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The Family Narrative (new orleans)
The Family Narrative (new orleans)
The Family Narrative [New Orleans, LA]

Y’all. It took me three whole days to even attempt to write this post. When I got back from The Family Narrative, my brain was so chock-full of emotions and new information that all I wanted to do was SLEEP, recover, and spend a quiet few days at home with E.

Now that I’ve had a weekend to process everything, I am just overwhelmed with gratitude for a transformative few days spent in New Orleans.

Let me back up and explain what I’m even talking about! The Family Narrative is an extremely unique conference/retreat created exclusively for family photographers. I applied back in the thick of busy season in October, craving a way to connect with other people who understood what an amazing job we have, but could also relate to the unique challenges and goals that come with photographing families for a living.

Man, did TFN deliver!

The founders and speakers created an honest environment where it felt safe to be open with each other about our lives and businesses. The teachers were so confident, yet so humble. Their positivity and humor was contagious. I’m beyond grateful for a good dose of inspiration and wisdom this past week.

The very first speaker, Tash, went around the room and asked us WHY we became family photographers in the first place. As everyone shared their answers, I started to tear up — because I could relate to so many of the beautiful answers, and because it reminded me of the passionate place from which I started my business. 10 years ago when I started photographing clients for the first time, I only had one goal: to give families the gift that my own dad gave to me through his candid, honest snapshots of my brother’s and my childhood. Forget the bookkeeping, Photoshop tips, email productivity…the entire core of my business boils down to the reason I started it. Remembering that purpose was a huge gift and I’ll carry that with me in my sessions this year.

The photographers at TFN also reminded me of another belief I had started to lose track of: that an EMOTIONAL photo is better than a PERFECT photo any day. Of course I want my clients to have the best images possible, so my quest for perfection comes from a place of good intention. But if I photograph a split-second moment of a toddler grinning at her mama, and that photo happens to be the tiiiiiniest bit out of focus, that moment is worth delivering to my client anyway. Because the most important part of my images isn’t technique — it’s making the person who views it FEEL something. I’m inspired to include more joy in every image I photograph.

Finally, it surprised me how many topics we covered outside of photography, and how much those conversations changed my perspective on my work. We talked about long-term illness and life purpose. We talked about burnout and making space for the people and things we love most. We talked about being compassionate and empathetic. We talked about motherhood, and the mamas in the group lent an understanding ear as I talked through my excitement (and sometimes fear) about starting my own family around the corner. All of these conversations reminded me that the person we are behind the camera has a huge impact on what we see through the lens.

I can’t wait to take all of this inspiration and use it to better serve my clients this year! Thank you to the beautiful people at TFN for helping me love my job even more!!

***

Honestly, I don’t have that many photos from New Orleans. I spent more time listening and thinking than I did taking pictures. But I still took a few here and there:

 

Hotel Pontchartrain was absolutely fabulous, and I loved its quirky details and pops of color. My room is pictured above (I want that headboard ASAP!) and the incredible Portrait Room is pictured below.

     

This is the view of NOLA from the top of the hotel at Hot Tin. We spent the first evening up there listening to the most incredible live band (Michael Watson and the Alchemy).

Unfortunately I didn’t see much of NOLA while I was in town (and I definitely plan to fix that on a future visit!), but I did take an hour just to walk around the French Quarter. I loved the character-filled buildings, live music drifting through the air on Frenchmen Street, and of course the famous powdery beignets! I ordered one beignet and got three, and somehow they all disappeared in about two minutes flat. I’m still not sure where they went 😉

This is Erica! I photographed her family about six years ago when I was in Rochester, NY for college. We both happened to register for TFN separately and I was so happily surprised to see her name on the list of attendees!

 

The next few images are from mini-sessions photographed at the hotel by some of the teachers. Ike & Tash, Summer Murdock, Reg Campbell, and Dana Pugh all demonstrated their talent for us! What a privilege to watch these artists do their thing.

Finally, here’s a photo of the four other Boston photographers in the group! I only knew one of these ladies before TFN, so I walked away with three new Boston friends.

When I left to catch my plane on Thursday, I felt so much love from every person who said goodbye that I started crying when I walked out the door. I’m grateful to everyone for sharing their hearts so openly this week, and I know that they will all have an impact on my work for many years to come.

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