It was a gorgeous cool and sunny day in November 2009 when we arrived at St. Marys Church. The five of us. Pappy Jack was still with us and it would become our inaugural family photo session. Upon exiting the car it became clear that I was the only one who was excited.
Pappy Jack was hungry and just wanted to go to breakfast. He thought after one photo we would be all done. Silly, silly man!
Our youngest son ran into thorn bush and had a fresh gash running the length of his little face and refused to cooperate. Our oldest son was uncomfortable in his sweater and did not hesitate to remind us of this every chance he had. My husband was trying to be helpful but I could tell that he also would rather have gone straight to breakfast.
We were a mess and I would have called the whole thing off if not for our photographer - Jill of Jill Christine Designs.
Jill was brilliant! She assured Pappy Jack that she too was hungry and that it wouldn't take long to accomplish our mission. Within 45 mins she had captured gorgeous photos, our oldest son was able to abandon his sweater, our youngest was able to run free as Jill chased him capturing him as his true self and Jeff and Pappy Jack were in great moods by the time we pulled into iHop.
Having the right photographer for your family makes all the difference in the world!
It has been nine solid years that Jill Christine has photographed our family. We've met in a variety of locations from our house to the National Mall, to several parks throughout Southern Maryland and each year there was inevitability a challenge that Jill was able to meet with grace and laughter.
There was the one year our oldest son forgot his shoes (he thought I had them, I of course, assumed they were on his feet!). The ground was cold and damp but the blanket Jill brought along saved the day and she was able to camouflage his bare feet (if you look closely in the photo below you will see his black socks!).
There was the year Pappy Jack wanted every photo taken with him on his John Deer lawn mower which led to all of the boys joining in and grabbing their tractors - and as soon as Jill snapped the photo they spent the rest of the afternoon chasing each other around the yard in what would become the ultimate John Deer chase!
And then there was the year we lost Pappy Jack. That was the single most difficult year for all of us. What we wouldn't have given to have him there grumbling about wanting to go to breakfast. Jill knew this was difficult for us and she was so kind as each boy acted out inter own way and the smiles were far and few between. She captured our pain and our closeness beautifully.
I've compiled a few tips that may help you find the perfect photographer to tell your story.
Identify Your Style
Photographers have different styles of posing, photographing, and editing. Do you like vibrant and contrast-y, or more pastel and airy? There are so many different styles. I recommend beginning with a Google search and explore many different photographers. They don't have to be in your area or in your price range - at this point you are gathering information to help you determine your style. And keep in mid - you are allowed and should like many different styles. A mixture of black and white and color? No problem. The key here is just getting an idea of what you like.
Search Your Area
Now that you have an idea of the style you like, you can start looking for a photographer in your area! This time conduct a specific google search for photographers in your area. Pour over their websites. Take notes of certain poses or lighting that catches your eye.
Most photographers will have inquiring clients fill out a questionnaire before giving pricing information. This is just to ensure the client-photographer relationship is a good fit. Just like photographers ask questions you should too. Typically you can find a lot about a photographer by reading the “about me” page on their website, checking out their Insta feed, or even just by the work they post. You can ask questions like, “What is your favorite part of the day to photograph and why?” Or even, “How would YOU make my photo shoot memorable through your images?” "What are some techniques you use to engage children". Ask questions that are important to you. It is so important not to make assumptions!
I can't thank Jill enough for the patience and kindness she has shown my crazy family year after year. I hope you all are able to find your own Jill!