CONVERSATIONS WITH… A Baby and Family Photographer

Anyone can take pictures, but only a lensman like Palita Mak-Drury can capture the beauty that’s hidden in plain sight.

Babies-conversations-with-a-baby-and-family-photographer-main
She may have only started her professional photography career in 2013, but Palita Mak-Drury has been shooting beautiful pictures for far longer.

The 36-year-old, who was a corporate executive for seven years, decided to follow her dreams when she realised she wasn’t feeling fulfilled.

“I was nervous to take the leap, but at the time, I felt like I had nothing to lose. Though my parents were sceptical, with my husband’s blessing, I decided to give it a crack,” Mak-Drury recalls. “If the business wasn’t sustainable in a year or so, I’d return to a normal day job. Luckily for me, four years later, I’m still able to do what I love and make a career out of it.”

Mak-Drury, who lives in the East Coast area with her husband, a 2-year-old daughter whom she affectionately calls “nugget”, plus, a furkid, shoots mainly baby, family and corporate pictures. Describing her photography style as candid and moment driven, she explains that it yields the most authentic and timeless images that speak straight to the heart.

“I give minimal directions at photo sessions as my goal is to capture your genuine personality and organic interaction with your loved ones,” she elaborates. “Personally, I know my photos are better when I’m passionate about what I am photographing and don’t just feel like I was hired because I have a camera and can get the job done.”

What do you love most about photographing families, babies and kids?

Being a mother of a 2-year-old, it pains me to see how quickly my little nugget grows and changes on a daily basis. There are so many milestones and memories being made constantly, and my brain just couldn’t take every detail in and memorise everything.

I feel that photographs provide me with a portal back into all these moments, and they give life to a story that I can share with my children and families for the rest of their lives and many generations to come.

When you tell them how much you loved them, how tiny they were or how fun that outing or holiday were, they hear only words. But only when you show them the photos, they truly get it. Even my own daughter gets tremendous joy from seeing photographs of herself.

Photographs are our personal story, a timeline of our lives filled with faces and things we love. They freeze moments of our lives which we can share with others. The impulse to save our photographs rather than valuable material items is a reminder that photographs matter. We record the important events and people in our lives, such as the birth of a child, birthdays, marriages, anniversaries and holidays because they matter.

They form small pieces of a jigsaw that complete the larger picture of our lives. It gives me tremendous joy to be able to record precious memories into images for families and play a part in maintaining the family legacy for many generations to come.

The impulse to save our photographs rather than valuable material items is a reminder that photographs matter.”

Is it true that babies and kids are the hardest to photograph?

[Laughs] I wouldn’t describe them as being hard, but unlike adults who can take guidance and instructions, babies and children are simply more unpredictable in terms of their behaviour and mood.

When photographing babies and children, I relinquish control from the start and let them be in charge of the session and simply go with their flow.

Sometimes, you get a whole lot of nothing for a while, they may be shy to begin with, play coy or simply have a mind of their own. When that happens, I’d just keep spending time and interact with them and with time, something magical and unexpected will always happen. Most of the time, it happens very quickly, so I always have to make sure I am ready to push that button and capture it with my camera. And when you do successfully capture that honest, genuine moment, it’s the most gratifying feeling, ever!

How do you provide an end-to-end service for your clients?

When a potential client approaches me, I’d try and find out what services they need from me, which could be photography for the family, maternity, newborn, corporate events or birthday parties.

I’d also explain my photography style to them and direct them to my body of work on my website and Facebook, so they have a clear idea of what they can expect from me. Once they decide to go ahead and confirm the photo session, we’d agree on a date and time for the photo shoot, and they’d receive an invoice and some tips regarding the photo session beforehand.

One to two weeks after the photo session, my clients would receive a link and password to their private photo gallery online. The online gallery is a private, secure site where clients can select and download their photos. If they are interested in turning the images into quality prints or canvas, I’m more than happy to help as I work closely with carefully-selected professional printers.

Throughout the whole process, I’m in regular communication with my clients and they know they can contact me with any questions anytime. I’d also offer to meet them in person or talk to them over the phone prior to the photo shoot, but nowadays most clients seem to prefer communicating via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

How do give your clients what they want without compromising your creative direction?

My photographer friends and I discuss this at length! I’d always make a point of explaining my photography style at the initial consultation and that they take a look at my portfolio to make sure our expectations are aligned and they understand what results they can expect from me.

Most clients come to me because they like my candid photography style. At times, I will have to make minor compromises, such as doing a few traditional posed shots for the families. And that’s okay, it is business after all and we all have bills to pay.

Plus, the photos are ultimately for the client and I do want them to be happy with the result. So my mantra is “one of you, one for me”, where I make sure both parties get something out of the photo session. The client gets what they want and I too get to stay true to my vision and reserve time to do the shots I love.

Next, Palita’s tips on the best places to do a shoot...