How do you photograph families in troubled times
I often get asked how I manage to work with families in difficult times so I've jotted down a few brief notes as my insomnia continues to haunt me, hoping this might help you some day.
Firstly, honesty is always the best approach. Family members will open up to you as much as you open up to them. Listen more and speak less. If they need a hug, hug them. Show them that you really care. If you don't care, you shouldn't be there in the first place. Don't ask searching questions, they will tell you what you need to know - and much more if they feel comfortable around you.
Don't try to be "the photographer". Be a friend, a support. What you are doing is giving them a wonderful gift of lasting memories.
We all feel vulnerable and self conscious at the best of times when being photographed - even more so when life's challenges become too great.
Go with the flow and allow life to unfold in front of you. When the patient looks tired ask the family if they'd like you to continue photographing or take a break. Keep the communication open at all times and never be pushy. Stay in the background and photograph what you observe. Allow the family to relax and enjoy quiet moments together whilst photographing from a respectful distance.
Observation and intuition will always be your best tools.
Most of all, appreciate the privilege of being invited into their precious lives. As a photographer we have an incredible gift to give.
Life is one big rush to the finish line, so let's stop and smell the roses along the way. I wish you and your families many beautiful moments together with your loved ones.