I spent the long weekend supporting and then celebrating the birth of my BFF becoming a mother to the most beautiful baby girl. The day after she came, we took the kids to meet the baby, and I grabbed a few shots of the new family of three in the hospital, enjoying the new sensations and moments those first day had in store for them. And while many in the photography industry would call that type of ‘session’ a ‘Fresh 48,’ (definition: a newborn session done in the first 48 hours of life, often at the hospital for those who don't with to have a birth photographer but still want those very early days captured,) I simply call it documentary photography. And today, I want to speak to that difference in language for just a moment.
Here at Haven, you won't find 'portrait/maternity/newborn' sessions, 'Fresh-48' sessions, and I don't do 'Lifestyle Photography.' Now, I hope it's obvious that there is nothing wrong with these titles. They are the industry standard for a reason and are easy to identify and understand quickly what kind of service a photographer is offering you, regardless of their personal style. Using them helps photographers get web traffic and book sessions, and if I used them, I won't lie, I'd probably be busier with more work.
I know my lingo can be confusing. I call all my sessions, no matter what they are capturing, Haven Sessions, and I like to be described as a Documentary Photographer, not a Lifestyle Photographer. These changes are subtle, and I don't really expect those who have not gone stood to bare witness to my creative journey the last few years to really easily adopt this change in language. Still, I will keep emphasizing the change for a few reasons:
First, I want to encourage a change in people's minds about what kind of life events are worth hiring a photographer to document. My passion and gift is helping people find beauty in the every-day and sometimes even mundane. Seeing these moments as worthy of capturing and sharing has completely changed my perspective on life, and I want to pass on that gift. Let's not put forth some kind of impossible standard of the lifestyle you live in your home, as if every day is a good day. We all know that's not the case. Instead let's document the good day, so that you're reminded every other day of the bigger and more beautiful picture of your life.
Secondly, I believe that words like 'Portrait,' 'Maternity,' and 'Newborn' all represent a style in the photography community that I personally want to get away from. If I were to use these words, my friends and clients come to me with a certain expectation of the product they will receive. However, you’ll find very few props hanging around my studio any more. No plans for styled sessions in my inbox, and no standards for my ideal clients and their look, sticky-noted on my wall. If you're looking for the latest trend in Portrait sessions of any kind, you've come to the wrong place. That's not what I do. Instead here you will find a safe place to share about the places you feel safe in the moments that change our lives, and we'll capture you there.
I'll never be able to say it enough, but my ideal client is the person or family who is willing to be honest. Honest with me, honest with my camera, and mostly, honest with themselves about where their Haven is.
There are a million and one photographs in the world, and each of us has a different perspective and a different lesson to share with our clients and friends and followers. Many inspire , innovate, and create beautiful images. I’m not trying to say that any of that is bad, or that I don’t want to inspire, innovate and create myself. But I want to go on a journey, capture the heart and inspire honestly above all else. I’d love to share that with more and more people, because it’s not just my soap box, it’s my conviction. That photography should exist to reflect the beauty that families and miraculous every-day moments inherently have is what I want to be all about.
So, I’ll keep responding to confused emails, and praying that the right clients come my way because they can see my intention through the marred and different language I use. I’ll still try to be bold about walking away from those clients I know I can’t please, and trying to break through with those who I know really get it. And I’ll always be working to communicate in a more clear and concise way.
But mostly, I’ll still be putting forth the kind of moments I think contain the most beauty, like an unexpected afternoon jaunt throughout the backyard sprinklers.