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Entries in brooklyn botanic garden (11)


What I learned from being in front of the camera at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Yesterday, Keith, Liam and I had our annual family photo session with my friend Katie of Katie Jane Photography. Keith is not a big fan of being photographed, so we've settled into having family photos once a year, with an additional "mommy and me" session each year too which works out well - he's happy to be off the hook for that session, and I get a little extra time in front of the camera with Liam, something I very rarely get.

Aside from the obvious personal value I place on having my own family photographed, it's also important to me for my business that I place myself in my client's shoes every so often, and it's always so interesting!

It's tiring being in front of the camera

One of the things I learned this time was, wow, it is TIRING being 7 months pregnant and responsible for corralling my reluctant husband and toddler so that we get out of the house and to the location on time and in a relatively happy and intact state… which then needs to be maintained throughout the session! Not to detract from the energy it takes to be the photographer, but I actually think it was more tiring being the mom, which I don't remember from previous sessions so I think it might be the "pregnant with a toddler" thing but still - I have a newfound respect for my clients!

Be very specific about your priorities

Something I've learned from being behind the camera is to talk very specifically with clients beforehand about what they are looking for and what their priorities are. This has been particularly important for my 30 minute High Line sessions where we don't have all the time in the world to capture the same kind of variety of images you can get from a longer session. As the photographer, I need to be very focused and efficient with the time I have so I can still capture what is most important to a family.

Based on my experience, I now have a "get to know you" survey for my clients, AND I talk with them in detail during our planning consultation about what they're looking for, ranking, for example, the importance of photos of the whole family with sibling photos, individual children's portraits, photos of each spouse with the child or children etc.

I also ask specifically about photos where everyone is smiling naturally and looking at the camera. For some families, this is very important, whereas others prefer more candid shots. Knowing this ahead of time lets me plan on how much energy I should spend in the session on this versus letting the family just hang out and interact more naturally.

For myself, as much as candids are my favorite to take and to have taken, I've found that I do want two or three with us all looking as well, so I was much more specific about this than I've ever been before.

Don't skip individual portraits of the children

Finally, many of my photosanity workshop participants turned portrait clients are starting to take really great individual portraits of their kids, but are still struggling with sibling photos, and of course rarely get the chance to be in photos with their family themselves, so their priorities are naturally on the latter.

However, I loved one of the few individual portraits Katie took of Liam at our summer session, even though of course I have a ton of photos of just him that I've taken myself. While there's something really special about a photo you take yourself of your child, it's also really interesting to see another photographer's perspective, plus if you're putting together a wall gallery or album from a session, you are most likely going to want to include individual portraits from the same session. Swapping in your own, no matter how many you have, is unlikely to work.

So, I now always make sure to take some individual portraits of each child in my sessions, even if that wasn't a priority for the family, and for the first time, I asked Katie to do the same. I absolutely love this photo she took of him amongst the leaves.

It pays to communicate clearly

Katie and I have exchanged enough sessions that we don't need to talk too much beforehand about what we're looking for, but I did take the time to put all this and more into an e-mail to her before our session, and I'm really glad I did because I felt like we were on exactly the same page as to what the goals of the session were, especially as I knew Keith and/or Liam's patience would give us limited time. As a result, I felt really good about how the session went and it from these three photos Katie has shared with us as a sneak peek, I can tell it paid off.

Turns out being a photographer has made me a better a client as well as vice versa!

Thank you so much Katie - we can't wait to see the rest!

See photos from our summer session with Katie!

nyc baby, child and family photographer & architect alethea cheng fitzpatrick is based in brooklyn. she specializes in baby photography as interior design & interior design for babies. view her portfolio of babies, children or families or send her an e-mail here!

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Exploring the Brooklyn Botanic Garden - NYC family photo session

Judith and Guerino had their wedding photos taken at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden so the place holds special meaning to them. They thought they'd like to take Elijah back there with them for some just-turning-one photos and I loved the idea!

So we got together on a beautiful spring day (we lucked out) in early April and we spent almost two hours roaming around the Magnolia Gardens, Japanese Gardens and the Cherry Esplanade.

