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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.

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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.

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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.