Guest Post: Helping Bring Work to Life in New Ways for Family Photographers

Led by Executive Producer Susannah Ludwig, Portraits that Move filmed photographers Ben and Trudie Larrabee for an on location video, titled Moments of Grace: The Ben Larrabee Experience. Below, Ben and Trudie share their experience working with Susannah and members of the Portraits that Move team, including how it will help them reach new clients in a new way, that honors the art - and the heart - of their process.

What surprised us most about the filming experience with Portraits That Move was just how important it is to keep the photo session an intimate experience. This is the first time we had outsiders with us. It is that intimacy which allows our clients to freely open up; revealing that special bond within the family that Ben is able to capture. Everyone needs to be participating in the experience.

We appreciate how the Portraits that Move camerawoman blended into this intimate experience. She was nimble and agile.

family photographer video portraits that move.jpg

After the shoot we came back to the house where we sat with Susannah for an interview. Susannah didn’t want us to know the questions in advance so we could respond spontaneously, much like how we approach a shoot. Her questions were insightful, Trudie was emotional answering some of them. We really felt Susannah’s appreciation for our artistic process and our artist/muse relationship.

When we watch our video we like how Ben’s final black and white images are integrated into the piece. The images give a good feeling for what we produce. The images tie well into the filming of Ben photographing the situations.

family photographers video portraits that move.jpg

The use of Ben and Trudie’s voices tie beautifully into the filming, in particular the part where Ben says “don’t get the kids, let us find the kids, I don’t want to interrupt what’s going on with the family”. The next scene is Ben photographing the youngest in a quiet moment playing with her doll.

We believe this video will help prospective and existing clients better understand what to expect from working with us. The video gives a behind the scenes look at how we approach a photo session. Even though we tell them the first person who opens the door gets photographed, it is very clear when they see that actually happening at the beginning of the video.

The video shows our approach to a shoot is an active encounter between the photographer and the family. There is no sitting around posing and looking at the camera like most people are used to seeing.  

We tell our clients to wear what they like on a shoot and forget all the rules they’ve read. The video shows them that it doesn’t matter what clothes they wear as long as they like what they’re wearing. Each family member’s choice of clothes expresses their personality. The middle daughter is wearing her fluffy slippers, Dad is barefoot. Everyone is informally dressed. When restrictions are taken away the clients relax.

family photographer portraits that move documentary video

We want our clients to know we are a team on the shoot. The footage of Trudie handing a lens to Ben and holding the light disc shows that we work together and portrays our relationship.

portraits that move family photographer video.jpg

We like the edit of Ben talking about the options for clients of framing their images, putting them in a book or in a museum case. We want clients to know that Ben is an artist. The strong ending sums it all up about having a life-long relationship with our clients.

We are pleased with the final outcome and grateful to Susannah and Portraits that Move.

- Trudie and Ben

Happy Birthday!

I am so excited to be celebrating our fourth birthday! It has been an incredible four years that have been filled with more fun, joy, connection and closeness than I expected. My little idea of giving the gift of a moment to families has turned into so much more. 

The best part of Portraits that Move, for me, is our clients. I get a thrill when we meet a new client for the first time and I feel a sense of coming home when we make a new video for a returning client. I love our families so much and feel grateful to them for welcoming us into their homes and into their lives. My world has expanded from Portraits That Move and I hope we have spread our love and joy to you and those you love. 

I want to also shout out to all of the people who work on our Portraits that Move videos. This is a team process and we have the best team. Special thanks to Liz, for all that you do - you are a serious gift to this company. 

happy birthday portraits that move.png

As we start our fifth year, we are going to be celebrating more. We are amping up our joy as we create more videos for special celebrations starting with our new Bar and Bat Mitzvah videos.

The feeling is festive over here and we would never be here without you. Thank you, thank you for being part of our community. Thank you for allowing us to share in your joy. It means the world and we can’t wait to wake up every day and keep creating. 

With the deepest gratitude and a lot of cake,
Susannah

PS - We have a birthday gift just for you! In honor of our 4th birthday, we are giving away $100 PTM gift cards to the first four people who comment #HappyBirthdayPTM on our Instagram by 6:00 p.m. TODAY (3/1/18)!

We are Celebrating New Beginnings with Huge Gratitude and Joy

We do great things when we work together.  This is true in business and in family life, and it is so apparent to me today, as we launch the brand new Portraits that Move website.

I am grateful to work with talented professionals, including women who help to enrich my life, enrich my business, and connect me with clients that enrich my daily experiences.

Our new website comes to you as Portraits that Move enters our fourth year of creating documentary-quality films for families.  Over the course of the last few years, I have had the privilege of getting to know you and your children, and I have had the honor of creating films that reflect back to you the connections, the beauty, and the unique magic that makes your family your own.

Together with my filmmaking team, we are building a legacy for you and your families, and for our own, through the work we do with and for you.

