"Say Cheese!" my son exclaimed when photographing me with the camera on my phone. My pulse began to quicken. Whaaaaat??? "Saboteur," I thought.
Who could have taught him this phrase?? It certainly wasn't me. I quickly placed the blame on many well-intentioned but misguided souls (probably grandparents, aunts and uncles... because when in doubt, just blame someone...) who think my boys are every bit as photo worthy as I do. I mean, let's be honest. They are the cutest THE CUTEST. But they are waaaay cuter when their bellies are being tickled than when they are saying "cheeeeeeese!"
The father of fake smiles.
The champion of superficial emotion that doesn't go all the way up to the eyes.
It's my nemesis.
And it should be your nemesis too.
My job as your photographer is to help create AND THEN DOCUMENT your genuine laughter, your authentic hugs and the silliness of the tickles.
I capture the natural sense of awe and wonder you have when you hold your newborn baby or your new spouse in your arms.
It's my job and my hope to help tell the story of your life. It's not my job to create the story of your life.
If we are new friends, I might not know the difference between your authentic emotion and the smile that stops short of lighting up your entire face. You will though. Those who know you intimately will know it as well. And wouldn't it be a disservice if I couldn't capture the real heart of the matter? I think it would be. Do you want to put that "cheese" smile up in a 20 x 30 canvas art on your wall? Or would you rather print that beautiful artwork that is your sweet newborn baby snuggling next to you in your hospital bed while you look on with awe. That new baby is yours!
I could photograph you saying cheese at your wedding with your mom by your side. Or, I could photograph your mom staring deeply into your eyes wondering where the time has gone.
You get the point.
I can create a moment, or I can capture a memory. A moment might be forgotten. But the memory photographed will live on forever in a work of art proudly displayed in your home.
For that reason, the only cheese you will hear me talking about is the delicious brie I like to eat on crackers or the cheesy joke I might try out on you to get some genuine laughter.
Cheese is a food group, people. Not a facial expression. And it most certainly isn't an emotion. Let's leave it on the table and keep it far away from our photos, shall we?