Potty jokes are better than prompts
You’ve seen those pictures. You know, the ones of families walking hand in hand and laughing as they walk through a meadow with the golden sunset glowing behind them. It wasn’t until I started studying photography that I found out that photographers often give families prompts to follow in order to make those pictures. As you walk slowly this way, tell someone next to you something silly (although that's probably not a prompt anyone actually uses), then click, click, click.
The prompts make for some very likeable photographs, but after giving the image the double tap, we usually stop at the awwww and never consider how that photograph actually happened. What the viewer sees is a picture of a happy family in pretty light. On the other hand, the family may look at the image and see and feel the experience of having their picture taken. Oh, I remember this day, we got all dressed up and went to that pretty field and the photographer told us to look at each other and say something silly. The memory is intertwined with the image, and it is largely about the photographer and the experience of getting portraits made.
When I edited this session, there were some photos of the whole family laughing together that got me thinking about the difference between waiting for the moments to capture them as they actually happen in real life vs. prompting the moments to happen at our will.
For me, the story behind the photo makes all the difference in the world. When the answer to the question of how this photo happened is a story that they will remember about who they are as a family, the moments are worth waiting for.
But, you do have to wait for them. It wasn't until after magic tricks with grandma, s'mores, and bike riding that the kids ran off to the hammock. While they were sitting there in the swing, they were going back and forth telling potty jokes. We were all laughing hysterically as they came up with potty rhymes that went with each of their names. I couldn't stop laughing, especially after Vivian came up with the genius, "Carrie, Carrie the toilet fairy."
When this family looks back at these images someday, I want them to remember the details of this time in their life. I want them to think about how special it was every time their grandparents visited. I want them to remember their goofy helmets and their funny magic tricks. I want them to remember the games they played with their cats, and I absolutely never want them to forget that time they were all in the hammock laughing uncontrollably about, "Carrie, Carrie the toilet fairy.”