It has been my honor to work with some of the best local businesses in Fairfield County. One of my favorites is Stella M'Lia, a tween- and teen-centric brand of special occasion dresses based in Greenwich, Connecticut. Stella M'Lia dresses are absolutely gorgeous. They're high-quality fashionable designer pieces that any girl would love to wear.. and it was such a pleasure to photograph five incredible young girls doing just that (some are professional models, while others have never modeled before)...
Creative photo sessions hold a special place in my heart. They also demand an immense amount of effort and preparation. This photoshoot with Ava-Jeanette took about 6 hours from start to finish.. that included child-appropriate makeup and hair styling (with various looks) by the talented Susan Donoghue, fresh flowers, gorgeous white dresses by Stella M'Lia (based in Greenwich), and necklace accessories from Ella & Henry (New Canaan).
One of the most important factors to looking good on camera is being able to feel comfortable when someone is taking your photograph.Now, that is certainly easier said than done, because I know firsthand the terror and anxiety that comes with someone pointing a camera in my direction. And when you're a tween girl, or a Mom to a tween girl, you probably hear all sorts of things about photographers, modeling, and the uncomfortable situations that might result. I certainly get surprised when I hear some of the questions parents ask, because I come from a background of photographing families, babies, and kids.
A photoshoot isn't entirely about the photographs that are captured. The experience of being photographed is actually a huge part of it. It's something I want the kids I work with to remember. I want them to not only enjoy our time together, but also get a sense of what it's like to be pampered, looked after, and feel a bit like a celebrity.
And it all starts with the hair styling.
Hair styling might seem like a trivial thing, especially for kids, who probably have pretty cute hair to begin with.. but it makes some of the biggest difference I've seen in photos by far. It's that extra bit of polish, and the ability to put in loose curls or waves, which provides movement and shine. But there's something else too. The feeling of getting ready. Of being taken care of. And of enhancing the beauty that's already there.
And it's important, when working with a 9-year old, that the photographs reflect who they are, too. So they get to wear their favorite clothes. They get to jump, and spin, and try on literally all the different pairs of glasses they own. And they get to have FUN. Because enjoying the experience of being in a photography Studio is something they will remember, too.
Photographing a family with two older girls (Morgan is 12 and Jessica is 7) is completely different from photographing one with a toddler or a newborn. I don't treat older kids all that differently because I address all children and babies with the utmost respect and consideration. But tweens have well-formed opinions at this point. They need to feel comfortable in front of the camera. They have rooms that are just full of personality and little treasures. And their preferences are both strong and willful.
This is also the least photographed age. For some reason the tween phase is known as the 'awkward' stage in kids' lives. Let me tell you something. There is nothing awkward about these girls. Not only are Morgan and Jessica so lovely to be around, but they are actually pleasant towards each other (I know, I'm as shocked as you are)! They spent a bunch of the session hanging out together, being themselves, and the portraits we got are absolutely stunning as a result.
My favorite part was afterwards, when Mom told me that the girls really enjoyed the wardrobe styling process (I spent some time before the session picking out the perfect outfit for each girl, especially since they needed something warmer for the outdoor shots). Girls this age usually have their own sense of style, but unlike with Mom or Dad, they're actually willing to listen to my suggestions.
And it all comes back to the whole respect thing. I treat kids with consideration. I ask them how they feel about things. I collaborate. And we work together to create something that is impossible without mutual regard. I credit my clients with the artwork we create just as much as I credit my own abilities.. and as you scroll through my favorite images from this session, I think you will agree with that statement.
I love the beach right around sunset. This summer, I really wanted to have a styled children's photo shoot with flower head-pieces and bohemian dresses. Each head-piece is inspired by the girl's favorite color and hand-made by me. I wanted to make sure the flowers didn't upstage the portrait, so I made sure to keep them simple and contained in a headband-type setting. The girls loved their flower headbands and seemed so at home wearing their beautiful dresses, too.
The older two girls in the photos are sisters, aged 8 (Taylor) and 11 (Sophia). The youngest girl, Ava, is 4. I loved seeing the interaction between them and they were so absolutely wonderful during the whole process. They had so much fun running around barefoot, practicing posing, and taking turns being in front of the camera. This entire photoshoot lasted a brief thirty minutes - the girls had so much wonderful energy and we moved through everything so quickly! I have tons of favorites from this session, too.. and I think you can probably see why.
Mary is one of the most wonderful 10-year old girls you will ever meet. She loves to play sports, practices gymnastics and dance, and is generally one of those amazing children you wish were your own. For her photo-shoot, we picked outfits from her own closet and headed to downtown Greenwich with her friend Reese. We found little alleys with wonderful brick walls, photographed right on Greenwich Avenue, in front of stores, and by a little park. I love the variety of settings Greenwich provides and how perfect it is for a photo session with two amazing girls!