My Philosophy on Family Photos

I have a lot of inquiries as to whether or not I shoot family photos. You rarely see them on my social media or website, because to tell the truth, I don't often enjoy shooting them. It's not that I don't love kids or that I'm not good with them ( quite the opposite actually) but it's the stress that's always involved. "But aren't weddings stressful Alea" YES they are, but I'm still allowed to do the part of photography I love most, which is be a photojournalist and tell a story. Somewhere out there someone decided what "Family Photos" should look like, and I didn't get any say in the matter. So parents come to me with what they think they are supposed to do and the Pinterest photos they want, rightfully so, and I have to try to fit into the mold on what their vision is. That is not the part that bothers me, rather, it's the pressure tied to it for the children. The children are introduced to this stranger that is holding a foreign object in their face, they are wearing something they likely don't wear everyday, they are taken to a place they have likely never been before, its hot, or its cold, or there are dogs around that they just want to pet for the love of god, or its loud, or the energy is just off and it makes them cry. They don't want to smile or sit still, or listen to this stranger squeezing a loud toy to get their attention - all for a "good" photo. I have to try to reassure the parents that the kids always cry, they aren't the only ones and their " She never acts like this" or " I don't know what's gotten into him, he must need a nap" embarrassment isn't necessary but something makes them feel bad, like they failed at something. They are stressed that their normally well behaved and attentive child is acting out the one time they really need them to do them a solid ( especially since money is involved. )

The truth is, the kids read our energy and when we are stressed about "making something happen" boy o' boy that feels uncomfortable to them. There is too much pressure to have this picture perfect family, and from the likes of pinterest and instagram we've put in our heads this idea of how this little life should look. Personally, I don't like it. I've skimmed the surface of what I could do with families because the lack of photojournalism and authenticity makes it hard for me to do what I do best - which is tell a story. While some photographers are great with the setups and props and posing babies in the perfect little flower ( which is so darn cute I have to admit) I would make rather capture your kid playing in the mud or you guys having a real moment, that you always have when I'm not there. So when you look back at your family you remember "Oh, Indi used to love playing with cars...she would never leave the house without at least two of them." Instead of having a really cute photo but stressful memories of " Allie would not stop crying the whole time, but we finally got the shot." 

I would like permission to change the expectation and let the kids be kids. For me to come to your home for a couple of hours and hang out and capture your family as you are...rather than what you think you should be. These are moments I feel like will be more important as the time they stay that little goes by so fast. The children grow up, and move on and what you have left of the story of your growing family changes at light speed.  I don't believe those moments should be retrofitted into a box of what was trendy at the time, rather...how you would like to remember them. 

We walk into people's homes and see the traditional family portrait gracing the walls in matching outfits, and while there is a place for that, is that who your family is? Is that what represents your life best in those moments? I'm not asking to get rid of the "family photo" rather, if you're reading this and coming to me for portraits that it is because you want me to tell your family's story. ...whatever the story is that day. 

Alea Lovely
The Myth of Masculinity.

I've recently become intrigued by the idea of masculinity and what it means to be a man. With all my travels lately, I have begun to observe and experience men with different societal expectations and gender roles. In those encounters, I've found certain experiences to lead me to the conclusion that American masculinity or at least the definition of it, is a deep chasm of idiosyncrasies that are predicated on a false idea of what manhood really means. This kind of American Machismo that is taught from childhood such as "man up!" or "Boys don't cry", being made fun of for being too sensitive, or having to lie about their virginity and brag about sexual conquests to gain street cred, has limited our men in the range of behaviors they are allowed to exhibit. The idea if boys are mean to us or pull our hair that means they like us. "Boys will be boys" enforcing when they misbehave, that boys are innately unruly or unkind. One of the few male emotions that is seen as manly is aggression or anger. But if a man, doesn't show anger to being disrespected he's pressured to react impulsively rather than praised for being calm. I see so many couples walking around here with the girl holding his arm with his hand in his pocket, as if he's not really with her... because if really loves openly, or shows affection he is criticized for being "whipped". If he cries or get emotional, he's a "pussy" ( which lets be clear should be a compliment, pussy's are very strong). Being a man means being the antithesis of anything feminine and seeing such a dichotomy after my travels has shown me we have given our men a very narrow view of what masculinity is. Their masculinity is constantly up for question of what it means to be a " Real man." But what qualifies as real? It's something that they constantly have to prove... instead of get to be. And when a man is sensitive or outside of our manufactured ideals, we almost don't know what to do with it. 

These are my own thoughts and observations. As a feminist I believe that as we empower women and dispel the myths and social constructs that damage us, I believe that should also include the ideals and constructs that damage men. I have started this personal project to dispel the narrow idea of what "being a man" looks like. For my first one, I focused on the tears. I think it takes great courage for a man to be able to cry these days. 

Alea Lovely