Let’s be honest. Photographers LOVE Pinterest - it’s a ginormous pool of inspiration filled with amazing images. And our clients LOVE Pinterest - it’s a ginormous pool of gorgeous images that they might potentially be able to have of themselves or their families. But your photographer probably hates it when you show up to a session with your Pinterest board....and here’s why.
The images on Pinterest were pinned because they are often the best of the best. The most popular pins, the photos that have been pinned over and over again and draw the most attention, are those once-in-a-lifetime shots that take your breath away. And when you run across that ONE image that speaks to your heart, you say ‘Oh, I loooove that! I would love to have a picture like that of my baby/wedding/family.’ But here’s where the danger lies: When a client hires a photographer and then has a a bunch of images in their head of someone else’s family/wedding/baby/photography from Pinterest, they may end up with disappointment when their session doesn’t result in those same poses or images. It isn’t that that pinning ideas for your photographer is necessarily a bad thing and we shouldn’t use this amazing resource. But using Pinterest to put together a list of pictures you want to recreate can lead to disappointment and frustration for you and your photographer.
It is very important to choose a photographer whose style fits the vision you have for your session. Every photographer has their own style - and depending on what type of photography they specialize in, it can be more than just whether they take pictures in their studio or at your home or outside. If you love the images you saw on Pinterest of families cuddled up together on a couch with the light streaming in the windows behind them, a photographer who has a studio with plain backdrops and shows everyone-looking-at-the-camera-smiling is probably not the right photographer for you. If you love the simple images you see on Pinterest of a baby on white blankets laying naturally, a photographer who displays pictures of newborns posed into cutesy positions may not be the photographer for you. If you prefer organic, natural colors, choosing a photographer who has images of babies in buckets with bright colored layers of fabric may not be the right photographer for you. If you love images with props like chalkboards, crates, and colorful backgrounds, be sure the photographer you choose has those things on hand. There are as many different photographers out there as there are car dealerships. But you can’t expect the interior of a Maserati if you head to the Kia dealership. And you can’t expect to get all the features of a minivan if you go to the Porche dealership. There is no one ‘right’ photographer for everyone - but there is a right photographer for YOU!
I am a newborn photographer with a studio. I love all the props and hats and setups I see on Pinterest. And I fully admit to having gotten lots of ideas from Pinterest - for myself and for clients who have requested a particular setup. But when I have clients who come to me with a Pinterest board full of ideas, I always secretly cringe and hope that they do not have the unrealistic expectation that we are going to be able to get all of ‘those poses’. Because here’s what happens: Their baby doesn’t like that ‘taco pose’. Their baby doesn’t want to hang their arm off the bucket in just that way. Or that baby doesn’t want to be in that bucket at all! The baby doesn’t sleep. The mom’s hair doesn’t fall the same way that the one in the picture does. This first-time dad who isn’t really comfortable yet with his baby girl feels awkward with her posed on his arm (and the baby can sense that and cries). Mom is 5’4’’ and Dad is 6’2’’ and that pose they absolutely love just doesn’t look right with them. Big sister doesn’t want to have anything to do with putting her arm around baby brother and simply refuses to lay down with him. And so on and so forth. Part of being a GOOD photographer means coming up with the perfect poses for each individual baby and each individual family. I take into consideration the height and weight of the family members, the ages of siblings, the coloring of their skin, hair, and the clothing they are wearing. I use all of these details when posing babies, siblings, and families. That big sister that doesn’t want to lay down with her arm around her baby brother? No problem. We put baby brother in a cute little wagon and she can sit right next to him. Or he is snuggled up on the blankets and she just leans in to give him a kiss. We will still get a gorgeous photo of their children together - but it may not be that exact pose from Pinterest! Also, I pose newborns based on their comfort and their body. I will not (no, never ever ever!) put a baby in a pose that I feel is uncomfortable to them or unsafe. If I have something in mind, or the parents have something in mind, I will try it. But if baby doesn’t like it, I will not continue to try that pose over and over for a half hour or force a baby into a pose that they don’t like. A newborn baby is a person, not a prop. And no matter how cute something is, I will not compromise a baby’s safety or comfort by forcing it. Period. So, if a client comes to me with a Pinterest board full of the head-in-hands pose, but their baby doesn’t sleep deeply enough or cries or is awake, I will not do the head-in-hands pose with that baby. So it is actually better for a client not to have their heart set on any one particular thing they’ve seen on Pinterest so that they are able to allow the photographer to work with their baby as an individual.
Artistic, Creative Vision
Good photographers are artists - they harness the light, the create poses that flatter, they match colors, they develop an entire look for each image they create. But every baby is different. Every expectant mama is different. Every couple is different. Every family is different. We all have different body types, hair, skin tones, posture, personalities, relationships...and all of those things have to come together to make the perfect portrait. A good photographer can take people and instantly know the best angle, lighting, pose, and features to capture them in the best way possible FOR THEM.
