After our photo shoots a few weeks ago for our new collection of organic baby toys, we had the chance to chat with our photographer, Luciana Golcman. Read more below on her background in photography, tips for shooting pictures of little ones, & favorite places in NYC to view art!
1. Tell us a little bit about your background & what drew you to family, children, & newborn photography.
I’ve always been the one with the camera in my hands. Not only on trips or events but even when there were no digital cameras I was already making “film selfies” with my friends on our nights in! When a stranger would ask me to take their photo I’d put so much effort into framing it well, having the subject well lit, and so on. I guess it’s just something within me. As for why I chose to photograph what I do, I absolutely LOVE children and the innocence in their eyes. Grownups can be shallow, mean, fake, but kids just can’t! They are themselves 100% of the time. And that’s what I love about it. So I started with kids and from then I branched to newborns, because, come on. Who doesn’t love a baby? Then my clients ended up asking me to photograph the whole family and their bumps. So this way I ended up filling all those gaps in motherhood and photographing bumps to families.
2. Did you go to school for photography?
I actually went to school for “Social Communications,” which is just a fancy name for advertising. In Brazil, it’s very different and you don’t have a major and a minor. You simply have a career – so mine was advertising. In school, I had many photography classes but definitely not enough, so after I moved to NYC (about 8 years ago) I started taking classes at ICP (International Center of Photography). I never did a full term program but I’ve taken about a dozen Continuing Education Classes both as a student and as a Teaching Assistant. And I don’t plan to ever stop learning.
3. How would you describe your shooting style?
What I look for when I’m shooting is to reveal a person’s soul through an image. I don’t like posing it’s fake. I love natural. When I have a session with kids, for example, I have them have a fun playdate with me and their family, and I stay “backstage” waiting for the wow moments. And as we’ve all heard before, “The eyes are the windows to the soul, ” so I’m insanely intrigued with the eye and how they sparkle when we’re happy. Or how it shines when it’s teary. It’s all connected.
4. ISO, shutter speed, aperture – help! How can a beginner get the most out of a point-and-shoot or DRSL camera?
ISO, shutter speed and aperture are the exposure triangle. When you change one you have to compensate with the other(s). It’s like a seesaw. If the one side is heavier than the other, it’s going to tilt. So all you have to do is balance it out.
My advice for those wanting to learn how to shoot manually is to try to understand one by one first. Start with the “aperture priority” mode. See what happens when you drastically change the aperture. Then move to the shutter priority mode. And finally, join them together to add the ISO factor.
5. Are there optimal places or times of day to shoot? Any tips on how to get the best lighting?
All photographers talk about the “golden hour,” which is that short time right before sunset or right after sunrise. At this time the light is much softer and the shadows are not as hard. So it definitely looks much more flattering on your subject. Midday light is the harshest one, but there are always ways to work around it. After all, the best time to shoot is always NOW.
6. What are your top three tips for taking pictures of babies & young toddlers?
Patience, patience, patience. LOL.
7. Any particularly memorable moments or laugh-out-loud stories from your shoots with little ones?
Every shoot is has a memorable moment. I laugh so much every time. I’m not sure who is having more fun: the kids or myself!
8. When it comes to kids, attention spans can wane quickly – do you have tips for keeping them engaged or tricks to get real smiles out of them when they’re not in the mood?
When they are really not feeling it, the worst thing you can do is force them. They are supposed to have fun, not be a perfect professional model. That’s why I always ask the parents to pack water, juices, snacks, and toys. If they are not feeling it we have a break, play, rest, and wait for them to feel better. The one thing that never fails, though, are bubbles. They just love them!
9. You live in New York – do you have any favorite spots to take pictures?
My “public” studio, definitely (and by that I mean Central Park). It’s amazing how many different backgrounds you can get in Central Park! And because I usually blur the background to focus on the eyes, all I look for are backlit trees or anything else that would look beautifully blurred.
10. How about favorite places to view art in the city?
That’s a very difficult question. NYC is a Mecca of art. I love visiting the small galleries in Chelsea and Soho. And I’m extremely bummed that “Yellow Korner” (a great affordable photography shop) closed last year. New Yorkers deserve more places like Yellow Korner!
11. Your talent speaks for itself through your photos. Is there anything you don’t do well that you wish you could?
Thank you very much :) We are always our worse critics. Every day I think to myself “I don’t do anything well! I still have so much to learn!” But if I should pick one thing I would say I can always learn more about light. Photography is all about painting with light, and the more you learn the more you see that it can change the way you look at the world.