The Family photographer. When my family left Granite City, IL to go live in Kentucky, one of the changes we had to adjust to not being around our family. Besides going to church with many family members, every year, we would have a Miller family reunion, and I remember someone usually had a camera. My mother was pretty faithful about getting our family pictures taken ever year Christmas cards, but we also have candid photographs that were taken from reunions, parties or other events. Now, we have boxes full of images that are some of our greatest treasures. Some were taken by professional photographers and others were snapshots by family members. When I hear someone say "The Family photographer" I always think of it two different ways the family member who is a photographer or a professional who is that family's go-to portrait artist. In part one, I celebrate all those relatives who show up to the Christmas programs, birthday parties, and family picnics- The Family Photographer.
The Photographer in the Family
Seems like every family has that one member who they call "The photographer in the family." They are the ones who have all the pictures and makes sure every event has been thoroughly covered. It seems like they have a great sense of pride in their heritage and wants to pass that on to future generations, and with this unique perspective, their approach isn't necessarily about posing but rather memory capturing. This person might not be a photographer by profession, but their images are always cherished. My mother had an uncle who took pictures at her wedding, and she always would talk about how much she loved his images. She would explain that the moments he captured were some of her favorites and that it was pretty special to have an Uncle take the pictures. While he did have some really nice equipment, she was more impressed with the moments Uncle Jack captured than the gear.
Uncle Jack definitely made and impact on my understanding of what a photographer is, and now that I look back I think he was the first photographer that made an impression on me. He always seemed to have a camera handy and was chronicling family events like our annual reunions. I actually bought one of his tripods at one of the reunion's auctions, and it's one of the best ones I've ever used. I won't be parting with it anytime soon. As mentioned earlier, we have a collection of images from past and several of them are from our yearly reunions. There's even a set where I think every attendee had their picture taken (whether they were ready for it or not lol) These images serve as a record of a moment in time where all of our family was together and are permanent documents to the Miller family photographer.
Fast forward to 2017, it's my sister Sarah's wedding day and I'm the photographer. I don't take on many wedding services for a variety of reasons, but Sarah would not let me say no. Normally when I need to be included in a family picture, I use a tripod and a timer. However for this special image I went a different direction. I love a picture with a story, and the picture of all of us has one. I posed everyone, but Uncle Jack took that picture. It is one of my personal favorites from that day. I'm a bit of a sentimentalist, so I will always remember that moment and think it's pretty awesome that my Uncle who took pictures at my mom's wedding took this image at my sister's. In November of 2019, I was able to capture some of his own milestones at his 50th anniversary party; it was definitely an honor and highlight of my career. Uncle Jack probably gave me the first impression of what a photographer does. He captured moments, and in my own journey that has been a part of my approach to a session.
UWAC- Uncle With A Camera
On Mother's Day 2012, my brother and his wife announced that they were expecting, which meant that I was going to be an uncle! I knew I wanted to be this kid's personal paparazzi, but I wanted to be able to take his pictures skillfully as well. I'm thankful for the people who come into my life at just the right moment. Melanie Wells, a photographer in Hodgenville, Kentucky, was my first mentor. During the summer, I would pay her to teach me about posing, lighting, even editing techniques. When Zaxton was born on Christmas day that year, I earned the title the Uncle With A Camera, and I'm not ashamed of that either. In 2013, I opened my business, and it's been a journey since then. I love being "That Uncle."
Next week, I'll be discussing the other kind of Family photographer, but today I wanted to shed some light on the unsung hero. Uncle with a camera may have a negative connotation in some photographer circles, if it wasn't for those family members who would tell our stories? To all those uncles, aunts, parents, grandparents or just friends who have invested your time and money to preserve our legacies. Thank you. Not every family reunion, birthday party or family gathering requires a professional to be there, so thank you.