For me, each photo shoot is a unique adventure. I never want the people I photograph to simply stand in front of my camera with a blank smile. Rather, I use my photojournalistic style to incorporate movement, emotion, and most importantly, story, into the frame. This is why I would encourage everyone to think of photo shoots as an interactive experience, not just as the resulting flat picture.
To illustrate this new way of looking at photo sessions, I want to introduce you to Rae and Al. These two have been married for 50 years, believe it or not, and their children just gave them a photo shoot as an anniversary present. I met Rae and Al at their daughter, Marisa’s, wedding three years ago at the Alger House. We got along great, but there was still a bit of nervousness on Rae and Al’s part at the thought of having their portrait made.
I started off slow with just having Rae and Al walk past a building or cuddle in to one another, but soon enough they were dancing and dipping all over the place. It was a challenge to get comfortable, both in front of the camera and with one another in a way that focused solely on them, versus focusing on the kids and grandkids. Not that these two don’t see each other every day – especially since Al has now retired – but during the shoot they got to see each other from a new perspective, specifically through the objectivity of my lens. Rae and Al worked together to make each other look good and feel good in the shoot, and by telling stories and jokes we turned a somewhat scary photo session into date night. Indeed, by the end of the shoot Rae and Al had rediscovered a spark within themselves and the results were red hot.
The shoot was essentially a trip down memory lane for Rae and Al, as we stopped in spots dear to them both, starting with the quaint Washington Square Mews just outside the park. From here we walked through Washington Square Park and then meandered down Waverly Place and Gay Street before finally winding up at Trattoria Spaghetto where Rae and Al celebrated the end of their shoot.
If you are considering a photo shoot as a gift for a family member or for yourself, I would encourage you to think of the shoot as a verb, not a noun. That is, for one hour (or more) of time, we will get together in a great location, find some wonderfully flattering light, and then have fun doing something that brings a smile to your face. I keep posing in the strictest sense to a bare minimum. Rather, I am documenting you both as you engage with one another: walking hand-in-hand, telling each other the story of how you first met, or even enjoying a glass of wine together. It may be a bit out of your comfort zone, but that’s the challenge and that’s the point. To get a really good photo, you have to bring your entire personality into the picture. Standing and smiling won’t do the trick. You have to interact with each other (and with the photographer), and that’s why you should think of a photo shoot as an experience.
If you would like to see more samples from my portfolio, such as these photojournalistic portraits, please visit my website — www.KellyWilliamsPortraits.com