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Guitar and sun set

Meditative Photography for Women

There is so much beauty that passes by us daily, or rather that we pass it by, and I would like to bring that awareness back and make a daily practice of it by teaching Meditative Photography for Women.

Spider web on a blue sail canvas

You might think that making photos and practicing meditation might be unrelated since the photography is an external act and meditation leads inward.Let’s explore this. Teachers of meditation say to focus on your breath during mediation and bring your “monkey mind” back to center with the breath.Compelling photography is generally not a product of a hurried existence. It is born through a process that runs through our senses.I see the true value of photography in its simplicity, seeing what is beautiful because it is without blame or judgment: a chipped pot, peeling paint, a broken down car or discarded mattress with bulging springs.

“I like and relish the aesthetic challenge posed by the limitations of the ordinary…. It is easier for me to take ten good pictures in an airplane bathroom than in the gardens at Versailles.”  — Sally Mann

Boat in a sea of grass

Once we really get the message about what simply is ,via our eyes to our hearts, it will perhaps be easier to cope with life and its imperfections. Think about it. If we find a broken car in a field beautiful,or a dilapidated fence with a wild vine worthy of scouting and exploring, why not look at our lives through that “lens” as well? Perhaps in that way, it will be easier to take life’s journey and ride out the waves of challenges that are always waiting to confront us.I have always felt like real photography, the real art of it, is simple and directly outside of our own door. It is found on our bed sheets when the morning light falls upon on them, on our daily walks, while we cut an onion for a meal with a steely knife that catches light as it contacts a wooden cutting board.  If one gets that, if one is moved by that, then one will excel with technology in a fancy studio.

Yellow bus in a sea of tulips

When I started out, I was dutiful in seeking photography projects to sate my curiosity of the outdoors, the light, of people, and of objects. I made photos of boats in a Seattle marina, of homelessness around Seattle, and images of dried twigs peeking through the snow.

Paddle on a red wooden boat

I still remember the curiosity I felt and had to document. I remember how deliberate I was with the process and how much passion I put into it, getting up early, and being excited about checking in with the world. Looking back, I call it my active meditation when I knew nothing nor wanted to know about meditation (oh the irony!). These were moments of pure perception, appreciation, connection between myself and everything external to me. That was truly a beautiful time and resulted in images that I still treasure. All those images were created in the immediate vicinity of where I lived and worked as a waitress.

Autumn leaf with a hole in it

Here are some images created over the years. They are simple. They brought me joy. They taught me about perseverance, being meticulous, being patient, trying again, and coming back to the same place, or subject, over and over. They belong to the formative years of my career as a portrait photographer. I have always valued that time with the camera, sometimes long hours chasing what made me stop, explore, ponder and finally push the button. It was meditative photography that moved me away from the fascination with the extraordinary and lead me back to a rediscovery of the ordinary.

Coffee cup on the table in a cafe

I am returning to it, with the intent of teaching meditative photography to women who wish to become more attuned to the world around them – and take the time to see it. I wish photography will become a counterpoint to hectic lives, a time when what matters is a woman’s perception of the world- how they see it and how they capture it. It is a powerful feeling to make a photograph that stems from within, from your very own heart.

Eventually, it becomes a way of life.

Paddle resting on a boat

“To take photographs,” wrote Henri Cartier-Bresson, “is to hold one’s breath when all faculties converge in the face of fleeing reality. …  It is putting one’s head, one’s eyes and one’s heart on the same axis. … “

Broken car window and steering wheel

Art is opening ourselves to possibility.

Let’s explore your potential and your feelings through the lens of meditative photography.

Toppled vase with flowers on a garden table

 

Family of Six

The Road To Becoming A Family Photographer

Everybody’s path is different. Some photographers become successful overnight. They wake up one day confronted with a life situation where they must earn a living and decide to become a family photographer because they are good with kids, they like photography well enough, or happen to have a camera in a closet that the ex left … and build everything from there. I know a few photographers who did it like that: decided that they had the elements of what was required and became fabulous family photographers with solid, thriving businesses, not necessary because of a calling but because life called them to begin another chapter .

Children Photography

What was my path to becoming a family photographer?

It started when I was a kid, growing up in Poland. In those days, there wasn’t much on TV, but we did a lot of people watching… sitting on a beach and people watching while they passed by along the lapping waves of the Baltic Sea. Who were they? What was their story? How did they interact with each other? If one person said something, what kind of emotions were created in the other? I loved playtime with other kids. I was always very social. I still am. I enjoy being with people and observing how they relate.

