There is a big trend in photography now that I like to call the “Anne Geddes” shoot. Parents drive their babies and children (and even high schoolers) to a studio, get them dressed up, cover them in fake props (gaudy headbands, necklaces, hats, etc. that do not actually belong to the child in question) and take their picture in front of a variety of canned backdrops.
You have seen these pictures – babies sitting in baskets or boxes and playing with items that usually belong to adults. There is a weathered wooden “floor” and perhaps a paneled “wall” behind the child. These pictures are very cute, and often nicely done. I have nothing against the photographers who do them or the parents who pay to get them done. I understand the appeal.
But I would submit that these pictures are lacking something: MEANING.
Imagine 10 years from the date of such a photo shoot, the parents take out the prints and are looking through them with their kids. What memories are there to discuss? The only “memory” behind such pictures is the memory of dragging the child to a studio and trying to coax a smile out of him or her. The basket or necklace or hat or headband is not a treasured family heirloom, or even something the child wore or sat on more than that one time.
When I take time to look at photos with my children, what I like best about the pictures is remembering that moment in time; that phase of their development; that stage of our lives.
I remember them playing with their own toys, many of which we had to leave behind in our move. I remember the ways they used to play alone and together.
I remember how they snuggled together without prompting.
I remember the playgrounds we no longer live near.
I remember the messes they made.
I remember when they were tiny new babies, the blankets we used to swaddle them in, the onesies they wore on a regular basis, the way their baby hair really looked before it changed so drastically.
I love the pictures I have of my kids because the pictures depict actual memories. Being a mom is pretty draining on the brain, at least for me. Without these pictures, there would be a lot of experiences, picnics, precious moments, and happy days that would have already been lost amongst the clutter in my brain. Those are the kinds of pictures I want to take for my clients: pictures that capture a genuine slice of your life. If you want pictures of your kids dressed up wearing hats and necklaces and sitting in a fancy chair, I want the hats, necklaces and chair to belong to you. That way, when you look back at the pictures in 10, 20, 40 years from now, you will recognize the items your kids are wearing/holding/sitting on, and the pictures will be meaningful.
That is the kind of photographer I endeavor to be.