Soon after Luis and I started dating (3 months in, to be exact!), I had him join me at a mini session with Sara Montour with the point of my getting images for a new branding announcement that summer. I brought a dozen sprinkle donuts and milk and we had a blast! Luis came in for a few shots (after Sara's gentle prodding) and for as comfortable as I am in front of the camera, he is not. He's a behind the scenes - behind the lens kind of guy and I love him for that! Looking back at those images, I am so grateful that Sara pushed Luis into the limelight for a few seconds, because now, we have these fun, light-hearted handful of images together at the very beginning of our story.
Later that year, I kept seeing all these styled images popping up over Instagram - fellow photographers drinking coffee on their couch at home, playing with their kids in the backyard, holding their cameras all cutesy and enjoying wine on a patio with friends. Basically, they were LOVING LIFE and having it professionally documented. I kept thinking there was some kind of big secret or trick behind this. Surely, these talented photographers had put their cameras on a tripod and mastered the art of the selfie in a big way.
When I met and started a friendship with Duluth photographer Amanda Cane of JaneCane Photography, I quickly realized we were kindred spirits. Mostly because she dumbed a lot of things down for me and smacked me over the head with a few others when it came to business: those photographers? THEY HIRED SOMEONE to take those beautiful photos! Another photographer!
Hold the phone for a second: a professional photographer with talent, education and professional gear PAYS someone else with the same credentials to do the job they can do, simply to document their story in an authentic and candidly real way ... and to self-promote. I felt like such a dummy for never realizing it before! But once I realized it, I was totally in :)
And suddenly, Luis and I were moving in together and I felt ALL THE FEELINGS about this big huge moment in our life together. I called my friend Jen of Jen Meneghin Photography and she came over to our first home together, to document us eating breakfast and riding bikes. I'm grateful for those images, since we ended up moving to a different area and different apartment soon after we did the session with Jen. Plus, we incorporated Luis' love of biking into the session - and since then, his adoration for bikes has grown even more!
Approaching our two year anniversary, Luis and I trekked to Duluth in February, on the coldest day of the winter to do an in-studio session with Amanda. We immediately connected with Amanda over our quiet, loving dudes being paired with loud, big dreamer photographers :) Luis and I left that day, being reminded of how much we love each other and cuddling in front of the camera is something that looks so natural - even though if we were to listen to the soundtrack of our session, it was filled with nervous laughter and Amanda's amazing laugh.
We went back to Duluth last fall to adventure through Chester Creek and an amazing lookout spot with Amanda. Our session went into the evening, when we shared a meal and beers with Amanda and her fiancee Drew. We left that night, turning to each other and saying simultaneously, "those are good people. Those are OUR PEOPLE."
With each session that we do (and Luis endures!), I'm grateful to have our story documented in photos. Of course, we have endless selfies and funny slo-mo videos documenting our big and small moments, but nothing compares to the physical prints and albums we have in our home.
Someday, our kids will grab the red album off the shelf and point and laugh at our goofy 2 year anniversary session or ask Luis where the green bike went from the black album. They'll laugh at the way that I trekked through a waterfall with heeled boots and made french press coffee in the woods (which was really, truly, a parking spot!).
These images, these stories, are the stories that fill our life and they document how our love has grown and changed through the years. Thankfully, gratefully, we have what feels like an endless group of friends who are talented photographers and beautiful souls who we can ask to come to our home, join us for donuts and coffee and a bike ride.
And guess what? I believe those friends should be paid for their work. Because I believe I should be paid for my own work, doing the same for my fabulous clients. Because sure, I could set up a timer and we could be our goofy selves, but I think there's something so rewarding and revealing about seeing your story in the lens of another person. All of these photographers have different styles and different personalities and DIFFERENT EYES.
Being vulnerable in front of another photographer's lens allows me to feel so clearly the process that my own clients go through before their sessions with me. I'm grateful for this vulnerability because it allows me to pinpoint how I can shift my process to give them more details beforehand and more direction in the session. But that excitement I feel when I get that "your photos are ready!" email? I hope my clients feel that same level of giddiness!
Whether they are big or small moments, your story deserves to be documented for you in the right now and for future generations in the times to come.