Why are you passionate about this topic?
When people look at my images, I want them to feel something. I want them to feel the love of a mother and her child, the bond between a husband and wife, the easy connection of brothers and sisters. I look at every image as it’s own story having a beginning, middle and an end. The images speak for themselves about the feeling and love present in that moment. This can only be accomplished by capturing more than nicely dressed families and pretty locations… it’s about capturing that connection. As a mother myself, I know that twenty years from now, it’s the photos that capture the genuine love and emotion I share with my babies that will mean the most to me. These images move me today, and years from now they will continue to transport me back to what I so desperately long to preserve. Each day, each moment is so fleeting. Our children blossom in the blink of an eye. I like to think that when properly captured and frozen in time, an image can take us right back to a time and place and remind us not only of what it looked like, but what it felt like.
When did you first learn this technique? Or, when did you first realize you liked this topic?
My photography significantly evolved three years ago when I began my first 365 project. In shooting every single day I started to get to know myself better as an artist. I started seeing things differently…..Details I may have missed in the past now jumped out at me as critical components of the story. Capturing connection – between my clients, my children and myself, took on a new definition. As I started working these practices into my client sessions I reached a new level of satisfaction with my work. I was shooting better, my clients were happier, and most importantly, I became much more deeply connected with my own work.
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique?
- Be confident. Your clients are nervous too. It helps to put them at ease when you approach the session with confidence. Don’t feel pressured to shoot a certain way. Believe in your own vision and shoot to fulfill that. To capture those genuine moments of connection, it’s ok to start the session and simply say something along the lines of “hang out here on this blanket and talk with each other and pretend I’m not here” or “don’t look at the camera unless I tell you to.” At first they may be unsure of what to do with that, but if you say it will confidence they will follow your vision, and pretty soon you will find your clients relaxing into the moment.
- Give direction without directing. I always encourage people one way or another – I adjust where they are sitting, how they are physically connecting, how they are positioned to the sun….but then I want them to be free to engage in a way that is natural to them. I may offer suggestions to facilitate what I want to see, but the moment is so much more authentic when clients get to it on their own. After I give them some gentle suggestions or adjustments, I just let go and patiently wait for the right moment to happen.
- Focus on the details. One of the best ways to capture genuine connection and heart-felt emotion is to focus on the details – a father holding his child’s small hand, a little one protectively wrapped around his mother’s leg. To most effectively communicate the power of these details, I choose to shoot wide open. This renders the rest of the image very soft and immediately draws the viewer to the detail you long to preserve.
- Pay attention to points of connection. I make sure my clients are connected at all times. Husbands and wives, children and parents, brothers and sisters….any point of connection can help to tell the story and communicate the love between them. The hands are the most obvious point of connection and they are often the most powerful. Pay very close attention to what the hands are doing when you photograph. Other great points of connection are the shoulders, legs, the forehead, and, of course, the eyes.
- Use light creatively. I use light to illuminate the story that I am hoping to communicate with an image. I love backlight and the dreamy feel it gives to an image. When you are telling the story of a mother’s love for her child, having this dreamy warm light spill around them really adds a beautiful power to your image. Alternatively, I love front light with steep light fall-off, especially for black and white images. This high-contrast light is beautiful when converted to black and white and allows you to really draw the viewers attention to the emotion of the moment. The ways you can use light to convey your message of connection is endless. When I am scouting for a session location, I always looks for spots that will give me the option to use light in as many creative ways as possible.
- Be patient. After starting with some initial more traditional shooting, I try to just let go and patiently wait for the right moment to happen. It can be hard to resist the urge to keep shooting away, so I try to give everyone a moment to relax by busying myself by doing something such as adjusting my camera settings or changing a lens. Sometimes just a simple pause can be enough for your clients to let go of the anxiety and tension they inherently carried into the session.
About the photographer:
Jen is a featured on-location lifestyle & portrait photographer serving the Greater Boston area. She is drawn to the light and shadows that color both the world outside and the space within the walls of our homes. Through days colored by all that encompasses raising three crazy beautiful children, Jen uses her lens to relax, to preserve, to honor and to celebrate moments that will be memories in a blink. Jen is also a CPA and enjoys mentoring fellow photographers to help them take their business to the next level. Jen strives to capture honest, emotive and timeless images that freeze the precious moments of today so that they can be aged and savored in our tomorrow.