What is/was your personal project and what inspired you to start it?
Over the last 7 years of owning my studio I have worked exclusively at clients homes, parks, and beaches- really specializing in modern classic color images. I love the work that I do for clients regularly but I’ve always had a passion for minimalistic black and white photography. In 2012 I started a tradition where my studio does a series of simple natural light studio style images every spring. Last spring we did very classic headshots specializing in expressions and the true soul of a child. This year we focused on what was our most loved theme yet, ‘lovies’. I had clients bring their children in and I photographed each one with their favorite ‘lovey’. This age of having a ‘lovey’ is fleeting and oh so special that it had to be documented. These images turned out to be some of my favorite images I’ve ever taken. Very different than our usual upbeat color work, these images are simple, soulful, and sentimental.
Are there any challenges or ruts you faced during your project and how did you overcome them and keep a creative eye?
This was such an easy project because asking a child to pose with their favorite item in the whole world is a pretty easy task and very little convincing needed to be done! My goal was to just capture what a child did naturally with their ‘lovey’. I lit these images in my little natural light storefront and although it was a bit of a cloudy day and the ISO was a bit higher than would have been preferred, it’s the raw emotion and simplicity that makes these images powerful.
What have you learned through your process with your personal project?
I’ve learned that if a child has a ‘lovey’ at any regular session from here on out, it needs to be captured. Moms always apologize for the often tattered and even, dare I say, ugly lovey that a child brings to a session. Instead now I tell Moms to stop apologizing. We’ll get classic images without the ‘lovey’ but if the ‘lovey’ is present we’ve just got to capture it.
Is there anything additional about your project that readers may find interesting?
I’ve photographed ‘lovies’ in so many settings and it always results in a beautiful portrait. What I loved about this project though was stripping the background down to simple light gray paper and focusing on very simple black and white photography. Something about the simplicity of this set up gave the images such a classic feel that I think would have been lost in other set ups. Although I’m one of the few Clickin Moms who is not truly a Mom yet I know most of the readers are Moms. I’m sure you capture your child’s ‘lovey’ in photos quite often but I encourage you to strip it down. Keep it simple. Keep it classic. Keep it very, very timeless. One day, many years down the road, your children will appreciate having those images. Many, many thanks for allowing me to share this project! Happy documenting ‘lovies’!
Erin Bell, Connecticut
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Erin Bell has been a full-time professional photographer for almost 8 years- specializing exclusively in babies, children, and families. She built her business at the youthful age of 18 and has been dedicated to maintaining a sustainable and sought-after portrait studio in her home state of Connecticut. She considers herself to be a passionate artist but an equally passionate business woman- photographing 300+ sessions a year and trying to create meaningful, long-lasting relationships with her client base. While she specializes in home, park, and beach photography- her business, Bell Portraits, is based out of a natural-light storefront in Westport, CT.