Powerful Moments


I’ve seen powerful images in all facets of photography, from street portraiture to landscapes. As I grow and see my own photographic vision develop, more and more the powerful moments I’m capturing are the small, personal moments... the moment two children make each other laugh, a family all snuggled in bed together... a mother bathing her child in the kitchen sink.


These are the instances that leave me in awe of the beauty of the life I’ve been blessed with. These are the moments that bring a tear to a mother’s eye, whether seen from the perspective of five or 50 years.


In the same way your sense of  smell can take you right back to a moment in time, truly personal images can pull a viewer into that moment. Too often we get caught up in styling our family portraits like a commercial photo shoot. What is the purpose of a family portrait, if not to remind us of who we really were at that moment?


I always love a client who starts off by telling me about some little expression or aspect of personality that they are hoping to capture. This tells me that we are working toward the common goal of capturing the essence of this moment in a life that is so precious they don’t want to let it go.


I think it’s important to take a moment and decide what aspect of your subject’s personality you want to capture. From that point you can start figuring out how to let them shine. A messy toddler might be best photographed in a driveway with a bucket of sidewalk chalk. I’ll often ask little boys to help me “fix” something and click away as their facial expressions reflect their attempts to puzzle out a problem. Want a great portrait of a mother and a newborn? Instead of trying to get all faces pointed at the camera, smiling away, have mom look at her baby and watch her face come alive with joy and awe.


When working with a family, it can often be difficult to get past the "perfect" image they imagine. Traditionally, I start a session with the more formal images to give them the impression and reassurance that we have the “important shots” done. After that I encourage them to relax and play while I capture a few extra images. The families that are able to really let their guard down and be their true selves with a camera present are the ones who can truly capture "time in a bottle"—or in a photograph.


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 Thanks for the recommendations, I'm in the Dallas area, but I went ahead and purchased a few assorted rolls to shoot.  It's been a long time,  should be fun.

I don't know where you are, but here in NYC, there are quite a few labs that do traditional processing. Click here for some recommendations.

No problem, I do miss film... I only let go of my medium and large format equipment a year or two ago.  The editing demands of todays clients make a bit of Photoshop work a must anymore.   I've been itching to shoot a few rolls of film, but don't have a lab that does traditional printing.  Any recommendations?

Thank you. It's hard to tell on a cheap PC monitor. I asked because some of our other art-photographer guest writers still capture their images on film.

 All of these images were shot digitally using either my NikonD300 or D700.   I originally made the transition from film to digital in 2001 with the Nikon D1.

Are the originals made on film, or are they digital?

Thank you all for the compliments,  I had pulled some samples in color as well as black and white, but I tend to lean toward black and white when an image has a powerful emotion or composition.  While I do have images I love that are color, I feel like the black and white is well suited toward timeless moments.  I also tend to use b&w as a sort of "test" of the strength of an image. 

These are absolutely beautiful! We all want to capture these perfect moments when our children are so happy and laughing. Great advice and will look forward to working on this.

 I also notice all of the example photos are BW, I'd love to see a comment on why that is.

 Good advice, I recently photographed a New Born and the client did want a specific expression captured. I just stick around til I see it, but this article will help me hone my captures.