I think I’ve written a bit about this before, but here’s the truth: up until a year or two ago, I wasn’t really interested in shooting family sessions. Honestly, things were so absolutely crazy at home with my own three little kids that I had absolutely no mental capacity for going out and capturing images for other families. I felt the WEIGHT of kids, rather than the JOY that they bring! I’ve learned that it’s almost impossible to capture beautiful, inspired images when you’re not living from a place of inspiration and beauty. So I’d shoot family sessions, mostly for my friends and family who needed Christmas card photos… and yes, they were fine… but there definitely wasn’t a spark! I wasn’t feeling it!
I’m so grateful to the photography community that I’m a part of, because I get to see and learn from creative, talented photographers all across the world. One of my favorite photographers is Tarah Sweeney, a family photographer based in San Diego, and she talks so much about finding joy and inspiration in your own life, with your own family, and then bringing that joy and energy to your family sessions. I’ve learned from her to shoot in bad light and good light, to get messy and make mistakes and take the unconventional view, and I still have a looong way to go, but I am loving this new perspective that I have about how to capture families and what a really beautiful family session can look like!
The pictures in this post are from a session I did recently with one of my former couples — we shot their gorgeous Chicago wedding a few years ago, and now they have a beautiful daughter and another baby on the way! It has been a JOY to watch their family grow. I can’t explain it, but it’s the most amazing thing, and such a beautiful privilege, to document a family’s growth in this way. But let me set the stage on this shoot for you: we had tried (and tried!) to schedule a family session, but our schedules + Covid meant that we had to keep pushing it back. We finally settled on a date… and that day, the weather was NUTS. Crazy hot humidity in the morning, and bright, unrelenting sun, with no rain in the forecast. We planned to meet in the early evening, and as I was on my way to the shoot, I saw huge black clouds rolling in. The weather forecast didn’t look good — maybe it would downpour, maybe it wouldn’t — so I called my sweet clients and asked them what they wanted to do. She was absolutely certain: “We’re doing this!!” We all got there early, their little girl was picture-perfect-wonderful, and we shot their entire family session in RECORD TIME. Just as we finshed up… the sky OPENED UP and we ran as fast as we could back to our cars!! And I was ELATED because I knew the images we got were beautiful!!
Every family session is different, and comes with its own set of surprises, and I’m finding LIFE as I shoot and create for my families. I miss weddings like crazy (and we’re shooting our FIRST ONE since Covid began, next weekend!!), but I’m grateful for this creative space, for families who trust me to capture their memories, for the chance to try new techniques and stretch my creativity, and for the ability to keep shooting, even when the world is a little topsy-turvy right now.
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