Saturday, July 16, 2016

Conquering Fear


"You must do the thing you think you cannot do"
 ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Last Saturday I did the thing that I was certain I could not do - a family portrait session.

My friend Jill has been asking me for a few years to do some photos of her family. One of her sons lives in North Carolina so the window of opportunity is not open often. I always declined, stating that I don't shoot people. I like landscapes - things that don't move and aren't concerned with how they look in a photograph. But Jill never gave up, having more faith in me than I had in myself. This year when she asked, I finally said yes, which probably surprised her as much as it surprised me. I knew it was time to conquer one of the last big things that scared me in photography.

I told her though, if we were going to do this, I was going treat this like a professional portrait session. I had Jill over to my house a couple weeks before the session so we could view poses from the board I had been pinning to on Pinterest. Once we picked poses, I did a screen shot of them and put them in a folder that I then emailed to her so she could continue to review and share with her family. I have no idea if this is how a professional portrait session begins, but I know this is what I would want if I was the client.


The day of the session dawned overcast, cooler, and windy. Two out of three isn't bad. The wind was the problem since we were taking these photos at the beach. I kept praying for the overcast sky to stay, we weren't taking these until later in the day, and if the sun came out I would be shooting into the sun. Of course, shortly after lunch here comes the sun, and it was still windy. Because of the wind and the high water level of Lake Michigan there is very little beach to stand on. In the shot above, they formed their line and then backed into the water. I am perched on the side of a ten foot dune drop off to get the shot. You learn the most when you have challenges, and I definitely learned. I still have a lot more to learn before I begin to feel comfortable in this arena.


We all had a great time, and I am hopeful that as many memories were created in the process of doing, as were created in the actual photographs. I know that they will remember me standing in knee-deep water with waves reaching upper thigh to get this shot of all of them sitting on a wooden deck that had been buried under the sand until this year. Next year the deck could be gone again, and the little ones will be even bigger. Time keeps moving forward so it is good to capture the memories and the moments now. 

20 comments:

  1. It seems that you did an excellent job of this rather large family group. I really like the first shot which looks so natural, but of course the second shot shows the faces and all the lovely children! Well done for conquering your fear and doing something new in photography!

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  2. Beautiful! And what a gorgeous family.

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  3. Way to go, Sarah! Challenging situation, great results. I love the first shot, too - it's a perspective I've never seen in a family photo shoot before. I can imagine that one illustrating a story or article. The one where everyone is wearing their sunglasses is fun, too. Your friend has a great looking family!

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  4. You did a great job! Congratulations on tackling the fear!!

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  5. Just beautiful Sarah!! Your friend and family will love having these in their homes. And such a great idea to find poses on Pinterest. So well done on one more level of photography and facing fear.

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  6. Congratulations, Sarah! You have met and conquered a new challenge! I love them all, they're a beautiful family!

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  7. Bravo!! Job well done - !ove their outfit coordination too. So refreshing from the norm of solids.

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  8. Great job Sarah...I have done family photo shoots and they are always tense, with lots of what if's. For me, I found that I didn't really like doing them so I only do a select few now...I have a big family re-union shot at the end of this month...but it really is not my forte...
    I love the first shot...the coordinating of outfits is great and the beach is always a good place to be. Good for me for stepping out of your box...it's how we learn.

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  9. Way to go Sarah! They will treasure these, I'm sure. :O)

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  10. Wonderful, way to grow. Funny you should say that I have alway felt that I am not a portrait photographer either.

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  11. It looks like you did a great job! My daughter asked me to do their family this year, maybe I can be brave, too. :)

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  12. Oh my Sarah . . .
    Loved your 'conquering fear' first pics . . .
    Beautiful family . . .
    I would choose you immediately to photograph my family!
    Loved the Lake Michigan pics . . . without. . . and with sunglasses . . .
    And the treasured first pic . . . wow . . .

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  13. Great photos, especially that on water. I am sure every member of the family will be eternally happy about it!

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  14. Beautiful portraits! Congratulations on conquering your fear. Bonnie

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  15. Sarah, I think you did an awesome job! The photos look great and everything seems to be natural which is wonderful. It looks casual - just like good memories should be. No shadows on the faces, the light is great and everybody looks very much at ease. It's so good that you conquered your fears.
    I do understand them, your fears. Last year I was asked to take the senior photo of one of my daughter's friends. I said yes, but I was rather afraid. The mother of that girl told other moms about my photography and suddenly I had several requests for senior photos! I was nervous like hell before the first session - it was a boy I didn't know, but it turned out well. I learned that the first 15 minutes of a session are always awkward, and after that things proceed more smoothly. Before that I had practiced portrait photography with my daughter and already had learned a lot from my mistakes. However, I still felt nervous before every photo session. But the feeling to see the finished portraits in the school yearbook was priceless. The dad of that first boy even came back to me and wanted me to take the author picture for his new book. One of the biggest compliments I ever got.

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  16. Stunning work! I am so happy for you.

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  17. Nicely done, Sarah, and what a beautiful family they are.
    I am sure that they are thrilled with the photographs.

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  18. I'm sure Jill is happy that you agreed. I will never do people. I can't even shoot Erik! He's on go go go... Good for you tho.

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  19. I have no doubt that Jill and family were very pleased with the end results and you are right, part of the memory is the action that goes into making the portrait. Photographing people is harder than it sounds and bravo to you for taking on a whole family.

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  20. Congrats on your venture into uncharted territory... it looks like a terrific experience. The photos are just what I'd choose for a photo shoot of my own family, casual and full of fun.

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