Freezing Time - by Swetman Photography

TAKE NOTES :: priceless tiny tidbits {guest blogger series}
I'm elated to have a cherished childhood friend be the guinea pig for the first of many guest bloggers.  Katherine and I met in the 3rd grade and have one way or another stayed in touch through life.  She is beautiful, full of grace and has a timeless sense of style that carries over into her priceless photographs.  i am honored to call her a friend and to have had her capture treasures of my own children that grace my walls today......just thankful our listening walls from high school were sworn to secrecy!  

thank you katherine, i love you dearly!

I have a photo of my 3-year-old on the wall in my bathroom and every day it looks less and less like him. His cheeks aren’t as chubby and his long eyelashes don’t lay on them like they used to – particularly when they’re thick with tears after he throws a temper tantrum like he did right before I took that photo (thankfully, those are less frequent lately too). My boys are growing so very fast; sometimes I feel like they’re completely different kids from one day to the next, and I treasure that image more every single time I look at it.

As a mom first and a professional photographer second, my husband likes to tease me that I’ve got the business plan for Swetman Photography a little backwards. While I may never make millions as a children’s photographer, I get so much satisfaction from knowing that my images are on the walls in other people’s homes, freezing time for other moms and helping them capture those precious faces that are little for such a short time.

I thought I’d share some ideas to preserve memories of your babies; these are simple ways to customize a photo shoot and make it your own. I wrote this from my perspective as a professional photographer, but it’s easily applicable to anyone you hire to capture your family’s images – or if you just want to grab a few shots yourself.

help me Know your babies

In my opinion, it’s hard to capture the essence of a child I know absolutely nothing about. I like to feel somewhat acquainted with my clients prior to our shoot. If we’ve never met before, I’ll need a little help from you; tell me about your children, describe their personalities to me, help me envision their dispositions and your favorite of their facial features, prepare me for how they interact and get along (or don’t get along!) together. Typically we can do this over the phone, but I’ve even met a few of my shier little friends at the park for a playdate with my own kids. It’s a great way for me to disarm them and hopefully get them a little excited about our next ‘playdate’ (your shoot!).

In spending just a bit of time talking about or observing your kids, I can start to get an idea of how to approach the session and what we can expect in terms of expression. I try to put myself in your shoes and look at them through your eyes – chubby cheeks, big brown eyes, that sneaky grin – my goal is to capture aspects of those sweet personalities that are so fleeting and so precious to a mother.

Begin with the end in mind

How will you use these shots? Are you looking for a wall portrait or smaller framed prints?  Where will these images be displayed in your home?

If you’re looking for an image to go in a formal dining room, then consider heirloom clothing, classic styles, and muted color palates. A shot to go in a casual playroom warrants colorful, comfortable clothes your children are happiest in.

If you’re hoping to use your photos in a Christmas card or other communication – designed by Ruff Draft Papers, of course ;) – pay particular attention to color choices and color coordination among family members. I’ve noticed Emily pays particular homage to clothing and has a great eye for color palates. She’ll likely incorporate some of your color choices into her design, which is a good thing to keep in mind from the start.

Finally, it’s helpful to communicate all of this information to your photographer in advance, so we can help you choose a location that will best compliment your plans for the end result.

Make it ‘yours’

I’m not a big fan of props. There, I said it. I know this isn’t a popular sentiment in this Pinterest-fueled world of styled photoshoots featuring unicorns, lemonade stands, or pumpkin patches. Don’t get me wrong, I think those are adorable - I’ve actually booked a ‘bunnies and chicks’ session for own my kids with a photographer in Gulfport next month - but remember, my main goal is to freeze time for you and capture the essence of your child at this exact stage of life. I don’t want anything distracting from that cheeky grin, those big blue eyes, or two chunky legs taking their first few steps.

That said, I absolutely adore it when a client brings me something special to incorporate into a shoot. I once shot a tea party of three sisters ‘sipping’ from their grandmother’s china tea set. One of my favorite newborn shoots was of a baby seven-days-fresh tightly clutching his great-grandfather’s pocket watch. And just last week I shot a precious baby ballerina playing with her mom’s 20-year-old pointe shoes.

It’s these special heirloom-type items that can really make an image your own and take it to a whole different level for you. Every time you look at it, you’ll love not only that precious face, but the meaning behind it.

Katherine Swetman is a professional photographer in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Visit her website at , follow on Instagram at @SwetmanPhotography , on Facebook as "Swetman Photography", and Twitter at @SwetmanPhotog .