No matter what emotional state you’re in, it’s nearly impossible to look at a child playing freely or a baby giggling without incurring a little dose of second hand joy. If you’re in need of a boost, but there’s a lack of small humans around to marvel at, a surefire way to tap back into the whimsical and playful nature of life is to look at photos of babies and children doing what they do best, playing.
Capturing children and babies in their natural, fun loving state has been a lifelong passion for advertising photographer Lisa Tichané. “If you need a little more joy in your life (don’t we all?), then look no further than Lisa [Tichané’s] work. She infuses fun and happiness with every shutter click,” wrote Click Pro’s jurors when they named Lisa among the 100 Female photographers to Watch in 2020.
Lisa’s images stand out with an energy that is candid, magnetic and absorbing. Chances are you’ve seen her images on campaigns for some of the biggest international brands in baby and health care, such as Neutraderm, Physiolac, Bactidose from leading manufacturer Laboratoires Gilbert, MAM baby, Bimbies diapers and numerous others.
Last year Lisa shot the campaign for Laboratoires Gilbert’s Neutraderm, the company’s leading skincare brand, which specializes in sensitive skin for everyone from babies to adults. Considering that Neutraderm is a skincare product, the lighting for the campaign was integral, with the baby and the adult models needing to appear soft and flawless.
Lisa nailed the brief. The images, which are currently being used in both the web and print campaign, exude a delicate feeling of tenderness.
“We were seeking a very natural looking type of photography, showing families in their everyday life without artifice yet, with a subtle artistic touch and great light,” explains Laboratoires Gilbert Communication Manager Stéphanie Mottier. “What makes [Lisa’s] work unique is her refined style with emphasis on light. She is also very resourceful and a problem solver, even on very short notice. A great artist.”
While it’s not hard to fall in love with an image of a baby, capturing them in their element is no easy accomplishment. Aside from the understandable challenges of getting these tiny models to do what the client envisions for their campaign, there are limits on the amount of time a baby is legally allowed to be on a commercial shoot, which in France, is two hours. That means the photographer has to be ready at all times to get the shot.
Lisa explains, “When working with babies you have very little time to get what you want, between naps, meals and necessary breaks, the efficient time to shoot is incredibly short. You have to be perfectly ready to press the shutter at the right moment and nail every single shot because you usually don’t get a second chance to get the perfect expression if you have missed it the first time.”
Beyond the captivating lighting and quality of the shots, the intimacy reflected between the models in the Neutraderm images, who previously had never met, serves as an even deeper testament to Lisa’s talent for setting the perfect environment.
“She definitely has her way with children and knows how to get the best out of them with absolutely no pressure. Which is also a relief for parents. She is a great photographer,” explains Mottier.
Over the past decade Lisa’s career has skyrocketed, with her images being featured on the covers of the industry’s leading magazines, such as Click and Parents Magazine, as well as within the pages of French magazines such as Photo, Declic Photo and Competence Photo, Germany’s Photographie, Quebec’s Portraits d’Enfants and Korea’s MilKorea.
While Lisa clearly has a creative eye, the unique skill set that she possesses in terms of being able to photograph babies and children is something that she honed at a young age. Growing up in Marseille, France, Lisa’s interest in photography commenced in middle school when her French teacher began holding a photography workshop during lunch breaks.
Lisa recalls, “I quickly discovered that I was a very lousy landscape photographer, however I was good at taking portraits of my friends and capturing true expressions and raw emotions. I was hooked.”
A few years later one of her teacher’s gave birth to a baby boy, a pivotal event that served as Lisa’s introduction to photographing babies and children.
She says, “I quickly became his favorite babysitter and practiced my new photography skills on this tiny model. It brought me so much joy that I quickly started photographing all the babies and kids in my environment. A passion was born… I never thought it would turn into a career, though.”
