Capturing the End of a Chapter

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As a photographer, and an expat myself, it is my heart to capture my client’s stories for them to share with their loved ones far away and memorialize them as they were at this time, in this place. For those back home, they will get a sense of the setting and how much kids have grown.  For the families it will be how they remind their children of where they have been and reminisce about friends and experiences they made while they were there.

This is exactly what my friend, Mel, wanted when she asked me photograph her children before they moved this past summer. She had her older two photographed before they moved to Israel, and now they were closing their chapter here as a family of five.

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About a year ago my husband was flying solo at an event and met this lovely Australian couple. He came home and told me all about them and that I would really dig her. He was super impressed with her braving the summer heat of the Israel in her third trimester. He was so right, Mel is is one brave, kind, and fun-loving gal. Her laugh is infectious and she is always willing to help anyone in need. Needless to say I was honored to do the session.

Location: Herzliya Beach, Tel Aviv, Israel

Date and time: June 8:00am

Weather: Bright & Sunny

The spot I chose has this great garden and rock formation before you walk all way to the sea. It has since become one of my favorite spots. It is perfect for getting some extra texture and colors, in addition to the tans of sand and the blues of the sea. Not to mention, kids cannot help but be the pulled to the waves and play with the sand, so starting on grass is helpful. The shots we captured here are some of my favorites, the sibling love is overwhelmingly adorable!

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Often times when shooting children I use the goofball technique to help them let their guard down, but another way to do this is by using props. I suggest the kids bring any special toys we could photograph with them, putting them at ease as well as capturing the memory of the toy. Mel’s gorgeous littles each brought their most treasured stuffed animals, which are really special because these stuffies are “tragedy teds” received during hospitalizations and they can’t be replaced by look alikes! I was told they are not allowed to travel with them because if they lost them it would be forever. Gah, are they the sweetest!

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Once we made it to the sand and most of the posing was over, the real fun began for all of us. I encouraged them to jump, do cartwheels, play in the sand, and simply let them be kids.

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Overall, I adore this session on so many levels: the colors, their coordinated outfits, getting to bond with each of them separately and truly seeing each personality, and above all the sibling love!

I am so grateful when I walk away from sessions like this when I feel inspired and impassioned – knowing that one day they will look at these images to remember their life here fondly. That one day came a few months ago when I awoke to whatsapp’s from Australia with photos of new canvases mounted, and my heart swelled! This is why I do what I do. These are the clients remind me of that! Thank you Mel!!

Lesson learned: Our session was the first day of summer vacation so I had my oldest home with me as my “assistant.” Little lesson learned here, even if your client is super cool with your kiddo being there (and Mel was), for me, it is distracting. Maybe when he his older he can join me as a second shooter, but I will wait a few years. On the flip side it is fun for him to see what I do and hear him tell people that his mom takes “really good pictures.”

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We have about 18 months before the DeeGees close our Israel chapter and I can hardly believe it! If you are in Tel Aviv area and want to capture your family’s time here I would love to chat!

Cheers mates,

kdg

PS Tutorial: Blemish Removal Technique

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There are so many ways to edit (and play) in Photoshop, it’s one of the many things we love about the program. Even Lindy-Ann and I we have different go-to techniques and tools we use to accomplish the same tasks. Oh, and don’t get me started on why everyone should use shortcuts, ha! Anyways, today’s #TutorialTuesday video is demoing a great technique I picked up several months ago, and use all the time, for removing blemishes without getting rid the details of a person’s face, like freckles and laugh lines.

We hope you enjoy adding this new trick to add to your bag!

Cheers,

kdg

 

Celebrating seven years

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On May 14th, 2010, I became a mom. Our oldest son came into this world as the first (great) grandson on both sides of our family and the first of the next generation in our friends group. There is no doubt he is abundantly loved. In his short life he has lived in 3 countries and traveled to 7 others. He is clever, compassionate, kind, extroverted, and he has a great sense of humor.

Inspired by Lindy-Ann’s post about capturing kids parties, I thought it would be fun to feature his SEVEN birthday parties.

Every year, we (him included) choose a theme for his birthday and we go for it, I mean all in. This year we are treading on new territory with our first drop-off party (eek) and his theme of choice: disco water party, ha!

First, Second, & Third birthdays – Virginia, USA

For the first three years we were stateside and I was blessed to be able to throw these fantastic parties with the help of my girls. My friend Joy is an amazing cake artist and a my girl Melissa really knows how to execute a plan! Each year the theme was consistent throughout the party: invite, cake, and activities. It made the parties delicious, colorful, and fun!

Conditions – Outdoor at a park with a pavilion – both shade and full sun

Prep – These early parties taught me to pack camera, extra batteries, and SD cards the night before all events and shoots.

Lesson learned – Each year something would go wrong, but I learned (still learning) that, if I roll with it, it might turn out better than I planned. Also, high Shutter Speeds are crucial when capturing kids!