Thank you, again, for those who have been with us from the beginning, and for all those who are joining us now.  I am so happy to be on this journey of joy and connection with you.

With much love,

Susannah

Power of Storytelling: Moms Need to Tell Their Own

I was interviewed for an article published in Forbes featuring Portraits that Move and talking about "how to capture the best moments of your life."  Through the interview process and seeing a piece of my own story - and the story of Portraits that Move - in print, it reinforced how powerful the act of telling your story is.  And, also how many stories each of us has to share.

The Forbes article on Portraits that Move focuses on my life as an entrepreneur mom.  It tells of my inspiration for the business, my work, and my commitment to the families that trust us to share their stories, to share their children's voices, observations and experiences with them.

Reading about Portraits that Move in Forbes Magazine, I see the story of moms and dads who, like the article's author, Carrie Kerpen, want to shine a light on the fleeting moments of childhood and family life, to return to those moments, to celebrate and share them, and to live them to the fullest. 

So share your stories, in some way, every day.  And allow us to help you be part of the story not watching it from behind the camera. We want to give the gift of presence to you, with love, with joy and with celebration. 

We're Turning Two

We’re celebrating!

This week marks TWO years since we launched Portraits That Move. It has been incredibly joyous, as we have so loved getting to know all of our families, spending time with their children and creating treasures for them to enjoy for years to come. We made this little video to celebrate our anniversary:

I have enjoyed thinking about innovative ways to meet families and dreaming up new ways to serve them. I view this work as an offering, a way to share our joie di vivre, and our philosophy about being present in each and every moment.

In the year ahead we will be releasing some new types of videos, referral discounts, video packages, and new opportunities for us to document your beautiful moments. Stay tuned for a;; these great things!

I am looking forward to meeting new families and I hope our existing clients continue to come back for more, so we can share with them, the beautiful ways in which their children have grown.

Most of all, from the bottom of my heart, I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for believing in this work, for becoming our clients, for reading this blog, for sharing our videos and spreading the word - and thank you for trusting us. You have allowed my dream to come true and I am grateful beyond measure.

And now, thanks for celebrating with us! You know I love any excuse to party, and this is a pretty amazing one.

With much love and gratitude

~ Susannah

Business Travel: How a Working Mom Can Stay Connected to Her Kids

I’ve been traveling a lot for business lately and I am reminded of how important it is to stay connected to our children when we are separated by distance and how lucky we are to have technology that allows us to do so. 

On my most recent trip to LA, my son and I took full advantage of Facetime, talking together once, and sometimes twice, a day.  It is by no means perfect, and can be difficult to get your child’s attention when you’re not in the same room together (then again, it can be difficult to get their attention when you are in the same room together).  But overall, I was so impressed by and appreciative of the way that Facetime helped us to connect while I was so far away.

Having an image and being able to look into someone’s eyes, makes it so much easier to connect with our kids.  While it can be hard to have a real conversation over the phone with my son, Facetime helped us to connect with and really listen to each other.  For him, at seven, the fact that it was digital and a little techy made it exciting and more fun than holding a phone to his ear.

More than any other time, these business trips have emphasized for me just how much of a role technology plays in keeping us connected and close.  So often, parents bemoan technology and the ways it can fragment, or separate and certainly, this can be true, but in this crazy pace of life, we really are fortunate to have this kind of technology in that it can also keep us together.


They Need to Know You Are OK

One thing I have realized as a working mom who travels is that our kids need to know that we are safe and comfortable when we are away from them.  My son needs to know that when I leave home I am not just out in the ether.  Anything that we can do to help our kids visualize where we are and how we are, anything that provides context for them, helps to ease their minds – and gets them excited about the adventure we are taking, the adventure we are sharing with them as best we can.

My colleague Rebecca sent her daughter daily photos from our set and snapped pictures of the airplane before we boarded all of our flights.  All of this helped her daughter to see that mom is not just away from, she is out doing, and she is happy to share that with her. 

I Facetimed my son from my hotel room every morning (in spite of the time difference that had me up before 5 am) and took him on a tour so he could see the desk where I was working and the view from my window. He could see what I see and know what I am doing.  We could share moments with each other.

We Need to Know They Are OK

The challenges of business travel for working moms are not limited to managing the emotions, and the expectations of our kids.  We need to feel anchored to our children, to know that they are safe and well and thriving.  Knowing this makes it easier to be fully present in our work. It provides us comfort and security. It is essential to the success of our work.

My son’s annual field day was held while I was away and I was struggling a bit, knowing I would miss it.  But his dad shot video of him jumping hurdles and playing with his friends and sent them to me.  He recorded my son’s messages to me.  I cherished all of it. 

The videos made me feel connected and helped me to feel confident that, no matter what, my son and I share a bond.  And that I can still celebrate in his joys, even when I’m not right there on the sidelines.

