The Family Narrative

The Family Narrative. Photo by Posy Quarterman

The Family Narrative. Photo by Posy Quarterman


Introducing The Family Narrative, an annual workshop for photographers that is redefining family portrait photography, taking place in New Orleans March 2-5.


Once upon a time, the societal formula for weddings was pretty limited: boy + girl + religious ceremony = wedding. Period. Anyone who deviated was...well...a deviant, subject to social and legal marginalization. Similarly, for many years our culture supported a narrow definition of family, namely family = a husband + a wife + their biological child(ren). Period. Unmarried parents, same-sex parents, interracial families, immigrant families, blended families, families of color, families without children, and even adoptive families struggled to find their place in society, facing a range of difficulties and indignities at every turn.

The Family Narrative. Photo by Posy Quarterman

The Family Narrative. Photo by Posy Quarterman

Thankfully, the formulae for both love and family have begun to change in recent years. As a culture, we’ve grown to understand that love takes myriad forms and slowly but surely have begun to create legal and social infrastructure that support that hard-fought understanding. But just as new bridges and roads require new maps to help people find their way from here to there, people need direction to navigate large cultural shifts. Catalyst Wedding Co. has done amazing work to help transform the wedding industry narrative to more accurately reflect today’s understanding of weddings with a focus on feminism, diversity, and equality, which is why we are thrilled to be partnering with them in 2017 to bring you a closer look at another transforming narrative...that of the modern family.

The Family Narrative. Photo by Posy Quarterman

The Family Narrative. Photo by Posy Quarterman

But who are WE? We’re glad you asked! We are The Family Narrative: an annual retreat for photographers founded by a group of four women who recognized a need for open, substantive conversation about the unique challenges and responsibilities of documenting families in the modern era. We seek to empower the existing and upcoming generation of photographers to use their art to celebrate families of all kinds in ways that not only serve their clients, but also chip away at the stereotypes and misunderstandings that still exist. Since its beginning, photography has played a huge role in changing perceptions and spurring action. As a powerful storytelling medium, it has the potential to connect people on all kinds of topics, and what could be more universally relatable than the concept of family? 

The Family Narrative. Photo by Annemie Tonken

The Family Narrative. Photo by Annemie Tonken

Our instructors are known as some of the very best in the business, and we’re thrilled to share their thoughts, expertise, and beautiful work with you in the coming months. Likely, you’re not a professional photographer, so we won’t bother you with the details of the business (though if you are, please consider joining us for our next retreat!); instead, we ask that you join us for a guided tour of some of the highlights of the new family landscape. We hope to give you food for thought that will spur conversation and exploration of the concept of family even beyond the bounds of photography. Let’s change the narrative together!

The Family Narrative. Photo by Posy Quarterman

The Family Narrative. Photo by Posy Quarterman

The Family Narrative. Photo by Annemie Tonken

The Family Narrative. Photo by Annemie Tonken

The Family Narrative. Photo by Annemie Tonken

The Family Narrative. Photo by Annemie Tonken


The Family Narrative

Annemie Tonken is on the leadership team of The Family Narrative. After wading knee-deep into the waters of several other careers, she dove head-first into the photography pool in 2006 and hasn’t stopped swimming since. In a very short period of time, her intuitive eye for visual storytelling and keen business sensibilities helped her grow Megapixie Photography from nothing more than an idea into a thriving child and family portrait photography studio. Along the way, she’s taught workshops to both novice and established photographers, had work published in national magazines, and spoken in front of thousands at WPPI. In the few minutes left over every week, you’ll find Annemie herding her two boys around Chapel Hill, North Carolina, running down a long country road, or laughing over cocktails with her nearest and dearest.