Photography of Mother and Child

When I graduated from the University of Washington Photography Program, I wanted to be a wedding photographer. And I became one. For many years, I photographed everything that unfolds during a wedding: the bride and groom getting ready, formals, bride and groom portraits together and then solo, ceremonies, cocktail hours, the parties afterward, and dressed up kids who floated into the scene. There was so much love present that one can witness and observe at weddings.

Besides wedding photography, I started to photograph families with their children more and more.

Children Photography

I became fascinated with the ‘condensed’ love that I had been witnessing. Family sessions usually last between 60 -90 minutes, not hours like weddings do. How sweet it is to witness everything in such a short period: love, smiles, timidity, clinging, shyness, openness, hugs, kisses, cuddling children or handholding -and I love yous. Aside from that, I am taken how funny kids are, how clever and how much they can deliver emotionally.

Children Photography

Becoming a family photographer was a gradual process for me: from taking my first photos of old cars, to discovering portraiture shortly after my brief fascination with car photography, then moving on to wedding photography, and finally becoming a full- time Seattle family photographer. I smile thinking that my next family photography session is booked and scheduled. I value time spent with families who turn to me to capture their family memories – because time flies and one who is a toddler now will be driving tomorrow…

Family Photography

Seattle photographer on capturing genuine smiles and authentic expressions in children’s photos

Autumn has arrived. A family photographer is busy now. A colleague called me recently after a family photo session and said, “I have a quick question. Do you find, when you are working, that kids sometimes don’t want to look at you during the photo session, let alone smile, laugh, or show you their brand new teeth?

“You know all you want as a family and child portrait photographer is to create photos with children smiling, showing off their new teeth, and laughing as if they were with parents in their element and no stranger was watching, let alone a family photographer who wants capture that. My answer to my colleague was, “Yes, of course, pretty much all the time. Ninety percent of the time, we start with timidity, shyness, or some of variation of it. Kids turning away from the camera are a well-known thing for me.” “What do you do?” she asked?

What does a Family Photographer do to get that natural smile?

“EVERYTHING,” I replied. I entertain; I ask questions (about favorite toys, animals, and who they would like to be when they grow up). I ask their best friend’s names, I jump, I ask parents to jump, we all jump, I throw my hat up in the air, I twirl my hat or scarf above my head as I make photos, hoping for ‘The One’. Sometimes, I have a feather on a stick, come close to child’s face, and pretend that I am going to “tickle” the child’s cheek.

What else do I do? I say things like: “Do you know that ???” And I tell silly stories about what I like to eat or drink … For example: “Do you know that my favorite ice cream is made out of frozen clouds and then I dip it in hot chocolate for the best taste effect. Sometimes, I get reactions from my stories, be it amazement, amusement or better yet, belly laughs, and that is great. However, sometimes I do not achieve anything, and get no reaction from the children I am supposed to photograph for a holiday card or a first birthday.

I tell my stories, I jump, I throw my hats and scarfs and other objects into the air and have NOTHING to show to my clients yet. We can be sixty minutes into the photo session and have thirty minutes left, and I have nothing to write home about yet.

What else is there to do? I stick with it. I stay with it. I smile to myself and I may take two deep breaths to regroup. I may call a break for few minutes and talk to parents for just a bit, ask a mother to change child’s attire. I stay positive, curious, and truly open to what may unravel, and I continue to watch what the child, or kids, are interested moment by moment. In a New York minute, everything can change… You may witness that a child will spot a spider web draped across a nearby bush and that will stimulate a child’s curiosity, elicit a beautiful AND still gaze. Then you may all ask a question and receive the child’s answer accompanied by a thoughtful face to photograph. Parents may chime in and ask questions and we may enter through a fine portal to a variety of expressions from then on. The goal is to capture it all: from pensive looks to thoughtful ones, from smiles to joyous laughter.To sum up: be patient, try and keep trying, get silly, get family and siblings interacting with each other, don’t say cheese (they have heard that one too many times), get down to their level and respect that they may not want their photos to be taken. Cultivate the thought of making the photo happen rather than just taking it. It will happen. It always does!

Child photographed while smiling

Boy having a great moment with dad during family photo session

Girl being mesmerized by the leaves being thrown at her by a parent

Girl smiling away in her father's arms

Boy looking ahead and smiling

Siblings smiling while being photographed

Boy playing peek-a-boo with his parents

Boy smiles while he discovers new sounds on his instrument

Easy going smiling during our short photo session before she ran to play with friends

 

 

 

Top Family Photographers

Best Family Photographers in Seattle. I am proud to be one!

