“But my home is a mess!”, “But we are renting.”, “I still have a million projects to do before I’m ready for an in home session”. I’ve heard all of these before and trust me, I’ve thought the same exact things every time I’ve thought about doing pictures in my own home (which we just did and I’m SO glad!!!). But I’m here to tell you that none of that matters, and here’s why:
1. There is no other location more “you”. Sure you have locations you love to go to that make you happy, but there is truly no other space that has more you in it. From the decor on the walls to the markers on the bookshelf from your child’s toddler artistic days. Even the most outdoorsy family still spends far more time within those walls than anywhere else and therefore it contains more memories and meaningful metaphoric and physical footprints. And I get that right now they don’t seem special because those walls also contain a lot of chaos and trying to just get through the day. But trust me they are oh so special. One day you may move and miss that leaky faucet and tiny patio that always felt too small (totally not talking to myself there). Or your kid will outgrow that dinosaur-obsessed phase and you will miss the way they would line those dinosaurs up just so on the bookshelf in their room as they went through all of the names you had to google how to pronounce (an-KY-lo-saurus). We are reminded more than we’d like that it goes way too fast, so what better way to remember those love-filled chaotic days than in the place in which that love most resides?
2. There is also no other location you are more comfortable in. You can go barefoot. Wear comfy clothes. Heck, you can even wear pajamas if you want. You can RELAX. We can get pictures of you guys all snuggled on your couch, playing on the floor, chilling in your backyard, or jumping on the bed. Isn’t that so much better than wearing itchy, stuffy clothes you would never typically wear and standing awkwardly in a field you’ve never even been to before and trying to “look natural” while everyone is recovering from mom yelling at every one in the car there because they were running late and forgot a change of clothes for the baby who just had a blow out? (yes this happen)
3. Which brings me to my next point: There’s activities galore and you can change as many times as you need or like. Getting your picture taken is pretty uncomfortable for most people. I make myself get in front of the camera every once in while so I can remind myself of that. Having an activity that’s true to your family makes it so much less awkward and you get the bonus of having something you love to do together documented. You can bake, paint, play dress-up, run in the sprinklers, play parachute, blow bubbles, read books, do bath time… you get the idea. I promise you those pictures will be a hundred times more natural, real and meaningful than a picture of you all kneeling in a field (I mean who honestly does that in real life!?).
4. It tells your story. Your day to day real life. And maybe you’re thinking “But my real life is me in yoga pants, yelling at my kids and covered in stains that I’m unsure of what they are”. That’s certainly how my daily life looks most days. But these shoots are more like capturing your family in the best light (appropriate double meaning there!). You don’t have to go overboard and pretend to be Martha Stewart levels of perfect but your house might be slightly cleaner and you might have showered that day and put a little extra effort in to your appearance. Or just rock the yoga pants you’ve been wearing for three days straight and let the love do the talking.
5. Which again brings me to my next point: these images are more for your kids (and future grandkids) than they are for you. Your vanity may have you wanting that picture perfect single image of your family in that field with everyone headswapped with their best smiles, not a hair out of place and every wrinkle Photoshopped out of existence. And maybe that will give you temporary happiness with double taps and complimentary comments. But your kids don’t care about that. They want pictures of the real you. The one that made mustaches out of Play-doh and did the hokey-pokey while making breakfast in the morning. They want to see images of how loved they were and that you were there and present. Don’t get me wrong here, I will still of course make you look your best and we will still get the image of everyone looking and smiling (because there is still value in that) but then we will move on to what I think is the good stuff.
6. And to top it all off your kids will be much more cooperative because of all of the reasons listed above. They will be comfortable and have their favorite toys and things to do. They will smile and laugh naturally as they are engaged in a moment. They will light up as they do what kids are meant to do: play and be kids. My absolute favorite part of in home sessions are when the kids take me to their room to show it off, especially if the parents aren’t noticeably there to them. They will really let their guard down and get super excited to show me their stuff. It’s wonderful. Some will even be a little mischievous which I will of course stop if needed, but I will get a picture first if it’s safe. It’s fun as a parent to get to see what your kids are like when you’re not around.
7. The furry, scaled, non-human family members can be in the pictures too!
8. And finally, if you have your heart set on some outdoor photos there’s always your backyard or more than likely another great location within walking distance we can go to for some! In fact, I’ve actually done several entire sessions just in a family’s backyard. Or we could do a neighborhood walk and end at local favorite ice cream shop. These are all ideas we can go over after going over your questionnaire and finding out more about your family and your favorite places.
And now I’ll jump off my soap box and give you some pretty stuff to look at. Here’s a shoot I did with my friend (and studio roommate) Maryam of Hi+Hello Photography with her family in her rad home.
And some shots on experimental film just for fun: