Tuesday, August 31, 2010

SpokesMAMA Winner - First Day of School

"The SpokesMAMA Contest - First Day of School" winner is Wendy Heller! Congratulations Wendy! Wendy is an interior designer, mom of three and wife to Rabbi Josh Heller of Congregation B'nai Torah. Wendy's middle child and only daughter is Amelia. Amelia is an exuberant and fun five year old. She started Kindergarten at The Epstein School, a Jewish day school in Sandy Springs. Amelia loves her new school uniform (can you believe it?!) and loves school.

I arrived before she awoke to find her peacefully sleeping in her bed.

After she woke up, her mom put her hair in a bun for ballet class.
She was kind of excited to have me there taking pictures.

Then she got dressed in her uniform. I love the bit of personality
she added to her uniform in the shape of this adorable belt.

After waking up her big brother, they both headed into their baby brother's room. Look at this anticipation of him being photographed by me in his crib.

Before she headed downstairs for breakfast, one last hug of her favorite buddy.

Breakfast of champions - cereal and chocolate milk.

On the way to school...

Have a great day!

Our current SpokesMAMA Contest is for a mama of a newborn. For more information and the online application, click here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Museum School Asks Us to Create a Permanent Art Installation

The Museum School, a new charter school in Avondale Estates, has asked seven local artists to create an art installation for each of the classrooms. I am honored to take part in creating an inspiring and motivational environment for the students in one of the Kindergarten classrooms. I love that the school has made art such an important element of their students' education. If I hadn't had the chance to explore art in school, I would never have had the interest or passion to become a photographer. It's so important to give our kids exposure to many different disciplines and art is something that should never be put on the back-burner.

I thought it would be fun to show you step by step how I go from concept to the final installation. Since I have never done anything conceptual like this before, it will be a learning experience for me as well as you!

So step one is brainstorming, note-taking and budgeting.

I was given the school's mission statement. Each artist is to interpret the m
ission statement, find something they can identify with, and create something that explores that idea. Here's the mission statement:

Our mission is to inspire students, teachers and the community to collaborate to develop strong critical thinking, interpersonal and academic skills in our students, which will prepare them for real-world success.
After reading and re-reading this statement too many times to mention, the word that I keep coming back to is "interpersonal." This word is all about relationships - relationships between teachers and students, students and parents, teachers and parents, the community and students, and on and on. And I think the goal of any relationship is to be supportive and helpful, to be respectful and really to create a community of caring people. Well, I have to say that this concept is right up my alley of photographic expertise. I mean, every portrait session is all about relationships. I explore the facets of loving relationships between moms and daughters, brothers and sisters, and grandparents and grandchildren. All the laughter, the hugs, the tears and the consoling - these everyday moments say so much about the relationships we have with our family. So when I take this concept and expand it to a classroom, a school and a community, it's easy to make the jump because in an ideal world, it's just a larger version of our own loving families.

The question now, how do I explain and explore that relationship in a photograph?
interlocking hands, teacher helping a student read, parent's hand on her child's back or in a big congratulatory hug - this is a good start, but a little too predictable and not as out-of-the-box as I'd like. I put aside the brainstorming for a few days and pick it back up when I have an epiphany. (Of course, I was in bed when I had the epiphany. There's something about laying in bed at night or first thing in the morning. It always seems to be my most creative time.)

The ne
w concept is the image of the teacher leading the kids through a museum or across the street on a fieldtrip of sorts. I always remember that scene from Ferris Bueller's Day Off when Ferris and his friends join in the long line of kids holding hands walking through the museum. I love that image because it's just so innocent and lovely. Each of the children must hold onto the hands of the child in front and behind them. If anyone loses contact, everyone behind them will then be separated from the group as well. They are counting on each other. And at the same time, the teacher is leading the group, setting an example and keeping a watchful eye on them to be sure no one gets lost. What a perfect depiction of interpersonal connections, support and community.

The parameters of the space I will have are pretty straightforward. A wall about 4x4 feet or 2x3 feet in one of the Kindergarten classrooms and my work will be permanently installed. That space is a great size because it gives me the option of a single photograph, or, as suggested by the "artist organizer" Jen Singh, multiple pieces. As soon as she mentioned that option, my mind immediately went to all the Wall Collections I create for my clients and which collection might work best. So, I'm thinking of creating one image which will be split between three fine art metal panels. Fine Art Metal will be the perfect medium for this space because it is nearly impossible to damage, can be hung from the ceiling or attached to the wall at one or four spots, and most importantly, it looks really contemporary, crisp, clean and beautiful. By spliting the image into 3 panels, each panel will take on a life of its own. Each panel will be a portion of the larger image and will work together to create the whole installation.

I don't have much of any which is.... ok, I think. I contacted Jen and asked if she could find one teacher and about
4-5 Kindergarten students to be my models = FREE. My time = FREE. Fine Art Metal prints = ? Not sure about this one yet. I plan to contact the vendor who creates the metal prints for me and see if they'll be willing to donate the pieces or at the very least discount the price of them. It is for a good cause!

The school is hosting an exhibition night to celebrate the art going into each classroom on October 7th. Everything must be hung by October 5th. So I have to get moving on this! I contact Jen and schedule the shoot for Tuesday, September 14th. This will give me time to come up with the final concept in my mind and some alternatives if it's just not happening. And it will give me a chance to edit, retouch and order the prints in time.

