Erica Knecht

Family Photography | Shanghai, China

Ready

family photography, Shanghai, Shoot for Chairty, StoriesErica KnechtComment
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I’m so ready to get back to my camera. It’s been long, too long, since I knocked on a family’s door, butterflies, ready to learn a new love story.

We left Jakarta in May, and I sent off my last batch of Jakarta images just before our moving van pulled away. Now, it's almost three months later, and I’m through the creative fallows. 

 

This time without working has been important to my family. It allowed me to devote my energy inward. My creativity, my time, has been conserved for my family. I’ve spent these months settling my kids, soothing fears, calming tantrums, searching out friends, and just being together. I’ve directed my focus to learning important life skills like where to buy kale at a reasonable price, and who has the best cheeses, and how to cross the street without being hit by a bus, and how to stay calm when your kids are losing their minds, and how to open a bank account, and how to pay my phone bill (to be honest that one is still somewhat of an enigma.) This time away from my computer has allowed me to be more present and more creative with my own family at a time when the little ones really needed that. 

And now, after a predictable three month period of unrest, we’re reaching equilibrium again. And I’m longing to get back to shooting. This weekend kick things off. I have two sessions lined up, both generous families who are contributing to the UNHCR with the Shoot for Charity initiative. 

 

I can’t think of a better way to begin again. Its always an honour to make pictures for a family, to see each family, their ways of living and loving each other, their tenderness, their idiosyncrasies, the little bits of tension that make the softness that much sweeter. But it’s an even bigger honour to be invited to photograph a family who is giving to a cause that makes my chest swell with goodness and hope. 

 

I still have about one or possibly two slots open for this campaign. If you’re interested to know more send me a note at ericaknecht@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

I'm lucky. You probably are too. Let's do something to say thanks.

Shanghai, Shoot for ChairtyErica KnechtComment

You know, people don't often say this, but I'm gonna.  My life is pretty amazing. And yours probably is too. Yup. It's true. My life is charmed beyond measure. And if you're reading this, I'll bet, probably, so is yours.

If you're like me, it's easy to forget this. But it's real. Even with my middle-class problems, I am so lucky. So beyond fortunate.

I move through the world with ease, largely free from prejudice and fear. I have advantages unknown and inconceivable to most of humanity. I don’t fear my son getting murdered for the colour of his skin. I don’t have to face the terror of losing my world to a bomb blast. I don’t worry too much about clean water. I don't even give a thought to where my next meal will come from.

This house, these children, these responsibilities, these messes,  these are all blessings. The difficulties in deciding just what school is the very most absolute perfect school for my child; or the annoyance of a broken oven that a parade of repair men can't fix; the sardine-can commute on the subway with two small children; the injustice of the landlord indifferent to the piddling water pressure in the shower: these things that I struggle with are a testament to my audacious good luck.

I might for a moment, feel aggrieved at the infinite and insignificant slights that the world throws my way. Yet, if I reflect on it, if I allow a little perspective through, I can see that the petty slings and arrows of everyday life are the gifts of my outrageous fortune.  

There’s never been a better time to live in the Western world than now. But us privileged few are awash in fear, and the tide is moving away from reason and towards xenophobia. Like, can we just talk for a moment about Brexit and the real possibility of a Trump presidency? Can we talk about how the acts of a very, tiny, infinitesimal few crazy men with a religion different to ours trick us into believing the world is against us and that we must close borders, seal up our privilege, drop bombs, and declare war? 

 

I want to stand up and shout NO. I don’t accept that. 

 

I believe in goodness, in love, in giving, in helping those who need help.

 

So, I’m asking you to join me. Give. Give what you can to those who were not born into privilege of middle class problems. Give to those whose lives are so much worse than yours. 

 

I’m teaming up with Shoot For Charity, a movement organised by Rebecca Viveash in response to last year’s refugee crisis in Europe. I’m giving all my time in August to support people fleeing from hunger and war, violence and persecution. I’m supporting people whose most audacious dream is to live a life with my middle-class problems. 

 

I’m donating all of my session fees for the entire month of August to the UNHCR. So, here's the deal: make a donation to the UNHCR. Pay what you can, and I’ll do a full family shoot for you.

 

Here's how to join me. 

 

1. Send me an email and book a shoot in August. ericaknecht@gmail.com

2. Pay what you can. My session fee is 3000 CNY. If you can give that, please do. If you can’t, get in touch anyway, and we can work something out. I want you to give what you’re able.

