Earlier this week I was talking on the phone with a client doing my Pre Session Consultation and planning her upcoming Birmingham, Michigan maternity session. And when we were talking about my work she somewhat asked, but more confirmed if I consider myself a lifestyle photographer...and yes I do, in a way!
Let me explain...
By definition a lifestyle photographer shoots people in their everyday setting, ideally without them very aware that they are being photographed. Many lifestyle photographers hold sessions in their clients home - and I have done that and I am willing to do that for people who want their location as their home. The idea is to get natural, organic images of real people in real moments.
When photographing families, I always set out to document the love and joy between them. Each family has a beautiful, unique connection and I believe my job is to find a way to capture it and translate it into a portrait that can be blown up big, huge on a prominent wall to be displayed for years and eventually passed on.
My typical approach is to find a location that is safe (especially when photographing infants, toddlers and young children), has beautiful light and allows my subjects to relax and be themselves. I like to set up a scene, and use one of my little tricks that allows families to relax and be themselves and then just snap away.
When I first started working with families, I use to feel unprofessional. I was worried that because I was not one of those photographers who constantly instructed people exactly where to stand, where to put their hands, how to tilt their head that I was not a real photographer. But when I was talking with clients they were all telling me that they wanted someone to capture how much fun and joy their children were bring to their lives.
I do give instruction, and I do ask people to look at me and smile, or I play a game that I know will bring out some giggles and smiles. I am aware that many families have at least one person who would prefer to be doing something else...and my goal is to help that individual have a good time and want to work with me again.
Now when I am working with babies and toddlers, my goal is to really capture their personality. I simply adore how these little, innocent people perceive the natural world around them.
I did not start photographing people until I had my son. Landscape photography was my love. But like so many of us momtogs out there, once you have your own child, you break up with your first and move on! My first ever portrait session was with my son.
When he was a toddler I use to get frustrated that when I took him out for photos all he wanted to do was play with sticks...absolutely forget looking and smiling at the camera! Then one day I realized that the sticks, rocks, dirt and flowers were all part of his childhood. In fact, his wonder and awe over these simple things were one of the things I loved being a witness to as a mother, and there was beauty in embracing this as a photographer! So now I still hunt for the smiles and eyes images, but my main goal is to capture true moments of childhood. The funny thing is, I think I get more smiles and giggles now.