WHAT'S NEXT - finalizing plans, renting any necessary photographic equipment and photographing the kids!

Friday, August 13, 2010

New Wall Collections - Fine Art Canvas & Fine Art Metal Portrait Art

It's been a frenetic week at Sara Speert Photography. We've been busy meeting with clients, completing orders and putting together our biggest Georgia snail-mailing ever - over 1,000 pieces! If you're not already on our mailing list, you won't want to miss this. Sign up to receive our monthly enewsletter and our quarterly mailings.

In addition to everything else we've been busy with this week, we've added 12 new Wall Collections to our catalog. Wall Collections are a series of individual images placed together to create an art installation. These new Collections are available in Fine Art Canvas and Fine Art Metal which really make a statement. They don't require traditional frames and they have the look of original, custom-made art. And that's because they are!

The most meaningful art you can have in your home are artistic images of your family. It's the perfect combination of art and family that will bring smiles every time they're seen.

Here are a few Wall Collections we've been working on for our New York clients this week. (In case you're wondering, yes, all our collections are named after Sesame Street and Muppets characters. We like having a laugh whenever we can. "I'd like the Miss Piggy Collection, please." "Oh, this is a great Collection - it's bold and sassy." Love it!)

Clara's portrait in the Ernie Collection

Place the Ernie Collection above a fireplace
and it becomes the focal point of the room.

Tali and Liora's portrait in the Bert Collection

Place the Bert Collection in a Dining Room and
enjoy using the space in a new way.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Picture of the Day - New York City Children's Portraits, Part 3

A great weekend of portraits in NYC reminds me how lucky I am to have this job. I mean, really, I get to know some amazing families and document the love that surrounds us. It's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities that it's easy to not notice the small moments that are so rich with personality, love and laughter. Feeling completely refreshed after this weekend, (don't we all need that from time to time?) I am so excited to see the variety of moments I captured. Check out my first post and second post from my weekend of family portraits in New York, Brooklyn and Long Island City.

Clara is 3 years old and is so vibrant and expressive. She loves dressing up as a princess, jumping, playing with her new guitar and puzzles. She and her parents were so welcoming, in fact, they invited me to stay for dinner after I finished shooting. So nice! I just loved capturing Clara's playful personality and adorable new haircut.

Today's Picture of the Day is a children's portrait from Brooklyn.

SpokesMAMA Contest - Newborn

Contest ends on August 15th!

Newborns have the ability to capture your heart and bring you joy that you didn't know was possible. During the first two weeks, they love to stay in the fetal position and sleep, and sleep and sleep. They are happiest in your arms and can sleep peacefully just about anywhere, including on daddy's chest. These peaceful snuggly moments, the ones that express your excitement, your awe and the beauty of your love, are the moments we love capturing for our youngest clients.

The winning SpokesMama will receive a free ABC Storytelling Portrait Session package which includes a Planning Meeting, a 2-hour session, a Design Appointment and fifty (50) 5x7 folded birth announcements. This package is valued at $500.

The SpokesMAMA will also receive a 25% discount on her second session during her year-long 'tenure' or a $125 discount off her choice of a Growing Baby Portrait Package or an Annual Portrait Package.

Spread the word and help us grow!

In exchange, the SpokesMAMA will tell her friends and family about SSP. She'll take every opportunity to share the photos that were taken during her session and talk about her experience. She'll use social media, printed fliers, email, etc. to refer other like-minded families to us. (Printed pieces will be provided by SSP.)

This application is for mama's of newborn babies. In order to be selected, your newborn (0-2 weeks old) must be photographed in August or September 2010. (If this does not apply to you, visit our blog for announcements of future contests.)

APPLICATION DEADLINE is Sunday, August 15th. Good luck!

Apply here to be the SpokesMAMA.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Picture of the Day - New York City, Part 2

If I could somehow express gratitude in a photograph, I would for my dear friends, Gidi and Dana. Gidi and I have known each other for years since our semester abroad in college at Tel Aviv University. His wife Dana is one of those people you feel like you've known for years even if it's only a day. She's a self-proclaimed "Mayor of Park Slope" so when we started talking about me traveling to Brooklyn for a weekend during the summer to photograph their family, I knew she'd promote me like nobody's business and help me book a bunch of portraits throughout the weekend. She definitely came through but the best part was her excitement about seeing the pictures.

So, Dana, I know you are checking this blog from vacation, so here ya go - your Picture of the Day.

We had a great morning playing at DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). And as you can see, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline provided a quintessential New York backdrop. I loved it! I could have spent all day there.

If you are interested in having us come to your city or meet you on vacation for family and children's portraits, please contact the studio at info (at) saraphotography.com. We travel all over the US and internationally.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Pictures of the Day - New York City, Part 1

I just returned last night from a weekend of family and kids portraits in New York City. I have always wanted to travel to different cities to photograph families, and this is the first time I traveled with the sole purpose of portraits. It was a wonderful way to meet new beautiful families and get reinspired to find new and exciting ways to photograph the love of a young family.

Gabi's pictures make me smile, awww, and giggle so it was really hard to choose just one picture to feature as a Picture of the Day. So I chose three!

Thanks, Emily, Elan and Gabi!