Modern School Photography … what a breath of fresh air! The little guy above certainly agreed!
It was a chilly Vancouver morning when I arrived at this beautiful Montessori preschool. I was greeted with some bashful waves from kids in the room, while some were so engrossed in their activities that they ignored me as only a 4-year old can! But it wasn’t long before I had about seven little bodies all wanting to help me with my equipment. And the questions! So … many … questions! “Who are you?”, “Can we jump on this?”, “Do you know my mom?”, “Want to guess the name of my puppy?” … Bless their little inquisitive hearts!
As the day went on and I started photographing these spirited young ones, I noticed how each and every child very clearly expressed their personality in front of the lens. And my heart sang for the serious ones, the introverts, the silly ones, the superstars … they were free to show me who they really were, and allowed me to capture that with my camera. There was no production line approach like we know with traditional school photos. Some kids came with big smiles and had 50 photos taken in 3 minutes. Others took a little longer to open up and trust me, and it was liberating that I could take as much time with each child as they needed.
Modern School Photography allows every kid to be themselves
I’m sure many children, who are deep souls and not prone to uncontrollable giggles all the time, loathe being told to “Smile! Say cheese! One more smile! Smile!” With me, they were free to be serious if they wanted to be. And the results are breathtaking.
There is so much power in a simply soft smile. My secret to getting some of these? I ask them to close their eyes, think of a happy memory like Christmas or a vacation or a favourite pet for a minute, and then I ask them to simply open their eyes. That’s the moment I capture.
Oh, and then there are the silly ones. Well, I tend to be pretty silly during our conversations, and so these precious expressions are the result of an abundance of fart jokes and peek-a-boo games.
Sure, we have lots of fun during sessions. But then every now and then I find one of these close-up shots, and it stops me in my tracks. I mean … those lashes, right!It was lovely to see so many siblings at the school, and I’m glad that I could give these parents the chance to get both their kids in one shot together. There is a lot of squeezing and twirling and wrestling going on between siblings, but that’s who they are now, and so that’s what I’ll record!
There was no shortage of kids who were just happy to laugh and giggle with me. Photographing 60 kids is exhausting, I won’t lie, but they make it so much fun – the time flies!
A heartwarming moment…
I visited the school a few weeks after the session to deliver some gorgeous prints that parents ordered. And I saw one of the little girls, proudly sporting 2 new front teeth growing in. That’s when I remembered what she looked like the last time I saw her. And I said a little thank-you prayer that I was there to capture this moment that one day, her own kids will smile about.
My experience at this preschool was so rewarding. I couldn’t help but be reminded of an article I read about the Montessori method of teaching. “Instead of being traditionally taught, kids are encouraged to make their own choices in the classroom, with a teacher to guide them along the way. At the center of Montessori education is self-direction. ”
I was able to adhere to the principles of Montessori by giving these special kids the room for self-expression during our session. And that, my friends, makes me squeal in delight!
What is modern school photography?
Modern school photography is the opportunity to capture the personality and the spirit of each child, without awkward poses, cheesy props, and busy backdrops, by photographing the child against a simple backdrop, in a fun, light-hearted environment where each kid can relax and be themselves.
Rochelle Hepworth is a Vancouver lifestyle family photographer who brings the same sense of authenticity from her regular photography sessions into these modern school photography sessions. If you know of a school who may be interested, please contact me!