Just received my copy of TAoPaN, an online photography magazine focused on pregnancy, newborn, and children’s photography. Each issue is filled with tips and articles for these session types. I was interviewed by Lindsey for this months issue! Totally honored to be asked! You can sign up for your own subscription HERE.
Thanks to Ana Brandt, editor and creator of the magazine, for the invitation!
And for the curious , I’ve posted the text of the article below. Enjoy!
Confessions of an Expecting Mama . . . .
by Lindsey Maughan
This term has always felt like a graceful synonym to its more bulky counterpart, “pregnant”.
I recently used the word as a description of myself and stopped mid-sentence as the irony of my statement laughed at me –there is a glossy, but subliminal warning in this label I chose.
I’m expecting. A baby? Yes. Unfortunately, that is just where the expecting starts!
I’m expecting my delivery date to be exact. (Why? The last one was!) I am expecting labor to be equally as painful but possibly quicker. (Don’t tell me otherwise!) I am expecting recovery to be quick. (I have no other options! I have places to be! Things to do! A baby to take care of!) I am expecting sleep deprivation, poopy diapers, possible short term immobility, and my house to clean itself. I am expecting, expecting, expecting . . .!
My good sense has been trying to reason with me, and tell me that all my expectations ought to be more like Rubbermaid– disposable. Experience from the past has taught me how sticky expectations can be when things out of my control have standards already Gorilla Glued into place.
It was with all this in mind that I interviewed the photographer, Brooke Snow, who is already scheduled to take newborn shots of my little one. I was curious to know how she handled the expectations of mothers’ in possibly their fourth trimester– the trimester they are still expecting even after the baby is born.
I already knew quite a bit about Brooke. She has been my “go to” photographer since the day she took my engagement shots and turned two camera shy love birds into into something aesthetically less taciturn. Since then she has photographed everything from my bridals to the newborn shots of my first child.
Brooke has led a very artistic life, just not in the visual arts. She is an accomplished composer and musician with a BA and an MA in music. She has spent hours practicing, composing, creating, and performing. It shouldn’t be a surprise, knowing her commitment to practice, constant creativity, and unique perspective, that she would excel so quickly with photography.
Brooke, you didn’t always expect to be a photographer. Tell me how you went from a composer to a lifestyle photographer.
I started doing photography before I even finished getting my master’s in music because I need to find balance in my life that was overly saturated with music. A photographer who wanted piano lessons agreed to do a lesson swap with me. I believe it was actually studying with a professional that propelled me into the business. I expected my students to practice and accept critique. Suddenly I had to practice and be critiqued. I gave myself assignments. I found models to shoot, I picked locations, I tried a variety of things.
How did having a teacher, and a critique help?
When it was just a hobby I had a false sense of confidence. Once I started lessons I had to judge my work with a professional, almost graded, mindset. I gained the skill to be intentional, not just accidental. Photography is a lot like music. If you don’t know music theory, your limited in your creativity. If you don’t know how to work your camera, or set up a shoot, you aren’t in control of possible results.
I’ve noticed that your work is very playful, and in that sense it seems to be your style to capture things in a non-studio way. Was this your plan, or did this style just evolve?
In the beginning I tried everything. I took pictures the way everyone else was taking pictures. Eventually, I just found myself enjoying my work the most when I was playing.
I see your pictures and it always elicits an emotion of surprise and energy. What is your method of preparation to get these results?
First, I interview before every shoot because you have to treat each child differently. I find out what shows they are interested in, what they like to do, what makes them comfortable. This makes it so that in a shoot I can get down on their level physically and also socially.
Explain how that would work in a shoot.
When you put small children in an environment that they already love, doing things that they like to do, you are more likely to capture a natural and excited response. Because of the interview I know how to play with them, what songs to sing to make them smile, and whether I should ask them to pretend to be a princess, a magician, or an orphan waiting at a train station.
So you prepare for a shoot with an interview. What do you do to prepare the locations?
I am always looking for locations. I try to never use the same location twice. Once I have decided on a location look for colors, lines, patterns, shapes, and textures. I look for elements that could tell a story. Possible framing.
How do you choose locations with infants?
If I am photographing an infant, I still interview the mom. So far, this has been her journey. I try and find something that relates with them. Like when I photographed Elise, the mother of twins. She grew up on a fruit farm that she now works on with her husband. It seemed natural to photograph the “apples of her eye” in an orchard. We also used her Great Grandma’s doll bed. It wasn’t just a prop, it was something meaningful to them.
I am going to assume that a lot of parents are like me, and have a lot of expectations going into a shoot. How do you make sure that you meet these expectations?
Beyond the interview? I think my website makes it clear (http://brookesnow.com). People who come and look at my pictures and like my work, probably want something similar. If they want more of a studio look they will choose a different photographer. For that very reason, I am very careful with what images I show on my website.
You just had a baby yourself. How has this changed your photography?
(Laughing) I would hire someone else to take my own infants shots! I was expecting that it would be a breeze since it was my own child. Instead I found it uncomfortable because I was still recovering from a c-section, and I was limited because I couldn’t be in the shots and behind the camera. It would have been worth it to me to be able to sit back and let someone else do the work!
It was while interviewing Brooke, and looking at all of her colorful images, that I started loosening my grip on many of my expectations. My self-diagnoses it seemed, wasn’t just a problem that I lived with, as even she confessed to having great expectations that were extinguished with the arrival of her little reality.
Yet seeing the newness, and the spontaneity of infancy and childhood-through her images of fresh baby faces, and eager toddler grins–helped me to alue those out of control things in m life. I’m putting most of my expectations in the back of the freezer to be found someday when things get back into balance and I decide to deep clean.
I will, however, be harboring one last expectation–that this upcoming year will be a great ride.