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 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.
Luca’s Trip to Daycare
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. Sara treated the session as just a typical day. I started the day at their apartment and captured Luca as he got ready for his day. Never one to rush into the day, Luca began by engaging his parents with his toys, eating a few snacks, and an outfit change. Let’s just say it takes a village to put on pants with Luca. Dad had to rush off to work, and there was an extended set of goodbyes before Luca had to make his final exit.
After getting ready herself, we headed out the door to Sara’s workplace. Rather than walk, Luca’s preferred mode of transportation is his trusty scooter. Helmet on, Luca led his mother and I onto the 1 train as we traveled down to Tribeca. The other subway riders luckily found us to be an amusing sight and not too much of an annoyance.
We made it to Luca’s daycare, which is conveniently located in Sara’s office. Though normally a very happy kid, Luca put on a good show of missing mom before she left. The prospect of playing with a solar system puzzle and midday snacks served as a welcome distraction, and Luca’s smile returned. One last kiss to mom and Luca was off to play with his little friends. I’ll miss Sara, Hugh, and Luca when they move to California, but it will be great to think of Luca scooting around on the west coast with his shades on!
Day in the Life Photography Sessions for New Yorkers
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.
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.
I have had the pleasure of photographing little Luca several times over the years, and I have lots of photos to share with you. Check out photos from his second birthday here and from another family portrait session here.
Interested in scheduling your own day in the life photography session? Drop me a line, and let’s talk about scheduling.
If you would like to see more images from my event photojournalism portfolio, then please visit my website – KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com.