I could tell from the moment I met Elijah at our planning session a couple of weeks before that he would be easy and fun to work with - you can see how good natured and laid back he is. We easily got tons of good family photos so I was able to spend some time letting him just do his thing while I snapped away - my favorite way to photograph kids.

By the time we got to the Cherry Esplanade, that lovely late afternoon sun was in play. One of the things I enjoy doing is finding angles that make it look like no one else in the world was around (when in reality it was a pretty crowded Saturday afternoon).

Judith, Guerino and Elijah, thank you so much for a great photo session. I can't wait to install your wall gallery!

You can see the full slideshow here.

If you're a friend of Judith, Guerino and Elijah, please leave a comment below wishing them well. You'll also help them win a complimentary 8x10 print if they get 25 comments, a mounted 11x14 print if they get 50 comments and a beautiful 10x10 canvas gallery wrap if they get 75 comments, all by May 9th, 2011! And don't forget to sign up for your be inspired mini artwork tasting experience to get a sampling of my artwork products for yourself...

nyc baby, child and family photographer & architect alethea cheng fitzpatrick is based in brooklyn. she specializes in baby photography as interior design & interior design for babies. view her portfolio of babies, children or families or send her an e-mail here!


Spring - enjoy it while you can!

So it seems to finally be spring in NYC... although I'm pretty sure that's going to last all of 2 seconds before we get into hard core summer! It's the big Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden this weekend. I was there on Friday and the cherry blossoms were PERFECT. They were in full bloom but none had started to drop yet and it was awesome. It was a bit of an impromptu visit with a friend so I didn't have my proper camera with me. I'm hoping the blossoms hold out until Monday or Tuesday when I can make a return visit and avoid some of the weekend crowds.

I did head up there last weekend though, with a tantrum-y toddler in tow. Liam had a rough week with a cold, cough and slight fever and was a little out of control as a result. I figured that if he were going to have a meltdown, he may as well have it somewhere pretty! He didn't disappoint, but it was still worth the visit, and I made sure I had my camera with me then. The cherry blossoms hadn't even begun to show yet but there were gorgeous blossoms elsewhere - these are a few of the photos I took.

I hope you're enjoying a beautiful spring weekend!

nyc baby, child and family photographer & architect alethea cheng fitzpatrick is based in brooklyn. she specializes in baby photography as interior design & interior design for babies. view her portfolio of babies, children or families or send her an e-mail here!


Chana of brooklyn Babybites and Move It Momma: interview and family photo session

When I first met Chana, at my first babybites Brooklyn new mom's luncheon with my seven week old babe-in-arms, literally, I found her instantly relatable. She was the mom that I hoped I would be - confident, passionate, engaged, smart, outspoken, down to earth, and with a strong sense of perspective, not to mention humor. When someone loves what they do, they create such positive energy, and now that I've met Chana's husband Ted and her two boys, Ben and Leo, I can see why - her family is so high-spirited and joyful, no wonder she gave up her career as a high-powered Wall Street lawyer to spend more time with her family and her two mom-related businesses, babybites Brooklyn and Move It Momma.

Chana and her family were so much fun to hang out with. Ben is five and Leo is three and Ben even managed to turn the tables on me...

I even let them both take some photos with my camera! Photography workshop for five year olds anyone?!

We met at Patrick Dougherty's sculpture "Natural History" at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens one gorgeous afternoon - Chana's idea, which I instantly loved.

We also chatted via e-mail about life, motherhood and business. If you aren't familiar with babybites Brooklyn I strongly suggest checking it out, especially if you're a new mom or dad. Chana IS babybites Brooklyn and a great resource to have in your life (she was a huge personal help to me during sleep training for example). I've been to many new moms luncheons and events on topics such as sleep, starting solids, developmental stages and even on starting your own business, and it was through babybites that I found my moms group.

I am excited to be working with Chana now on a babybites Brooklyn event of my own, the Baby and Me photo session and workshop on November 16th at the amazing 51st floor rooftop space at The Brooklyner, a new full service residential building and the tallest building in downtown Brooklyn. Chana and I visited the space a couple of weeks ago and it is amazing! I am looking forward to connecting with some new families, talking about and taking photos and having the chance to give back to the babybites Brooklyn community. Check the website for more info and to sign up for this event!

