Tag Archives: Portrait Photography

Sweeten the Deal

Children are my main subjects when it comes to portrait photography.

In my experience, very few children are totally keen and relaxed and eager in front of the camera. Ideally, their parents are in the adjacent room sitting on the couch very relaxed, flicking through my photo books and product displays, while I start my little routine, where I take the children into the studio and ask them to help me set up this and that and move a chair and turn on the studio lights.

But even so, most children can feel very ‘put on the spot’ in that situation. And I am supposed to, within minutes, make them totally love the situation, me and the camera. I do admit that I am struggling with this part of my job.

We may use the big mirror to check their hair and practice silly faces. I have some props, sometimes parents bring a book or a toy, but mostly their brief is to have the child smiling their happiest, most natural smile and looking fully into the camera.

I find that even the very shy, fearful or grumpy children do everything you ask them to, but they will not look at me or the camera and they certainly will not smile a natural happy smile. I have gotten some very odd looks by parents while I go through my repertoire of children’s songs or nursery rhymes where I appear to make silly mistakes with the words, I’m getting inexplicable hick-ups, speak in animal language and have even resorted to the fart-app. I know, I know.

Most children will eventually laugh, but they will not look at me or the camera, even if their life was to depend on it. I have tried lens buddies, frankly I’m not a fan, they may work really well with very small children but with the 3-5 year old-ish ones I’ve used them for: no such luck.

Eventually I realized I have to sweeten the deal. I’ve heard of photographers who use M&Ms as bribe, but I’m not sure I want to photoshop chocolate off teeth in post production, plus, these days a lot of children are allergic to chocolate.

Years ago I found an article and had made a note about it. Finally I have re-created this great idea. It’s pretty self explanatory: buy Pez dispensers, use scissors to cut a slither off their feet on either side, slide into flash hot-shoe of camera.

Because it’s such a small item (unlike most lens buddies), the children will have to focus to really see it. And Pez lollies are gluten and lactose free, therefore not an issue with food allergies. And no chocolate teeth, yay.

So there’s my 5 cents worth of wisdom when it comes to photographing children: sweeten the deal 🙂




Pink Me

Early paper and ink quality wasn’t all that great and, unfortunately, when you’re looking at your old colour photographs from long(er) ago you’ll notice they’ve mostly turned a weird mush of yellows or pinks. They are likely otherwise undamaged, but the discolouration is usually not very pretty.

Like in this photo from my collection from the early 80s.

As I’m in the process of resorting and reprinting and digitizing all of our private photo albums, every now and then I’m tackling a few photos in Photoshop and fix them up.

Now, it sounds a bit easier than it is. With this particular photo I have the great advantage that I have a memory of this day. I remember it was taken just after the summer holidays, when a small pop up studio set up in the local mall. My mother used to take me there almost every year to get my portrait done and have the prints go to the grandparents as Christmas presents. It was a good idea to do it well before the festive craze (I know now where I’ve got that from) plus having portrait photos taken just after summer, before the long winter pale sets in.

So, I remember my then favourite top as being very pink, I also remember that I would have been quite tanned from many weeks at the Italian Riviera, with my hair going very light.

All this helped a lot when I set out fixing the colours in this image. There was no other damage, no cracks or weirdness, so it was really just about getting the colours right.

Obviously, this process is much harder when I don’t have a memory about the occasion. When restorating the colours in clients’ images it requires sometimes a bit of emailing back and forth, to get the exact tinge of a dress, of a flower bouquet, of the hair.

But for now, this ‘pink me’ is all good again.


The Environmental Portrait

If you are like most people you probably were thinking this post is going to be about photography in connection with some environmental issues, sustainability, global worming or the like. Not so.

The environmental portrait is a cousin of the studio portrait. Photographers can take pictures of a person in a studio setting or in ‘their environment’. I came across this term a while ago, and I didn’t know that’s what you call them.
There you go. It’s a fancy way of saying ‘photos in your home’ I guess. When I am discussing different shoot options with a potential client, I tend to talk about a ‘photo journalistic approach’, as in taking pictures while my subject is doing what they’re doing.

A studio setting can be a bit overwhelming for many people, they feel put ‘on the spot’, and they prefer to have me come to their home and take photos while they sit in their favourite chair, have a cup of tea, cut some flowers, read a book.
While I love the ability to fully focus on people’s faces in the studio setting, I do also love the photo journalistic approach aka environmental portrait. This is what I do at home all the time, after all. My family is very used to me having the camera out and taking photos while they are busy with something – or nothing for that matter. They’ve all heard me say ‘just because the light is great right now’ too many times.

