There is no better way to start your day than spending a couple of early morning hours with a bunch of recently hatched little ones. The bigger ones who can talk and carry the little ones are fun too. The whole process from shoot to processing and sharing makes me happier than pop rocks. And when a client shares one of them online (like the one above, which also happened to be on my birthday), I melt with the satisfaction that they’re happy with the finished product. Shooting families has also been one of the best ways for me to practice taking photographs subjects with a lot of movement, a ton of feelings and often times a bit of juggling. I am so thankful to the friends and clients who gave me a chance this year when I started taking photos semi-professionally and for their permission to show you some of my favourite shots.
It’s the holiday season, so in the next week, I’ll be taking portraits of a pair of very fresh twins, and a fun big-extended-family series in and around iconic landmarks of Phnom Penh. There’s a bit of planning that goes into it, and I wanted to share some of the steps, tips and tricks I’ve learned since starting this little biz that also feeds my heart.
Photographers and clients both come to the table with different aesthetics and ideas for the shoot and the end product. Preferences should be discussed on topics like staging or “in the moment” shots, and whether the family wants the shoot to look like a Juergen Teller for Marc Jacobs ad or a maximalist shoot full of whimsy a la Alice Hawkins. Moi? I prefer mine to be completely natural and I thrive on capturing moments. To make sure I can really get what my client wants down to colour saturation, I usually start with a pin board and ask for parents to comment on what they like and don’t like about the samples I’ve chosen. Even if I’ve known some friends for years, it gets me a better idea for how shoots should be staged and how they should be processed.
Like adults, babies are most photo ready around 30 minutes to an hour after waking up from a nap. And also like adults, they are most awesome and playful until about 30 minutes before they are ready for their nap. This window is the perfect time to get to know your model if you haven’t met before, and its an opportunity to get capture those times of playfulness that might get lost during a staged shoot. I love those moments, when you capture an infant in a moment of sheer joy, wonder, inquisition, confusion or internal philosophical debate. They can be absolutely hilarious, endearing and so lovely. These are my favourites.
Yes. Absolutely. At least some thoughts should go into outfits even if it’s just baby who’s getting photographed. And this can range from monochromatic white, like the bright, sunny shoot I did with Dara and Olivier’s gorgeous family to thematic like how Ella got to be a big girl and take her own baby doll for a walk. It helps a the photo and each family member to feel cohesive
Not just sugar, but a change of clothes and wet wipes (during potentially sweaty and messy outdoor shoots), the hydration of choice for kids and a baby wrangler if the kids are particularly young and have a short attention span. In short, preparation is key. But seriously, there is no better way to get a kid excited, smiley and happy than sugar whether or not it comes from apple slices, an almond croissant or Mama Heang’s famous cookies. This has been the most important lesson I’ve taken from a year of taking family photos.
All photos by Tiffany Tsang (unless otherwise indicated). Please request permission for use. C+T is not liable for cuteness overload.