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Stella Kramer on how to build a better online portfolio

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Category : How to, Recommended reads

Is your online portfolio looking great or annoying the hell out of photo editors and potential clients? While we may think having an elaborately designed website or having “a black background” is going to wow the viewers – it might just be causing you to miss out on major job opportunities.

Find out what you’re doing right or wrong in this webinar by Pulitzer Prize-winning photo editor, Stella Kramer, as she advices to both new and experienced photographers on “Building a Better Online Portfolio”.

Build a Better Online Portfolio with Stella Kramer from PhotoShelter.com on Vimeo.

Stella Kramer has been in the New York publishing industry for over 15-years, working for major publications such as The New York Times, People, Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated, and Money.

Follow her at:

via PhotoShelter’s blog.

What should a photographer pack for Fashion Week?

Category : Girly Gear, How to, Recommended reads

While most ladies are busy checking the latest bag to swoon after on Fashion Week, we at Chiq Clicks are peaking to see what’s in the bag. In the photographer’s bag that is.

The fabulous Katy Winn, a veteran Getty Images Official Fashion Week photographer, gives us the low down on what she packs to wrestle with other photographers “in the pit” during that eventful 7 days. Find out her choice of lenses, CF cards and how she makes the best out of available light in this 2-part Youtube video.

via weddinginfashion.com

10 gastronomic tips from a foodie photog

Category : Featured articles, How to, Top 10 Tips

Your mother might have told you that, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. What she forgot to add is, “your stunning photos of your cooking would steal a great many more hearts!”

Food is an excellent photography subject. Good food usually looks appetizing and for most types of food, it stays still long enough for you to set up the photo.

Chiq Clicks is happy to bring you Haniela’s top 10 tips on taking better photos of food. Haniela’s an excellent baker and photographer (of course!) and like many of us, found her passion for photography through Flickr.

Whether you’re a foodie warrior out to snap a photo of every meal you take to share on Facebook, or a serious chef/baker wanting to document your creations, Haniela’s simple tips below will turn your nice photos into stunning ones.

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1. CAMERA  – LENS

Camera
With camera you basically have  2 options :

  • Point and shoot
    It was around Valentine’s day 2008 when I first started taking pictures of food, I made some cookies took the pictures and then I found Flickr and I was hooked. I first started with Sony Cyber Shot 5.Megapixels (SONY DSC-V1) but I have overgrown it really fast and was ready for another adventure…a DSLR.
  • DSLR (Digital single-lens reflex camera)
    Since 2009 I’ve been using Nikon DSLRs. I’m not going into which is better, Canon or Nikon, as I have only been using Nikon and I have no experience with Canon brand. I started out with Nikon D200 and then  I changed to Nikon D300.

Lens

Quality lens is really must. As they say glass matters the most.

Good lens doesn’t have to be expensive, Nikon 50mm 1.8 or 50mm 1.4 are really good choices to start with, they are  prime lenses (no zoom) but offer a great sharpness of the image. I know it has no zoom, but with food it really works great, and I’ve used it on some outdoor portraits as well.

I also use Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8, this one sits on my camera on most days. It offers excellent optics and sharpness is great throughout out the range. I just love it.

I also work with Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF Micro, it is a beauty.

It really comes down to what you are the most comfortable with and what you can afford.

2. TRIPOD

Tripod is a very important part of your gear. Personally I can’t do without a tripod, it is must for me. Tripods are made from variety of materials, from the cheapest: plastic aluminum, basalt, and carbon fiber are the most expensive ones. Depending on your budget and your needs get a tripod that will be able hold your camera.

I’ve tried few brands, I like Manfrotto brand and most days I use the Gitzo, that is an expensive carbon fiber tripod. But if you do nature  and wildlife photography where lots of hiking is involved, you better get yourself something that is light. I’ll never forget that 6 hours hike I took with a super heavy tripod on my shoulder which gave me a bruises and blisters. That heavy tripod was sold and replaced with a carbon one and I’ve never looked back.

