How I see it
There’s a gazillion things I love about my job but if I was to filter it down – it is the joy that my photography brings to people, especially parents. I know how much happiness photographs of my own children bring me. Infact on bad days, it is my smiling boys on my phone screen saver that reminds me not to take life so seriously. And so the sessions where my clients shed a little tear for having received an album or frame of their little one captured in the most authentic way possible, is really rewarding to me and makes it worthwhile. That’s what I love about my job the most.
My photography is not limited to babies and children. I’ve also ventured into engagement and wedding shoots and other commercial projects such as the photography for ‘Fertilise Yourself’. At the core, the concepts are the same – get the best possible equipment for the job, get your lighting right and get your STYLING right. These three things are just SOME of the factors that will set you apart from the rest. So for example, the following two photos from the book demonstrate these three things:
For the photo-buffs in you, I shot this on a 50mm prime at f/2, 1/2000 and ISO 400. For the non-photo buffs, all this means is, it was a great lens: the quality of glass in a prime lens (a fixed focal length so you can’t zoom in or out, you need to move your feet! Lol) is really superior. It has the ability to let a lot of light in which creates this beautiful blur both before and after the focal point. So my aim was to capture how mouth watering this mousse looked by focusing on ripples on the mousse. Everything around it is subtly to extremely blurred, depending on the distance from the mousse.
Get your light right:
This dish was back-lit from a 45 degree angle (just from the kitchen window), getting the light perfectly on the ripples on the mouse and also making the berries in the center of the mousse slightly translucent. But then you do need to know how to compensate for back lighting as it is easy to get the subject too dark.
Get your styling right:
The circle in the glass holding the mousse was echoed in the circle of the white plate underneath it. So it was important to have another different shape to create some interest – the rectanglish (is that a word?!?) spoon and napkin. It just created that subtle distraction to everything being too round and set up. The choice of napkin colour was Nat’s (dammit!) but it’s subdued colour was great so as not to distract from the bright berries. Again talking of subtle distraction, the white polka dots on the grey napkin again created that wonderful asymmetry and gave that kind of casual look.
Always try and tie colors in. So you know how you decorate your house in neutral colors and have bright accents (with cushions etc)? Well it’s the same concept here. Everything neutral and bring in the scattered accents – in this case literally as the garnishing (micro-herbs) is scattered but also the berries. Your eye needs to see at least two points of the same colour around the picture to feel balanced, otherwise that colour just sticks out like a sore thumb rather than looking intentional.
So it’s pretty much the same with the next photo. The equipment and lighting points were similar. As for the styling, plain neutral backdrops was perfect to compliment the prominence of the Raspberry mould. Given it dominated the photo, you didn’t really need another point of bold maroon in the photo for balance. But the green of the scattered micro herbs do have a visual balance – not only are they scattered around the mould but also repeated in the centre of the flower with the pale yellow of the cream at the back also tying in nicely with the pale yellow in the inside of the flower. (WOW! I could write a thesis on this!) And crop away folks! Food photography looks great (and modern) when cropped closely.
If you want to see how these three things translate into my portrait work, here’s how. This is one of my FAVOURITE father-daughter photos. For me, it signified all that had to be remembered from that time in their lives: where they lived, his patience for her, her vulnerability next to her maculine father – captured in the colours they wore, their relative sizes and her ‘stumbly’ walk next to his sturdy stroll…. I can go on but I digress…
Again I shot this on a 50mm prime at a low f/1.4 – a little bit dangerous with on location family shoots as you want everyone to be in focus. But dedicating this little slither of focus area to the father and daughter meant that anything before and after were blurred creating great impact when you have repetitive patterns like the pier’s foot-boards and side railings. The pier also acts as leading lines to the main subject (father and daughter) and my personal favourite is how the green lamp acts as a circular reference – directing your eye down at the dad, onto the daughter next to him and up again to the lamp that points down to the father again. The father and daughter had to be at the correct distance from me and the lamp for this perspectives to be right – i.e. the frame before and after it were not as impactful.
I like his blue jeans with the blue sky (especially the faded pockets echoed in the blotchy clouds). While what he wore wasn’t planned to that detail, the post-processing of the photo was. This is where ‘styling’ extends to what photographers do AFTER they capture the photo and the creative choices they make when editing the photos. This is not to say I photoshopped the sky – far from it. But knowing what filters to run so you eliminate the harshness of the sun and bring out the vibrancy of all the colours around you does come from training.
Again those three principles extend to my studio work too. Newborns are predominantly done at my home studio. This is probably one of my favourites from my last few newborns that I’ve done. Simple, elegant and totally squishable on the cuteness stakes. This was again shot on a prime lens (I do have other lenses I promise…), the lighting was simple window lighting and the styling in this case is the posing of the baby. Handling newborns for the purpose of photography is a skill in itself and not something to be taken lightly as it is a vulnerable human being you are dealing with. How to tuck limbs in a way that show of the pink toes, fingers, pouty lips and delicate skin wrinkles whilst hiding genitals and other things that you may not want to highlight (like cone heads cause by a forcep birth) is all quite hard work and requires training and experience.
So that’s me and my photography in a nutshell. I’m sure there’s a million other things that I may have forgotten to include (or those photo-buffs would like to contest!) – in which case, just get in contact so I can clarify: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0412 111 097.
The last photo was an inspiration behind the current promotion I have running. I once saw the work of my lovely friend Anna from the Cupcake Kitchen – Melbourne and had to somehow incorporate her works of art with mine and this was the result. She makes newborn cupcakes – Aaaaaaaahhhhhh! How totally adorable. (I want another baby just so I have an excuse to order these!!)
Well if YOU or anyone you know are having a baby in the next few months and thinking of getting newborn portraiture done, a cute pack of six cupcakes are yours (home delivery extra) valued at $55 – perfect for baby showers, special visitors or (heck who am I kidding) to devour yourself!! This applies to all bookings with CJ Photography during the months of September and October (and yes you can choose the colours of your cupcakes). You don’t necessarily have to be due in these months, just bookings made in this month. But spots are limited so please get in fast.
So whilst these cupcakes weren’t quite healthy enough to make it into Nat’s latest book, the other recipes are; so if you haven’t already, grab yourself a copy and get cooking. And don’t be afraid to whip out YOUR camera and stylize your dishes! I promise, it makes them even yummier…