People, Places, Things: Pittsburgh

Happy 2016 Busy Bees out there!

New year, new blog section! In section "People, Places, Things" I'll be taking you with me on my travels; you'll see what I see and meet who I meet! As I've made it my resolution to travel more, hopefully you'll get more than pictures of New York, but even in NY there are thousands of places to be explored and millions of people to meet. So grab a blanket, cozy up by the fire, sip some hot chocolate and travel with me through Pittsburgh!

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I have to say that when I first hopped in the car and started out on my 6+ hour drive to Pittsburgh, I wasn't all too excited. When Mr. M and I first decided to go, all that he told me was that it was cold and that it didn't have as much to do as NYC did. None the less, we started out trek across the states. We put on the first episode of Serial* and battled our way through fog and slow moving vehicles; eventually we made it! 

When we arrived in Pittsburgh, Mr. M couldn't have been more right! It was cold and the fog made the city seem so dreary. One of the first things that we saw when we entered the city was an abandoned gas station followed by run down buildings. I was still optimistic as we drove on, figuring that the outskirts of a city don't always mirror what's on the inside.

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After a nice relaxing night Mr. M and I took to the town. We stopped into Tazza D'oro, a cute little cafe filled to the brim with hipsters and paninis.You should know that not only did they offer a French Toast Panini, but they offered a huge variety of coffee and teas. They also had hot chocolate on their menu; now I'm not saying that I have an obsession with hot chocolate, but I am saying that I really (really) love hot chocolate. And for some reason, I can't seem to find the perfect cup in New York...

As I watched the barista seductively spray the whip cream and sprinkle the tiny bits of coco on top of the hot chocolate, I saw the gates of heaven open and heard angels singing at the top of their lungs; I knew that this was the perfect cup of coco. I almost didn't even want to drink it, but then I thought "who am I kidding?". I figured that this is what the tears from unicorns taste like, magical.

Hot chocolate wasn't the only thing that Tazza D'oro made magically, my French Toast Panini was the perfect side piece to my hot chocolate. Most people would put it the other way around, but as I said I really  like hot chocolate. The panini was made with a slice of french toast filled with cream cheese and raspberry reduction. It was the breakfast of champions! Mr. M enjoyed a nice pot of tea, which they give you in your own little french press, and a hot panini. I wasn't too concerned about what kind of panini he had because I was too engorged in my hot chocolate and the episode of Serial that we were on.

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After we finished our breakfast we did what any sane couple would do on a cold day when it is flurrying outside, we headed to the zoo! The zoo was practically devoid of human life and that was just fine with us. We explored everything that the Pittsburgh Zoo had to offer, which was a lot! It's not as big as the Bronx zoo but had a lot that the Bronx zoo does not, like more than one elephant.

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Even though most of the animals were tucked away in the
safety of their warm beds, there still were many animals that were out and about. I didn't realize that lions did not mind the touch of a cold snowflake against their grizzly faces, I though that they craved the heat and the sun, but I was happy to see that it was the opposite. The pair of komodo dragons were tucked into their tree trunks in a deep sleep. I loved that the zoo was built so that you could walk the path and see every single animal without missing a beat.

As we continued down the pathway we stopped into the elephant house and were pleased to see that there was a mini parade of elephants. You could see the years weighing on each elephant as the wrinkles cascaded over their bodies.  To me, the elephants were the best part of the entire zoo. The way that they carelessly ate their food and played with the others in their parade. I could have watched them for days. Fortunately for Mr. M, the urge to see the other animals pulled me away.

 

 

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The Pittsburgh Zoo also has a couple other animal houses. The next house that we wondered upon was the Tropical Forest. It was really just a house for primates and one poison tree frog, but no matter. As we walked through the darkness of the Tropical Forest we saw orangutans grooming, howler monkeys hanging, and lemurs lunching. We also saw bad parenting happening...now this is definitely my opinion but you should never take your kids to the zoo and show them how to treat animals awfully. A man was standing banging on the glass of the gorilla's room yelling at the gorillas while his kids egged him on. There was a gorilla who was grunting and shuffling back and forth, clearly agitated. The man laughed as his kids high fived and laughed along. To me that is just cruel.

After our trek through the Tropical Forest we ventured to the aquarium (yes they have an aquarium in the zoo!!!). The Pittsburgh Zoo isn't the biggest zoo, but the fact that it has an aquarium in it just blew my mind. The two floor building has animals ranging from tiger sharks to king penguins. It was exquisite! After exiting the aquarium you are greeted by snoozing polar bears and playful otters. If you go to the Pittsburgh Zoo, do not leave without visiting the aquarium!

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We rounded out our zoo visit by going through the "Kid's Zoo". I think that the only reason it's called that is because of the giant slides and the petting zoo that's inside of it. The "Kid's Zoo" would've been better if we visited in the middle of May; most of the animals weren't out but you could just imagine how great it would have been if the kangaroos were hopping about. We did end up seeing this interesting looking llama.  I don't think that I've ever seen a llama with such long teeth before. I have to come back in the spring to see how everything changes

I have to say that my first day in Pittsburgh was a great one, stay tuned to see what happens next as we trek around the town!

As Always

-A

 

 

 

*Serial is a podcast by Sarah Koenig that dives into the story of murder. It has so many twists and turns and it soon became an obsession.

