Welcome to our first Q&A with children’s photographer Valerie Tabor Smith. This section will contain interviews of parents who are involved in children’s entertainment, be it music, TV, film, publishing, photography, internet and more. We’ll also be highlighting parents who make a difference in their communities by focusing on their special talents plus how they balance a career and family life.
Valerie Tabor Smith is internationally known and her images grace the face of many types of products. Valerie takes precious images of babies as fairies, angels and petals set against vibrant and uplifting backdrops. Beautiful images that make you smile! Visit www.valerietaborsmith.com and follow her on twitter @valeriesviews and facebook.com.
How long have you been a professional photographer?
20 years or so.
Can you tell us about your training and experience?
I follow my inspiration. My heart. Whenever I want to learn a new technique I research it and practice it until I feel comfortable. I have read hundreds of books and been guided by many photographers along the way. For me it is the best way to learn. But the true training for any artist is not the technique but the life that flows through your abilities. Children are my greatest teachers in life because they show me how to be in a state of openness. They show me how to be an authentic human being with my heart open.
What is your technique on how to capture spontaneous and memorable photos of children?
Plan ahead and then go with the flow at the photo session. Depending on the age of the child I am always prepared with toys, bubbles, flowers, props, music, etc. For toddlers I may let them see me put cheerios in a box and then photograph them opening the box, reaching in, etc. Toddlers are easy to get natural expressions but a challenge to keep in focus long enough to get their picture. Almost always the best pictures from a baby or toddler come at the beginning of the photo session. Older children will follow direction better but they are also self aware and it may take awhile to just draw them out and allow them to get used to you before you get really authentic pictures. With babies I often have a them in mind ahead of time.
What’s your favorite part about being a photographer?
Taking the pictures. I agree with Annie Liebowitz who said something to the effect that photography is 90% preparation. And it is true that as a photographer most of my time is spent preparing, planning and post production.
Are you a parent? And does your child like to be photographed?
Yes! Our son may hold the record for being on the most greeting cards and calendars. He’s older now and still doesn’t seem to mind being photographed and also enjoys photography behind the camera as well.
What makes you different from other photographers?
I create experiences. The photography is secondary. I want everyone in front of my camera to have a great time! I believe that children are amazing, miraculous beings and I am humbled by them. Children sense when you want something from them. If in my mind I am thinking I want to take a good picture of this child I probably will not get it. It might be technically great but I did not succeed if I did not create an emotional space where a child was comfortable to open up and be themselves.
Can you share one tip to great pictures?
If you have children ALWAYS HAVE A CAMERA!! Buy a few “cheap” cameras and have them in every room in your house. LIFE HAPPENS!! As a parent you are soooo lucky and blessed to be witness to it. Make it easy to grab a camera and take a spontaneous moment. If you want to have an expensive camera that you keep shut away in a camera bag, fine. But your camera is not your treasure! Your life is. When those moments come – don’t think – just shoot!
Do you have any upcoming projects you can share with us?
Many! Including a daily inspirational email for parents. New magical pictures of babies and toddlers for my greeting cards, calendars, etc. which I have to keep secret for a bit longer. But I am most excited about the “PORTRAIT EVENTS” I will be doing 4 times a year. They will be to benefit a charity and each event will have a theme and will be limited to three days of shooting. The pictures will be amazing and beautiful and an opportunity for parents to have images of their children that are both beautiful and real.
How do you define beauty?
Whatever opens your heart up!
What do you look for in Valerie Tabor Smith models?
A sparkle in the eye mostly. I love to photograph babies with chubby faces and bodies or an unusual look or expression. But whatever it is that makes a good model is the ability to communicate visually. It is hard to put a definition on that.
Was it easy balancing your career and being a mom?
It was not easy but I found ways that worked for me. I put most of my time in on my husbands days off. That way one of us was always with our child when he was very young.
Valerie Tabor Smith is offering a backpack prize pack to two lucky thatsITmommy readers. Each set includes a backpack, wallet, drawstring bag, tote and more! These bags are exclusive items from her Italian Lifestyle collection. One set is blue, the other pink. TWO lucky winners will be randomly chosen from valid entries (winner’s do not have a color choice).
MANDATORY MAIN ENTRY – Visit www.valerietaborsmith.com and tell us what you like about her images.
Come back here and leave a comment in the reply box below this post.
(Remember if this MAIN ENTRY RULE is not followed then no other entries will count)
EXTRA ENTRIES – You can earn more entries – Please leave each extra entry in a SEPARATE comment.
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This giveaway will run through midnight on March 8, 2010 (PST) with winner being announced March 9, 2010 (PST). Winner will be chosen using Random.org from all valid entries and notified via email. Winner will have 48 hours to contact us before another winner is chosen. Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.