I am very lucky that I have the option to work 2-3 days a week and have the rest of the week with my kids. I don't take it for granted. My work fits around them quite nicely and it's a choice that I am very happy with as it works for us. However it does mean that my learning has been slow and steady compared to some others that I know who work more frequently. It also means that I have to allocate my training budget wisely! have had a lot of training since I decided to be a photographer. I have had training on general photography, newborn posing, light and colour, maternity posing, studio lighting, family photography, editing, marketing, business, SEO and much more.
I recently attended a workshop with an amazingly talented photographer called Anya from Anya Maria Photography. I booked it around 8 months ahead of the date, so I was very excited, it felt as though it would never come around. The thing that has always drawn me to her work is the emotion that you very clearly see. Whether it's happy / sad / tender / fun you always feel something. It feels as though there isn't a camera and that you're just watching people do what they do. This to me is what makes a family photographer amazing. It so easy to get into a cycle of focusing on getting forced smiles facing the camera, because that is what parents normally think they want. But ultimately, don't we want to remember the natural smiles, the tickles, the piggy backs, the chases, the moodiness, the love? I know that's what I love about my family photos.
Needles to say - the workshop couldn't come quick enough! I just love her work.
I have always had specific goals for workshops - to learn certain poses or how to create something specific in photoshop but this time it was quite different for me. There wasn't anything I had pinpointed like that on my list. I just wanted to watch her work.
I wanted to see how these 'natural' images get created.
Photos below give you some idea.
It was such an amazing day for me. We watched her do two newborn sessions, one maternity session and one family session. Four sessions in one day is a lot for any photographer but not once did Anya make the models know she was tired or hungry. No stress was felt from the minute they were present. It was all about them, putting them at ease, helping them to be themselves just by being relaxed and taking the pressure away. She was their friend immediately. She was warm and they were happy.
Although I already knew this was key, It has really made me think about how I can really focus on making the experience for my clients a) even more stress free but b) really enjoyable. Having your photograph taken can be such a daunting task and it's a big investment, so there is a lot at stake; I know, as I have had it done a few times now since I've had kids. What shall the kids wear? Will they look ok? Will they moan about the itchy label in their top or the new shoes and have a meltdown? Will they like the photographer? Will the photographer make the effort to get to know them? Will my husband hate it? Will the photographer make the kids feel at ease or get cross if they aren't up for it? Have I got over dressed? Am I under dressed? Have i got enough snacks to keep them happy? The questions in your head are endless! Going forward I really want to try and help my clients feel that ease from the moment they book, without fail. I want it to be nothing but exciting! I have started putting together ideas on how to do this and implemented some already.
I also found the whole experience really liberating. There was no fuss. There was attention to detail, but the reason she gets the images she gets is because there is no fuss. I am constantly seeing different images and ideas that I like or photographers work that makes me think woooooah...I wish that was me! and although it can be fun to experiment and feel inspired, it can also be a bloody distraction from your end goal. Especially when you don't have bundles of time. So the training has also really make me consider what I want my end results to be. Do I need any props? No. Do I need beautiful floral or dramatic locations? No, not necessarily. Do I need a picture perfect studio? Definitely not. All I need to do is have light, a family that feel completely comfortable with me and the skills that I have spent so long nurturing. I need to put all of my energy into capturing what's real and focus on the little details that really count, like how the light falls on the things I want to highlight or what angle certain expressions can be seen best... If I can just focus on those things and forget about any fuss / background / set up the photos will speak for themselves. That's why Anya's photographs are magic. I have known this for a while but as I say, it's easy to get distracted.
I watched her spend time taking in the babies, engaging with the children, asking the couples about each other, it is all so important in building that over all picture. It's easy to take photos of people but the key is to photograph the personality within. We only have a small amount of time with our clients so I need to give them my all in order to get the same back.
Anya truly believes that you should capture what you see, as it is. Her love for what she photographs shines through in her images, her website, her Facebook posts. You can only have that if you are being true to yourself and what you love. So much of photography these days feels contrived, even the more 'natural' styles can.
For the direction that I want to head, I have realised I too need to be authentic. I need to be more 'me' in everything I do! I'm a really sentimental, family focused person and this is what should shine through. I really love real, happy, family photography. I want my images to speak for themselves and I need to believe in what I am photographing (all of the time) for this to happen, I want my clients to be spoilt for choice on which photo makes the wall and not focused on picking the one with the child smiling straight at the camera (although, yes sometimes I love those ones). I want people to come to me because I get their family and their quirky ways and they trust me. That's the type of photography that I really love and I need to be true to myself and focus on that. I think that's the photography that my clients are starting to love more and more too.
So whilst I didn't need to learn lots about my camera or my editing (I did pick up some really great tips though), I feel like I have come away with a really focused plan for 2018. One that's 100% focused on TRUE family photography. December is my month; I am going to be giving my website an overhaul, I 'think' I am going to do a rebrand and I am going to change the format of some of my sessions to allow for some new ideas I have, that will be focused on getting to know my clients before and during a session.
It's something I have been thinking about all year but now I have so many exciting ideas I can't wait to share it with you soon....
Watch this space!
P.S Here are a few images i have taken post Anya's workshop, if you are interested.
Check out Anya's work here www.anyamaria.com
Please get in contact if you like what you see email@example.com 07970 612867