I call them “bigs”, but they’re still littles to me.
High School students are very special because they are capable of applying what they’ve learned academically, socially and emotionally compared to the lower grades. It’s also a time they are preparing to soar into their adulthood. The possibilities of their achievement are boundless. Their excitement for College is palpable. And to photograph them at this junction is invigorating. Whoa, that’s a lot of adjectives!
Below is my final sneak peek of last week’s Commercial Shoot (Pinewood School, Upper Campus).
I first met this lovely family six years ago when they only had one child, Charlotte, and a beautifully round baby bump. We later had a second shoot after baby Philip was born. I still remember his always-wet thumb — heehee!
Since then, they moved out of the San Francisco Bay Area, but not too far. It was only a hop, skip and a jump… to GERMANY! Waaahhh… but lucky me, they came to visit this week, and I got to see them again.
And this time, I got to meet their third gorgeous cutie, Marie, and photograph the entire family doing what they do best: playing, laughing, eating and relaxing together. Just look at these images and you will get a feel for what their shoot was like. There is so much awesomeness in just being present! <3
Middle School students are sometimes the hardest to photograph because they either love being photographed or they’re the complete opposite, so getting the kind of images I want usually takes more patience, a long lens (so they don’t see me — heehee), and a certain flair for making the students feel at ease.
Here is a sneak peek from last week’s middle school shoot (Pinewood School, Middle Campus).
Photographing schools is so much fun because A LOT happens in a school.
Students are studying and playing, they’re laughing and quiet, they’re working by themselves and in groups, they’re listening and sharing, they’re sitting still and moving… and often very fast!
My secret to photographing schools is striking a balance between being a fly-on-the-wall where I don’t disturb anything and sculpting a “prettier” scene by talking to my subjects or re-positioning things and people — all the while, being mindful of the light, backgrounds, composition, expressions and lines. Most of my time is spent doing the latter (“sculpting a scene”), but the trick is doing it in a way that doesn’t discredit the authenticity of a moment.
Below are some images of the littles (Pinewood School, Lower Campus).
Sometimes you get gifts, and sometimes you receive gifts.
The best gifts are those that give you an experience of some kind. And it can be small. Like 2 packs of gum.
One of the things I love about The H Family is how they don’t fret when their kids get down and dirty because… hey, they’re kids and that’s how they play! Add to that, Dave and Winnie get down and dirty too because they all play together.
To me, being amazing parents isn’t about saying “yes” all the time, buying their children the latest in electronics and toys, or policing them every minute. It’s about knowing how to keep the important things in balance… and teaching them — by example — how to lead healthy, happy lives. And that’s what Dave and Winnie do with their children. They’re so humble that I’m sure they will say I’m exaggerating, but certain parents I bow down to.
When you think “kid”, you think about how cute they are when they learn something new, like ride a bike or learn to read. Skip. Brush their own teeth. Maybe even do a cartwheel.
But then there’s Kina.
Seeing Kina move in her poetic, effortless, athletic way… I forget she is only 12. Twelve! All I see is a talented dancer. Like a seasoned athlete, Kina was able to make mesmerizing shapes during her photoshoot with the challenges nature and I gave her…
Fit inside a hole in the rock, make inspiring shapes, and don’t mind the red fire ants. Done. Climb to the top of that giant rock, go to the edge, and create interesting lines…oh, and try not to fall to your death. Check.
And when we hopped over to location #2 for some grassy, playground photos, the sun had disappeared and the wind picked up, leaving the temperature 25 degrees cooler. And she was in a leotard. Dance elegantly and pretend you’re not freezing. I was shivering. For Kina, no problem.
The part that gives me butterflies and makes my eyes water (they’re leaking as I’m writing this) is that I’ve known this amazing person since she was a baby! She was the cutest little chubby-cheeked baby with a full set of dark curly hair. Now with her talent mixed with hard work and dedication, she is dancing with the best of them and learning from famous choreographers.
I am in awe.
When you want to hire a photographer, there are many factors in your decision-making. It could be the talent and expertise of the photographer. It could be value, if you are on a budget. It could be the artistic style of the photographer. It could be the type of shoot — ie, posed in studio vs styled with props vs lifestyle/photojournalism. It could be one thing or all of these things.
The part many people don’t often think about is chemistry.
I know this isn’t dating! ;) But your chemistry with your photographer makes a huuuuge impact on the end result: your photos. It impacts how much you can relax and be yourself — which is, to me, THE most important part of your photoshoot!
How you feel during your shoot will show in your eyes, your smile, your shoulders…in how you move and interact. Unless you are a professional model or actor, you will be aware of the camera and the photographer, and thus, need to have good chemistry with that person.
How do you determine chemistry if you haven’t met them yet?
For starters, you can get a good sense from how they communicate with you in emails, texts or on the phone. Do they make you feel at ease or like you’re bothering them? Read their blog to get a feeling for their likes and dislikes, and whether they’re serious, quirky or casual. How do they describe their photoshoots, clients or themselves? You can generally tell if you will get along or are vastly different kinds of people.
For me, the main thing I want for my clients is to be themselves. Whether that means telling jokes, singing a song, sitting and chatting, or making fart sounds with their mouth! hahahaa…that hasn’t happened yet, but you never know! It doesn’t matter what it is exactly, as long as they are being real. Don’t subscribe to what you think I want or what you’ve seen online somewhere.
Do YOU. Be YOU.
Supna and I talked about how we taught our children to take deep breaths when they feel angry, frustrated, sad… Yoga breaths. This is also important for us adults to do because our lives are filled with busy schedules and packed To Do lists. As we get older, doesn’t it feel like the years are passing quicker than when we were younger? It is philosophically unfair, but c’est la vie.
So what can we do?
Take yoga breaths. Look at the colors and smiles around us. Listen to the music and laughter. Taste good food. Smell pretty things. Hold hands.
And that’s what Supna and Parag did during their visit to San Francisco from Florida for Parag’s big milestone birthday. (It also happens to be their 15 year wedding anniversary AND their first adult vacation since having triplets!) They enjoyed the Farmer’s Market, the sites and sounds of their favorite city, and, best of all, each other. <3
Stories by the garden, leaf races at a waterfall, songs while climbing a giant tree on the cliff. These were some activities The H Family had this past weekend, just to name a few. However, I bet if we asked Max, the expert 3-year old rock collector, he would say the best part of the photoshoot was finding a rock the shape of “a dinosaur head”!
Or maybe it was picking up one of the other 50 rocks and sticks that adventurous morning.
It was so fun to play with Chase and Max, to see how much they have grown, and to catch up with their parents, Nichole and Clark!