December 1, 2022
I have been wanting to attend a photography workshop for YEARS. They are such a great opportunity for gorgeous content and learning from other seasoned professionals. Most of the workshops I found were oriented for wedding professionals, or were too far away for someone who works full-time in a second job. When I saw the Gather details come through from The Kindred Path, I was over the moon. I knew I had to do it!
Well, when applications opened for the workshop Jordan and I were on our postponed honeymoon in the Caribbean. I figured I could sign up when I got home, but by the time I was home and settled, it had sold out. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I was devastated that I had missed my chance. I signed up for the waitlist and moved on with my day, fingers crossed that it could work out.
A few weeks later, I received an email from the lovely Adrianne, of Beatific Visions Photography and co-founder of the Kindred Path. There was a spot available and I could move off the waitlist! I don’t think I have paid a deposit faster, not even for our wedding! I put the date on my calendar and told Jordan he was in charge of Dollie that day. I was SO excited!
In anticipation of the workshop, I rented two new cameras. A mirrorless Nikon (same model to what I have but newer) and a Mamiya 645 medium format film camera. Adrianne and Marie, founders of the Kindred Path, are amazingly talented hybrid photographers and I thought if there was a time to try medium format, it was now!
I woke up the morning of the retreat so excited but so nervous. Usually, I am pretty outgoing but I truly think I am an introvert at heart. It’s also common for me to struggle with self-doubt and I knew I would be surrounded by incredibly talented photographers all day. It was intimidating! I was greeted with coffee, quiche and lots of welcoming smiles from the other photographers. The community aspect of the workshop, chatting with the other photographers, hearing about their experiences and their tips, ended up being my favorite part of the day!
After breakfast, the first part of the morning was devoted to in-home family portraits. Morgan and Kara walked us through their pre-session workflow and considerations. I had never really considered the beauty of in-home family sessions, apart from newborn sessions, but I loved the concept of photographing a family in the comfort of their own home.
The session focused on family and connection. There were four little boys and an adorable little girl, plus the parents. In all honesty, it was a bit hectic! But oh was it sweet! The boys played around while the little girl snuggled with mom and dad. Very little direction was given, it was natural and simple but oh so beautiful. There was magic in the chaos.
Another aspect that was introduced was to plan an activity that the family can enjoy together. Not only could this serve as a distraction for an unhappy or uninterested little one, it celebrates an activity that means something special to the family. For this family, it was painting nails for the little daughter and mom and wrestling for the boys!
Mom and daughter quietly painted nails while dad and the boys playfully wrestled behind on the bed. The final results were portraits that were truly representative of this family and what their life together looks like.
These are things that I have been slowly implementing at all my recent sessions. Encouraging clients to be candid and relaxed with each other; to pretend that I am not even there, and planning an activity for the family to do ahead of time. The outcome has been gorgeous and real portraits of families celebrating their connection.
I love delivering these photos to families because it reminds them of the fun and beautiful times together. Anyone can take a photo smiling at the camera, but a snapshot of your family’s daily life, forever frozen in time – that is special. And it will be special still when years later, the children are older and reflecting on their childhoods with their own families. Perhaps, it will be even more special then.
I think about this a lot when I look at my own childhood photos. There are boxes upon boxes of photos of my sisters and I clad in tutus, sitting on the carpet and playing with our littlest pet shop toys. At first I couldn’t understand what compelled my mom to retrieve her camera (back in the 90’s we were still using film!) and take that photo. But then it hit me, she wanted to remember these moments. Now we’re older and I can still picture that carpet, those toys, and I am so thankful. In a sense, that is what these photos are for this family, except this time, mom gets to be in the photos, and that is special.
So, if at our next session I say, “Don’t look at the camera!” Now you know why.
Read part two of my experience with Gather.
Read more about Gather: TKP Community Workshop.
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From the tiniest additions to the biggest of milestones, I'll capture timeless memories that your family will cherish for years to come.
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Jacqueline Burns is a milestone and family portrait photographer based in Richmond, Virginia. Inspired by the beauty and timelessness of film, Jacqueline captures families in their natural element, creating memories to be enjoyed for years to come.