I have shared some of these images before, but last night as I was working through some professional and artistic projects I found these again. I love photographing children. The raw, uninhibited expression and total freedom to use their surroundings as extensions of themselves creates so much room for me to be creative. The pressure is off and I am able to provide them with the space and comfort needed to create the perfect environment that yield the portraits I prefer.
When working with children, and all clients in fact, the family home is my ideal location. A lot of potential clients feel apprehensive to have their home documented and I understand. Society’s demand to have a magazine-ready home can be burdonsome but we can either comply with or reject this demand. I have never been inside a client’s home that I didn’t love and want to photograph. Certainly some homes appeal more to this wanting by the variety in light, texture, composition, and style but I can honestly say that all homes draw me in. When I was first starting out I felt like photo sessions in canyons and fields were ideal so most of my sessions were conducted away from my client’s homes. Luckily, I would still have the chance either in the consult, when we met for the session, or when I delivered my packages to meet them at home. I always felt a little regretful of the open field wishing more for a session on kitchen counters and under backyard trees. I wish I had the bravery to honor what I was drawn to as a new photographer.
Gaining the confidence to shoot what you love is something that only experience can teach. I didn’t know how hard and disappointing it would be to shoot things I didn’t like but now I do. Saying no to certain clients, shoots, opportunities, collaborations and partnerships is admitting you aren’t the right fit for the job because sometimes you aren’t and the word no becomes a way to honor your client and what they want. As Justin Hackworth says about developing your voice, “Say something”. I would add to that, “Say something, but don’t say everything.” I didn’t understand what he meant when he started mentoring me as a new, young, overly-confident photographer. I didn’t understand it because I didn’t know what it meant. I understand better now. I understand because I have 5 years of experience with the a cowards regret. I didn’t have the bravery necessary to speak and I didn’t know how to learn from the discomfort of saying things I didn’t mean. More importantly I didn’t understand what a huge guide the tangible joy of developing my voice and seeing it reflected in my work was for my personal and professional development. I’m not there yet but I look forward to every new work, photo and opportunity that will gift me with more experiences in learning to say what I mean.
Cluttered or minimalistic, modern or eccentric each home becomes completely rich to me in material and inspiration. Last year I photographed the family home of some close friends. I empathized with their apologies and worked hard to push through their objections that I photograph things that, to them, seemed unworthy. I didn’t push out of disrespect for my client’s boundaries rather, I sense a clear difference between a boundary and an undefined objection. I find that an objection is usually something that time or experience will remedy. I’m not taking photographs to represent cleanliness or sell paint colors. I am taking photos to document the life that my clients live. These images improve with time. I’ve experienced this again and again and so have my clients. The unattractive forehead bump on a toddler’s head today is the endearing mark of development that parents will, and do, ache for as time carries them away from the little years. Images of toy-littered childhood homes today will become a long-gone symbol of a family that evolves and a childhood that gives way to aging. These things are remembered with nostalgic love that doesn’t much care for or notice worn-out rugs and unfinished projects. And this is why I do what I do.