First Holy Communions

January 19th, 2016

We’re starting to get a steady flow of enquires for First Holy Communion photographs so I’ve updated details of Communion Sessions on the web site.

There are two key pages: the first talks about what services we offer for First Communions; the second is details of the Communion Print Packages.

Eddies in the Space-Time Continuum

November 12th, 2015

Excuse the Hitchhikers reference but on Friday I got a real last minute request to help capture an office fit-out.

A lot of work was planned for the weekend and they were thinking a timelapse would be cool.  But the carpet was going in in an hour or so.

I’ve done a few of these but nothing for three days long.  Theoretically once you solve power and storage issues then it should be OK – as long as you get the Maths right.  So I grabbed everything and we went for it.  But you never quite know with these things and there’s no way to check it as you go (and no way to do it again if there’s a problem).

It turned out really well, no unforseen problems.  This is the first cut of the timelapse.  I edited it down a bit more and adjusted some of the colouring for the client but it is pretty cool…

Halloween Dress Up for Crumlin 2015

October 21st, 2015

Our fourth Annual Halloween Dress Up for Crumlin is on this Friday. 23rd October.

We’ll be here from 10:30 to 4pm with the Den all set up for anyone who wants to call in for a Free Photo.

So bring the kids in their Halloween Fancy Dress.  We can take some photos with the pumpkins and our cuddly pet spider and they’ll all get a print.  There’s no charge for the photos or the prints but we’ll be collecting for Crumlin Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House.

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Preparing for your Family Photo Session

October 5th, 2015

So we’ve booked the session, decided where to go and now you’re wondering what you need to do before we meet for the photo session.

I’ll contact you shortly before the session to confirm the booking.  I’d normally leave that until a day or so before the actual session so we can get a more reliable look at the weather forecast in case there’s anything nasty definitely headed our way.  All being well you’ll get a text or a call from me to confirm time and place (but if at anytime you want to check, just give me a buzz).

Similarly if someone’s sick or something else comes up just call me and we can re-schedule the session.  I want to get the best images and that’s not going to happen if someone – especially a young child – is suffering with something.

Clothing

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Lots of girls want to choose their own clothes – it’s part of who they are

The most common question I get asked about is clothing.  There’s no absolute rules here but there are a few things to bare in mind:

  • Everyone needs to be comfortable and free to play.  So warm but not too snugged up, layers they can take off if they’re hot and something handy to put on if it gets cold.
  • Cute hats are generally good – especially if they’re used to them – but try to avoid anything that will hide their faces in the pictures: hats with a brim, scalves, body warmers with high necks etc.
  • Nothing too precious.  They need to be able to play freely without you or them worrying about getting a bit dirty.
  • While the ‘white shirt / t-shirt’ image is popular in the US, it can be quite hard on most Irish kids’ complexions – especially at this time of year.  It’s also going to be the first thing to show dirt (and it may be too cool in Autumn as well).
  • In general remember that we’re here to get pictures of you all and your faces are what we’re most interested in.  So avoid anything that’s going to compete with your expressions visually: heavily branded clothes, tops with characters on them (especially faces), very distracting patterns etc.
  • Brightly coloured clothing can work well in the forest but make sure it’s not too much (or clashing).  Again, the problem comes when the colours take away from the kids expressions.

 

Body warmer are handy but watch out for high necks that will hide their chins

Body warmers are handy but watch out for high necks that will hide their chins

For most people the session is about the whole family but there are parents who don’t want to come into the photos.  That’s a bit of shame but it’s OK.  Even so you might be asked to support your children getting up onto a tree or something or just holding their hand at some point so even if you don’t want to do a full family photo, make sure that you’re wearing something you don’t mind being photographed in (even if it’s your back or your arm).

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Mom and Dad need to get in on the act too!

Incentives

This is generally not something you think about before the session but getting this wrong in the middle of the day can make things harder than perhaps they need to be.  It’s often occurred to me that I should have talked to parents about incentives before the session because they have an significant impact on childrens’ behaviour (for good or for bad).

There’s actually quite a lot of psycology in taking pictures.  Offering a reward for ‘good behaviour’ with small kids can be hard to get right (and easy to get wrong).  It tends to work once or twice for a short period and you never quite plan for what happens next.

In fact, this is a big subject and I’m going to need a separate post but suffice it to say here that you should think more about positive re-enforcements (“how nice this is going to be”) and distractions (“what’s over there?”) than offering a reward for ‘being good’.  I’ll be doing my best to make the whole session fun and hopefully they’ll be happy and playful without the promise of a reward.

