I recently had the pleasure of working with an amazing Denver family who helped me truly understand how powerful photographs can be. I first got to know the Ahlstrand family at their consultation, which conveniently was held at Panera Bread (because I have needs, too). I start every client relationship with an in-person consultation to make sure we are the best fit as photographer and client, as well as discuss and plan their portrait session with me. And in this case, stock up on insanely tasty and moderately priced carbohydrates.
Many of my new Family Photojournalism clients are nervous about how I will be able to capture candid imagery of their family. They are used to more traditional and posed family photographs and while they love my style, aren't quite sure how their family will fit into it. The Ahlstrand Family was no different. They thought about having their photos done outside in a Botanic Gardens type of setting. I wasn't sold and asked if that was something their family typically does, or if that was just where they assumed you take family photos. We went back to the drawing board a few times.
By the time their photoshoot day arrived, we had a solid plan in place. Abby and Maddie (the Ahlstrand girls) are both Irish step dancers and devote much of their week to training and competitions. And being a former professional dancer, I jumped at the chance to photograph Meghan and Kelly observing them because parents are the quiet superheroes behind almost every professional dancer's career. Family Photojournalism sessions are meant to tell the story of your family in that moment in time, and since much of this family's time is spent in a dance studio that is where we decided to meet!
As the day began, I saw the girls preparing and taping their shoes just like I've seen my Riverdancing boyfriend do so many times. The dedication to their art form is so beautiful and not something everyone appreciates. It takes a great number of years for a seasoned performer and artist to grow out of a consistently hard-working student with big dreams.
Seeing Meghan and Kelly's proud faces warmed my heart so much. This is the kind of loving support that so often builds a solid foundation for the most successful dancers.
After the girls finished up at the studio, they had worked up quite an appetite. And in my photojournalistic way, I of course followed along to document everything. It's also possible that I was in it for the food, but I digress.
Upon leaving Pieology (a new favorite of mine after this photoshoot) we headed towards the Ahlstrand's beautiful home. The family had initially been hesitant to have their home photographed because it wasn't "perfect" and certain parts were being redone. But eventually I convinced them that photographs in the home they spend so much time making memories in would mean more to them decades to come than photographs in some "picturesque" location.
The more they relaxed, the more they forgot that I was there. It is always my goal to be a fly on the wall in my Family Photojournalism sessions. And again, to consume bread whilst on the job.
As Maddie and Meghan started to cook...
...Kelly decided to help Abby hang a Riverdance poster in her newly redone bedroom.
As our time together started to wind down, I noticed that the family had several heirloom albums hanging around. Since relocating to Denver, I have been finding that most of my clients already appreciate and see the value of a printed photograph (music to my ears). I asked them to get one of the albums out and before I knew it, they were all transported back into their past, which is the power that every photograph holds! Seeing them actually flipping through pages of photographs, instead of swiping through an online gallery, made me truly smile inside.
The final album the family went through was Meghan and Kelly's wedding album. I knew I was going to be photographing a wedding very shortly, with the end result being a beautiful and archival quality album. Seeing the Ahlstrand Family revisiting their wedding day through photographs made me excited to be able to do that for somebody else soon.
It was an incredibly successful and fun day. And my favorite image of the day was also one of theirs, as it's now hanging as a gorgeous and sleek metal print on the walls of their home:
Thank you, Ahlstrand Family...it was an incredible privellege to photograph...and eat bread with you.