3. In lieu of paying my session fee, send a charitable donation to the UNCHR (for the international donation page go here, or if you're from the US and want to make a tax-deductible donation, go here.) 

4. Forward me your receipt as proof of payment.

5. I’ll shoot a full family session for you and your loves. We’ll work for about an hour or two. Within two weeks, you’ll receive an online gallery of your images, plus a stack of digital files with full print rights in high and low resolution. Expect about 70+ images. 

As for the small print, I'll retain copyright of the images, and I'll ask you to sign a model release. I'll also retain the rights to use the images to share on my social media platforms as well as with Shoot for Charity. 

 

If you can’t swing a donation right now, you can still help. Share this post with your friends in Shanghai. Help me get the word out. Let’s all pull together. Love wins. Giving helps. 

 

Thanks guys.

Us, Together {A Family Session in South Jakarta}

Erica Knecht1 Comment

I kinda fell in love with these guys. You know? I mean, the cheeky boys (I spent a good twenty minutes running around the living room with them); the crayon on the walls; the colours in their home; the light and the shadow (I'll always love the light and shadow); they way they play and laugh and tickle and joke. But most of all, I just really loved how much they all just wanted to be together. And the last photograph? It kinda breaks my heart. 

At Home {A Mini-Session in Kemang | Jakarta Family Photography}

families, family photography, Indonesia, lifestyle photography, mini-sessionsErica KnechtComment

I was sure this shoot was going horribly wrong. I thought, for sure, I was going to get nothing good. You see, there were these two little ones, full of life and laughter and a fair pinch of mischief, vibrating with pre-Christmas energy. And I made that silly mistake of puling out the FUN PHOTOGRAPHER card waaaaay too early. Jump on the bed, I told them. Run away, I'm a monster, I said. I got them all wound up, and I was sure it was game over.

But then look. Some magic happened. We connected. I saw them. And these images were the result. And I think, possibly, this ended up being one of my favourite sessions of the year.

So, anyway, if you want me to spend some time running your kids wild, chasing around your garden them like a monster, hoping against hope for a good picture, well, hey! Send me a note! ;) ericaknecht@gmail.com

To You and Your Kin

Indonesia, jakarta, lifestyle photographyErica KnechtComment

Twelve months ago, I was sitting in a little cafe, my computer balanced on a wobbly old table, collecting my favourite images and writing words that I hoped would come to life. I was working on this website. Twelve months ago, I hit publish, and released my dream out into the world. Twelve months ago, I was anxiously wishing that maybe, somehow a few people would hire me to make their portraits.  

 

And here we are, now, entering a new year, and I can hardly believe how this past year has unfolded.

 

I put up my website. And people started calling. I met so many gorgeous people, I got to hang out with babies, I was charmed (and challenged) by toddlers. I photographed a new life coming into this world. I was published, and this I can still hardly believe, in a real life print magazine. I took a handful of courses, gained confidence and courage. I got to travel all the way to San Fransisco to attend a workshop and meet some amazingly talented and creative photographers. I got to meet my ultimate photography crush. 

 

But the best thing of all, I think, really, if it comes down to it, is I got to meet so many lovely people. Each time I am hired to work for a new family, I’ve got a stone in my belly and worries in my mind: will I be able to do this? Will I be able to handle the kids? What about the parents? Will they like me? Will the like my work???? 

 

But then, each time, without fail, I’m let in the front door, I kneel down and greet the kids, I get a shy smile, and then it’s all over. I’m in, and we’re buds. I fall in love with each family I work with. I see the families before me, dressed in their best perfection disguises, think, well hey, you guys are sweet and maybe this is going to be okay? And then the middle kid crosses his arms and starts to pout, and the big kid chases the little one with his nurf gun, and the baby starts to cry and the mum starts to crack just a little and shoots a look at the dad, and I think, guys, I see you, I really see you now and I just love you all the more. 

 

I mean, shoot, there really are so many wonderful people in the world, and I get to see them, I mean, really see them. I get invited to their homes. I get to see how they live and how they lvoeAnd I’m sure that I have the best sort of clients, and I just can’t believe my luck. 

 

Anyway, 2015 has been pretty wonderful. Which isn’t to say that every moment has been dreamy, because certainly there’s been doubt and angst, because hello, I’m me. But overall when I look how this year has unfolded, I’m just glad. So, here’s a little roundup of some of my favourite images from 2015, all lovely families, all perfectly cracked just a little bit.

