Category Archives: Family Photography

Wide Awake

There is nothing more cherubic and peaceful than a sleeping newborn. It is a time to be in awe of a beautiful little being and also a time for new parents to hopefully rest or perhaps more likely throw in a load of laundry.

Photographing newborns is never as quiet as the sleeping baby image suggests, because life with a newborn is much more social. It is a conversation between parent and infant. Even in that peaceful state, the newborn and parent are communicating. And I love that.

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The life and experience of being a new parent (and you are a new parent whether it is your first baby or your tenth) is as beautiful as that of the new baby…parents unable to take their eyes off their child, the quiet whispers of the mother’s voice, the “just right”  gentle bounce in a father’s arms, the gaze into a parents eyes that speaks words of trust and love without actually saying a thing. That is what I enjoy most about creating images with new families.

This little girl and her mother and father take my breath away…

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Eso es Capoeira

Twenty years ago while living in Boston, a dear friend of mine invited me to come observe his capoeira class held at the Dance Complex in Central Square, Cambridge. I watched him practice the slow beautiful movements enamored by the combination of acrobatics and athleticism and fluidity of dance.

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It’s origins are based in Afro-Brazilian slave culture. The slaves disguised precise kicks and strikes in dance. Always accompanied by music, capoeiristas “dance”  and “play games” in a roda, a circle of players and musicians, singing rhythmic call and response songs in Portuguese that lead the pace and movement of the game. The berimbau my friend carried (a single string instrument essential in capoeira music and practice), imitated an appendage that when not being played was carefully carried on his back.

Unlike in sparring matches of more traditional martial arts, there is little contact and lots of smiling and community.

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The Roda at Waterplace Park in Providence, RI

Fast forward 20 years….

My five year-old son loves music. He loves to dance. He started karate and acrobatics at age 3 and was actually quite good at both. The karate was not quite the right fit (not enough freedom of movement and physical expression) and dance classes were also not quite right (not enough freedom of movement and physical expression). What is going to work? I envisioned my friend…

Capoeira

I showed my son a few videos and enrolled him at the only children’s capoeira program in Rhode Island offered by New Wave Martial Arts. New Wave is affiliated with the Rhode Island capoeira group Grupo Ondas.

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My son is not an easy sell for anything. It was a challenge getting him to go to class at times. He is quiet, stubborn, intense, ritualistic, visual, physical…once he was there, he loved it. Capoeira is not just learning a martial art. It is learning about a culture of community and discipline married with peace and joy. When participating in the roda, capoeristas bring energy and laughter. Little Guy lives for the roda

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After a full year of attending class, he earned his first cord, the corde crua, this weekend, inducting him into the capoeira community. It was a big moment. He was nervous. But, he was proud and inspired by watching all the masters, mestres and professors that had traveled from different parts of the country to honor the initiation of new students and the changing of levels for the experienced students, both adults and children.

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Little Guy receiving his cord

The celebration went on for hours…the energy was infectious! One of the most beautiful aspects of the practice is the joy the capoeristas bring to the practice.

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Beginning a game…

The power, athleticism, and beauty of the movements are addictive to watch.

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We stayed for hours…

On the way home I asked my son if he wanted to continue with capoeira.

He emphatically in that “what are you silly?” tone replied

Yes!

We will see the New Wave family back in class next week after a short break this week (just don’t tell Little Guy)

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Vacation

To go or not to go…that was our question. Seems silly now.

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We are fortunate to have family who have a series of cabins on a remote island in Maine. It is beautiful. Situated in a lake at the base of Mount Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine and the end point of the Appalachian Trail, it is out of cell phone range and without electricity. It is place where one can truly disconnect.

As parents of three children ages 11, 5, and 3, the dilemma was the drive. Eight long hours in the car plus a transporting our gear via small motor boat across the lake. We were also going to be using our tent on a tent platform, so all of our camping gear would be coming with us as well…

Already burned out, this felt daunting.

