Did your parents or grandparents or aunties ever get you dressed up in your little six-year-old Sunday best and take you down to the mall to get professional portraits done at Sears or JC Penney? It seems like everyone has either had this experience or knows someone who had this experience, even if they’ve never thought to ask about it. Our parents (or in some of our cases, we) just want a few tangible memories of childhood to hold on to, before the children go off and grow up so fast, as they do.
These days, it’d be harder to find a Sears or JC Penney with portrait services than just contacting a local photographer who specializes in family photos. Jacksonville’s Ariel Rose, for example, stands at the ready right now, with her beautiful collection of bright, joyous photography of babies, children, and their families.
She’s been shooting for almost a decade at this point, self-taught, and took the plunge into full-time photography in 2016. By then she already knew what her specialty was, and it evolved naturally out of her desire to capture real human connection. “I realized my true passion was motherhood, newborns and young children. I’ve always sought connection in images,” she emphasizes, “but to me there is absolutely nothing more natural and beautiful than the connection between a momma and her babies.” Rose has never wavered in this fact, and although the business side of things doesn’t come to her naturally, she’s never faltered when it comes to the photography itself.
“There is absolutely nothing more natural and beautiful than the connection between a momma and her babies.”
“To succeed, meet goals and ultimately grow a business, I had to treat myself as a business, and not as an artist…I work on these things every single day.” Considering our touch points were two legacy department stores, it does seem fair to say there’s a lot of not-magic that goes into being able to create the magical moments you’ll see in Rose’s gallery. It isn’t at all like the static, prop-assisted shoots you’d get from the mall, actually. These are personal, individual, organic images. She makes house calls all the time, especially for newborn sessions. The swaddled babies aren’t always shown in their parents’ arms, but they’re always comfortable and at ease in their usual environment, with mom and dad relaxed not far off.
“I feel very honored that I get to witness such intimate moments,” she admits, but this kind of photography is a two-way street. The parents are grateful they’ll have these precious, ephemeral moments captured in perpetuity.
If not inside her client’s house, Rose often poses families and children outdoors — along the beach, in the shelter of a flowering plant, playing in the yard. It adds a very special Floridian vibe to the portraits, which only bolsters their natural charm as sweet and homey, soon-to-be cherished photographs. But whether inside or out, she’s sure to apply the same editing treatment, leaving the shots awash in cool radiance, a little hushed and peaceful with desaturation. Her aesthetic is incredibly consistent, so you’ll never be caught off guard by your session results.
She somewhat checks that predictability at the door though, when she starts shooting with children. “A mom or dad who’s over disciplining or over directing their young child … mean well, but when a child is over directed they become confused and it’s no longer a fun experience for them,” Rose explains, which isn’t something she wants her sessions to embody. “I let them know that it’s totally okay their kid is being over-silly or not listening to everything I’m asking of him or her.
“My favorite situation is when mom’s and dad’s embrace the chaos and silliness… I know I’m going to capture so much genuine love and affection in their pictures.” More than anything else, more even than the bright pale glow, you can see this in Rose’s photography. Real smiles on people’s faces, and real care taken in delivering them.