Recently I was chosen as one of the top twenty family photographers in Seattle by Expertise, a company which ranks service based businesses and connects them to their community in cities across the USA.

Expertise creates lists of the best local professionals to give customers the confidence they need to make the best choices in hiring a professionals, from attorneys to plumbers.

Expertise uses the following criteria to make their selections:

REPUTATION:
A history of delighted customers as a signal of outstanding service.

CREDIBILITY:
Building customer confidence with licensing, industry accreditations, and awards.

EXPERIENCE:
Masters of their craft, based on years of practical experience and education.

AVAILABILITY:
Consistently approachable and responsive, so customers never feel ignored.

PROFESSIONALISM:
Providing customers a seamless experience both online and off.

Once the businesses are ranked, Expertise reviews the highest scoring results to ensure that they can, quote, “proudly stand” behind each selection. All of the relevant contact information is then gathered, and detailed descriptions are written to give their readers a clear overview of each business.

Expertise looked at 165 family photographers in Seattle and chose the top twenty. Needless to say, I was thrilled to be included among them!

There is enormous competition in the field of photography. Seattle portrait photographers and family photographers have to work very hard to be seen, recognized, and contacted by potential clients for family, senior, graduation, and business portraits, or special events occasions.

Aside from artistic excellence, commitment to our craft, and outstanding customer service, success involves many hours of marketing, networking, building a diversified online presence, and staying active on social media.

The daily aspects of business are tougher for creatives who love their craft and enjoy connecting with people in order to create portraits of them. So, it feels incredibly rewarding when all the effort that goes into owning your own business as a visual artist is recognized.

Such recognition motivates me to embrace the next busy season of Seattle Family photography and keep doing what I love best-creating portraits of Seattle’s families.  Here is the link to check out best family photographers in Seattle:

Best Seattle Family Photographers

Lifestyle photography

Pondering the path taken. By a Seattle Photographer

Sometimes we don’t know where we are going until we get there.

Before I opened my business as a Seattle portrait photographer, I was a waitress attending photography classes.  I remember having a hunger to capture everything around me.  It could be the light coming through a crystal vase, clothes pins on a line, a single bird on a branch, a shiny door knob, a textured sand dune, or discarded objects.

This phase of my life seemed carefree and frivolous. Sometimes I would take pictures by myself, sometimes with a friend who shared the same visual hunger.  We would get up early to witness different light, take road trips, drive to diverse neighborhoods, and later share our work with others at cafes around town.

Though I didn’t know it then, this was an important phase in my career. I was diligently training myself, my senses, and my intuition. I began to understand light, and how to tune in to those visual details that are critical to composition.

All the knowledge I acquired lives in my work now.  Those elements now easily fall into place, almost of their own accord, and harmoniously exist in the portraits I create of individuals and families.

The exploratory phase of my life is not as intense any more, since I run a thriving photography business which requires a deep level of commitment. However, I am forever grateful for having a curious eye, and for learning how to observe, ponder, and marvel at everything that is out there in the world.

Family photography

The importance of framing your family photos. Seattle family and portrait photographer

A while ago when I was doing an online search about displaying and framing family photos, I found this comment by Michelle:

“I’m Brazilian and everybody here has family pics in the living room. My mom have lots of pics of me and my sister as toddlers, playing house, drinking tea, dressed up at holidays, playing in the street with neighbor kids, although I didn’t appreciate as adolescent. Despite that, I loved to visit my grandmother’s sisters and see pics of my mother’s cousins as kids playing, and that classical black and white boards of them as babies laughing, crying, making faces… “

As a creative with a visual orientation, I agree!  I think that a tasteful display of family photos creates a warm, cozy atmosphere, which turns a house into home. Most of all, it can create a sense of closeness when individuals are reminded of the continuity, love, and pride within their families.

I create powerful images of families at each photo session. Some feature single children, others, siblings, or children with their parents. My work supports the findings of psychological studies, which suggest that it is helpful for children’s development to see themselves as an important and cherished part of the family unit.

Recently, I photographed a Seattle family outdoors, on Alki Beach and in the rain. They requested their session revolve around their brand new Mini Cooper.  Although we had gotten all the photos needed to complete the project, I asked for one more take before we parted.  I took a photo of them as a team, bent over the open car hood, fixing a component of the engine.

