It’s important to photograph your family. Easily said, but hard to do given the busy lifestyles of today’s modern families. Kids grow up fast and change even faster. Before you know it, they’re off to college. I know this first hand. Being a photographer, I understand the importance of documenting family, but it’s tough to be on both sides of the camera. Everyone comments that I must have a million pictures of my family, but that’s not true. And I know it’s a similar story for many others.
Amy and JP, aka, the Prutches are a husband and wife team of photographers. They literally reside 4 blocks from me. We met 10 years ago, after being introduced by our FedEx driver. Our kids go to the same schools and we celebrate most of our holidays together. The most famous of which is our annual 4th of July block party. JP is one of the few people I know with as as much technical knowledge as I have and we talk nearly every day. I call him the other half of my brain. Amy calls me his boyfriend. Needless to say, they’re family.
Lately, I’ve been wanting to explore a new direction in my work. My current style is cinematic, accomplished with the compression and environmental isolation of my beloved 70-200 telephoto lens. I like the storytelling aspect of wide angle lenses, but they have an inherent depth of field, meaning everything is in focus even wide open. Canon has a couple of wide angle lenses which have a very wide aperture. This would give me a shallow depth of field. In short, this means I could control my plane of focus and make things in the background dreamy and soft as I do with my longer lenses. I contacted Canon and had them send me two lenses for evaluation. The Canon 24mm f/1.4 and the 35mm f/1.4.
It just happened that the Prutches invited our family to Long Beach, Washington for a weekend getaway. We have endeared this coming together of our families as “KepPrutch” time. I asked if they were willing to let me photograph their family and they graciously agreed. Our mutual friend, David Williams from Australia, has made it his mission to encourage photographers to document each other’s families. Pay it forward. I know it’s hard for Amy and JP to get family portraits done since they are BOTH photographers. The hard part for me is that if there’s one thing I know by now about the Prutches, it’s that they are anything but normal. That was the challenge.
I mean, come on. Anyone who names their blog “The Shutter Monkey” has got to be somewhat irreverent. Posing on the beach is not something that authentically captures who they are as a family. Not to lessen their affection for each other, but they are not the type to hold hands and gaze into each other’s eyes. They’d be laughing before I could release the shutter. They were the perfect family to challenge myself with a new style of shooting portraits that are different than what you’d expect to see from a family portrait session at the beach.
My Facebook friends challenged me to illustrate how a wide angle lens could be used effectively in environmental portraiture. I also brought along my beloved Lensbaby for something even more distinctly different. At the end of the day, we had great fun with the Prutches. I was nervous shooting for two other professionals, but pushed myself to do it regardless of the outcome. Long Beach is one of the few beaches in Washington where you can actually drive on the beach. We threw the kids in the back of the Dodge Ram pickup and took off for a day of adventure. The kids never stopped smiling and we all left with more KepPrutch memories.
So tell me. What do you think of this new direction? What do you like or dislike about these images? Do they tell a story? Is this something you’d want for your own family? Does this capture a moment that will be remembered when our kids are parents themselves?