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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

My Portraits that Move Moment: Confessions of a Mom with too Much

No more stuff!  I must not be alone in this mantra, as we emerge from the holiday madness and our mailboxes, physical and digital, start filling up with Valentine's Day announcements: Sales!  Gift ideas!  Don't forget gifts for your pets!  Buy one, get one!  More, more, more.  

It has never been so clear to me that my family is at odds with our lifestyle.  We truly do have an abundance, but we are not living abundantly, not even close.  And it feels like we are moving farther and farther away from gratitude.  We are well past taking the advice to do more with less.  Now, it is time to have less - and to do less - in order to appreciate more.

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Looking around at all of this stuff, I realize that what I really want is three minutes.  I want three minutes of peace and calm.  Three minutes to give myself permission to do nothing but enjoy my daughter, to awaken gratitude, to replace the stress of excess with an awareness of abundance and a real appreciation for it.

I don't want tokens scattered across every empty surface to gather dust.  I don't want more photo albums I have to file.  I want three minutes that I can call up whenever I need to remind myself that underneath all of this mess, there is a beautiful, vibrant life and that there is a way to slow it down, to steady it, to bask in it. 

This is why I love working with Portraits that Move, because the filmmakers on this team use their professional experience and their artistry to hand deliver much needed moments to parents like me.

Elizabeth Eames, February 2018

When Our Children Stop Needing Us, What Happens to Our Connection?

I have been lucky to have had Elizabeth Eames as part of the Portraits that Move family for the last couple years. Liz has helped me to clarify and  communicate my vision for the company with leadership and with love. We recently had a touching conversation about the bittersweet feelings that accompany our children growing older. I encouraged Liz to write her thoughts and feelings. The result is the beautiful blog post below. I am grateful for her contribution, I hope you will feel the same.

My daughter is six years old and up to this point, time has been marked by milestones that help her to need me less.  Before we head into the Big Kid Years and careen into the tweens and teens, we look at the passing of time as the gaining of independence, and the ease that comes with it.  I eagerly awaited the new things that we could do together - our conversations, the opportunity for me to hear her observations, her own stories.  I couldn’t wait for the day I could take her by the hand and walk to the subway, the two of us heading off on an adventure together.  No diaper bag, no stroller, no extras toys to keep her occupied.

The summer my daughter was an infant, I looked forward to the next year, when she would be running around in the sand.  The summer she was a toddler, I looked forward to next year, when I wouldn't have to pack diapers or plan around naps.

There were days, early on, that I admit to feeling a sense of relief when veteran moms told me how quickly time passes.  Sometimes, we lose sight of the short years when we feel trapped in the long days.

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But something happened this summer.  While she was swimming farther and farther away and I was standing, watching.  Something happened when she was snuggled up next to me listening while I was reading.

Six years old.  This feels like a tipping point.  The changes time is bringing aren’t so much making it easier for us to be together, easier for us to get through our day – our shared day – as they are giving her the chance to make each day, each experience more her own.  And that is exciting.  And it is humbling.  It feels, now, like we are not only gaining with time, we are losing.  Losing the need for constant attention, losing the need for help with little things.  All those little things that connected us.  That kept us close together, in our space and in our hearts.

Next summer, she won’t need me to read her The House at Pooh Corner, the funny book with all those Chapters.  The book that launched her into hours of playtime, and inspired her to get lost in her imagination.  Will she want me to read to her?  Will she ask me to, if she does?  Will she invite me into her imagination?  Will she allow herself to spend enough time there?

In our rush to achieve, in our desire to look ahead to the next milestones, the easier day that’s around the corner, are we forgetting the joy of the journey?  Are we hurrying to a time when we remember the past fondly, forgetting that so much of that past was spent looking to the future?

I want to remember these moments, the summer of independence that we shared.  The start of a school year that I know is pulling her away from me and towards herself and all that knowledge and friendship and imagination will help her to uncover about the world. 

I want to be present, to be present for what is, right now, for her and for me and for us.  And as we look ahead and dream together, and look back and remember, I want to find - and to honor - what connects us.  Maybe that connection is need.  The need to love and be loved, the need to find and share joy, the need to embrace the life and the time we have been given.  And to celebrate it, together.

- Elizabeth Eames, September 2016

My Portraits that Move Experience By Elena Berger

I didn’t know what to expect when Susannah approached me about shooting a video of Charlie with Portraits That Move.  She had just launched and explained that she wanted to capture kids in their own environment, comfortable and being themselves. I knew Susannah’s extraordinary film work and knew that it would be special, but I didn’t expect it to have this level of kvell

It’s shot so beautifully and edited so well.  It brings so much joy every time we watch it.  The grandmothers?  Forget about it.  My mom calls it an “absolute treasure”.  My mother-in-law called it “spectacular” and that the added shot of outrageous little brother Hank was “brilliant."

I had Charlie and Hank re-watch it now that some time has passed.  Both would have been happy if I put it on a loop for the rest of the day.  Charlie couldn’t remember the things he had originally said and giggled the whole way through. Hank just shouted “I LOVE that video!”.  My husband considers it one of the most beautifully crafted memories of our children. 

Photos are great and videos are fabulous, but having a Portraits that Move film is a gift that brings smiles to everyone in the family over and over again.  It means so much to have this moment of my boys to cherish.  Everyone says that this time goes so quickly, appreciate it while it’s here.  Having our Charlie video truly makes that statement real. The boys have matured a bit since the video was shot but I’ll have their deliciousness in a beautifully crafted little film forever. 

 

The Perfect Holiday Gift - A Parent's Story

My husband travels all the time for work. And my parents and in-laws live far away.  Portraits That Move allowed me to finally get all of them what they really wanted for Christmas:  more time with my children.

We shot the first video a few weeks before Christmas last year.  I didn’t let anyone in the family see one of the website’s sample finished products so no one was really sure what they were doing.  Nevertheless the kids had a great time with Susannah and Rafe, who both made them feel special and managed to capture them perfectly.   They were in our house for just a couple of hours, chatting with the children and watching them go about their day. We also spent time outdoors at a nearby soccer field.  I’m sure the neighbors were surprised to see a small video crew following us to the park!

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The finished product arrived just before St. Nick, on Christmas Eve before everyone went to bed.  All the stars aligned and I was able to get the Apple TV to work so that the whole family could watch their Christmas present. And it was beautiful. The video was amazing and everyone sniffled with joy.

But the joy didn’t end there.  Everyone has continued to watch the video throughout the year.  My parents admit to firing it up when they feel far away in Florida. And my husband keeps it at the bottom of his email. At night in his hotel rooms, when he’s working though the last emails of the day, he rewards himself with a view of the video. He watches it almost every night when he’s on the road.

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With such success, there could be no question that we had to do another video this year.  Susannah and Rafe came back to our house, having prepped by re-watching last year’s video.  They came with new questions and new ideas about how to best reflect our household. And again they were fun and warm and the kids had a great time.  I’m certain that this year’s video will also be a delight.  And I can’t wait for Christmas eve.

Brooklyn Author Mallory Kasdan: Our Kids Teach Us About Beauty, Kindness and Community

We are thrilled to have Mallory Kasdan, Brooklyn mom and author of the popular (and hilarious!) children's book Ella, join us today as a Portraits that Move guest blogger.

Mallory's post, which first appeared on her blog, shows how our children teach us curiosity, joy, gratitude and friendship every day, just by being who they are.

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