If you are using point and shoot, you must definitely use a tripod when taking  food photos.

3. LIGHT AND LIGHTING

I’ve been using mainly natural light when taking food photos, though I’ve tried studio lights as well. I’m still on a learning curve about these. I would love to try a strobe sometime soon as well.

Usually I try to shoot in the middle of the day or early afternoon. Pay attention to the strength of the light as it changes throughout the day. For example, early afternoon light can deliver a nice bright light but it also can be very strong producing harsh shadows in your photos.

When taking photos indoors I recommend to test the light in your house during different times of the day. The best place is by a large window or opening, with the light coming in diffused by a white curtain, or you can use a white bed sheet. I use a white diffuser.

I also have 2 skylights in my kitchen, so when I need it I have light coming from above.

I actually prefer sunny days over cloudy ones, as with sunny days I get to play more with the light as it has more direction and casts shadows. Of course there are times, when there is just too much light.

4. REFLECTORS

I love reflectors, they are vital to food photography and they are so much fun.

I bought a kit of reflectors, with gold, black, 2 white diffusers, silver and a lightly golden one. You can make simply table reflectors by using card stocks from a craft store. Use silver or if you want warm it up a little use a gold one.

In the shot above (donuts in the cage), I used mirrors and aluminium foil pieces placed on the table and ran the mirror from the left through a glass jar.

  • Mirror - you have to be careful with it as it gives you a very directional light and can cast weird rectangle shapes, but I still like it as it is great to get the light where you want it.
  • Aluminium foil – it has so many uses. You can make little balls with the  shiny part up and place them around the table. If in a hurry you could also get a silver windshield protector and use that as a reflector.

Get Inspired. I have a lot of magazines with food photos and I try to understand how each shot was taken, where was the main light, etc. I love Arthur King Flour’s catalogue, it is full of great photos which I try to pick up on the lighting tricks from. Even though they are using all studio lights and I’m doing all natural lighting, I think it applies to both, just the way you get there is a little different.

Example 1: I directed a reflector to run the light just across the top of the white part to make it really shine.

Example 2: A very simple demonstration of how white diffusers works (I have to say even though my cake threw a very harsh shadow it was a pretty impressive one too).

Example  3: We just picked winter squash and before I cooked it I wanted to snap a picture. Well it seems I can’t just go and snap a picture anymore!

Originally I wanted to shoot it on the table, but then my eye spotted the bench and I thought, hmm, that could be interesting and it certainly was. You don’t see what preceded this shot, but the squash collapsed several times before I was finally able to secure each one of them. At the end I was praying so it would stay like that for at least a minute or so, so I could take some pictures. As you see I positioned the smallest ones in the front and I tried to arrange leaves there too so it wouldn’t look so bare.

5. CAMERA SETTINGS

The settings I normally use are:

  • ISO – Manualy set to minimum to eliminate noise in pictures.
  • EXPOSURE -I preferably shoot Manual or Aperture priority when taking food photos
  • APERTURE & Depth of field (DOF) -  When I first  started taking photos with my point and shoot, I was so desperate to understand how to take pictures with blurred background. I think I read about aperture setting more than about anything else. In short, your aperture settings effect your depth of field (DOF). You probably heard this term someway along the way – it is defined as the portion of a scene that appears acceptably sharp in the image and increasing the DOF increases the sharpness of an image. To increase DOF, you can use a small aperture setting (read more on Aperture from Wikipedia here). With my lenses I have  the largest  apperture/fstop/ at 1.8 with my 50mm and 17-55 mm, and 2.8 with the macro. I usually play with different aperture settings to achieve the desired effect.

  • WHITE BALANCE – Depending of the light, but mostly it is set on daylight or auto.
  • EXPOSURE COMPENSATION (EV +/-) – This is a very useful  feature on the camera that allows you to adjust the exposure measured by its light meter. It helps you to control the amount of light that enters the lens. I use this feature when light is very bright and there is high contrast in a scene. It is also useful when subjects are back lit where sometimes the camera is fooled by the light behind the subject and as a result the subject appears too dark.

