Mid Autumn in Central Park

When it comes to photo-shoot there are so much you could do at the Central Park. The tip is to stick to one small area and try to make the most of it.

The family likes the scenery and the backdrop of the city from the park. Besides Central Park, they also considered the Battery Park, the Gantry Plaza State Park, and the Old Westbury Gardens. After pre-session consultation and understanding the their needs, we settled in with the mid section of Central Park (around 72nd street).

The route started at the Bethesda Fountain. We then walked along the west side to the Bow Bridge, and took quite some pictures by The Lake as well. We wrapped up the section at the Ramble.

The family wasn’t looking anything in particular. They just thought it would be nice to take some family photos. If anything they wanted a casual and easy going look and this was exactly what we did.

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Near the Bethesda Fountain

The couple’s son Connor was about 14 months old at the time. He is very spontaneous and curious. He loves to do things on his own and tries to help out on everything.

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On the way to the Bow Bridge (this picture is one of the most popular pictures on my Instagram account)
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By The Lake
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More by The Lake
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Bow Bridge in the background
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At the Ramble
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Connor’s clothes are from Janie and Jack and Gap.

Tips from the family: “Don’t think of it as picture day. Think of it as a regular day where you’re hanging out with your toddler and having fun. No stress! Just a fun outing day with the family.”

MuSen: A session involving toddler could be very exhausting for both the photographer and the parents. The outcome would be the best if not posed and just focus on candid captures. Always bring snack, drink, change of clothes, and comfort toys. Relax and enjoy the time together! This is a full family session with many beautiful scenery including Bethesda Fountain, backdrop of the city in the background, and more closeup view of the Bow Bridge. The family chooses not to release those images which I completely respect. Besides receiving all their pictures in a nicely crafted photobook, I also surprise the Mom with the following session gift from my OrigamiOwl collection.

Central Park Session Gift
Large Rose Gold Heart Living Locket with Crystals; 18-20″ Rose Gold Large Oval Chain; Assorted limited edition Charms and Swarovski Stardust Crystals.

Click here to learn more about my outdoor Oak pacakge.

 

My Lucky Star!

Meet my nephew Ethan! He recently turned 2 and the two families planned a playdate at Princeton University. Ethan is one of my best friends’ son. Both me and my BFF are single child. We treat each other like siblings, and each other’s kids like nephew and nieces.

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Ethan is the lucky star of my photography business. Till today, I am still thankful for my BFF’s trust and confidence in me. She handed her first born to me for newborn pictures. They turned out terrible, very few good ones. I felt deeply embarrassed. Ethan’s newborn session helped me realize my weaknesses as a photographer. And that became the turning point of my business. After the session I put myself in a boot camp to beef up all the necessary skills as a photographer in general and as a newborn photographer in particular. My hard work gets paid off. It is not how long you are in, but how fast you can improve. Back in June this year, I was nominated as one of the 2017 National Association of Professional Child Photographers (NAPCP) Best New Emerging Child Photographer (BNECP).

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Ethan’s newborn picture at 6 weeks old

 

 

Ethan is one of my favorite portrait faces. I also did a lifestyle 100 Days and first birthday cake smash for him.

 

For Ethan’s 2nd birthday portrait, my BFF was looking for relaxed, outdoor, not formal but candid shots. “He likes to laugh and smile but camera shy, so works well when picture captures the moment.”

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A quick capture of Ethan having fun walking up and down the stairs

Ethan’s outfit is from Rags to Raches.   His Daddy picked out a pair of black shoes from Jordan so the outfit matches with the shoes, “plus it looks really good on him”.

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Ethan was a premie but his afterbirth weight has been in the 90 percentile for a long time. He learned to sing before he learned to talk. He is a split image of his dad.

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My BFF was concerned about Ethan not cooperating, not meeting the agreed upon time since they couldn’t predict his nap schedule. “The session turned out great, there were other kids (MuSen: my girls) so made this more like friend and family outing rather than a formal photo shoot. The location was perfect, weather and timing were perfect too.”

“Afternoon session worked out well for us, after nap, before dinner. Bring snacks just in case. Follow his lead, plan to visit a few different spots.”, more advice from my BFF.

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Prospect Garden, which lies behind Prospect House, was designed by Ellen Wilson, who lived there with her husband, Woodrow Wilson 1879, while he served as University president. (Source: Princeton University Campus Attractions)

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Fountain of Freedom

MuSen: My BFF told me she has noticed incredible improvement in my photography skills in such a short amount of time. Ethan’s session caught lots of social media attentions. The collage I made for him stayed as top posts of many popular hashtags on Instagram for days.

 

Model Citizen Media
It also help me to get identified by Model Citizen Media and I was invited to give their interview a try. I am deeply motivated by their quote:”You can’t fall if you don’t climb. But there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground”.
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Fun Fact: As I am drafting this blog I went check out Instagram hashtag #princetonuniversity out of curiosity and found out my random shot of my oldest that day at the arcade has become the #1 top post among 41,872 public posts. Wow!

Thank you Ethan for continuing inspiring me!! Auntie loves you very much!

To find out what my BFF thinks of me as a photographer? Click here.

To learn more about the Oak pacakge, click here.

Meet Piney

(This article has been proof-read by Piney’s Mom.)

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. During this month, I gifted a birthday/family portrait session to a local warrior – 3 year old Piney who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) when she was 18 months old.

