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If You Can’t Shoot Your Family Who Can You Shoot?

If You Can't Shoot Your Family Who Can You Shoot?

Seriously, as often as you might think about shooting family members, or they you, it often turns out to be quite hard to pull off.  I guess I should be more clear so no one misunderstands….I am talking about taking nice portraits of adult family members.

For me, and probably for you, family members can be a real challenge (aka pain in the butt) precisely because you know them so well and you bring along too many preconceived ideas about how they look, or should look. Sometimes you are too aware of their personal insecurities, whether it be a big nose, crows feet, expanding waistline or missing teeth.  Sometimes that knowledge will make you shy away from shooting freely. The other fly in the ointment is that family members, unlike the public, will often be more vocal about how they want you to depict them. This happens to me and it leaves me paralyzed creatively.

Jon in the garden

So, the other day, my husband Jon, god bless him, comes to me and says that he needs a photograph of him to be used in a publicity poster for an upcoming recital. Of course, the graphic designer needed the image last week, it has to go to press today, and right now the light sucks, but can you do it? Right now? Sigh…..ok.

So here are the images I started with – him in the garden. As if bass players always hang out with their 150 year old instruments in the garden! Awkward, but you have to start somewhere.

Next, we move to a more architectural background, better, but still not what I’m looking for. At this point I am trying to turn off my awareness that this is my husband with a very last minute request, and think about what is the crucial part of the image. Things get a little better, but still not quiet “it”.

After reviewing the previous images I drag him out one more time because I now know what I want – the bass, the hand playing and a somber mood. A far cry from my husband in the garden, so a bit of effort rewarded us both with an image that I am proud to have on the poster.

Later,  I’ll do one in the garden again, use the healing brush on some well earned frown lines, remove a few grey hairs, and send it to his mother!


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