This family right here, came at the right time for me. Mum wanted an honest, open documentation of a typical family morning in the neighbourhood, something to treasure when they settle into their new home in Europe. ‘Let’s move the schedule around, the light will be easier’ I said. ‘But that’s not our routine’ came the response. She didn’t need it to be perfect - she wanted it to be true. And she was right.
New family of four, new to Singapore. We started with popcorn and ended with chippies, thank you for having me!
A simple morning at home, marking the first year milestone in little T’s life by celebrating his favourite everyday activities.
Life with 4 kids under 6 ... A family photography session doesn't get more real than this. Thank you Maryanne and John for wanting to document real life in your real home - embracing rather than glossing over the inevitable chaos, letting your kids play freely (mostly!) rather than corralling them into an aspirational family advertisement. Authentic lives deserve authentic imagery. May these pictures serve as a beautiful reminder of the time and the home in which you became a family of 6.
When I say that this film speaks for itself, I mean that in an almost literal sense. Video can be so much more than just a picture with motion - it has the ability to bring back memories of all your senses, through the addition of audio and an edit geared towards storytelling.
Little Spencer's family could not be a more perfect showcase of this. Their unbridled affection for each other and the new family addition (and for their sweet dogs), expressed openly through talking about their feelings and hopes, makes this little film completely about them, and completely theirs. Watch it with the volume turned up - I think that it will surprise you, even if you are familiar with the genre of documentary-style family photography. Let me know what you think, and if you'd like a little film for your own family, please get in touch and let's brainstorm!
I still remember the moment when I read Amy's message requesting a family shoot "on-location in a super old school SG coffeeshop". 'Heck YEAH', ' where do I sign up?!', and 'Santa knows I've been good this year!' were all thoughts that crossed my mind - perhaps more than once - before I played it cool and replied a few seconds later. I feel only slightly bashful admitting that the location idea was what got me hooked from the get-go. Little did I know that it would turn out to be only the icing on the cake, or in this case the chili on my wanton mee.
The Shangs were an absolute blast to hang out with. I wanted to start in their home (sure!), turn up at 7.30 a.m. (come at 7 instead!), our original choice of coffeeshop was closed (no problem!), little Sierra had a mind of her own (it's ok!). They were laid back and clearly relished their time together, and the dual locations of their gorgeous home and the Joo Chiat area supported rather than overshadowed their story of a young family enjoying an old neighbourhood, just as they would on any given weekend. I won't deny that I was slightly nervous about how the images would turn out, especially after finding out that Amy is a wonderful travel photographer herself. But working my way through the edits, grinning at the mischief in Sierra's wide-eyed expressions and laughing at the tiny hints of Amy and TQ playfully tussling for her attention, I know that this will always be one of my favourite shoots - entirely because of them.
Sometimes I come away from a session giving myself virtual high fives and pats on the back because heck, I know I aced it. This extended family session in Katong was not an example. I remember feeling anxious as I left because I knew that it should look amazing - a rambling house awash with morning light, characterfully decorated and filled with family members of diverse ages all ready to celebrate the recent arrival of a baby girl. I worried that I had focused too much on the house or hadn't incorporated it enough; that I had taken too few images of the baby because there was so much else happening that morning; that no matter what I had done, the images wouldn't be as great as this wonderful family deserved.
I remember sitting down to edit the photos and first feeling a huge sense of relief, then a sense of wonder at the opportunities I have to truly enter clients' homes and lives for a brief window of time. I observed the McGs for only two hours, but looking back at the images, I realised how much they had trusted me with unfettered access to their home and daily routines. They played, laughed, teased, fussed, comforted, rested and enjoyed each other's company without any artifice for the camera. They spoke to me honestly and shared their stories, their family heirlooms, their private moments. I saw many types of love and affection in that one morning - both loud and quiet, vigorous and gentle, playful and nurturing. And in the centre of it all, there was mum, happy to step back but always there when needed. Thank you for having me.
I don't know if it's because it's been a while - too long a while - since I've looked at this session, but holy smokes I was blown away by this family's gorgeousness all over again. Not gorgeousness on the outside, though I wouldn't argue with that, but gorgeousness in the 'loving tumbling laughing loving again' and 'friendly to the strange lady who walked in with a big camera' way. Big bro just turned two, which means more shenanigans are on the way ... I'm sure you guys will do just fine with your big smiles and bigger hearts.
I've let a silly amount of time lapse since I last shared photos from a session. Every time I get the images prepped for blogging, I become wrapped up in my concern over whether I can adequately describe the family and how their photos make me feel. This family session is the perfect way for me to let that go and just let the images speak (mostly) for themselves. Two parents unafraid to express affection, two cheeky and thriving boys, one baby girl gone too soon but obviously held near and dear in their hearts. I don't know if happiness is something that is easily within reach, even for families who have had to endure less, but there is clearly an abundance of joy in this family of five. I hope these images remind them of that for the rest of their lives.