I have also been to some of Chana's Move It Momma stroller fitness sessions and I highly recommend trying them too - it's a great workout and Chana brings the same personal support and opportunity to connect as she does to babybites.

Here's my interview with Chana.

First, a little bit about yourself... where are you from, when did you come to Brooklyn/New York and why, and what has kept you here?

My name is Chana (pronounced "Ha-Na," or if you can swing the "Ch" sound, its "Ch" as in in"Chanukah" or "Challah"). I am a native New Yorker, grew up in Queens and spent 11 years on the UWS of Manhattan before finally finding Brooklyn as my home. When my first son was 16m old, we were priced out of the UWS, and crossed the bridge to find an affordable 2 BR apt. Having been a mommy in both boroughs, I can assuredly say that being a mom in Brooklyn is better. No offense to my Manhattan friends, but there's nothing quite like Brooklyn when it comes to the community feel. Its warmer here, and I'm not talking climate.

I know in your previous life you were a lawyer. Why did you leave the profession and do you think you'll ever go back?

Yes, crazy as it seems now, just three years ago, I was practicing law at a Wall Street firm, litigating with the big guys. Though that work paid the bills nicely, in the 10 years that I practiced, I never really found my work to be satisfying and I always knew that it was not the right fit. After the birth of my 2nd child, my desire to tap into my more creative side and to spend more time "mommying" led me to leave the firm and eventually start babybites Brooklyn. Much to my mother's dismay, at this point in time, I can't imagine going back to a corporate gig.

For those who don't know, what is babybites and why do you think it's important? How did you get involved and start babybites Brooklyn?

babybites is a company that provides support and community to moms in the form of live events as well via online resources. The company was started by Laura Deutsch in 2006, initially as just a new moms luncheon forum (hence, the name baby "bites"), where Laura brought together new moms in a restaurant, gave them a nice meal, brought in an expert speaker to discuss a topic relevant to new motherhood, and offered up some cool raffles. The moms learned something valuable, had fun, and most significantly, connected with other new moms and found a community where they could commiserate and share with others who were experiencing all the same life-altering stuff they were going through. Over the years, babybites grew and started hosting all different kinds of events --not just for new moms, but for moms of toddlers, and dads, and expectant parents -- basically anything and everything that could be useful or fun for parents with children ages 0-5. babybites is so important because being a new parent is rough stuff, and being a new mom in particular can be very isolating. babybites aims to make the process just a little bit easier.

My starting babybites Brooklyn was a product of good timing and a desire to do work that I felt passionate about. When I became a new mom in 2005, I was definitely one of those moms who was overwhelmed by how transformative the experience was, and how challenging. I knew that down the road, I wanted to do something relating to mommyhood, and more specifically, something to help make the experience of new mommyhood more empowering. Fast forward to 2008, I left my job, and Laura (whose husband played college lacrosse with my husband) approached me with the idea of starting babybites Brooklyn. Three years later, I have been working my tail off to create great events here in Brooklyn and provide moms with valuable resources and a community of support. No doubt, my favorite part of doing what I do is being a personal resource to my amazing Brooklyn moms.

How about Move It Momma? What's that about?

The two things I am probably most passionate about are mommyhood and fitness, so its no wonder that I would eventually start a business that allows me to combine these two passions. I was one of those women who was fit and active during adulthood, and then packed on about 60 pounds with each pregnancy, and had a really difficult time getting my body back after each baby. After my first son was born, I joined a stroller fitness class in Central Park, which helped me get my body back, not to mention my sanity. Not only did I lose the weight, I also found comfort in squatting, jumping and lunging alongside other new moms who were sleep deprived and experiencing exactly what I was going through. It was support and fitness all rolled into one.

Having successfully run babybites Brooklyn for over a year, I quickly learned that running a business was an ideal match for my personality and lifestyle, but I also wanted to build something that was all mine. Move It Momma was born. I have been running stroller fitness classes in Prospect Park 3x per week including over the weekend to accommodate my working mommas, and I am in the process of getting certified so that in addition to the stroller fitness, I can start offering in home packages (all while baby naps peacefully in the comfort of his or her crib). My moms who attend Move It Momma jokingly refer to my classes as "Learn & Burn" because not only do they get a seriously hardcore workout (think Jillian from the biggest loser, one of my personal role models), but they also get a supportive mom by their side who will walk them through napping schedules, starting solids, sleep issues, weaning, preschool name it...all while they tone their tush and find their core again. Its a win win.