Environmental portraits work well with clients that want to be photographed in their work place, artists for example.
Environmental portraits also work really well with children, as they don’t have to sit still, don’t have to be clean and nice and on their best behaviour. It could also be environmental portrait if we were to meet in the park and I take photos of the kids at the playground. I normally call this type of shoot ‘location shoot’, but there you go, maybe I have to rephrase in the future.

Have you heard of the environmental portrait before? Let me know, I am intrigued.

Attached is a photo montage of an environmental selfie, for a bit of fun.

Times Four

Theme of the Day Sessions

Every now and then I’ll be offering themed shoots in my little studio, only available on the specified days.

The idea for these types of more creative portrait sessions has been simmering in my head for a little while. My mum took me to the small photo booth type stall in the local mall every year around my birthday. It was quick, fairly cheap, and the whole family treasures the photos that were taken. I feel this is missing for many families today. Yes, everybody takes lots and lots of photos on their phones … and then what? Most never get printed, many are forever gone when the phone accidentally ends up in the washing machine or is being lost, usually the kids never get to see them anyway. They grow up not having any reference to their childhood face.

The ‘Theme of the Day Sessions’ will be in a decorated studio environment, depending on the theme.

Very easy, really.

Nest session is ‘It’s My Birthday’ on Saturday November 1st.

Children can wear whatever they like. They can bring any toy or favorite thing that they want have in the photo.

For $35 you’ll receive a 12×8″ collage with two 4×6″ photos and one 6×8″ photo with your text.

Contact me for bookings via my Website or Facebook.


Panorama Portrait

A studio is a great luxury. No worries about the weather, about mozzies and if an idea pops in my head I can walk right down and see if it works.

Unfortunately many of my ideas tend to be too big for my studio. You see, my studio is very small. Tiny. In fact teeny.

Portrait shoots are in high demand. Even though almost everyone has access to a digital camera of some sort, most realize fairly quickly that the family snap shot and the professional portrait are at home in two very different worlds.

I do offer several types of portrait shoots, but the Mini is a studio-only shoot, and it is very popular. Reasons being, as mentioned above, no worries about the weather, the mozzies, and many times Mothers seem to think that because it is a confined space it will keep their kids better in check. However, my teeny tiny studio is not coping with the requests any more. Even though I have a limit on numbers of people on my website, it seems to get overlooked and every other week I do get the request to have four or five kids in the shoot. I am sometimes tempted to make an exception (how much harder can it be to fit in one more child?) but in the end I know that making that compromise would also mean making a compromise in regards to the quality of photos that I can achieve in this small space – and I am not willing to do that.

This has disappointed some callers, for which I am sorry. Up to recently, for up to 10 people (plus pets) you would have to book my Regular Shoot, and we would meet at an outdoor location.

It bugged me a lot that I couldn’t help out clients who specifically wanted all the convenience of a studio-shoot for a larger family group. After much thinking and mulling over and trialling, az pictured is introducing tadaaa

The Panorama Portrait Shoot. It is perfect for 6-8 family members, depending on age maybe even 10. The quality photo print comes with backing and matted at a size of 12 1/2 inch x 24 inch.

It has been very well received, yay 🙂



A Soft Spot

I do love faces. Children are the easiest to photograph, adults much harder, and women the worst. They rarely like their appearance (I know the feeling!) and are generally incredibly nervous during a shoot and very critical after a shoot.

This 1400 Mitsubishi Galant is the car of a teacher at my young one’s school. It was parked in the back of the school every day, and we admired it during drop-offs and pick-ups. It probably sounds crazy, but I am sure it winked at us a couple of times, it has that much character! Finally, I took courage and got myself the permission to shoot this car.

I should probably say that I have a soft-spot for little cars, and I am driving myself the Galant’s follower model, the Mitsubishi Colt, which has the name Richard Lionheart. Yes, I do name my cars.

I spent a happy hour circling it with my camera, tripod and various lenses. A wonderful quiet and non-fidgety subject that wasn’t self-conscious for a change 🙂



Photography Bucket List

Bucket lists are fun to read. If it’s other people’s bucket lists that is. While they are important for many to outline their goals or dreams or wishes in life, I find it hard to write one for myself.

Mostly I know the things I don’t want to do, either because I have done or tried them already or because they just don’t appeal to me at all. And I don’t like to write down things which come down to fate, for example celebrating 50 years of marriage. I am not normally known to be superstitious, but maybe in that regard I am a little bit.

So any list containing only things I don’t want to do could only be called an ‘Anti-Bucket List’ which sounds terrible, and I won’t write this one down.