 

And guys, thanks. Really, this has been such a special experience for me. To everyone who’s hired me to see them with my camera, given me a high five, or liked a post, or even just visited this page, thanks. Really. I'm going to be running a giveaway this  month to say thank you for all the support. So. But until then, good tidings to you. All of you. Thanks.

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Where He Was Small

family photography, Indonesia, jakarta, A Farewell SessionErica KnechtComment

I'm not really one for long goodbyes, But a goodbye photoshoot? YES! Let's do it.

See this little boy here? He was about to move back home to Japan, having lived his whole life in Jakarta. His entire life has been here, everything he's ever known in these streets, but he's still too small to hold onto the memories of his first home, his first friends, his first loves. 

His parents asked me to make some photographs of their little boy's life here. They wanted to have some photos, some tangible representation of their time here. They wanted to capture his favourite places, his toys, and the streets near his house. They asked me to shoot mostly in black and white (happy to!!!) 

I love doing this kind of work. It might be one of my favourite ways to shoot a family, knowing that their days here are numbered, and nostalgia is thick, and they realize deeper than ever before, how much good there is in this place, that these truly are the golden days, and they want to hold onto it all.  

Anyway, here's a little from this session, if you'd like to see.

And if you'd like to make some photographs like this, send me a note. ericaknecht@gmail.com

Waiting {A maternity shoot in central Jakarta}

lifestyle photographyErica KnechtComment

This was my first foray into maternity photography in Jakarta. And to tell you the truth, was a little bit nervous. Without the energy of little children, I wondered, would this session have enough dynamism?

As it turns out though, working with adults is WAY EASEIR than working with children. I mean, adults follow instructions! They stay where you pose them! They look at the camera when you ask! It was kind of a revelation.

And so, I came away from this shoot happy. I wanted to give my clients a portrait of that waiting era: that liminal period when it’s just the two of you, but not really, because there’s almost three, and your heart has expanded but you don’t yet know how much it still has to grow, and you can feel that a sea change is imminent, but you can’t quite picture how your life will look two months hence. And so, together, just the two of you, waiting, waiting, waiting. 

I’d love to do more shoots like this. If you’re expecting, and you’d like to make something special, let’s talk. You can email me at ericaknecht@gmail.com.

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In All Things, Thanks

StoriesErica KnechtComment

I’ve been listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons. (And don’t worry, I’m fully aware that this is profoundly uncool, and am accordingly filled with the appropriate amount of self loathing for this transgression.) 

 

Anyway, Gilbert referenced this quote by A.S. Byatt:

I think of writing simply in terms of pleasure. It’s the most important thing in my life, making things. Much as I love my husband and my children, I love them only because I am the person who makes these things...I, who I am, is the person that has the project of making a thing. Well, that’s putting it pompously - but constructing. I do see it in sort of three-dimensional structures. And because that person does that all the time, that person is able to love all these people.
— A.S. Byatt

 

And this is exactly, completely how I view my photography. 

 

On shoot days, I spend the prevenient hours with a butterfly stomach, nervous and unfocused, fidgety with anticipation. But I come out of that shoot awakened.  I’ve seen everything beautiful, and it’s given me new life. I see you and your family loving each other. I see those moments of tension and ease, the places where dark meets light, and the shadows fade. I see those things that you try to hide from me, but I see anyway, and I love you all the more for it. I see this all and I’m bonding and my heart is growing and I’m so alive.

 

And when I’m in front of my computer, editing my work, seeing you and the way you smile at your kids, seeing the way your husband draws his fingers through his little girl’s curls, my chest is so full and tight and I can’t believe how gorgeous you all are. 

 

This time that I get to spend in the presence of loveliness, in the presence of beauty of light and of feeling, that fills me up and gives me what I need so that I can then, in turn, have those beautiful moments with my own people. Because I do that, I make pictures of your family, I am able to pour all that love into my own family.

 

So, if you’ve ever hired me, thank you. Thank you for allowing me to see what’s beautiful and good. Thank you for giving me work so that I can feel full and alive. Thank you for giving me the work I need to make whole so that I can go back home and love my own people. 

 

I’ve just had a big swath of time open up in November. And I want to fill it. So, if you’ve been thinking of doing some family photographs, maybe in time for Christmas? 

 

As a way of saying thanks to you lovely people, I want to offer you a little something. If you book a full family session this month, I’ll send you a coupon code for 500 000 IDR in print credit. 

Get in touch. You can contact me here or you can get in touch directly at ericaknecht@gmail.com

 

So guys, thanks. And love, love, love, to all of you.

