You Don’t Have to be Perfect to have a Picture Taken

As you can tell, we have a thread of not needing to be perfect running through our business’s core values. Obviously, we do the best work we can for you, but we don’t feel like you need to look or act or feel perfect to have photos taken.

We understand that there is a lot of mental, physical, and virtual space devoted to perfecting your outward appearance. From self-help books to gyms to tutorials showing you how to best contour your face for a slimming effect, we have created a world for ourselves that values being the most physically perfect versions that we can be.

We want to be gentle here, but we also want to make our message clear: you don’t have to be perfect.

Often, people will avoid having photos taken until they are at their goal weight or have the proper attire and makeup on. We completely understand wanting to put your best foot forward, but as we wrote in our “Even ‘bad’ photos make memories” post, sometimes the un-posed and messy photos carry the best story and memories.

Some of that is fine and understandable, but if you say “Don’t take a picture of me without my lipstick on!” people are left with very few genuine photos of their parents, grandparents, and other friends and family because they just never got around to that “perfect” moment when they looked their best.

When you take looking absolutely picture-perfect to the extreme, you may never have any pictures of you with your family and there certainly won’t be any that are taken professionally. It would be a shame to let the memories wash by because your hair wasn’t done or you need to lose those last 5 pounds.

Then there’s the trouble with unrealistic expectations of beauty. In an industry that’s been run rampant with airbrushing and photoshopping, many people think they have to look a certain way to be photographed. Or, people expect photographers to make them look like they’re in their twenties when, in reality, it’s disingenuous to portray your 60-year-old self, with all the knowledge and earned smile lines you have, as a young kid.

Yes, we do some retouching, however, it’s very light and only to remove some blotches in the photo; it doesn’t interfere with appearances. We respect reality and genuineness, as evidenced by our love of capturing people in their everyday environments.

We would much rather empower you to book the session, ask for a consultation, or somehow make the first move towards photographing your family despite how you think you “have” to look for a  “good picture” to be taken. There is no such thing as perfect, a lesson hard-learned on our end, so we know what we’re talking about.

Instead, there are family traditions, smiles and hugs, and memories. We would much rather you capture that instead of a perfect version of yourself on film. Furthermore, we would love to continue this non-perfectionism movement and give you those memories in film to cherish for years.

Event Photography is more than just Weddings

You probably know us from Our Everyday family photo sessions, but we love to shoot more than just those sessions. We also love to do event photography in Pittsburgh (or travel elsewhere as the situation arises) to capture some other special moments.

Weddings 

We started off shooting weddings because when you start a photography business, everyone’s first question is, “Do you shoot weddings?” Eventually, we stopped taking those projects because big traditional weddings weren’t things that brought us the most joy. It sounds selfish, but when you start your own business, it’s usually not to do work that doesn’t make you happy. Plus, there’s a whole cadre of really brilliant wedding photographers in the Pittsburgh region that we love having as our friends and colleagues. They’re talented photographers and that job lights them up; we’re much happier to refer friends to those folks instead of competing for something that isn’t our favorite thing.

However, we still shoot weddings that aren’t very…wedding-y. Yes, we know, we just said we’d rather refer than compete. That said, as long as the event we’re photographing lines up with our brand and core values, we’d love to be there to gather memories for you. We bet that if you’re coming to us, you like things that are a little quirky and not entirely traditional. Us, too!

Erin and Bill had that funky vibe that we can totally get behind. Their wedding was at Tender and it was so much fun to capture some really special moments of the couple and their friends celebrating. As you can see, the bride isn’t wearing white, it’s an intimate gathering at a unique indoor location, and it wasn’t a very religious, though they did have a ceremony.

Of course, you don’t have to check all boxes of “unique and different” to come to us as your wedding photographers. That’s just a taste of what lights us up and probably does for you, too.

Birthday Parties

We also really enjoy being at birthday parties to photograph families celebrating and having fun. It’s like an Our Everyday session that’s just slightly more special because it’s a birthday! We especially enjoy kids’ birthday parties. Goofing around and acting silly is our favorite thing and kids seem to dig it as well. Nathan is really engaging and after kids warm up to someone with a big camera, he’s able to see and shoot some very special moments.

This first birthday party was fun to photograph because you could see the joy in everyone’s faces and we were able to give those special memories frozen in time to the family to treasure for years to come.

Non-Profit Events 

We’re big fans of Pittsburgh and love to support the community as much as we’re able. Throughout the year, we offer a limited number of discounted rates or sponsorships to organizations that align with our brand and core values. We know there are lots of amazing organizations doing great work here, so it’s very important to us to believe in the mission of the ones that receive a special rate. We’re more likely to work with organizations that are in the arts, helping the environment, or working for social justice.

You can see some of these in our portfolio. We’ve worked with Arts for Autism, Pittsburgh Glass Center, and Uncover Squirrel Hill, to name a few.