But recently I realized that I do have a proper Bucket List when it comes to photography. Because there are a number of faces, places or things that I would love to point my camera at. It’s not a huge list, and a number of points are unlikely and even impossible to ever come true, but there you go, just for fun (one can always dream):

Photography Bucket List – in no particular order:

  • Carnival in Venice
  • Scottish Highlands
  • Times Square in New York at New Years Eve
  • Montana
  • Icebergs
  • Polar Bears
  • the Ghan
  • Oktoberfest in Munich at night, with a security detail to keep me and my tripod safe in the crowds
  • Nordic lights
  • Richard Armitage dressed up as Thorin, in my studio
  • Sean Connery from 20 years ago, in my studio
  • Kate Blanchett with the Oscar and the dress she wore that night, in my studio
  • Inside the Ferrari Factory in Italy
  • harvest time in the Champagne, France
  • the Chelsea Flower Show
  • Mount Fuji
  • tiger cubs
  • a butterfly farm
  • spending a day with a glass-blower, watching them work
  • spending a day with a wood-carver, watching them work
  • Meryl Streep as she is in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, in my studio
  • inside a LEGO factory
  • Musee D’Orsay in Paris, without people but a crew schlepping my gear for me
  • spending a day with a bookmaker, watching them work
  • inside Versailles, with no people there
  • Grafton, Australia, when the trees are in bloom
  • The city of Kingston as portrayed in ‘Assassins Creed – The Black Flag’
  • the Oresund Bridge, which connects Denmark with Sweden
  • Venice in Winter, foggy, gloomy, Black & White
  • the inside of the original Orient Express
  • the young Grace Kelly in my studio, I still think she was the most beautiful woman that ever lived
  • Douglas Fairbanks jr, as he was in that old movie ‘Sinbad’, this was my first crush, very many years ago 😉


Lost Opportunity

I was more a tom-boy than a girlie girl. Rather would have been an Indian or a Pirate than a Princess, rather followed tracks in the dirt and explored secret caves than playing high tea on the picnic rug with my dolls. I did have Barbies, but mine had a horse and wore pants and went on adventures rather than wearing glittery dresses and little shoes.

I could be found on the local adventure and water playgrounds, building igloos in the snow in winter and having daring toboggan rides.

I didn’t much miss the girlie playdates with endless doll-dressing and re-dressing. However, one thing I always wanted to do and never got was having ballet lessons. I remember being very jealous of friends who did, jealous of their tutus and little shoes, of all the graceful moves they learnt – I always felt clumsy and awkward next to them. I was jealous of their long hair put up in a bun. My hair never grew past shoulder length, and got progressively shorter over the years.

This little lady visiting my studio is a very girlie girl. She loves jewels and sparkly things. And she has ballet lessons. Amazing how jealousy still can sting, even after all these long years, it’s been a while since my childhood after all. And amazing how the sting still hurts but also burns with a lot of sadness and resignation over a lost opportunity.

Probably one reason why I really cherished this shoot. Let my eyes feast. Absolutely gorgeous little lady, and if polka-dots ever suit someone, they do suit her, even if it was just in a prop.



To Create a Memory

According to the dictionary a mother is a female parent. But mothers are just so much more.

Everybody knows Mum’s love their kids (although if you’ve ever been to a Mother’s Group it may not always seem that way). But they can turn into a lioness in milliseconds if they think you’re not 100 percent nice to their child. Dangerous stuff.

Becoming a mother is a redefining moment in a woman’s life. Whatever she was before is no more. She has to find herself in a new role. Which is what makes mothers stronger in a way, that necessity to adapt. Of course husbands and boyfriends have to go on a similar journey when they become Dad’s. But the whole carrying and giving birth thing is just ours and you guys will never get it, sorry, full stop.

And no matter how hard the first few years may be, or the teenage years of her child, and no matter what sort of issues will go on, when push comes to shove, Mum’s will find that special strength within, that special toughness, that ultimate power to keep going, that extra bit of time in a day, that extra bit of love.

That’s why I am always very concentrated when I have a photo shoot with children. Mum’s can be harsh critics. Sometimes the mothers like to sit in and watch. You’d think it depends on the age of the child, but I’ve had teenagers where Mum was watching and very young ones where Mum sat in the other room and had a cup of coffee. And vice versa.

Mostly the finished images of a shoot arrive per mail at the client’s house. But every now and then I manage to deliver them in person, and get to be there when they see them the first time. This picture was one of them. This boy loves LEGO (you might have guessed it!) and I like being a bit creative with props and make things more personal. Mum wasn’t there at the photo shoot, so she didn’t know what to expect.

Her face was priceless. Wonderful. Very special. Rewarding. That’s what I love about my job. I created a memory. Yay 🙂