As a season often marked by gatherings around a table - to eat, drink, laugh, share, remember, it's here that our memories are often born and shaped. So when I received an inquiry for holiday portraits for an extended family of four siblings with one in-law sibling & child + two cousins along with their grandparents, I had an idea to literally begin around a table with them sharing stories of holidays past.
As I try to consider ways to cultivate natural connections, this felt like a format that would help ease any awkward tension (particularly at the very beginning of a session) and allow me to slip into the background. As it was, I found myself asking questions and listening along to their stories, looking for angles which showed the details in their grandparents home and offered insights into the larger story - particularly given grandparents in their early 90s. So my belief is that this family will remember this day as one of laughter and sharing stories along with family photographs... from the youngest with tangible views of his little self and his great grandparents & their faces filled with the love and pride and gratitude that lives in their hearts to the grandchildren who can perhaps think back to other years and other times along with this fine day.
I will end by saying that I look for ways to offer an experience that extends into and beyond the photographs. While I seek the emotion that naturally surfaces when we are comfortable, I strive to offer clients an experience that is meaningful and memorable AND enjoyable. And as the idea I used here was visualized for a book - photograph on one side, a memory story on the other - it is one I'm going to offer more frequently for extended gatherings.