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Meet Ariel Cannon

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ariel Cannon.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I grew up on Nantucket, a small island off the coast of Cape Cod. I come from a family of artists and I come by my love of family photography honestly. Growing up my father used to shoot slide film. He’s a painter, but he’s actually a very good photographer as well, because he’s got a great eye for composition. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to have a family slideshow. He’d hang up a sheet and make popcorn and we’d go through the last few months of photographs. He’s a packrat and he has a lot of wonderful things in his various collections, but honestly those slides are the only thing I care about inheriting. I’m going to have to fight my brother for them!

I left Nantucket after high school and went to college at Vassar, in upstate New York. I lived in NYC for a while and then moved with my now-husband to Los Angeles in 2001. Except for a couple of years that I spent in Australia, I’ve been here ever since and don’t know that I can ever leave!

I’ve been taking photographs, both for myself and for other people, since I was a teenager, but my photographic voice really developed when I became a mother. I felt inspired to document my children’s childhood. Not just for me – though, I’m glad I am because my memory has been decimated by motherhood – but for them. There is so much that goes into early family life – so much love and energy – and for a quite a few years your kids won’t have any memory of it. I really wanted to show them that part of their story. Now that they are older the portraits I take of them are a bit different. I want to show them all the wonderful things I see in them and all their little quirks that I love.

It’s a little funny to me, but I actually enjoy photographing other people’s children as much as my own. It’s deeply gratifying to give my clients photographs of their family that I would love to have of my own family. Sometimes I’ll make a portrait and think “God, I’d love to have a photograph of me with my kids like that”.

I love meeting so many incredible families and becoming a little part of their family story.

Please tell us about your art.
My specialty is family portraiture. My own family photographs mean so much to me, and I want my clients to have images of their family that are meaningful to them, as well as beautiful.

I offer a very personal and customized service. I usually only photograph one family a week because for every hour I spend actually photographing my families, I spend many more hours behind the scenes. Before a session I meet with my clients and get to know them a bit. They are the ones who will be looking at the images I make for the next 50 years, so it’s really important to me that I make portraits for them that truly reflect their children’s personalities and their family dynamics. I want the images to stir up memories of their family, not of a portrait session.

Once the session is over I’m still only half-way through the process. To my mind, a photograph isn’t a photograph until it’s printed. I’m a big believer in this. Nobody knows where or how we’ll be storing digital files in the future. I mean, think about if all of your childhood photographs were on a floppy disk somewhere. I offer a very curated collection of products and have spent a lot of time sourcing the absolute best for my clients. My favorite ways to deliver a session are albums and framed, museum-quality prints.

Everything I make is with an eye to the next generation. The people who hire me are the parents, but my primary client is really the child. They are the ones who will ultimately end up with the images I create. When I photograph a session I really am thinking about how these images will be enjoyed 20, 30, or even 50 years from now. I want to make sure that my images are timeless and that the finished artwork will last for generations.

Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
Offer what you love. When you make a living with your art the waters can be muddied; too often we start out trying to offer what we think other people want. Trust yourself. Whatever it is you love to make, make THAT. You will find the people with whom it resonates.

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Image Credit:
All images Ariel Cannon Photography

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