  • FOCUS – Manual

  • SELF-TIMER – I use self-timer set for 10 seconds. Using a self-timer gives me the freedom of using both of my hands to hold a reflector or a mirror if needed. It also eliminates shaking which will be captured in the photo.

6. PROPS – BACKGROUNDS – STYLING

When using a fabric, I try to keep it simple. Solid colors seems to work the best and then you can add little color with your props or a small napkin. I bought a lot of small fabric pieces to accent my photos at a fabric store, or you can find really nice kitchen towels at a dollar store too. I always look for props.

I don’t really have a preference of what color I like best. Obviously white looks great but when I take photos I usually try different backgrounds until I find one that fits the best for the subject. I’m still growing my fabric collection.

As for the props, Ikea has a wonderful selection of different bowl, jars etc. I love my weekend visits to garage sales. Especially now in the Fall there are so many of them. You can find really unexpected things there. Just keep your eyes open for little things that can add character to your photo. I love how food looks on a white plate but since nothing is set in stone I try different colors as well. Again, look at magazine food shots, or cookbooks. I find styling to be challenging, I learned that less is more.

  • Don’t clutter your shot with a lot of different props. Simple napkin, fork or knife will do just fine.
  • Test different backgrounds, either solid, or patterned. Scrapbooking papers are great too. Make sure that fabric or paper will cover the area of view
  • Experiment with different plates, bowls, silverware, ribbons, etc. Ingredients can be part of the set up as well.
  • Use only the best samples you have available to you (perhaps you made 12 cupcakes, so pick only the best of the bunch)

Example 1: Use of a simple prop. Knife bought at a flea market ($2)

Example 2: Flower matching the napkin color adds a nice touch.

Example 3: I used a cut out parchment heart and a ribbon to make it more interesting. Background is satin red fabric. Perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Example 4: I lined the smallest box I could find ( I think it used to be  a small jewelery box) with pink tissue paper (Victoria Secret).

Example 5: I had this shot in my head for a while, I planted some grass into a pretty green container and voila, it made a perfect Easter Egg Photo prop.

7. PREPARATION AND MY LITTLE HELPERS

I usually set my table before I have food ready and I test the light so I know what to expect later. I usually  iron few backdrops just to have a few choices.

My tools include tweezers, paper towels, cotton swabs, glycerin, vinegar – it does magic on plates, I use it make them really shiny and spotless, spring clamps, painter’s brush to remove crumbs, sometime I use  tape to pick up crumbs if I can’t get there with the brush. I use all kind of little helpers.

Example 1 (right): Aluminium foil & glass pebblesThe cookies wouldn’t stand on its own even after trying aluminium foil balls, little tubes, etc. So what I did was I placed few glass pebbles inside of the alluminum foil and made shapes, don’t ask what shapes they were just some shapes, in such fashion so they wouldn’t be showing through when shot at table level, but they would hold the cookie up. I balanced each cookie and this is the photo that came out.

I really wanted Flying Halloween Witches….and I think I got them. ;-)

Example 2 (below): Paper towels – I love them, I use them to support cookies on a plate as cookies – they just keep sliding and sliding, it is nearly impossible to place them on the plate without some kind of support.

I used few paper towel pieces in these shots to keep the cookies from sliding into the dish.

Example 3: Parchment paper – I used parchment paper pieces in these Raisin Bread photos. The reason why I decided to use parchment pieces was very simple,  I used a fabric background with a very natural feel and since I knew I’d be moving the bread around a lot.

I didn’t want the fabric to get all dirty from the raisins that were all over this delicious bread, they’re very soft and they would definitely dirty the fabric. I cut out rectangle pieces of parchment paper and placed them underneath of the breads. It worked wonderfully.

I photographed this bread for my friend Bread Artisan Maker Rachel from Mangez Brioche, she entered her bread into a Bread Contest, and her bread based on photos and her formula was chosen to go into the final round and she will be attending a bake off in Kansas.

Addition of a simple prop as stalks of dried wheat made it look more interesting.

