I love lists. There, I said it. I love to do lists….dream lists…house makeover lists…bucket lists. Lists. Lists. And more lists.
The other night I started running through one of those lists as I looked back on the years of stress, anxiety, jealousy, and hope since picking up a camera and opening up this business a few years back. And I’m here to share that list with you.
1.Sessions are stressful.
They are. No matter how you shake it, the thought of meeting new families, quickly picking up on their dynamics, and possibly herding everyone (and sometimes a dog) to appear relaxed, loving, and happy in front of your camera is nothing short of stressful. I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. While I can’t speak for all photographers, I can speak for myself and I can assure you that no, you are not alone. But I’m also here to tell you…
They don’t have to be.
Here’s why: Think of your session as a chance for your clients to have a play date with each other as a family. No, really. Hear me out. This is the time that you get to take control and remind them that their only job is to shut their brains off. They don’t have to think about the laundry piling up, or the unmade beds, or carpool, or soccer practice, or school projects. (And neither do you!) This is their time. Remind them to forget their worries and soak up the moments they get to spend with their babies, their beautiful children, and their spouse. By giving your clients permission to enjoy themselves, you’ve just opened the door for them to create some authentically beautiful moments that you will be able to capture, stress-free.
2. Your families love each other.
I cannot stress this enough. Your clients really, really love each other. Every time, without fail, the stress and worry of preparing for their session quickly fades and the sweetest moments begin to unfold. There may come a time when you need to direct them into a family pose, but once you relax, your clients will relax and that’s when gorgeous things happen. Honestly, it’s true. The way your clients are completely unaware of the loving gestures that happen naturally is adorable. And you will be right there photographing it in real time.
3. Whatever camera you have is the right camera.
True story. We all get wrapped up in the gear talk. The new Mark IV and it’s shiny new features. The fancy underwater housing. Yeah, I don’t have the time (or money) to stress over that madness. I also don’t want to lug my camera around with me every time I venture outside. You know what I do? I use whatever camera I have available. The majority of the time that means I’m using my phone. It’s lightweight and it’s portable. My professional camera requires lenses, a camera bag, and a whole lot of care. I’m sorry, but I just don’t have time to deal with that. When I’m on vacation and want to pretend to be an underwater photographer, I’m using an old school GoPro. No viewfinder. Just the GoPro, my bathing suit, and some goggles. My point is, use what you have and love it. In the end, you won’t regret taking the photo.
4. Social media is great for being social.
It’s entertaining in a time suck kind of way. It allows you to share tidbits of your life. It allows you to follow your favorite photographers. But you know what? It also creates a world of insecurities. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional, Instagram and Facebook are constant “reminders” that everyone else is farther along in their journey, winning more awards, being hired ALL of the time, or getting another “pro” title. It’s okay to shut it off. It’s okay to turn off notifications. And it’s okay to unfollow. Instead, pick up your camera and shoot for you. You never know what ideas have been sitting there just WAITING for you to tap into them!
5. Not every moment needs to be documented.
Now on a personal note, contrary to popular opinion, not every single moment needs to be documented. I wish I had the child that wanted every minute of his day photographed. But I don’t. And I’m okay with that. Nor do I have the inclination to lug my camera around with me all day, every day. Sometimes, it’s okay to put the camera down and experience the moments as they happen in real time, not watch them happen from behind the camera lens. I’m sure I’m missing out on some beautiful photographic moments, but sometimes, the mental pictures I have are worth every second of leaving that camera at home. Check the photographer guilt at the door and instead, opt to live in the moment. Your camera will be waiting for you tomorrow.
Katie Oblinger is a child and family photographer based out of Atlanta, Georgia. She believes that there is extraordinary beauty in the chaos and undeniable joy in the quietest of moments. She’s the photographer behind the series The Face of Childhood. You can follow her work on Instagram and you can find her portfolio here.