I’ve had this blog post kicking around in my head for a few months now. It’s the culmination of a few years of reflection, frustration, and a general love/hate relationship with shooting families.
Let me explain.
When I started shooting back in 2010, I wanted to shoot families exclusively. I’m an only child and grew up with parents who just didn’t take a lot of photos. Granted, I was the most awkward child ever from the ages 7-17, so maybe I should be thanking them for that! Most of my family photos consist of me awkwardly placed between my mom and dad with a morose look slapped across my face. Honestly though, I would have loved to have more photos of us looking happy as a family unit.
As a kid, I would have killed for a vacation in Hawaii. We spent lots of summers at my dad’s hunting cabin (where he would have to run in and take down the nudey posters before I entered the house) in Michigan’s upper peninsula. It was a six hour drive from our home near Ann Arbor and it was filled with the ABC game and the Johnny Horton tape on repeat (bonus points if you know who Johnny Horton is!).
The most exotic vacation we ever took was our trip to Disney World where my dad had to sell his classic car so we could afford to do it. That vacation still sticks out as one of the best I’ve ever had with my family. We laughed and enjoyed Disney together – just the three of us.
So going into photography, I really wanted to help people remember their family dynamic at whatever stage they were in. Maui is such a special place and I loved the thought of families traveling here and enjoying the island together.
Playing on the beach, splashing in the surf, having meaningful interactions with one another: THIS is what I want for my families.
It has always been my vision.
But in the past few years, I find myself leaving many family sessions feeling defeated and sad.
And I think it’s my fault.
No – I can’t control a family’s dynamic.
I cannot control if the kid had a nap that day or if Dad really isn’t on board with the session.
I can’t control if Mom really wants her daughter’s hair to be perfect even though it’s crazy windy.
There are so many things that I can’t control about a session.
But there is one thing I can control: how I shoot families and managing expectations.
We live in a picture-perfect society. Every day we are inundated with images of smiling families with flawless complexions and muffin-top-free waistlines. The kids look well rested and spry. The parents look like they have it all: the career, the perfect children, the fat paycheck that lets them vacation several times a year. I get it. The pressure is there.
But, guys, there is more to life than having it all. And those families that you see in the media: it’s all a farce. No one is perfect. Including you.
And there’s something to be said about embracing your kids AS THEY ARE. And embracing YOU as YOU ARE.
To choose to focus on where your family is in this moment instead of who you WANT them to be. There’s a huge difference.
Because at the end of the day, your kids will remember how you made them feel, not how perfect the image is. They will remember mom and dad jumping in the ocean with them, playing with them, loving on them – or they’ll remember the opposite.
It’s YOUR choice how your children will remember their family photography session on Maui.
Moving forward, I will be limiting my family sessions.
I want to be sure that the families I work with are on the same page as me and share the same vision.
If you’re looking for the perfectly posed photo with everyone having perfect smiles, perfect skin, perfect everything – I am not the girl for you.
And that’s OK. There are other Maui family photographers here that are. It’s just not me. At the end of the day, I want us all to be happy!
Let me be clear: on the whole, I have enjoyed the families I have worked with immensely. I am on the brink of becoming a mother myself and it’s amazing to see so many positive interactions between my clients and their children. AND it reinforces the fact that YES you can travel with your children!! (my Midwest roots tell me that my travel days are over…but my clients really inspire me to get out there with my future kids!)
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope we are a good fit for your Maui family photos. If not though, it’s totally cool.