Friday, August 29, 2014

As We all Know, The Best Part About Presents is NOT the Present. OR the Wrapping {Photo Friday}

It's the ribbon.  Of course.

Sometimes The Boonga likes to stand around with a ribbon on her head wearing moose jammies.  Nice of me to have a birthday so that she could accessorize.

We're into moose these days.  Hope everyone has a great long weekend!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Don't Everybody All Run Out and Get Pregnant All at Once Now But: Introducing Renee Bergeron!!!!!

I am so excited to introduce Renee Bergeron of Little Earthling Photography!!!!!  I was lucky enough to meet Renee two summers ago when she and her daughter Tilly came to Houston seeking medical help for her son Apollo.  

I had read Apollo's birth story while pregnant with The Boonga and was both terrified (I hadn't even known that "cord prolapse" was even an option, much less a life threatening situation) and in complete awe that she had saved her own child's life.

I came to respect Renee more and more as I got to know her better.  I'm sure Renee has her down days like all other earthlings, but the life she leads is so very giving.  You should definitely check out her family blog if you're into the daily life of amazing people!

So...without further are Renee's tips on birth photography! I know she makes it look incredibly tempting, but try not to all run out and get pregnant at once folks!  She's got fourteen kids of her own to raise, after all, and can only be so many places at one time!


Birth photography was something of a happy coincidence for me. I had been photographing families and newborns for a couple of  years when I photographed my first birth. I mustered up the courage to ask a young woman from our church if I could photograph her birth…and amazingly, she said yes!

That first birth I really had no idea what I was doing or what to expect, but I enjoyed every single minute.

After that first birth, I was hooked and I now specialize in birth photography. I am energized at every single birth I attend. I will never get over the sheer miracle of  seeing a baby enter the world and take his or her first breath.

I have photographed nearly two dozen births. I have witnessed home births, birth center births, hospital births and even a c-section.

Here are a few of my favorite moments to capture during a birth:

1. Older siblings

I love these photos of mom and soon-to-be last moments as the “baby” of the house. 

A sibling’s first look at the new baby

I love this image of Daddy occupying his little girls as they await the birth of their sister.

2. The mom’s first reaction

No words can adequately describe a woman’s feelings the moment her baby is in her arms. But with my camera, I can freeze that moment in time.

3. Dad’s interactions with his new baby

4. Tiny details

Just look at those itty-bitty buns!

And those little fingers…still wrinkly and wet!

5. Details I know the parents will miss

Just look at that amazing umbilical cord! After the hard work of labor, parents want to see their baby’s face, but I love capturing these details for them to admire later.

I take a very definite photojournalistic approach to birth photography. I don’t pose; I don’t rearrange. I try to be a silent observer and capture the raw, unfiltered moments.

Every single time I attend a birth I marvel over the fact that I have the best job in the world.

                               More in the"Tips for Improving Your Photography" Series: 

Getting Your Kids in the Picture: The Subtle Differences Between Bribes, Threats, and Good Natured Cajolling by Me and reposted here

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Weekend Bloggy Reading

Friday, August 22, 2014

Me and The Boonga {Photo Friday}

As I predicted, I am already ready to throw in the towel on "Photo Friday".  This was my first week of school, The Boonga and My Boy's first week, and we sent The Sweet Pea to college.  Suffice it to say that we survived.  Besides...what's one little photo?  

This one was taken by my friend and former coworker Robin when I met up with her at the park this past summer.  Thank you Robin! 

I am SO excited that the next photography guest post will be from Renee Bergeron!  She is not just an incredible photographer, but an very inspiring person all around.  What she goes through on a daily basis just to advocate for ANY of her children would leave me gasping for breath, but she keeps a house full of fourteen little earthlings running!!!! 

The non existent janitor would have had his work cut out for him if it were me.  Because I would be flat on the floor, needing to be mopped up.  But she not only does it with more grace than I could ever manage, not only takes absolutely lovely photographs of those little earthlings, but with the help of her husband, she literally saved her youngest's life and continues to do so.  

