Children are my most favorite photographic subjects. I don’t advertise my children’s work (other than one prior blog post), nor will you find it in my public portfolio. All of my children’s portrait work comes from word of mouth. I think I keep it quietly tucked away because I have two bodies of children’s portraiture. I like all of it but the way I most like to photograph children falls under the fine art genre. These portraits are not the typical big smile portraits most people expect and to be truthful, not what most parents want. These portraits are therefore not made for the subject but more for the viewer. I would describe more as in the genre of “Deadpan” photography. You can find more information on Deadpan here: https://www.nyfa.edu/student-resources/what-is-deadpan-photography/ These portraits can be somber and raw and mostly lit by my most favorite type of light – window light. There is nothing twisted or perverse about my fine art children’s portraits but they are not typical of what you find that most photographers concentrate. I collect them however, whenever and wherever I shoot, whether it be a wedding or a photo shoot that is children specific. I love these photos but my clients always seem to shy away from these photos and concentrate more on the more typical “happy” portrait. This is fine. I love photographing children in any genre. I always admire their naturalness in front of my camera; they lack the inhibitions we collect as we get older and are being photographed. They are not concerned with the way the look, which side is their best side or any other body consciousness for that matter. Children are just themselves and capturing different aspects of their real personality is the both very easy and the most satisfying to me. Having said that this blog post is focus only on my more “typical” children’s portraiture of 2016. I will let the other more fine art type of children’s portraiture marinate for now. I know it will be my eventual main focus as a photographer but just not yet. Here is a sample for now:
My favorite gig of the year is photographing the children at a local preschool and the photo above is from that shoot this year. Photographing about 25 preschoolers in two hours time is a feat. The nursery school teachers usher the kids in, I do my best to make quick rapport with each child and then do my best to photograph them quickly and naturally in less than four minutes. I always try to capture the preschoolers in non-typical school photo way. The first year I photographed at this school the weather was not cooperating and I set up a single studio light in front of a bookcase and photographed them full length and sitting in a chair. I loved to show their whole being to best mark the passing of time. The second year it was beautiful outside and I photographed the kids in natural outdoor light, full length and sitting in a chair. This past year it was again beautiful weather and we photographed outside, in natural light but this year we did not use a chair. Some kids sat in the location I choose, while others stood. As always some kids did not want to be photographed and I chased them around as they moved. My hopes for eliminating the chair was to capture them very naturally. It worked and was exhilarating moving around with them – most of the time on my knees. When the photo gallery was released to the parents, I immediately began to get emails from the parents in praise of the lovely photos I captured. As always it is an honor to photography anyone that steps in front of my camera.
The above photograph is from a local family shoot. Whatever the location I am shooting, I always look for beautiful light first. When I entered a room in the clients home I gasped at the ceiling to wall windows on three quarters of the room’s walls. Not only was I astounded that there existed a room with such lovely light but also that these large windows had two layers of curtains adorning them. One layer blocked the light and the other was a softer sheer. I quickly pulled back the heavier curtain and let the sheer intact. This created an amazing natural light studio. Although, I also photographed the children outdoors the photos inside this amazing room were my favorites.
I am always excited to photograph a child, however, when the parent gives me full access to a small modern art museum as a backdrop, I am over the moon. Although, we were able to capture many great photos from this precious child’s shoot incorporating the artwork in the background this was my most favorite photo from this shoot. As I always say, found light is my favorite light and window light is the most special. Here I had a whole museum to shoot at but the most beautiful light was in a small hallway in the front of the museum. There was a large window with a small ledge and directly in front of the window a large white wall. It was like having a natural light studio – the window creating an solid but ethereal backdrop and the expansive white wall in front reflecting the light onto the front of the child. No need to shoot with a reflector or a studio light in when shooting into the light here – the close white wall did it all for me – naturally. The hardest part was balancing the child on the ledge while mom spotted from below.
The two above photographs are of two different shoots of the same family. I first photographed this child at a local preschool as part of their school photos last year. I was then deeply honored when the mom later asked me to do a maternity session (first photo) and then a family portrait once the baby was born (second photo). In their home shoot their was a large window covered with a sheer curtain that provided the backdrop to most of our photos during this shoot. However, I most liked this one taken in between our sessions. I love the lifestyle aspect of this photo and how the little boy is looking up at his mom. I love their connection. After my third time photographing this precocious boy, he held my hand and I was totally, and utterly head of the heels in love. I love their expanding family portraits and how I was again able to photograph the eldest boy (for the fourth time) at this preschool session. You will see the latest picture of him below.
This is the fourth time I have photographed this child, three times this year. By the time we did this shoot as part of a preschool photo day shoot he was a professional – he was already comfortable with my presence and familiar with the way I photographed. We situated him in the spot and I said about words two him and he just had the perfect response each time. I think we spent less than two minutes with each other and we were able to get his this great shot along with many others. I love him.
This photo was also from a nursery school photo day shoot. I love the joy on this child’s face and the subtle colors that frame him.
This lovely brother and sister were my first subjects at this outdoor nursery school picture day this year. I love the slight haze behind them, the fall colors and the fact that it appears that they actually like and love each other. Being the mother of three daughters, I realize these moments are few and far in-between and that it is even rarer to capture these moments in a photograph.
This Child is not only gorgeous and incredibly expressive without saying a word but she is also my god child. I have been honored to photograph her every year, in this very same location, since she was one year old. This found lovely window light found at the top of her grandmother’s stair case is soft and natural and provides a lovely back drop. Even more beautiful is the fact that just a mere month ago she started to talk to me for the first time, she has always been painfully shy. I can’t wait to photograph her next month.