Sunday, March 23, 2008

Our Family Portrait session

Our Family Portrait session
with Alex Fernandes at Portrait Atelier
Mar 1, 2005

I first met Alex Fernandes sometime last November when he was in the process of setting up his portrait studio, Portrait Atelier. A nice natured easy going guy, Alex had retired young from his job at Kodak in Kuwait where he set up and managed a high end professional portrait studio, and was very enthusiastic about his project - a specialist "portraits-only" service here in Goa. Alex had honed his craft over the last twenty years with stints that included training at Broncolor in Switzerland and as faculty for portrait and lighting workshops conducted for Kodak.

Going through his brochure in-the-making I realised that this was no flash in the pan idea and that Alex had carefully outlined exactly what services he would provide and how much he would be charging. At that time I found his rate of Rs. 3,000/- for a 'basic' portrait session a bit expensive. He would be giving only 3 prints of 8" x 12" size. But then Alex explained that he would be also giving the client a CD with high resolution JPG files of the entire shoot and so one could take as many prints as one wanted later. But still too expensive for my liking. Like most amateur photographers I didn't see the point in paying someone for professional services when I could do quite a good job myself with my rudimentary camera.

In mid-Feb I met up with Alex again and he insisted that I bring the family over to his studio for a photo-shoot. "Too expensive!", I said. He was running a promotional campaign in February where he would shoot you free of cost and you paid only for the prints of the frames you selected. Alex uses a high end Nikon Digital SLR. I spoke to my wife Beatrice and she was keen on the idea. You see we have friends and relatives all over the world and they send us beautiful portrait photos of their families shot in professional studios and all we have is our amateur photos to send back. And a nice big framed studio portrait would look nice in the apartment too. At least it would take away from little Fabian's crayon scribbling on the wall.

So I fixed up an evening date with Alex at his studio in close by Caranzalem. We decided to go in casual clothes. I phoned Alex to find out if this was ok. He said we could bring in a change of formal clothes too if we wanted. He has converted an apartment next door to his shop into a studio with ample place for changing etc.

After a lot of discussion Beatrice and me decided that we would just get ourselves shot in casual clothes. We took a change of tops for ourselves and the boys and trooped of for our studio date with Alex.

Beatrice: "Why don't you put some powder on?"

Cecil: "Why? I'm not ashamed of being dark!"

Beatrice: "But you sweat so much and your face shines and looks oily."

Cecil: "I'm not ashamed to be oily. What's wrong with oily? This is a portrait. If I'm oily I'm oily. That's the way I look. And your brother is darker than me. There!"

Beatrice:"He's not dark. He's just tanned. Unlike you his works is mostly outdoors."

Cecil:"Sure! If he's tanned then I'm tanned too. See my buttocks. They're fair. Look!"

Beatrice: "Cecil! The children are around. Stop being stupid!"

Cecil:"Ok! Who cooks in the house?"

Beatrice:"I do. So what?"

Cecil:"You use too much oil while cooking. That's why my face looks oily."

Beatrice: "I do not! You were oily when I first met you!"

Cecil:"I should have married Tina. She doesn't make oily biryanis"

Beatrice:"You should have married a plastic surgeon!"

Cecil: "Sure!"

Beatrice: "Well I'm putting some lipstick though."

Cecil: "Besides dark people look like ghosts when they put on powder"

Beatrice: "Uhhhh. Uhhhh. Forget the powder thing dear."

Cecil: "And some dark people even glow purple when they use too much powder."

Beatrice: "Uhhhh. Uhhhh."

Cecil: "Did you see Lily Aunty's daughter at Danny's wedding? She had so much powder on that she looked like a anaemic Russian."

Beatrice:"That's not powder. That's foundation."

Cecil:"Whatever. She had too much of it on. Totally artifical! Talking of artificial
how old is that Marge's daughter. Didn't she just answer her SSC. Isn't she rather big built for her age?"

Beatrice: "Are you going where I think you're going?"

Cecil: "Naaaah! Let's not go there again. Fabian! Don't remove those sandals. And
Desmond you get that helmet off now. Right now!"

So there we were, a few minutes later, at Alex's studio, Portrait Atelier, which I think means 'portrait workshop' in French. No sooner we entered our brats Desmond and Fabian started their antics of wanting to go home. Quick as a shot Alex conjured up some chocolates and offered them to our greedy imps and sure enough the trick worked and they were his friends for life! Alex Uncle could tell them to hold still while he did his settings and they would do it. Dada could yell his lungs out and they just ignored him. For two Cadbury chocolates. Talk about loyalty to parents!

Alex posed us, adjusted his studio lights and started shooting. It was quite a pleasant experience with Alex cajoling and coaxing and joking and getting us to smile and grin at times and be serious at times. We were finished in less than forty minutes despite changing tops in between. Alex must have shot about a 100 frames.

Next he took us to his laptop where he instantly downloaded the photos for us to have a look. And that's where the magic happens. We looked great! I never imagined that anyone could make us look so good. Beatrice just looked at me behind Alex's back and nodded her head approvingly. That look told me what I wanted to know. "Paisa vassool", "Poishe bholle", "Money's worth". I paid up willingly, and chose the frames of which I wanted prints.

The next day Alex gave me a CD with high resolution photos of the entire shoot. It also contained a folder with some 35 odd selected photos which he had run through his amazing software to tweak the images to perfection. And he gave us 3 glossy big prints that we have put in a special album and show around proudly - and make a lot of other families absolutely envious. Money well spent indeed.

I have uploaded a few of our studio photos at

Please check them out. Click on the extra large thumbnails for bigger images. Keep in mind that these are low resolution images that have been down sized, re-sampled and compressed by me for the Internet. What Alex gave us on CD are much, much higher resolution crystal clear images and can be printed even upto A3 poster size with absolutely no loss of clarity.

For the month of March Alex is running a 50% discount on all his portrait packages. Portrait Atelier does not have a website yet but you can contact Alex at or on 2461540 or 9822152710.

- Forwarded by

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