Children grow so quickly and we love documenting the years with photography as they pass by, but most parents know how tricky it can be to perfectly capture those cheeky grins and happy moments. From taking an intimate image with newborn photography to getting youngsters to pose for a family portrait, leaving it to the professionals is a great option. We asked some of Hong Kong’s leading family photographers to talk about their favourite images, and the work that went into them.
Mariella Amitai Photography
‘This photo was taken this summer in Italy. It’s a portrait of my niece, Sofia. I don’t normally like to pose children and I believe that giving gentle guidance is enough to achieve the results I want. More often than not, I just let them do their own thing and document what’s happening in front of me. This is the approach I normally use for portraits as it ensures I’m able to capture expressions that normally wouldn’t be revealed to the camera if the child were constricted into a pose. In this situation, I asked my subject just to ‘look over there’ as I wanted to catch the light reflection in her eyes; she did it in the most pensive and wondering kind of way. I really like the intensity of her expression and the moody feeling the image evokes. I love that her hair isn’t tidy and she doesn’t look perfectly styled. I think this image is quite representative of my photographic style. When photographing people I always aim to infuse the portrait with a certain mood, often inspired by the subject’s personality or facial features. The image was enhanced by the black-and-white toning. I normally use Adobe Lightroom for most of my post-processing. I’m particularly drawn to black-and-white images so a lot of my editing involves converting images from colour to monochrome. In my view, they are most suitable in telling a story, plus I love the old school, “fine art” feeling that black and white gives to an image. I specialise in portraits of children and family photography. I also have a small portfolio for interiors and I occasionally shoot events. Most of my portraits are taken outside using natural light ht as I feel nature is the ideal backdrop for the images I like to create.
Gabrielle Churchhouse Photography
‘I was just thinking about how to choose one favourite photograph for this article from the hundreds in our archives when I literally bumped into a lady on the street. She was checking her phone and, as she looked up and saw it was me, she said, ‘I have your photograph as my screensaver – it makes me smile.’ And, there, I had it: this family photograph of a father and his two boys, so full of love and life. As a portrait photographer, my job is to capture a moment in time that will be treasured forever. It’s about creating someone else’s favourite photograph, not my own. Capturing the pure joy of childhood is one of the best parts of being a portrait photographer. It’s only possible to capture a child’s true self when they are distracted and not told to pose for the camera. They don’t have enough control over their facial muscles to smile the way an adult can. So I often bring out my ‘tickle stick’ for the little ones. It’s marvellous when the sound of children’s laughter fills the studio. The style of this photograph is perfect for family portraits. It’s simple and classic so the attention is on the face of the subject. It’s what we call a “high key” image, using light-coloured clothes and background to create a lot of reflective light, which is very flattering for smiling, laughing faces. We also include “low key” images in our shoots, where we use darker clothes and backgrounds to increase the range between the main “modelling light” and the “fill light”, exaggerating shadows on the faces for a more dramatic, mood-filled shot. Black and white is great for family shoots as it gives more depth and brings an added dimension not found in colour. It also offers versatility when it comes to displaying the photographs at home. Whatever the style of the images, and no matter if they were taken 50 years ago or yesterday, we can pull together a cohesive collection of framed photographs for a stunning home display when all the images are in black and white. We enjoy doing collections like this for clients – adding their own photographs, which we edit, “archival” print, dry mount and frame for them. Part of this process is the restoration of old and treasured photographs. By professionally photographing the original images, we can often recover extraordinary details.’
By Janelle Photography
‘This was taken at my client’s home in Hong Kong, in November 2015. It was a newborn photo session and the baby is six days old in the photo. I’m a big fan of capturing the moment with natural light; to shoot indoors, all I need is a big window. Not only does natural light bring out the smooth and soft features of a newborn baby, it preserves the moment in time. All of my newborn sessions are carefully taken at my clients’ homes where baby and mother feel the most comfortable and I can document the precious moments in their own environments. Newborn photography is a very intimate type of work and one of the ways of perfecting the shot is to collaborate with my clients beforehand and understand what their expectations are. Editing the photos for skin discolouration is also important, as this is a common occurrence in newborns. Additionally, I edit all of my pictures to align with the type of style I want to portray in my work. To me, this picture resembles a baby inside the mother’s womb. I also love the soft, touching smile on the mother’s face looking at her newborn sleeping peacefully. The composition and balance of colours feel nice as well. It’s precious moments like this one that I strive to catch in every shoot because they bring out the humanity in my subjects and you can view the instant bond a mother and her child have through this photo. I focus on maternity, newborn and family photography. Between 31 and 36 weeks is the most ideal time for maternity photos. The ideal age for newborn photography is at the two-week mark or younger. As this time, not only are newborns more flexible for all those curvy poses, they’re also deep sleepers. The sleepier the baby is, the less crying there will be. Parents, siblings and four-legged family members are also invited to all of my sessions.’
Capture Life by Chantal
‘This picture was taken during a “Mummy and Me” mini session in Hong Kong Park. We went to an area where there was grass and space to move around. The mum wanted to surprise her husband with a nice series of pictures of her and her two boys. Our goal for this session was to have a lot of fun. As you can see, the boys are resting; that’s because before this shot we were running, playing hide-and-seek, and doing “surprise your mummy” shots. It was a very hot day but we still had an active and playful session. The boys really enjoyed being captured by me because they weren’t forced into doing anything they didn’t want to do. I put most of my energy into my actual photo shoot because I need to interact with my clients to get results. Without their trust, I can’t get those spontaneous pictures. Only when clients feel comfortable can I capture their special moments and interactions. With kids, I think this is the most important thing: first gain trust, and then have them play. After the session, I edit the photos (mostly in Lightroom). That’s what gives the signature look to my images. Without my style of editing, it would be a very different photo. This is my favourite picture because it shows a lot of connection between the mother and her boys – how the boys feel safe with her and like to rest with her after a playful day. I didn’t tell them to sit down or hold a pose; it just happened, and I took advantage of capturing this moment. I think the whole photo session is one of my favourites to date because it was not only the most playful but also the most real one that I’ve done – it tells a real story. Everybody knows the difference between studio photography (posed photography) and lifestyle photography, but I practice a method that’s different to both. I’m a “moment design” photographer. Moment design photography is for everybody. You can use it for family, newborn, couples and wedding photography. It’s not about posing and asking things like “Please do this”, “Hold your head like that”, “Walk towards me”, or the famous command, “Smile”; it’s about playing games, going back down memory lane, telling funny stories; and with kids I always create a playful environment where nothing has to be perfect and where they can just be themselves. The approach is all about interacting with clients and relating to them – sharing our humanness, liveliness, laughter and joy, and the warmth and intimacy that we experience as human beings. It’s about capturing those moments where my clients open up to me; when they’re at their most vulnerable. I love creating memories that show my clients how awesome and beautiful their life really is.’
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