chili cheese hot dog photoSince the last food post featured some photos of lovely tomatoes, but my story and not loving the taste of them, I decided that I should also talk about something I do love: homemade chili-cheese hot dogs.  Yum!

Growing up, I had a number of favorite dinners that my mom would make. One of them was homemade chili.  It was something that was a regular meal, so as I grew older I was always surprised when I would share it with others and they would say "I never thought of making homemade chili". 

I'm hoping that doesn't mean most people are used to the canned varieties found in the grocery store.  I won't pretend that I've never had canned chili, but I can easily say it doesn't compare to homemade chili.  Have many people gone through life not knowing what they are missing?  I'm sure that also applies to homemade Mac and Cheese vs. the boxed ones from Kraft.

Back to the chili.  Obviously, I've carried on the tradition of making homemade chili over the years, and my family loves it as well.  After watching the Food Network for many years, I also found ways to spice it up and take it to the next level in flavor.

Another interesting fact is growing up, I've had plenty of hot dogs and plenty of chili, but it wasn't until more recent years where I put my homemade chili on top of a hot dog.  Also for the record I'm using the gourmet all-beef hot dogs (not the bargain ones that have no flavor). So when I finally did put chili on top, it was magic.  So anytime I make a batch of homemade chili, I make sure that the next day I make some of these yummy beasts to feast upon.    chili cheese hot dogs food photo

Mother with newbornAll parents are eager to photograph their newborn, but most are not as eager to be in front of the camera with their newborn.  It's common and very understandable, but a Madonna session is not complete without mom AND baby. Mother with newborn Madonna sessionThe idea behind this session is to keep it simple.  Black outfits work best because they don't distract and also conceal.  Jewelry is also kept to a minimum.  Simplicity is the theme, so less is more.  No reason to distract from the precious newborns' face.Father with newborn Madonna sessionThere's also no reason that dad can't participate.  Even though he might not have a desire to conceal anything, black is also encouraged.  And unless you are Mr. T, jewelry is still kept to a minimum.  Mother with newborn Madonna sessionSome other tips include having the Madonna session before 6-weeks of age.  Trust me, if you push this date much later holding a toddler in these poses won't be as easy.
Mother with newborn Madonna session

Three tomatoes on a white backgroundYes, I did take this photo of these three tomatoes, but in this blog post, I'm not actually going to talk about the photo, but rather the photographer himself (me).

Are all kids picky-eaters?  Maybe so, and maybe not.  When I was growing up there were a few things I would not eat.  The interesting thing is that it wasn't because I didn't like the taste, I just didn't want to try certain foods.  Tomatoes were one of those foods.  Yep, ripe juicy tomatoes.

It might have been the texture, or maybe it was a lack of crunch (I can't really recall).  So, whenever we went out to eat as a family I remember a few phrases that I would always state: 1) "Two tacos with no tomatoes" or "A hamburger with no tomatoes".  If I didn't state that in advance, I would always end up removing them or picking them off.

I actually did take it one step further.  Not only did I not want to eat tomatoes, I told people that I was allergic to them.  I don't think I was ever questioned on what exactly would happen if I ate them, but I stuck to it.  Of course I would gladly eat ketchup, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, salsa and many other tomato-based foods.  Maybe it was the cooking heat that removed my allergy.

As a teenager, perhaps I wised up, and stopped saying I was allergic to them.  Now I simply stated that I didn't like them.  Was it really based on not liking the taste?  Nope, I still really never ate them nor had a bad experience while eating them, I just didn't eat them because of avoiding them when I was younger.

Prior to becoming a adult, I started to open up my pallet and stopped excluding them when eating tacos.  Impressive bravery (I know).  I didn't suddenly feel like I had been missing out for years, but I did start to appreciate tomatoes more.

Now, I'm not hesitant to order a hamburger with tomatoes, a BLT, or other foods that have them as common toppings.  However, when I was given these homegrown tomatoes, my first instinct was to photograph them (rather than eat them).  That certainly would not be the case if someone gave me a bacon cheeseburger.