I was very pleased with how I was able style this shot. I love the DOF here.

8. SHOOTING STYLE

Practice Practice Practice

I like to do a little research, study food photos in magazines and in cook books. Then when I’m ready to shoot I always try different angles, but generally the closer you can get better.  Shoot the whole set up from from above, at standing level, at table level and don’t be afraid of exploring and have fun with it. Get closer with a macro lens, or wide lens.

Example 1: Here I shot the whole set up from an angled position from above and the second shot is a close up.

Example 2: Using the same prop, a gorgeous antique scale, two different angles can give you totally different perspectives.

Example 3: From above.

Example 4: Shot at table level.

Example 5: Get Close.

9. ERASING AND FORMATTING MEMORY CARD

I do the both. I shoot a lot and it seems like memory cards need a little boost after they’ve been all filled up. Once you download your pictures to the computer, back them up and then format your memory card in your camera not in the computer.

I didn’t believe it, but I did a little test, I deleted all my images on the memory card and I checked what is the available number of photos I can take, and it was a rather small number so I formatted the card and voila, number jumped up.

Formatting improves the performance of the memory card.

10. FILE FORMAT AND EDITING

I shoot in raw and my online photos are mainly PNG.

I use Capture NX for  editing and converting photos and then Corel Paint Shop Pro for adding watermarks, text and such.

The beauty of Raw format is that in the software application you are able to work with the photo like you would in a darkroom, you can still go in and adjust exposure, correct the white balance etc.

I keep my editing to a minimum, usually it involves adjusting the contrast, boost of color and if needed, color control point.

Article originally posted here.

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If Haniela is not outdoors hiking to waterfalls, the self-taught photographer can be found baking and sharing her delicious recipes and delectable photos on her blog. Keep up with her on her:

Blog – www.hanielas.blogspot.com/
Flickr – www.flickr.com/photos/haniela/
Facebook –  www.facebook.com/pages/Hanielas/

Is ’round-the-world’ photography right for you?

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Category : Featured articles, How to

Hmong tribe girls look longingly at balloons in Sapa, Vietnam (© Aloha Lavina)

Find yourself wanting to ride a boat through the colorful floating market in Thailand one weekend and visiting the Swayambhu temple in Kathmandu the next? Round-the-world’ (RTW) travelling might be just the thing for you.

Aloha Lavina, a teacher by profession and an RTW traveler by heart, shares the amazing images she captures on her travels and helps you determine whether RTW is right for you, in this guest post below.

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Rajasthani girl hides her mouth and smiles with her eyes, India (© Aloha Lavina)

Sometimes when I completely fall in love with a place, I want to stay indefinitely.

Standing in the Sunday market in Bac Ha, Vietnam, my senses are overwhelmed by the colors. My camera is on overdrive. I am in heaven.

But I spend exactly one day in Bac Ha, leave the North of Vietnam, fly back to Hanoi then Bangkok, bringing back some images and the intention of going back.

I’ve only been to Luang Prabang a total of five days. My first time in Bali, I spent five days there. First time in Myanmar, seven days. The Rajasthan in India, a week. But each time, I was able to bring back some wonderful images and a sense of the place. I didn’t have to stay indefinitely.

I know people who quit their jobs and became travelers full time. One of the most famous of these is Jodi, also known as Legalnomads. Another is Matt, known to everyone as NomadicMatt. They both quit corporate type jobs to do RTWs, or round-the-world trips. There are a lot of full-time RTW travelers: on Twitter alone, @solotraveler, @BKKMichael, and even an entire family, @GotPassport, who have sold everything they owned and relocated to Chiang Mai, Thailand just over three weeks ago.

Buddhist monks walking for alms, Luang Prabang Laos (© Aloha Lavina)

Sometimes, when I completely fall in love with a place, which happened in Burma last month, I wish for a moment I too could just make like Gauguin and run back to the place I was from the place I am.

But is RTW the right answer for everyone? Does short travel make you less of a traveler? I’ve thought about these questions a lot lately. Here are some thoughts.

