Children in the Studio

Photographing children, illness as in most people, has a lot less to do with my equipment, lighting and props, than with my rapport with my subjects and the environment I provide or seek out for them. The environment has just as much to do with the subject’s comfort and demeanor as it’s actual presence in the shot.

For example, these girls are sisters, they were rolling around a platform of down and pillows, ribbons and bows, frolicking together, like they might on their own bedroom floor. As is ideal, I was eventually just a guest to their fun, instead of a photographer trying to illicit some trained response from them. Their smiles are genuine because they are smiling for one another, not for me. The pillows and ribbons are never seen in the shot, but are as important as the girls themselves.

On the viewer’s left is the older of the two sisters, not looking at the camera. In traditional photography, the subject’s lack of eye contact with the lens could have been seen as a flaw and this print may have ended up on the darkroom floor. Modern photography is much more in tune with seeing people as they are, as natural as possible, which is most often captured when they are not intently staring at the camera. I would say my best portraits are those where my subject is looking elsewhere. No where is this as evident than with children. If a child is looking at me, they are thinking of me and what I am doing. There is nothing endearing about that. If they are looking somewhere else, we are more likely to catch wonder and curiosity or if we’re very lucky, happiness. Children grow and change daily and parents are always taken with a photo that really shows them as they are everyday, an image they want to capture. It so happens this older sister is also the shy one, the one who “looks away.” True to her personality, the younger sister is not only more outgoing, but more affectionate as well. The older sister’s hand reaching up to touch her shoulder might seem a distraction, but in fact, it was her trying to politely distance herself from her baby sister, who was all too happy to snuggle up. She actually said to me; “She’s touching me.” Naturally, we laymen wouldn’t know this by looking at this picture, but we must always remember who the client is. Their mother knows these things instinctively and she was the client.

Most of all, when shooting children, no tool is as important as time. You may even have to convince parents to accept a larger appointment block, but be sure to point out their stress will be less if they know that time is not an issue. Children will photograph best when they have had a chance to warm up to the photographer, adjust to the environment and really be themselves. Once this has been achieved you’ll want plenty of time to enjoy their comfort zone and have a safety net for unexpected surprises. Children are after all, delightfully full of those.

Photographing Inanimate Objects

Before I became a professional photographer, I never noticed in an average day how often we come across photographs of anything and everything. Photographs make up every magazine, billboard, clip art, product label and the list goes on and on.

Before I became a professional photographer, I never noticed in an average day how often we come across photographs of anything and everything. Photographs make up every magazine, billboard, clip art, product label and the list goes on and on.

Every time we see a photograph, it’s easy to overlook that there was a photographer, some type of studio setting, a shoot and various other details behind that image. Ironically, the industry of shooting inanimate objects can be just as interesting and lucrative as that of live subjects, if not more. There is no limit to the usefulness of inanimate object photography. Children and families get older and will inevitably require more photography, whereas an inanimate object can have a nearly limitless shelf life, if any at all. The most obvious venue for these shots are of course in advertising, product marketing and all types of commercial exposure. The most successful photographers can spend their lives shooting models in the latest high fashion, athletes in their tennishoes and the most modern of automobiles as they roll from the assembly line onto the showroom floor.

The portrait above is another example of inanimate photography. Still a type of marketing, this imagery uses emotion and symbolism to attract it’s admirers. Images like this use a combination of items and the way they are presented together to inspire some type of reaction from the world around it. These reactions depend on each viewer’s own personal experience, life and loves. Since the public is so diverse, this makes for a boundless target audience. These types of pieces are often used in an environment or on an item when hoping to achieve a certain atmosphere or idea. Imagine office walls, book covers and themed stationary. All of these created from photographs.

This portrait may conjure up memories of their favorite coffee shop. It may remind another of their writer’s block woes, all nighters in college or their grandmother’s old Royal. At the same time, these items can be moved around, one or two substituted with something else and an entirely different product is created, an entirely new emotion evoked.

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