When I presented the proofs, the entire family quickly decided that that particular photo would become the centerpiece of their living room.  For high visibility they chose to display it over fireplace, where they often gather together. The final photo was printed in a large framed gallery format with museum- quality glass, ensuring the highest standard in the visual presentation. As the family sits in front of the fire the image of their unique bond reinforces their closeness.

Don’t hesitate to frame and display your family photos as a reminder of the love you have for each other and the special moments you have shared. They will bring joy into your life each day!  Anita (Seattle Family Photographer)

Baby Photographer

Thoughts on bringing your dog to a family photo session. By Seattle Family Photographer

As a Seattle Family Photographer, I often receive client enquiries about family photo sessions.  It is not uncommon to get a question from a client asking if they might bring their dog or dogs to the session.  This is qualified by the assurance the pets are well behaved have been with the family since the kids were born. I always smile while reading pet owners’ enquires or listening to them on the phone when they say: “It would be great to get couple of pictures with them…”

I am not only open to the idea of pets participating in my family photo sessions, but I very much welcome it!

The presence of pets creates a fantastic opening when we start photographing. The smiles and tenderness on all faces is real from the start, and doesn’t need to be induced by me saying encouraging words like: “Hey now, smile for me.”

Dogs create an instantaneous emotional bridge between all of us within seconds of getting out of the car. Over the years, I photographed kids with their pets, adults with their beloved new puppies, and old dogs who have been in the family for many years and have little time left on earth.

I have photographed little, medium, and big dogs, which have been scruffy or fluffy, black as a coal, white as a snow, tawny as caramel, and yellow as autumnal fields. Some of them had fancy leashes and collars on, beautiful name tags, winter jackets, reindeer antlers, little hats and occasionally wore sun glasses. Different fashions for each but all had one thing in common: they came with their family members to be photographed as part of the family legacy.

Dogs love to participate in our sessions and give their best whatever happens: they sit, run, tilt their heads when their name is called, lick faces and make everyone all laugh. Afterward, when I see my clients’ pet photos posted on Facebook I have to smile. And then, years later, when I see same photos reposted on Facebook tears will fall from my eyes because they are usually accompanied by touching eulogies.

I recently came across such an example when my one of my clients posted:  “Our boy, Buddy crossed the Rainbow Bridge yesterday morning.  Who ever thought a little 12 pound ball of fluff could fill one’s heart with so much love? I love you, Buddy. You will never be forgotten.”

Great dogs like Buddy, Chester, Shasta, Jewel, and Simon are gone now. But their photos remain, bringing back beautiful memories.

By all means bring your beloved dogs (or any other pets) to Family Photo Sessions and we will create images that you will treasure for the rest of your life.

Seattle family photography

Repeat clients. By Seattle Family Photographer

I love my repeat clients.  What a cool thing it is to get to see their kids grow and change every season.  As a Seattle Family photographer, I have photographed this family multiple times now.  Images for repeat clients are made with recognition, trust, familiarity, peace of mind and already established connection.  Thanks for another wonderful session you all!  Always enjoy your attire selection and I have told you so…

Family photography

On the importance of family photos by Seattle Photographer

Last summer, I stepped out of my comfort zone. I was working with a videographer to showcase my work as a Seattle family photographer. I felt a bit shy about starring in the eye of the video camera since I am always behind the camera.

As I was getting ready for filming, I spontaneously grabbed a photo off a book shelf to take on location. The photo was taken by my father, a talented amateur photographer. The subject is me, then an eight year old Polish schoolgirl returning from school. I’m wearing a mysterious smile, but all I remember of that moment is that I was so proud of my new book bag.

As the filming begins, the camera focuses on the photograph while I introduce myself and begin to talk about my process.

Sometimes, we act on impulse without knowing why. Since then, I’ve had some time to think about what that photograph means to me. It’s clear now that it was a link to my parents and my heritage. Somehow, that was enough to give me the support I needed to get in front of the camera.

Photographs are important. They provide links to the past and support us on our life journey.  As a child, I was indifferent, and even annoyed, when my father was taking photos of me. Today, I can see their significance. Photographs spark memory and help us understand who we were and who we have become. They provide insight into the gifts our parents gave us we were growing up.

I felt I had come full circle when I showed the finished video to my father. We both became emotional when we saw that old photo and he told me few more details about the moment of taking it.  Despite our distance, he understood how grateful I was for the impact he had had on my life, a life that has been so grand and fulfilling and that I give thanks for each day.

Seattle Family Photographer

Anita's Blog