That image you pinned from someone else’s wedding? You can’t recreate that. Because those people are not you. Their story is not yours. That MOMENT was captured - you cannot recreate moments. Heck, you could have the same photographer shooting with the exact same camera and lens and still not get that same image! Not because the photographer isn’t skilled enough, but because YOU are not THOSE PEOPLE. That perfect image that you see on Pinterest? The photographer who took that image maybe didn’t even plan it out before it happened - it may have been a combination of things: the photographer having the right equipment and seeing the shot right before it happened - the wind, the sun, the light, the smile, whatever it was that all came together in that moment to create that timeless image. It maybe can’t be replicated exactly....and maybe it shouldn’t. Maybe your moment is something different - something more ‘you’.
You, the important part
Allowing your photographer to be creative gives them the ability to open their mind and see YOU. They don’t need to see your Pinterest board or copy poses to create amazing images. My absolute favorite clients are those who say, “We trust you to do whatever!” And that’s not just because it boosts my ego to hear someone say that. I appreciate the trust they place in me. I appreciate that they did their homework and chose a photographer whose style they love. They have seen my work, they have seen all the different things I have done and instead of asking for 10 different exact poses just like the ones they saw on Pinterest, they know that I will create beautiful images of them. I love when they say things like, “I saw the backdrop on your website with the stars and moon. Could we use that?” or “I would love to capture us both kissing him on the cheeks.” Those types of things help me get an idea of the style they love most while also allowing for me to use the environment, relationships, and people they are to create something special. I often ask clients specific questions about the style of their homes or what the baby’s nursery looks like to get an idea of what types of things to use during their session. And yes, if I’m having a difficult time pinpointing their style, I do ask them to send me their Pinterest board so that I can get an idea of the types of images they like. Pinterest is wonderful for that! But sometimes I feel it leads to unrealistic expectations of what a photographer can recreate for any single client. And that is why I said that your photographer probably hates your Pinterest board. *wink*
Do’s and Don’t’s
So, what’s a client to do? You certainly want to be sure that you tell your photographer if there is a particular style/theme/pose you have in mind - they can’t give you what they don’t know you want! But it is important to have realistic expectations of your photographer - especially if we are working with a baby or toddler. If you are insistent on particular poses/setups, your photographer may be so invested in giving you what she thinks you want that she misses opportunities to be creative and capture your family (or your baby or your wedding) in the unique and beautiful way that is perfect for you. Here’s a little Do and Don’t list that I put together to help clear up the Pinterest Problem:
*Pin images of many different styles in preparation for a photo shoot and expect your photographer to be able to do them all
*Bring a ton of different props or items to your session with the expectation of using them all
*Go to a photography session with a ‘shot list’
*Get your heart set on a particular, exact image
*Choose a photographer with images on his/her website that are the same types of images you want of your family/baby
*Communicate with your photographer if there is something particular you are hoping for so that he/she is prepared
*Enjoy Pinterest for the ideas and creativity it brings - perhaps use it for wardrobe inspiration before your session
*Give your photographer the space to create something wonderful and unique for you
Here are a few of my frequently pinned images. I'd like to share with you a little of the back story for each:Vintage Camera Baby: This shot was not pre-planned, believe it or not! The mom arrived at the session with a shopping bag, pulled them out and said, “These were my grandfather’s antique cameras. Not sure if you want to do anything with them.” (ummm, yes!!!) I immediately started thinking of ways we could incorporate them into the session and was lucky that this particular baby slept so soundly that we were able to simply prop him up (with mom holding his neck/back for safety, of course!) and take this shot. At the last minute, I remembered that I had some ‘nerd glasses’ left over from a Valentine mini-session setup. It just came to me that it could be really cute to put the glasses on him. And the result is this wonderful image that I love! Swinging Toddler: I have done variations on the ‘swinging toddler’ pose many many times. But so many things about this image just happened to work perfectly together to create a standout image. The colors of the azaleas perfectly match the mom’s dress and the toddler’s sweater. The little dress just happens to be a floral pattern like the flowers behind her. She happened to raise her feet both up at the same time and she has a diaper cover on that matches her dress. Both parents were looking at her and smiling right at the exact moment that she was looking directly at the camera and smiling. Both the mom and the dad ‘s arms are in the perfect position holding her up right by her face so that her little smile is framed just right. I couldn’t have posed this shot like this even if I wanted to. And I can do the ‘swinging toddler’ pose 100 more times and still not get a shot just like this one!! Smiling Newborn and Mommy: I posed this mama and her baby together and had not even gotten my camera settings perfect when I looked up and spied him start to smile. I quickly said, “Close your eyes and smile!” and snapped as fast as I could while spinning the dials to get the correct exposure. Catching smiling newborns is so fun - but definitely not something I can plan for! Homecoming Day: Event photography is a whole different type of photography than regular portraiture. At an event like a homecoming, you have to be on your toes and 'see' a shot before it happens or as it is happening. I often circle couples as they reunite so that I can get the perfect angle. In the picture on the left, I positioned myself so that the jets could be seen in the background and the wife's smile was visible. What I couldn't plan was that her arm with the flowers was in the perfect spot - and that the baby would be holding the little flag over his shoulder. So, sometimes 'the shot' you see on Pinterest is just that particular moment captured in just the right way. I've photographed dozens of homecomings and each one is totally different - just like every baby, family, or wedding is totally different. Choose your photographer wisely and you won't have to rely on Pinterest to give them poses - you will be the one whose photos are pinned instead!!