I usually lay my head down on my pillow for the first time at around 10pm. This is followed by many ups and downs. Get up. Go to the bathroom. Back down. Get up get a glass of water. Back down. Get up check my email, back down. Roll over. Play candy crush, etc. You get the idea. Lately I find it really hard to turn my brain off. Im sure many of you can relate. One minute I am thinking about whether my 3 year old will really suffer if I don’t put him into the most expensive preschool I can find that teaches 10 languages, fencing, and the basics of the culinary arts. The next minute I am wondering if my daughter is going to grow up to be one of those girls I saw walking past me at the mall yesterday… You know who I am talking about….one of THOSE girls. Well poop, now I REALLY cant sleep. Then I start thinking about my business. Why is it important to choose ME over the 19839874387 people with a DSLR camera and a Facebook page. How can I get my clients to understand how important these moments really are? How can I get them to click “contact me” after stumbling onto my investment page. Its 1am and I think I just had an epiphany.
Ok, so I admit it. I wasn’t the most enthusiastic bride. Don’t get me wrong I wanted to get married. After all, we had been together since we were 15 years old. I was ready. But that is what was important to me, a marriage. Not a wedding. I would have been ok marching over to city hall and signing a paper. But our families would have disowned us. So we did the wedding thing. Now, even though I wasn’t the bridezilla some were born to be, there 2 things I knew trumped the list of wedding to-dos. My dress… Well my dress had to be fabulous. I wanted to look beautiful for my husband to be. I wanted to take his breathe away as I walked down the aisle. So the dress was a deal breaker. I only went to one place. The best place I knew of. Kleinfeld’s. I bought the first dress I tried on. I tried on more than one, of course, but the first one was the one and we knew it immediately.
The other deal breaker was my photographer. I wanted pictures to remember this day. And I wanted them to be good…. no, not just good. GREAT. This was the most important day of my life, wasn’t it? So it had to be captured forever so I could show my grandkids how much their Mem and Pop Pop loved each other (Im totally running with that. I don’t know what my grandkids will call us but I totally think we look like a Mem and Pop Pop). And they will say “Mem you looked so beautiful and Pop Pop was so handsome and you looked so happy!” Because we are. So I didn’t price shop. I went with who I knew was going to give us exactly what we wanted and make us feel comfortable. Martone. Yes. It was going to be expensive but I didn’t even bat an eye at forking over thousands of dollars to capture the most important day in the history of our lives! Didn’t everyone? I mean wasn’t that pretty much status quo? I wasn’t going to trust this monumental day in the hands of an amateur.
So we got married. And I wore my beautiful dress. And we had beautiful pictures taken. And they are in a beautiful album on my shelf.
And then, it happened……..
We had a baby.
And suddenly I realized that THIS was the most important moment in my life. This was a monumental day. Ok sorry sweetie. I don’t mean to downplay our wedding. Our wedding was the day we created our marriage. But THAT day. January 4th 2010 was the day we created our FAMILY. The day we had my daughter (July 2, 2011) was just as equally life changing and monumental, of course. The point is when you become a parent, your world just changes, instantaneously. It just does. And suddenly, things that were so important before just aren’t anymore. The only thing that is important is your precious child. That little tiny being with their soft downy skin that looks up at you and begs you to just love them. The one that smiles in their sleep with their teeny tiny fingernails and only a hint of eyebrows emerging. The finest eyelashes God could have ever created. Those things change. FAST. It is SO important to capture those first few days. I have SUCH an emotional reaction when I see my childrens’ photos of days past.I look back on old photos of my children and my heart literally HURTS. It HURTS. And only a maximum of three years have past! It all went too fast…. moments that will never come to be again. I have looked at my wedding photos a handful of times since Ive been married. But my children’s photos? I dont even think I can count how many times Ive went over and over them. Moments I can feel, smell, & see so vividly.
