I'm laying in mud. And I'm taking photographs. But this mud is very special mud. How did I get here? It all started with a question I usually ask my clients pre-session consultation. “Is there any place that's special to you?” I recently had a young man come in for a senior picture consultation. The first thing I did was take notes on what his interests were. The top item: fishing. He had seen some of the work I had done a couple years back shooting fisherman portraits and was interested in getting something similar done for his senior pictures.
I could have taken him to the same spot that I had used for the pervious portrait session. I'm familiar with it and I've shot a lot of pictures there. It would be easier to do that. But I always ask, "know when you go fishing is there a place that's special to you? We like to shoot our pictures in a place that has meaning to your family if we can.”
And there was. There was a pond behind his grandma’s house that he had spent many hours fishing at. So, I arranged to shoot pictures there. This meant an extra trip to the site so I could scout out a few shots ahead of time and prepare for the shoot. But that’s what I do as a photographer. Making a meaningful portrait means getting to know people, and the places that are full of memories for them.
That’s how I ended up half submerged in a small pond taking pictures on a beautiful summer evening. And, honestly, I loved every minute of it! We were making new memories while creating portraits that celebrated the past.
What I didn’t know at the time was that the pond had been dug by his grandfather who had recently passed away. We were shooting senior portraits in a place that represented who his grandfather was. Now, if someone else looks at those pictures, they’ll see some really cool fishing pictures. But years from now when that senior guy pulls out his album of senior portraits he will have stories to tell. Stories that start with, “Ya know my grandpa dug that pond..”