When I first started photographing family sessions, I used to stress so much about how my photos looked. I've always been a bit of perfectionist, so this is not a total surprise. I would spend a lot of time looking at poses and different set ups online, trying to find ideas to bring to my sessions. There are basic photography rules that go into making objectively good photos - things like what settings to use, composition, lighting, etc - all of which are very important. But learning to photograph people as they truly are in front of your lens, creating moments, and capturing connection & emotion, is an art form in and of itself.
Obviously I want to take the best photos I possibly can, and ones that my clients will love. But as I've grown as a photographer, I've let go of trying to make images "picture perfect" all the time, and instead leaned into how I can create a safe space for the memories and moments I want to capture.
Anyone can experience the stress of wanting to take perfect photos. Even if I've let that stress go for the most part myself, sometimes clients can feel it coming into a session as well. Focusing on perfection is innately stressful - the complete opposite of how I want a family session to feel. Especially when we have kids & dogs at a session, things can feel a bit chaotic. What's key is trying to let that go and leaning into the moment. Don't stress - I will still get that "money shot" where everyone's smiling at the camera. But also I think the absolute best photos of people have an element of candidness to them. I think how someone feels while having their photo taken can shine through in the image. I've learned that energy I bring to a session and how I direct things can have a huge influence on the vibe of a session. When everyone's relaxed and having fun, that's when I can capture the meaningful & joyful images that are my favourite to take. They don't always follow the "rules" of photography - but that's usually what makes those images so special.
Clients hire me for a gallery of family photos as the end result, but I think the experience of taking them is just as important. When you think of some of your favourite photos throughout your life, chances are they're tied to some of your favourite memories. Even if our family session is just another day for your family, I want our session to be a memory to look back on.
A great picture is one that makes you feel something. Usually, great photos being great have nothing to do with what they look like. To me, great photos are ones that capture a moment, a memory, or a favourite feeling. My goal as a photographer is to create galleries that clients will love. But this goes so far beyond how the photos look, and really is all about how a gallery makes you feel. A gallery I'm proud of is one that feels like it captures your family perfectly and shares a piece of your story. I don't mind if my photos don't always look "picture perfect" - in fact, I think I prefer that they don't. If a picture makes you feel something, then to me that is a perfect photo. <3