Twyla Jones: Capturing Childhood

Childhood means happiness, it means fun and simplicity. If you look at the world with a child's eyes - it’s simple, it’s very beautiful. And we are almost sure that the talented photographer, Twyla Jones, is still a child at heart. She looks for magic everywhere. Based in the Treasure Coast of Florida, Twyla enjoys being around and capturing quirky kids - who are the main inspiration for her genuine, raw and lively photography work.
By the way, Twyla is also a proud owner of a stunning website, based on our Onyx design kit.

Twyla Jones: Capturing Childhood

Some would suppose that “working” with and photographing children is extremely exhausting and tiresome - because of the active and restless nature of children. While in some cases it may be true, Twyla assures us that the results, emotions and vibes that you get from a kids’ photoshoot are wholeheartedly worth it.
 

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1.  Twyla, what is different when photographing kids as compared to adults?

Capturing childhood is certainly one of my greatest pleasures in life and the one thing that really drew me into learning the craft of photography to begin with. After I had my second child, I was yearning to create photographs that looked a lot more like they felt to me in that moment and my iPhone certainly wasn’t delivering. Once I understood the technical aspects of my camera I just began to let the light and my children guide me. Their natural curiosity and unquenchable thirst for adventure ensured that no two photographs would ever be the same. As I have gained more experience working with every age range, I always find myself refreshed and inspired when photographing children. I often find that adults are so much more reserved and look to me to tell them what to do, to tell them how to enjoy the moment, to give them permission to let themselves shine so that I can take a photograph that’s truly representative of who they are. Children are different. As long as I can keep up, get high, get low and go sideways and am always generously rewarded with authentic imagery.
 

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2.  How do you get children to stay still and “behave”?

I’ve often been asked how to get a child to stay still or how to make them laugh and behave. The truth is, I’m not really interested in doing any of that. I want the adventure and the fun. Being a kid is rarely about sitting still. Patience is the key to getting the shots you go into a shoot wanting. If I hope to capture a photograph of a child laughing I better be funny or wait for them to inevitably crack themselves up, and they usually do. If I want to photograph a warm embrace with a parent I guide them as I can, but have also found it usually happens naturally throughout the session anyway.
 

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3.  Please share with us some ways/hacks to photographing kids.

Spend an hour with any child and you are sure to observe the entire spectrum of emotions and at least one of these will be the need to be helped, hugged or reassured by a loved one. Be patient and be ready.
 

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4. Be honest - does candy bribery work?

I have very rarely used bribery tactics to get the images I want but do find most parents have promised ice cream before they ever show up. Everyone wins :)
 

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“In Person Mentoring” - how did the idea appear? What do you enjoy the most about being an educator?

I began offering one on one online mentoring for editing and posing last year. I had been asked to speak at a workshop and really just wanted to get in touch with what it was other photographers needed help with. Simultaneously I had begun to receive lots of requests about more and more of the details of what my shooting and post processing workflows looked like. This seemed like the perfect way to be able to offer that information in a way that allowed me to give the time and details necessary to actually benefit someone really wanting to learn. At the same time I was gaining great insight into the practical topics I could teach on from a larger platform when addressing photographers at many different skill levels all at once.
 

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Soon after I began offering the one on one mentoring I started to receive requests for in person sessions. I was definitely excited to explore this route as I believe hands on teaching in such a valuable way to learn. No two sessions are ever the same and I believe the real art in producing authentic imagery is really the way you connect and observe the subjects you are photographing. Learning to pace yourself and wait for natural connections is something I’ve noticed photographers often struggle with so it’s really great to show them how to fit all of that into a session while still making time for the shots you go into a session knowing you want to create.
 

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I like to begin my in person sessions around noon with a drive to the beach while discussing what I love to observe in photography and a loose game plan for me going into a shoot. I get to know my new friend and learn about the struggles they face with their photography and what they love about it. I like to learn about what they feel are their weakest attributes and try to push them out of their comfort zones while shooting with me. Once we arrive at the beach we dive right into our first shoot: Harsh light with no shade to be found. Admittedly this is my favorite kind of light. I know not a lot of people really embrace it so this is a great way to get them nice and uncomfortable and teach them to see things a little differently. After about an hour we head back to my house and cover any questions on the way over. Once at the computer we dive into our images and I jump into my editing process and we build some presets based on my knowledge of the tools and the photographers own preferences. Based on the photographers’ personal needs we may do a portfolio review, discuss posting to social media, or dream up some great personal shoots. These sessions are really tailored to the artist so whatever they want to focus on is what I create time for. Next we’ll start preparing for our next shoot, a family or couple at sunset. We’ll choose clothing and go over a game plan for how I imagine I’ll be directing the shoot and the natural interactions I’ll be looking for. One more drive to the beach and an awesome evening of shooting. Afterwards we’ll repeat the afternoon and pour over our new images and create new presets for this type of lighting.
 

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I never guessed getting into photography I would have the opportunity to share all of this with others but I feel incredibly thankful that there is an interest because it is incredibly rewarding for me. I love the happiness I see when someone finally overcomes something they’ve been scared of or just simply creates something they’re proud of. It’s a really amazing process to be a part of and I look forward to continuing to share my vision and knowledge with others.
 

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Either/or questions:

Chocolate or vanilla?  Vanilla
Jazz or classical?  Jazz
Mountains or beach?  Beach
Cats or dogs?  Dogs
Film or digital?  Film, although I shoot digital
Introvert or extrovert?  Introvert
 

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We hope Twyla reminded you through her images to turn to your inner child from time to time - we all still have him or her in our heart, don’t we? Because as children, our imaginations are limitless, and our hearts and minds are always open and careless. We believe that the bad guy always loses and that the tooth fairy sneaks into our rooms at night to put money under our pillow. Everything amazes us, everything is interesting and exciting. And most of all we know that anything is possible - we are fearless. We deliberately experience life with a sense of curiosity and uncontrolled enthusiasm. Remain pure, remain happy, remain a child!

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