I once was asked “What is it that you think sets your work apart from the other photographers I see listed in Google?” At the time I recall it being pretty easy for me to answer, I was a big fish in a small pond at the time, not many photographers specializing in the kind of work I’m known for and have been lovingly creating for my clients since 2005. This was in 2007 and I was competing with some VERY talented photographers in the area but we all possessed our own niche of the market here in Chicago and we each had a unique voice.
Maybe you’re reading this as a potential client (or fellow photographer) wondering what it is that sets Marmalade Photography apart from the literally HUNDREDS of other photographers in the area. So instead of talking about myself for another 500 words let me illustrate to you in what went into creating some of my favorite mother and child relationship photos:
I think this image above was taken in 2009 on location. This image was in the clients’ guest room (where all the good light seems to be), with her 2nd child. This was our fourth session together.
I love this image for several reasons, the most important being the loving way Beth is interacting with her son – her expression is of joy. I’m also a huge fan of photos where one of the subjects is looking straight into the camera while the other subject(s) interact. This is sort of inspired by my love for the Impressionist movement (modern illustrator Pino Daeni’s portraits of women and children as well as old school Impressionist Mary Cassatt come to mind as some of my biggest inspirations for my mother-child work).
I chose to photograph this interaction in this well lit guest room. I liked the soft colors in the room, the off white backdrop of the room. The tapestry on the wall lends to the soft feel as does the yellow pillow in the foreground. I think Beth’s clothing as muted highlights her guest starring role in this photo which is all about her son (dressed in darker clothing). All of it work together to create this soft feel.
This next image takes us back to the beginning of my professional photography career, in the Fall of 2005. My neighbor Sara commissioned me to create some photos for her and her family that fall, I owe her a huge debt of thanks for not only trusting me in those early days but also for helping to create one of my all time favorite mother-son images. I was still so green as a photographer but I definitely see where my influences were coming from.
Again, without knowing (at the time) what it was that was inspiring me I now realize it was a heavy Impressionist influence. The connection between Sara and her son is all physical. He’s embracing her neck closely and she is in absolute bliss with little Luke in her arms.
Even in 2005 I possessed a desire to set my work apart from others’, my goal was to create storytelling images. At the time little Luke was just a preschooler, a bundle of cute blonde hair and a winning smile. Sara was one of those moms that just seemed to glow in the presence of her children. Looking back now I realize that while I loved this image for what it was eight years ago, I seem to fall more in love with it every time I run into it now. It’s simply one of those images that feels genuine, because it is. Sara was glowing with motherhood, she seemed to embody motherhood. I’m so proud of that image.
This next image was taken last year:
This is Lisa and her little girl last July during our third session together. I first photographed this pair together out at the Wilmington studio during one of my Mom & Me mini session events about three years prior. I love this image not only because of their connection (physical and not through interaction like in the image before) but because they’re so obviously happy to be in each others’ arms. Again a spontaneous moment sort of posed looking but with 100% genuine emotion. Inspiration: a slight Mary Cassatt influence. Lisa’s winning smile is truly reflective of her personality and sense of humor.
Lastly, let’s spotlight another of my all time favorite images. This is from 2007, was taken at my waterfall location. This little guy was having a lot of fun with his brother in the water. They were splashing and hanging out and he paused to sit by his mom for just a few moments. To be honest this photo was taken sort of spur of the moment, one of those images that befits the Diane Arbus quote that I love so much:
“I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.”
I love this capture because moms do seem to be this sort of “home base” or “safe zone”. After this moment passed he was back up, busy splashing and playing in the warm water of the waterfall on that hot July day. Truly I believe this is one of those moments that could’ve easily passed by without notice if I hadn’t been standing there, camera in hand.
Mothers should reflect on this short amount of time they have to spend with their children before their children grow up and leave home. As mothers we are truly gifted with an amazing gift: the gift of time and teaching. Our children are entrusted to us and it is our guidance that shapes them into the adults they grow into being. As my legacy I am proud to photograph these relationships. I believe that I see things that wouldn’t be seen if I wasn’t standing there with a camera in hand and with the knowledge it takes to snap that image.
I believe that your opportunity at being a mother is something that should be commemorated. All too often we are behind the camera photographing our families and never in front interacting with them. I have always held this belief that photographers are given this amazing opportunity to promote motherhood, to allow moms to have a chance to be in the family images, even more importantly to be front and center. I make it my goal to create portraits moms are proud to be part of, portraits that allow them to shine as their beautiful hearts and souls do and to highlight the beautiful relationship they have with each child.
What makes my photography different than others? I realize the importance of these mother-child images. My experience and knowledge as a photographer contribute to beautiful images of you with your children. It isn’t simply about posing and looking cute, it’s about connection and love and creating timeless images that you will love long after your children have children of their own. Let’s be honest: anyone with a camera can take a lovely photo but it takes someone who understands relationships and has dedicated themselves to creating art centered around them to create beautiful, believable works of art for you. Think about that as you look through the Marmalade Photography archives. Think about that as you dream of being part of your family’s images. Think about that as you select a photographer.