Biz How To: Photographer Laurel Hogge

by Cat on October 17, 2011

I’ve always marveled at the technical and visual balance that photographers need to strike in capturing their subjects. And the best of the best always seem to have a natural way of connecting with their subjects and disappearing into the background all at the same time. I still remember Zilla’s first year photos taken by the talented Beth Hurley…he had a cold, was not having it with anyone, and yet she somehow managed to take amazing photographs that I will treasure for a lifetime. Michigan based photographer, Laurel Hogge, is here today to share with us a beautiful circus shoot she completed with children. She also gives some helpful insight on how she got started and what it’s like to photograph little ones, including unpredictable newborns…

Please tell us how you began in photography and how you have promoted your photography.

I began photography with a friend when we both lived in Alaska. We wanted a hobby to keep us from getting bored through the long, cold winter. I have always been an artist… chalks and pencils… but I fell in love with the instant reward of being able to see my images soon after taking a photo.
In the beginning I did family and child photography as a means to get better equipment and more education. I put my card in a trendy boutique in Anchorage. My business really grew after we moved to Michigan and I started running Google Ads. Now that I’ve been in Michigan for almost four years, I work mostly from referrals and return clients.

We love the circus photos from your collections. How do you develop and create the shoots?

I keep a list of ideas on my cell phone. As I come across something that inspires me, I write it down along with details that would create my personal interpretation of that concept. On my computer I have folders for different concepts. I drop in images from the Internet, and I have a document to elaborate the plans for the shoot. I do this for clients who want to have a styled shoot, as well as for concept shoots I do for myself.Go HERE and HERE to see more about the Circus Shoot.

Is it hard to work with children?

I would never say working with children is easy… but there are little tricks that I’ve learned over the years that work well for me. I used to think I needed to be loud and get their attention and just take the shot. Over the years I learned that each child responds differently depending on their nature and their age. Small children (infant-5/6yrs.) tend to like silly, exciting tactics that keep their attention. With older children (5-10/11yrs.) I have a much more subtle approach, and I keep things calm. I like serious, pensive look of that age. I love to joke around… especially when I can capture a genuine reaction.

We also love the newborn babies photo collections. How do you develop the shoots?

Newborn sessions used to be very intimidating for me. There are so many variables that could go wrong, and they’re just so fragile. It was a lot of pressure. I really can’t emphasize enough that taking great newborn photos requires a lot of patience and experience. I tell every client that a typical newborn session starts out with us hanging out and trying a few shots while we sort of tire the baby out. These are the shots involving the parents, while baby is wide awake. There’s usually a feeding in there somewhere, and maybe some crying… and then magically the baby gives up fighting sleep and I can pose her and move her through various backdrops, baskets and blankets.

How do you balance work and family.

Actually, this is something I pride myself on most when it comes to owning my own photography business. I used to feel very guilty about working. I went ahead and worked, but I sort of tried to hide it from my kids… or I would complain about it so they knew I loved them more than photography. It really made things more complicated. Now I incorporate my love of photography into my family. When I leave for a shoot, it’s almost like I’m leaving to go shopping alone. My kids realize I love it, and to an extent I think it’s good for them to recognize that I have interests and talents beyond homemaking,

I think we all have an instinct for when things are unbalanced. I try to imagine my kids as adults talking to each other about their childhood. This influenced my decision to never be in my office when they come home from school. It also makes it easy for me to lower the number of sessions I schedule so I can cook for my family and do the many things that go along with nurturing four kids and a husband. It took me a while to realize that I could never truly appreciate success as a photographer if I felt like a failure as a wife and mother, but I feel like I’m finally in a place where I get it.

Halloween is coming soon. Please share with us any tips for taking beautiful but unique and memorable photos of kids.

I think Halloween is a perfect chance to get unique pictures of the kids. They’re already dressed up, and proud of their character, so they’re more likely to want you to photograph them. I recommend getting them outside before it gets dark. Tell them to act like their character so you can get some action shots. Also, you can photograph details such as the candy bags, the costume accessories, your child’s favorite candy from the night… if you can get a shot of them with it before it disappears.

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