The past few couple of senior portrait sessions, the parents have requested to bring the siblings, too. I love that because once a kid graduates and moves out, the family just isn’t the same.
I loved seeing the bond between these two brothers.
They were enamored by the Fort Worth Water Gardens and wondered if it might be a good location. I hadn’t photographed there in a while, which made it feel fresh. There was a time when all I ever did was shoot at golden hour with a single camera and a single lens. I think that’s how many photographers start out - learning about how to master a camera and utilize natural light.
I brought 3 cameras to this session and tried to consolidate with just 3 lenses. I had a flash just in case. But, all in all, I felt so “light.” As much as I love studio work, it’s fun to take a photo adventure every now and then.
I never quite know who’s story I’m supposed to tell on this blog - yours or mine? Perhaps this is one is ours; it belongs to all of us because we belong to each other and we’re all just walking each other home. Those are the words of Ram Dass, not my own.
Most of the work I do these days is commercial in a studio. I’m manipulating the light with diffusers and metering every few minutes or so. Hopefully, everyone’s been to hair and makeup that morning. I love curating images to help people in their careers.
I try to stay as grateful as humanly possible, even though - if I’m honest, and I try to be - making a living as a photographer in an industry many say is saturated isn’t always easy. Sometimes I wonder…when I factor in healthcare, taxes and expenses, and depreciation - of my spine, neck, shoulders, and equipment - as well as all the time spent answering emails, culling images and editing images, delivering galleries, and ordering prints…is what I do still worth it? Granted, I crunch numbers quarterly, if not monthly, to ensure my business is financially sustainable. So, I suppose what I’m really wondering is if my work has value? Is it important? Is it making a difference in my community?
I hope so. Because, I love what I do, and I understand how unique and fortunate I am to do so. This brings me full-circle back to gratitude -
For the clients who continue to hire me and forward my newsletters and share my posts and say “Oh, you have got to work with Amber.”
For the moments I get to witness with a camera - moments so poignant, I’m laughing or crying…both…behind my lens.
For my friends and family - for, I can remember when they were the only ones asking me to photograph them.
This isn’t the usual stuff I post. I want to share some images from this adoption ceremony - not because it’s my best work…it’s not…but because I feel it’s some of my most meaningful. I remain in awe of portraiture as a medium through which to tell a story. And, these images tell a story of love and lifetime friendships and adoption, grief and redemption.
I would suggest that anyone who’s feeling down and disenchanted go sit in the courthouse on the Friday of the month when they finalize adoptions. They’re much the same every time. Crowds of people with children await the judge to arrive. The air feels full of anticipation and anxiety. Like cattle, we file into the courtroom which is always standing room only. A family’s name is called. The attorney goes before the judge with you and your soon-to-be-forever child and a few (or 40) of your chosen family. People cheer and cry, then cry and cheer. You take home a stuffed animal, which is a small consolation compared to the child for whom you’ve prayed.
I’ve been to Tarrant County adoption finalization ceremonies on three occasions now. First for their first son about 3 years ago.
Then for my own son about a year and a half ago.
And now, for their second son.
I hope I go again.
Whether I go as a photographer standing behind the judge or a parent standing before him, I’ll leave the details up to Divine will.
I spend a great deal of my time answering the following question: “What should I wear?” It’s not that I’m tired of answering that question. When people contract me to take photos, I feel as if I have a duty to educate them, so until now, I’ve never written any free content about what to wear. I am on the lookout for a stylist who’s looking to build her / his / their portfolio, so if that’s you, please - let’s connect. Until then, I help my clients as much as I can.
And, I’m by no means a fashionista. If you’ve seen me in the past five years or so, you’ve probably seen me in shades of black. It is my favorite color. A crisp black, none of that trendy faded black. Only recently did I realize that in dressing for my own funeral each day, perhaps I’m not attracting the energy I’d most like into my life. I’m rather shy, an introvert, and black feels simple, classic, and safe. It’s my entrepreneurial uniform. One less decision to make each day.
