Ready for a close-up on Main Street
By Sue Tiffin
Published Aug. 3, 2017
Maternity leave has been a catalyst for creativity for Cheryl Smith.
It was while on mat leave with her second child a few years ago that she encountered lifecasting in the forms of newborn hands and feet while visiting family. The process of creating a mould to have a 3D replica of “every adorable line, wrinkle and fold,” of hands, feet, pregnant bellies and even pet paws was intriguing to Smith, who wanted to have it done.
“There was nobody locally who did them, so I went to Toronto and got trained,” she said.
Fifteen months later, on maternity leave with her third child, Smith pursued formal training in photography, which had previously been a hobby.
“I’ve always been interested in photography, I was always taking my camera everywhere I went,” she said.
Largely self-taught, though the courses at Sir Sanford Fleming College and through Henry’s camera store helped her pick up tips and tricks to add to her portfolio, Smith now specializes in newborn and family photography, offering headshots, event photography, sports photography and a limited number of weddings annually.
“You can’t just sit at home,” said Smith. “I’m not one who can just sit at home.”
The Minden resident is admittedly quite busy, with a full-time job as an early interventionist, three active kids and an upcoming wedding in the works. But instead of having down time during her Fridays off, she said she took the opportunity to use the right side of her brain and help nurture her creativity.
“That’s my outlet, that’s what I need in my life,” said Smith. “Even though it’s work, it’s another job, it’s my passion. I like my [full-time] job so much that [photography] isn’t something I can switch over to completely, so it’s nice to have that balance.”
Part of finding that balance led Smith to recently open a downtown studio on Bobcaygeon Road in Minden, helping set her apart from many area photographers, but also giving her the time and space to set up sessions without having to, as she said, “rip my living room apart.” She now schedules appointments in the studio for custom 3D lifecasting and photography.
“It’s so nice to have everything in one space,” she said.
The studio works well for the crafty themed mini sessions that Smith has become well-known for – for the past five years, families and kids have flocked to her to be part of Easter sessions set amongst bunnies and pastel-coloured Easter eggs, Christmas sessions in front of rustic country-style sets and graduation pics for everyone from kindergarten students to high school grads. She’s photographed hockey teams, figure skating groups, T-ball and soccer leagues, and also corporate teams and couple engagements. Adorable photos are always produced from a full session for babies becoming toddlers that starts with a cake smash, when a cake is sat in front of a tot to have free reign over, followed by a “tubby time” session for necessary clean-up.
“Parents love those sessions, and the kids...some love it, some hate it,” laughed Smith.
The studio also offers the imaginative photographer a space for the props she has diligently collected over the years, an inventory that needs to be changed over often to be unique for families returning year after year for portraits.
Despite the new studio, Smith said she wouldn’t hesitate to meet with a family outside, given the beautiful surroundings of cottage country – many of her group shots show families surrounded by colourful leaves and freshly fallen snow.
A grand opening is being planned for a post-summer date, when Smith will offer fall mini-sessions.
For more information, call 705-455-2500, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit cherylsmithphotography.com.