When Photography Reconnects Family

Portrait Session in Bergen County, New Jersey

By Jamie-Leigh Bissett


If there's one thing I love about photography over any other it is the opportunity it provides to connect, or in some cases, reconnect with people.

Before November, I hadn't seen my cousin, Lynn, since our Nanny's funeral in 2009. I hadn't seen her much in the 15 years prior to that either after becoming estranged from my father, and by extension, his side of the family in the mid 1990s.

But after becoming reacquainted on Facebook, Lynn discovered that I was in the business of photography and decided she wanted to collaborate with me on her family portraits. 

Because she lives about three hours away in New Jersey, our initial plan was to schedule the session the day after Thanksgiving because I was supposed to be in New Jersey anyway, celebrating the holidays with my mother's family. However, after my daughter fell ill the day before Thanksgiving we were forced to cancel our holiday plans and postpone the session until the weekend.

Second cousins Alex and my daughter, Julia, who assisted me during the family portrait session, read Mickey's A Christmas Carol.

Though it was officially a business trip, my family did join me. It was nice to meet my cousin's children, and conversely, have my cousin meet my family for the first time. It was also nice to have two assistants there with me because Lynn put me to work that day :)

Leading up to the session, Lynn mentioned a few times that her oldest, Alex, is not a fan of being in front of the camera. As I usually do, I found the opposite to be true. A very good-looking, animated little boy who shares a strong family resemblance to his uncle - Lynn's younger brother, Paul - Alex was amazing. So much so that when I was going through the images after our session I had the problem of too many options to choose from. I mean seriously. Look at this face.

I'm not sure who Lynn's youngest, Brooke (3 months), reminds me of yet, but I do know she was an absolute dream to photograph as well: Big, doey eyes that can't decide if they want to be brown or a very dark blue, a full head of thick black hair, and the best rolls this side of Pillsbury. 

As is Lynn's personality, we shot A LOT of scenes and setups that day. I could probably cull at least three separate full sessions from our time together. Of course when it's been decades since your last real visit, and when you have to drive six hours round trip to get to and from the location, coming home with only a handful of pictures would've been a huge let-down. 

Interested in collaborating on a family portrait session? Start the process by filling out the inquiry form below. Have questions? Email me anytime at JLB@offbeatphotographer.com.