Cork History Project

Begging you for mercy!

It’s over.  It’s offcially been handed in.  Good luck to whoever is marking them.

The History Project has become a major part of our lives over the last few weeks: any spare time we thought we had has gone to it; the combined resources of four families have been devoted to it.

In fairness they all did really well.  They learned a small slice of local history and they learned a lot about organising themselves as a team.

Our lot decided to do a video instead a model and true-to-form what might have been a documentary became a drama production.  A big thanks to Hugh for doing a great job with the video but it fell to me to produce a cover shot.

So inspired by my recent reading I went for something slightly more ‘conceptual’ than my normal stuff.  I even dragged out the studio backdrop and the strobes for it!  The girls were very expressive (and patient) models and we had a bit of fun with the courtroom drama idea – whilst keeping the original home-grown costumes.  We even shot a circular concept shot for the DVD label!

I’m quite pleased with it.  It’s good to have to think of something different for a specific purpose.  And while I much prefer location work for most of what I do, there are times when you need something more abstract.

More on smiles

I’ve just finished re-reading Annie Leibovitz’s ‘At Work’.  I’m a big fan and I went back to it looking for ‘January Inspiration’.  Unusually (for me) it’s a photography book with more words than pictures but it’s her perspective on her work that I find most enlightening.

So there’s a few things that I want to mull over and a few references to work that inspired her that I need to follow up.

But there’s one quote that was immediately relevant to my previous post:

“There are not many smiling people in my pictures.  I’ve never asked anyone to smile.  Almost never … You can almost hear the sigh of relief when you tell someone they don’t have to smile.

“…The smile is a component of family pictures.  Mothers don’t want to see their children looking unhappy.  My mother would hire a local photographer to make a family portrait and he would inevitably ask us all to smile.  Forced.  In the fifties, everything was supposed to be OK, although half the time it wasn’t OK.  It took me years to understand that I equated asking someone to smile with asking them to do something false.

“There are people who smile naturally.  It’s their temperament.  And you can catch a smile that is spontaneous, of the moment.  My daughter Sarah has the most beautiful smile.  When you see it occurring so naturally in children you hate to see it lost. I crumbled inside one day when I saw Sarah fake a smile.”

There’s a contrast in the observation that mother’s require smiling pictures of their kids to prove everything is OK and the love she shares with all of us of our own child’s natural smile.

So the objective of a family photographer is to capture those natural, spontaneous smiles and not the fake ones.  Often these smiles are reactive.  It’s a big part of what I do to try and produce those reactions and capture then, no matter how fleeting they are.  This isn’t easy but we always get something. The hardest part is to get a reaction from more than one child in a family group.

She smiles too

A Child’s Perspective

My Sister's Rainbow Shiny Iggy

In some respects I deal in Happy Faces.

It is a simple truth that the pictures that sell are the happy, smiley-face pictures – and we go to great lengths at times to get them.  I think that’s fair enough: photographs are permanent memories.  We want to remember ourselves in our best, happiest times.  Photographs of those we love smiling make us happy.

Great photography invokes a strong emotional response from the viewer.

On that count this photograph definitely does it for me.  It fills me with a father’s Love and Compassion more than most of the images I’ve taken recently.  It does it to me every time I see it.

This is a picture of my eldest daughter on the day her sister got ‘the best packet of Moshi Monster cards ever’ and she got a pack of very ordinary ones.

And I can assure you at this point that hugs were administered, feelings were acknowledged, but the general perspective of things wasn’t lost.  It’s just a pack of collector cards.  There will be other packs.  She is your sister.  I know that doesn’t help much right now.  I know that you’re doing your best to do the right thing.  I know it still hurts.  I love you.

I think she doesn’t really like that I love this image.  I know she doesn’t want me to think of her like this because it isn’t representative of her overall persona.  It is a snapshot of an instant of sadness.  I was even reluctant to put it up here because, beautiful and evocative as it is, it’s not representative of the general character of her personality or my professional work.

In fact I only took it to try and distract her into helping me scout this room as a possible location for a very different portrait.  But since she also just made the ‘front page‘ with a more representative image then I think at the moment it’s OK.

Photography is capable of capturing the full gamut of human emotion.  We most frequently use it to capture the joy of family life and that is most definitely what I specialise in.  But there must be a place for remembering the rest of our everyday human experience.

First Holy Communions in 2012

First Holy Communion Pictures

I have just added two new pages to the blog giving information about the Communion Sessions and Packages for this year.

First Holy Communion Photographs for 2012 contains details of the various types of services offered for Communion Days

First Holy Communion Packages 2012 contains details of the print packages available to both Communion and Confirmation sessions

There’s a fair bit of information in these pages but feel free to contact me if you need anything else: 021 429 3714 or

Currabinny Woods

Girl up tree. Boy 'setting a fire'.

We made a good start to 2012 by finally managing to make it to a Bishopstown Orienteering Club day out in Currabinny.  It’s something Mrs Lamb has been wanting to do for ages and thanks to friends we made it on 1/1/12.

Great to be out in the woods after a restful Christmas and finding the markers on the easy course was great fun with the kids (and got them round the forest way easier).

The Last Control

It was unusal to see the woods so bare.  I normally do a few sessions in these woods over the course of the year and this tree in particular is a favourite to get kids climbing and used to me and the camera.  It’s normally ‘bright shade’ with a strong green colour cast from the reflected light from the forest but there was no problem with that on Sunday!

Happy New Year

Happy 2012!

I don’t hold with New Year Resolutions on the whole.  Why try to be good in January just because you let yourself go a bit in December?

However normally it’s a bit quieter in January following the rush to get things out before the hols in December and it is a good time to dust of the plans and update them for 2012.

So here’s my list (in no particular order):

  • More photos on the blog (and less shameless self publicity)
  • More blog posts generally (though not to Richard’s 3-a-day)
  • Expand the whole web presence a bit more – keep an eye out for this one – generally more info and more pics and more about what to expect from a family session (using examples and more images)
  • More Wedding stuff on the main web site
  • I need to move on some personal projects as well.  Lots of ideas that haven’t seen the light of day.  This stuff is good for the grey matter at this time of year.
  • I’ll also be updating the Marketing Plan in the next few weeks so there’ll be more promos and stuff coming up.
  • A small re-fresh of some of the Gallery Artwork
  • Read more books
  • Spend more time looking at other photographer’s work – both famous and not so – more inspiration and education here too
  • I might take on some education myself as well.  There have been some requests for more info / courses / tips and stuff.  I did some ICA talks last year and I’ve a general tips page on the blog but it could do with an update.

Lots to do…