A few months ago, I had some photos taken of myself, and I wore black, and when I received the photos, I thought, “Hmmm, I’m not so sure that’s my color.” I didn’t love how dark it was next to my skin tone. The same, I’ve discovered, is true for navy. Unless, I’m trying to further the dark and mysterious artist persona, I think I photograph far better in light colors. Dare I say - white is even preferable - which is unfortunate because by 8 am, my son will have stained whatever I’m wearing.
These first few paragraphs have qualified for you that I am no expert in this department. I’m not sure why you’re still reading. But, since you are, I’ll offer a few tips based on my experience photographing individuals, couples, families, and entrepreneurs.
As much as I do love black, can I just say that I like pastels on most people, too? I shoot predominantly film, and pastels bring a light, airy feel to everything. I remember in high school, back when I was dressing kinda goth, there was this girl who sat next to me in Biology, and she said “If you want the teachers to like you more, wear pastels.” I was in trouble a bunch - mostly because I have a strong opinion about so many things. I remember thinking, “I will never wear pastels.” So, if that’s you, and you hate pastels, please don’t wear pastels. The most important thing in your photos is to be truly authentic and you. A couple of other things to consider with regard to color are: 1. Does what you’re wearing align with your brand colors? 2. Who are you attracting? I need the photo of me in a suit because I speak to corporations about wellness, but I also need the photos of me in pastels. The reason is twofold - my clients are predominantly female, and I want my work in the world to have a divinely feminine quality to it.
If you’re a mom and you’re reading this in preparation for a family shoot, DRESS YOURSELF FIRST. Kids look good in everything. Even if your toddler insists on going naked or wearing a graphic tee because s/he’s a threenager, and you just cannot muster the courage to attempt to reason with unreasonable little people, it’ll be fine. Go ahead: buy yourself a beautiful dress or jumpsuit or blouse. Coordinate the family based on you! What a concept. I think this is a good plan for self preservation and family longevity, in general. If Momma looks good, everybody looks good. Dressing yourself well first is the fashionable equivalent to putting your own oxygen mask on first. And, in case you need permission, it’s ok to wear a bright color or a bold print. You are worth seeing. Without you, there would be no kids. You can take up space in the frame. Your children will want the photos of you. And, until they are old enough to know they do, these photos are for you, so you might as well look good. The fit is important. With babies and kids, I prefer the clothes to fit tighter rather than looser. With adults, I used to say fitted was better - especially if you want to look smaller in body, which I know might be the opposite of what you think. Baggy clothes can look like you pitched a tent, you know? But, I do love clothes that flow and move. If you’re conscious about your body - and let’s face it, 99% of people are - wear something you feel comfortable in. I know that I’m going to ostracize about half of the moms in the South here with what I’m about to say next: I’m just not so sure those monogrammed bubble suits and rompers photograph well. Occasionally, they do. I have a photo of my son wearing a seersucker (pastel) jumper in a field of bluebonnets that I will carry with me to the grave. It’s one of my favorite photos of all time. He looks big and little all at the same time. It’s timeless. Nobody would know if it was 2019 or 1989. This brings me to my next point…
Especially if you’re using these photos professionally, you want your photos to have some longevity. When in doubt, choose classic and timeless. It’s absolutely ok to ignore this rule if you are a person who routinely takes photographs or if you’re a blogger or entrepreneur in a field related to fashion. Sometimes I get a text: “What do you think of a white shirt?” Sometimes photographers say, no, and I assume it’s because they don’t have the skillset to capture the highlights, and/or they know the camera likes to focus on what’s white first. I’ve been doing this long enough that I think white is almost always a great idea, and film does a great job capturing the details that digital images lose.
Texture is a beautiful thing. Especially during winter months, a chunky sweater or flowing wrap creates warmth and movement. I’m writing this post on the heels of spending an hour of my life I’ll never get back smoothing wrinkles from a linen dress. I’m not saying not to wear linen. I absolutely love linen. I wear it all the time. I’ll airbrush yours, too. Just know that I’m gonna take my sweet time delivering your gallery.
A final word: stop overthinking what you’re going to wear. In fact, if I may, your hair and makeup are far more important. That’s a topic for another day. Until then, joy is the best makeup, so relax and smile and trust that I’m going to photograph you in your best light.