taking family photos

Mary Dougherty

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ABOUT mary

I'm a fine art film photographer living in the mountains and traveling to tell beautiful stories





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It all started so simply. We would take some family photos this spring, when the weather was a bit warmer. I started at the most natural beginning and started shopping for something  that Daphne could wear. I had my eye on a shirt from etsy and thought it would be perfect for the photos. I ordered it over a month in advance so that it would be made and shipped in time and started to plan up the rest of our outfits.

Things started to come together before they started to fall apart.

The first problem was that the adorable shirt for Daphne did not fit. It was much too wide, and there was nothing I could do to fix it. Thankfully the shop owner has been gracious in helping us get the right size and fit, but it would not arrive in time. A nice blue color scheme came together for us with just a few issues, namely I didn’t have pants that would work. I had lost my nicest pair of jeans after the pop up gallery this March. I must have left them somewhere and they haven’t shown up since. So, since we live an hour from stores and I’ve been so busy I haven’t online shopped, we decided to stop at a store before the shoot and pick something up.

Since I have several photographer friends and acquaintances – all of whom are very talented – I decided to work with different photographers each time we had family pictures made. I like supporting each of their businesses and seeing how they will put us at ease. I, like all of you, start each session with pretty low expectations of how we will do. Sure, I know what things to do to make good pictures happen, but I know that I have a tendency to make weird faces and my husband generally looks like he doesn’t want to be there whether that’s true or not. Our session was planned to take place in Buffalo, and being an hour away, I wanted to be sure that the weather would cooperate. It’s not that easy to reschedule when you commit almost your whole day to traveling and being there on time.

The first date came and was canceled because of weather, the second was looking equally wet but we decided to go forward with it. However, on the morning of our shoot Daphne appeared with two scratches on her face, severe thunderstorms were predicted and I still didn’t have pants to wear. I spent some time being the worst client ever, debating whether to cancel and then deciding to just go for it, because it really was never going to get easier.

We drove up to Buffalo with time to spare, only to use all of it going in to buy pants and a last minute dress for Daphne because I was worried the blue one was too short. Dodging raindrops, we jumped back into the car and headed to our rain location, a far cry from the evening at a park we had planned. It was dinner time, and we came half prepared to feed Daphne, letting her navigate the straw and cup full of smoothie only to have her pour some of it on to herself when our backs were turned. We cleaned her up in the car, changing clothes and once again dodging rain to go inside. Daphne was still hungry, so we continued to feed her little cereals and hoped that she didn’t look like she was eating in every picture. It seemed as though everything was against us, and the session was destined to fail.

Once we got started, walking with her up and down stairs, singing songs and talking about birds, things settled down and the rain even cleared up enough for us to go outside. Sure, it felt like running a marathon to ourselves ready for the shoot, but done is better than perfect and I’m fairly certain in 25 years I’ll be happy to look back on our little family and laugh at the day.

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