What have you found to be the biggest challenges that new parents face?

There’s little that is not challenging. There’s the sleep deprivation, the isolation, the failure to be able to take a shower within a 24 hr period, the fact that you may want to harm your spouse. Lets face it -- those first few months in particular are rough. And then again, its all so worth it cuz’ there’s nothing like that little person in the crook of your shoulder.

What are some of your favorite tips for new parents?

My favorite tips are:

  1. Enjoy every minute because the cliché is so true – it does pass very quickly.
  2. Try as best you can to not sweat the small stuff. Think big picture. This too shall pass.
  3. New moms, try to get one nap in during the day when that baby sleeps. Just do it!
  4. Be nice to your partner. New dads – tell her how awesome and beautiful she is, especially in those few months after giving birth to your baby.
  5. Find a new moms group. Chances are you connect with one or two moms who become lifelong friends.

What for you have been the biggest challenges and the biggest joys as a parent?

Other than the transition from 0 to 1, and then from 1 to 2 (boy, was that rough), I would say the biggest challenge is in the day to day management and just finding time for myself, as well as time for me and my husband. As a mom, I live for my boys and maintaining my own sense of self (other than being “mommy” to Ben and Leo) continues to be a challenge, and I suppose that will continue for a very long time. My biggest joy is just seeing how happy and wonderful they are. I remember being 30 and single and dreaming of having a family. I still look at them sometimes and think “how did you get here?”

What is your favorite thing to do as a family?

We are definitely an outdoors kind of family. This past summer, we were finally able, with a 5 and 3 year old, to start hiking together. As a couple who did a lot of camping and hiking before babies, my husband and I were thrilled to witness our sons’ enthusiastic response to climbing mountains and we intend to do a lot more of it in coming years. Closer to home, we can usually be found either in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden or in Prospect Park on most days.

Any last words before we end?

I guess I would just close with saying congrats to all the new and expectant parents out there and I hope to connect with you, either through babybites Brooklyn or Move It Momma or both. I really truly do love to be a resource, so I hope you’ll reach out. And lastly, a sincere thanks to all the amazing Brooklyn parents who have supported my endeavors through the years. You know who you are. Thank you!

Thank you Chana for sharing your story here, for all that you do, and for a great photo session! The complete slideshow from the session can be viewed here.

nyc baby, child and family photographer & architect alethea cheng fitzpatrick is based in brooklyn. she specializes in baby photography as interior design & interior design for babies. view her portfolio of babies, children or families or send her an e-mail here!


Toddlers take over!

This week has been a good week for us at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Our membership cards arrived on Monday and we've been every day! Even Liam has taken to saying "Botanic Gardens! Botanic Gardens!" as we get ready to leave...

I'm glad we got the membership, but having said that, entry is free on Tuesdays, and we've been able to get our original mom's group together a few times this year at the Cherry Esplanade - the perfect location for the kids to run around in relatively safety, only occasionally needing to be chased and herded/coaxed back to the general vicinity of the group.

I know I sound like a broken record, but wow it's amazing to see how these little guys have grown. I've known most of these babies since they were a few weeks old, and it's so fun to see their little personalities emerge and develop. I try not to go too crazy with the camera but this week I couldn't help but take an individual portrait of each kid. Claire, now living in Chicago, was sorely missed, as usual, but I've included her portrait here from earlier this summer as she was definitely present in spirit.

Of course I rarely get to appear in photos myself so I was delighted when my friend Jane Marie took these photos of Liam and I. I love that I'm holding the camera but not behind it - I always make sure I interact face to face even while I have the camera out. Thanks for sharing these, Jane Marie!

Want to throw a portrait party for your mom's group or a gathering of friends? Get in touch - the organizer earns free portraits!

nyc baby, child and family photographer & architect alethea cheng fitzpatrick is based in brooklyn. she specializes in baby photography as interior design & interior design for babies. view her portfolio of babies, children or families or send her an e-mail here!