FAQ- All about Real Life Sessions | Moncton Real Life Family Photographer

You’ve asked, so here it is: a post dedicated entirely to ‘Real Life’ family photography. Find out more about why it’s got me hooked and get all the info you need to see if these shoots are the right fit for you. To see some goodness from Real Life client sessions: click here.

Why did you start offering Real Life Sessions?

Honestly? Although I had happy clients and was making pretty pictures, I used to kind of dread family shoots. Each client gallery looked too similar and the process of making a staged experience look natural was zero fun. So, I set out to document families in a radically different way: as they really are. Celebrating the messy, incredible, subtle, complicated, precious, colourful, mundane and hilarious thrill ride that family life is has fuelled my creativity like nothing else. It’s reminded me why I love photography so much and given my clients such precious insight into the beautiful life right under their noses.  As a mom who is about to celebrate her baby’s first birthday (and barely keeping it together, FYI),  I know first hand just how fast it all goes. While I can’t take credit for inventing this approach to family pictures, I’m thrilled to offer Real Life sessions to parents who share my heart for freezing time.

How are Real Life sessions different from more well known ‘Lifestyle Portraits’?

The key difference is that the Real life sessions are led entirely by the family- not the photographer. The photographer becomes a participant in the household’s day to day and documents it from the inside out- without guiding the activity at all.  The shoots often revolve around a home base, happen regardless of the weather and thrive on the unpredictability (and chaos!) that goes hand in hand with family life. No two sessions are alike because the goal is to preserve what’s unique to each family and the focus is on real moments- no posing, no props, no ‘perfect time of year’ needed. That means that you can expect a gallery of emotionally rich, authentic and intimate images that tell a story: your daughter beaming with pride as she lands a cartwheel, your son’s sly smile as he feeds the dog broccoli under the table, your kids bonding (or melting down) over the latest video game, your spouse not-so-subtly squeezing your butt as you prepare lunch together. No matter what happens at these shoots, the photos will show the personality of each family member and the true ambience of your home. This differs from the more typical  ‘Lifestyle’ portrait process where clients-usually dressed in their cutest coordinated outfits-are guided to an attractive outdoor area and given a variety of posing cues to encourage interaction.

Does this mean that Real Life sessions can’t happen outdoors?

Not at all! Just like sometimes Lifestyle sessions are conducted at home. It just means that when we do venture away from home, it should be to a place that has meaning to your life. For example: the park down the street, your usual Saturday market run or the family’s favourite walking trail.  It’s less about finding a photogenic spot and more about going to a location where you typically make memories together. Plus, as I touched on above…Real Life sessions are more about what and who then about where.

Won’t the photos look terrible if we aren’t posing for the camera and told what to do?

Think about your most cherished photo memories for a sec. I’m willing to bet it’s not beloved because it’s a perfect photo or has a stunning background. Is the subject of the shot even  camera-aware?  It’s probably a favourite because it makes you feel something, remember someone or takes you back to a special moment in time. With that in mind, my primary concern when shooting is is not aesthetics or perfection- it’s emotion. Does that mean that I don’t think photos can/should also look good? Of course not, in fact…I work hard to create images where beauty and emotion collide in the same frame- and trust me, that happens more than you could ever think.

Will you tell us how to pose? We are not really comfortable in front of the camera. Also, what do we wear?

These are trick questions. If you are asking me these things and feel they are very important for you to love your photos…this sort of session is probably not what you are looking for-and that is totally fine! I can recommend some awesome lifestyle shooters who can offer exactly what you have in mind.

The whole idea here is that there is no direction on my part. I won’t interfere with the action that is unfolding at all. I won’t ask you to smile for the camera. I’ll move around constantly and will often wait for the perfect moment when it all comes together. You’ll be the ones creating moments naturally as you go about your day. So wear what you want, do what you please and most of all…be nothing but yourself at all times. That’s when the photo magic happens! So if you don’t usually wear makeup: don’t. If you feel most like yourself in 3 inch heels, go for it. You do you!

We are excited for the shoot and love the approach…but…is it ok if we want you to grab just a few posed photos during our time together? 

I want you to be happy, so the answer to that will always be ‘YES’. (I get it: you also need that Christmas Card shot or a framer for the grand-parents.) When clients ask to do this, we usually do them at the very end of the shoot or the very start. That way, the rest of the session can unfold with the documentary spirit in mind for best results.

How long are the sessions?

I  offer two different session formats: a mini session (up to 2 hours) and a half-day shoot (up to 4 hours). Let’s chat to figure out which one will work best for you. Additional hours are available to create the perfect custom package for your needs. Get in touch for complete package details and pricing.

 Is this type of shoot only relevant for families with young kids?

