Do you know I left my first professional portrait session feeling nothing short of sick? It's true, and what's more I'm grateful for it, because that experience lead me to my core belief in the power of a genuine narrative.
My brand, personal and professional, is hinged on my unwavering belief in the power of authentic storytelling. I have some Native American Indian heritage, so maybe the tradition of storytelling is bone deep for me. At any rate I believe that stories, well told, have the power to preserve, to empower, to heal and to connect. And I believe that real stories trump “perfect” ones every damn day of the week.
A few years ago, just after Mila was born, we had a family portrait session. The process was unremarkable. At the time I was on leave from a career in corporate marketing. I’d always appreciated photography and loved taking pictures for fun but never with any technical know-how. I’d studied film and psychology, so while storytelling was in my blood, a career in photography wasn’t on the radar.
I remember our viewing session. We sat in a darkened studio and were sold images that showed our beaming faces, once sleep deprived and wrinkled, now miraculously Vogue cover smooth.
We’d received a complementary session, so we were here to choose our free 8x10 print or take the opportunity to upgrade. Eventually we agreed on an image of the four of us. $950 later we’d purchased a single framed wall print.
Just that one image. No additional prints or digital copies of this or any of the 30 other photographs we’d been shown.
We left feeling utterly sick.
Three weeks later I went back to pick up our framed print. I noticed that the studio owner (a master photographer) had signed the artwork, despite the fact that he had not actually taken our photographs that day.
Now don’t get me wrong. This is a truly lovely portrait. The kids look super cute, we look young and 1000% less tired than we are now. So it still hangs on the wall outside our bedroom.
But it doesn’t tell a story. It’s not a memory. It’s not a shared experience or a preserved slice of life. It doesn’t say anything about us as a family, other than the fact we managed to co-ordinate our outfits reasonably well that day. It’s simply not authentic in any way. From our over-smoothed skin to the fraudulent signature adorning it.
And there in lies the rub.
Ask any one of my friends and they’ll tell you that I’m a pretty straight shooter. I love pretty things and well co-ordinated fashion. I drool over Scandinavian styled homes in house-porn magazines and I feel at my best when my roots are the same colour as the rest of my hair. But I’m real. I like to just shoot the shit with my friends over a big glass of wine, and I feel more comfortable in Cute Casual than Sunday Best.
For me real always beats perfect.
And that’s why, when I started this business, I knew that what I offer has to feel authentic. Sure it’s gonna be pretty (heck yeah it’s gonna be pretty!), but it’s also going to be true to the families I’m working with. An enjoyable session where we create authentic, playful, sentimental, personal images.
I believe in the power of storytelling. And I believe that no matter how messy, complicated, big (or small) life feels right now, your family’s love story is worth telling. So what are you waiting for? Get in touch.