What Gloria has achieved in this session has documented the imagination and dreams of her 6 year old son. Sure, it’s not the photojournalistic-only-shoot-what-is-happening-and-nothing-more definition we so often hear of a typical documentary-style shoot. She planned a session. She planned its details through the location and accessories. Yet, through a mix of letting him lead the day + letting his real-life dream come to life on this afternoon, she has genuinely documented something special and important. The end result can often be what is MORE important than the label of the approach. It’s where documenting meets artistic vision to tell a story.
This community was born upon the idea of infusing real-life stories into your clients’ photo sessions in a non-intrusive, candid way. Right off the bat, I met photographers in love with our philosophy, but needed a little help in being unafraid to take this approach in their business. Soon enough, family documentary photography and beyond has grown into a bit of a current trend. More photographers are taking on this approach and more are also starting to teach this approach, offering products & classes to other photographers. It’s been heartwarming to watch, but it’s been a little sad to see such a beautiful thing often lead to further discussions of shooting rules (insert my eye-roll here). I go into that conversation in this post about rules.
What I’ve noticed is this shift from photographers being afraid to NOT direct clients and go after their passion for documenting to the polar opposite: now some photographers are afraid to interact with their clients.
At first glance, I saw Gloria’s photos below as a session orchestrated by a photographer. When do you see a young boy, dressed as a business man, reading the newspaper and in a train station? Gloria knows our community (and was my favorite pick in our 2015 community challenge 17 Photos to Inspire You in Documenting Adult Men), so I knew there had to be more to the story. And there is! When you read her words behind the session, you see that this session is about documenting the dream of her 6 year old. How can you document a dream… something that has not happened yet? Working towards the dream is what is happening now, but the dream itself is in the future. Yet a dream is an important piece of our identity, part of our individual, unique story.
So what I love so much about this session, is that Gloria has documented this story in her own way. I imagine her son growing up, leaving the nest, and off to fulfill his dreams. Will he be a dapper, young business man? A doctor? An entrepreneur? Only time will tell and this session will be the coolest thing for Gloria and her son to look back upon once he settles into his life later on.
Here’s what Gloria had to say about this session:
Photography life can be a little frustrating at times. I planned this session over a year ago to document my son’s 6th year. He loves trains and he loves to dress up “like a business man” almost every day. Kids grow and change so quickly so it was really important to me to make sure this part of his life was documented. I knew Union Station would be the perfect place to take him. Not only is it beautiful with incredible light, but this train station has as much personality and life as his old soul seems to have. I had the worst time finding a briefcase, but thanks to his kindergarten teacher we got one and we were, thankfully, able to go.
When we got there it was HOT, there was no parking and of course, of all times, Union Station was under construction with ugly scaffolding covering a lot of my favorite parts of the station. I began to think this session was not meant to happen. I’m glad I forged ahead. All I did was tell my son we were going to go to the train station to hang out and have some lunch. What I documented was a six year old boy’s imagination unfolding. He pretended to read his newspaper while waiting for his train, looked for his next train on the board, telling me where he’d like to travel someday. He ran down the stairs to catch his train then walked tiredly through the station after coming back from a long day at work. He led the entire day, enjoying exploring the train station. I sat back with my camera and watched, enjoying seeing my love for motherhood and photography come together. I love this boy so much. Hopefully, when he’s 40 years old, showing his wife and kids these photos – they’ll all see what I saw in him that day.
You can follow Gloria at the following links:
About Gloria Plunkett:
I am a photographer, a wife, a mom to a 6 year old boy and most recently to a 9 month old Siberian Husky puppy. If you ask my mom, I was born with a camera in my hands. I have always though photography was magical and knew from the start that it would always be a huge part of my life. At 19, about a year after receiving my first SLR, I had an epiphanous moment while sitting in my college parking lot wondering why I was majoring in something I wasn’t fully passionate about. With that thought, my life changed and my journey began. I started out in wedding photography which slowly turned into newborn photographer which has now fully evolved into family photographer. I tend to shoot what feels right in my heart. I think of my own son and what I would want photographed as a mother and it is always the true self of whoever is in front of my camera. My goal is always to turn that around and give the same to the families that come to me. If you would have told me 10 years ago that this would be me, I would have laughed. I never thought about photographing families! It was just a natural progression over time but I have come to love it so much. It’s funny how life leads you to exciting and unexpected places after some time.