Fast forward two years and here I am, in the midst of a growing business that is bringing in more sessions than I anticipated doing so soon. Yay! That is so exciting, and I am truly honored to be chosen by so many families to document where they are right now.
But, I am not feeling the passion I once experienced with photography. I love meeting the families, getting to know them, watching them interact with each other. I love people! I really do. Each one is like no other, each one created and loved by God, each one special to someone else. That is the story I want to tell with my photography! But, my clients and I aren't getting there. Somehow, the mall portrait studios of the world have brainwashed us all to wear the same colors, line up, put our hands the same way, and smile at the camera. There is nothing wrong with smiling and looking at the camera! But, I would be so bold as to say that "smile" 90% of the time is... FAKE. And not just at the camera... on a daily basis. Yesterday, at the neighbor whose dog was barking at 6AM, or answering "good" to "how are you" when you have truly had a bad day. We have all gotten very good at pretending to look happy! And we are taught it from a very early age:
Photo "A" was the first of a series I took of Paige the morning of her birthday party. Does she look happy to you? Not really. If you look at her mouth alone it looks like a smile. Mostly. And if I didn't know her, I might be convinced. But, I have seen her real smile so many times that I know this is not it. Photo "B" was taken playing at the beach. She was looking up at Lauren running in the waves, and filthy with sand. I had just asked her if she liked being at the ocean. This is her real smile. This is her joy, her sparkle, her life. She is four.years.old.
How much better are we at faking a smile by thirty?!?
And what value do you place on a picture where you are pretending to smile, when you know in your heart of hearts nothing real or meaningful was happening at that moment?
I think this is why many people do not like having their picture taken... because they don't like the way they look? Sort of. I believe they don't like the way they look because they aren't feeling anything special. If you are laughing, and feeling love toward your family, or glowing from the love of your spouse... you will look amazing. It just happens! Joy seeps though the pixels of that image to the eyes of the viewer and they are convinced. They are moved by who you are, and they can really see you.
Every person is special. Amazing. Remarkable. A miracle. Why do we want to document anything fake?!?
So, I am on a journey to figure out how to capture these real moments. You'll probably hear a lot more from me about this topic in the near future. I want to make some big changes, starting by including sessions recently named Beloved, to celebrate the love of married couples. Not to say my clients won't get a traditional smile-at-the-camera image from our sessions, they WILL. But, I hope to also give them so much more. I hope to create an enjoyable experience. I hope to document their real beauty, their real joy, and their real love.
Because that is something worth remembering forever.