Food

You know your own kids.  If they don’t eat between meals, they’ll be fine.  If they snack then yes, bring food. Something small, clean, easy / quick to eat and not too sugary.  Bite-sized snacks that aren’t rewards are ideal.

Where to go in Cork

October 1st, 2015

In the last article I looked in a general way at where to go for your location session.  If nothing comes to you yet then here are a few more specific ideas for where to go in Cork:RLU_3917

Currabinny Woods (51.812170, -8.304958) is an excellent location for family photos.  It has everything: it’s compact, good parking and not too far away.  It has plenty of options for kids of all ages in most weather conditions.

Fitzgerald’s Park (51.8962438,-8.4958268) is another good location and very handy from the city.  We normally start at the Museum end and work our way through the park.  Lots of options here including the trees, stumps, sculptures, benches etc.  They new playground is a lot more photogenic but because there are usually so many other kids there we leave that to the end after the session (sometimes it can be used as an incentive if you’re careful with it – more on incentives later)RLF_2006

The Japanese Gardens, Ballinlough (51.8863896,-8.4489809) may not be the most selubrious location but it’s very handy for the office and the lower part of the park offers enough options for a good family photo shoot.  There’s a nice bit of cover there, benches, trees and the quarry as backdrop so it has worked very well for me on many occassions.

The Lough (51.885795, -8.488243) is more limited in terms of stuff to sit, stand or lean on but there’s enough there to work with and the Lough itself looks nice as a background.  The far end is probably nicer than the Hawthorn end but we usually stroll around and see what works best.  The playground is very bright and can be busy for photos.

Ballincollig Regional Park (51.890118,-8.61589) is a bit further out of town and quite a large area.  The area closest to the car park is pretty open but there are areas near the river and down the far end that could be used.  It’s probably more suitable to older kids who don’t mind walking further.

Faran Woods (51.8888995,-8.75678) is even further out.  It’s a good location but there are a some of things to watch out for (apart from having to pay for the Car Park!).  The playground is on the way in so you can get a bit stuck there if you don’t manage things properly.  It’s a nice wooden playground but there’s more opportunities to be had in the woods themselves.RLJ_0384

Rostellen Woods (51.8446453,-8.1904122) is out the other side of the city but handy for Midleton or East Cork in general.  It’s a nice compact woods with options for views of the harbour is your kids can walk that far.  The ruins on the shore also offer some nice options for posing and backgrounds to add to the forest pictures.

Killeagh Woods (51.9427735,-7.9922103) is even further out East of the City but is a really nice compact woods with lots going on there to work with: a stream, bridges, woods, benches, all that.  Take the left behind the Thatched Cottage and left again to go up along the river.

Fota Gardens (51.8927924,-8.3058249) is a great location for photos with plenty of options for playing and forming informal groups: house steps, carved seats, fernery, rose gardens, orangery etc  Technically you may need permission to shoot in the grounds but I’ve never had a problem there.  Much of the Arboretum is evergreen so it works well all year round but if you’re looking for Autumn colour, it’s not your location of choice.

Where to do your family session

September 29th, 2015

In the first part of this series of posts, I wrote about booking your session.  But where would you go?

Well, the simple answer is ‘anywhere’.

I’ve done sessions in many locations across the city and county and there’s never been a location that didn’t work out well.

There are however a few ingredients that make things easier for everyone.  The objective is to get a really good range of pictures of everyone having fun.  Choosing the right location gives us the a better chance of getting as many pictures as possible.

So here’s my guide to choosing a location:RLC_2445-1000px

Somewhere personal.  Do you have somewhere that your family visit regularly, somewhere you’ll look back on and identify strongly with this time in your lives?  These places are definitely the place to start.  Using a location which is part of your family history to create memories is very precious.

Feeling free.  RLD_7503Taking the photo session outdoors serves a number of purposes – it takes the pressure out of a studio session and everyone finds it easier to forget they’re being photographed.  Not many people have their private copse but many of the local parks and forests are quiet enough for us all to feel inhibited.

Backgrounds.  But the location will also for a background to RLJ_0400your photos – even though it may be deliberately out of focus in many of the pictures.  One of the reasons Autumn forest pictures work so well is that the trees are alive with colour and can be used to create stunning backgrounds.   Don’t assume your favourite location is deciduous though – many local forests are evergreen.  That still works but may not be what you expect.

Levels.  If you were to ask me what the hardest place to photograph is I’d say ‘in the middle of a fRLE_3094ield’.  It’s much easier to work with a range of terrain, benches, logs, trees, bridges, walls, summer houses etc to provide options for people to sit, stand and lean on.  It gives them something more natural to do (posing standing still is very unnatural) and it provides the opportunity for Small People to get more height and be closer to their parents (and Big People to hide a bit if they want).  The more things to climb and sit on the better.