1. Short travel is OK if you are already an expat.

I’ve lived in Thailand and other countries. I haven’t been in what most people would consider “home,” really, since I was sixteen years old. Wherever I am at present is “home” to me. So I am a full-time expat. What I love about being an expat in Bangkok is that I am able to use all the conveniences I would have back home, and (seriously) there is a direct flight to five continents from this city. So when I have the time, I can fly somewhere with my camera and notebook, and then fly back home. In 2007, for instance, my busiest year thus far, I flew 47 different times to 17 different places and was back on Monday for my full time job.

Woman giggles at photographer’s strange Vietnamese accent, Can Tho (© Aloha Lavina)

2. You have a job you love.

The people I know who quit their job to travel did not really enjoy what they did as much as they enjoyed travel. Shamelessly, I can talk about my profession for a whole day and never tire. I teach high school English and design curriculum, and I love it. I love the possibility that is in each life of each child I teach; I love the light that happens in their eyes when they understand something, when they learn. And I love that at the end of the school year, I am able to look back and appreciate that my hard work has made someone love learning.

A Buddhist monk looks through his laundry in Luang Prabang, Laos (© Aloha Lavina)

I thought about quitting teaching to engage in my other job, freelance commercial photographer and journalist. But in all these years of being busy both Monday to Friday with school and Saturdays and evenings with photography and writing, I honestly cannot say I would be happy without either. So I am both.

3. Your travel needs you to lug heavy equipment around.

I travel so I can create images. The lightest equipment I take somewhere includes a DSLR, at least two lenses, four camera batteries, a storage viewer which can hold up to 160 GB of photos, a notebook (paper based tool I can carry in my pocket to record snatches of thought).

I also budget my reading when I travel, because when it’s too dark to take photos, I usually don’t ‘go out’ in the conventional sense, so I read. On a recent eight-day trip to Bali, I read the three books I brought in five days, and I had to buy Eat Pray Love and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest for the three days left plus the plane ride.

A rickshaw driver looks through the awning of his rickshaw, Kathmandu Nepal (© Aloha Lavina)

And, sometimes I have to carry a tripod and a laptop.

If I had to lug this equipment around on my back for a whole year on an RTW, I think one of a few things would happen:

  • I will run out of storage space for new photos. On an average day on a photo trip, from pre-sunrise to sundown, I take around 24 GB of photos. Do the math—even if I delete the mediocre ones nightly, I would still end up with at least some 12 GB of photos a day. That makes 160 GB last for an average of 13.33 days, nowhere close to a year. Of course, I could bring more than one storage device, thereby sentencing myself to a lifetime of back problems. (All this equipment on my back every day weighs 16 kilograms which I carry while chasing images.)
  • I will spend lots of money on books.
  • All of the above.

4. You want easier budgets to handle.

A family walks in moonlight carrying an offering, Bali (© Aloha Lavina)

I generally like nicer hotels. And because I often travel more than 200 kilometers a day from the sunrise location to the sunset, I have to hire a car. When traveling, a nice room and a reliable car often are my two biggest expenses.

5. You want action-filled days.

Tom Swick of World Hum wrote that traveling is “creative hanging around.” For me, that doesn’t mean sitting. As a rule, I am constantly in motion when I travel. On my feet at a location, I can explore ways to make better images than if I sit somewhere and wait for a shot to walk by.

Of course, I also do hang around. I have to make friends before I make photos—that’s another of my rules. So a lot of time is spent socializing with the locals, eating with them, visiting their families, and a lot of time is spent working with the camera. The rest of the time is slow eating and sipping good coffee while writing down my thoughts. Days and days of this, then I go home and process both the photos and my thoughts.

I like being able to live episodically when I travel. It demands that I pay attention to the present, every single minute of every single day.

And it works for me. How about you? Is RTW right for you?

Originally posted here.