Glitter, Glitter, Everywhere

On today's episode of let's try something new with a 4 year old, we brought out the glitter.

 

The thing is that anyone who is a child, a preschool teacher, or someone who loves shiny things loves glitter; which is why it is the perfect leverage to get out there and take some pictures. One thing to always remember about having leverage during a photo shoot is to make sure it's the last thing that you use. Glitter is also almost impossible to clean up after the fact.

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It was 70 degrees and sunny, a perfect day to be outside. V was too eager to get outside and start snapping pictures, but only the ones that she wanted to take. I guess that's the price you pay when bribing a 4 year old to take pictures.

 

One thing that I love about V is that she has such a free spirit. Even though a free spirit running around you in circles while you're trying to snap pictures isn't always the best thing, it does make for silly and fun pictures.

 

Once we were done with the "serious" pictures, it was time to bring out the glitter. It's interesting how many times saying "blow the glitter" and be mistaken for "run towards me and throw everything at me"

 

In the end, I learned a couple things about playing with glitter yesterday.

  1. Glitter is awesome (I already knew that but it's always good to point out)
  2. Even baby wipes and hand washing does not get all of the glitter off of you, no matter how you try...

 

So get out there, crack open a bottle of glitter, and start throwing it everywhere!

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As Always,

-A

 

How do I get my child to smile during a photography session?

One of the main questions that I get from parents is, "How are you going to make my child smile?".

Parents are often worried that the only nice pictures come when their children are smiling ear to ear, and often that is not the case. Often telling a child to "Smile" or "Say cheese" results in a forced smile, or a smile that they think you want to see.   

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So here are some tips for you or your photographer to help you get that smile that you love to see.

  1. Don't go to a photography session with huge expectations.
    • When parents come to sessions and have high expectations from their children and they don't perform how you want them to, parents often get frustrated and children can sense that, which makes them more nervous than they already are. This often results in a forced smile or a child getting upset/angry. There's nothing worse than an angry child storming off of the "set" because they are frustrated. Just remember, if you get frustrated at your child during a session, they will probably get frustrated as well.
  2. All children are different
    • I'd like to think that there are three types of children that come to a session.
  • The child that likes to ham it up in front of the camera
    • This child loves to put on a show in front of the camera and is a natural when it comes to taking pictures.
  • The shy child
    • This child takes a long time to get warmed up or hides behind you when the time comes to take pictures.
    • Parents, help them by preparing them before they go to the session. If time allows it get to your appointment a little early so that your child can meet with the photographer and warm up a bit. That way you aren't spending 30 minutes of your session trying to pry your child off of your leg.
  • The kid who just won't smile when there is a camera in front of them
    • This child refuses to smile or do anything when they know that there is a camera in front of them.
    • Photographers, help them by playing a game while taking pictures. For the most part, if you're playing a game with them they forget that they are getting their picture taken and you'll also get great candid shots.

So how can you help your child if they aren't a natural? I'd love to tell you that there is a simple answer to this but there isn't. What works for one child doesn't always work for the next, which is why as a parent/photographer you have to be ready. This leads into my next tip:

  1. Work together
    • You and your photographer are a team and the best pictures happen when the team works together.
      • Your photographer and you rely on each other.
        • If you know a way to get your child to smile, share it with your photographer. If you there is a toy that your child loves, stand behind the photographer and shake it around.
        • Be silly, jump around, make faces, tell a joke.
        • Remember that in a photography session everyone feeds off of everyone else. If you are frantic and screaming at your child during the session both your photographer and your child will be frantic, and that means that the team is not a well oiled machine.
  2. Play
    • In the last tip, I mostly mentioned how parents can help their photographer, but as photographers we have to also try to get a smile out of the clients.
      • I try to get children to say silly things like "I have macaroni for hair" or "I'm a purple butterfly"; things that are obviously not true so that the child laughs or giggles.
        • This can sometimes backfire if you take your pictures while they are saying the sentence because sometimes you end up with pictures of them with their mouth wide open or in an odd shape. I always try to take the picture after they say the silly phrase and they are laughing.
      • I often find myself rolling around on the floor to get a child to smile. Sometimes I spend 30 minutes giving a child high fives to get a good smile. Like I said before it comes naturally to some children, but with most children you have to work for it.
      • Basically, you get what you work for. If you don't put in the effort, the child won't either.  If you try to force a smile, you'll get a forced smile.
  3. Remember that children are human
    •  No one smiles all of the time.
      • Sometimes they aren't smiling because they're having a bad day.
      • Sometimes they aren't smiling because they had a bad lunch.
      • Sometimes they just don't want to smile that day.
    • If you don't think that your session is going like you wanted it to or if your child is having a bad day, you could always try to reschedule your session.
  4. The best pictures don't always come when the child is smiling.
    • Sometimes the pictures that you love the most are when a child isn't smiling or giving a smirk.

But most of all

TRUST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER

They are the professionals, and most of the time they capture candid moments that you may have not seen or that happened quickly.


What are the different ways that have worked for you when it comes to getting your children to smile while taking pictures?

Until next time,

-A


We've moved to Squarespace!

Don't fret mon chers!

Alisha Wilkerson Photography has found a new home on squarespace.com and it is awesome. If you are looking to build a website the easy way, squarespace is the way to do it! Don't worry, all of your favorite posts have moved too!

That is all.

As Always,

A