We’ve all seen stylishly created family portraits, maternity memories of ‘glowing’ Mums and melt-your-heart newborns. We’ve admired them flush with the beauty of innocence, the relaxed demeanour of parents and children.
And yet it is a path well trodden, a formula with few remaining new ideas.
It’s tough for photographers who get a window of an hour, maybe two – a brief opportunity to get the memories of a lifetime. One Brisbane-based photographer is moving away from the traditional ‘moment in time’ approach, and applying a photojournalistic approach to the mix. “We had our own family photos taken about four years ago, and although we all looked good and had smiles on our faces, I cannot remember that particular time of my life,” said Jannine McFarlane, owner of JVB Photography. “Also, I have no extended family here in Australia and get really sad when I realize that our lives are not being shared with family overseas”. These journeys can take many forms. How about the first phone calls to the bank for a business loan, to the day your new shop opens; the first day at school; the arrival of a new puppy, and even the journey of birth.
But who would want a stranger to photograph some of the most intimate times of your life? To be there in the hospital, the kitchen, the bedroom?
For Katy and Grainger Laffan, and their seven-year daughter, Samira from The Gap, it was a leap of faith. “I was really not up for a traditional pregnancy photo shoot as I did not feel glowing or gorgeous. In fact, I was a bit dubious about having a stranger around, but my fears were put to rest because the photographer was so discreet. My husband and I are both journalists and were very interested in telling the story as we lived it. It was also important to us to be able to share it with our family, since most of them are overseas and couldn’t be part of it.” In a world where social media controls much of what we do, where hardly anything is spared the selfie, or the out of focus group photo, the real skill of creating a story through photography has been diluted. Too often, our ‘quality’ filters are switched to ‘low’, at best!
“This is a huge journey for me too”, Jannine added. “I want the best angles and the striking individual photos that are captured in the moment and not staged, the quality picture you can hang on your wall. But if there is a tantrum to be captured, I will get that too. For this is life”.
With our new global community of photojournalists, we are now more often exposed to the dark side of life’s journey. So, perhaps using this photojournalistic style to document the joys in our lives has more to offer than just the provision of memories. Maybe it balances our frequently bleak image of the world with a bit more love.
For more details contact Jannine via www.jvbphotography.com.au.[gap height=”2″]
Words by Colin Bushell