It's true. When it comes to photographing your family, you are the best photographer.
Photography is more about connection and story than it is about technique. Surely, knowing a thing or 27 about light and camera settings makes a difference. It is far more important, however, to illicit a response from a photograph. It's much more important to be able to lead someone to an emotion.
You can do that better than I because you have intimacy with your family I do not.
I've been teaching and mentoring more than I've been the sole photographer for families, and it feels right. Being able to sit down with a family in the hospital over coffee, tea, and a tray from the cafeteria to talk about how they can tell their stories - their individual stories and their family's story - is a wonderful thing. We talk about basics. We talk about creativity. We talk about storytelling. They create with me alongside them while I encourage and ask questions.
Teaching in this way is more about proposing a concept and exploring different paths rather than saying "this is how to do this."
What I see in these families is confidence. It's respite from worry and fear. It's joy, love, and lightheartedness. It's curiosity.
And when they see what they have created, it's stunning. They make striking images because they have so much to say. Because it's hard to find the words, sometimes it feels like the message or the story isn't worthy.
It's there. All it needs is a way out. It needs a tool. Photography can do that. You can hold a camera and release a shutter.
This image was created by a nine-year-old boy who was an inpatient at the children's hospital. His family had brought several items from home to help his room feel personal. He photographed every little thing he could find. He also photographed the collection of shoes from his parents and siblings. They kept changes of shoes in his room so they could be comfortable when they visited.
What story do you have to tell and when will you begin? I'll have an online course as well as an in-person workshop coming soon to help you document your remarkable, exceptional family.
I see a lot of incredible moments of the human experience while being with families in love and grief. From each family I learn, and those lessons and points to ponder are what I wish to share with you here.