 

xx 

Keep the Streets Empty for Me | A South Jakarta Family Session

families, family photography, jakarta, lifestyle photographyErica KnechtComment

Most of the people I photograph are here in this city for a very limited amount of time. Our days here in Jakarta are bounded by contracts, cardboard boxes, and shipping containers. We bring our kids here, raise them up, and then wonder, how much of this place will they remember when they’re grown?

 

This question of roots and a sense of place is one that I reflect upon in the context of my own family. And I think that is part of the reason that I am drawn to making photographs of families out in this city.

 

Often when families ask about an outdoor venue for their photographs, I suggest taking a walk in the neighbourhood. I say get out out there, discover the cityscapes, vibrant and rich and beautiful in their mundanity, embrace it all the chaos, noise, and grit, because it’s part of your story and your story is beautiful. We'll make some photographs and you'll keep them and years later remember that time in your life when your kids where small and loved superheroes and play fighting and in the evenings they ran up and down the streets with the neighbourhood boys while the sun hangs hazy orange low.

 

I got to work with this gorgeous family several weeks ago near their home in the South. They were lovely, dynamic and fun and their boys bouncing, full of life and karate chops and that general bread of boy-ness that I so love. Anyway, it made photographing them a total dream. Plus, we did a little tour of the neighbourhood, red wagon in tow and everything. All of which is to say, this shoot was a dream. And I’d love more like this please! ;)

 

If you’re interested in doing a session like this one, I’d love to hear from you! Get in touch either here, or via my Facebook page. Or you can email me directly at ericaknecht@gmail.com. Okay! Do it! Talk to you sooooon ;)

 

In The Morning

families, documentary, jakartaErica KnechtComment

This is, hands down, my favourite type of shoot. 

 

 

The brief was simple: capture love, relationship, and the tiny details of the everyday. Show Mia’s morning routine, the little bits of her life here and now. Show her world as it exists through her eyes. Show the people around, her neighbourhood, her friends, her nanny, the driver, the security guard. Show the relationship they have. Show the neighbourhood, the dog that always walks by in the morning, show the noodle soup hawker, show the nannies feeding their charges in the early morning sun. Show the dirt and grime. Show how much love surrounds this little being. 

 

Right up my street, guys. Right up my street. 

 

Community speaks to me so loudly. You know that whole thing, with“It takes a village to raise a child”? I believe it. I feel it. I live it. I know that I rely on my community to help me, to love my to fill that void that comes when family are oceans and days away. 

 

So, I was so glad when I was tasked to make photographs of everyone who surrounds Mia. Because, after all, it is the people around our children, the people who love our children, the people who care for our children, who change their diapers and kiss their scraped knees and feed them mango, all of these people are the ones that teach our children what love looks like.

 

And let me tell you, this sweet child is so, so, so loved.

If you'd like to make a shoot like this, I'd love to hear from you! You can reach me here, or send me a note on email. ericaknecht@gmail.com

In The Field

Travel Photography, Indonesia, DevelopmentErica KnechtComment

A while and a half ago, I had the privilege of going on an amazing trip into rural West Java to make some photographs for Java Mountain Coffee.

The kids and I traveled to Garut, which is a couple hours part Bandung, to visit some coffee fields and get to know the women who harvest the cherries that are turned into our morning cups of coffee.

It was an incredible experience, for a number of reasons. I mean, how lucky is it that I can travel on a work trip and take my kids along with me? How fortunate that I get to see so many corners of this beautiful country and share with my children the experience of escaping to the lush green countryside, away from branded handbags, shopping malls, and incessant traffic? 

How amazing that I get to see vistas so beautiful that they almost break my heart? 

Meeting the women who harvest coffee cherries for a living was also totally eye-opening. These women (and here it's always women who harvest while men stand to the side, oversee the work, and collecting the profits) they work in the fields from just after dawn until about noon. They pick kilo after kilo of ripe red cherries, broken gloves offering a modicum of protection to their hands against stings and insects. They carry heavy loads on their backs using batik slings to balance the weight. They climb into trees and harvest cherries. They work and work and  work and are paid about three dollars per day. The harvest is seasonal and when it's done, so is the work and the money.

Anyway, it was incredible this trip. What a privilege to work with companies committed to trading fairly and helping hardworking women to make a fair wage.

Here are some pictures if you'd like to see. 

I'm always, ALWASY up for interesting projects in rural Indonesia. If you or anyone you know is working on a development project and want to make some pictures of your work, get in touch. I'd love to collaborate. 