Those early years of shooting photos of Quentin, and the relationship she built with her first little model not only led Lisa to fall in love with photographing children, but it gave her the invaluable experience of practicing her craft in a natural environment. Not long after, Lisa was faced with the tragic passing of her mother, a loss that forever transformed the way she views photography.
An incredibly painful experience for someone of any age, but arguably more so for a 13 year old, Lisa was distraught to discover after her mother’s passing that there were no photos of them together, as her mom was always the one behind the camera.
“This painful gap made me realize that photography is so much more than a fun hobby, it’s also a powerful way to freeze time and preserve memories forever,” explains Lisa.
“Before I became an advertising photographer, my first call was to photograph families. I really wanted to make sure that all of the kids that crossed my path would have meaningful images of themselves with their moms and dads to cherish forever.”
In 2010 Lisa opened her photography studio Tout Petit Pixel a.k.a. Tiny Little Pixel, where she focused on shooting children and families; and she’s since shot photos for hundreds of families.
For Lisa, photography has been a lifelong practice imbued with passion and inspiration, but it didn’t culminate into a career path until later in her adult life. Perhaps it is the fact that she had to make such a great effort to leave behind a comfortable career in order to pursue what really made her tick, that makes her such a passionate and uniquely skilled artist.
After graduating business school Lisa went onto work as a product manager for Sara Lee, which placed her behind the scenes on advertising photo shoots and gave her expert insight into what clients are looking for.
“Seeing the advertising photography world from the client side is something that has deeply nurtured my work as a professional photographer later on,” explains Lisa. “It has made me more aware of the client’s point of view, understanding their needs and fear, thus creating the conditions for a better professional relationship with my clients.”
For an advertising photographer there is a lot riding on getting the perfect shot, something that becomes exponentially more difficult when one’s models aren’t known for their ability to take direction.
Lisa says, “The deep challenge of being an advertising kids photographer is creating the conditions for the brief to come to life while your little models aren’t even aware that they are following your rules.”
While others may struggle to get their little models into poses, the confidence and joy that Lisa brings to her work sets the stage for a smooth and carefree set– she knows she’s going to get the shot, so she’s not afraid to let her little subjects create their own rules and enjoy the experience.
Mottier says, “Her major strength is this very special connection with children. It is also a real gain of time during shootings as they feel very at ease with her. She knows how to capture special moments.”
While the majority of photographers avoid shooting babies and children at all costs, Lisa Tichané flocks to them with love. Though her subjects are by no means easy to shoot, her passion for capturing them is clear and you can see that carefree nature and joy overflowing from her photos.
“Kids nurture me, they feed my playful soul. I know they can feel how genuine my joy is when I am with them, and it helps them connect with me instantly… Another key factor is experience. By working exclusively with babies and kids I have gathered a ton of experience which is incredibly useful to be able to handle any kind of tricky situation, and believe me, there are always tricky situations during a baby shoot,” says Lisa.
“Years of experience and hundreds of shoots have given me enough skills and confidence to truly enjoy my work without being stressed out by the many challenges of the job.”
Lisa’s unparalleled talent coupled with her years of experience shooting her favorite little subjects have led her to be considered among the best photographers in her field; and she’s earned numerous awards that prove it. In recent years Lisa was chosen as the winner of PHOTO magazine’s prestigious 2016 photo contest, as well as a finalist in the 2014 to 2017 editions of the Voice International Photo Competition, and a finalist in the 2019 Medals of Professional Photography. She was also nominated as one of the Top 10 Lifestyle Photographers in the world by the International Lifestyle Photographers Association, in addition to earning prestigious awards from l’Eté des Portraits a.k.a. The Summer of Portraits, Europe’s largest outdoor portrait photography exhibition, which features over 1,000 images biennially.
When it comes to excelling in photography, Lisa says, “My main advice is to shoot only what you truly love, because this is how your work will shine. Although I have the technical knowledge to shoot nearly anything, if I photograph something that doesn’t make my heart beat, it shows… While photography requires lots of professional skills to succeed, strong and memorable images are created with your guts first. Follow your gut.”