Professional family photography is something which has fallen to the wayside the last few years. But Dermot Murphy Photography in Belfast is determined to change how you think about getting the family snapped together.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, nobody wants to go and get proper photos taken. We all remember having to go to a photographer’s studio to get a family snap….or maybe I’m showing my age? Anyway, from what I can remember, it was awful! You had to get dressed in an outfit that you wouldn’t be seen dead in. And you had to wear it because it was expensive and your great-granny had bought it with her pension. And when the said outfit was given to you as a gift, the granny in question made sure that you, your parents, half the street and the local news knew that it was expensive and a burden for someone who collects a small pension. Talk about guilting you into wearing lace under-crackers and itchy tartan. Then there was the photographer. He had the people skills of a serial killer. You know, really nice but kind of creepy with that moustache. And why did he have to make that joke about keeping dead bodies in the darkroom? And what did he say to my mum about something developing in the darkroom? The photos that were taken were always stiff and fake looking. Someone always blinked. Someone always made a muck up of a shot. The end result always sucked. The photo that was picked was the best of a bad bunch. Your parents spend a fortune and complained for YEARS afterwards about it. The horrible photo remained on the wall forever because it cost too much to go in the loft. Everyone in the photo hated it. And anyone who saw it mocked it. Is it any wonder that we all hate paying for professional family photography?
What hasn’t helped the professional family photography industry is personal cameras. Film and cameras became cheaper. One hour photo development came into existence. And then came the camera phone and families could snap happy all day long at a fraction of the cost. But if you were to ask anyone about getting photos of the family done, they don’t mind the cost. It’s the previous experiences with their own parents that completely put them off. So when it comes to photos, they choose a cheap company. At least then if the experience sucks, it’s not so bad. They haven’t shelled out hundreds on a rubbish experience and “alright” photos with a slightly below average finish on the prints. Pop up studios in weird places with inexperienced photographers have added to the negative press. Ever shown up to a maternity shoot to discover the studio is someone’s garage (complete with the lawn mower in the background) and the photographer’s husband walks through the middle in his dressing gown?
I hope you understood all of that above because that is not how it is supposed to be. Let’s be honest, you don’t just want a good family picture. You want to look at that picture and remember the fun you had with your family that. This is more than a photo to you, this is an experience that the family should look back on and enjoy. You don’t want them sitting around 25 years later, complaining about it on their website, do you? Of course not. You want a photo on the wall that will be there for years without everyone hating it. Or, a collection of family photos spanning the years. Although there are plenty of photos that you have taken or your kids, or your parents have taken of you, not many of them are wall worthy.
I was asked by Emma’s Diary if I would be interested in taking part in a professional family photography experience for free. Last time I had something like this done was a few years ago, just before Jack was born and it sucked. I wasn’t happy about the photos but was bullied into buying them. I had a few “pregnant belly” photos taken and I hate them. I know I have stretch marks but, come on! A wee bit of photoshop would not have gone amiss there! So, I did not have high hopes for this experience. I fact, I was dreading it. What if it sucked? How was I going to put a pleasant spin on it?
We arrived at the studio in BT9 and found it to be completely different from any other studio I have been in. Normally they are sterile and cold with little or no personality. This place could have easily passed for a family home. Inside was warm and welcoming with soft furnishings and warm woodwork. The studio is bright and airy at the front of the building, while at the back there is a cosy client area for tea and coffee. The high ceilings and home environment helped to relax any tensions I had about being there. Within the studio, there was toys, a baby changing station, and a dressing table so you don’t have to wander around the building in order to amuse small children or change the baby’s bums. The set-up of the room prevents people from feeling separated and disconnected from each other.
As soon as we walked in, we were put at ease by Dermot and Catherine. They worked together to create a unique experience that didn’t upset anyone. Small children can be tough to photo but the couple have been doing this for years and it shows through their techniques. They were encouraged to play in the background when they weren’t getting their picture taken. Nobody was left out and everyone was made to feel comfortable.
The photo shoot lasted an hour and it flew in! We had multiple shots taken of the family together, the kids by themselves, me and Colin on our own. And of course, we had the perfect picture of us in our Superman t-shirts. The entire experience was relaxed and easy. That includes the follow-up meeting when we saw our photos. They had been beautified, edited and formatted, including a little bit of photoshop on a messed up fringe on one person (me) and a cows lick on another (Jack).
This experience and the final product is not cheap, I’m not going to lie. Depending on what you choose, it can be anywhere from £100 to £1,000. But unlike other companies, Dermot and Catherine don’t bully you into buying the entire range plus the kitchen sink. They have a range to suit all budgets and will talk through all your options, including budget, product options and how to use the virtual client area. It’s all of these reasons (and more) that have earnt them many awards.