Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Inspiration Wednesdays: Henri Cartier Bresson

Rue Mouffetard, Paris, 1954 

With the announcement that the Museum of Modern Art is running an Henri Cartier-Bresson retrospective this Spring, I decided to take a new look at some of his work. His photos have strong shapes and playful composition - never more so than in his street photos of children.

Madrid, 1933 


One of the funnier recreations of a classic Cartier-Bresson shot; the entire set of Classics in Lego is worth a look.

Kids in the White House

No, I'm not calling for the summary replacement of all government officials by their far more adorable offspring (yet!). But it sure seems like the children of US presidents know how to enjoy the perks of the White House while still taking time to just be kids. Tonight is the first Obama State of the Union address and while I'm looking forward to watching it, I started thinking back to the various children who lived in the White House before Sasha & Malia moved in last year.


And while "Little Miss Tarkington" may not have been a resident of the White House, something about the determined face makes me believe she got her photo with Harding that day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Inspiration Wednesday: Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus with Doon (Double Self Portrait) - Diane Arbus 1945

One of my favorite photographers, Diane Arbus, is known for her photography of outsiders and misfits. But I always think back to her early self-portrait (above) of herself as a young mother with her daughter Doon. Knowing how her short life would end in suicide in 1971, it's hard to look at her so vulnerable and, I think, happy.

Child teasing another, N.Y.C. - Diane Arbus 1960, Credit: Fraenkel Gallery
Her early work, like this shot of 2 children on the sidewalk in New York City may lack her later formalism (stark lighting, eye level, straight on photos) but laid the groundwork of her career-long mission to humanize the strange and unlikely subjects or her photography.

From giants to little people, socialites to drag queens - and everyone in between - Arbus' portraits are known for her unflinching gaze. Her work featuring children inspires me because she treats them as she does adults by showing their individual personalities.

The famous shot of a young boy holding a toy hand grenade shows a gawky child grimacing at the camera. But a look at the contact sheet that day includes several emotions - happiness, mischief, boredom - Arbus' caught on the child's face.

And while sometimes imagining the inner workings of a child's mind can be unnerving, I think it's brave to give them the same respect as adults in portraiture.

The photo of the twins (inspiring Kubrick's twins in The Shining) shows how by getting down to the child's level Arbus treats the girls as equals to the viewer.

I come away from Arbus's photos wondering about the person's life after the portrait was taken. Diane Arbus succeeded where other art photographers failed by foregoing her own ego and letting the humanity of her subjects dominate. Sadly, she lost her own way.

Mother & child reu-u-uion & Winter special

Mom gives a kiss to Olivia and gets one back from Phoebe, the joys of twins - Kristin Burns

One thing new moms and photographers have in common is that they are rarely in their family photos. As someone who fits both descriptions, I don't have nearly enough photos of my daughter and I together. My husband took some of us this weekend and made me think of all the mother-child photos I've been taking lately.

Oliver knows Moms love snuggles between bouts of running wild - Kristin Burns

Sometimes my clients are nervous about getting in front of the camera, especially if they have just delivered a baby and don't feel their fittest. But looking back on the rare shots of myself when my daughter was a newborn, I don't notice the extra pudge around my middle or the bags under my eyes - OK maybe a little. I'm so happy to have those early days documented.

Older kids like Andrew might be the hardest to grab photos with on your own - Kristin Burns

If you need an extra reason to book a session with me soon, I am running a special for the rest of the winter.

Audrey demonstrates how to make her Mom laugh - Kristin Burns

Book your shoot for before March 21st and I'll include a FREE 8x10 print (value $20) with your order. Looking forward to a few more moms getting in front of the camera for once!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Celebrate the memory of Dr King today

Still more work to do, but how amazing is it that only a few years later this diverse group of children is reciting the words of Martin Luther King Jr. together today?

From the Washington Times via YouTube: Fourth graders from Watkins Elementary School
recite Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 speech at the Lincoln Memorial. January 17, 2010.

I've photographed children of all races in my work and love capturing the same curiosity and joy in their faces. The idea of segregation and prejudice are so foreign to me that it's shocking to hear people still spouting that nonsense today. What makes us different - especially as children! - is tiny compared to our similarities. Let's hope the babies I take photos of today will grow up in a future Dr. King would be proud to see.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Fun - Kids in WPA Art

 A poster showing two very bad children picking flowers: "Enjoy. Don't destroy." 
Created in 1936 or 1937 as part of the Ohio WPA Federal Art Project.

