Monday, October 4, 2010

Flexing Our Imagination!

I (strangely) did not have any photos to show from the shoot we had with Imagine Studio last Saturday, but I now have a truckload of photos to show from the professionals – all 153 of them, wahahaha! Nope, I did not have to sacrifice my daughter’s university fees and pay through our noses to get all the hi-res soft copies. See, I’d only intended to select a grand total of 35 photos, with 25 going into a 9x12-inch nice album. Intended. But this is what I ended up with – all photos in a CD-Rom, alongside a sweet gesture of a complimentary 3-inch album.
Nope, I did not get shortchanged (Me?! Wendy Loh getting shortchanged?!! You kidding?!!), but there was a change of plans after the assistant, Bella, came to our house last Tuesday afternoon to let me view the photos.

The plan was to meet at home at 3:30pm, just nice when Rosabelle’s taking her afternoon nap. However, Bella was probably thinking I will take longer than usual to select the photos, and since their studio’s in Shunyi, she asked if she could come earlier instead, so I had her arrive at 3pm. As luck would have it, these was one of the rare occasions when Rosabelle did not fall asleep right after nursing, and instead wanted to play on the bed as I lay beside her. Nainai had already gone out by then to the doctor’s to get her skin checked (rashes from some allergy), and when Bella called me to say she was at the door, Rosabelle was still wide awake. Our girl was very excited about seeing Bella, so of course I did not tell her that she was here, but instead told her to quickly go to sleep so that when she woke up, she could see Bella. Luckily I managed to pat her to sleep within 10 minutes, going against my usual practice of never having to pat her to sleep. Desperate times do call for drastic measures.

I then set about to look at the photos – Bella said MQ took more than 200 photos in all (I guess maybe at least 300), and in the end, they selected 153 for me to choose from. Wow! I remember I spent more than an hour choosing 39 from the 80+ photos Chocolate Box had for me, so it was going to be tough for me to restrain myself this time. However, I had already psyched myself, and I went through the photos at one go first, then set about deleting those that I did not like (face turned away too much/face blocked/silly expressions on adults’ faces – cute on Rosabelle, not cute on grown-ups/half-closed eyes – they had actually filtered a lot of these out, so it was just maybe one…), and it’s those kinds of times when you just hit ‘Delete’ without thinking too much – first gut feel and ‘delete’, 'delete’, 'delete’. Bella at first asked for me to select those I wanted, but I figured it’s easier to first delete. I went down to about a third the first time round – nice. Then 40+, then 30+ until I was about 6 photos short of keeping to the original plan (and save paying an additional RMB60 PER additional photo).

And then I went into the Recycle Bin to look through the deleted ones, to make sure that I was REALLY sure that those were the ones I did not want. I asked Bella for her views, since the professionals know better, right? And that’s when she said photos that are most natural, even with Rosabelle covering her face cheekily, and looking sideways (we amateurs want FULL, FRONTAL CLOSE-UPS at all times…) are also nice, which I agree MQ did a good job on. And so I re-selected a few, and the number went up to 40-ish again.

Bella then suggested that since I do not need too many touch-ups – those of Rosabelle’s definitely do not; they mainly touch-up adults’ faces, and even then, minor touch-ups to maintain the natural look – I should consider keeping all the hi-res files, albeit with no touch-ups. The cost, after a first-time 10% discount, would be RMB2,790. Compared to the RMB2,565 I will be paying for only 35 photos, even with a 12-inch accompanying album, she felt that it would be more worthwhile for me. True… I can just get the photos printed elsewhere, and at last calculation, if I were to pay for every extra hi-res, I would have to fork out more than an additional RMB5,600.

And so I ended up wasting about an hour selecting files, and paying about RMB200 more than we had settled upon (in the first package I wanted), but of course with every single file – I don’t really need the touch-ups, since I’m not looking for a 35-inch framed portrait to hang in the house. Only one is that of Nainai’s erm… clothes strap that was peeking out under her blouse, but hey, who’s really going to notice that?! (Except 无聊 people like me, perhaps…)

The very next evening, MQ came to our place to personally deliver the package of CD-Rom, and told me since it was Rosabelle’s birthday next month, they have prepared a complimentary 3-inch compilation of 20 photos in a nice accordion-like (pardon me but I don’t know the technical name) album. So nice of them! They of course gave me a few of their brochures (attached with complimentary 10-inch crystal frame if you sign up for their packages), so that I could do some A&P for them, heh! Rosabelle was so eager to grab at and open the 3-inch little book that I had to wrestle it off her for fear of her dirtying/tearing it, haha!
Before MQ came, I told Rosabelle that he was coming, and she gave me a very delighted smile, asking 'Bella Jiejie?’, thinking she was also going to come. So for the next few days, she kept repeating ‘Bella Jiejie, MQ Shushu come house. 妈妈穿漂亮照相.' – haha!

