"Look at the camera sweetie! Smile! What does a.... cow say?! Over here! Hey honey look at the camera! Want a lollipop?! No, no crying. Daddy will be back in a second. Over here honey look at Ms Stephanie! Smile! No not that smile, your pretty smile! Stand up. Sit down. Ok we'll go get ice cream after this. Criss-cross apple sauce. Over here! Smile! We're almost done!"
Four letter words: Prop. Pose. Park.
Why has this become the "norm" for family sessions in South Florida? Why do parents spend hundreds of dollars to drag their children to a park they've never been to and expect children to listen to directions from a stranger with a camera? What is the end goal here?
I've done these sessions for years. I've photographed hundreds of families, even more children, and I'm damn good at it. But being good at it isn't enough. (see my 10 year career with Chili's if you want more proof.) That's the thing about artists, we have to LOVE it, too.
The truth is, (and I've said this before), these sessions are breaking my heart. Sure, we get great photos. Sometimes I'll even visit your home and see products of said shoots displayed all over your walls. But truth is, I'm finding very little joy in producing images like this for my clients.
Childhood is messy. Spontaneous. Wild. And a little crazy. Why are we documenting our family in matching outfits as they all stand under a tree with pretty golden backlight? Is that really authentic?
As Sonju Photography enters its NINTH year in business, its time for change. No more "let's shoot at XYZ park". Instead, YOU tell ME what you have planned, and I'll shoot it beautifully.
"Jax is getting a haircut then we're all going out for ice cream. But for real, not like, bribe ice cream."
"Dad got us tickets for an airboat tour in the Everglades and I want these memories documented"
"There's a cute little carnival our church is hosting and we'd love it if you joined us for the afternoon"
"We'd like our regular ol' lazy Sunday documented. We might order pizza. We might not. I may not even shower."
Let the kids be kids. Let your husband take a nap on the couch like he does every Sunday. (I've shot that. Teee-rust me, it's not just your husband!) Let's have FUN and stop pressuring little ones to "sit still and look at the camera. Sure, at the end I'll fire off a few "camera-aware" shots, because yes, Grandma wants those, and I do see the value. But the real magic is in the messy, and I promise you, your kids will like me (and maybe you?) a whole lot more if we don't force them into anything.
I'm kidding. Your children love you.
Anyway, the point of this blog post is to say this: 2017 will be purely documentary (Day-in-the-Life) style for children and families. These are activity based sessions, or full 8 hours with your family documenting the normal, every-day life you lead. There will not be any more "location suggestions", and no more reschedules due to rain. Here's what I WILL do though: I will talk with your children. Ask them about school. clickclick How they really feel about their little brother. Their favorite flavor of ice cream. clickclick Show them my polaroid camera. Heck, I might even watch some cat videos with them. But I will not ask them to "go sit on that log, look at me, and smile." And while it's not my intention to break anyone's hearts, if you are a past client and you've done posey-posey park photos with me in the past, and you're kinda freakin' out over what to do now, please let me show you how much more meaningful these documentary sessions are. Please.
For more information on AUTHENTIC family photography, click the button below. And when you're ready for your Day in the Life session, I'll be waiting with a huge smile on my face. A real one, not a fake one ;)