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Then a cabin freed up. Suddenly packing just our clothing a few blankets and books seemed doable. Also, the drive would be broken up by a night stay in a hotel a little more than half way up.

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Photographing my family takes on different intentions. One of them is the usual snap shot, usually taken with my iPhone 4S and shared via social media. These images are meant for immediate consumption. They tell the story of what is happening right now. I do take the time to develop them and make them pretty, but they are what they are.

The second type of photograph I take are the ones that are meant to document my family. These images are more about the history of our family. The images that we like to take out years from now and find ourselves back in the moment, in the place, in the body and age we were…this is what I tried to do while we were in this magical place. This is my pleasure and my way of disconnecting with the immediacy of everyday routine and life. I am connecting with the story of our family and the place we are experiencing together. Slowing down to observe…a true luxury.

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I want my children to have these images of them selves, their grandparents, their relationships as siblings. I want these images to transport them back to the quiet serenity and simplicity of the island where playing with sticks, digging in the sand, listening to the laughter of the loons, paddling in a kayak, preparing and eating dinner with extended family, listening to Oma and Grandpa tell stories, was truly a vacation.

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When I meet with families, attend weddings, and other special occasions, I am there to create images that will tell the stories of that family. What may seem to be an hour in carefully chosen outfits in a beautiful location trying to assemble that perfect family photo, in my mind is actually much more than that. I am there to work so that hopefully parents can relax and enjoy the moment with their children. So they can allow for that hour of their history to unfold. So that I can create those images that the children will inherit as pieces of their history. Images that are for “immediate consumption” …sharing and adding to holiday cards, but also are looked at again and again in order to return to that brief moment where everyone was together for the sake of documenting togetherness.

I know that may not be the intention my clients bring to their session, but that’s okay.

I am the one working…

Party Time…

About a month before her due date, a mother of two young boys contacted me about scheduling a portrait party with a few other families. Having done something similar in the late Fall, I was really looking forward to a full day of photographing families.

Just 3 days before the scheduled party day new baby arrived…just in time to join the celebration!

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Portrait Parties are generally scheduled in one location and often several families will come to have their pictures taken. I like to have time with each individual family so instead of everyone arriving at once, I set aside an hour for each family.

There are so many things to love about Parties. I get to see lots of families and meet lots of great kids all in one day which sounds exhausting, but it is actually the opposite. Because every family is different, every hour renews my energy! It’s exciting! The light changes transforming the location for each group…I get to do what I love for an entire day.

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And not everyone is willing at first…

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But, by the end of the hour, we all know each other a little better and always have fun.

If you have a great location and a group of families who want to create a party, lets do it while we still have long days and warm weather! I will also be suggesting a few of my favorite locations and booking my own party days starting next month. Keep an eye out for postings!

Weekend Favorites

What a spectacular weekend for being outside in some of my favorite places in the Providence area…

These are some of favorites from various sessions, some scheduled, some not. My favorites are not usually the ones that you will find on the holiday card, but the ones you take in between trying to get your subjects to create the that (almost) perfect image.

Sometimes getting one child to sit still and smile (a real smile) can be a challenge, but getting three or more…I know. I have three kids of my own. There is always one in bunch who no matter what they are doing, what face they are making, you simply never want to toss an image.

Sometimes parents are reluctant to join in during a session. What I love about photographing this family is they interact so natural with each other throughout the session, that I end up with (literally) hundreds of images of an entire family. It’s as if I just happened to bump into to them and took an opportunity to document their Sunday morning at the park. At the end of the session, the kids were done with me (as they always are), so I asked the parents to stop and let me get a quick shot of just them. And then of course, someone (I thought was done) wanted to join in!

I love my niece. She is a whirlwind of energy entwined with quiet pensive moments…a delight to observe. Typical of an almost 7 year-old, she is either running away from me or dramatically posing when I get my gear out. If I hang around long enough, she gets bored with me and then I can take pictures at will and capture some of the quiet moments. But not this one. She’s on the run playfully trying to escape…I was almost fast enough!