When the WPA was producing posters, they weren't only providing work for artists and bolstering the economy, they also focused on how everyone could help. From victory gardens to supporting the local library, there was something for kids too. Some more favorites:

Created by the Illinois WPA Art Project to promote the use of libraries by children, 
this poster shows a child in pajamas running through town at night. 
The poster was illustrated by Cleo Sara, c. 1940.

Titled "Once Upon a Time," this poster by illustrator Kenneth Whitley shows Little Red Riding Hood and a wolf. 
The poster was produced by the WPA Federal Art Project and published circa 1939. 

All illustrations and caption info found on Vintagraph - an amazing resource for artwork. They feature WPA posters and other vintage illustrations available in several sizes/prices for print. Makes cool nursery decor and gifts.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pantone color of 2010

Makes you picture the sea or a Blue Hawaiian, depending on your mood - Kristin Burns

A nice cheerful color this year for the brand new decade. Amazing how much it has already come up in my recent photo work.

 Sophie rocks turquoise stripes - Kristin Burns

Pantone has been pretty spot on for their Colors of the Year (2009, 2008) and with the lingering 80s influence, turquoise will be incorporated into fashion, home decor & product design.

 Julianne's blue eyes and turquise accent look terrific with pink - Kristin Burns

We used it as an accent color in my daughter's nursery when we designed it in 2008, which could mean we were ahead of the curve but more likely it's just a pretty, not-too-girly color that looks great with the ubiquitous pink we knew we've never truly avoid.

Emmet, ever ahead of the game - Kristin Burns

So get ready to see turquoise all over crib fabrics, mobiles and toys for both boys & girls in 2010. If you have a turquoise nursery, I'd love to photograph it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Inspiration Wednesdays: Dorothea Lange

Family of migrant potato pickers in Tulelake, Siskiyou County, California. September 1939. 
Photograph by Dorothea Lange.

This month I'm going to feature a photographer every Wednesday (last week doesn't count...) whose photos of children inspire me. They may not be known as baby photographers but the way these men and women capture the emotions of children is something I try to do in my own work.  Who better to start out with than Dorothea Lange.

November 1936. "American River camp, Sacramento, California. Destitute family. 
Five children, aged two to seventeen years." 
Medium-format nitrate negative by Dorothea Lange for the Resettlement Administration.

Lange is known for her portraits of migrant family life during the Great Depression. She manages to show the stark poverty they faced while not losing their individuality and humanity. While she is best known for the desperate faces of Dust Bowl farm families, she also wanted to document the love that sustained them when they'd lost everything else. Of course, the camps, work and food helped put a smile on these childrens' faces too - you can't eat love.

August 1939. Migratory children living in "Ramblers Park." They have lived 
on the road for three years. Nine children in the family. Yakima Valley, Washington. 
Photograph by Dorothea Lange.

What really inspires me is the timelessness of her portraits. I try to let the personality of each baby and child I photograph come through in their photos and focus on their expressions. While she was documenting an historic period to inform those lucky enough to have avoided the Dust Bowlers fate, she never loses sight of the fact that these aren't just educational devices but real kids trying to find fun where they can.

November 1938. "Migrant cotton picker's child who lives in a tent in the government camp 
instead of along the highway or in a ditch bank. Shafter Camp, California." 
Medium format nitrate negative by Dorothea Lange.

All photos and caption information from the amazing Shorpy. A great resource for archival photos, especially for prints.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bokeh - lighting up a grey January

The gorgeous Oliver & family, complete with glowing orbs of mystery behind them - Kristin Burns

You can't swing a dead cat around a design or photo blog without seeing something about bokeh lately. Wikipedia says the "term comes from the Japanese word boke (暈け or ボケ), which means "blur" or "haze" - all I know is it's pretty.

How to make Andrew, 14, even hipper? Bokeh behind his spiky hair - Kristin Burns

I really like bokeh lights and it turns out Christmas tree lights look pretty cool all blurry. I usd the effect in a few of my holiday portrait photo shoots last month and my clients all flocked to those particular shots.