Boy with tools - keeping it realWhy not keep it real when photographing kids with props that show their true passions?  As a parent, it's fun watching your children grow and develop their own personality and interests.  One of my own passions is photographing my own children (go figure).  Of course someone who isn't his parent might quickly deduce that my son (pictured here) loves tools or building.  Everywhere we go, he insists on bringing more than a dozen plastic tools, his safety glasses, his work helmet and a toolbox with him, so most people usually take notice and say something to him.Boy with tools - keeping it real collage

When I had the idea to do this shoot, I told him about wanting to use real tools.  Did I mention that he only turned three last December?  So, his eyes opened real wide and he couldn't wait to get started.  And once we did, he had a blast with some silly tool-talk.  There's no fakery here, it's all real.  There's also no reason to say "smile" or "say cheese" to get a smile.  He had every reason to smile. Boy with tools - keeping it real

So, a general tip is to keep it real.  Why use generic props that just anyone could use?  Of course for the little princess, a legit diamond encrusted tiara might be a bit hard to come by.


Photographing a newborn, or baby who has yet learned to crawl offers the advantage of posing them and knowing that they won't move when you click the shutter.  Of course they will look at the camera and smile when you ask, just like when you ask them to sleep through the night because you are tired.  They won't fuss while shopping at the grocery store, or while eating out at a restaurant. 

Okay, by now you've caught on.  Babies and toddlers seldom do what you want them to do.  Parents can reflect back on the situation in different ways: 1) That went horrible, 2) That could have been worse, 3) That's just how it is with little ones.  It's easy to focus on the what the majority of time was spent on (like waiting a long-time for food to be brought to your table at the restaurant while your toddler dumps out all the salt and pepper) instead of how the rest of the meal was incident free.

With a photography session this is even more evident.  Photos are taken at fractions of a second.  In the course of an hour session, if 120 photos were taken, that could represent less than actual second of time.  So, that's the long way of saying that only moments are captured. chris_kryzanek_photography_baby_on_the_move-2

My session with Will was really nothing to complain about.  He was just a mover.  There was a lot of placing him, then having him crawl away at top speed, then putting him back to the original position and repeating this over and over again.  His mom, Kate, certainly kept busy and in the end stated "Did you get anything?". chris_kryzanek_photography_baby_on_the_move-3

It's easy to think that if there's chaos and lack of control at all times, it's going to be tough to get good results.  It's all about being ready, knowing what to expect, and patience that gets results.  Or maybe it's jut acknowledging who's really the boss.chris_kryzanek_photography_baby_on_the_move-4

Who me?

Welcome to the blog!  This is not the first time I've dived into the world of writing a blog, but starting a new one is always a challenge.  So, like many things in life, it's getting started that is the hardest thing.  Quite a bear, indeed.  baby with giant stuffed bear with white background

Can't go wrong with a pun, and, of course, a giant bear. 

Behind the scenes photographing a baby with a giant stuffed bear

I'm no expert in the world of photographing bears, but babies and toddlers are another matter.  Piece of cake.  In some ways they are very similar.  Both can't be directed to pose (they will do as they please).  Trickery, bribery and certain techniques are all essential in understanding what works with baby photography (and perhaps for bears too). 

Baby and giant bear photo collage

Of course my wife, Sara, and myself often refer to our boys as Park Bears, with their destructive nature and ability to get into almost anything, despite child protection in place (maybe a bear box is more of what we really need). 

One strong memory from my youth is going camping with parents in Yellowstone and having a couple of bears come into our campsite.  We quickly ran to our van and watched and as the mother bear and cub attacked our cooler.  I had a small Thermos that one bear chewed on.  I later enjoyed taking it to school and showing my nawed on Thermos and telling other kids it was from a bear. 

Similarly, we have plenty of stories about our boys and the mischief they've gotten into.  Bears and boys, very similar indeed. 

I know that I've barely scraped the surface (yes, I had to finish with another pun). 

Baby with giant bear and white background

 Just grin and bear...  Well, you know the rest.