Photographer Takes Photographer – Thought & Photography Johnny Martyr

My wife and I run a small local photography business and we often joke about the sad fact that we take portraits of other families so often that we never take our own. The walls of our house are full of candid memories Stephanie and I took from our children, but the walls are empty of our pictures with our children.

The year 2022 is different. With the help of two great photographers on the other side of the world, we can finally hang some new prints that will make us feel complete.

Our neighbor Britt Beals of Mattie Myrtle Photography knows about our plight and he can relate. He also has a family of four and an even busier local photography business. He was kind enough to tailor a session for our family where he would photograph me, photograph Stephanie and our girls in and around the classic Pontiac LeMans on loan for another of his family’s sessions.

I really like this idea because, like most people, I hate posing for photos. That’s partly why I got into photography to begin with – so I don’t have to be on the wrong side of the lens!

This was the first time Stephanie and I had switched roles and another photographer pointed his camera at us. It felt really weird at first and I while we were excited, I think Stephanie and I were starting to get awkward, like so many families do on their first shoot. It’s enlightening to be reminded of how our clients sometimes feel.

It didn’t take long for Britt to work his magic and put everyone at ease. Like me, he prefers capturing moments rather than directing people. So he set the scene and let his subject play in it. He’s great at giving people encouragement when they need it, and coming up with creative placements and angles to keep things fresh.

Britt photographed us with a funky Canon digital SLR and Sigma Art 24mm that broke down during shooting. She then applied Vaseline and glitter to the front elements and covered them with a UV filter to create this beautiful image.

It was great to get a few photos of the four of us without feeling like we were working! I think Britt’s photos express who we are in a unique way that will also remind us of our friendship with her and her family.

But our family photo adventure isn’t over yet!

For our recent family vacation to Paris, France, Stephanie was determined to bring some memorable group photos back to America.

We both enjoy Phil Arty’s Instagram feed. Yes, he has the obligatory Eiffel Tower shot (I’ll take that too!) but his subjects are diverse and alive with expressive and thoughtful compositions. Phil’s color palette is pretty natural but with a bit of bite. Phil’s work reminded Stephanie and me of many things about ourselves.

So we started shooting at Les Deux Plateaux – a courtyard art installation consisting of black and white striped marble columns of varying heights. It was designed by Daniel Buren in the mid 1980’s.

Amazingly, the runway for Fashion Week is being built on an adjacent lawn, which adds to our excitement about Paris. Stephanie let me use my Leica 1930 in photos…

…when I’m not shooting our photographer of course!

Phil likes the idea of ​​avoiding the portrait of the Eiffel Tower that everyone asks for, and he recommends shooting it in the Palais-Royal which was built in the 1630s with its innumerable repeating arches. It is located within walking distance to the Louvre where we also took some photos.

On the way to the Louvre, Phil told me he had his grandfather’s 1938 Leica. He recently sent it to Philippe André of The Film Camera Clinic to have it rebuilt and it is working fine now. It’s great to find a French shooter who can appreciate, or at least tolerate, the odd American busy with his little black 35mm camera while he shoots.

Despite my instinctive reservations about being photographed, I had a great time with Britt Beals and Phil Arty. Please be sure and check their work, and consider hiring them if you are in Frederick, Maryland or Paris, France! But anyway, don’t forget the family photo!

Britt Beals – Website, Facebook, Instagram

Phil Arty – Website, Facebook, Instagram

Ironically, even though I take these kinds of photos for other people, I manage to overlook how important family portraits are. My heart belongs to documentary photography and taking my own photos. But after we got the files and looked at these images, it really hit me how much fun it would be to put my camera down (though not completely!) and get into the frame to be with my family for a change.

Our kids are probably sick of Stephanie and me sticking lenses in their faces when they’re just trying to play and have fun. So having another photographer take pictures of us all and making the event might as well be great for them.

Everyone agrees that we need to put more effort into planning other photographers to preserve our adventures together as a family.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting, whichever side of the camera you’re on!

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