Let the Family Sesh Rock — Jonathan Canlas Interview

One of my very favorites on here today – Jonathan Canlas.  Rocking the family session.  (And very quietly, I will admit that its my family and that Jon took these photos in like 15 minutes with 20 other photographers in the way)

And very loudly I say LOOK at the rad Family Group photo.. the one with Noelle with her glasses on up front.. the BAND PHOTO.  Oh how I wish all family group photos could be so cool.

I think we will bring that topic up later this week.

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You are the best example of someone whose personal work matches their professional work completely. 

is this a question? if so, i disagree :). i’m not the best example by any means. there are others WAY better than me. but i am doing everything i can to make them one in the same. personal=professional. it is all my voice, just applied to different shoots. some pay, some don’t. i don’t want inconsistent work. the way i shoot for my clients is how i shoot for myself, period.

Are you shooting for both love and money?  

oh yeah, it is always for both. i have not had another job besides being employed for myself since 2001. and even then i was working in a photo lab in provo scanning film. i’d be doing this (photography) whether people paid me or not. i am just lucky enough that i get paid to do exactly what i love.

Meaning you make money but still have passion and love for your photography?

yep, i love what i do, but also, it is our sole income. if for some reason it came to a point where i was not making money with photography, i’d still do it on the side just for the love of it. but let’s hope that day never comes :). i will say my passions have changed a bit, but i don’t really know if it is passion as much as it is figuring out exactly what it is that i love. i’ve shot weddings since 1999. i love them, don’t get me wrong, but i don’t ever want to be at a place where i was shooting as many weddings as i did. i’ll shoot 10 (if that) this year. and that is by choice. i want to focus more on shooting families, and personal work. and i love teaching and helping others as well which is what the workshops allow me to do.

How do you attract those clients who value what you see?

i don’t know that i do anything other than blog and put the work out there. i don’t write much on the posts, i don’t advertise, and i’ve stopped pushing my work to blogs. i rely heavily on referrals/word of mouth and seeking out the people i want to work with. there is the occasional person who says they’ve seen the work on so so’s wall/blog/fb, and then hire me. so i guess the answer is word of mouth.  also, i think my price is a barrier in and of itself. in the words of estevan oriol, cheap photos aren’t good and good photos aren’t cheap.

Did you ever struggle with trying to please clients and giving them what they want vs. what you want to shoot?  How do you handle it?

oh yeah, all the time. i’ll shoot what i need to to keep it safe. ALWAYS. because no matter what, they’ve hired me for a service that I will do everything I can to provide, and then once that is done, i’ll shoot for me. but i think i am always shooting for me as i choose how i compose the images and what i will keep and not keep in frame. i am the one in control of what story is and is not being told/documented

I see some tilt in your images but haven’t you heard you talk about that.  Is there tilt?     To me, it adds some movement and since your clients are always having a good time, laughter into the image.  Its like I can see them leaning into each other and laughing.

really? i’m not much of a tilter. i LOATHE inappropriate tilts. no offense to anyone, but when i see it in images, it says to me they gave up, had no other option to make whatever they put in their frame “interesting”. meaning, an image that is tilted for no other reason than to make it “interesting” is just, well, NOT interesting. i will tilt when it is needed and appropriate. to use the strength of leading lines or to straightening up someone’s face.  or like you mentioned, to give it the “appropriate” feel of movement. but that being said, i’d say 95% of my work is shot straight on, no tilts, just the image and it’s environment. i’m really into composition and making sure everything in my frame is there for a reason. and tilting goes against all of that.

also, let me elaborate on “since my clients are always having a good time”. that is NOT always the case.

my clients just don’t show up laughing and having a good time. i mean, a lot of the kids are little. that takes work. i have to gain their trust in a SUPER short amount of time. and i do everything i can to do just that. having 6 kids of my own helps a TON. a lot of the images i post and you see are actually super awkward moments.

i am very fast and efficient in what i do. i don’t have the skill or more importantly the patience for photojournalism. to wait for my clients to give me the feeling/expressions i want to tell their story. so i use my personality, interject myself, direct (heavily sometimes), to get them to react and to get the “pj” created moments so both my client and i can be done in a fast and efficient way. engagement sessions? 45 minutes. family sessions? TOPS an hour.  i think the client is literally done by that time. its kind of like eating, when you are full, you just kind of sigh, regardless of where you are in your meal or how much food is left on your plate. anything after that is just excessive.


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