The Hungry Caterpillar

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Cars (the movie)

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Pirates

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Fourth & Fifth birthday – Kuwait

Our Kuwait village really stepped up to make these two parties really special, including baking cakes and cupcakes, as I am not a baker.

Conditions – May in Kuwait is hot! Both parties were indoors at our flat. In addition to natural light from the windows and artificial lights, an angled flash was needed at times.

Prep – Opened all the curtains and had extra batteries on hand. The backdrop was positioned out of the way of the flow of the party and opposite a window to get as much natural light as possible.

Lesson learned – Work with your space and conditions as best you can with a flash and high ISO and then adjust lighting in post production as needed.

Planes (the movie)

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The Lego Movie

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Sixth birthday – Virginia, USA

It was such a treat to celebrate stateside again! Our venue changed from our favorite park to Joy’s house in hopes of pool party. Those were dashed when we woke up to temperatures in the low 60s. We made the most of it though and had a fantastic time with the space for the pinata, scavenger hunt, and Jedi training!

Conditions – Outdoors, windy, and sunny

Prep – Back up batteries and SD card.

Lesson learned – Duct tape doesn’t always work, especially with fabric backdrops, try hot glue guns or staple guns and clamps for fabric backdrops. Again, be ready for anything, especially the weather.

Star Wars

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Seventh birthday – Tel Aviv, Israel

Our first drop-off party was a success! We may have been exhausted afterward, but the birthday boy said it was an “awesome party” and the decorations were “lovely.” Worth it!

Conditions – Outdoors in harsh midday lighting

Prep – formatted SD card

Lesson learned – Pulling the images together I realized that my biggest lesson learned is that with only the two of us we weren’t able to get a family shot this time. A tripod at the ready would have been helpful or of course a selfie would work too, ha!

Disco Water –

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In the end, it is fun to see how much we both have grown over the years. My precious baby really is a big kid now and I’m happy to say my skills have evolved. I can’t wait to see what EIGHT looks like for us!

We’d love to hear from you, please share your most memorable birthday party themes in the comments!

Cheers,

kdg

PS – I had to share my favorite shots of Lindy-Ann from the Lego party. Everything is indeed AWESOME! 

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Capturing the Cunhas

View More: http://dgdesignsphotography.pass.us/cunha-family

When I reflect on my experience photographing Lindy-Ann and her monkeys, I feel privileged to be their photographer and a part of their family. I was a bit intimidated going into our first session, but Lindy-Ann’s confidence in my skills calmed and encouraged me. To be honest, I still call her for a dose of encouragement and truth weekly! I am so thankful to have her in my life.

We had two very different photography sessions together before I left Kuwait and it is so fun to see how much can change in a year, especially with kids.

{Cunha Family Session 1}

Location: Al-Corniche Club, Kuwait City

Date and time: November, 2014. 8:30am

Weather: Bright & Sunny

Although this was one of my earlier sessions, I am still very proud of these images. Capturing the love in their interactions was a thrill. One of my most favorite shots of the whole session is when her three little monkeys are laughing at their dad behind me, they couldn’t help but glow with pure joy.

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Since I had the gift a knowledgeable client, I took advantage of it and debriefed with Lindy-Ann after our session. We shared our thoughts from the experience on both sides of the camera and it has helped me be a better photographer. It takes a lot to trust and be vulnerable with someone, but if you find the right client I suggest getting their feedback, it will help you grow.

One of the main things we both learned was that to capture bubbles you need a good deal of contrast in background. A bright beach morning with kids in white made our bubbles hard to see. The next time you are hoping to photograph a delightful little bubble scene, be sure there is enough contrast or color on location and your shutter speed is high enough to balance stopping motion and allowing in the right amount of light in.

{Cunha Family Session 1}

Location: Scientific Center Boardwalk, Kuwait City

Date and time: November, 2015. 8:30am

Weather: Sunny & Windy

For our second session we had a rocky start, because our location of choice, Al Shaheed Park in downtown Kuwait, was sadly closed on Friday mornings and we hadn’t checked before we met there. Standing outside the gate we came up with a Plan B and moved our shoot to the Marina Crescent. This threw ALL of us a off a bit. I was unable to use my plan for the shoot and a chunk of our time was lost. All that said, we had a fantastic time and it was a completely different feel from our first session.

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The lesson here was to always double check your location’s opening hours as well as restrictions, as some parks and monuments have photography restrictions, including Al Shaheed. Another important note is you should always do a recce, or reconnaissance, tour before meeting your client there, so you know what you are working with.

Each session brings it’s own unique circumstances and situations no matter how many times you have used a location, prop, or pose. The important thing to remember is to approach each one with an open heart, because you never know when a client will become a lifelong friend, or in our case partner.

Cheers,

kdg