Freelance writer, mum of two who loves living in sunny Perth.
Published October 1st 2012
Capturing a baby's first looks, first smile and first steps is something all parents want to do; with many choosing to go down the professional route to commit these beautiful memories to print (or disc, which seems the latest norm). Certainly, I've noticed an increase in the number of professional (or purported professional) photographers on the scene in Perth; not least the number of pop-up photo stalls that I'm sure only exist to mob new mothers in shopping malls, with particular focus on the sleep deprived, hormone weary, easy-to-guilt-trip new mums. Having been propositioned by a number of these photographers, I've not been a fan of their heavy sales technique or the associated cost. After looking at alternatives, my own personal experience led me to use Anja McDonald Photography and it's about this experience that I will gush, ahem I mean review.
I chose Anja McDonald Photography after reviewing her website and portfolio. What I loved is how no two children seem to be photographed in the same way; even the newborns who are so often generically posed appeared to have shoots designed around them. This was what I was after, a personalised shoot that would capture my little family and our cheeky little boy, Xander.
Easy family shots, captured with care
We opted for an outdoor shoot at the beautiful Yanchep park, and discussed at length with Anja, the type of shoot we wanted; casual, un-posed, natural. This is exactly what we got. A shoot with Anja was like a family outing with a (highly qualified and professional photographer) friend just capturing the event. Most of the time we just played with Xander and he just did his normal antics of chasing ducks, kissing trees and playing peekaboo, all captured under the expert eye of our photographer. This suited my husband perfectly too; he'd already given a caveat that he'd not be participating in any ridiculous jumping in the air or posed pictures, so he loved the relaxed carefree vibe of the shoot.
Yanchep National Park created a stunning backdrop to our day
For me, choosing this type of photo shoot was perfect. I hate photos of me; I dislike being in front of the camera but this was a very different experience. I didn't feel on show or fake. I just felt like myself, with my son and hubby. Choosing an outdoor shoot also worked well for my son as had I been in a studio I think I would have felt the pressure for Xander to smile, work the camera etc. Instead I just let Anja work her magic (I swear this lady is a child whisperer) as I watched as she coaxed smiles, giggles and cheekiness from my son, and the photos are a testament to this. I honestly couldn't be more pleased.
Real not posed family cuddles, caught on camera by our ninja photographer
Unlike those shopping mall shoots, which churn out a shoot in twenty minutes, Anja set no time limit on our shoot and as a result, we never felt hurried. Anja's particular speciality for her shoots is to try to keep the photos and poses used specific to the personalities and 'flavour' of the family. In our case, understanding Xander's curiousity and cheeky nature, she'd designed a hot air balloon element for our little guy, which I thought would have been fantastic. However, on this occasion Xander decided he was not getting into the hot air balloon basket, no way, Jose. After much cajoling, Anja turned this situation around and we got lots of lovely shots of Xander chasing his balloons all over the park instead.
You can even have fun on a photoshoot
What I have learnt from the process of having our family photographs taken and choosing a family photographer is: 1) Ask your friends for recommendations 2) Before you book any photographer, ask them lots of questions; what are their qualifications, how much experience do they have?
3) Find out what the price includes. A good offer is when you get all the images on a disc (no expensive printing costs). Will the price include editing? How many photos will you get? 4) What is their work like? Ask for examples of their work. When looking at their work, you want to see a variety of poses for different families. Beware of when a photographer just uses the same pose over and over and over again. This can highlight lack of experience and technique (and imagination)
5) Ensure you find a photographer who wants to work with you to create the perfect shoot. You're paying for a personalised experience, not a generic offering.
Smiles came very easily
I'd love to say that I'm sharing a secret gem of information with you, and that no one knows about this fantastic photographer. Alas, I'm afraid that she's getting mighty popular and you do need ot book ahead. I think being awarded the 2012 AAPP (Australian Accredited Professional Photography) WA Portrait Photographer of the year might have spread the word.
All images kindly supplied by Anja McDonald photography