A picture might tell a thousand words but instead of taking the easy route, we asked some fantastic local photographers to give us their pictures and their words – namely, a favourite recent photo along with a description of how the image came about and why it’s special to them.
This photo was taken during a photo-shoot assignment at a client’s residence. It shows a newborn baby girl, only 12 days old. She’s just been fed and is feeling satisfied and in a good mood.
There was available light, but it was very dim – a heavily overcast evening. The background is black cloth. I set the composition way before the click took place and waited for the right moment. This is one of a continuous series of three shots, and just one shot from a four-hour newborn session.
It’s never about the beautiful clothing, pose or props. It’s all about the moment. The body language reminds me of a scene from the National Geographic Channel, where a mighty fierce mother lion shows her soft side by lovingly licking her cubs. It’s so 3D! Also, it’s interestingly contrasty: black versus white, big versus small, rough versus smooth, cheers versus tears. (Mum was in happy tears behind the scenes!)
This is an image of three-month old Christina with her mother in the baby’s fabulously decorated bedroom. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of photographing Christina’s older brother when he was 18 months old at my studio in Sembawang, and I was pleased to be asked by their mother to photograph Christina when she came along. I often work with families for many years, recording the birth and important milestones of their children.
Shooting in a client’s home is always a great pleasure: I look forward to the surprises provided by unfamiliar surroundings and unpredictable light. This image was shot next to a large east-facing window, using available light only. I always bring lights when shooting on location, but if I can make it work with available light I will usually do so. The clock adds an important design element to the image, as a circular echo of Christina’s little face and a pictorial reminder that time is fleeting – especially in the lives of young children and their families.
Digital image-making relies both on image capturing and careful finishing. The raw image for this shot was cropped to a severe vertical to incorporate the clock and to highlight the baby as the central element. Light and colour were tweaked, de-saturated and re-balanced to give a slightly retro look, and the edges ‘frayed’ slightly to evoke nostalgia.
Two sets of new parents choose their favourite photos taken by JJ.
“Pregnancy, for us, was a whole host of new and funny experiences. We wanted a photographer to help us capture not only the beauty of it all, but also to help us lighten the mood and find amusement in it. When we briefed JJ on our sometimes outlandish needs, he ensured we got everything we wanted – including both serenity and humour. He laughed through the session with us and showed the utmost professionalism and courtesy.
His expertise was obvious from the moment he turned up and we are thrilled with the resulting shots. It was an absolute pleasure to have him in our home, and now that our daughter is here, we’ll definitely be asking JJ back for a newborn photo session.”
Lucas and Erin Sandral (Australia and UK)
“Phyllis and I are first-time parents, and so the arrival of Phoebe was hectic to say the least. We wanted to capture some moments from the first few weeks, but we weren’t too keen on going to a studio for a photo shoot.
JJ understood how the shoot would have to revolve around Phoebe’s feeding times, so he was very flexible. He quickly transformed our living room into a little studio and it was fun and relaxing as we waited for Phoebe to get a little sleepy so that she would be more ‘pliable’ for the photos. Phoebe was a little star to say the least, and JJ kept us all laughing with his warm sense of humour.
He was extremely patient as he led us throughout the shoot, explaining the ‘look’ or ‘feel’ that he was trying to evoke. The resulting photos were stunning. Gorgeous black-and-whites, warm colour shots that were bathed in perfect light and shadow. We were delighted! We have a keepsake that perfectly captures her first few weeks.”
Peter and Phyllis Vassbotn (Canada & Singapore)
This photo was taken a few months ago in our studio. This little girl was there with her two younger brothers for a family shoot. Both Marika and I are mothers: Marika has three children; I have two. This contributes greatly to how we make children feel relaxed and comfortable during shoots. Our studio is filled with toys, we play music, we let the children move, dance, and be themselves. Families are encouraged to bring their own accessories, too: favourite shirt, hat, scarf, cuddly toy – you name it. After all, a photo session is a very special time!
This picture did not need any post-production, other than cropping. We were trained very traditionally (film photography and dark-room techniques) and we always endeavour to get our pictures right the first time rather than having to retouch them. The picture captures the joy of this little girl in a simple and relaxed manner. It illustrates the type of work we do: natural and lively, delivering strong emotions.
A few years ago we created Photos For Life, a charity project that raises funds to build schools for little girls in third-world countries. Once a year, we take portraits of students at a particular school to raise funds and contribute to helping children in need.
Geraldine Mostachfi and Marika Poquet
It wasn’t hard for me to take a beautiful shot of this little boy as he had all the magic himself! The big blue eyes, the blonde hair and the ‘I am shy but I still want to be mischievous’ look.
Zac’s mother Helen approached me at the Shophouse Fair, where I exhibit every month; this was after seeing me in Expat Living and liking the modern and classical way I shoot children and families. I specialise in pregnancy, babies, children and family portrait photography.
