Photography workshops with Me Ra Koh were the highlights of my time at Click Retreat.
When Sophie was born, my sister gave me a copy of Me Ra’s Your Baby in Pictures. Her photo recipes, neatly broken down month by month, gave me the clarity to capture my last child’s infancy. Each month Sophie and I spent some quiet time in my room as I captured her fleeting babyhood. That first year of life is such a fog of sleeplessness and hormones, but by breaking it down month by month, I have a forever memory of Sophie’s old man wrinkles, gummy smiles, and newborn locks.
When I told Me Ra about my quiet mornings with Sophie, she thanked me and gave me a big hug. I was the one who should have been thinking her for her invaluable gift. Natural and warm: that’s her style. No wonder children respond so well to her photo shoots! This woman is a powerhouse of inspiration.
Self-Portraits to Capture the Changing Seasons of our Lives
My first Me Ra Koh session was all about the terror of #selfies, or more eloquently put: capturing the changing seasons of motherhood with self-portraits. Me Ra forces herself to do a new self-portrait of herself every season, to leave a photo legacy for her children of herself. She explained why she started,
“If I want to capture people in front of the camera, how can I take them to somewhere I haven’t been myself?”
As homework before coming to Click Retreat, we all had to take a much dreaded self-portrait, reflecting our feelings about this particular season of our life. Then in small groups, we revealed our self-portraits without speaking, letting others see, think, and feel about the images. In color and black and white, these portraits were incredibly revealing. It’s an exercise I plan on repeating, and would love to do with a group of girlfriends and a nice bottle of wine. As mothers, wives, and girlfriends, we remain invisible behind the camera lens. Emerging into the light to capture my state of mind was empowering and inspiring.
Your Child in Pictures
Now, just as Sophie has aged out of babyhood, Me Ra Koh has released a new book, called Your Child in Pictures: the Parents’ Guide to Photographing Toddlers and Children from Ages 1 to 10. Again, the flood of childhood experiences is broken down into clear photo recipes, reminding you to capture your toddler’s lovey and your 8-10 year old’s prized possession. From potty training to falling baby teeth, Me Ra not only reminds you to record these milestone moments, but she also gives easy and powerful suggestions to make those shots dramatic and beautiful.
Our second session with Me Ra gave some great tips to capture your children’s special moments. Here are a few:
- Before you start taking pictures, decide what story you want to tell. Create vignettes instead of being drowned in 100 unrelated images.
- Change your camera to continuous shooting mode, to grab 2-3 shots when you press the shutter. Children’s expressions change so quickly, this makes it less likely to miss the smiles.
- Notice the ground you’re standing on. Driveways may not be romantic, but they create beautiful light for faces while green grass sucks up the light and creates shadows. Hardwood floors can cast an orange glow.
- Avoid the 11-2 window when the sun is harsh and up above, casting shadows on faces.
- Sunset gives the most dramatic, golden light.
- A cloudy day is a great day to take pictures. It’s like a big white box in the sky.
- Invite kids to collaborate with you in creating a shoot, involving older kids in the process gives them a chance to buy in.
- Turn off the clicking sound on your camera to avoid distracting kids at play.
- Notice where the light is coming from. If you have to shoot in bright sunlight, place it behind the kids, to create a halo effect.
Inspired? Grab your camera and start crafting the story you want to tell with pictures.