Articles

The Other Side of the Lens

Photograph credit: Mallory Roa Photography.

Photograph credit: Mallory Roa Photography.

I met Mallory while taking photography classes at Cypress College. As a photography major she was in the photo department a lot. All photography students have open lab hours for their classes and so there is a lot of interaction between students of different classes. I saw her in the lab for a few semesters before we actually had a class together. Mallory is an extremely talented photographer and I have admired her work for a long time.

In November Mallory promoted holiday photo sessions for her business, Mallory Roa Photography. I jumped at the chance to have her photograph my family. As a family photographer it is ironic that I have tons of photos of my family, but I’m in none of them! Documenting family is something I do with Lux 22 for others and I wanted the same thing for myself. 

Mallory was definitely the right person to work with. She and I have similar philosophies when it comes to photographing kids and families - natural and real beats posed. While she does some posing, as I do, it doesn’t feel staged and unnatural. This natural style works great with kids and makes the photo shoot into a relaxing afternoon adventure with the family.

We picked this image for our holiday cards. Photograph credit: Mallory Roa Photography.

We picked this image for our holiday cards. Photograph credit: Mallory Roa Photography.

My Experience

In my role as photographer I council clients on preparing their family for our photo shoot and on types of clothing that work well for family photography. Knowing what to do and doing it are such completely different things, though. I went through the same struggle that every client faces: how do I make everyone happy and make sure they look okay.

I knew I wanted to have a neutral color palate with a splash of vibrant color. A quick search of the boys closets revealed more grey than brown. I found a great grey, white, and burgundy plaid button down shirt in Jeremy’s closet. That became our anchor piece. Everything else we chose had to coordinate with that. Adam and Ben both had grey button down shirts, so that is what we went with for them. And then there was me. What was I going to wear? I have a great grey plaid dress that I love, but it felt more casual than I wanted for the shoot. Then I came upon my black dress. I paired the black dress with a burgundy sweater to tie my outfit back to J’s. 

Photograph credit: Mallory Roa Photography.

Photograph credit: Mallory Roa Photography.

Our shoot went wonderfully! I give full credit to Mallory for suggesting a perfect location and for allowing the boys to be themselves during the shoot. It felt more like an afternoon at the park than a photo shoot, which made the whole process much easier for everyone.

The toughest part of the whole process was picking photos after the shoot. Mallory and I met for coffee and a bagel a few days after the shoot to review images. It was Mallory’s challenge as the photographer to sift through the hundreds of images captured during our shoot to select the best and most appropriate ones to show. Once again, she completely impressed me. She brought 40 to 50 images to our meeting and I loved all of them! The toughest part was deciding what to buy!

Metal prints, ready to hang. Set out on kraft paper for measurement.

Metal prints, ready to hang. Set out on kraft paper for measurement.

Mallory included 20 social media files with her session package. She had 20 images selected that she suggested and I went with those. I also ordered a set of six 11”x14” metal prints for my office and a pair of 12” square prints for our dining room. I also knew that I wanted a larger sized family portrait for our living room, but wanted Ben to see the images and help me decide.

 

What I Learned

One of the most valuable things about this experience was the chance to be the client and see the experience from a different perspective. Both Mallory and I have similar business models and processes. I am used to being the photographer, but not as used to being the client.  A few things I learned from this experience were the absolute struggle that the family faces trying to select clothing that both coordinates and makes all the various wearers happy. The second thing was that the client wants all the images, but is constrained by budget. I would have ordered a print of every single image  if I could have.

While I had stayed away from offering print packages at Lux 22, I now know the absolute value that they offer to the client. The value isn’t in saving money, it is in helping to make choices. With a print package you can pick items to fill the pieces that are included in the package, while ordering a la carte you have to decide on both the item and the image. While choice is good (and I will always offer a la carte), something to help narrow the choice makes it much easier on the client.

Another huge thing I learned from this experience is how much the images mean to my children. Professional photographs are so different than the quick snapshots that my kids are used to seeing on Ben and my iPhones. I also discovered that the kids loved seeing the photos on the computer, what they really wanted were prints. They wanted to have family images and images of themselves for both our family common rooms, but also for their bedrooms. They didn’t care about the digital versions, they wanted physical versions of the photos.

Order prints of your images. Order an album or image folio box. Share those photos with the people you love. Don’t just get a disk of images. Don’t let your photos exist only on Facebook or Instagram.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my family photography experience. Please check out Mallory Roa Photography for more of Mallory’s work. 

If you would like to plan a family photography session with me, please call me at 562.252.1682 or send me an email. I would love to work with you.