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It's for the Neighbourhood

family photography, jakarta indonesia, lifestyle photographyErica KnechtComment

Do you guys know how amazing this city is early in the morning? The streets are still quiet, the air a little fresher, and the light is just so good.

I met up with Joanne, Keith and Chase recently to make some photographs. The brief was simple: just some simple images of their family in the home; they wanted to capture their wee boy on that precariously heartbreaking cusp between toddler and boy. 

So we met up, I tried to do some indoor shots of the family, but this boy, well he wasn't into it. He wanted out. He wanted to run. So we followed. We went out and explored the neighbourhood, up graffiti lined streets and down narrow allies. And it turned out to have been the best.

Kids know, I tell you. It's like a life lesson, I'm sure. Follow their lead. They'll show you the way.

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A Goodbye Shoot | Jakarta Family Photograher

family photography, jakarta indonesia, lifestyle photographyErica KnechtComment

Leaving is tough, isn't it? Saying good by to that home where your toddler took his first steps, to that room where you nursed your infant in the stillness of the night, to that pool where your big kid grew two sizes the day she learned to swim, it’s poignant, and painful. Those rooms in which your memories are housed now become memories themselves. 

 

 

Saying goodbye to place is difficult. But saying good bye to the people that helped raise your kids, that is, you know, heartbreaking. These lovely souls who brushed away your little one’s tears, or who lifted your boy into the driver's seat of the car, and played race cars all afternoon, or those beautiful people who reached out held your baby when you just needed to catch your breath, well, these people become bonded to us like family. 

 

Recently, a lovely family booked a session right before leaving Indonesia. Their children are tiny, too tiny to really hold onto any memories of their first home. These little boys would move away and never really remember Jakarta home, or their life here. These boys would never know how Pak Ari was devoted to the bigger one, or how the Ibus loved the baby with gentle, patient hearts. 

 

This family asked for pictures of them in their Jakarta home. But they also asked for pictures of the whole household. The nanny, the driver, the housekeeper. Each one of these people has played a role in helping this family make a home here. And the mum wanted to make sure that their boys knew these lovely faces, and that their helpers would remember them for always.

 

 

I’m a firm believer in preserving our stories. Our stories, weather we know them or not, shape us. The people who love us teach us about love. And so much better for us to know our stories, to remember.  

 

So many third culture kids don't have the chance to go back to their first homes. They'll never have the experience of driving by their first house, and remember the smell of cement and red earth, the driver who played race cars, and the housekeeper who sang lullabies. They won’t return to that garden where they around after shcool and remark on how small it seems now that they're grown. 

 

But these boys will get to return to these photos, and know a bit of their story. They’ll know the places that were important to them when they were small. They'll know how many people were around when they were small to love them wholeheartedly. 

 

If you would like to preserve your Jakarta story for your family, for your little ones, I’d be honoured to work with you.  I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me here or at ericaknech@gamil.com 

Farewell to Jakarta {A Family Session | Jakarta}

family photography, lifestyle photography, jakarta indonesiaErica KnechtComment

Saying goodbye is tough work, you know? It’s like sadness and nerves, the ‘what will be’ and the ‘oh my heart what used to be,’ It's the promise of longing for old times, old places and old friends, plus the excitement and anticipation of what lies ahead. What new adventures? What new roads will we travel? What new hearts will we meet?

 

I said goodbye to a dear friend last week who is leaving Jakarta, off for new adventures. Jenn is a real, good, kind heart, an artist of the truest order, and an inspiration in that essential art of how to be a human.

But before she left, I got to hang out with her and her gorgeous family. We wanted to make some pictures to remember her time in Jakarta, a city that’s been home to her family and her children during their most magical years. This little family is saying goodbye to life in this crazy city, goodbye to chaos, and bad traffic, goodbye to pollution and flooding. But also goodybe to having a beloved aunt and uncle down the road, to their pet dog, and a veritable menagerie of stray animals that made a home together. Goodbye to slow evenings when the light slants low, and the dogs run around until they can't run anymore, and little ones play naked in the sprinkler, no one caring that there are no dry clothes. Goodbye to their school, to community. Goodbye to friends so close they are now family. Goodbye to that golden light, those banana leaves glowing green, and the sound of the call to prayer drifting lazily through the air. 

Goodbyes. They are hard. 

 

I’m so glad, though, that I got to take these pictures and remind them of wheelbarrow races and white wine in water glasses, golden afternoons, lush green leaves, and red earth, and little dirty feet.

 

Anyway, J. I’m gonna miss you. I already do. 

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