An early happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there (including my own)! With the upcoming holiday this Sunday, I wanted to pose a challenge to you for your next family portrait: why not take a chance on a day in the life family photography session?
A day in the life session documents your family life, as opposed to a simple portrait that only scratches the surface. By extending the amount of time in the portrait session, you and your family gradually forget about the camera so that your real life shines through. Every little smile, frown, kiss, and yes, even tantrum is captured so that you have a solid documentation of this moment in your family’s life.
Start with an event and let the session unfold on its own from there. One of my clients, Sara, did just this with her son Luca’s last trip to daycare. You may remember Luca from his second birthday celebration and how much he enjoyed cupcakes. Sadly, Sara and her husband moved to the west coast last year. Sara loved New York City, and one of the special moments for her had been taking her son on the subway to daycare. For our day in the life session, I started at their apartment and captured Luca as he got ready for his day: putting on his clothes, brushing his teeth, and of course, eating breakfast. One of the most touching moments of the session was seeing Luca say goodbye to his father when he left for work.
Sara treated the session as just a typical day. After getting ready herself, we headed out the door to Sara’s workplace with Luca in tow on his razor scooter. Down underground we went, and without causing too much of a ruckus to my fellow New Yorkers’ commute, I took photos of Luca for the two subway stops until we arrived downtown. When we finally got to daycare, Luca was not ready to say goodbye. It took many hugs and kisses, plus some bribery with new toys before Luca was ready to go play with his friends.
I first learned about day in the life family photography by seeing the work of Kirsten Lewis. Her photos have an amazing authenticity to them and the moments she captures simply can’t be achieved during a basic one-hour portrait. Her method is to spend up to 12 hours with her clients actually living in their home during the time of the session. She works as unobtrusively as possible, an never interferes with the family. No direction, no discipline to the children – just raw emotion and reactions.
I will admit that spending 12 hours with a family in a typical NYC-sized apartment may be a bit tricky. To achieve this same level of intimacy with my New York clients, I might recommend a shoot of four to six hours that centers around a few events: making pancakes in the morning, a walk to the park, maybe feeding the ducks, and then lunch. The idea is to give you and your family enough time so that you forget that the camera is there. It might be a bit unorthodox – even scary – to let your guard down in front of the camera, but the moments captured are so real that it’s worth it.
If you are interested, I would like to offer a four-hour day in the life family photography session for $995. This is a new type of family portrait for me, but one that I sincerely hope catches on. Day in the life family photojournalism completely encapsulates my mission as a photographer. I want to tell your story, and there seems no more real way to do so than with a day in the life family session.
If you would like to see more images from my portfolio, then please visit my website — KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com