Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, made headlines last week by loudly dropping expletives during a photography session with members of his family and veterans of the Battle of Britain. The video is quite humorous, because you always expect the elder royals to be on their best behavior. Many who have been on that side of the camera can also empathize with Prince Philip's frustration. However, for those of us who make our livings behind the camera, his words aren't quite so funny. "Just take the *@#!ing picture" may even elicit a gut reaction that makes us want to throw down the camera and punch the Prince in his royal throat. After a deep breath or three, we can make all kinds of excuses for his impolite outburst. Cameras are always pointed at him. He never has any privacy. Every minute counts when you are 94. No doubt, they are probably the most photographed family in the world. They probably hear the click of the shutter in their heads as they close their eyes each night to sleep.
Every family portrait photographer has similar stories of "that guy" who refuses to smile and/or impatiently utters expletives throughout the portrait session. "That guy" usually is not rich and famous, is not of noble blood, and only gets photographed professionally every 5 to 10 years rather than every 5 to 10 minutes. "That guy" that we photographers secretly want to punch in the throat also agitates and embarrasses other family members who cheerfully follow direction in order to create an heirloom art piece that forever documents their family story.
How do we keep "that guy" from ruining the portrait experience? Planning and preparation. Photographers are visual storytellers. The more back story we can get on all the characters before the session, the more efficiently we can create images that effectively tell your family's story. When we get inquiries for portrait sessions, we suggest a complimentary consultation in our studio prior to the portrait session. We'll spend 20 to 30 minutes getting to know you and your loved ones, learning your back story, your design style, and your goals for the portrait session.
To quote our friends and amazing photographers, Cris and Deanna Duncan, "The family portrait is a visual representation of what you already know to be true." Let that sink in for a minute. The family portrait we create will be your family's daily reminder of the love, support, trust, respect, and laughter that can always be found under your roof. When you've had a bad day, or family members are at odds, you can look at that portrait and be reminded of your family's truth. Expressing that truth in a photographic art piece takes careful thought and skill. Let us get to know you before the session, and your experience will be fun for the whole family. Instead of "take the ****ing picture", that guy will be saying, "I can't wait to see the ****ing pictures!"