Pa O tribe man looks out a temple window, Myanmar (© Aloha Lavina)

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Aloha Lavina has been in Asia since she was 16. Traveling from her base in Bangkok, Aloha has been stuck in an ash cloud in France, trapped in a flash flood in the Philippines, caught in seven coups d’etat in Thailand, and spent a week not talking at a Benedictine Abbey in Jamberoo, Australia.

Her writing and photographs have been featured extensively in publications such as UTATA Tribal Photography Magazine (USA) and  Danse Avec la Terre, a photography book for Haiti published in France.

Keep up with Aloha on:
Her blog: www.pointofutterance.com
Her website:
www.alohal.com
Twitter:
www.twitter.com/alohalavina


Top 10 Tips to photograph infants, babies and toddlers

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Category : Featured articles, How to, Top 10 Tips

Babies, infants and toddlers seem like pretty easy subjects to shoot (pun intended). Like Puss in Boots – they are innocent, cute and sweet.

© Asther Lau

Those who have tried would know that they aren’t always the angels we think of them as. One wrong glance, a funny smell or any other mysterious elements could set a baby weeping and screaming. Or worse, those that can crawl might crawl away from you. These pooping and peeing creatures may seem like aliens from another planet especially for those of us who are rarely around babies.

To help us understand and communicate with these little people, I’ve gotten the expert help of Asther Lau, a well-known infant, toddler and baby portraiture photographer in Malaysia who has been taking photos for the last 5 years. As a mother herself, Asther’s experience helps her understand and anticipate what her little clients want. She’s generously sharing her knowledge in ChiqClick’s first and exclusive – Top 10 Tips.

Quick notes (via dictionary.com)

  • Infant - a child during the earliest period of its life, esp. before he or she can walk; baby.
  • Toddler - a young child learning to walk
  • Baby - an infant or very young child

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Tip #1: Let them be!

Babies & toddlers are happiest when they’re doing what they want. Be it playing, running, eating, or just sleeping.

© Asther Lau

© Asther Lau

When I arrive at a client’s place to capture their newborn’s moments, I’ll plan my session according to the baby’s mood. If she wants to feed, then let her feed and I’ll work on capturing the mother-baby moments. If she wants to sleep, then let her sleep. I’ll then slowly work around posing her for some cute poses.

It’s the same thing with older babies or toddlers. There’s no point forcing a child to pose for the camera. You can suggest by making the session like a game session between you & the child. But in the end of the day, just let the child decide what he/she wants to do.

Tip #2: Camera Equipment

© Asther Lau

Okay… this one is based on my own preference & experience. Some other photogs might do it or prefer it differently. I have only 3 lenses with me. A portrait lens (50mm), a zoom lens (70-200mm) and a wide angle lens which can also take macro details (24-70mm).

I use the portrait lens for most of my shots. Almost 90% of the whole set. The one I have allows me to take photos in very low-light situation, hence, it helps a lot with my indoor shoots.

I use the zoom lens a lot when I go outdoor with a running toddler. It allows some distance between me & the child, hence, this makes me almost “invisible”. A toddler will be more relaxed & willing to play more. Also, I don’t really have to run with the toddler to capture the moments I want.

I use the wide angle lens more for a big family set-up or a very small indoor area. And since it can take macro shots for me, I use it a lot for my newborn sessions too for details like little fingers & feet. Get CLOSE to get those details. Details shots are a must have! ;)

© Asther Lau

My camera mode is always on Manual with burst mode which helps a lot when it comes to capturing the moments I want, especially with an active child.

I try to avoid using flash/external strobes when it comes to photographing children because it can be very distractive, sometimes scary for the children. As for newborn, although you can use bounced light off the wall or ceiling, I still prefer to work with natural lighting as some parents are worried about the effect of the flashes on their baby’s eyes.

Tip #3:  Be prepared

For outdoor sessions, bring along things like

  • wet napkins
  • mosquito patches
  • sunblock lotion for babies/children
  • first aid cream for babies/children

© Asther Lau

This will help keep both the babies/children AND parents comfortable throughout the session. Some toys will always come in handy to help distract the children. Things like bubble-makers, a rattler or even a phone that plays some cute sounds.

