stories, the surprise proposal in a helicopter, my day following a boy and a few lifeguards near the ocean. These are the sessions that made me sit back and stare at my computer screen hoping my heart wouldn't burst out of my chest. Real, genuine memories.
Last week, I posted on the Sonju Photography Facebook page a little experiment of sorts. I asked for your "if my house is burning down this is what I'm taking" absolute favorite family image. And the results were exactly what I expected. Mothers holding their babies for the first time, a photo of dad on the boat fishing, mom sharing a chocolate milkshake with her two boys, a quiet conversation with her daughter at the end of a dock, even a snapshot of my friend's grandmother that her grandfather took they day they met. And while yes, there were a few posed portraits sprinkled in the replies as well, the overall response proved my theory - Real, honest moments might actually outshine "posey posey".
Cool Sonj, I'm following... So what does all of this mean?
More "Day in the Life" sessions!
Real consultations that allow me to get to know you better.
Juicy, emotionally charged questionnaires that will get us thinking of the best way to document your family and children.
Less time worrying about mosquitos and sweaty foreheads and more freedom to relax and let the photos come naturally.
I am currently building my portfolio to include more of these sessions. In the next few weeks, you may see some changes to my website or booking process. I will be offering 2-3 hour sessions and full (7-8 hour) sessions at an introductory rate. In the end, I'd love to include a keepsake album of our time together so you can feel the same "heart explodey" feeling every time you glance at it. In the mean time, if a session like this speaks to you, and you'd like more information, feel free to leave a comment here or email me. Or, if you think I'm being dumb and want to yell at me, feel free to do that too. I'd love to hear your thoughts either way. Also, if you currently have a session booked with me in the next few weeks and like the idea of a more documentary approach, shoot me an email and we can make it happen! Or, if you still love the poses in the park and the way I've been doing it, I'm more than happy to do that as well.
May 1, 2015, I'll be transitioning to the documentary style sessions. Full steam ahead. Let's get honest!
And if you're still reading, THANK YOU for letting me get this little confession off my chest. xo.