My sessions are long. You’ll probably be kinda over me by the time I actually leave (that, or else you’ll be ready to give me a Thanksgiving dish assignment).
For years I tried to make my sessions the industry-standard 90 minutes, but I was just never overly excited by the collection of images I got in that amount of time. I wanted a series of images that told a story, that had highs and lows, that included both naps and trampoline-jumping, belly laughs and fury tears. I wanted something more real and more complete. But I was always left feeling like it took people an hour and a half just to loosen up and not worry about there being a camera in their face . . . and as it turned out, telling a story sometimes takes longer than an hour. So I finally just decided my photo sessions were more like story sessions and they
How it works
We start with an in-depth questionnaire—what’s important to you, what food has significance in your family, what times of the day matter most. After we’ve talked about your answers we make some decisions about where and when makes the most sense to do it. And then I show up!
The Story Session is essentially me following you around for an afternoon. Whether you is just you, you and a partner, you and some kids, you and a dog, you and a partner and some kids and some dogs-- whatever you and your family look like-- the goal is always the same-- to create a collection of images that capture your typical, beautiful, monotonous, sticky, love-filled life.
Sessions last about three hours. There is minimal posing but a tad bit of nudging; mostly I let things unfold organically and we follow the natural course of your evening- the dog at your feet while you prepare dinner, kids fighting over who gets to be what action figure, you and your partner flashing each other a knowing wink. Mixed with pictures of the sky, dirty laundry piles, close-up portraits, and details of paws and hands . . . we’ll definitely take a few standard “family photos” in there, but that I hope to create a snapshot of this particular moment in time.
I like to do things in the late afternoon on weekdays because that tends to be the best light and represent a typical day, but there are always reasons why those things might not be the best for you, so
Where to do it
I used to look for beautiful places to take family photos, but I eventually began to notice the images I always loved most were the ones at home. They were the ones that included a very worn-out lovey, a grumpy nap time wakening, bare toes on a kitchen floor covered in toast crumbs and paw prints; they were the ones that held an ease that can only come from being in the very spot that gives you refuge; they were the ones that showed life within walls, movement within stillness, love within a house; they were the ones of home.
Now I’m obsessed with home—my home, your home, the idea of home, the power of home, the mess of home, the comfort of home, the quiet corners of home. . . So much of life happens at home. This is where all of our stories begin, and as a storyteller, it’s the place I find most significant.
I of course won’t say no to photographing you in a golden vineyard or a fog-drenched beach (and there’s frequently times when that makes more sense for various reasons), but there is nothing more beautiful or meaningful to me than the moments that happen at home. This is where the enormity of the universe meets the brevity of life. It’s where the tiniest fingers fiddle with legos and the oldest with knitting needles. It’s where days trudge along while years pass too fast. It’s where hearts are broken and mended. It’s where meaning lives. That’s why my preferred photo session is simply an afternoon of hanging out at your home, together with your people, doing whatever you do.
That said, there is usually time to throw in another spot that’s close by—the park, fro-yo joint, pizza place, sand dunes, or whatever your hangout spot may be—in order to document another little piece of your
How to prepare/What to wear
Stories have the power to . . .
Photos by Akos Major.
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