June 10, 2023

Connection - The Key to Creating Meaningful, Emotional & Authentic Photos

Family Photography, Family Photos, Equine Photography, Equestrian Photography, Rebecca Drimmie Photography

What is at the core of my photography work

Lately I've been thinking about what is at the core of my photography. I've also been thinking... what do I want to be at the core of my photography? What is a common denominator across the different genres of photography I do? What do I want to define me as a photographer?

To me, the most important things in my life are my family & my animals. I started photography by taking photos of my favourite people & places - the things closest to my heart. I think connection was foundational in the beginning of my photography, and still is to this day. I started this journey capturing what means the most in life to me, the things in life I felt most connected to, and my goal is to do the same for my clients - whether it's capturing families or equestrians and their horses.

Connection can show up in so many different ways in photography. Connection to people. Connection to animals. Connection to each other. Connection to a place.

After years of shooting, my portfolio has a fairly consistent style to it through editing, what lenses I use, and the locations & backdrops I choose to shoot at. But beyond how my work looks, my goal is to have a consistent feeling across my work. No matter what I'm shooting, I want to be capturing the connection that I find in front of my lens.

When I was starting out, I used to spend hours looking for poses for family & equine shoots. As I photographed more sessions, I realized the poses were less and less important. I started to have a mental list of prompts to use that helped create pictures I loved a million times more than any poses I had used before. I think this was the beginning of focusing less on what my photos looked like, and more on what they felt like.

I want to help anyone I'm photographing feel comfortable in front of my camera. Usually, I start any session with movement. I get my families walking together down a path or across a field, back and forth a couple of times. Most families I photograph aren't used to being in front of a camera, so movement helps everyone loosen up and adjust.

I run the rest of my sessions using gentle prompts. No matter what set up I have a family in - standing, sitting or moving - I keep everyone as close as possible. I think physical closeness is so important in creating connected photographs. I'm always asking families to put their arms around each other and squeeze in close. I also love playing with eye contact. Throughout a session, I'll tell families to look different directions - sometimes everyone at each other, just mom & dad looking at each other, or everyone look at one person etc. I still do photos where everyone is looking at the camera, but having variety in my direction helps create organic moments to capture. Getting families to do a variety of different prompts also makes having your photos taken so much easier, and creates a space where I can capture families authentically.

The same principles apply when I'm photographing people & their horses. I love including movement in my equine sessions, which can make really interesting & dynamic images. With horses especially, so much of our time with them is spent in motion. Getting people moving around with their horses, on the ground or in the saddle, captures so much of the connection we share with them. When shooting still images, I use the the same prompts I do with people - using physical touch, getting close, variations of eye contact. There's so much emotion and connection we share with our horses that can be photographed & captured in the exact same way I photograph families.

So ultimately, I think connection is what I hope is at the core of what I do. Now, more and more, I let go of trying to force a perfect looking photo, and instead look for moments that feel perfect in a photograph. I don't want my pictures to look perfect. Partly because no family, person or connection is perfect. But mostly because I want pictures to feel perfect - to feel like they capture who you are, who your family is, & what you love.