Although I am a family photographer, one of my most popular offerings is actually not family photography! I get lots of calls from mommas who have been on the ‘And now, THIS weekend, I will finally get that family photo gallery onto my walls’ bandwagon for a while now, but haven’t been able to squeeze it in between all the momming.
I invented this little service a number of years ago when I was hearing from moms quite a bit on the topic: YES they saw the Pinterest photo gallery walls, YES they want that and YES, they really tried to make it happen, but, hey the kids are alive and did all their homework this year, SO.
Here’s what I usually do for most clients, although some are a little different. I’ll talk about the creative exceptions to the rule at the end of this post.
No 1 – The Archeological Dig
Now don’t be embarrassed about this if I come to your house and this is you. I’ve seen it lots of times: the shoe box FULL to the brim of professional photos of the 1st child, the halfway started album for the second one and mostly phone photos for third. Girl, I will never judge you because JUST THIS YEAR I got my own family photos onto my walls. I’m in your house to help you make things look pretty, so we will take whatever you have (and maybe make a little bit more to fill in).
So, DIG UP everything you have: old thumb drives, the files on the computer from college that may or may not be already dead, the CDs from the first shoots, the framed 5x7s that grandma gave you. AND THEN, Keep Digging! If you are anything like me, you have all kinds of snapshots you totally adore … your granny as a war bride, your mom with her 80’s hair and your sister looking dapper in some extra special fashion statements.
ALL of this should go onto the breakfast nook table right before I arrive, because more is more and we are about to curate your collection. But, we need to consider the body of work, so to speak, in order to edit it into a thing of beauty and a joy forever.
No 2 – Planning While Walking And Drinking Coffee
This is actually just a conversation we have about what you want, whilst walking through your house. It’s my time to observe your colors, your style and talk to you what you like and don’t like about your décor. I have a mountain of ideas I’m dying to do for clients – both photo shoot concepts, framing schemes – and so I’ll run a few things by you to see if there are any projects you want to do.
One thing that most clients don’t realize when we start out is that we absolutely do not have to be talking about photography at this stage. If your collection of family momentos are objects or artwork, these make FABULOUS art for the home … and do ALL the things. Like, bring tons of joy to you when you look at them.
After I get a good sense of what’s ‘in your shoebox’, what your colors are and where you’re envisioning taking your family photography, we go to No. 3:
No 3 – The measuring, more measuring and even more measuring (by Kate)
I have a handy dandy software program where I can pop in a photo of your wall, along with some measurements and show to how what we are thinking about will look, to scale. This is SUPER INVALUABLE. I can’t say enough about how much I love this program. It REALLY takes the guess work out. So, I usually take myself on a tape measure tour of your home while you wrangle your kids for snack times or do similar mom-like things and then we go on to …
No 4 – The Design Brief
This step is usually done either over email or on a 2nd visit in your home. It’s our most important deliverable: I create a brief for you of everything involved in your project – all the walls, all the pieces, all the measurements, all the finishes, pricing, options – everything. Yes, it’s a lot of work on my part, but it’s our most valuable step because it shows you what I think you are thinking before we start printing and assembling AND you can change anything before we begin. Since most of my clients have a large scale project – several rooms with multiple pieces each – this document is where we collect all the ideas and revisions. We may do several revisions before I am ready to sign off on starting the project. I work with a custom framer who can make just about anything happen (and has!) for me, so we usually go back and forth a bunch in the design process, talking through choices that I’ll take to my client and put into the design brief.
No 5 – Proofing
This part is one of my favorites! Since I have allllll the fancy dancy photographer tools on my end, I can brighten, enlarge, black and white and otherwise make beautiful all of your old photos before they go on the wall. Some photos really need to live in their new frame home in their original form if the character of the photo is part of its charm, but I will photograph and edit many other photos so that we have a cohesive framing design and all the images blend well.
No 6 – Installation
I know it feels like I am skipping a ton of steps between No. 5 and No. 6 and … I am! The magic happens backstage, folks! Once the preliminary stages of talking, curating and designing are behind them, my clients simply sit back and get ready for delivery day. On my end, I’m busy in the workshop making sure that all the details are right. There are a few million variations on framing choice, and while I want the process to be very simple for my client, I am making sure it’s all exactly right behind my Wizard of Oz curtain – paper weight, deckling, floating, archival materials that won’t yellow your photo, linen under mats, rabbet height, etc.
Now, occasionally I get a client who wants to go ALL OUT. I think you can guess that I am ALL for that. If they want a giant filmatic-ly grainy black and white of their children playing in the rain for the dining room – or super hilarious ‘monster’ faces in a series of 4 up the stairway – or a lifesized underwear and super hero cape mixed media photo/painting in the playroom – all I can say is …. YAS.
This kind of project makes my heart sing, and I am always up for it!
I hope that fills you in a bit on this unique service (that seems to grow ever increasingly popular each year!) that I offer.
If you are interested in meeting to talk about me curating your family photo collection, you can book an appointment HERE.
I’d love to see you!
Kate Byars is an Atlanta based family photographer specializing in photo curation and custom fine art for interior décor.