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"Hey, do you shoot families?"

November 19, 2008

I get this question a lot, especially this time of year when the idea of the holiday card suddenly looms.

The answer is yes and no.

I do shoot families, but I’m not a “white shirts and jeans on the beach” person. Nothing wrong with that shot, and there are PLENTY of folks who go that route, clearly evidenced by the multitude of houses where I see this style of image prominently displayed.

This shot is tradition around these parts, so I get it, but as a photographer when I see that shot it just leaves me a little flat. It’s predictable. I’ve seen it, and I’ve seen it many, many times.

I think “white shirts and jeans” is sometimes the shot that people think they are supposed to do, but perhaps not what they WANT to do. But, any excuse to go to the beach is a good one, so whatever, just next time go for a zebra shirt or a mesh tank top. Or how about the entire family with those fake arrow through the head gags? Mix it up people!

These two images are from two recent family shoots, and I just heard something very interesting. I just spoke to one of the folks in these pictures who happens to have one of these images on their wall at home. Someone asked them today, after seeing the image hanging there, “was that a magazine shoot?”

Ahhhhhh. NOW we are getting somewhere. Not that a magazine shoot is the be all end all, in fact, in today’s world, most of the time, magazine shoots are less than sensational, but the IDEA is what interests me.

They also mentioned that it reminded them of pictures of the Kennedy family. Aahhhhhhhh, again, now we are getting somewhere.

As you know if you read this blog, I recently posted about Bill Eppridge and his monumentally powerful reportage of Robert Kennedy and his family, from his political race right up until the minute of his death. So when I heard this…I was pleased to say the least. THAT is what I’m going for.(No, I’m not BE, his work is unique.)

Yes, the family is there, and so am I, but I’m not really there. Know what I mean?

I want real. Plain and simple. I don’t always get it, and sometimes I don’t even try to get it, depending on what people want, but for me, it is always the ingredient that produces the best image.

And, these pictures are simple. These pictures are straight. A little dodge, a little burn, but VERY little. No need to even sharpen.

Quality of light, framing, layering, etc, that is all I’m going after, but it ain’t easy people.

You might look at these images and feel flat, which is fine, to each their own, but for me they are a success.

Not all shoots are a success, something I learned to live with a long time ago. Do documentary work a few years and you realize reality places it’s giant foot on your neck from time to time and you leave a shoot with less than nothing.

It’s okay. This is how we learn. Don’t fight it, it looks bad, and you can’t make up for it with layer masks, retouching or soul-glo filters.

Just wait and do it over again.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    November 19, 2008 4:26 am


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