Gasp! Did I really just say that? Yes, yes I did. Why, you ask? Because a couple of weeks ago I was personally reminded where the power of photography truly lies.
The power of photography is not in the pictures; it’s in the time you give your clients to spend together. It’s about giving them the excuse to ink in – not pencil in, but permanent-marker in – quality time on their calendars. Time together that bans the phones and to-do lists and allows them to let the rest of the world go blurry. It’s reminding them how it felt when he first held her hand, spurring the memory of how they fell in love, and getting them lost in a hug. It’s showing that they could be anywhere in the world right now, but exactly where they are – together – is the best.
Between a busy Saturday wedding out of town and a final grocery run before the Youngrens’ two-day workshop arrived at my apartment here in Chicago on Monday, I asked Jeff and Erin if we might be able to squeeze in a little portrait session to celebrate my boyfriend’s and my anniversary. Always gracious, they said yes and suddenly I found myself on the “wrong” side of the camera. It was from this role reversal that this post was born. After shivering for a solid couple of hours as we walked around the West Loop (because I had picked out a great new dress and was not going to cover it up with a coat, despite the Chicago wind!), I suddenly found myself the recipient of a lot of cuddling; the crisp fall air mixing with the smell of chocolate is now deeply ingrained in my brain. I also managed to ignore my phone for a couple of hours, as our quality photo time turned into a quality brunch time. The intentional time we took one seemingly random Sunday morning turned out to be completely changing our day. What had been about to be hours full of checking off items on a to-do list became a stroll through a new neighborhood, feeling spiffy in our “dressy” clothes. It wasn’t until that morning full of nothing but paying attention to each other that we realized how much we fill up the time we spend together by doing other things. Whether we’re catching up on episodes of Dexter (what can I say, we’re real romantics! 🙂 ), quizzing each other on musicians, or playing Yahtzee there is always something else going on. The photo shoot, when we got to focus on ourselves, brought us back down to what’s really important.
We haven’t seen the images yet, but I know they’ll be powerful reminders of the time we spent, and the lessons we were reminded of. When we take that kind of intentional time out for each other, then (and only then) can the images that happened to be the “reason” for that time mean something. Then your client will be able to feel the crisp fall breeze on her face when she passes that portrait in the hall, despite the fact that all the hot water ran out in the shower midway through the shampoo. Then, that album on the coffee table becomes a storybook and trigger for memories sometimes lost in the shuffle of everyday life. Then, what was simply a canvas over his couch becomes a time capsule back to a perfect moment. A moment they can feel in their bones and a moment that can always continue to remind them of the perfect love that started the new, or not so new, life they find themselves in.
Photography has power only if our clients can feel the image. It’s our job not only to create art, but also to create a reminder for our clients of the fleeting moments they might not even notice anymore. A reminder that can be looked at on the days when the alarm doesn’t go off and the kids decided to make breakfast on their own. If we are able to not only create an image, but a lasting memory of a love felt deep down, then seeing the reminder of that memory might negate the broken alarm clock.
When we approach photography with the recognition of its power (not the techie-kind, like the stunning new composition you can make with the Mark III), we might just stand a fighting chance of not only connecting with our clients but allowing them to connect with each other – and feel that connection years past their time with us.
Rebecca never knew she wanted to start her own photography studio until it started to happen. She captures authentic emotion between couples, families and friends by providing them the space and time to slow down from their busy lives. Based in Chicago, Rebecca looks forward to using her passport a lot more and helping others freeze the fleeting moments that ultimately shape who we are.