Bokeh glows almost as much as Erin's smile - Kristin Burns

There are some products out there to help you make cool shaped bokeh. But I enjoyed Lifehacker's tutorial for do-it-yourselfers. Maybe some heart shaped bokeh for Valentine's Day shoots? I'm starting to book up for the upcoming weekends so call or email me soon for your baby or child to have a session too.

Friday, January 8, 2010

January Goals and Busy December review

 Buck up, chica, January isn't that bad! Diana 12.19.09 Kristin Burns

Last month was the end of Jena's Modish Biz Tips monthly meetup, but luckily Liz at Athena Dreams has picked up the reigns. Welcome to all the amazing Meetup group! I'm hoping for more of the encouragment and inspiration from everyone here! Please comment with your blog/site so I can check out your goals this month too.

Although my goals are a week late (due as much to enjoying my husband's winter break from his PhD studies as to my procrastination) I think they're still going to get done.

First a look back at my December goals:

1. Really enjoy the holiday season with my friends and family - Done, with gusto!
2. Have fun at the chaotic, busy but rewarding days of shoots - be they in-home, mini-sessions or, gasp, Santa - Done, never had a busier $$$-er month as a photographer
3. Purchase/order/make thoughtful gifts for my favorite people - I hope so
4. Taxes! - Pushed to this month to take advantage of a fabulous new accountant
5. Reach out to people I admire for more support & ideas - Some but not enough 

Feeling a bit unmotivated this month. I really think I would have been smart to schedule some of the 765846 December shoots in January instead but I was really trying to get everything done before the holidays so my clients would have photos to share with their families. Now I've lost some of the momentum that carried (or possibly drove along tidal wave style) me through December.

Enough griping, here's January's goals:

1. Update photo galleries with new work
2. Prepare for upcoming art fairs
3. Reach out to people I admire for more support & ideas, including adding a blog-roll here
4. Blog ahead more
5. Schedule 3 in home shoots

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Relax! I won't bite. Nina - Kristin Burns

Sometimes when I should be doing something a little more productive, I get caught up in Google Analytics. An amazing tool for tracking popular content on my websites and blog. Checking in to see pageviews and unique visitors? Great use of my time. But too easy too slip through the rabbit hole into maps and click overlays. Hours have been mysteriously lost.

One thing I've learned is that I have a lot of readers here. Hooray! But very few of you follow or comment. I know I'm guilty of the same thing since most blogs I follow through Google Reader instead.

So here's a no-judgment, come-on-out-of-the-woodwork post!

Your incentive? I'm working on a blog roll.  Comment with your website or blog link and I'll check it out and add it to the list. No blog of your own? Comment anyway to say Hi!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Not another New Year's Resolution Post

Instead, a look back. Sophie 12.19.09 Kristin Burns

Now not to get all mushy Christmas Letter, but 2009 was quite a year. I'm going to post my January goals in another post, but first a look back at the end of the aughts.

Luckily it's a mostly positive look back. I came through the first full year of motherhood relatively unscathed. We have a fabulous sitter that gave us a breather from the early days of relying solely on ourselves and our family. I loved most of my freelance photo editing jobs, including a wonderful 6 months at Reader's Digest. And most of all, my used-to-be-a-hobby baby photos turned into a business that let me balance it all while doing something creative and genuinely fun.

If I had a word for 2009 it would have to be "Yes." Join in an art fair? Take photos of a birthday party? A strings recital? Kids with Santa? Sure, why not?

It wasn't all hunky dory. I had one office gig that drove me to tears. Luckily (?) that ended when their funding ran out for me. I learned about it on what would be my last day in a meeting in front of 20 people who thought I already knew. P-p-p-p-pokerface, thank god!

Still, that brief project was at least well-paid and easily forgettable. I met so many amazing families through my photo work. I feel much more connected to our neighborhood. Our friendships - especially with my daughter's friends' families - are stronger. Our families expanded and got closer as the next generation spiced things up. My husband somehow managed to handle school/home/marriage/fatherhood and we actually got out on our own a bit more. And my daghter changed from a baby into a VERY independant toddler.Walking, talking, dancing, laughing, kissing - I can't count all the "firsts" 2009 brought us.

Still I'm excited to move on to 2010.