Can I make a confession? This is a little embarrassing, but here goes. I’m scared of photographing adults.
There, I said it. Maybe there’s some kind of self-help group I can join. The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?
See, for the past year or two, I’ve focused almost exclusively on shooting kids. I love kids, connect with them well, and can make even the grumpiest toddler smile. Give me a 2-year-old boy who is determined to have nothing to do with this crazy photographer lady, and that’s where I really shine. But then when it’s time to shoot a few pictures of just mom and dad together? I clam up.
“Ok, stand over here. Good, now put your arm around her. Smile… ok, great. We got it!”
Yeah, that results in some really creative pictures…
The thing is that kids are wonderfully free in front of the camera. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and are not self-conscious in the slightest. This makes capturing genuine, authentic images very easy for me. But adults? They often have some discomfort being in front of the camera. They’re thinking about how their hair looks, how they wish they were a few pounds lighter, how awkward this feels, how they hope these photos won’t be posted on Facebook before they get to see them… There’s a lot of internal dialoge going on that can make capturing relaxed, natural expressions more difficult. Great photographers know how to help their clients get past this, though. They help them feel comfortable and pose in flattering ways and connect with each other and the camera. I just haven’t spent enough time photographing adults so I know this is not my strong point.
When I found myself with a free Saturday morning recently, I contacted a couple who had agreed to model for me, so I could get some more practice shooting adults. I knew I wanted some unhurried time just to try different things, experiment with different poses and angles, all without the pressure of a normal paid session. Jenn and Mike were the perfect couple for this. Jenn is a photographer herself, so she’s familiar with the process, and Mike is very used to having a camera in his face at all times. We spent a few hours together, with a few mad dashes back to the car to warm up in-between poses (it was COLD!!!) and finished up at a coffee shop warming our frozen fingers. I love what we ended up with, and I have to say, I feel MUCH more comfortable working with adults now. Although I’m still getting used to the fact that they do everything you say and don’t run away or burst into tears at the drop of a hat…
I also worked in some video footage and created this short video for them. Jenn and Mike have two kids and have been married 9 years… I know their kids are going to love having this record of their parents’ love to look back on someday.