Our team had a conversation with Annette Wong this week to discuss Mother’s Day photography. Below is a list of our questions and a summary of her responses. How is doing a mother’s photo session different from a shoot with other members of a family or other people?
Mothers can be very conscious about their appearance in photos. Most commonly ask “are my arms too big?” I often tell them to concentrate on other things, not looks. When shooting families, there are many compromises, there’s a lot going on and you need to be there taking it all.
Fathers in family shoots tend to relax and like to finish fast. Mother make the most out of the time. I usually advise them to not put pressure on kids to be perfect. Letting the kids be themselves will make the most beautiful shots. Engaging children is very important. Bring snacks, toys - bubbles work well.
How much do you speak with a mum before you start the shoot? What do you ask her?
The first thing I ask is, “have you gone through my portfolio?” I like to make sure she knows what kind of photography she’s going to be receiving from me. I always make sure to communicate her preference when it comes to different types of shooting.
Do you have any tips for mums (or other members of her family) preparing to have their portrait taken?
Dress appropriately and comfortably, avoid trying new looks. Mums need to be really sure about the type of photography they want to receive from their photographer. Come prepared with examples of a photographic style that you want.
What types of locations do you usually use for a family portrait? Would you make any recommendations on a location?
It’s always the mother’s preference, I respect their decisions. Try to make the location meaningful for the family. Bright environments help, preferably with some green colour in the shoot. You can change the location of the photoshoot midway through to obtain the best natural lighting. 8:00-10:00 a.m. is a good time for early-rising families, 4:00-6:00 p.m. is a great time as well since it is the golden hour of the sun.
Have you ever done a photo shoot with your mum? How did it go?
No, I feel guilty about it now that you ask. I have some selfies with her on my phone, but no studio shoot.
What is your idea for a unique family photo shoot?
To me, if a client would allow me to shoot a day in the life of a stay-at-home Mom that would be best. To start at her house early in the morning to see how she begins her day. Then capture her taking care of children, cooking, sitting down to play with kids. I would like to capture her natural appearance for authenticity.
Which photographer influenced your thinking, shooting style and career most?
I wouldn’t say I have just a single photographer who inspires me. I have seen a lot of good work. Some people are good in some things, not so good in other things. I do a lot of wedding and natural light photography, that’s my specialty. I check out Jasmine Star’s photography. I’m not inspired by her work even though I think it’s great, but I like her way of doing business as a photographer. She is very generous about sharing her experiences and style with others.
What was your career path? How did you get from being an aspiring photographer to actually doing it full time for a living?
There was no path I followed. I became a photographer on accident. I happened to have a camera and free time, so I decided to shoot. I put some work on my Facebook and after receiving positive encouragement from friends they asked me to shoot some pictures for them. There was no plan, it was very organic.
What motivates you to keep taking pictures?
We have no idea what will happen tomorrow, what we have today is today. I want to preserve the moment. I think life is worth celebrating. Whether it be a small birthday party or big occasions like weddings, I think it all needs to be documented. I think a good camera is a good investment for anyone and always print your pictures!