Talent on Set
Behind the scenes with Venture Photography and the Moffly family.
Back in 2000, a UK entrepreneur was admiring a billboard that featured a large action photograph of a big-name celebrity on a white backdrop. He loved the presence and vitality of the image, and had a thought: Why can’t family portraits look like that? It was the birth of a business that now spans the globe.
Venture Photography has over 250 photographers in its numerous professional studios around the world, and three years ago, Neil Hamilton opened a Venture venue in Greenwich. His work has created some buzz around town, and late last year he and his staff scheduled a New Year’s Eve shoot for our publisher’s extended family.
The resulting images of the Moffly clan exceeded everyone’s expectations. The best part: all the participants had a great time. So we stopped by to see more, and ask Neil about the process by which he and his photographers get the best from a photo shoot.
What got you into portrait photography?
NH: I discovered Venture as a client, and then decided to bring the business here. I was drawn to the idea of making the process of creating a portrait a relaxed and fun experience. When we set up a shoot, we ask our subjects to bring things that they would like to have in the photograph. You’d be amazed at what comes through the door. We’re seen just about everything, from two live horses that belonged to one family, to one hundred live butterflies that our client then donated to a butterfly sanctuary. Every session is unique.
Not everyone likes to be photographed. How do you get folks to unwind?
NH: These are not your typical portraits. We want to make the experience fun; a family portrait is about personalities and relationships, and we want to show that. We always talk with our clients about their shoot beforehand.
We had a couple come in who wanted a picture of their baby in the bath. They brought in an old tin tub, and they put on bathrobes, and as they engaged with their baby, we got amazing images of the family. They loved the whole process.
Tell us about a shoot that was particularly memorable for you.
NH: We do a lot of pet photographs. One session that sticks with all of us was with a huge dog that belonged to a soldier who was killed in action in Afghanistan. He worked with K-9 dogs, and loved his own dog, Gus. His family wanted a shoot for Gus, as a way to remember their son and brother. He’s a very large, expressive animal, and the images from that shoot were amazing.
We’re curious. How was it to photograph the Moffly family?
NH: It was easy. It was New Year’s Eve, everyone was relaxed, and with all the children (Jonathan’s four kids), in all sizes—from 3 to 18—everyone was having fun.
We understand that you work with a lot of local charities.
NH: We’ve worked with Greenwich Hospital, the local YMCA, and many other local causes via their events and auctions. It’s great to be able to support the community.
What would you like to say to readers about getting their family’s portrait taken?
NH: Once they realize that it can be fun—and we think we can help them make it that way—they should know that family photography represents the most important story every told: their own.