Being classically trained in film has given me the knowledge and experience to master the magic of digital photography, and this image is a great example of how wonderful digital shots can be made. It is simple yet striking, and was taken in the studio on a black background. I chose to keep the image in colour to make it really stand out.
This is a wedding portrait, one of a number that I shot here in Singapore as a wedding gift for good friends of mine who finally tied the knot after more than 10 years together.
There was abundant natural and artificial light where we were shooting. Plenty of jokes accompanied the shoot – champagne will always do the trick in producing quirky portraiture! I love these shots because of my personal attachment to the couple. I have never laughed so much during a photo shoot.
This is typical of my work for couples or wedding portraiture. I am normally commissioned for my quirky and contemporary shots and the quirky photo booth shots for guests. I specialise in contemporary portraiture and natural light photography. My clients include families, couples, corporate groups and book publishers.
The image was taken in Sawtell, Australia, nearly two years ago when we were spending Christmas with my wife’s family. It’s a photograph of my daughter and her two cousins, given as a Christmas presents to their grandparents.
I approached the shoot like I would any commercial project. Outfits and a beach location were selected to ensure a timeless look. In addition, I wanted to make use of the steps leading down from the headland, as I felt it would be the perfect place to get the girls together and the wooden rails would frame them.
Because of the light from the sky and the white dresses, I used exposure compensation to ensure a balanced image. Once this was correctly configured I encouraged the girls to be themselves, hoping to capture a memory. Very little work was done on the computer, except converting the RAW file and making the image black and white in Photoshop.
This image is typical of my commercial work, I love doing portraits and capturing the moment. I have a relaxed style and I aim to put my subjects at ease while still guiding them into the right positions. It’s important that the personality of the subject shines through.
Over the past 12 months, I have taken more than 150,000 shots of children and their families, and many images have made it to my website, my blog – even the cover of a few photography magazines. So, when I’m asked to select just one picture to showcase for this feature, it’s almost impossible.
This is a picture of my sons, Alexander and Oliver. Oliver made his first appearance in this world in December 2009 and this image of him is etched deeply in my heart. It’s the mood and moment of this picture that interest me most. It sent out one simple message: love.
As a professional portrait photographer who specialises in newborn, child and family photography, this image means so much to me as it represents the raw connection between two brothers – something all parents would love to preserve. Our memory may fail us one day, but photographs like this will be passed on for generations to come.
This photograph was taken in the White Room Studio as a family portrait for a client. It was shot digitally in raw colour format and then converted to black and white with Photoshop. Only natural lighting was used. With this kind of lighting, it is important to make sure the shadows are not too deep. That is the reason I photographed the subjects in side profile.
This photograph is my favourite because everything about it came together beautifully: lighting, ambience, ease of the subjects; and, most importantly for lifestyle portraiture, you do not feel the intrusion of the photographer in this image.
I specialise in portraits: families, kids, pets, glamour, wedding, corporate and events. My personal photographic passion is shooting abstract landscape photography, especially during my travels in different parts of the world.
This is an image of a client with her baby girl around a condo common area. There is no need to travel far from home to capture interesting images of your child.
The image was shot using a longer telephoto lens and, during the post-processing stage, converted to black and white to show the intense look of the child. The eyes were slightly brightened to bring more attention to them. We prefer black and white as it tends to simplify the image and let the viewer concentrate on the subject.
It has been a while since this image was taken, yet the look on the child’s face and the mother’s smile remind me how much parents do for their children. The eyes are so captivating and the fact that this was not a set-up shot makes it more interesting and natural.
This piece, “Rain” by Derrick Ong (www.derrick-ong.com), is one of the first canvas prints we created in Singapore. It’s a pre-wedding shot taken when the heavens opened near a colonial house (the backdrop).
The photo seems straightforward. However, the photographer had the creative thought – and the guts – to request an impromptu pose in the rain. Other factors worth noting are the spontaneity of the couple, the natural lighting and, of course, Derrick’s ability to capture all of this before the complete drenching of the dress.
Canvas prints are a good way for people to display and enjoy their images, rather than leaving them on a computer. People love canvas prints because they don’t reflect glare like traditional glass-framed prints and there’s no additional expense for framing. They’re created on high-quality art canvas, making them more like a piece of fine art.
I love this image as it perfectly captures the loving relationship between parents and children and the fun this family have together. Although it was quite late in the day (7pm), the studio was ringing with the sounds of the children’s laughter and I captured a wonderful series of images in colour and black and white.
I had previously photographed Mum and the girls , creating a series of striking black and white images, as a gift for Dad’s 40th Birthday. Dad was wowed by the photos and, a few months later, the family returned for another photo shoot, this time with Dad in too.
During both shoots, I photographed the family in two different outfits, giving variety to the final series of images. I processed most of the images in timeless black and white and created a gorgeous, 12-page calendar for 2011 – an unforgettable gift for grandparents abroad.