For the parents and recipients of First Holy Communion, I’m certain it feels like a “Once upon a Time” experience donned in white suits and dresses carrying heirloom rosary beads to their photo shoot prior to Church. For me, as the owner of The Camera’s Eye, it’s a smiled upon once-a-year tradition.
Sister Anne Quigley of the Church of Epiphany contacts me faithfully, all pun intended, to photograph the group and individual images every year. 2022 marks her 37th First Communion and she actually instructed 8 children whose parents were also under her care years ago.
In my 21st year as a professional photographer, I sometimes ask myself, “what keeps you motivated, Lisa?” I don’t know. I do know, I was so excited to make these images better than any other year and I’m so grateful for that. It keeps the work fun and enjoyable for myself and the kids.
The recipients must have picked up on my energy; even the young boys stepped up to the plate, posing handsomely with their suit coats. They’re usually the least thrilled about this photo session and would rather be suited up for another inning of baseball!
Congratulations to all at the Church of Epiphany, parents and children involved in this year’s First Holy Communion. Interesting in your child’s portraits? Contact me at http://www.thecameraseye.biz or 607 426 6023. I’d love to hear from you!
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My previous blog post chatted about prepping for First Holy Communion photographs – the “ins and outs” from the parent’s side of things. This post is what we can learn from children during the event. Really, who’s the student here? Me!!!
As I began the morning, I had a whole new lighting set up to make things more protected taking Covid into account. Instead of a wide open set, I had created a bit of a cocoon to slide one child into at time. First boy into the set stops me dead in my tracks, “Ummm, can I say something?” Me, “Sure! are you uncomfortable? Is everything ok?” Boy…”Oh yeah, I just think this is like sooooomething out of a movie- are you gonna clone me in here or anything?” Ha ha ha! What do you say to that?!! This is 7:45 a.m. GREAT way to start my day! I loved it!
I’m about 20 minutes into shooting, and posing is happening effortlessly. I think to myself, these parents are incredible, they must show their children images of “how” they want them to smile, or look serious, etc. So I just ask… “How did you know how to give me such a great little smile just now?” Answer… “Oh I didn’t, I just really like your sneakers and they made me smile.” There you have it – posing is all in the shoes! I do try to “dress down” when working with kids and I had a pair of floral printed Chuck Taylors on… I might need to start a collection!
Continuing with the theme of clothing as it was a hot topic this particular morning, I quickly fell in love with the dresses and asked, “Oh my goodness, this dress is so unique, did you pick it out yourself?” Without a care in the world as if we were in the Royal Palace prepping for Tea, “This one? Ohhhhh Noooooo, Harper picked it out for me, of course!” lol! I really had to keep my composure on THAT one, because THAT was hysterical!
I think it’s important to introduce yourself to children. They have all the same feelings as we do, so I try to let them know whose working with them to create their portrait that day. As more kids arrive and people are buzzing around, I sometimes forget, so I accidentally introduced myself twice to one child. I saw the look on her face,… “did I already tell you that?” Answer… “Um yes, you did, but that’s ok Lisa, because I’ve been wanting to tell you I really like your necklace- it reminds me a Jelly Beans!” PRICELESS!
There’s always a few children that just aren’t comfortable smiling- whether they don’t like their teeth or they’re afraid to be silly because it’s a Church event, who knows why. I try to get them out of the moment by asking about their pets. This morning, I got the entire history of the family pet, as well as the family! “Do you have a pet? A dog or a cat in your house?” Loooong streaming answer… “Yessss. A dog. He’s kinda like Bolt. Acts like Bolt too. Do you know the movie, Bolt?” Me…”uhhhh, Yes, I do- great movie!” Continuing….”oh yeeaaaaah, well he even runs around like him, zoom zoom, like lightning and then we have to yell his name to calm him down. My Grandmother named him by the way. She said we have to name him Bolt and the next thing you knew, we called him Bolt.” At this point, I’d forgotten the whole reason I asked about a pet. “How did we get to talking about Bolt?” “I don’t know. You were taking my photo and asked me if I had any smiles in my back pocket, and then, You asked me about my pets.” RIGHT!!! Schooled again!
