I believe the best way to start writing this post is by making a personal honest confession about my new absorbing job: among other ‘out of office’ activities, it involves a lot of researching, chatting and fun networking with mostly London mums and mums to be. It’s either an interview with a successful mumpreneur usually in a buzzing cafe where our toddlers run wild together (before a noisy fighting scene erupts over a silly soft toy!), a group pram pushing session up the hills of leafy Greenwich and splashy Hampstead, or an intriguing conference with the wittiest keynote mum speakers – not really the fancy Apple kind that come with posh colourful working lunches! On my conferences high heels and high tech gadgets don’t always mix smoothly together, but the presence of buggies is never frowned upon and sprinting babies are completely welcome as our professional ‘dates’, working from home and professional mums on the go.
So our today’s photography story begins with the chirpy spirit of cool photographer Ania who I recently met as she was looking for breastfeeding mothers to take part in one of her photography awesome projects. Fun young mum of two (extremely fit by the way, call me jealous much!) who confessed she had just moved to London with her little family, gave me the impression she’d been living here forever as she’s constantly suggesting unique charming (surprisingly un-touristy) places for highly inviting photography sessions. Not only that she is an accomplished photographer but a hard working Kettlebells instructor too and after I joined her in a few truly relaxed and merry photoshoots for a project she’s been so keen on (The Milky Way), I decided to get her to open up about her amazing work and share it with you mums, lovers of all beautiful things, who like to surprise the unexpected of motherhood and the very essence of your children’s childhood while reliving yours…
1. Why did you choose photography?
My adventure with photography had begun 13 years ago when my daughter was born. I wanted to capture every moment of her life. Initially, the shooting was my hobby, yet eventually it turned into a passion. I’m a self taught photographer. My journey involves a lot of reading, trial and error.
2. How would you describe your style?
My style of photography is not traditional. I love bright colors and deep blacks and whites and I have to mention I love fairy style photo sessions, therefore I think my creativity kicks in when it comes to this kind of sessions.
3. Which type of shots do you enjoy working on more?
I have been specializing in children’s photography. Children are incredibly grateful about the shooting. They are natural, sincere and full of emotion. However, these sessions are not the easiest. My favorite ones involve newborns (a side of photograhy that nowadays is extremely popular). I usually take newborns photos in their own environment. I bring all the equipment. Newborn sessions can last up to six hours. I found out that pictures of newborns make a great souvenir over the years, especially those in which we can see how fragile and tiny our child was…Parents nowadays need to adapt to the new reality, but new parents often have difficulty in finding a moment to rest and after a few months, it appears that there was no time to capture those wonderful new born moments. As their camera cannot cope with the right lighting in their home, they end up with phone photos only. So it is best to make an appointment for the session during the pregnancy.
4. What are the challenges in working with young models (new born, toddler, child models)?
Working with children is not easy. Children aged up to 3 are the most difficult models. They can not sit still and do not really want to listen to me or their parents. Therefore, in this age, the best for photo sessions are landscapes. The same is working with newborns as I previously mentioned. Most often it happens that the newborns behave differently on each photoshoot. Eternal sleepers suddenly can not fall asleep or vice versa. Most of the time the session is lulling, feeding and scrolling.
5. How do you bond with your subject? Is it always easy to make them engage and ease for the photoshoot?
First of all, a photographer should be very patient and always smiling. A smile can work wonders. During the session, I try to enter the children’s world. I have many ideas up my sleeve and try to get myself in their shoes, and this is how a truly successful session happens. They can not be forced to pose. The session has to be fun, during which we sing, we dance and we play, and my job is to capture those special moments.
6. Which are your top tips in family photography you’d like to share with mums?
First of all keep it natural and simple. Catching moments by surprise by surprise make the most beautiful pictures. Additionally, the best way is not to use artificial lighting. The perfect light is natural light. I use only the light from the windows, no flash.
7. Where do you take your inspiration from?
Most of my ideas are born in my mind in the least expected moments, eg. when jogging or riding a bus. If possible, I try to remember or write it down. I like to keep up with new trends in photography so I follow a few photographers, especially a few good ones from the United States. I constantly check on their blogs, fanpage or facebook. They are a huge inspiration to me.
8. How important is Photoshop in your final images?
I shoot in RAW format because then I have a great potential in editing the photos. I use lots of Photoshop functions but still I always add something from myself. I like to extract beautiful colors as well as deep black and white. Photoshop is a great tool for masking any imperfections. It takes about an hour to process one photo, not because it is not the best but because I would like to make it perfect.
9. What is the hardest part of your job?
10. Your figure is impeccable. You must tell us…How do you keep fit?
Staying fit is a great bonus to an enjoyable life and can lead to be a happier and healthier you. Not only you’d look and feel better but you decrease your chance of medical problems which is a thing we tend to neglect especially in our young years. I train a lot and eat healthy. I run three times a week to keep fit, I’m currently preparing for a marathon. I’m also SFG Kettlebell Instructor Level I. I train with weights three times a week. I love kettlebells and the effect they have had on my life.
11. How does a day of Ania’s busy motherhood, Kettlebell instructor and photographer life look like?
Good days, challenging days…My day begins early at 7 am while preparing my children for school and my husband for work :). After I take my youngest to school, followed by shopping, breakfast, some housework. If this is my running day then I go run. After that I go to scheduled photo shoots or work on the computer answering e-mails and photo processing; dinner preparation comes after, pick up my son from school, more computer work and finally evening workout with kettlebells. There are days when I have a lot of spare time and days when I do not have time to breath. Freelancer life! But good organisation is the key for me. Without a plan I can not function so I’m planning every single day and I’m very good in this.
12. You always look fresh and rested. How you’re a mum! Any beauty secrets you’d like to share with us?
There are a few things which work for me. I am a dreamer and this keeps my spirit happy day by day while I know it’s not easy when raising children considering the chaotic schedules mums usually have. Secondly keep active every day (skip the elevator in favour of getting the stairs when you can, take the kids for a walk or just go by yourself, let little children ride bicycles or tricycles while you jog behind. Get rid of any junk food and eat healthy (it is one of the most important components of a fit lifestyle. Drink a lot of water. Do not skip breakfast. last but not least, don’t let anyone bring you down, believe in yourself!
Anna is now taking bookings for her 30 minutes Christmas photography sessions which believe me, are the coolest way to work on your Christmas photo album and cards for these winter holidays. You can keep in touch and see more of her work on her Facebook page or:
Call for bookings: 07481101017
If thirsty for more creative fun ways to enjoy motherhood and its perks through photography, follow Allmumstalk Facebook page or you can get lots of colourful ideas from my Instagram #allmumstalk (I am an Instagram junkie!). Cool mums also tweet, so throw your tips at me if braver (#allmumstalkhere)