The above photo was taken on February 4, 2004, when our oldest son was just barely one day old. He's had "those eyes" from the very start. Unfortunately on day two of his little life, he became horribly jaundiced and we both ended up with an extended hospital stay as a result. He was on a bili table for almost a week, and about 75% of his days were spent wearing goggles - goggles the nurses had to specially reconstruct just for him because he wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea.
Right after they took him out of my arms and placed him on the light table for the first time, Stacy showed up with a special photo album she'd made for his birth. She placed this photo on the cover. I would stare at it next to him dreamily for hours, since I couldn't look in his eyes. And the bliss of "he's mine and I made that" would just completely overcome and overwhelm me. It still does, really. Four years. Wow. Happy birthday, baby!
Heather of Captured Light in Athens, GA (an amazing fairytale and children's photographer) recently interviewed me for a pro forum we are both members of. Here are a few excerpts from that interview since I can't provide a direct hyper link...~~~~~~~~~~~ * ¤§¤§¤ * ~~~~~~~~~~~
Robyn is an amazing studio photographer, a wife, a mother to two boys, and a simply stunning branding genius.
[ And now that we've all collected ourselves, let's carry on, shall we? ]
Heather: How did you fall in love with photography?
Robyn: I had a Polaroid and 110 camera as a child and took photos all the time. My mom bought me a cheap 35mm when I went to college, and I was the only one of my friends taking photos at parties and such. But it pretty much stopped there.
Once I started blogging in 2001, I became captivated by the photos Dawn M posted to her "life uncommon" blog. Particularly the Lomo photographs. She was using a Canon G1 at the time, I believe, and that year for my 30th birthday my husband surprised me with a Lomo and the then-just-released Canon G3. I really enjoyed photographing cityscapes and landscapes.
But then in 2004 my oldest son was born and I got my first DSLR (Nikon D70). I used it in "Auto" mode the first year I owned it, but having children totally transformed the photographs I took and the way I saw the shots in my viewfinder.
Heather: You have the most stunning looking branding and you're always coming up with new ways to package, new cards to include, and new ways of doing them. How do you come up with such amazing things?
Robyn: I have to give credit to my grandmother, 100%. She had a maternity, newborn, and children's clothing boutique for two decades. She opened before I was born. She had me at the wrapping counter at the holidays from the day I was old enough to hold a pair of scissors. I worked for "tips". (As such, I've been making and tying "bows" since preschool.) When I got older, I helped out with the window displays and attended the seasonal apparel marts to pick out clothing and accessory lines for the upcoming seasons. In high school when my family moved to a different town, I went to work at a local department store. Even as a high school sophomore, I was accompanying the store owner to the Dallas Apparel Mart each season and selecting the store's merchandise. I also did the window displays and giftwrap there as well. Setting up a session is just like setting up a store display, in a very real sense. And I can wrap a package in my sleep. I completely owe my style and branding to my childhood. And "Breakfast at Tiffany's".
Heather: As the mother of two boys, what do you find is the hardest thing about your girl clients?
Robyn: Actually, I consider little girl clients to be a dream. Most of the little girls I've photographed have been prim and proper and love to sit and pose, or at least "play dress-up" long enough for me to get the shot. Plus I get to use the color pink. A lot.
And as anyone who has ever attempted to photograph my boys can attest, they never EVER sit still. Ever. So almost nothing is considered difficult after photographing them.
Heather: Could you share the three photos that you are proudest of, and feel best represent your style?
The color - that's "my" color. Honestly when I took this shot, I didn't own anything by Anne Geddes (although I have stacks of her books now) and didn't even realize I was paying tribute to one of her classic photographs. Seriously. I had seen a shot like this on ILP using tulle, and wanted to try it with cheesecloth. And I've felt very blonde about being so clueless ever since...
Total fluke shot by just being quick on the shutter. It's framed in my office and on the cover of my 2008 calendars.
Another quick on the shutter shot. The little girl was getting restless and her mom just wanted "one photo" of them together. I asked her to play "Ring Around the Rosie" with her mom and got this one on the first spin-around.
Heather: Okay, spill it! What was the most embarrassing moment of your photography career, and how did you recover?
Robyn: My very first session - very first session (newborn / family) - I dropped a 500-watt bulb out of a basket directly onto the family's hardwood floors. It shattered in a million pieces. I was horrified. But when they got out the broom and dustpan, I cleaned up my mess myself, and joked I would go to any length to make sure a client got a free 8x10. And I gave it to them! (And bought a case for my lights the very same day.)
Heather: Do you prefer to work in color or black and white?
Robyn: I prefer to convert to black and white. The opening gallery on my website is now "monochrome" in order to encourage bookings based on my black and white photography. Newborn skin is generally much more flattering and forgiving in black and white.
Heather: Is there a recent photo on flickr that has knocked your socks off? What do you like about it?
Robyn: This photo by Leigh Taylor:
I could take photographs every day for the next 30 years and never get that shot, and not just because I don't want to shoot engagements and weddings. That's just "an eye" you either have or you don't. It can't be taught or learned.
Heather: What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Robyn: Angela told me not to worry if the current trend in photography was natural light as long as I was doing what loved and did best. Now I'm sought out specifically because an individual is looking for studio work, and doesn't want to be stuck in a mall with their newborn.
Heather: What is your favorite piece of equipment and why?
Robyn: My SB-600. Once I figured out how to use a speedlight, lighting a shot correctly with artificial light sources just seemed to come naturally.
Heather: Who would you consider to be your biggest inspiration or influence (not necessarily another photographer)?
Robyn: My grandmother. She never finished junior high, yet she was one of the most influential and successful business women in my hometown for two decades. Anything she touched turned golden, and marketing just came naturally to her.
Heather: Imagine you could pick any other photographer to be for the day, and obtain all of their knowledge, skill, insight and enthusiasm. Who would it be and what things would you be glad you learned?
Robyn: I would love to ghost Britt W and Carrie on one of their tag-team newborn sessions. HOW do they get the babies curled so perfectly? How did they get the wrap just-so? What fabrics and yarns do they use? What angle do they shoot this particular pose from? I'd have a list of questions a mile long......
Heather: What was your favorite toy or pet as a child?
Robyn: I was a Barbie-a-holic. It's almost embarrassing. I had the Dream House. The remote-control Corvette. The Jeep. The pool. The McDonald's. The Bloomingdale's. The townhome... If it had Barbie slapped on it, I owned it.
Heather: What is one piece of advice you would give to a photographer wanting to succeed, and grow his/her business?
Robyn: Don't do it! Run away!
Just kidding. But I wish I'd waited until my boys were a bit older to start. I've lost a lot of the passion in photographing them that I originally started with, just because some days the last thing I want to do is spend another single second in Photoshop.
I don't think people realize the amount of BUSINESS and legalities involved with being a photographer. It's not as simple as just taking photos. And until you're "here", it's hard to understand taking photos can actually end up being less than 10% of the job.
And I'd also caution them to federally register each and every image they ever posted online:
But that's a lesson best saved for another time...another interview...
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By the way, I guess I'm Twitter'ing now. So there you have it.