“Everyone wants to do something different, but you end up doing the same damn thing,” says Leonardo Di Caprio’s character, Richard, in the film The Beach (based on a novel by Alex Garland). Wait – you thought this post is about a Filoli Gardens family photography session? Well it is. But wait. Richard is talking about travel, of course. How everyone embarks on a trip with the burning hope that their experience will be somehow unique and more special than everyone else’s. If you’ve traveled, you’ll most likely have to agree with Richard. 99% of us follow the well-trodden path laid out for us by guidebooks (and more recently, blogs and influencers), so we should expect to have very similar experiences. The only thing that separates ours from theirs is that we are seeing it with our own eyes, filtering it through our own lens.
I start with this long digression, because I often think about Richard’s words when it comes to choosing photography spots with my clients. We have to begin by accepting that every location has been photographed millions of times. Every landmark. Every vista. Photographed. Shared. Geolocated. Hashtagged, storied and reeled. So when you’re choosing a photographer, and planning a photography session, and wanting to “do something different”, you need to ask one question: Does the photographer offer a unique vision of the place you’ve chosen? Do they see it through a new lens?
When I came to Filoli Historic House and Garden for this family photography session, my intention was to bring a fresh perspective. I came with an open mind. A Filoli Gardens Family Photography Session can be really amazing because it’s truly an enchanting location. If you come with an open mind, you can meander, wander, discover, get lost, be surprised. I knew going in that there’d be a lot of greenery around (gardens, duh). So I brought a soft red ball for the little girl to hold and play with. It doubles both as a cute distraction, and a wonderful color contrast to the greenery. I also brought my discreet and unobtrusive lighting approach. It’s very important to keep a low profile so as not to disrupt the meanderings and wanderings of the other visitors.
I found magic in everything. Succulents and gates and brick walls and lily pads. Little white clouds and sundials and carnivorous-looking plants. Well, I suppose I should stop writing now and just let you enjoy some of the photographs we created. If you’re considering a Filoli Gardens family photography session, reach out. Let’s do something different together.