And so I present to you photos galore – don’t worry, I’ve Picasa-ed them so that you don’t need to scroll through all 153 of them, but can view them as collages.

When MQ and Bella came, he first came into the room to look at the clothes I’d prepared, and selected this sweet party dress that she actually wore for her first birthday party. Think the dress was slightly ticklish at the neckline and armpits, and she would occasionally tug at them, heh! I don’t know why all photographers like the sofa as a prop/backdrop, but the last two who came by all used it first as the main action area. Or maybe it’s so huge that they have no choice but to work on/around it, haha!

And so we got her changed quickly, and upon the photographer’s advice (and leaving Daddy worried as to whether she would be cold), did not put socks on her. As it wasn’t a very cold day, we did not turn on the aircon (heating) as planned, but just closed all the windows. We figured with all the action, our normally not-afraid-of-the-cold girl won’t be too cold anyway. Just as well, as MQ was perspiring heaps throughout, haha!

It took our girl awhile to warm up, literally, on the sofa as Bella tried to tease her.
Bella then tried to hide and play Peekaboo (Rosabelle can still remember) as MQ snapped away.
Even the big, brown bear was used as a prop…
I love it best when she smiles…
Here, I was trying to make them capture her playing with/holding a series of ‘2’s (to signify her age), and this was as best they could capture, heh!
Then we pulled out some toys for her, but it wasn’t too smart a move as she bent her head down mostly to play, except for when she also tried to take pictures with her own camera, haha…
Then, seeing that they had yet to catch huge giggles from her, they made me try to tease and tickle her, but I was more distracted by my flabby arm in the picture. Drat…
Rosabelle can still remember Bella asking her to ‘Ssssh’ as she put a finger to her mouth to pretend to scare MQ as she popped out from behind the sofa in these few shots.
And then I was silly enough to take out the 喜洋洋 stickers for her to play with, thinking it would make her more gleeful (i.e. laugh more happily than just give bashful smiles). All it did was to make her keep looking down, intent on peeling the stickers out to stick onto herself… oh well, capture them at their most natural at play, right?
She then decided to be more cooperative, but gave these fake smiles that are oh-so-cute but not very natural, haha!
Next came family portrait time. From L-R, I was giving a silly grin, my face was partially blocked, and Rosabelle was leaning too much towards/onto Yeye.
And then came the most appropriate family shot – ta-dah!
*See, told you that you will not notice the bra strap, right? Not until I pointed it out, right?

