Hi, all! I’m Monica Shulman and I am a photographer in New York City. I also write Ciao, Chessa! — a lifestyle blog focusing on art, photography and travel. Thank you Adorama for inviting me to share on your blog!
I’m a bit obsessed with creating gallery walls and I’ve decided that I need more walls in my home. The wall above the dresser in my daughter’s room was a sad, empty space that taunted me for months. I thought about leaving it blank but one rainy afternoon, while we were lying on the floor reading some of her favorite books, my girl stopped me and staring at her existing gallery wall she started calling out everything and everyone she saw in the photos. Soon this became one of her favorite activities. She walks around our apartment (especially in the kitchen), points at photos and talks about them and the people in them and I tell her the story of the day the photo was taken. I started thinking about the kind of pictures that I wanted to put up on that little wall and soon the stories started to unfold. I use Instagram (A LOT) to capture the moments of my life and with a toddler running around sometimes the iPhone camera is the only practical way to take pictures because I simply don’t have the time or the hands to use my dslr. And so the idea for my newest gallery wall started to form. I had never printed my Instagram photos before but I knew, after years of working with Adoramapix, that the quality would be amazing and would not disappoint.
I used my own gallery wall tutorial as a guide:
(1) get all the necessarily materials (I LOVE painter’s tape)
(2) choose the frames and photos
(3) frame your wall using painter’s tape
(4) choose a layout, and finally
(5) hang the frames
The best part of creating this wall was choosing the images and once I decided that I was going to print pictures from my Instagram feed the fun really began. I love mobile photography because it has allowed me to take photography in general less seriously all the time. For the first time ever, as a photographer at least, I have finally learned to relinquish a bit of control (just a little) and in doing so I’m actually having more fun and have gotten better at capturing quiet, spontaneous moments and the images that I chose for this wall illustrate that. All of the photos are taken from behind or above when my daughter didn’t know that I was there, when she was in her own world, doing something wonderful and fun – jumping in puddles, running fearlessly toward the waves, sleeping peacefully in her beloved crib. I’m always, always there with her, watching her, letting her run and encouraging her to be adventurous and live playfully, even when (perhaps especially when) she doesn’t know I’m right behind her.
I’d highly recommend printing some of your favorite phone photos. If you think about it, these are the times when you feel the least self-conscious about your photo-taking skills because after all, it’s just a phone. The majority of my favorites happen to be Instagram pics but the idea behind mobile phone photos is the same…they are real, seemingly inconsequential but actually quite meaningful moments. I used Adoramapix and the prints look great in the 10×10 and 5×5 size.
I’m curious to know what you think. Do you have any tips for creating gallery walls or favorite apps for your iPhone or android? Share them in the comments!
I’ve pondered on writing this blog post for Adoramapix. I finally decided that as part of my grieving process it was important for me to let the words and the images spill out and for me to share my experience with members.
Last week, my 82-year-old father passed away. I live in Canada and received the call on a Sunday that it was urgent that I come to LaCrosse, Wisconsin, as my father was dying. As you can imagine, it was a long trip to Wisconsin in winter as images from my father and I filled my head. I remember the time we danced in the basement to Lawrence Welk or the times we went swimming in the summers.
I knew this week would be his last week of life. I knew I wanted to document it in a way that I would remember how I felt, what was going through my mind and most importantly, I wanted this last thread to connect me to him. So I used my iphone to document my grief.
I arrived in time to make it by his bedside. I was the last plane in before 10 inches of snow hit the area and the airport was shut down. I knew my father was waiting for me to arrive, he was hanging on and would not go anywhere without me, my siblings and my mother by his side.
Two days went by, as my family and I were with him, he squeezed our hands letting us know he understood what was happening. We made him laugh in those last 48 hours with tales from growing up. It was a bittersweet moment as I laughed through the tears and watched my mother hang on to him through the stories.
He passed away with dignity. I held his hand as he passed from this life to the next. We headed back to our Iowa farm as we entered the next phase of grief and death and I saw the most beautiful sunset surround our 160 acre farm. We now needed to plan his funeral.
As the sun rose the next morning, I was in charge of all things media related. This included writing his obituary and gathering his pictures. I hammered out 82 years of life into 4 paragraphs. It didn’t seem right as my father was so much more than this. He was a midwest farmer and teacher who was captain of his high school football team, raised a family, loved sports, served in the military, served his community and flew the American Flag every day. He was so much more than those 4 paragraphs.
I started to gather the pictures. The pictures were the most tangible things I had that connected me to him. I laughed at his pictures of him as a child running with horses. I saw what a handsome man he was in high school and university. I saw the young husband looking dashing on his honeymoon with his wife. I saw the proud father of his first born, then his second, then his third, then me. I saw the pride as he worked at his school. I saw the pride he had when he worked in the fields. A rush of memories came flooding back.
Nothing could have prepared me for seeing my father laid to rest. It’s not something one can prepare for or even fathom. I only had my iphone on me to snap a picture of the American Flag being presented to my mother. It was such an emotional time, I was glad I could capture it quietly.
