I am not really a family photographer. I have always been more of a documentarian and a performance art photographer. Shooting blues and metal bands in Chicago & Florida in the early oughts, moving on to modern contemporary dance in the late oughts to 2010s and most recently, standup, sketch, and improv comedy - even some story-telling - here in Los Angeles - shooting families, weddings, babies and the like seemed kinda boring in comparison. I shoot events to pay the bills, but my passion has always been in live performance photography - telling the story of others telling their stories.
But 21 months ago I gave birth to an adorable, hilarious little girl. She became my main focus. My time shooting comedy and performance art was put on hold and I spent most of my time behind the lens focusing on her. I couldn't help myself. My hard drive is filled to the brim with real life photos of my child, living in a tiny messy one bedroom apartment in East Hollywood and eventually the Valley. I was a mom. I am a mom and my photos were of nothing but my child.
And I was okay with that. But I did miss creating something different. Something new and exciting. People would say to me "Your photos of your daughter are so great, you should become a baby photographer". But the truth was I had zero interest in posing tiny infants in cute little outfits or wrangling toddlers to hold still and say 'cheese' for the camera. The photos I took of my daughter were organic, real and raw. Those airy posed photos of families in a field of wildflowers or on a forest trail, all holding hands or jumping in the air or sitting together looking lovingly at one another just didn't feel genuine to me. But they were everywhere and they were a reminder of what I SHOULD be doing to pay the bills.
Then I finally had an idea. I got in touch with my closest mommy friends and asked them what they would think of me coming over to take some photos of them and their children. But none of that posed, stylized insanity we all constantly saw in our social media feeds (I mean, if that's your thing, fine... but it's just not for me). Instead, they would lead me. They would go about their day for a couple of hours while I stood by, chatted and shot photos of them. Making breakfast, playing in the living room, reading, dancing, going to the park - whatever it was they did during their normal day. No matching outfits, no posing, no directing - just real life.
The mommy friends were stoked. They all agreed that THIS THIS THIS is what they had been dreaming of. True documentary-style family portraits. Real life. And so with this in mind, I set off for my first shoot...
I've only known Caty less than a year. Her daughter Zamira is strong-willed and resilient. Her new son Isreal is an adorable, easy-going charmer. I met up with them in the middle of the day at their apartment on the West Side.
When I got there, both Z and Iz were taking a nap with their dad, Anwar. Caty and I chatted for a bit, had a glass of wine while we waited for them to wake up.
I hadn't seen Zamira in a few weeks, so when she walked into the room and saw me, she was definitely a bit confused. But she quickly warmed up and asked me to pick her up. We chatted for a bit and got to work. It was so much fun being able to just talk and laugh with my friends while taking pictures of them being real. I look forward to doing more of this in the future (my next six weeks are BOOKED so I'll have plenty more opportunities to do so...)