These photographs of my boys were taken in a patch of unkempt grass, by the side of busy road, in about 15 minutes of fading daylight. A family member had asked for some photos of my kids wearing white shirts. The white shirt look has never been my thing, feeling simultaneously formal, dated and a bit contrived. So I grumbled inwardly, but complied. My boys grumbled outwardly, but complied. They don’t mind being photographed, but they didn’t much like the matching-white-shirts either. I said they could bring other shirts to change into, and that we would goof around after the white shirt images were finished. I delivered a “lets make the best of it” pep talk and off we trudged to a patch of weeds near our house.
And then something really wonderful happened. I showed them where to sit, and I backed off and I waited. Conversation started. And giggling. And then laughing and bumping and talking and leaning and hugging. I quietly took pictures.
After a little while, I spoke up and told them that I loved them, and I got this:
And a moment later back to giggling.
A quick change into the clashing plaid shirts.
Then they wanted pictures with some left-over Halloween mustaches.
The mustaches didn’t work very well. One person found this funny while the other did not. Some grumpiness ensued. That was the end of that. In 15 minutes, I took some of my favorite pictures of my boys this year, because they show what really matters.
The authenticity of my boys’ connection.
The easy laughter and natural touching.
The beautiful light.
The way I feel when I look at these images.
What doesn’t matter:
What they were wearing.
The busy road nearby.
The messy hair, dark glasses or malfunctioning mustaches.
The touch of grumpiness.
When I look at these photos, I am there again, sitting in that field, feeling the same feelings of amusement, pride, love and connection that we were feeling then.
This is the secret I want to share with you: The most meaningful images have nothing to do with your clothing or a pretty background or whether your kids have clean faces or perfectly polished smiles during your photo shoot. Photographs that really matter happen when you can move past the veneer, open up your heart, and allow yourself to wear your feelings like a pair of comfortable old jeans. This is what I want to capture for each of my clients. Because I promise that if you can show up ready to truly and authentically connect with your family, the images I make for you will always be a lifeline back to what matters most.