Nope! While I think that this format is fantastic for preserving life with little ones, there are obviously many other instances where a the real life approach works wonderfully.  Fur-families, the snuggly newborn stage, couples old and young, grown kids, only child households: it’s all worth capturing and can be a lot of fun when done in this style of photography!

A typical day at our house is a so boring, there isn’t much going on.

I know that it may seem like there is nothing photo-worthy happening at your house most of the time. BUT…I bet if you thought about it a bit more, you would realize that you do so much in the run of a day. Whether you are making breakfast, bathing your kids, nursing, building forts, folding laundry, preparing a meal, kissing a boo-boo or watching TV together…there is a story to be told and all those ‘nothings’ add up to full days and years worth of memories. Thing is, you are often too busy to slow down really see it.  Not only can an outside perspective better appreciate it, but a photographer’s eye will tell the story beautifully. I can honestly say that I am always moving, waiting and thinking about how to frame the action (or lack thereof) so that you can see how much love fills your home.

Our life is busy, will you tag along?

Conversely, if you are a family on the go, that’s cool too. I can follow you to ballet lessons, soccer games, piano practice or the grocery store! This is about showing your life, so I am game for anything. Wherever your crew goes, I’ll follow!

We love the idea of a shoot like this, but our house is a disaster. 

I hear ya. It’s a little intimidating to have someone your barely know see your mess and crawl around your floors. Instead of focusing on your decor and fretting about the 100 lego pieces and a few dust bunnies that are lurking under the furniture, think of this: these are the visual cues that mean you are raising tiny humans in your home. One day, they will be all grown up and you’ll be able to buy a white couch and have it all look ‘together’ for more than 2 minutes. Right now, that’s not what your life is about, it’s about so much more. I encourage you to embrace the chaos and resist the temptation to try and make everything look perfect because you’ll want to look back on this time too, sticky fingerprints (everywhere!) and all! I’ve been in all kinds of homes on the clean-dirty spectrum and have shot in both magazine-worthy and messy under-construction spaces: all that doesn’t matter: that’s not what these photos are about or what the lens will be focusing on.

Won’t it be weird?

The short answer is ‘yes’- but only for the first five minutes. There is nothing normal about having someone follow you around with a camera. Let’s just all agree on that! However, I assure you that it will get less weird as you get used to me being around. Some people are more social and want to chat with me as I work. Others like to pretend I’m not there entirely. It’s up to you, I just got with the flow. Either way, no two families are alike and I will make myself as low or high-profile as needed and participate just enough in the goings-on to make you at ease and capture you honestly. For those who are looking for the experience and intimidated by the length of the shoot, the mini session (2 hours) is perfect.

 

 

What if my kids are having a meltdown?

It happens and it’s nothing to worry about. Kids are wonderfully unpredictable and as a mom, I get that. We’ll just make the most of it. Can I be honest though? In my experience, kids respond wonderfully to this sort of session format because it’s designed to be a relaxing experience for everyone. Your littles will be happier because they don’t need to sit still, pose or smile for the camera and you’ll also enjoy not having to bribe and wrangle the family into cooperating. That vibe means that everyone is more likely to not only be themselves, but also have a good time.

We are not sure what the best time is for this type of session? Do we all have to be home?

A great time to plan a ‘Real Life’ family shoot is when your immediate family is going to be home and it’s best to make an effort to include the whole family as much as possible. Weekends are the obvious choice, but these sessions be booked during holidays, long weekends, after-work hours or during your vacation time. Keep in mind that family gatherings or big extended family visits are not ideal for this type of shoot. I’ve found that the dynamics of your immediate family will likely not be true to your everyday life when many other people are present, and that’s the idea behind these shoots.

 

We don’t know you, can we meet before our shoot to make sure we are comfortable?

Of course!  That way, you can ask any questions you might have and I can meet your kids and get to know you all a little bit. You’ll all be much more relaxed if I’m not a stranger on the day of the shoot and the photos will reflect that. If an in person chat is not possible, I’m happy to FaceTime or Skype!

We live outside the Greater Moncton Area but would LOVE to have a session.

I do love to travel and anytime I can mix work and play, I jump at the opportunity. Let’s chat and see if we can work something out while I am visiting a city near you. If there is enough interest in your area, let’s talk about me making a special trip.

We’d love a session, but would prefer for our images to be kept off the web. Is that possible?

Obviously, I appreciate any opportunity to share and spread the word about my services but there is no pressure to do so. My main concern is always the comfort and happiness of my clients. So, if privacy is your preference, I do understand and respect that choice and can ensure galleries are password protected for increased privacy in addition to keeping your photos of my website, blog and social media feeds.

 Got more questions? Let me know and I’ll add to this FAQ! Can’t wait to book, right this way!

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