Teacher Appreciation Week
Teacher Appreciation Week
As much as we are looking forward to Summer, we are also sad the school year is over. Both of our kids have had such an amazing year, and have grown and learned so much. We want to Thank Beth, Stephanie, Ms. Fisk, Ms. Hanley, and all the others for everything they have given our kids this year. You have laid the foundation for what’s ahead. THANK YOU!
Q & A with Stomping Ground Photo
We are excited to introduce a new weekly column on our reCrib blog, Q & A with…
For our inaugural column, meet Dennis Kleiman, co-founder of Stomping Ground Photo, who with his wife, Kelsey, has reinvented the school photo. Remember those awkward and old fashioned pics of you and/or your kids? Well thanks to Stomping Ground, there is a new, modern, fun and beautiful alternative. We’ve already forwarded info on Stomping Ground to our kids’ school and are hoping… Read on to learn how they got started, what floats their boat, why Metallica was a highlight, and how to get your kiddies to bring on the smile.
Check back on our blog each week to meet another extraordinary innovator. We’re already excited about who is on tap.
What memories do you have of your school photographs?
I really have none. Kelsey remembers the sense of disappointment that it was over so fast and she also remembers the anticipation of waiting for them to come.
You cut your teeth as a rock & roll photographer. Who was your favorite musician to photograph and why?
This question comes up all the time, and it’s so hard to answer because I’ve had the opportunity to shoot so many fantastic artists. But one that always stands out is the first time I was hired to shoot for the cover of a magazine. I was assigned to photograph Kirk Hammett of Metallica for Guitar Mag. And having grown up listening (and worshipping) Metallica, and now getting to shoot for a cover—it was something special.
What led you to reinvent the school picture?
Our first daughter, Leila, was in preschool at the time, and Kelsey pushed for us to photograph her class because she knew I could take really spirited photos of her classmates, who we knew pretty well. The photos were great, the parents loved them, so we started Stomping Ground with zero investment other than our time. Kelsey built the website over three months with images from our daughter’s preschool. We got a surge of press in the weeks after we launched. Our first school partner was in Los Angeles.
What is it that Stomping Ground does that’s different?
We’re not taking the same picture of every kid. Every child is different and we listen to them and react to them. Our lighting is beautiful. Our sets aren’t cheesy. They’re modern. We give kids more space and allow them to move. We’re also a cool crew, I think. We make kids comfortable no matter what age. We do use other photographers and they’re experienced, talented photographers with great instincts and personalities that jive with kids.
What’s your favorite part of what you do?
I do enjoy shooting, but I’d say the best part is a few weeks after the shoot, when we get an email or a call from a parent who is really excited and appreciative of the work. I think parents are getting real value out of our work. We just photographed a school where sales were close to 100% of the student body which is pretty incredible.
I assume you’ve travelled your fair share. What have been some of your favorite places to shoot?
Ahhhh, the glamorous life of a photographer! I used to shoot adventure stories for Fast Company. It was a different style of shooting than what I am known for, more documentary. I shot a 24 hour bicycle race in Moab. I spent a week rafting down the Salmon River. A Ski school in Whistler. But there’s nothing like shooting in your own backyard. There are so many hidden spots around the five boroughs, that feel so far from New York City. I love shooting out by the Rockaways, Jacob Riis Park, and up in Pelham Bay. I also love shooting out at the Federation of Black Cowboy’s stables near the Brooklyn / Queens border. I’ve been working on a project out there for the last couple years.
What camera do you use for recreational purposes?
I still prefer film to digital for my personal work. For some of my projects, I go back to my favorite format—the 4×5 camera. But for family pictures, my hasselblad, or my fave point and shoot—the Ricoh GR1.
You and your wife work together. What are the best and worst parts of working with your spouse?
I’ve been surprised at how well we’ve been able to navigate these waters. We are both 150% invested in our business, and we have completely different skill sets. I pretty much take the pictures and manage post production and she does everything else. Next year, our fabulous intern Laura will be an employee and Kelsey is really hoping we can bring her on full-time because the work literally never ends. And we need help managing the day to day so we can focus on the future of the company. The worst part…um…I usually get stuck making lunch for us.
In addition to photography, what floats your boat?
Starting this business and growing it has taken such an unbelievable amount of time and energy, that I’ve let most everything else lie fallow in the meantime. We work while our kids are at school, then with the family from 4-8, then usually back to work until 11 or midnight. This schedule doesn’t leave much room for boat floating. But my two guilty pleasures have very little to do with kids—poker and boxing. And I like to noodle around on the guitar.
You live in Brooklyn…where are some of your favorite “stomping grounds?
We just moved deeper into Brooklyn, and we’re still exploring our neighborhood. But we’re having a love affair with Farm on Adderly, a farm to table restaurant. And it’s right across the street from the best hummus in Brooklyn—Mimi’s. There is also fantastic Thai place called To B Thai on Beverly Road. The owner lives across the street from us and the waitress is our next door neighbor. For hanging with the kids, we’re close to Prospect Park and Leila and Kelsey been taking horseback riding lessons at Kensington Stables. And the water park at the foot of Atlantic can’t be beat. When we go there we tend to stop at the kid’s favorite restaurant, Moxie Spot.
Tell us your fail proof tips for photographing kids.
Shoot A LOT. Don’t just snap one photo, keep shooting. Best to be using a pro or semi pro camera, that can shoot without any delays. Also, get down to kid height. I spend my days on my knees or crawling around the floor to shoot kids. And talk to them, engage them—don’t say “smile!” You’ll get more natural expressions if you let them do “their thing” and shoot the entire time.
This entry was posted on Thursday, May 12th, 2011 at 5:44 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any comments to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a comment, or trackback from your own site.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there. You deserved to sleep in today, but now it’s time to get up! How many days ’til Father’s Day?
sign of the week
I just spotted this great sign at Moomah cafe in Tribeca, NYC.
It’s been so great hearing from you all about your sales (it’s fun and rewarding, isn’t it?!). And we also really appreciate your feedback – both positive and constructive – on the site. Keep it coming! We want reCrib to be the best it can be, the place you know you can come to to buy and sell the best, gently used baby and kids gear. So please spread the word to your friends across the country (reCrib is national, did you know that?) – the more stuff on the site, the more people who come to find great deals on kids gear, the better it will be.