I feel thoroughly prepared for next year. I need a new wardrobe, a name tag made of candy, and a fashionista to pick my clothing for the event! What a treat to work with kids!!!
Spring brings so many occasions in which to prepare – Easter, Mother’s Day, Graduation and if you’re religious, First Holy Communion. Along with being a wonderful moment in your child’s Life, it can be stressful for Moms and Dads alike. Which dress to pick out, what suit or dress shirt to wear, can they walk down the church aisle in these dress shoes without tripping, does this veil even look right- maybe I attached it upside down? It’s endless!
In my 20th year of business at The Camera’s Eye, I thought I might share a few tips to ease your stress. I shoot at least two Holy Communions every Spring and I’ve tweaked a lot of crooked ties and lopsided veils. ; )
First, take a deep breath. Your energy will transfer to your child and you want this is be a lovely experience for them. If you’re having portraits taken prior or through the church, (I do both in my Studio on Lake Street and at the Church of Epiphany), know that most of the people involved have everything you need in case of a clothing mishap, forgotten item or even a veil or sport coat that just won’t cooperate. I come with a goodie bag of safety pins, bobby pins, sewing kit, 3 colors of Rosary beads, a miniature Bible, a booster in case your Son or Daughter isn’t tall enough to see over the kneeler and the list goes on… Moral of the story, if you’ve signed up for professional portraits, that’s exactly what you’ll receive.
Second piece of advice? Despite how “dressed up” you want your child to look, if the clothing or item doesn’t feel right on them; they’re going to be uncomfortable…for a couple of hours, in a church, where they are expected to be respectful. lol- no easy task! Give them a chance to try it on a few weeks in advance and trot around the house feeling “fancy.” If it’s really irritating them, you have time to replace it and save the day as SuperMom or SuperDad.
Lastly, arrive early to your photo session. It gives them an opportunity to shake off the jitters while we chat for a few minutes about why they chose their Rosary beads or how they’re feeling about their part in the ceremony, etc. I’ve learned some very interesting facts from children engaged in conversations about their Rosary Beads. For example, which pair “I can ONLY use for the photo because they were my great, great grandfathers” as opposed to “the pair in my pocket that I lost twice on the way from my house- DON’T tell my MOM!” The smiles are so much better when we have a good laugh before getting behind the camera lens.
Working with kids is amazingly fun if you take a moment to think of this time through their eyes and try to relate to them. If you have any additional questions that I didn’t think to mention, leave me a comment. I’d be glad to share any experiences!
Springtime is here! The flowers are finally starting to bloom and we are packed with events to photograph – proms, senior sessions and, of course, The First Holy Communion at The Church of the Epiphany in Sayre, PA. On the first Saturday of each May, the children of Epiphany Parish receive the sacrament of First Communion, and I’ve had the honor of photographing candids and portraits for them for several years now.
This year, 18 children celebrated this sacrament, a mix of second graders from The Epiphany School and children from public school who are a part of the Sunday religious education program, taught by parent volunteers John and Cathy Moliski.
Holy Communion is a huge milestone for families and kids alike. Dressed all in white, the children receive the Body of Christ for the first time, along with a special set of rosary beads, traditionally handed down from a relative. At The Church of the Epiphany, this event is organized by Sister Anne Quigley, who has taught for over 25 years at The Epiphany School, and presided over by Reverend Andrew Hvozdovic, who celebrated his Silver Anniversary last year. Clearly, we are a set of seasoned veterans here. I still have my own set of rosary beads from my First Communion at this same church, along with a tiny crystal set given to me by my aunt!
In addition to portraits, The Camera’s Eye offers customized necklaces and personalized thank you cards to commemorate this special day.