I'm slowing down a little for the holiday season before plunging full steam ahead in the new year ... so I figured this would be a good time to catch up on some blogging. And what a cracker I have for you folks today! Not much by way of introduction except - what would it feel like to hear and see your school-going child cooing, kicking, squirming and crying when s/he was a newborn? Or even hear and see YOUR parents talk about your first days together when you were a baby? Here's a little client film I made to help you along as you ponder (turn up the volume) ... just imagine having this for yourself and your children.
As it happens - why yes, you CAN have something similar for yourself! I am now offering family and newborn films starting in 2016, on a strictly limited basis (due to the intensity of editing needed). In addition, I am offering a special rate for the first family film booking in 2016 (at least 2 children, with at least 1 child above 2 years old). Drop me a line if you'd like to find out more!
What's that word where things work out in an unexpected but happy way? Well, that's how I feel about this family session with the Lehnerts and their gorgeous baby girl Gabriella. Esther contacted me via a recommendation from the talented Nina Tantzen Photography, needing to arrange a shoot in a hurry before they had to move homes. With a bit of compromise on both sides, we managed to squeeze in a weekday session and I'm really rather glad that we did.
Even though the Lehnerts had not started out looking specifically for a storytelling photographer, they were 100% game and committed to carrying out their cherished everyday routines in front of my lens. I think this was the perfect way to commemorate their first home in Singapore as a family of 3 - not just with beautiful smiling portraits with their house as a backdrop, but with a series of images showing how they lived in that house, how they filled its spaces everyday with love and care and lots of baby cuddles. As a rather super bonus I was able to create some of my favourite intimate images of all time - of Gabriella being bathed and nursed - so yes, serendipity, thank you.
I have known Nim - Nimbo - for almost a decade now, and have always thought of him as a stand up type of guy who deserves every happiness in life. After moving from Fontainebleau to London together as part of the same graduating class, my partner (now husband) and I have seen him face life’s ups and downs with the same calm demeanour and big spirit, and have secretly wondered which lady would ever deserve to hold his hand in hers … and put a ring on it. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there is talk of someone called Tina. First a casual mention, an apology for not coming to dinner on one of our annual trips back to London. A blink of an eye, one summer later and - what? We bond over a first dinner meeting full of stories of sweetly awkward dates, and I make hurried mental notes in preparation for our engagement shoot the next day.
But nothing could have prepared me for that morning. Glorious weather on London’s South Bank ("too hot" grumbles the Singaporean me), an overly ambitious walking route based on my pre-parenthood, pre-middle-aged days, and these guys. These guys! Nim is a fun guy on his own, but Tina has a way of taking that sense of fun and encouraging it, stretching it, running with it until they are bumming skateboards off randoms and breaking into not-yet-open Wahaca to dance like they danced on one of their first dates there.
I had a blast - we can pretend to forget the bits when we were all tired and grumpy - and am so very chuffed to have hung out with them in such a meaningful way, in a neighbourhood that they regularly spend time in, recounting special memories and making new ones on a hot summer’s day. I absolutely cannot wait to celebrate the new Mr and Mrs Nimbo in a few months!
With the end of the Singapore General Elections 2015 comes renewed calls to move forward as a nation, and work together to ensure that nobody falls through the cracks. I believe I have many friends and social media acquaintances with a desire to see more adequate social safety nets in place. Hopefully we can come out of this period of introspection and debate feeling motivated to partake in solutions to the problems that we see.
May I offer up HCA Hospice Care (www.hca.org.sg) as another Singapore charity with a worthy cause ... their aim is to provide "comfort and support to patients with life-limiting illnesses, regardless of age, religion, ethnicity, nationality and financial status". One of their services is home hospice care, with multidisciplinary healthcare teams offering palliative care to patients and their families in their own homes.
I was recently invited to tag along with one team and visually document the work that they do. The photo essay here is the result of this collaboration, and I urge you to find out more through the direct, sincere and often (appropriately) humourous words of one of the team members here: "Not just a doctor, a family member"
I thought that finding sufficient superlatives was going to be the toughest thing about writing this blog post. I was wrong. 30 minutes spent trying to whittle down the highlights to a manageable yet representative number, and I am throwing in the towel and settling for manageable.
The Touchauds were an absolute dream to photograph. The only reason I am certain that they are real, is that my imagination cannot possibly be rich enough to conjure up such a dynamic, colourful, funny, personable family. From the very moment that I stepped into their home, they were nothing but warm, inviting, open and playful. Alexandra said that they had never had a family photoshoot before … I don’t know if they were this relaxed in front of my camera because or in spite of this. We chased cats, practiced yoga, ate homebaked Fathers’ Day cookies, read, landed on the moon, became superheroes, performed martial arts and gymnastics, wrestled, climbed, drew and read some more … and then left home to head for our park shoot.
