Sunday 16 September 2012

Inspirational Sunday with Alethea Cheng Fitzpatrick


As you know, I have been doing a business course and I have been meeting some amazing women doing some amazing things. So Inspiration Sunday is back!

This week I want to introduce you to Alethea Cheng Fitzpatrick...

Can you tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, job)

My name is Alethea Cheng Fitzpatrick. I'm a family photographer and photography coach for parents and I'm on a mission to help parents more fully experience the precious fleeting moments of their children's lives through photography. I'm also an entrepreneur, mom of two adorable if rambunctious boys, Liam (aged 3.5 years) and Jack (9 months) and a former architect and interior designer.  Born in the UK, I live in Brooklyn, New York.

How did you go from being an architect and interior designer to being a child photographer?

I worked as an architect and interior designer in NYC for over 12 years, but after having Liam, and going crazy taking photos of him, I decided not to go back to my office job and to instead start my own business as a family photographer. It was not something I had thought about or planned for at all prior to becoming a mom, but I wanted to  have the flexibility to spend some time at home with Liam and to do something that would build on my experience as a mom rather than be in conflict with it.

Can you tell us more about your photography job?

As a family photographer, I start out talking with parents about what they most want to remember about this time in their family's life, and what is most important to them about their photo session.  We'll come up with ideas for the location, time of day, outfits, and how we'll approach the session.  I like to learn a bit about the family as well - the personalities of the kids, and the things they enjoy doing, and that the family enjoys doing together.  

My photo sessions are always very natural and relaxed, and my goal is that not only do we get great photos, but that everyone has a good time as well. After the session, I always show my clients their images live, either in person or online so I can help them put their portrait order together. Otherwise it can be really overwhelming to select images and decide what to do with them!

You are also a mom to two little ones, what does a typical day look like for you?

The day starts early - I have two little alarm clocks so the only unknown is which one will wake up first! Sometimes my husband can join us for breakfast but other days he is already off to work before they wake up. Then there's either a mad rush or the endless passing of time before preschool drop-off!  If we have extra time to fill, we love to stop by the playground before preschool.  Other days we barely make it there on time!  After I drop Liam off, I get Jack home for his nap, and then some days I have a sitter come in while I work. Other days I get to hang out with Jack and we might head to the park or playground before lunch and another nap. 

We pick Liam up from preschool at 4pm and inevitably he and his friends decide which playground they want to go to and inform us parents of the decision. The playground is always a little crazy after school, but much fun is had by all before heading home for dinner and my husband's much anticipated arrival home before bedtime

Not only do you take photos you also teach parents how to take their own photos of their kids, how did this all come around?

As a mom, even as I was starting my family photography business, I was struggling to keep up with the massive number of photos that I was taking, and as I worked on getting it under control, I realized that most other parents were going through the same thing - they were completely overwhelmed and their thousands of photos were gathering dust on their hard drive. 

And as a professional photographer, I started noticing how many parents had fancy DSLR cameras that they probably purchased when their first child was born that they weren't taking advantage of at all because they hadn't learned how to use their camera. As I started meeting and talking to more and more parents, I realized that many of them loved photographing their kids but were frustrated with the results, and I could see how some simple strategies and tips could make a huge difference in their enjoyment not just of photography but of parenting. I wanted parents to experience the same joy and delight that I did in photographing my child!

So, is your course teaching parents how to be a professional photographer?

No, absolutely not!  My workshop is about teaching parents how to get more enjoyment out of photographing their kids - and to take way better photos too. It draws heavily on my experience as a mom photographing my own kids and I make sure what I teach is tailored to the joys and realities of being a parent. It's not the same as training a professional photographer. It's a very different approach. 

Even though I do teach some of the same things as a traditional photography class such as composition, lighting, the exposure triangle etc., I make sure it is specifically applicable to parents, with an emphasis on drawing on your emotions as a parent, and on creating great experiences and documenting memories for yourself, your children and generations to come.

I also talk about organizing and backing up your photos, editing, and sharing, whether it's online, on the walls of your home or in albums. One of the things I love to do is use my interior design background to help parents design a portrait wall gallery using their own photos - many parents are overwhelmed with the thought of selecting the photos and figuring out the size and configuration so I break it down into easy steps.

Do you have a funny photography moment you can share?

One of the reasons my photo tips are so mom-friendly is because I AM a mom. I recently wrote a blog post with tips on back-to-school photos, and I talked about how it's great to take photos not just at drop-off on the very first day, but on the day before, the morning of, and around the general time of back-to-school. Good thing too, because of course, the very next day, on Liam's first day at preschool this year, he had a meltdown that started in our living room and didn't stop until about two seconds before he walked into the classroom. This literally hadn't happened since, well, since last year's back-to-school!  So needless to say, I wasn't able to take a back-to-school photo in the literal sense. It wasn't funny at the time, but if you can't laugh about these things after the fact, you'd go crazy!

Can you tell us what readers can do to find out more about your workshop?

I'm offering a FREE live online workshop called Quickstart your Photosanity next Tuesday September 18th at 9pm EDT. During this workshop, I'll be giving participants tips and strategies they can use right away (including some of my best material yet!) as well as offering a preview to The Photosanity Workshop, my twelve week online workshop. Signups for the paid workshop will open right after the call. I would love to have your readers join me on this call - they can sign up here 

Finally, the special question from Ebi-kun...  What is you favourite food?

Oh my goodness, where do I even start?!  It's very hard for me to pick one favorite food but I would probably have to say chocolate. In fact Liam seems to have inherited this preference, recently declaring that a food is not a "treat" if it doesn't contain chocolate!

Website: nestingNYC and Photosanity

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