We decided to let our star pose with just Yeye and Nainai, and seeing that it was about time anyway, whipped out a bottle of Yakult to entice her. Haha! That made her do just about anything – smile, kiss Yeye, kiss Nainai…
I like how natural the folks all look – and I was worried that Yeye and Nainai will look staid and unnatural as they are more used to conventional photo-taking (where when we take shots of them, they really actually look in another direction into the distance circa the ‘50s…).
And our hardworking model gets her treat – haha!
After that, it was off to a change of clothes – my favourite set of wings, though it’s a bigger version that I got at Cotton On in Singapore. She looks so cute in this deck-up, and even cuter when she was trying to cover her face cheekily as MQ snapped away. As you can imagine (no pun on the studio’s name intended!), I did not select these few photos in the beginning, but think they look really cute now.
It’s not everyday that she gets to clamber onto the dining table and stand/dance on it, so she was most happy when we pretended to fly around as she posed for shots.
I was crouching below in this and pretending to play Peekaboo with her as she teased me as well.
And I especially love this photo on the left where she gave a very cheeky face and danced along.
More of her usual funny faces as I led her along in a whistle…
More random shots of her as she went from table to chair to sofa…
Then it was a nice family shot of just the three of us as Daddy gave her a tall ride on his shoulders. MQ manages to capture us looking (quite) natural whilst at play – it’s not all ‘ok, look into the camera now, hold your pose, cheese’… but instead having us fool around so that we’re not so conscious.
It’s a last shot with this gear as she rests on the sofa next to BBB (big, brown bear) again…
Then it’s off to another quick change of clothes as we move to the bedroom. It’s here that I start giving her some 旺仔小馒头 snacks, and you can’t imagine how cooperative that made her as we 'rewarded’ her with one biscuit at a time as we got her to try and smile and do different things…
She looks quite warped in the photo on the left here, and I actually forgot to remove the blue blanket from the white sheets (white looks better as a background).
I also suggested to the photographer that he can use the wall decals as a nice background, and think these turned out bright and chirpy (on hindsight, I should have removed the two big medicine boxes from the top of the cupboard – you didn’t notice them huh?).
We then moved on to the big bed where we gave her free rein to eat from the bowl. All went well until she was looking down into the bowl too much that Wayne made the mistake of wanting to take it away – that was when she gave her only outburst of the day and wailed for a few seconds until we returned the bowl back, haha!
Here, she is trying to show MQ her sad face (where she will sneak in a smile as well…).
MQ was trying to capture her propping her face onto the pillow, and of both our faces meeting mid-way – guess you can’t really ‘direct’ a kid her age around!
Thank goodness I put on a pretty panty for her that day!
Guess she’s happiest with her favourite snack in her mouth…
I like how MQ pictured a nice shot using the bedroom curtains and got her to peek from between them.
Next came a quick toilet break before a last change of clothes in the home. Since she has a toy/book cupboard with the art easel around the same part of the house, I was hoping to get some photos of her at play. However, she refused to pick up the marker/crayon to draw, and when MQ asked her to take a book to read, I’m not sure it was the smartest move, as for the next 5 minutes, her head was bent down perpetually as she really immersed herself into reading the book – haha!
In the end, Wayne had to go in as an additional prop, and just as well that we got some shots of father and daughter together…
They then laid her to lie down and read the book herself, and she even narrated to the folks about the ‘Ayi with no shoe’ (Cinderella).
Nainai had wanted Rosabelle to don the Xinjiang costume that Yeye brought, though I wasn’t very keen as it’s not very fitting, and if she wears a singlet inside, it does not look very nice. Maybe Rosabelle also thought so, as when we wanted her to change into that, she started protesting and luckily Wayne stepped in to say that it’s fine (if not, Nainai will think I didn’t try hard enough!). We then got changed to go downstairs for some outdoor photos. By this time, the winds were quite strong and we had futile attempts trying to blow bubbles since they were flying all over the place.
Since she always likes to climb the rails, she had free rein to do so that day…
I then suggested to MQ that he could wait at the bottom of the slope as she ran down chasing the football we brought down.
He wanted us to carry her for a photo but she had other ideas, wanting to walk on the ramp, so this is what we ended up with – if not for the strong winds, I think the adults (i.e. me) would have looked more presentable, haha!
Then more attempts at family portraits, where MQ wanted a ‘Do, Re, Mi’ effect as we popped out from behind the railing, but Rosabelle was too short, haha! So we carried her up instead.
I think this photo looks cute, but did not select it at first because Rosabelle looks all different with her hair tossed up as Wayne threw her into the air.
Rosabelle then started getting occupied with picking up and playing with little beans she found on the ground.
I like these two photos of Wayne and I doing our own thing with her, especially that of father and daughter having the same pose.
She then did her own thing, exploring her usual yard area and hiding behind the leaves, as MQ snapped away. He’d actually wanted her to run around and look back as he chased her with the camera from a low position, but guess no suitable photos came out as she wasn’t looking back too much, heh…
Then we walked around abit to another open space area where he quickly snapped her hiding behind the bushes. MQ is very fast and quick to capture such moments, which is good, as you could be asking them to do one thing, but when they are doing something else, you get non-contrived shots of them doing something else instead, which is just as good, if not better.
We then wrapped up with a final family shot, where Wayne carried Rosabelle and we all pretended to almost fall over whilst leaning into the camera.
These two below are my personal favourites, one more formal (with all looking straight on into the lens), and another more fun and spontaneous, as he captured us mid-way.

It is a really lovely series of photos and I’m glad our little model managed to put up with more than two hours of it. We’re going to make this an annual experience as we watch our little girl grow through the years, heh…

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