As for indoor sessions, I always bring extra props such as blankets or swaddling blankets, etc. I will always expect my newborn clients to pee or poop during their “naked” sessions. ;) Don’t freak out when the baby pees or poop on you. EXPECT that to happen cause it almost always happens!

Tip #4: Plan the session with the parents.

Pretty similar to wedding photography, you’ll need to plan things out with the parents prior to the photo session. Let them know how you work, your preferred style, etc. Besides discussing on what attires to wear for the session, discuss further on what to bring as well.

© Asther Lau

I always advice the parents to bring along some necessities such as:

  • extra diapers,
  • food & water (or milk),
  • favorite toy/pillow,
  • and most importantly, the person the child is most attached to, which is normally the main caretaker (a grandparent, a helper, etc.).

The caretaker will most probably be the best person to make the child smile or laugh. ;)

© Asther Lau

Location planning is important as well. It has to be an interesting place for the child YET safe for him/her to play about. Make it interesting and fun cause children love to discover new environments. Familiar surroundings also helps, for example a place the child frequents with the family.

Tip #5:  Be a friend

I always introduce myself when I first meet a toddler. A slow approach will look less intimidating for the child, so I always bring myself down to his/her level and smile first. Give a token of friendship in the form of a little gift such as a sweet or a toy. It’s also important to show the child that you’re a friend of his/her parents. So talk to the parents & smile or laugh a lot. Eventually the child will warm up to you as well.

Tip #6:  Always know when to say enough.

Babies & toddlers have a very short attention span. And they tire easily too. So always know when it’s time to take a break or to finalize the session.

© Asther Lau

When I see tell tale signs of fatigue (crankiness, extreme attachment to a parent or caretaker, etc.), I’ll let the parents know that it’s time to take a break or wrap up. Ending a session with a little picnic will help tune everyone down. Food & drinks are the best remedy after an active day. ;)

I always encourage parents to interact with their children. Play, cuddle, make funny faces. All this will bring out an expression from the child.

As for newborn session, I usually will do the handling of the baby myself when it comes to prepping & posing the baby. But I always have the parent(s) available nearby to assist, especially the mother cause every baby is most comfortable when sensing the mommy’s presence, especially breastfeeding babies.

Tip #8: Use anything & everything

For my newborn session, I like to put the baby in or on anything I see fit & nice. ;) It can be a little bowl or a flower pot, or just a swaddling blanket or a little corner of a huge bookshelf. My current favorite is anything that screams DRAWER.

© Asther Lau

I encourage my clients to look around their home for any useable props instead of going out & spend money on new things. This is because I find that these old items have more sentimental value than those new stuffs. The parents will look at the photos taken years down the road and go, “hey… that’s the drawer from baby A’s wardrobe. It’s always full of clothing cause mommy can’t seem to stop buying new ones for him!”. Get my gist?

© Asther Lau

Tip #9: Be PATIENT

It’s a hard, tiring job (and often enough messy) when it comes to photographing children. You’ll sweat buckets & almost every muscle will need to work when you try to get the shot you want. So take as many photos as possible. Take your time. Some of my favorite shots took me ages to obtain. So persevere and you’ll be rewarded. ;)

Tip #10: Relax & be happy!

Babies & toddlers detect negative vibes from people around them very easily. So, try to relax & think happy thoughts when you’re photographing them. If you’re stressed out, even a sleeping newborn will wake up & make a fuss cause she sensed your frustration. Playing a happy or peaceful music in the background may help. Have small chats with people around you. Anything that will help you relax! Except alcohol and drugs. ;)

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© Zach Chin

Asther Lau is a professional Newborn & Baby, Toddler & Children, Maternity & Family photographer based in Malaysia. Besides portraiture, Asther’s other talent includes underwater photography with publications in magazines such as X-Ray online dive magazine, Air Asia’s inflight magazine and front cover for Action Asia.

Asther’s official blog and website: http://astherlau.com/
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/astherlau
Facebook Fanpage: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Asther-Lau-Photography/