Angels and Urchins magazine recently interviewed me for a feature they were writing on using a professional family photograper. Professional photographers in 2015 occupy an ever shifting space in contemporary culture and talking about my experience really got me thinking about why I do what I do. Digital media has democratised the means of capturing images, so as professional photographers we really need to bring something extra and of real value to the table for our clients. As professionals we need to of course be on top of our game technically and be able to make the most of the location and the light and help put our clients at ease. However a great photograph is more than a collection of technical boxes that have been ticked.
In an age where we all have so many posessions, what is it that we really value?
For me, the time I spend with my family is the most precious of all. I am endlessly aware of how quickly childhood passes. Just this week my eldest daughter who is only eleven and has recently started to slip on my shoes triumphantly as her feet had finally grown to match my size – has raced ahead and needs a new set of shoes as her foot size is now bigger than mine. I am so happy at her delight in growing up but will treasure the memories I have of when she was a babe in arms with a foot size still smaller than the palm of my hand. My photographs connect me back to so many memories that are more precious to me than most of what I own. These photographs are not all “perfect”, the one of my best friend and I together, me holding my second child three months old, her, a new mum with a two week old newbie – both HOWLING with the two of us dissolving into laughter… Real life in all it’s imperfections. A physical print, a framed images on the wall, a gorgeous collection of images hand-bound in a book printed on fine art paper… Physical photographs trump digital files stored on a hard drive anyday in my book.
In the article for Angels and Urchins magazine I talk about advising clients to think about their children looking at the images from their family session in 20 or 30 years time. Don’t worry too much about wearing the perfect outfit. Celebrate your actual life, both those moments where everything comes together as well as something less perfect, but still you. I have lots of posed photos from my childhood. It’s nice to see us all lined up in those formal shots of the grand occasions, but my heart belongs to the ones of my 3 yr old little brother and I “baking” (in the loosest sense of the word) or me dressed up as a nurse at six with that very sick teddy that I loved, or my mum in the early 70’s looking like an extra from Mad Men. The photographs we really love have something more…and as professional photographers that is what we are always striving to capture, as elucidated in the words of Robert Frank – “When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.”
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