Sunday, September 12, 2010

A special edition

I can't help but think back to days when the cover shoots I took part in normally involved people whom society refers to as "celebrities." Whether I was a freelance/staff writer assigned to interview the subject, or one of the editors tasked along with the rest of the team to come up with a striking cover concept, having a celebrity as part of the package always meant a certain degree of... shall we say, "studied spontaneity" in front of the camera. At least in my experience. I say this because I now have the benefit of perspective, seeing things in the context of the kind of pictorials I have been taking part in since joining Baby Magazine three and a half years ago.

Capturing images of a person accustomed to kleig lights, to doing and saying things for a crowd, and to the attention/open admiration of fans, is radically different from that of a person who is still beginning to get acquainted with his immediate surroundings. There is also a world of difference between being able to tell someone to hold a certain pose (and to ask him to do the pose again) and being at the mercy of a little person who has no concept of poses and to whom requests of poses will make no sense.

A model is trained to project in front of a camera; a baby goes about with complete spontaneity. Which is why when a baby ends up flashing a most adorable and animated expression, while still being natural -- and long enough for the photographer to capture it -- it is always a cause for celebration and thanksgiving!

The cover shoot for Baby mag's September issue took place on a Tuesday afternoon. We decided to do it at the family's home instead of the previously decided play facility in a shopping mall so as to put 19-month-old Tio completely at ease. We wanted him relaxed, comfortable and happy. I think we succeeded in that.

For one thing, his entire family was there (even an aunt and cousin dropped by to join the fun). Also, there was no need for him to adjust to a new environment since he was completely familiar with everything in sight. The only "new elements" were the Baby mag staff who were there plus photographer Karen Ilagan.

So, when it was time to play over at the "little blue playground thing" in the garden, Tio was all set and raring to go! His mom said the Little Tikes play set was part of the boy's physical therapy sessions for months, which started when Tio was barely a few months old.

Obviously, he was having the time of his life :-) The minutes we spent out in the garden, after all, were during the latter part of the shoot, after he had warmed up considerably and was probably regarding the whole experience as mere play. Here he is with his mom as we were about to wrap up --

Earlier, he probably found it weird that we seemed to be trying to keep him entangled between his mom's knees and attempting to have him stay on the floor the whole time! He was pretty dynamic, though! He wiggled, he crawled, he broke away from his mom, then for some moments he would smile, stick out his tongue, cover his mouth or wave at his "fans" who wear cajoling him the whole time. Then we moved him back again, far enough from the camera in case he broke free and crawled his way toward the photographer. This was the routine for quite a while.

Photographer Karen was one patient shutterbug! She gamely waited, slid across the floor to catch a good angle, called out to Tio to coax a smile, shot away, called out some more, laughed with us everytime the little boy did something amusing. And she was quick to keep shooting when Tio -- as I personally had been hoping and praying for -- stayed put for close to a minute, I think, seated beneath his mom's legs, looking happy and animated. Was it going to be a good shot?

I think we got six or seven shots framed almost perfectly, in the way we were hoping for. We selected what we deemed the best one, where the charming 19-month-old boy with the extra chromosome that made him even cuter, looked absolutely happy and contented, just like the way a child who is loved and cared for by his parents and siblings ought to look.

Baby magazine
is published by Marathon Publishing Co. and is sold at major National Bookstores, all SM baby department stores, Babyland (Robinsons Galleria, Shaw Blvd. near Cherry Foodarama and Eastwood Mall), Bufini, Mio Magazine Shops, selected Powerbooks outlets, and Big & Small Co. Shangri-la Mall.


Celia B. Elumba said...

what a wonderful cover! and a great take on the specialness of the gift of life. congratulations!

John Jansen said...

What a cute little guy!

sunnyday said...

Celia, John, thanks! He is indeed cute :-) We are hoping that he brings the message home about human life being a blessing, no matter the circumstances.

Betty said...

It's great to have Tio in your cover! In behalf of all families w/ down syndrome,special needs, thank you for this issue! They are as beautiful and attractive as any star baby :) love,
Betty Sy,mom of Kayla 9 year old w/ down syndrome.

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