I have the greatest respect for multiple birth parents. One baby is life altering. Two must rock your world.
Like parenting twins, photographing them is also exponentially challenging. Fortunately, I think my photographic style gives me an advantage in the challange. Because I am interested in real life, I love a photograph of a crying baby as much as I do a smiling baby, and I am not consumed with getting a pre-determined shot that may not come, I am liberated to simply create and enjoy the challenge.
Of course, parents, will generaly stress out about the photoshoot because they have paid for my time and have certain pre-conceved notions about what a baby portrait should look like and what kind of shot they want to get. But, my advice to every parent, weather they are hiring me, or just trying to photograph their own children, is to simply go with the flow. Never force the photograph, and let it become what it will.
A twins infant portrait is the perfect laboratory to prove this hypothesis. In this case, I arrived at the home in the late evening and the mother and father know me and trusted what I was doing, so there wasn’t a lot of stress over the photos. Of course, this is crucial to the success of the shoot. If mom is stressed, baby will be stressed.
The first thing I tell parents is that we are going to keep shooting and get lots of great images and that babies are cute, no matter what they are doing, so relax and let’s just have fun, even if the children are crying. The other thing that I do to maintain the relaxed atmosphere is to plan enough time for the photo shoot. If the baby needs to eat, then we need to take a little break and I can take photos of the babies toys or talk with dad. Rushing the parents or the baby, will only end in failure.
With plenty of time and a relaxed mom and dad, the stage is set for a successful photo-shoot, but the most important element is the understanding that I am there to photograph children as they really are, smiling or crying, and that gives me the freedom to concentrate on the photographs that I am making.
Some people are not comfortable with this concept and want to control the final outcome, and there are some very good photo factories that are perfect for that. A parent can go to the mall and choose from the catalog of props and sets and have a photograph of their child in a chefs hat in a cooking pot and they will walk out with the print they saw in the catalog, with their child in the pot rather than the model baby. It is something akin to keeping buying a frame at the store and pasting your kids faces over the happy people in the stock photo that came with the frame. It is very predictable and the people who work at these photo factories know the menu and they know the recipe for this shot and that. It is predicable and safe and there is nothing wrong with that. But the parents who come to me for portraits are interested in something special and unique to immortalize their child. They want something real, something that means more than just a cute portrait.
Coming into the home, allows the child to be photographed in a unique environment that is filled with memories and spirit and as I use this natural surrounding, the child is placed at ease and more importantly, nothing is a prop, because everything has meaning. And by discarding those pre-conceved shots and just taking things as they come, we are all open to letting things happen and enjoying the experience. And we still end up with some of those cute traditional photographs, but without the stress. However, I will always maintain that the less planned images are always the best.
It certainly is not a predictable way to photograph a child, but children aren’t predictable anyway and in the end, no one can doubt the outcome. The images are full of emotion, humor and joy and are extraordinary portraits that will be cherished forever.
Of course, you can judge the results for yourself.