The Unexpected Photo Session / by Mark Van Noy

A funny thing happened at a recent photoshoot.  Normally, I want to keep the number of people in the room to a minimum in order to prevent distractions.  Much like public speaking, having lots of people in the room can make individuals nervous and uncomfortable.  Feeling uncomfortable is really the antithesis of flattering pictures.

For this session, I had everyone that was participating as well as their families in the room at the same time.  Both child and adult dancers were being photographed so I was getting a bit worried about the amount of distractions.  I could not think of a polite way to have only the people being photographed and their family in the room at any given time so I just decided to roll with it.

Sure enough, I had multiple side conversations going on behind me, my directions I was trying to give were getting lost by way of competing instructions from other people in the room, and things generally devolved into barely controlled chaos.  If someone were describing this scenario to me, I would think it sounded horrible and ask if they mentally screamed, “Never again,” once the session was done.

Instead, I think this may have been the most fun I have had with a photo session.  While it was chaotic and still would not be my preferred way of managing a shoot, it was also extremely dynamic and lead to a good number of unplanned pictures that are fast becoming some of my favorite.  There was so much laughing, smiling, and just genuine emotion as everyone around me joked with each other.  I did not have to be the least bit concerned with getting a nice big smile from anyone.  Children that started the shoot looking like they had been dragged there by their parents were beaming by the end.

So, was this kind of environment more work for me?  Yes, yes it was.  Did I get the shots the customer was looking for?  Absolutely; every shot on the punch list was knocked out before I let the silliness get out of control.  Were the children the worst offenders?  Nope, some of the adults were the most distracting.  Did it work?  Yes, it worked out very well.  We got the shots that were needed and more.  I am glad that I let the session run in totally random directions once I had the requested shots because, ultimately, this was a really positive experience.