It might just be about capturing a particular moment in your life.
“Some years have more milestones than others, but it doesn’t have to be about an anniversary or a graduation,” says photographer Ben Larrabee, as he scrolls through a stunning black and white portfolio of photo sessions.
Whether Ben and his wife and partner, Trudie, are dodging hockey pucks during a raucous game between dad and his four boys, turning the music up as an extended family dances at a Martha’s Vineyard vacation home, or, encouraging competitive siblings to race barefoot through the backyard, they take a journey with their clients.
“I look for the gestures, the expressions, the way they relate to their loved ones,” Ben said. “It adds so much richness to the image.”
The journey doesn’t end with the session or even after Ben has reviewed thousands of images, unearthing the “Moments of Grace.”
“It’s the beginning of a lifelong relationship,” he said.
Clients who worked with the Larrabees when their children were young often reach out, years later, for follow up shoots.
“So many families only take the photos when the kids are young because that’s the convention, but as they mature, they show new aspects of their personalities and relationships,” Trudie said.
Teenagers can, initially, be unwilling subjects but Ben has a knack for warming them up to the process.
“I win them over because I don’t give them any rules,” he said, laughing.
When two brothers wanted to practice Parkour moves — including back flips over one another’s heads — Ben saw it as the perfect activity to photograph.
“It’s a whimsical approach that teenagers love,” Trudie said. “They get to be themselves and show who they are.”
Photographing clients in their element — at home or a favorite destination — is important
“It’s where they feel comfortable showing their love for each, surrounded by the little things that make their life unique,” Ben said.
The Larrabees traveled to Ocean City, N.J. for a family gathering with parents, siblings and ten grandchildren. The shoot took place on the same beach where two of the adult sons had worked as lifeguards when they were young.
On another shoot, Martha’s Vineyard served as the backdrop for four adult sisters, reunited at the destination where they spent childhood summers.
“Being in the moment with them, as it unfolds, is where the magic happens,” Ben said.
Once the shoot and selection process is done, Trudie and Ben are passionate about making sure their clients integrate the portraits into their homes, getting the most enjoyment from the images.
“We offer full-service installation and we have an aesthetic and point of view we want to share,” Trudie said. “We can pull it all together.”
They encourage repeat clients to be comfortable rotating photos out of frames and into a book where the pages are the prints.
“As the family changes, the images change,” Ben said.
“We do have some clients that just love the original portraits so much they can’t bear to take them down,” Trudie said. “In that case, we help them find more wall space.”