The Art Of Capturing Keiki On Film

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - November 02, 2005
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Heidi Anderson
Heidi Anderson photographs her son
Miles at Keiki Photography

Heidi Anderson strokes a bit of pastel paint over the enlarged portrait she photographed at her Keiki Photography studio, placing small dots of yellow to bring out the natural raffia on a black and white photo. On another photo, she adds a touch of green to a child’s stocking cap. And on a series of three photos of two sisters, she colors the background with sky blue and light green.

In addition to capturing the essence of the child’s personality on film and hand-painting the photo, Anderson also helps her clients choose a frame that will add the finishing touch.

“Some parents even bring me swatches of their couches, so I can coordinate,” she notes.

Anderson adds that displaying the photos in the living room and putting them on holiday cards are the most popular uses of her work.

While it sounds easy to do, there’s a lot of thought that goes into capturing that perfect moment on film. Anderson says when keiki come to get their photo taken in the studio, it’s time to throw out all the good behavior rules.

“It’s OK to be loud, and howl,” she explains. “It makes for a great photo. We want them to have fun here.”

To create a candid portrait, Anderson’s enthusiasm, warm personality and expressive hand motions allow kids to relax and be themselves.

“If the child is crying, or giving the pouty look, I want to remember the real thing,” Anderson says. “The best compliment for me is to hear the family say ‘You’ve totally captured them.’ Sometimes the parents have tears of joy, and they say, ‘I see this every day.’”

An assistant is a vital part of Anderson’s business to help bring out the keiki’s spontaneous expression. For her success in hand-painting photos and the “human side” of the business, she credits one of her mentors, child photographer Julie Floyd under whom Anderson managed a photo studio in California for five years.

When Anderson moved to Hawaii in 2002, she continued her photography from her home base, and did shoots on location. In 2005, she opened her 855-square-foot studio on Bethel Street across from the Hawaii Theatre. She notes the traffic from the downtown lunch crowd and her strategic partnership with the Cole Academy have increased her business 200 percent.

She credits her husband, Christopher, a sales and marketing executive at Ko Olina, for his support and for believing in her. Their son Myles, 6, has become a “pro” at posing for the camera. And their daughters Makena, 4, and Malia, 2, often snap pictures with their own pretend cameras. The Ewa Beach residents are carrying on a family tradition of entrepreneurship, as Anderson’s parents used to own a restaurant, and she grew up helping out in the family business from seventh grade through high school.

Running a business is something the San Francisco Academy of Art graduate knows a lot about, although she does admit it has its challenges.

“The photos and painting are a no brainer,” she explains. “For the business side, I have to force myself to be disciplined. I’m driven by perseverance and the faith that my business will work.”

Anderson reveals that 50 percent of her business is child psychology. For a teenager, she might ask him about what kind of music he likes, or if he has a girlfriend. For a toddler, she could ask her to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or she might play a quick game of peek-a-boo.

“I’ve always loved doing portraits to draw out the personality - whether they are wild and crazy or shy and quiet,” she says.

Keiki Photography is located at 1123 Bethel St. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with appointments on Saturday. For more information, call 808-531-5859.

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