Oh and did I mention that Alexandra is an incredible artist? Please, visit www.alexandratouchaud.com and fill up on some true beauty. To see how she has completed such an intensive creative project, while bringing up three confident and engaging children along with her husband Dominique, is at once humbling and inspiring. The Touchauds are a Renaissance family in spirit and practice, and I am grateful that their love and respect for artistry extended to giving me the space and trust to practice mine.
I have been going back and forth for days over the right words for this post ... Everything I write ends up sounding so sentimental because that is exactly how I feel about this family. Silke is a dear friend and her firstborn has been through, well, a fair bit with my son. The occasion of her recent pregnancy and birth of her second sweet baby has been such an inspiration, and I am so looking forward to finishing a special family film project for them. In the spirit of procrastination which I have thoroughly mastered, I will leave the sappy words for later when their film is completed, and let their maternity family pictures speak of their Saturday morning routine before baby V came along ...
I know, I know, I'm a total sucker for babies ... but this 4 month old, well, I can't even look at these photos without wishing I could reach right in and squeeze her little cheeks. Mind you, I managed to control myself during the entire photoshoot, but that could have been because her wonderful parents were so wrapped up in playing with and caring for her, that I could not bear to break up the moment. She was all played out by the time early evening rolled around, and I'm glad I got to stick around to document her being put to bed.
Our time together was so relaxed that I even got to trial a new photo-and-video slideshow offer that I have been working on. Give me a shout if you'd like something similar for your own family ... you heard it here first!
When is a good time to get some images that really reflect what you are like as a couple? Pretty much anytime, in my books. Pre-wedding, post-wedding, pre-baby, post-baby ... If you are up for a laid-back session just hanging out and really talking to and connecting with each other - no props, no fancy dress, no romance novel poses - I could be your gal.
Gavin & Sarah were totally on-board with the stripped-back approach that I take. They laughed, they embraced, they teased each other ... simply because that is what they are like together, not because they thought it would look good in a photograph. It's hard work creating an experience where true intimacy is not lost in the context of a photo session, which is why I insist on an environment which is an honest part of the couple's lives. We spent some time relaxing in their new apartment and walking around the neighbourhood, and Gavin & Sarah ran with it, by which I mean they did pretty much whatever they would do together on an ordinary weekend.
I'm bursting to share something a little different today ...
A peek into the life of my own two little boys ...
And through a new medium, a short (tiny, really) film! I have been sharing daily images from my personal Project 365 over on my Facebook blog The Biscuit Diaries, but thought that this deserved a little mention over here too.
I hope that you enjoy the film, and if you would love something similar for your own family, drop me a line and let's chat! I think it speaks for itself so I wanted to dedicate the rest of this post to the wonderful Emily Mitchell over at Everyday Films. Not only is she a super talented family lifestyle videographer and photographer, she is a generous, dedicated and meticulous teacher. I finished the first run of her course DSLR Video Storytelling almost a month ago, and it was totally the inspiration and kick in the bum that I needed to put some muscle behind my vague idea of moving into family films.
If you are at all interested in learning about shooting and editing video with your DSLR camera, I highly encourage you to check out Emily's course. It covers the entire process from setting up your camera and shooting the video footage, colour grading and music selection, to editing the video and audio into a short film, and commercial aspects such as pricing. She goes into just the right amount of detail especially on the technical and artistic aspects, has plenty of instructional videos, and gives precise and thoughtful feedback on your assignments.
If you are curious about what it feels like to move into videography - I won't lie, it's not a cakewalk but it has been so incredibly rewarding to see the joy that viewing this little film has brought to my family - or anything else, please do leave me a comment or drop me a line!
Another family shoot in the Singapore Botanic Gardens to follow up my last post, but with a different look and feel entirely because of the family. I find that outdoor shoots in the same locations run the risk of looking the same, if the majority of the session is focused say on a few tried and tested poses (e.g. sitting on a mat and smiling for the camera). Letting the family roam and play freely is sometimes a bit more challenging, but makes for more personal and meaningful imagery.
The Thams already had a few favourite activities in the Gardens from their regular weekend visits, and were up and ready for a morning of fun and family bonding. Alongside brother Evan, little Nadia in particular was curious and eager to explore as a brand new toddler, even in the face of some bold birds and one angry looking swan! I must admit to being a bit more nervous than usual ahead of this shoot, as Dawn is an old friend with experience and impeccable taste across many spheres of life, including the creative. On this sunny morning however, she and Billy were first and foremost parents enjoying some free play with their young, active children, and I hope that these images help them remember a little of the plentiful joy and laughter from this period in all their lives!