I think that one of my most favorite things about photographing new clients (besides the actual day of running around and playing, of course) are the moments leading up to the session. I have my new clients fill out a quick questionnaire and we set up a time to discuss the details in what I call the pre-session consultation. I get very excited about this part, it’s the building blocks to beginning my relationship with them. I’m not going to lie, the questionnaire is for me. I want to see how you describe your children and your family life together from your perspective, so when we discuss during the consultation, I can learn as much about your family as I can beforehand. That way, on the day of, it’s more like meeting an old friend than a new person we feel like we need to “perform” for.
Meet A. and L.
Holy stinkin’ adorable, right?
What I first learned about A. and L. was that they were twins, I did not know if they were identical or fraternal. From the questionnaire, I learned that A. is shy but who loves to smile coyly, and someone who can express loud showmanship (singing, dancing, etc.) when comfortable. L. was described as a little moodier, sometimes appearing aloof, but when engaged can be sillier of the two. A. and L. were described as happy, loving kids who love to sing, give hugs and run. I adored that mom described one of their favorite activities at the beach was to “tempt the waves to touch their feet”. There was something about that statement that really stuck with me, and I knew I was going to have a lot of fun with this family.
During our pre-session consultation, the connection I had with the family was clearly there. As the topic of wardrobe came up, my first suggestion usually is something that will either turn people away from me or draw them closer, so here it is: Please do not dress your children in matching outfits.
Mom’s response? “No, I wouldn’t do that because they have such different personalities and they don’t even look alike.” Score. LOVE HER. Now before I get everyone all hot and bothered over the matching outfit thing, I’ll just clarify that I don’t mean if you got them the “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” onesies when they were babies. It’s cool, I get it, and I’d probably do the same thing. I’m talking about when your children get older and develop their distinct personalities, I believe that putting them in matching outfits actually stifles them.
I believe in celebrating differences as being unique individuals, not drawing attention to their commonalities.
After learning that I’d be working with such differing personalities, I really wanted to capture their spontaneous nature and celebrate it. The photo above really shows two children who are loving and happy kids, but look what happens when I worked with them individually:
This is who they are, absolutely no apologies. Kids are honest and accepting just being themselves. As adults, we can learn a lot from them. Why is it that we grow to accept ourselves less? As adults and especially as parents, we need to say “This is who I am. Love me for who I am, no one is perfect and I am enough.” Only when we are accepting of ourselves can we be truly happy.
I knew I had to work with L. a little more differently than I had with A. to build that trust. Being an introverted child myself, I felt like L. and I were kindred spirits, and it wasn’t before long that she gave me this:
Asking A. about her favorite things to do at the beach, was engaging enough for her show me how she loves to collect sea shells:
Doing what they love to do:
The lesson here? Learn from your kids. Being able to accept yourself as a parent despite not having all the answers is really where it all begins. As soon as you start to celebrate your differences, you can begin to truly accept it within yourself and others.
What a world we could live in if we were just more accepting.