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(Image source from http://www.childrenscancer.org/. Spread the word on social media with #GoGold)

How I got to know Piney and her family is a good story to share of its own. Many of you might have already known that I am a Girl Scout co-leader for my older two daughters’ troops. It has been our troops’ tradition that each year, we will identify a cause and donate about 1/3 of our cookie money to that cause to help others. This year, we toured the Make-A-Wish® foundation castle located in Monroe, NJ. It is a beautiful place filled with touching stories that will make you tear, however none of us would ever wish any kid ever use the wishing place.

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Image source from http://nj.wish.org/about-us/our-chapter/samuel-and-josephine-plumeri-wishing-place

Shortly after the tour, the cookie Mom from one of the troops approached us and introduced Piney to us. At the time, Piney was about two-and-a-half years old, just reached the eligibility for the Make-A-Wish® program and the family was considering filing an application.

After several messages exchanges, we learned more about Piney and her battle against AML: the risky and extensive procedures that she had to go through in order to be able to accept multiple rounds of aggressive chemo treatments, the life threatening side-effects of the medication, how unfortunately a bone marrow transplant is not a very viable option for her since she has Down Syndrome, and how the entire family’s life has changed to accommodate such situation. The troops, along with several parents, decided to further contribute some gifts to show support of Piney and her family. In August, I together with the cookie Mom represented our troops to deliver the gifts, and that is when I met Piney’s Mom in person for the very first time.

She is a beautiful, confident, super intelligent and sensible lady. It was very comfortable and pleasant chatting with her. We went pretty deep on all sorts of topics including children’s education, the struggles trying to get balanced as a Mom, and just life philosophies in general. She is incredibly strong, but when she shared with us how she just had a major breakdown prior to coming to our meeting after learning one of Piney’s buddies at the cancer center lost his battle, she got quite emotional. I held her hands as I could sense her fear. It is hard to image how much she and the family needs to go through on a daily basis. I wonder what else I could do to help and I wish I could do more than just donating some gifts. What about a family portrait? I assume every family needs one at one point to preserve their memories. This is something I could do for them. So I offered Piney’s Mom an on-location family portrait session. I was so glad to hear that is exactly one task on their to-do-list.

August was a busy month for me (well, which month isn’t?). I exchanged emails with Piney’s Mom several times and we tentatively set a date in September for the portrait session pending how Piney feels. September came and I got the good news to go ahead.

On the date of the session I was super excited. I arrived their house, a very warm and cozy place with a golden ribbon sign standing for child cancer awareness on their front window.  On the wall of the entry way there is a very nice black and white portrait of the whole family. I later learned it was taken by a volunteer photographer from Flashes of Hope at the hospital when Piney was under treatment around her 2nd birthday. Piney was with very little hair in the picture and both parents look a bit tired.

Mom was nervous at first. She was concerned that Piney wouldn’t cooperate and I might end up wasting my time coming over. I eased her concerns and said “the most we can do is to give it a try and I think I am pretty good with kids.”

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Piney was sitting on the floor in her playroom playing with her big brother J. She is super adorable and looks quite different from the picture on the wall. I love her full, curly brown hair, which the family often jokes as the “hot mess”. She greeted me with a soft and polite voice, a bit shy. She got interested in watching me setting up the backdrop and strobe lights. While I was asking J to pose for me for a few test shots, she stepped in and before we all knew it, the session started with Piney and J comfortably posing for me like pros. Even Mom and Dad were surprised.

J and Piney Standing

Piney Flower

The rest of the session went extremely smoothly and we had lots of fun. While Piney was getting changed for her next outfit I took some solo pictures of J and had a great conversation with him. He proudly showed me his music instruments and shared soccer stories. I told him how I chickened out of soccer completely at one point because I couldn’t take the pressure and responsibility of being a goalie. The guitar in the collage that I created for J is a birthday gift he received on his 10th birthday. J told me his only wish is for his baby sister to get well and be healthy.

J Music

We also captured beautiful and loving family portraits, some are even for the holiday season. I would leave the family to enjoy those portraits at their own private setting.

While everyone changed, relaxed and set up for the next set, I kept on taking pictures. This is when I captured the lifestyle moments.

I came out of the session feeling extremely great. Almost a year into my business, I often ask myself why I would pick up more tasks and responsibilities, especially on a part time basis and not really a source of major income.  Like any business, mine should have a mission. But almost every photography business has a mission of “helping people to capture memories”. Can I do more than that? After this session I think I found my own mission. My mission is to help others with my skills. I have shared this vision with my VIP group members: “Professional Photography is a luxury good. Everyone deserves it but not everyone can afford it due to various reasons (time, energy, health, money…). Professional Photography is also an art – that can inspire and influence people.  I love children, I support youth education, I am an advocate for seeking a cure for cancer, I believe in empowering women and helping local small businesses to thrive. There are so many different ways I can help by contributing my skills. I don’t need to be big and famous. Instead I will do my best with my small platform and hope one day, like minds will work with me together to make it bigger.” Through Piney’s session I am making my first step toward accomplishing my mission.

Many awesome news followed Piney’s session. Her latest blood work came back good and she is now enrolled in a public school program. I wish more great news to come. And let us continue to bring awareness to childhood cancer and to support finding a cure for cancer.

To follow Piney visit her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pineysposse/

Piney and J