This is a scam. That was my first thought when this client contacted me for a family photo of thirty people. Not because it wasn’t a lovely opportunity, but because requests like this from people who find me on Google are often scams – usually requests for a large family group. I’ve learned how to sniff out a scam pretty quickly, too. I’ll send a reply to open the conversation with some “get to know you” questions. In response, I get an e-mail full of promises to order very large and expensive prints without any mention of the questions I’ve asked. It all sounds too good to be true, and it usually is. So this time I decided to stomp out the scam as quickly as possible by sending my prices right away instead of just opening with small talk. You see, as a full-service photographer, people are sometimes surprised by my prices because they are used to just paying for an hour and getting digital files. However, my prices include full-service benefits: consultations, a fun personalized experience, professional editing, quick turnaround, last-for-at-least-100-years gift prints, and more print credit on top of that toward the other conversation starting products I offer!
“That sounds great! I’d love to talk more,” was the reply from this inquiry.
That was not the response I thought I’d receive. Maybe this wasn’t a scam… After the initial consultation, I realized this was something I was going to look forward to very much; and I wasn’t disappointed in the least!
During our consultation I learned that this young man wanted to gift this family portrait session to his mom for her birthday. He said his family used to gather all the time, but it’s been a few years. In fact, the last time they had family photos taken was at least twenty years ago! It was his wish that this portrait session be a catalyst for his family to get back together again. He loves his family, and he misses spending time together. As usual, we went through my product samples to get an idea of how he would use the photos (because that helps me know what to shoot at the session), and then moved into finding a time and location that would work in March in Indiana (think bare branches and unpredictable weather). We settled on his mom’s church, and I promised to contact the church and get their permission.
Side note: If you are looking for a church on the east side of Indy, I can highly recommend The Caring Place! I’ve had lunch with their Connections Pastor (we’re now friends) and attended the service before our afternoon portrait session.
To prepare for the session, I usually send a brief questionnaire to the client to get a scope of the personalities involved in the session. My client diligently filled out all thirty names and how they were related to him. For the personalities, he simply answered, “Every single type.” He wasn’t kidding! As the thirty members of this beautiful family arrived to the church lobby that afternoon I saw quiet and shy, loud and proud, suspicious, excited but nervous, take charge, helpful, distracted, silly, serious, extroverted, and introverted (just to name a few). One common family trait I saw in all of them: resilience! And freckles… But the resilience stood out more.
I gathered everyone to the couch and chairs where I was going to pose them and explained what the process would look like. Adults tend to watch the kids to make sure they kids are looking at the camera; but then the adults aren’t looking at the camera. I like to explain that if they keep watching the camera, I’ll take responsibility for getting the kids attention. I also explained with a group this size (and so many little squirmy ones), it will take a number of shots and cheesiness on my part to get enough shots to head swap in the editing process later. They will be hot and tired standing that close together, but it will be worth it.
And it was. Because after the formal large group shots, I captured more of their personalities as they hung out together in smaller groups. The laughter and banter and smiles made it very much worth it!
I also loved that I got to use the little bit of sign language that I know with one of the aunts. Granted, it’s really not much. Her daughters did a lot of translating for me, for which I am very grateful. I know how isolating it can be when you don’t speak the same language as everyone else in the room (having lived overseas). I made a point of not ignoring her just because she couldn’t understand me, and I suspect that went a long way in her smile opening up more genuinely in the photos I took of her.
That’s what I love about what I do. I try to take the time to see people, and not just take their picture.
After I reviewed the photos with my client in person, he was excited to regather with his family to review the photos with them. Actually, the photos were the excuse. He was excited to regather with his family.
What “family” has it been a while since you gathered? It could be time to regather. Find a reason. Regather.
See more photos…
- Posted by hellobabs
- On April 16, 2022
- 3 Comments