There are fewer things as a parent that give me more stress than trying to predict the behavior of my children in the face of an important event. Those child sized grocery carts at our local food co-op come in at a close second, but even then, I have been successful at distracting them with the blueberry display as we book it past those tiny carts of terror.
Family photos are just one of those events that make me a little frazzled. Okay, more than just a little. I’ve been known to bribe my children with promises of treasures beyond reason if they will just smile for the camera, stop poking one another, refrain from telling fart jokes, and sit up straight for those talented photographers who find joy in photographing children. My track record to date is marginal at best. It’s all I can do to choose outfits that sort of look good next to each other and don’t “feel weird”. Beyond that point, my mama methods to keep the peace are thrown to the wind once the tripod is set up and shutter starts clicking.
That all being said, when my family grew by one, and the selfies I was trying to take that included a family of 6 stopped looking even a little presentable, I knew that I needed a professional. On a whim, I contacted a woman from a local parenting group that I’m on. She happened to be running a special for the month of January. Folks, I did not think this through. If you’ve been to my house, I know what you are thinking, “Where?” If you haven’t been to my house, just imagine the smallest room in your house. Now fill it with some toys and homeschooling materials. Add in furniture. Do you have a vision of this utopia? Yes, but since we do live here, and because the kids absolutely love our home, I decided to go ahead and have our family photos taken in our living room. Yikes.
A few weeks before our session, I was sent the details of the shoot; what to wear, how much time to expect, the preparation of props if desired. Can you feel my stress level rise? Right. Outfits. For 6 of us. That look good together. And don’t “feel weird”. As I read through the blog post, I was immediately put at ease. Do you see what I saw? ‘Mama First’. That’s right, I was given the green light to choose what I wanted to wear first. Everyone else’s clothes needed to fall in line. Being a grown up with 40 years of experience wearing clothing, I know what looks and feels good on me. From there, dressing the rest of the family was much simpler since we were operating within specific parameters; does it coordinate with mom’s outfit and does it fit?
This very simple suggestion was just the beginning of what became an enjoyable experience with our photographer. So enjoyable in fact, that I promptly asked to book two more sessions almost immediately.
Friends, allow me to introduce you to Lily of Lily Watkins Photography. Lily lives in St Paul but travels all over Minnesota and Wisconsin to shoot weddings and family sessions. Lily also offers engagement sessions, high school senior photos, head-shots, and mini-sessions at various times of the year. She also covers events such as conferences, baptisms, and ordination services. We are excited to have her photograph a skateboarding session with my husband and son later this year.
Lily has been a photographer for 5 years, and her craft was born from the simple desire to shoot better photos of her own family. After a rare virus altered her hearing in one ear, Lily needed to drastically scale back on her true passion; music. For 25 years, Lily’s music career included playing cello and teaching piano. As a college graduate of piano performance, scaling back was difficult. Lily believes that as God shuts one door, He opens another. It was just a span of one month between buying her first camera and losing her hearing that Lily was able to transfer her love and passion for music into that for photography. Taking personal photos led to taking classes and refining her skill. Soon, Lily had a few paying customers, and her new business was born.
As part of my own interview process, I am curious as to how people view their uniqueness. This is a question that I ask everyone. Based off of our experience with her, I was not surprised to learn the answer.
Lily’s goal is to make the whole photography experience, from the session to the finished, printed product, a relaxing and pleasant experience. From the crankiest toddler to the most nervous bride, Lily spares no attention to the process. I can personally attest to this as we did not have one tear shed or one tantrum launched over our 60 minute photo session. Her patience and calmness exudes beyond the physical session and into the actual photographs. The difficulty for me was in the decision making process. I expected to have a choice of maybe 20 good photos, but instead a was presented with a choice of upwards 50 images, each one sweeter than the last. The unique personality of each child was captured perfectly as was the dynamic of our family as a whole.
Since Lily only accepts a few weddings a year, she is able to provide each couple with her undivided attention. She offers unlimited phone consultations as well as a custom timeline creation as a part of her wedding package. This year, she is also offering a complementary engagement photo session for every wedding booked ($300 value).
Capturing special moments in life does not need to be a stressful experience. Booking the ‘perfect for you’ photographer whose passion and experience come through in each and every interaction and photo takes the pressure off of you as the client.