Would you trust those moments in the hand of an amateur? Can you really put a price on them? I wish I knew then what I knew now. Weddings are expensive. KIDS ARE EXPENSIVE. But I promise you both of these moments are priceless. Find someone who makes you comfortable. Find someone who is going to give you exactly what you want. Find someone who is going to freeze these moments in a way that you will want to relive them for a lifetime to come. Dont just settle for the cheapest most convenient photographer who is going to hand you a disk of 100 poorly edited photos and a recommendation to the closest CVS. Yes, your kids are going to be cute no matter who photographs them. I have phone pictures that I oodle over of my kids. But if you are going to spend money, think of it as a lifetime INVESTMENT. These photos of your children in these early years will be treasured forever. They do the most changing in the first 5 years. That is when they become themselves. Capture it so you can have it forever. You know how people are always saying “You get what you pay for”. Well, its true.
So after I show my grandkids our wedding album, I will put it back on our shelf. And then I will show them their mommy and daddy when they were their age on whatever space age device they have in 2060. How tiny their lips were yet so well defined. And they will say “Mem mommy was so small. Was she REALLY sleeping like that? Look at her yawn!” Their first birthday photos will breed questions like “PopPop did you REALLY let them play with cake?!?” And we will laugh and have tea with just a little milk and sugar like I did with my grandma. And then we’ll watch soap operas on the hologram TV (Or at least that’s how I think it will go down. I haven’t really gotten the details worked out yet.)
Moms and dads… THIS is the most important time of your life. THESE are the moments you need to capture. Right now. You know, before they start talking back and slamming doors and stuff. I havent gotten there yet. But I am pretty sure when I do, I will want to have these photographs handy so I can remember them when they were cute It is something you will not regret. There are so many things I regret purchasing when my kids were little. Things I didn’t need. Things I could have done without. But I will never regret having photos of their first weeks, months, years. Find someone you can trust. Because you WILL be showing these photos off for a lifetime to come. And the time goes by in the blink of an eye. Im only 3 years in and I know this already! I can only imagine 5,10,15 years from now.
Epiphany over. Good night!…. Again.
Wait…. hold the phone. Upon waking I realize this may sound a little harsh to wedding photographers. In NO WAY am I trying to down play their moment. Heck I wouldn’t have my babies if I didn’t have my wedding! I love my wedding photos. They bring me back to a lighter, funner, <cough>, skinnier, time. In fact, I loved my photographer. He was one of the very few people on that day to be real. He lightened the mood, made me feel comfortable and was an integral part of my big day. Up until I had kids that was the most important day of my life. And maybe its because I wasn’t that dedicated of a wedding planner (Although come to to think of it, even if I did march over to city hall, I still would have hired my photographer). Or maybe its because I don’t get enjoyment out of looking at pictures of myself like I would if I were Heidi Klum. My point is, isn’t having photos of your little ones JUST as important as having photos of your wedding. Im not saying one is better harder, etc. than the other. Trust me I wouldn’t shoot a wedding if you paid me (hah!). But many wedding photographers I know wouldn’t shoot newborns either. I have total respect for them as they would me. Im just trying to say they are pretty comparable life changing moments equally as worthy of consideration on your shelf, mantle, etc!
Ok now Im really done
I absolutely love when a family comes into the studio and you can almost hear that instantaneous “click”. From the moment they walked in we were totally on the same page. And they were just wonderful to work with! This family is the epitome of why I do what I do and I couldnt have been more happy to provide them with these beautiful keepsakes. And Oh My Gosh! Do you see that hair?!?! One of my favorite photos ever!
Doesnt this look like it could be baby’s first selfie?
FAQ: How did you get started in this?
I get this question almost every session. I never know exactly what to say. I want to have a big girl professional answer like I have been an aspiring photographer my entire life and have always had such a “passion” for photography. Photographers LOVE the word passion. But in reality, I just sort of fell into it, inspired by a very special group of women who know who they are! I have my degree in school psychology. Though after 2 years of interning in a school, I realized it wasnt so much about helping children as I thought it would be. It was very much dictated by a higher power, and not the higher power I was interested in motivating me. I worked from college, through grad school, up until the birth of my first child, as a therapist for children and adults with autism, developmental delays, and emotional disorders. I felt it was much more rewarding on a personal level and I really enjoyed my job and those I worked with. I have always wanted to work with children. I love children. I wanted 100 of my own (until i had 2). After the birth of my first child, I was essentially laid off. I was happy to be able to stay home with my son. I enjoyed every moment (ok. Maybe not EVERY moment) but I documented my son’s every move. I think it was my goal to create a flip book of his entire first year and have it flow together seamlessly as if i could flip the corners of the page and remember every step, every smile, every giggle. It all went by so fast and I wanted to capture it. Freeze it. Stop it! And I wanted to do it well.