Something to do. “Stand there now and look relaxed and happy”.  No better way to make somone tense and uncertain looking.  It’s all about providing a distraction and at it’s simplest it’s just walking, exploring, climbing trees or choosing colourful leaves.  But if you can think of other things that the kids love to do (without turning it into a competition) then we can work it in.  Most of the time they find something to do themselves and we photograph that.  Playgrounds sometimes work but they can be busy (and we don’t want other families coming in) and brightly coloured stuff can be distracting in the final pics.RLJ_6615

Cover.  The obvious concern about an Autumn session is the rain, but full sun is a problem too.  Either way it’s handy to have a bit of cover available to give options for shade as well as to keep out of cold winds.

Distances.  You’re probably going to have to drive to the location so just keep it to a managable journey.  If you’re all tired and cranky after the journey then it’s going to take longer to distract everyone out of it and we’ll get less opportunities for what we’re looking for.  Also consider how far we need to walk from the car park to the nicest spot and how old the kids are (bring the buggy if you need to but we don’t want anyone dozing off before we get some pictures).

In the next post, I’ll look at a few good locations around Cork that you might consider.

Thinking of an Autumn Family Photo Session?

September 28th, 2015

This has to be my favourite time of year to get out into the woods and take pictures of the kids.  In this series of blog posts I’m going to take you through the what happens in a family photo session.

We’ll start with the hardest part of all: actually booking it.

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It’s a great time for family photos

We get a lot of interest in family sessions and the pictures we have on the wall of the office, on the web galleries, facebook etc all ‘wow’ people who would otherwise be alergic to having a professional family photo session.  The pictures show families of young kids freely enjoying the woods and countryside.  Kids being kids: playing, smiling, laughing, enjoying themselves.

They are memories created of your family just the way you want to remember them.

The overwhelming feedback is that all the family enjoy the session.  Many Mom’s come in after the session saying their kids want to know when I can come and play again!

It’s also something that’s too easy to put off.  Unlike a communion or a birthday or another key date it could happen this week or next – and the reality of busy family life is that we are short of time at the weekends between clubs and matches and all that stuff.

But all it takes is an hour.

I try to be as flexible as possible: for many younger kids mornings are normally better for their routine but I’m generally available to suit your schedule.  I can do a Sunday session if that’s what it takes and I’m generally available on the October Long Weekend.

The school Mid-term is a great time to get a session done.

The weather is always going to be a factor but you’d be surprised how few sessions I’ve actually had to cancel due to rain.  The kids need to be warm and comfortable whatever the weather so as long as it’s not tipping down we normally go ahead with the session (I have done some great sessions in between showers too!).

So just go ahead and call.  Find the next weekend you’re all around and book the session. 

If you’re not sure where to go then I can come up with plenty of suggestions (more on that later) so don’t let that stop you either.

I’ll look ahead a couple of days before the booking to see what to expect and if it’s definitely going to be terrible then we’ll re-schedule.  No problem – just pick up the phone and book the session – 021 429 3714

Ask Yourself Why?

August 18th, 2015

If you want to photograph a man spinning, give some thought to why he spins. Understanding for a photographer is as important as the equipment he uses. – Margaret Bourke-White

I found this quote while clearing out some stuff on a drive.  I captured it ages ago and meant to blog it (apologies if I did that already somewhere).

The file is dated 2009.  If there’s one thing that’s consistently struck home about photography in the last 6 years it’s summed up in this quote.

All Smiles (part 2)

August 12th, 2015

The Boy also managed to prove quite convincingly that you don’t need to smile-to-camera to engage with your viewer.

He did a lot of his ‘Strong Man’ act including ‘Hulk Smash’ (which is where we lost the shirt) but in the midst of all that playing he was utterly himself.

Oh to live in his world…

More on those Dancers

August 8th, 2015

Most people know at this stage that I don’t do a lot of Studio work and there’s no permanent photography studio here.

I have the space and the equipment to put it together when I need it and sometimes it’s what a particular photo asssignment needs.

In my minds eye I had dance pics in an informal studio setting, I can’t find the reference (Leibovitz?) but the isolation of the backdrop focuses attention to the dancers but leaving the stands (and the lights even in some cases) in shot doesn’t constrain them to the environment I’ve created for them.

It’s almost like they’re so full of energy that they’ll burst out.

It’s also probably a bit of me pushing back against the falseness of the studio background.  Leaving the stands in is like saying ‘lets not pretend that this isn’t something articfial’.

I love working with Dancers – they’re so aware of themselves and their form.  And these are just kids – my kids too!!!