Retaining the artist’s vision, just as it is.

I recently did a maternity photoshoot for a beloved friend. We worked together for three years and by worked together, I mean we shared an office and co-facilitated hundreds of hours of training sessions together as faculty development trainers. There was immense trust and respect between us which had to formulate and grow and develop over time, so when we did the shoot, the communication and the love was apparent. I felt privileged to be called to capture these images for her and her husband and their son who would soon be joining us on the other side of the womb.

Whenever you share your photography, you subject yourself to potential compliments and criticism. But in this case, someone also asked if a raw file was available so a group of photographers could take a crack at post-processing to see how they would handle one specific photograph where there was major burn from the sun. I don’t shoot in raw yet so it wasn’t physically possible to share the raw file, and while I would ordinarily say yes, and truly love the idea of sharing photos for editing challenges , this photo was sacred. [And I felt complimented so before someone takes this post as a criticism or complaint that someone asked me to share the raw file so they could try to re-edit it, this is not the case at all! I was flattered!]

But this photo wasn’t just a shot from a job. This photo was love. And the entire setup, composition, her positioning before the sun with my lens looking directly towards it, the angle at which she stood, the shifting color in her dress with dramatic saturation just in the front and tone of the sun burn (both adjusted during post-production), were all intentionally done.

The photo represented my friend’s current state but also all that went into her journey to getting there. A journey I was very honored to be partially present for. The image also reflected our trusting relationship as dear friends and not just photographer/model, and my very specific artistic goals to evoke emotion. The photo was unconventional, but it was captured and post-produced with purpose.

When her husband saw the photo, which stood out from the others, he said: “My entire world in one photo.”

When it came time to give gifts to her mother, her mother-in-law, her dearest family friend and her closest who had been supporting her, she chose this photo to print and frame.

The other shots from the shoot captured her beauty in this wonderful stage of maternity and were a bit more “mainstream”, but this was the photo that made her, her husband and the rest of her family emotional. Although my photos are never technically perfect, they are captured with 100% heart and complete sincerity.  And this particular photo had to remain, just as it was.

Ann Sun


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