Photographer offers a bold look at the family album

Since opening her family photography business just three months ago, Karen Morneau has impressed area clients with the more than 13,000 photographs she has taken.

“I enjoy the families and children, and have so much fun really seeing their personalities and capturing it in a photograph,” she said. “When a client says I’ve really captured who their kids are, it’s the best compliment I can get. I really want my clients to smile like they smile when they’re truly happy.”

Since leaving a job in New York City nine years ago to take care of her three children, she’s always felt a pull towards the art of capturing portraits.

“Seeing the light and composition of a picture is an artistic talent that I think I’ve always had. While I was at home with my children, I found myself taking 1,000 pictures of them every month,” she said.

With all of her children now of school-age, Ms. Morneau knew she wanted to be able to pursue a career that gave her a regular sense of joy.

“When I started to think about what really gave me joy, something in my daily life that made me happy,” it was photography, she said.

“It’s such an important tradition for families,” she continued. “Things are so busy, it’s just nice to take that moment and put it on display.”

The next step, Ms. Morneau said, was to pursue an education in the art. She started taking classes at Wilton Continuing Education, and eventually made her way to the Texas School of Professional Photography.

“This is where so many of my friends are right now,” she said. “The kids are off to school and gone all day, and we are finally able to do something for ourselves. I didn’t want a full-time, power job, but I wanted to connect to a story and find something I love.

“For my 12-year-old daughter it’s been great for her to see me pursuing something I love,” she continued. “When she decides what to study, I hope she can see that it is OK to pursue what she loves, as well.”

Armed with a Canon camera and a collection of high-quality lenses, she now offers clients in Fairfield County a personal approach to family photography. She lets her clients make many of the photoshoot decisions, and prides herself on adaptability.

“I always have a pre-planning session to discuss what the client is looking for. I consult with them about what to wear, where to take pictures, and other aspects of the shoot,” she said. “A lot of people won’t do photos just because they never know how to dress or act.”

Location, she said, is one choice she always allows her subjects to make.

“Location is a very personal choice,” she said. “Some want to be at home, because it’s a very special place where you might not be living forever. Many people are worried that their home is to small, or too boring, but you don’t need a big, grand space to take great pictures.”

Having already worked with clients in Wilton, Rowayton, and New Canaan, she has shot families everywhere from Ballard Park in Ridgefield to local historical sites like Weir Farm.

A “southern girl at heart,” Ms. Morneau is originally from Texas. While this feeling may not come out directly in her photographs, it certainly shines through her “client approach and relationship with children,” she said.

When she first gets to a shoot with children, she leaves her camera in her bag for quite a while, she said, so they are thinking of anything other than taking pictures.

“I get down to their level, and always make sure they know they’re going to be going on an amazing adventure,” she said. “I try to bring out their personality before the camera.”

Ms. Morneau’s style, she said, uses bold colors to enhance the personal feel of a family’s character.

“I use bold colors because they really make a statement,” she said. “When you process photos like that, it really highlights the family’s expression and makes them stand out.”

After the shoot is complete, Ms. Morneau said, she acts as a consultant for all of her clients’ printing needs. She has access to professional photo labs, she said, and prides herself on producing final, hangable, pieces unique to each customer.

“I’m a one-stop-shop,” she said. “I guarantee you will end up with something to enjoy up on the wall.”

A one-and-a-half-hour private photography session with Ms. Morneau, with pre-planning and print consultation, is $150. She offers prints of her photographs in package deals, or à la carte, depending on the needs of her clients.

Ms. Morneau will also be offering 30 minute “mini-session” dates in late September and October.

These sessions are offered Weir Farm on Sept. 28, and Oct. 19. At Ambler Farm on Sept. 29, and Oct. 20. And at Farm Creek Preserve (Rowayton) on Oct. 5.

The cost for a mini-session is $75.