Maternal instinct

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Photography has become her passion since she first held a camera during her elementary days, taking photos of schoolmates on field trips. Convincing her parents to have her films developed (P200 per roll) was a difficulty. So in her last high school year, she sold her prints to classmates for souvenirs.

Madeline Arenas, whose roots are from Calasiao,Pangasinan, has grown up as an artist in the family.  She recalls that in her college years, she would spend all day till the mall shut down – flipping art and photography books of Leonardo De Vinci and Ansel Adams in bookstores during summer.

“We take pictures because there is something we want to remember, whether it is the first few steps of your baby or waiting for a beautiful, glowing sunset up the hill,” she quips. “It is the emotion we experience that we want our digital cameras to capture so we could relive these emotions by looking at the photographs.”

From that hobbyist photographer, Madeline has evolved into a professional on-location portrait photographer based in Norwalk, California with a studio in Anaheim.

Now specializing in newborns, babies, children, and families, she finds capturing newborns to six-month-old babies to be her favorite because they are “overpoweringly adorable, just sleeping and curling up with toothless smiles and non-complaining no matter how many props you put around them.”

An effective photograph for Madeline is professionally executed without technical errors, is visually appealing, and communicates your message without the need for words.  She added that it is also aimed at your specific audience, and while it pleases your client, it also brings you more business.

“Beyond the art of Photoshop or Lightroom, and all the different lighting tools we use in our craft, the most effective photograph is the emotion of the subject, the reaction of the audience, no matter what size. If just one of my photos has stirred one person, I have properly succeeded,” she says.

When asked for her basic and most important principles as a photographer, she finds composition to be her most important aspect in photography, as it is the most difficult to master.

“I realized in my professional career, I will encounter a time that available light doesn’t always go the way I envision it. If I can come up with a composition out of this unplanned lighting situation, I can make my clients happy. A powerful composition connects your subject and the viewer’s emotion.Work it out until you achieve it; develop new techniques and never give up while looking at your viewfinder,” she advises.

She believes the most powerful creator of a photographer’s mood is light (“paint your subject with light”). This is how she prefers to shoot with newborns – colored if with props and for those done in a black backdrop, she chooses black and white. For street life photography, she opts to experiment with both.

A member of Professional Photographers Association (PPA), she also joins photo contests and her best recognition by far is winning first in the LA Hot List (2012 and 2013, Best Children’s Photographer). She is also a product endorser of Dolica equipment and uses them in her photo shoots.

As a custom photographer, she travels and drives anywhere in California, particularly serving Los Angeles – San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita, Orange, Inland Empire, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and San Francisco County.

Madeline talks about her inspirations in life: grandmother Ina, mother Zenaida, children Dylan and Kyla, and husband Randy (who craftily creates her wooden props). She looks up to Anne Gedes and Ansel Adams for inspiration and a few others, including Manny Librodo for glamour photography and post-processing.

This architecture graduate from Far Eastern University (FEU), who found her dream successfully in another land, still tries to balance her career and family life manageably. Her ultimate goal as a visual artist is to be able to shoot the penguins in Antarctica, the Northern Lights in Alaska, and most importantly to photograph her own children’s wedding and ultimately her grandchildren someday.”