This family portrait is of a woman and man with nine of their twelve kids. I took it for the Post-Standard newspaper at their home in Syracuse, NY.
Working for a newspaper, magazine, Associated press, or the like, one gets hired to photograph all manner of things one normally wouldn't shoot on their own. One of the challenges is photographing groups of people. The bigger the group, the more challenging it is to make an interesting photo. Simply lining them up in a row is not very interesting. When I knew I was to photograph the family presented here, I was concerned about how I was to pull it off. I arrived at their home a little early. Some of the family was not there yet. I looked around for a setting, either outside or inside. As the Dad arrived home and remaining kids straggled in the scene became a bit chaotic. A few minutes later they were waiting for intruction from me, to direct them in this group portrait. Well, I didn't know what to do, so, in these situations I just beging with a suggestion. This starts the photo session rolling. Then I keep shooting, re-arranging the folks, shoot some more, and hopefully something begins to fall into place. All the while I am trying to catch a moment when everyone has a satisfactory facial expression, or projecting some sense of wanting to be a part of the photo. Many times there are unwilling participants in the group. This particular job turned out to be great. The photo created itself! I didn't need to do anything except be prepared for the spontaneity that happened.
With nothing better to try, and to break the ice and get the photo shoot started, I suggested we try thye living room for a setting. In my mind I was thinking I would have to seat some of the kids on the floor, some satnding, create an interesting arrangement of bodies. Then work on capturing a frame where they at least all had their eyes open at the same time. Well, I didn't need to do anything motre than the suggestion. The family very spontaneously crammed all together on the couch as if it were a festive event. They were jostling about and jockeying for position, laughing and enjoying the moment. It reminded me of a group of kids trying to see how many people they could cram into a car, or a telephone booth, just for kicks. For the fun of it. Snap, snap, snap. The photo is the result of the family's love for each other taht naturally went on display for me in front of my camera. Wow!