In all the years I’ve personally used a Professional Photographer, not one has really taken the time to get to know about me or my family that s(h)e will be photographing. I also admit this wasn’t my practice when I first started out either. But it dawned on me…how am I going to truly connect with my clients to pull off a candid lifetyle shoot if I didn’t know much about who they are? Look, I’m not talking about making them write a full on autobiography. I’m simply referring to asking a few questions that ask their likes/dislikes, hobbies, interests, and personality traits that will help me understand how to capture them.
I hated walking in totally blind to who I was going to meet. I wanted to know kiddos’ names, ages, favorite toys or songs. I wanted to know about the dad’s interests, what he does for fun and where he likes to go on weekends! I mean come on…the Dads matter too! Often times I feel because we family photographers mainly market to the moms/women, the dads/husbands kinda fall to the wayside! So now I email over a short questionnaire (which asks questions to the mom AND dad) along with my session agreement as soon as a client books with me.
I love getting to read about my families. It makes it so much more personal. And it makes the session run much smoother! Within these questionnaires, I will often pick a location based on where the family loves to visit (unless they have their heart set on a specific area). Or I have them bring props based off their interests. Take this family session for example that I shot at Aliso Beach. The dad mentioned he’s been learning guitar and loves to play, so I asked him to bring it. Then his daughter mentioned she loves photography (definitely a girl after my own heart) hence the shots with her adorable polaroid snap touch! Knowing these details ahead of time really allows me to encourage the right props and create a space for the right vibe and mood to unfold. The session becomes more reflective of who they are individually and as a whole family. Which is what a lifestyle shoot really is about.
You’ve probably read how I hate to pose people. If not, it’s written all over my website. That’s to repell the people from hiring me who want me to tell them what to do in each snap. No thank you! Contrived photographs are not my style and I’m very unapologetic about that. Of course I guide you and may even ask you some funky questions to get you laughing. But I know I’ve done my job if you can walk away with images that look authentic and feel very personal to you! Afterall your photographs tell “your story” not mine!