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Images copyright Gilmar Smith. All rights reserved.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Half the fun of photography is looking at great images, but the other half is the fun of getting to know the artists who create them!
When I started working with Platypod last September, I had no idea what to expect. I knew Platypod products were used by many of my good friends; I'd heard Scott Kelby talk about them on The Grid. My buddy and LUMIX Ambassador, Shiv Verma always has a Platypod Ultra and Max in his camera bag. A good pal and wedding artist, Bob Davis has a signature shot he loves from the floor just before the ceremony starts, and the list goes on and on...but I had never met Gilmar Smith.
As a member of the Platypod team, her primary focus is on social media. She's always sharing images and great content on Instagram, but her love for photography goes so much deeper. She's incredibly talented, not just as an expert in image manipulation, but as a children and family photographer.
I had no idea what to expect when I asked her about doing a guest post for SCU, but she exceeded expectations! Her post below is a perfect example of her passion for the craft, her family, and her clients. She redefines the meaning of the word "FUN."
She sent me at least a dozen images to share. I chose the Platypod image first for obvious reasons, but then pulled a mix of client portraits and her own family. As you think about the work you've captured and created for your clients, ask yourself one question, "Have I exceeded their expectations and made myself habit-forming?"
Gilmar never disappoints and has brought the best of technology into her skillset and combined with it her never-ending quest for creativity and fun. And it brings her clients back, over and over again!
Check out more of Gilmar's work with a visit to her website, and follow her on Instagram and Facebook too.
by Gilmar Smith
Photographing kids is one of the most challenging things ever, but sometimes it is not even kids who make these photoshoots challenging. It's the pressure and expectations of the parents. Everybody has this idea of having a perfect family portrait where everyone looks their best with huge smiles and a perfect pose. That, to be honest, is pretty unrealistic. Every family has different dynamics; every member of the family has a distinct personality, likes, and dislikes. To me, that's the most beautiful thing about families, that regarding our differences, we are meant to be together and love each other unconditionally amid chaos. That is what should be portrayed in family pictures.
If you look at a perfect family portrait on Pinterest, chances are that at least one of the faces of the member of the family was swapped from another picture. Unless you as a photographer, get really lucky and got everybody to give you your best in one shot, including a toddler and a five months old baby! If that's the case, CONGRATULATIONS!
As a parent myself, and photographer, I have witnessed it all, bribing, threating, crying kids, mom losing her marbles, dad uninterested and annoyed. It's a lot! Not to mention the time and money spent on buying new clothes for the Photoshoot. Then people hang those pictures on the wall that pretty much remind them of all the stress they went through. But heck, they are all smiling!
As a photographer, I find all that process ridiculous. I understand we all want to have beautiful memories of our families, but to me, it is extremely important to connect in a positive way to the images we hang in our walls.
That's why I approach my photoshoots differently.
Don't get me wrong; this is not something I came up out of nowhere. It is actually a technique that I developed with my kids, especially my son, and now I use it with my clients.
My son was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism when he was almost four years old. At about that same time I got a camera and started experimenting with photography. Obviously, I wanted to take amazing pictures of my son, but he wasn't interested at all; in fact, he was irritated by me trying to take his picture. So, I started using storytelling as a way to get him interested in getting his picture taken.
We would sketch a story, and then with the use of costumes, props, and the magic of photoshop, we would recreate our story. I noticed that by doing this, he was getting so interested, and he was enjoying being in front of the camera. He was also letting me into his world. Making these images together became our thing. As time passed, he started coming to me with concepts we could photograph, and that completely changed my approach to photography.
By photographing kids the way I do, I'm not only making the process a lot more pleasant and enjoyable for the kids (and the parents), but I'm also giving kids a way to express themselves and use the magic of imagination. And that's the best part of being a child!
This technique also works when photographing the whole family. Think about putting together everybody's personality in just one image!
I offer to create an image that really portraits their life as a family right now, that when they look at it in a few years, they can laugh and really see what everyone was like at that specific moment.
So how do I do it? I quickly explain my approach to my clients and show them a few examples of my work.
Then I go ahead and ask the kid's age, interests, mom and dad's hobbies, and what they do in their free time as a family.
With that information, I come up with different concepts and even create a mood board and sketch something for/with them. If you make sure to incorporate something that reflects the kids' personality in the shoot, such as a prop, toy, something they like to do, you are guaranteed that they will be more than happy to be in front of the camera, and most importantly, they will be willing to do it again!
One of Gilmar's favorite creative tools when it comes to hardware is thanks to Platypod. Check out their current Black Friday promotions, only available while supplies last. Click on any bundle below for more information.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.