I believe in timeless photography.
And by timeless photography, I mean photography that gets to the heart of your subject, without over posing or using props.
While looking through some old files the other day I came across this series of photographs of my kids with Pepper, the first dog we adopted for our boys. The memories came rushing back to me about how they loved this dog. They were so thrilled when we brought Pepper home from the shelter. We had sworn we wouldn’t get a dog until the kids were old enough to care for it themselves, yet we caved because my little boys loved animals so very much.
This is why I love photography. I have my memories, but to see an image from years past is like turning on a light in a dark room. It brings me back to that time, and things I had long forgotten are fresh in my mind again. This, to me, is timeless photography. These photographs represent a real moment in time – with true emotions. Through these photographs I have a strong connection to who my boys were six years ago.
These photographs also solidify for me why I shoot the way I do. My preference is to avoid props that are foreign to a child. If these images contained props, they would have no connection to me as I view them now. Of course I would love the pictures, because they are of my kids, but by capturing a true moment that I can’t get back, I’ve created a treasure for myself. This shows my boys as they were in 2006; barefoot, playing in the backyard, sitting at their red and yellow plastic Playskool table, loving their dog. I know that their feet aren’t showing in any of these pictures, nor is the little table, but to me they are, because when I see these photographs, I’m back in time looking out my kitchen door, watching them play with Pepper. I see everything through the pictures.
Recently I was looking at newborn photographs of my firstborn son. I was so exhausted after he was born (being a new mom has got to be the hardest job in the world) and I had chosen to take him to a photographer so someone else could do the work for me. I vividly remember that day, but for different reasons than I mentioned above.
The photographer was set up in a large retail baby store. I was shown to a card table where I could get my son ready, changed, whatever I needed before the photography session. I was a little uncomfortable setting my precious newborn on a rickety card table, but it seemed sturdy enough to hold his 8 lb body. Once my son was ready for his photographs, the photographer took him from my arms (panic set in but I tried to stay calm) and brought him to another card table to pose him.
The photographer set him in an upright sitting position while supporting his body and head with one hand behind him and one hand in front of him. Then he counted to three, rapidly raised both hands away from my son and triggered his camera and flash using a remote he held in one of his hands. He then quickly rushed his hands back down to catch my tiny baby before he fell over. I just about died. Not only was I not OK with this process, I wasn’t even told how it would happen ahead of time. And of course he had never bothered to ask for permission. You know what? If I had been told, I would have said NO. The photographer then proceeded to pose my son in resting positions with cute props – reading glasses with a book, a ball cap with a ball, etc. While I still love to see my son’s baby pictures, the memories that come back to me when I see them are of the process and stress I experienced to get those photographs. I’d rather remember what it was like to have that tiny baby, like the pictures of my boys with Pepper.
My goal is to capture moments rather than pictures. Years from now, I hope that my photographs bring a flood of good memories back to my clients. They can forget all about me, as long as the portraits I capture fill their minds with loving memories of their childrens’ younger years.
For related information on newborn photography safety, click here.