We have a Christmas tree ritual that Marse started about 4 years ago. We pile the kids into the car (this was my first year without Eegn), drive as far away from the city as we can, get ourselves good and lost, pull into the next Christmas tree farm we find, hike into the woods, argue over the perfect tree, finally hack one down, drag it back to the car, strap it on the roof and head home…fa la la la la-ing all the way. It’s a gigantic pain in the ass but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. To spread the joy, we always go with some great friends and their kids too.
Every year we bring a camera and take some shots of the whole ordeal (ok, Steph shoots, not me) but this year we didn’t. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but we left all cameras home, taking but a single iPhone, deep, deep, DEEP into the woods. After scouring the woods for the perfect trees, we came across another family who I immediately pounced on and asked them to take a picture of us all. “C’mere everybody. Stand here and look at the camera.” 10 smiles, straight ahead, right into the camera. We nailed it.
I get it. I absolutely get it. As a father/husband/photographer, I could not feel more strongly about the need for a good, clean + classic family portrait. I used to be all ‘yeah, yeah yeah we’ll rip through some family portraits at your wedding and it won’t take any time at all.’ Now I’m hollering across parking lots and fields, “hey Mom, get your ass over here, we’re not done yet.” When we get feedback from clients, without a doubt the most common, if not only, request we get for photos is pictures of people looking at the camera. I don’t think we’ve ever had a request for, “hey, do you have that picture of us where you can hardly see us?”
So the family portrait is a pretty simple thing to shoot but carries great weight. A few lights, a few triangles and you’re in and out in 10 minutes. It’s something that we do at every Family Fiction, either before or after the shoot. Look at me. Smile. Click. Done.
Family Fiction is a little different. It flies in the face of conventional family photography in that, at the end of the shoot, the result is one final image. ONE. It’s about quality, not quantity. I’m too old and too stubborn to compete in the lowest priced/highest number of images game. We live in a world where everyone’s last name on Facebook is ‘Photography’ and I don’t see a future in mass producing the same stuff over and over. How can I promise you 40 final shots if only 25 of them are great? Do you want the extra 15 mediocre images simply because you paid for them? That terrifies me and sets my mind into shooting, not for the client, not for myself, but for a number. We cut images based on one rule and one rule only: If a client posts it on Facebook, are we proud to say its our image? If not, it gets left behind. There’s no limit to the number of images you can capture with a digital camera so the current status quo is ‘Pay X amount, get X amount images’.
In the words of James Victore, ‘F*ck the status quo’. Forget everything you know about family photography. This is what you can expect from a family shoot with us!
At this point, most clients go home confused and anxious. Steph and I take a little bit of this and a little bit of that, press the Photoshop button and spend the next few hours colouring inside the lines. I absolutely love shooting these and I love even more the willing families that we get to work with. I know Kevin and Nichole went out on a limb on this one with us…cripes we didn’t even have a background to show them…we just made this whole thing up.
Not to be forgotten, the ‘Classic’ Family Portrait.