Tiny feet tiptoe into my heart and stay there forever. I have always loved the company of children. I have always admired how they grow and I am often intrigued by the behaviors they demonstrate in various scenarios. Thankfully, I have other hobbies which have collaborated with my love for children rewardingly. I enjoy taking photographs and a couple of years ago; I parted ways with my compact cameras and bought myself an advanced photo system camera which I named Nicki. My first single lens reflex camera.
I used Nicki at various events for my own collection of photographs and often shared a few on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc… and I received gratifying compliments which often encouraged me to take more photographs. People saw and see me at events and they would often ask if I brought Nicki sometimes even before they asked how I am doing. Then I began to get offers to take photographs for a fee for corporate events, engagements, weddings, parties, etc… I took up some of the offers and I thoroughly enjoyed them. If there were children at an event, I would take many photos of them. And smile each time I was editing the pictures.
I must give credit to my friends Mame Yaa Aboagye and Talata Maldima-Provencal for pushing me to take up professional photography because initially, I was very reluctant to go into the industry in Ghana. This was due to my affiliation with many of the existing photographers. I must also not forget to acknowledge Nicki’s fans! Throughout this new adventure of professional photography, I have discovered my zest which is photographing pregnant women, newborns, infants and children.
“Cutie patoo ties” is what her mother calls her to make her smile. And I saw myself calling her that too when I was throwing her gently in the air and catching her firmly to make her giggle. Oh! I love it when they laugh, especially when I see a little dimple. I once said to a baby, “Wow, you have a dimple? Can I please borrow your dimple tonight? I have a date with a fine man and I think it will steal his heart’s beat when I smile just like yours just did” and the baby gave me a flirtatious giggle as though she understood what I had just said. If that night I was able to pull that same kind of flirtatious smile, my night may have ended with 48 roses instead of the 24. All the same, I was really grateful. Children never cease to amaze me. I never forget the moments I share with them. I always say, the rate at which children keep stealing bits of my heart, soon I will have no heart left.
Younger children and toddlers are always on the move and to photograph them well means that I need to be constantly alert in order to capture them in variety of different situations and moods. In the beginning, I would allow the person that they came to the shoot with to be with us during the shoot but now I don’t allow that because it is harder to get their eye contact and I find that they behave differently when it is just us. And often, the other person in the session would be giving directions which confuses the child so I would often say “Leave him to be himself or let her have fun because we will get better pictures that way. But when you say “Look at auntie, tilt your head, say cheese, etc…” it bores them and makes them quickly tired and uninterested in the shoot”. Parents often say to me “Wow, you are so good with the children. You are patient with them and have a lot of time for them.” I understand children and I often don’t look at them as children. I look at them the same way I look at adults. They have a mind of their own and know what they do and do not like so I don’t give them any instructions other than to call their name to get them to look at me. When I see they are beginning to get bored, of the same environment and I haven’t gotten the ideal shot, I put the camera down and pick them up to play. We will play for at least 5 minutes and we have another round of shots and this time, most often than not, they are more engaging.
I also find that with older children, when you give them something that interests them, you can just sit back and shoot away. You will capture moments that will amaze you and in this time, I learn a lot about the child. I can tell you his or her favorite color or TV program or best friend’s name or school’s name by the time we are done. We do have very meaningful conversations. Thank you! And when I show them a couple of the photos from the shoot, they even as children express their interest in the ones they like the most.
Two year old Nevaeh is staring across my shoulder as I flip through her photos. There is a photo with her eyes closed, she said “Oh!” then there was a good one where she expressed pure joy as she laughed with her hands in the air. Without me uttering a word, she said “Beautiful”. That’s when I noted the winning picture.
When I am done with the children, I usually invite their parents and/or siblings in for family group photos and this is when the real challenge comes in. It is very difficult to get everyone’s attention at the same time, and ensuring that everyone has the right expression and eye contact. The parents are often distracted making sure the child has the right posture for the picture, forgetting that I need their posture and eye contact at that same time too. So I tell the parents to take the focus off the children and position themselves to be photographed. Often, few seconds later, the children will look up.
I enjoy taking photos of children with their grandparents. I admire the generations of love and togetherness especially the excitement of the grandparent with his/her grandchild/grandchildren.
Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day and now the day was complete.
I often get curious questions like “Is there a real market for photographing pregnant women and newborns?” I meet a lot of mothers who say that “I wish I met you when I was pregnant. I wanted to take pictures with my big tummy but I didn’t know where to turn for professional photos”.
I knew I loved you before I met you
A precious gift bequeathed to me
From Heaven above
Even before you were born
We had Our Moments
A Nick-A-Pic with Nicki
It is so much fun
In your wait, Joy overflows my heart
Every Tick and Tock I count
Till you’re mine at last,
My sweet blessing from above!
I love capturing pregnant women. These are images that portray true sensitivity, intimacy and a great reflection of God’s blessings.
Throughout the shots, I ask questions, about the mother to be, the baby, motherhood, how they feel and I build a relationship and a connection which makes shooting even easier and more enjoyable.
Pregnant women want to keep memories of their growing tummys. Mothers love photographing their children from the moment they are born. They want to capture the ticks they will never get back. They want to keep memories of their growth. Children are always changing as they are growing and you can only keep track with images to refer back to.
One Sunday afternoon, 9 year old Kristine walks into the studio with her mother and her mother’s friend. In our conversation, I tell her I plan weddings. That’s when her mother said: Kristine already knows what her wedding day is going to be like. From having a beach wedding, to the number of tiers her wedding cake will have, with a ribbon holding them together, to her number of bridesmaids and the style of dresses… I am 31 years old, a wedding planner and even I haven’t figured all that out yet. So I asked her if she found the groom yet. She said “No! But he will fit into the plans”. I smiled and said, remember to invite me. That is one wedding I won’t miss, even if it is 20 years from now.
There was a time when I was sitting in traffic with the car windows rolled down, in deep thought and I heared “Auntie Debbie!!!” I looked out the window and it was a child I once took a picture of. It gave me a great feeling knowing that child remembered me from taking a photograph of him. I feel extremely content when I know that people leave the studio or I leave the photo set with good memories of their time with Nicki.
I pride myself on my creative energy and ability to see beauty in unlikely spaces. I strive to create images that maintain a blissful feel resulting in producing Maternity, Newborns, Infants and Children Photo-shoots that are simple, natural and beautiful.
I am passionate about my new adventure and aim at keeping my work alive with great perspectives so that my work doesn’t die.