Mapping the Perfect Photo Session with Erin Witkowski
Heart and connectivity are the driving forces behind every photograph captured by the talented Erin Witkowski. In an interview with Pinhole Pro, Erin takes us on her personal journey of mapping the perfect photo session. From location scouting and wardrobe selection to post production and prints, Erin’s passion for the medium and her clients can be seen each step of the way.
Your website welcomes people with an intimate glimpse into not only your photography but also your life. You offer your clients a chance to get to know the person behind the camera before you meet face-to-face. Do you find that this openness helps build a connection and trust between you and your clients?
I think to enter into another’s world and sacred place of connection within a family, it’s first important that a baseline of connection happen between photographer and client. In my opinion it has to be more than a business relationship for the photos to emote the type of raw connection that tells an honest story of their lives. While this way of opening yourself up in mutual vulnerability in a business relationship has its risks, as long as the images created are emoting a deeper level of connection, the reward outweighs it all. When designing my website with a variety of personal photographs, inviting my clients to follow my Instagram or sharing a glimpse into my life on my blog through my words and heart… it has been my hope that it’s the beginning of our connection and trust with each other.
You offer a number of packages for your clients to choose from, but we LOVE the idea behind your Reverie Session. How popular is this option and what does a shoot like this usually entail? Can you give our readers a snapshot of a Reverie Session from planning to post production?
We all have an idea of what we wish our family photos to look like, a unique vision for our family that we may never share if not asked. Maybe because it seems like a dream and reality has us by the horns in our everyday lives. It’s not when comparing your family to the next that a Reverie Session is born, it happens when you truly know who you are as a family. Often our days as a mother are filled with blessed scenes of milk stained shirts, half brushed hair and diaper changes (all equally beautiful and important moments)… then sometimes in the quiet moments, perhaps a stolen moment over morning coffee or in the stillness of the night while rocking our babies to sleep, our minds wander off to a dream-like reality of our family together, under the glowing sun… just loving on each other. Is it unrealistic, not in my book. It’s with the proper planning, location and investment into digging deep into their story (before the session) that produces an ideal Reverie Session. It all unfolds in a location that is true to the family, where they are comfortable and then styled to the point where mom feels fantastic (free of the spit up and tangled hair). I personally guide and help the styling of the session and have even met up with my clients to go shopping with them. A phone appointment is made to learn more about their family and plan the shoot, and lastly I send out a prep guide before the session to cover last minute shoot details, preparing the children and covering anything else that might help our session run smoother. I typically spend 3 hours shooting with my clients for a Reverie Session, until the last drop of light has left our midst and the children are ready to pack it in. This leaves me with a ton of images to sort through. I never skimp on editing. As a mother I find even the smallest of details shouldn’t be thrown away, so my clients typically receive 100-200 edited images shared digitally online via a PASS gallery. My last and favorite touch is an album from Pinhole Pro. I allow my clients to choose their favorite 50 images, and then I design a tangible piece of art for them to flip through, share and display within their home. They LOVE to see their story in a book, a keepsake forever.
Hudson Valley, New York, and the surrounding area is seemingly filled with beautiful natural landscapes for your outdoor photo shoots. How do you choose that perfect location for your client? Do you have a favorite place you enjoy shooting? Are there any locations outside of Hudson Valley that you’ve had the opportunity to shoot in? If so, which one stands out as your favorite?
The Hudson Valley is a true gem for locations. From the sprawling farms to the rich forests and mountain peaks, I count myself lucky to be located in an area that allows access to such a variety of backdrops. We take family scouting trips regularly during my busy season. These trips include knocking on doors and forming relationships with property owners. I have bartered for the use of a location..(the rarest request a case of beer for a flower field), but most of the time I bake a pie and say “thank you” and they are more than happy to share their views with me. Although I have a great handful of locations, I always encourage my clients to find their own spot that has meaning and purpose to their family be it in their home or their own property. It’s then the most authentic sessions happen, when the children are comfortable in a familiar spot and when my clients reflect back on the images they tell a much deeper story. Last year I was hired to shoot a family at their home in the outskirts of San Francisco. It was so exhilarating working out in the west coast with the rolling hills and grassy knolls; I can’t wait to get back there as it is truly one of my favorite spots to travel and shoot.
What do you enjoy most about being a photographer? What is it that keeps driving you to produce art and share your talents with others? Does this change or is there a constant driving force?
It is without a doubt the connection I make with my clients and their children that has become my favorite part of being a photographer. It’s with the trust they give me with their family’s memory and time that allows me to dig deep into their story with ease and create images that will stand the test of time. The driving force that keeps me going is knowing that with every family I document, I am leaving them with something that they will hold onto all the days of their life. They will throw out and outgrow their clothes at some point, their children will grow, time will carry on, but those images…they will be there forever. That inspires the heck out of me.
I am an artist at heart who throws everything I have into every image I take. I am a true believer in soul shine, a devoted wife and mother to three young children, all the while rediscovering life in my reclaimed childhood home. Launching my career truly happened when my middle son Grady was born with Down Syndrome five years ago. It was with his birth that I began to see beauty in a whole different way as he softened and ignited a passion in my soul to want to know more about others and to hear their stories.