I recently attended a photography workshop and one thing we were asked to do was to think about our favorite picture… “Imagine in your mind you FAVORITE picture.”
And I thought…and I thought…and I thought… My head felt like it was spinning. Images popping into my brain at a million miles per second. And yet as the other workshop attendees told the story of their favorite images as children, I tried to remember…there were just so few pictures of me as a kid. I was the last of five. (That explains it.) Yet the images still kept coming…the few photographs I remember of me as a kid. Images of my family. Images of the people I’d lost. And images that I’d captured of my clients. Even images that were shot by other photographers of people I didn’t even know… I didn’t share with the group a favorite image, because there wasn’t just ONE. There were tens, maybe hundreds (well, that might be an exaggeration), what felt like thousands at that time. And for the past few weeks, I haven’t stopped thinking about those favorite images and trying to narrow it down to one. But there isn’t just one. Because each of the images I imagined in my mind were unique and favored for different reasons. But there is one thing they all had in common…
They were MOMENTS.
They weren’t of subjects sitting perfectly posed wearing matching white shirts and khaki pants. They weren’t of a bride and groom handsomely dressed with perfect make-up and not a hair out of place looking straight at my camera. They weren’t of me and my siblings all dressed in the same clothes sitting with backs straight and hands folded in our laps (mostly those are the ones that just make me think, “what are my parent’s thinking?”)…
Instead, the images flashing through my mind were photographs that captured a memory. They were a moment in time and a feeling at that very moment. The images told a story. They weren’t manufactured or manipulated in any way by the photographer. They were REAL.
Unfortunately, my scanner isn’t working so I can’t show some of the images that popped into my mind. But let me describe…
There’s one of me. Maybe I was 2 years old. I’m sitting at a kid-sized picnic table on the side of the Cape house. I’m just sitting there with my blue and red striped shirt, my white shorts and (my then real!) blond hair with little curls at the end. My face is sun-kissed, my shoulders are hot-pink, and my eyes are really blue. And I am happy. There is a smile on my face and in that smile a huge gap between my two front teeth. There is a wet beach towel by my feet. It’s not a perfect picture. In fact, I think the picnic table is more in focus than I am. I don’t actually recall this picture being taken. But I remember the FEELING of being there. When I look at that picture, the memories of the long trips down from NH with 5 kids in the station wagon with the paneling on the side and a uHaul attached to the back come flooding back. And me on top of the luggage in the way back. And smelling the salty air as we crossed over the bridge. And my constantly scorched back and nose. And the smell of Noxema to cool it…
There’s another maybe taken a year earlier. There’s me and my 4 siblings all in the outdoor shower after a day at the beach. My oldest sister is standing behind me. She looks like Olive Oil – really skinny and tall with her every rib showing wearing a striped bikini that is falling off of her tiny frame. My brother has straight-across bangs. My other sisters are wearing their swimsuits and fighting for shower spray. Then there’s me, wearing only a diaper with my hands palm up, my head down wondering where the water is. The other kids are laughing. Again, I don’t remember it, but it’s a picture of all of us together. Laughing. And it brings memories of Cape Cod summers back to me.
The other pictures of all of us together seem rather lame in comparison. We were usually only photographed at a special occassions. Maybe it was a First Communion, or a birthday party, or a graduation, or a holiday, or a wedding… We’re all dressed up, standing in a line. Sometimes with a “cheesy” smile, sometimes a frown. No feeling, no interaction. The pictures happened because our parents made us. Then there was those times my Mom hired a photographer… The time our next door neighbor in high school took our family photo. Mom had dressed the girls in coordinating quilted jackets she’d made for us. Brother was dressed in a button-down. These pictures could be on www.awkwardfamilyphotos.com. There was also the time Mom hired a pro photographer… that turned out even worse. The woman showed up too late in the evening and the pictures of us are a silhouette against the sunset. The funny thing is that we are all spread apart on the lawn almost like we don’t know each other…
There’s a picture of my niece that I snapped on the front porched of my parent’s house one summer evening. She was four, I think. And I was obsessed with (B&W film) photography at the time and had her modeling on the beach for me. After we finished on the beach, she went up on the porch and I just happened to snap at the right time. She is leaning over the railing and laughing. The light is hitting her face perfectly. This is the image that made me want to be a photographer. It brings back those feelings of being so excited to photograph and hopefully it brings back memories for my niece too.
There’s also a picture of me and my son, Quinn. The picture was taken right after he was born. He’s naked lying on my chest with the white cap on his head. I’m looking tired, a little groggy, bloated like a tick, yet happy. Quinn looks like ET – wrinkled skin, huge eyes, skinny neck. This is one of the few pictures I have of me and my kids. I’m hoping that someday they’ll look at this picture and remember me – bloated and ugly even.
Another favorite is of my husband as a kid. He’s maybe one and is sitting in a little nook in his Grandmother’s kitchen in a diaper and his Grandfather is feeding him a bottle. I never met his Grandfather. He died of MS long before I even met Andrew. But this image of the two of them tells me a lot about this man and who he was. And when Andrew sees this image, the memories of his Grandfather come flooding back and so do the stories about him.
I have umpteen images of my kids that are favorites. They are not the ones where I make them stand next to each other in coordinating outfits. They are the ones that I just happen to capture of them having fun and being themselves.
Another favorite is at a wedding I shot a few years ago. It is of the mother of the bride and she is dancing, there’s a huge smile on her face and she looks like she’s having the best time ever! Over a year later, I ran into the sister of the bride at the post office. And she saw me and told me that her mother had recently passed of cancer. She told me that the images that I had captured of her mother that day on her sister’s wedding were the last pictures that they had of her. And she couldn’t thank me enough for the “gift” that I had given their family of those images. That they depicted exactly who she was and that’s how they will remember her. We both stood in the post office and hugged and cried. And I felt terrible for the loss of this woman who was so loved. But in my heart, I also felt so happy and honored that I had been there to capture who this woman was and create that memory for her children. Every now and again, I run into the sister of the bride. And every time, a we get a little teary-eyed. And every time she can’t thank me enough for the gift I gave their family…
I could go on and on about my faves… but I think this post is getting long enough! (are you still with me out there?)
So, what I would like to do for your family is create a YOUR favorite picture. Or maybe what will someday be your kids favorite picture. A memory, a “gift”, if you will. I would like to capture your family just being you! No matching outfits. No white shirts. No khaki pants. I want your kids to dress themselves! Because some day they will look back and remember that favorite shirt and it will bring memories flooding back about that time and that place and those people and that FEELING… I want to come and observe your family doing what you do. It could be an every day activity at your home, a trip to the park, a day at the beach, building a sandcastle, playing a game of wiffle ball, a round of mini golf, going out for ice cream, bowling, out on your boat… whatever it is your family does together I want to be there to capture it! The silly faces, the hugs, the laughter, and even the tantrums, the frowns, and the siblings fighting…
For sessions scheduled Monday through Thursday in the month of June, I will offer this LIFESTYLE SESSION for $350. The lifestyle session includes:
– the session fee
– up to 2 hours shooting time
– location and activity of your choice
– (10) 5×7 pprints of my favorites from your session
– 30% off digital images on DVD
– online password protected gallery of your images to share with your family and friends
– no white shirts/khaki pants/no matching outfits!
If you would like to take advantage of this June special on KML Lifestyle sessions or have any questions about what this entails, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the studio at 508-274-2598! I look forward to capturing you and your family as you are!
Here are some images from one of my favorite family sessions last year.