You may have seen a photo series circulating around the internet recently called “Best Case Scenarios” depicting parenthood in a hyper realized state. Messy, comical and completely over-the-top but somehow way more realistic than the perfect family photo your friend sent on this year’s holiday card of her Stepford children all smiling in matching sweaters.
“Clean Up in Aisle Five!”
The photographer is Danielle Guenther, a fellow mom of a 5 year-old from Hoboken, New Jersey, who had been shooting lifestyle photography for ten years before she started the “Best Case Scenario” series. Danielle not only agreed to an interview, she suggested a photo shoot scenario for me, Mike, Mazzy and Harlow. Oh, boy.
“Day at the Spa”
How did the first “best case scenario” shoot come about? Was it the request of a client? Or did you come up with the idea and seek someone out for the shoot?
It happened sorta by accident, really. At the end of a regular lifestyle session I had with a client, she laid down on the couch, pretended to be sleeping, laughing at being exhausted. We then both decided we had to go with this, so it turned into an overly staged, imperfect photo. People loved it, so I kept coming up with ideas and would find families that were willing to be involved.
How did you initially get people to agree to do it?
Wine and free babysitting. Just kidding. I would just mention the ideas to friends and it started branching out locally. Some local moms started reaching out saying they would love to be in one of my images. After speaking with them, I would make sure it made sense for their family. Hoboken is such a tight knit community and very family friendly, so it was easy for the idea to spiral into one of their homes. These families all have such a fabulous sense of humor.
Which is your favorite photo so far?
I’d have to say “Another Mouth to Feed”. This was an unplanned image. I was in their home for a newborn lifestyle session, and their dog was taking amazing direction and I couldn’t believe it. So with that idea in mind, I KNEW I had to involve the dog somehow!
“Another Mouth to Feed”
Has there ever been a shoot where you didn’t get what you were looking for?
I actually reshot the “Rush Hour” image. I was at their home and she informed me the day OF their session that she wanted a funny image, so “Rush Hour” was created last second. This was an image they wanted for their holiday card, which was perfect, except they were too dressed up, and it wasn’t believable. I didn’t want to take time away from their lifestyle session (as that’s what I was there to do), so I asked them if I could re-style and photograph it again. They were all about it. So they actually have two versions of that one!
Do you think it’s easier to get these photos or perfect family shots?
I adore both. The planning of “Best Case Scenario” images have more leg work involved. Getting locations, finding props, the right lighting, the story… but the whole process is SO FUN. It’s a lot of directing and craziness going on, but that’s what it’s all about. But it’s probably less stressful for the parent if their child throws a tantrum during a “best case scenario” photograph than the other. The children usually get so excited to act out for the image, because it’s something they’re normally told NOT to do. I find the kids and parents both have a blast!
How does the process of determining a family’s photo usually work? Do you think of the ideas first or do you come up with them based on the families?
When I first started the series, I created the ideas first but the most recent two (“Rush Hour” & “Keep Your Head in the Game”) were of families who had reached out to me. I got to know the families on a personal basis so I could create images that spoke a truth to them. Lots of chats over the phone, random texts, pictures, ideas thrown around. Then the final image comes together!
“Keep Your Head in the Game”
If you were able to take a photo of your own life, what would it look like?
Oh boy…. I would definitely want some peace and quiet as my husband and son are tackling, wrestling, and going bonkers in front of me. They play this game called, “Bulls” where my son goes onto my husband’s leg, they announce the “bull rider”, which is usually called “Mohawk”, and he rides a bouncing leg until he’s thrown off. I have to leave the room, because I get so scared one of them is going to get hurt! My image would be like yoga meets a wrestling match probably. I’d have to find a way to involve a glass of wine, as that’s usually what calms my head at the end of a crazy day! It’s pulling teeth trying to get an image from my son and husband though. They stay clear of my camera and my crazy ideas. Darn it.
What do you think of the way moms tend to portray their lives on their social media accounts? Do you think instagram/pinterest/etc. are one great big parenting lie?
I definitely think there’s beauty in a “perfect” image as much as an “imperfect”. But, are their kids happy all day long? Probably not. If they are, I’ll gladly trade for a few hours!
“Hold On a Sec…”
If you were to take a photo of my life (with the little you know about me), what would it be of?
I’m pretty darn impressed that you run this blog/business, while also juggling your children and home life. My favorite part of your work are the interviews you have with celebrities. I love that you welcome them in your home, and half the time, something hilarious happens with your kids in the shot. You stay so calm and focused. I’d love to see a bit of chaos going on around you during some important interview you have in your home. You may even need to call in some help to make it happen, because you know— it takes a village!
What do you guys think? Should I do it?
Second question: If Danielle took a photo of your life, what would it be of?
To contact Danielle for a photo shoot, click here.