Hands down, we love to give people the gift of memories. Whether it’s through capturing an off-beat wedding, a birthday party, or a non-profit organization, we’re happy to be there with bells and cameras on to capture it for you!

Even “bad” photos make memories

We believe that every photo has the ability to be a good photo. In other words, there are no such things as bad photos. Well, maybe if a photo is out of focus and the color balance is totally off. Then, maybe that would just make it an artsy image, not a bad one; however, that artsiness not entirely what we’re going for as portrait photographers. It’s all how you look at the picture, though.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: perfect family photos are for the birds! In our eyes, we want to give you the experience of your family’s full range of emotions, not just stiff, posed shots. Parenthood, and childhood on the flip side, isn’t all smiles and sunshine. While we aren’t suggesting that your family has a meltdown in front of the camera, we are suggesting that even photos in which someone “isn’t ready” or making a funny face are photos that are worthwhile to take.

Throughout a session, it is possible that someone cries, but that simply allows us to photograph a very tender, heartfelt moment of you comforting your child. There are open, honest emotions in that picture that express your love and devotion. That sentiment is much more meaningful, especially when you or your child look back on those photos days, months, and even years later, than one of smiles held stiffly. While it may not be an ideal situation, it makes for a memorable and worthwhile moment in time.

The same could be said for your toddler stumbling, then popping right back up in the next photo to keep running and playing with his sister. Or of your husband falling asleep on the floor next to your baby. Or you smirking at your wife after cracking a smartass joke. There are all sorts of emotions that your family will go through and the whole range is meaningful and deserves to be documented, not just the “good” ones.

As Sam, one of the human halves of Porter Loves Photography says, “The pictures I love from my childhood are the ones where someone caught me laughing with my sister…This is also true of the photos of my parents from their childhoods that I value most.”

We bet you’ve sat around the kitchen table during a family holiday and looked through old family photos. You laughed at the face your sister always makes when she’s annoyed, wondered why you thought that hairstyle was so cool when you were 12, and reminisced about helping Grandma make Sunday dinner every week. Without those albums and conversation, the memories would be so much harder to recall. We would love nothing more than to give you and your family that experience.

But unless you allow yourself to let go of perfection and open up to the idea that there are no bad photos, those memories won’t be committed to film.

When we take photos of your family in an Our Everyday session, we want to tell the story of your family. Simply stated, a story has an introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and a resolution. Your family’s story wouldn’t be very interesting, fulfilling, or authentic if we just clicked the camera when everyone was looking one direction and smiling. Capturing your family with their true personalities showing through carries your family story along.

What to Expect During an Our Everyday Photo Session

pittsburgh documentary family photographer

Occasionally, it can be tricky to go into a new situation if you’re unsure of what’s going to happen. We find that many families, especially with young children, like to explain what everyone can expect when we join your family fun during an Our Everyday photo shoot. This way, everyone is aware of what’s to come. As we’ve mentioned before, we want your family to have fun and make memories. It’s a lot easier to relax when you know how and what to prepare.

We can’t emphasize enough that we want you to be comfortable. Many times, we’ve found that young kids can be shy, and sometimes even wary, of the camera. We totally understand that big cameras and new people can be scary! If that becomes apparent early in the session, we take some time to let everyone warm up to our presence. Just explaining the equipment and spending a few minutes to get to know everyone makes a world of difference.

The second thing we can’t emphasize enough is that we want you to be natural. As such, we’ll tend to stay out of the way and let you and your family play, explore, and interact while we’re there recording it for you. Think of us as your family’s personal paparazzi, capturing everything without getting in your face!

We may suggest a few activities or locations as they present themselves, but we strive not to force situations that just don’t work out. Instead, your family has free reign to do what feels natural. We’ll also look for opportunities that provide the best chance for fun, natural photos.

Along with capturing your family having fun, we take a lot of pictures. Because of that, you can expect to see a variety of compositions that you wouldn’t be able to do yourself with a camera phone or a selfie stick. While those are great for spur of the moment situations, these photos are an investment and our equipment (and, of course, expertise) allows you to get the best possible shot. Not to mention, everyone will be in the photo since we’re the ones running the camera!

Now, here’s something that we expect from you: open communication. Input from you is awesome! We love when you want to “direct” the shoot. After all, we’re there to capture your family having fun. If there’s something you want us to be sure to commemorate on film, please let us know. We’re happy to listen and we’re always flexible to adapt to new circumstances.

While the actual photos will vary from family to family, our process for taking them is fairly constant. From all of our Our Everyday photo sessions, you can tell that the family in front of the camera is relaxed and comfortable. We find that when you and your family is prepared for the session and know what to expect, that relaxation and natural fun comes out a lot easier! And after all, that’s when the best memories are made.