When I say I was excited for this family photo session, I truly mean it! I only met Trinity early this year, but I could tell immediately upon talking to her that she is a beautiful human being, inside and out. This year I have been very intentional about family photography being more than just "smile and say cheese." I have been very focused on telling true, authentic family stories in my photography, and Trinity was happy to go along with my vision. It was also entirely obvious that she and her husband Kenneth are both totally in love with their son Brody, so telling their story was truly a joy for me.
I have recently started building a client closet, so I met up with Trinity to drop off a few dresses for her to try on. We met outside of Wear M Out here in Lethbridge. The last time I had been to that place I was, like her, fairly pregnant with my second and chasing around my own toddler. It brought back so many memories and made me realize how much has changed, and how much hasn't, in the last two years.
That human connection is what I look for
She met me outside, and she shook my hand and said, ”it’s nice to meet you!” with a warm smile on her face. It was such a normal, regular interaction, but it was actually the first time in at least two years that someone had shook my hand. I stood there awkwardly for a moment. I forgot what it felt like. I forgot what it felt like for things to be so normal. I snapped out of it, shook her hand back, and handed her over the dresses.
That feeling honestly stayed with me for the days following our meeting. Human interaction is so much more than just words spoken to one another, it’s all of the gestures and movements and touch that accompany it that brings our language to life. That human connection is exactly what I look for in my photographs too.
When she had a chance to try on the dresses, she sent me photos of the white one, and we began planning her family's outfit around the dress. I love styling a shoot around what mom is wearing because so often moms are the last ones to be thought of. It's my way of sharing my appreciation for moms and letting them be the centre of the show for once, since they so often aren’t.
It was like the universe had aligned and the weather, the temperature, and the wind all came together to create one of the most beautiful February days I've ever lived. The days prior we were in a hellish 100km/hr+ wind warning, but on that Saturday there was barely a hint of a breeze. It was the perfect temperature to be outside in in their chosen outfits too and I was so glad.
I wanted them to just be who they are
As we began their session, I advised them that I wouldn’t be giving a lot of direction. This was intentional because I wanted to step back and let their family just be who they are. I have found, over 14 years of photographing families, that the more direction I give, the more the family stops being themselves. They start acting stiff, and doing things they wouldn't normally do. It's my mission this year to really focus on capturing families exactly as they are, the beautiful, the messy, the chaotic, the fun, all of it.
So often as a photographer I hear of people not enjoying family photos they've had taken in the past, dads especially, because they don’t enjoy being told what to do, or to awkwardly smile and pose. As a result, I am intentionally working on just being present in the moment with them as their photographer. So Trinity and Kenneth's session was a lot of just hanging out, relaxing, being themselves, with a few prompts thrown in here and there as needed. But it was truly a very hands-off approach.
They talked about their hopes and dreams
As we walked down the pathway at Cottonwood Park, I could really get a sense for who Trinity and Kenneth were, not just as parents, but as people. They told me how their families both ranched and farmed. They also explained the difference to me, since I am not from Alberta, and talked about how both are so important. They talked about their lives, and their hopes and dreams for their children.
I could see exactly where Brody got his easy going temperment from (his mom), and where he got his sense of adventure from (his dad). He wanted to explore absolutely every inch of the pathway, and the surrounding areas. He was so excited to inspect grass, and look for interesting finds amongst the dirt. He even at one point found a ball and was excitedly throwing it to his parents.
A smile and a warm hello still matter
He was also very interested in my camera and wanted to come close and see what it was all about. I loved that he warmed up to me right away, it was a reminder that although our entire world has changed, the little things still haven’t. It reminded me that a smile and a warm hello still matter.
So Trinity and Kenneth, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for allowing me to share an afternoon with your family. As you embark on the next part of your journey and welcome your next little one into this world, I hope you can treasure these fleeting moments when you were only a family of three. I can’t wait to photograph you again when you’re a family of four!
If you'd like to tell your family's own true and authentic story, please contact me below. I am currently booking into late Summer and Early Fall of 2022 and I know those spots won't last long!