What it Means to Have an Entrepreneur Mom

I love my business. I am excited to do the work that we do. I am inspired, energetic and moved by our work, but being an entrepreneur challenges me in all kinds of ways, some positive, some negative.

There are long hours, financial concerns, marketing hurdles and other challenges. It can feel relentless. I never feel like the work is done and I always feel a sense that I should be doing more, working harder. Sometimes I feel consumed by the business and distracted by it. I worry that building a business is taking me away from the most important part of my life, my son.

mompreneur lessons for my son

I don’t really believe in worrying in general as I don’t think worry actually buys us anything, so when I start to feel that way, I try to refocus my thoughts and come up with the positive things he is learning and experiencing as the son of an entrepreneur.

Here are some of them: 

1.  He is learning that hard work can be fun. I laugh a lot while I am working. I talk about how much I love my work with Portraits that Move and my son sees that.

2.  We can make our own dreams come true and that we should be fearless about it. I had an idea for this business and I went for it. It is working out for me and he is witnessing that. I believe that taking risks is important and the decision to create this business is a risk that has been incredibly rewarding.

3.  Collaboration is necessary. My son has gotten to know many of the people that are on our team. They love him and he loves them. The collaborations feel good.  They are fruitful and nourishing.

4.  He knows about the finances of business. I am an obsessive Shark Tank watcher.  We watch many episodes together and he has a better understanding of the finances of business at 7 than I did into my early twenties. He also has gut instincts about why a business may work or not and it is exciting for me to see his clear-headed decisiveness.

5.  Life can be balanced (I hope!)  I work really hard and from my home, so while my son does witness me working all the time, I still make dinner every night, host many playdates and make it to most events at school. I feel lucky to be able to create a balance and to make my own choices about my schedule.

6.  There is always more to learn. I am constantly pushing myself to learn about new approaches to the work we do, new business ideas and innovative strategies. I never rest or feel like we have done it all or like I know it all.

7.  We can lead with our hearts and feel good about who we are. Portraits that Move is a business built on the concept of joy, of family closeness and connection.

It is not surprising that I would build this type of company as I am a heart-centered person who appreciates and celebrates all of the joy that family brings. I created a company that reflects who I am and we are thriving. I am excited to do this work every day, and my son witnesses that and participates in it.

lessons for my son from mom entrepreneur

Recently on our walk to school, I asked him about what it means to have an entrepreneur mom, and what it means, specifically, to have Portraits that Move in our lives.

He paused for a second and said,

“I feel great about it Mom.”

“Why?” I asked, “Tell me more.”  

“Well,” he said, “Portraits That Move is great because it makes US really happy.” 

It certainly does.  And it is my privilege to share that joy with each one of you.  To help your children share their voices and to create a space for the conversations we most want to have, those conversations in which we learn as much from our children as we can ever hope to teach them, by our hard work, every day.

Continue to join me on this journey building a business and sharing joy.

A space for All of Us - In Front of the Camera

I have spent more than two decades behind the camera. As a young child, I wanted to be an actress, a performer and a singer.

I loved being on stage, but quickly found out that, even though I was driven, I was not particularly talented.

When I was fourteen I got lucky. The high school I attended had a public access television station, and I enrolled in a class to learn about video production.

My life changed.

I felt the creative rush of making something that the world could experience without having to be the one in front, performing. I could make decisions, have a voice and lead a project in a new way. I was hooked. I loved all aspects of producing.  I still do.

Later, I went to film school and graduate film school, embarking on the journey of learning how to be a good producer.  In the early days of my career, the voice of a film was really that of the director. The producer’s job was to stand behind the director and the on-camera talent - to be the support and power behind the public representation of a project.

I felt at home in that role, knowing I could make a difference while supporting the people with whom I worked. I could create a safe space for everyone involved with the project.

I could help them find and tell their truths, and share the message of the film.

Interestingly, now, after twenty years of that work, I am faced with a shift in roles, thanks to the launch of Portraits that Move – and this blog, specifically. I’m excited but, frankly, a little nervous to put my own voice out there, my image, and my ideas. It feels weird and unsettling to be in front of the camera instead of behind it, but it is exactly where I need to be.

Why? First, I believe that we should try things that scare us.  The other side of that risk is empowerment. Second, if I am asking people to be in front of the camera and tell their truths, then I need to do the same. This kind of trust, this type of dialogue is what we need for the authenticity and accessibility of Portraits that Move.

Sharing our feelings unites us and makes us feel closer.  A recent conversation with my cousin reinforced that perspective and suggested that this blog be a conduit for connection.  So, in that spirit, I hope that this space will be just that, a place for us to feel closer, to share in joy, and to be in this together.

Thank you in advance for the support and feedback, as I step out from behind the camera.  Looking forward to our continued conversation, and exploration of truth, connection and fearlessness together. 

~ Susannah Ludwig, March 2015