Archive for March 4th, 2012

Zoom Focus: A Kids-Eye View of the Capital District

 Hand Over Hand Photography: DiAnna Marr’s Remarkable Camera-Land

When our son Jonah was a wee baby, Andy and I had a “professional” picture taken of him at a store studio.  We did this again, ritual-like, when Jonah was six months old, and I think we managed another at 13 months or so, Easter-themed.   By then, though, we couldn’t take him to any barber so we had to cut his hair ourselves – and the resulting picture portrayed a half-smiling waif with butchered hair, clutching a yarn-covered plastic egg.  After that, the whole idea became unthinkable.  Before he was two we knew better than to attempt such a feat.

For that matter, what kid, disabled or not, is an angel for this kind of thing?  The whole experience is difficult at best for any family.  By the time the pictures are taken, you’re just hoping for a smile.  “You never look at those photos as REAL memories,” said DiAnna Marr, Hand Over Hand’s photographer.  “The best photos are not forced, with strained smiles, but sincere moments.”

Hand Over Hand Photography embodies what its name implies – an experience of working together to find beauty in everything.  DiAnna is a refreshingly new kind of photographer – the kind who not only travels to you but also listens to you as well.  She wants the families she works with, especially the children, to be themselves, relax, and have fun.  She knows how to capture not only the beauty of a smile but also the radiance in spontaneous emotion.   She’s friendly, laid back, and professional too.

DiAnna’s thoughtful perspective extends beyond the camera to small personal gestures and considerate, thoughtful touches.  “I always bring a junk camera with me,” she told me. “Younger, more curious kids can hold it or play with it so they can connect and feel part of the process.”  And don’t worry about presenting perfection or polite little cherubs.  “I’m comfortable and relaxed with behaviors of all types, and flexible with time, “ she said; ”temper tantrums happen, issues come up.  It’s life.”

Maybe that’s the best part about working with DiAnna:  there isn’t any pressure, and you can be yourself around her. Unperturbed by fussy kids and grumpiness, there’s an especially nice bonus in the fact that she works so well with disabled kids or those with more serious behavioral problems.  She’s got several years’ experience teaching and caring for children with autism, other cognitive, and physical disabilities, and she’s qualified to handle outbursts of aggression.

As much as she enjoys photo sessions with babies and younger kids, DiAnna has a special place in her heart for high school senior photos.  I think maybe she knows that their official school photos so often are disappointing, and it’s a difficult age for self-esteem.    “Showing people how captivating they are is an amazing experience,” she said.    DiAnna welcomes new ways of seeing; she doesn’t limit herself to any particular type of photography.   Her engagement sessions and wedding portfolios are uniquely crafted and truly affordable, and her undivided attention feels like a gift when you’re the subject behind her lens.

Visit Hand Over Hand Photography on Facebook and say hello.  Then check out DiAnna’s website.  It reflects who she is in a uniquely accurate way – from the stunning photos she’s taken to the site’s design and feel.  Make sure to visit her ‘Behind the Lens’ page.  On one side of the page is a photograph of the photographer herself – DiAnna, smiling, eyes lifted almost shyly into the light, framed by hazy flowers.

On the other side, her words:  what she wants you to know about her.  She doesn’t use this space to list credentials or brag about the quality of photography equipment in her collection.  Instead, what she has to say is much more personal.    “I try to use my camera to capture the sense of wonder I still have about the world and the people in it,” she writes.

“You are beautiful.  I will show you.”

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