I guess the reason I wrote this post is two fold really. I wanted to first and foremost grieve. I wanted to tell someone my father’s story. Secondly, I wanted people to understand how important it is to get images off your hard drives, your phones, your cds and dvds. You never know how important an image is until you lose someone important to you. Most times the photograph is all you have left of them. I have over 200 images I will be printing through Adoramapix. I am ordering regular prints and metal prints as well as putting together a photo book. I am helping my brothers and sister grieve and my mother. I am making sure my children remember their PaPa with these images. Most importantly, I have something tangible to hold on to with my father’s memory attached to it. A print is more than paper and ink, it’s memories, it’s sadness, it’s happiness, it’s love. It’s all these emotions and so much more. Because in the end, this life is temporary but we can preserve glimpses of a beautiful life through pictures and photo books.
Maternity photography has really gained in popularity through the last few years. Photographers are getting more and more creative with women and their baby bumps. It’s fantastic to see so much brightness and life in this new wave of photography. However, with any specialty there are always a few things to keep in mind when starting out.
1. The Time is Right
It’s hard to say when the exact right time to photograph a pregnant woman would be, but in most cases 7 months is the ideal month. This is usually when the baby has dropped a bit in the tummy and when moms are still relatively comfortable in moving their bodies. If you wait until after the 7 months, sometimes it can be uncomfortable for the mothers, plus they have a lot on their plate the closer they get to their due date. As a photographer, you’ll also want enough time to edit and print these images before the baby arrives. This should be plenty of time for your client to order images and share them before the wee one enters the world.
2. Preparation is Key
Maternity photography should be treated just like modeling or head shot photography. Have your client come prepared. Moms should make sure their nails are groomed and you might even suggest having the moms have their hair and makeup professionally done. It’s a little bit of pampering but it goes a long way in making the clients feel great about themselves. Have a candid discussion with your client regarding what to bring and make sure they bring water, snacks and a robe (for in between shoots) so they can feel as comfortable as possible. Also, remind them not to wear anything too confining around the belly before the session (like elastic pants). This can often leave marks on the tummy in which you’ll have to photoshop out later. So save yourself some time with this little tip.
3. Try New Angles
Ok, so you’ve done the traditional photo of mom standing up with her hands on her belly, now what? With maternity photography, it’s important to get the best angles and lighting as possible for the expecting moms. Try shooting from above. This is a great angle as it is almost always flattering . At this position, you can focus on her bright eyes or her hands on her belly. She can be looking straight at you or down at her bump. Any of these combinations will work as this angle is flattering and slimming to the face.
4. Get Creative
Think outside the box and get creative. What I love most about today’s maternity photography is the abstracts. I love the focus on the belly and flowers. Or maybe the feet are in focus and the tummy is out of focus. Or you can be clever in announcing the sex of the child by including elements to give clues. Try a pair of boy’s baby shoes in the photo or maybe fill the room with pink balloons. It’s fun to get creative and your client will have fun as well.
5. Get Loved Ones Involved
It’s not just mom who is excited about the arrival of the baby, it’s the dad, the partner, the pets, the siblings, the grandparents, the aunts, the uncles, you name it, everyone is anxiously waiting. So now is the time to capture their excitement too and include them in the maternity photo shoot. Dads and partners can come in and wrap their arms around the mom. Siblings can come in get up and close to mom’s belly. Finally, let Fido in on the action too, he’s a part of the family too and his life is about to get a whole lot better with more table scraps coming his way in a few years.
The important key to remember with any of this is to always make sure your client is comfortable. Keep relaxed but take this seriously. Your clients will love the extra attention and details you give them. Photographers are family historians and this is one of the most important jobs in the world.
Today is Mother’s Day. It’s no surprise, it comes every year. So why was I surprised, when I was looking through my photos that I could not find one of myself with my children from the past year either on my phone, camera or in print by Adoramapix? Yes, I had let a whole year slip away without one picture of me with both my kids.
When I was talking with member Natascha Lee of Natascha Lee Studios out of Colorado, we talked about not only photographer moms not getting in the pictures, but our clients as well were just wanting the kids in the photos. These are such wasted opportunities. Natascha Lee wrote a sweet article on encouraging moms to get into the picture.
Those who have spoken with me know that I am pretty passionate about photographing moms and dads with their children; not just the children alone but children with their parents as well! How else can you truly capture the love and special connection of a family?
When I get a push back on this (“Oh no, I don’t want to be in the photos — just the kids”), I ask:
What is *your* most cherished childhood photo?
Is it the one of you smiling big on your first day of school? The one where you are holding up your Christmas gift? The one where you are sleeping on the beach? Or is it the one, that includes your parents, playing with you, holding you, just being themselves?
For most of us, our most cherished images include our parents, and show the love we felt for each other. They might not be technically perfect but they are real and they are precious.
I worry that mothers are taking hundreds (thousands?) of images of their kids, and not including themselves in hardly any of them! I want to encourage all those moms who take tons of snapshots of their kids, to make sure that they themselves are in at least some of them.
It’s not hard I promise! Have your spouse or partner take a turn with the camera/phone, ask another parent to snap a few or hold the camera or phone out the way you do when you take pix with your bestie.
That photo where your hair wasn’t perfect but you were having a snow fight with your kids? Or the ones where your smile is a little lopsided and you are still in your pjs cuddling with your kids on the couch? That’ll probably be their favorite.
Thank you Natascha Lee, an important reminder to parents. By the way, I did find a picture of myself and my son together. This is how he sees me and I love it.
Happy Muvrs Day!