I can't wait to see her post!  I have word that she's working on it even as I wrote this post!  Until then, happy weekend all!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

If You Don’t Let Me Take Your Picture, Your Cat Will Probably Get Eaten by a Coyote: The subtle differences between bribes, threats, and good natured cajoling

I've been a parent for almost twenty years, a teacher for over a decade, and spent over thirty years working in various other types of childcare.  I've been interested in photography just about the same length of time: since my dad got me my first camera when I was seven.

You'd think that with that much experience, I wouldn't really get so many pictures of "The Hand".  But you'd be wrong.  

NOBODY likes getting the hand.  But I can pretty much guarantee that giving “The Hand” isn’t any fun either.

I got “The Hand” for years.  At least, it felt like years.

Then it happened that some choice parenting words fell out of my mouth (probably, “No eating the cat food! Cat food is only for the cat!”) and I realized that I just needed to put a few of my teaching practices to work when I'm behind the camera. 

So what are some of the options?

Threats are one option, and quite honestly some children respond to them rather rapidly.   However, threats are rarely going to make for that heartwarming captured moment picture you may have been hoping to capture.

I know, because here’s the picture I got when I told my boy, “If you don’t come out and let me take your picture, your cat will probably get eaten by a coyote”:

In my defense, I needed the subject matter, so it was a choice between him and the cat.  And there ARE occasional coyote sightings in my neighborhood. 

Compare this to the picture I get when I tell him, “Try not to look too much like a terrorist” and you’ll see that humor has distinct advantages: 

Bribery works for a lot of children.  When my boy was a preschooler, he would clean his entire room for four chocolate chips.  But there is an even better way to get that coveted photo from a kid who wants nothing to do with being in front of a camera. 

The magic words are: "AS SOON AS"!
Pretend you are ten years old and you hear the following offer, stated three different ways.  Take at least a moment between each one to see how it pretend makes you pretend to feel.

A) If you don’t finish the dishes, we’re not going to see Frozen!

B) If you do the dishes, we’ll go see Frozen!

C) As soon as you finish up the dishes, we can go see Frozen!

Neither you nor your parents are going to have a great time with A, whether or not the dishes get done.  The atmosphere is already one of threats and not so conducive to having fun.

B is better and is fine if it works, but notice that the word “if” gives the child an out.  It puts the ten year old in charge and gives a choice about whether or not the dishes get done.

In my mind, the best is “AS SOON AS”!

“As soon as” combined with a touch of humor and playfulness can work wonders.  In scenario C, it doesn’t matter if the dishes get done or not.  The responsibility sits firmly with the child, and the child has no one to blame but him or herself if the dishes don’t get done. 

Scenario C leaves the parent with options that aren’t really available in A or B.  If it’s getting close to movie time and the child has been working diligently, the parent might say, “I think you can finish up on time to see the movie!  Let me give you a hand!”

But if the child has been balking or lollygagging, the parent might say something along the lines of   “Oh well.  We can see Frozen tomorrow night no big deal.  Maybe we’ll still have time for a game of Yahtzee before bed if you hurry.” (No skin off Mom or Dad’s back either way).

The key to this strategy is the true belief that “It’s my way way or the highway."  That belief just isn’t present in option B.  Option B has that element of pleading that gives the child the clear indication that Mom or Dad really isn’t in charge.  The “in charge” feeling is more present in option A, but not in that “feel good way” that produces a halfway semi-decent photograph.

The above pictured boy does his best to avoid babies at all costs.

So that's it folks!  I recommend "as soon as" as a fairly magic elixir to a variety of parenting problems, including but not limited to getting your child in photographs.  Threats, when used judiciously, are also fine.  Pleading...not so much.  

Happy parenting!

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More in the"Tips for Improving Your Photography" Series that might ACTUALLY help your photography:

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