I’m a mamma in Duluth Minnesota, embracing the mess that every day life brings. I’m on a mission to document the spirit and heart of honest families.
Miranda’s tips for shooting spirited family sessions:
1. Feel The Vibes
Children are naturally themselves. If they feel like laughing or crying, they do. They aren’t worried about the appearance of their teeth or ears. It’s already in their nature to be truly spirited. It’s your job to capture that. Play with the emotion that’s already present. Is she being silly? Ask her to shake her hair or twirl. Is the tween feeling serious and less enthused? Let her feel that. You’re an artist. It’s not your job to change everything, it’s your job to generate beauty out of the current situation. Stay connected. One 12 year old girl spoke with me about the meaning of life. As I listened, I asked if I could take her picture. She simply looked at me. I snapped the shutter. There forever. Honesty is always beautiful. Truth will always be attractive. Had I asked her to smile or tried to tell her a in an inappropriate situation the image never would have experienced the depth it has. (note for mozi: speaking of this image)
2. Spend Time Alone With the Kids
I have a rule. I let the child show me her room, the parent can watch, but they have to stay outside of the door and not say anything. Zip. Nada. Not a sound. The parents will follow your lead in this if you tell them ahead of time. Sometimes when the adults are busy, I follow the child when they walk out of the room. The things that they do when the parents aren’t there, that’s when they get into a mess, when they do something a little mischievous like jump on the bed or fill their mouth with too much whipped cream. Follow the child, see what they do. The wild and silly will come out.
3. Guide The Adults
Adults are a little more tricky. We’re worried about the house, our children’s behavior. These emotions translate into stiff muscles and awkward silence. We don’t want to kiss and rub noses in front of strangers. We need help. Sometimes we’re a down right mess. That’s where you come in. Help them relax. Ask them to turn on music or brew a cup of coffee. “Hey Dad, can you whisper a secret to your wife and kiss her?” Leave the direction open ended. You never told him how to whisper or where to kiss. They will put their own spin on it and it will lead to magic as it unfolds. It’s your responsibility to make sure the connection happens, not theirs. Have an idea? Be daring, do it! Have mom and dad lay on the floor or jump on the bed, sit on the counters, piggy back ride, snuggle. Mom and Dad will naturally come alive in response to you.
4. Making Spectacular Moments
A photo cannot be an amazing photo unless there is a “moment”. Something special has to happen to make that image shine. Beautiful light and technicalities will only get you so far. Finding spectacular moments takes a trained eye and a practiced photographer that knows how to wait and watch. I will go several minutes without pressing the shutter, just thinking or spending time in conversation with the family to re-connect and establish the inspiration needed to keep going. Shoot for one amazing moment per session. Then two. Then three. Appreciating the child’s natural wildness and gently guiding adults out of their shells will introduce emotion, playfulness, humor, and depth into your photography, and yes, the spirit-filled goodness you’ve been searching for.