It all started off as a hobby. I was among people who inspired me. I wanted to capture movement and depth and reach into my son’s soul through the catchlights in his eyes just like I saw in their photos. But how? I threw myself into it. I showed them all I had. And I fell HARD. It was frustrating at first. These women, these mentors CRITICIZED me. ” Too cool” they said. “Too flat”. “Your white balance is off.” My what? “Lens distortion, chromatic abberation, pinlights”. “OOF, SOOC, RAW” My head was spinning. Ok maybe Im not cut out for this. Despite the criticism all my “facebook friends” were gushing. It was so confusing. Everyone thought my photos were great. Except the people that knew what they were doingAnd I know my photos did NOT look like theirs. Like they were supposed to. So I kept on keeping on. I begged anyone that would let me to let them take pictures of their kids. And gradually, the criticisms felt more constructive, than harsh.
It took a long while but I was able to SEE what they were seeing. I portfolio built for close to 2 years before I even thought of starting a business. There was no way I was going to take money from people unless I knew I was confident I could produce results well and consistently. And even then it was hard. I pushed myself hard, took workshops, and posted picture after picture, this time ASKING people to rip it apart. As time went on I became more confident. Though any good photographer will tell you they are rarely fully confident. There is ALWAYS room for improvement. I still chop limbs and skin tone is still a challenge. But now I am confident to know that I CAN break some rules.
I decided that if I can bring myself joy through taking photographs of my own children, then maybe I could do that for others. And I did. And it began taking up so much of my time and money…. and money… and more money and time,that it was time to make this work. I will never forget the day I decided. I was sitting at my computer and my husband asked me if this was just another one of my “phases”. Ok granted. Ive had a few phases. But I mean, a little support would be nice! That was it. I was going to do this. And I was going to do it right. I filled out my business license form, marched myself over to the bank, called the accountant and insurance agency. And Little Whimsies Photography was born.
I could spend time with my kids. I could do what I love to do. I can help support my family. It really is a wonderful position to be in. I have the best of both worlds. Though I have the worst of both worlds too but thats another post! I have never had a job I loved more. Over time I developed my own style, still inspired by others but still my own. I like to think people can look at an image and say “oh thats a little whimsies photo”. I still get excited every single time the photos flash over my computer screen as they upload from my camera. I love meeting new people. I love having something of my own. Something that is mine. That I created through my own blood sweat and tears. Of course a lot of it is fun too! I seriously have some of the best clients. I get to hang out with some really great families for a few hours and give them memories that last forever. The soft downy hair on their newborns shoulders that fades after their first few weeks of life. The look of confusion and amazement at the first taste of icing on their birthday cake. That goofy smile they get when you are sitting their with an elephant on your head singing the hokey pokey. They are all there, forever. I enjoy every moment of it, even the 3am editing! (ok not so much)
So I am doing what I was meant to do. Be with children, bringing their families joy. Im no where near perfect. Even the most experienced photographers still learn and evolve. I didnt enter in this lightly. I studied. Hard. Camera basics, shooting, editing, safety precautions, etc. Ive taken time to learn and grow and evolve into the photographer I am today. And it didnt happen over night. And when I grow up I want to be Caralee Case or Kristen Mackey, or Pebbles and Polka Dots. But for now, Im Francesca Caputo of Little Whimsies Photography. And I am happy :)
And just for your viewing pleasure ( I cant believe Im posting this but hey! we all started somewhere right? By the way I still have that bathroom rug…. <facepalm>)…..
Just one of this pretty little lady who just turned the big O-N-E! Look at her pose!