November 30, 2009
Crafting a Personal Family Portrait

As my work has evolved over the past couple of years, I have realized that what most deeply interests me is people’s stories. Whether it’s the story of two people eloping to New York City from Australia, the details of a child’s birth, or a tale of some haphazardly serendipitous occurrence, I love the recounting of immersion in experience through story.

Christy, one of my clients from this November’s VIP Studio Day, shared with me her tale of multi-tasking as a mom, wife, and art director, in order to create a holiday portrait that would truly reflect her family’s personality when they sent out their greeting cards this year. When she arrived on my set that day, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the tone she had created through the carefully selected props and wardrobe. Here’s the story in her own words:

The VIP Photo Shoot was Saturday. We decided to do it on Thursday night. Greg and I had batted around some fun ideas for holiday photos….but never committed to anything. So Thursday night I decided if we were going to do a VIP Shoot I had to style a VIP idea….in one day. Starting with a few items I knew we could get our hands on (antique skis from Greg’s design firm, a vintage fur white hat from my closet and a white coat) I came up with a mixed era snow theme.

First thing Friday morning I posted a request on the always amazing Bococa Parents Yahoo Group. I asked to borrow white ice skates (any size), white ski bibs (men’s medium), tall white women’s boots (size 7) a vintage sled (ala rosebud), a white muff and white ear muffs. Then I bundled my 1 year old daughter, Mason, into her stroller and set out for the stores. Target was the best stop…I found ear muffs and a great pair of white vintage looking gloves. DSW for tall white boots for me…no luck. Next…Old Navy where I found fur boots for Mason and a white sweater …but no white coat in her size.

Rushed home to feed Mason her lunch (and to check for responses from Bococa Parents….nothing) then stuffed her back in the stroller in hopes that she would nap while we ventured into Macy’s to find Men’s white turtleneck sweaters, maybe a white coat for Mason and a white button down for me (for our “regular” shots…forgot to mention I was finding clothes for some normal photos as well). Found three sweaters for Greg to choose from (my favorite was a Sean John).

Mason woke up about 15 minutes into the trip so I plied her with rice cakes while I raced through the store, tried on and bought 3 white button downs and had no luck in the baby department. In the meantime I had put out a call to my friend Kimberly who has great shoes in my size. She had some tall white boots and lives across the street from the photo studio in Williamsburg…PERFECT! Remembered I had a vintage fur muff in a hat box in my closet. Greg was mountain biking with friends that day and secured a promise to borrow white men’s ski pants from a friend. Just need a sled and a white coat for Mason. Have to feed Mason dinner and put her to bed…ARG! Got home and fed Mason….decided Mason could go to bed a bit late, got her back in the stroller…more rice cakes… and ran back out to The Children’s Place at the Fulton Mall. Found an excellent little white long sweater with an Eskimo style fur lined hood.

Back home satisfied with what I’d found….then FINALLY had a response from a Bococa Parents member. Turned out to be an old friend who happened to have a wooden sled hanging around the house. All set! Next morning we piled everything into the car, ran by my friend’s house to pick up the sled and headed to pick up the white ski pants. Oy! The first and only snag…Greg and his friend never set up a pick up time…he wasn’t home and wasn’t going to be for awhile. I shed a few tears then we headed back home to pick up some Khaki pants to try and blend with the white theme…after all Greg couldn’t go without pants (unless…he had some white boxers? No.). Next stop AvroKO on Elizabeth Street for the vintage skis then we headed to Williamsburg.

I transformed from panicked art director to pampered model when we were greeted at the gorgeous studio with champagne and cookies. The shoot was fantastic. Mason had fun kicking off her little fur boots and living it up for the camera. Sarah’s encouragement and enthusiasm made us feel like pros….and it shows. The photos are amazing…the difficulty is in narrowing down the options. We truly had a VIP experience.

-Christy Bradshaw, Brooklyn, NY

What I love most about Christy’s family portraits is that you don’t have to know the whole story to perceive that there IS one behind these photographs. And, the story itself is pretty impressive, too.

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