Behind the lense with Rocket Photography

Hello!

I have been a little quiet lately, and it is only because I have been in my element working on nurseries, playrooms and toddler rooms for such wonderful clients (and at the same time being a full time mommy, wife and everything in between.)

When it comes to the spaces I design, I love to have some of them photographed, and so I always turn to the best and someone I have used countless times. Today I’m sharing my interview with modern lifestyle maternity, newborn + family photographer, Shannon Da Rocha of Rocket Photography.

I have loved seeing Shannon’s work since I came across her portfolio about 3 years ago. I loved her work so much that I reached out to her to capture a nursery design that I had just completed at the time (2017) which you can view here, and since then she has photographed all of my interior projects. Her images caught my eye because they are natural, beautiful and genuine.

Shannon has also been my go-to for my maternity shoot, my little girl’s newborn and baptism photos, family shoots… the list goes on. Although she specialises in newborn, family and corporate shoots, without realising it; she takes the most wonderful interior images. She knows how to photograph all the details of the spaces I have worked on.

So because I have been working quite closely with Shannon lately, I thought I would introduce the lady behind the lense…

PS: She is an amazing person, wife & mama as well!

  1. When did you start your photography business and how did you decide to specialize in kids and families? I have been shooting full time since I was about 20 years old. I worked with an awesome partner in her business for about 5 years. Then came the time for me to act like a real adult and open my own business, and so, Rocket was born. In my 5 years in my previous company I had shot weddings all over South Africa and at some amazing international locations. I travelled a lot, created incredible memories with friends and documented too many weddings to count. I loved every minute of it, but because weddings are time intensive (in terms of shooting and editing time) and anxiety inducing for me (I generally struggle with lots of anxiety) I decided to just focus on the stuff that made me happy – families.
    I love that families are all made up differently and I get to capture that. I love documenting kids as they grow and develop little personalities…I love preggy bellies and special relationships with grans. I love grumpy dads who hate photos and moms who are desperate to keep their kiddies clean…I love silly faces toddlers pull and the family dog photo-bombing our shots. I love new babies and their exhausted parents, first birthday parties and sweet baptisms. I love getting to know the family and becoming part of the furniture. That is my heart work.
    Corporate shooting is also right up my ally. I so love taking all my years of looking for moments in weddings and applying that to a rather colder corporate environment. Finding spontaneous laughs, interesting shoe choices, branding in interesting spots….telling the story of the day and how the event feels as well as how it looks.
  2. As a wife and mama of your first, what advice can you give to new moms trying to balance life’s daily activities with work?
    Sho, this is a tough one, I’m still trying to figure this out myself to be honest. I wanted to try and be with Matteo as often as possible as well as make time for work and the office. We are blessed with a wonderful nanny who helps us 2-3 days a week depending on how busy I am. Those are my full on office or shoot days. Then on the other days I am with Teo or I have shoots and my little guy is either with my incredibly supportive husband or one of the doting family members. I try to do fun things on the days we are together, like play dates, visiting Nana’s and Aunties, swimming etc.
    Otherwise I am a big believer in lists, I have lists for everything….it helps me stay on top of things and prioritize correctly. I also use a productivity software to run the business called Nozbe-its a life saver. Communication is also super important to me. I try to stay in contact with my clients regularly to keep them up to date…whether it’s arranging their shoots, outfit choices or to let them know how their edits are going and when their delivery dates are.
    Since becoming a mom I have had to get a lot more comfortable with not getting everything right all the time. I can be quite a perfectionist, but that’s not an attainable measuring stick for me right now. So I am learning to be kinder to myself and often I find if you communicate clearly with your clients, they are usually super lovely, understanding and supportive human beings:)
    But to be honest literally the only thing that keeps me together and functioning on a daily basis is God. I try to work to glorify Him in my work, and the only person I need to please as a wife, mom and all round human, is Him.
  3. The locations in your shoots are always so beautiful. What are your top 3 favorite locations for family sessions and what makes each so special?
    So I love that JHB can be so varied. My fave thing to do is to usually shoot at people’s homes. Lots of people don’t think their places are “shoot worthy” but we are so used to having to find gems even in the tiniest/messiest of spaces:) Otherwise my top 3 spots in JHB are;
    Delta park – Randburg
    Delta park is a huge, incredible spot in Randburg. It has stunning trees overhanging little paths with the light streaming through….eeeeeeekkkk! Long grasses, big open spaces, a sweet little lake and once a year an incredible cosmos bloom. It really is lovely and can be so varied depending on where and what time of day you shoot. There are always lots of dog-walkers, runners and picnickers, so it feels a bit safer as a female photographer that generally shoots alone.
    Irene Dairy farm  – PTA
    This sweet little spot has a minimal venue hire fee for shoots and I think it’s really worth it for a safe, beautiful space to shoot. It can get super busy, but I know of some lovely quiet nooks and crannies that are just stunning. Add in super huge overhanging trees and coffee after the shoots…..I’m in!
    Maboneng/New Town
    So this can be a really overused spot for photo shoots, but again I like to find little corners and spots that feel original and make them our own. These spaces have such a “cool” factor to them and I love grabbing some shots while we have a coffee or an ice cream, or while checking out the vendors and little stores along the streets.
  4. For families that are planning their photoshoot ensembles, are there certain clothing colors or patterns that photograph best? Any pro tips on what to avoid?
    So the first thing we always say to clients is: “Be comfortable!” there’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to wear something that just isn’t you. Try avoid crazy patterns, or any logos as they will distract from what’s really important. I like to say try to avoid black as it can be dark and lovely colors work beautifully on camera. Lastly, DON’T be too matchy matchy. If you are a family or group, choose a palette of colors that work beautifully together and each wear something in one of those shades, For example, “Mustard, Hunter green and cream” is beautiful for winter white blue, grey with a pop of color like coral or yellow is stunning and peeps can usually find something in those colors to wear. Otherwise soft blues, blush pinks and creams are so dreamy.
    When booking with Rocket, we send you a little Welcome email that gives you visual ideas and guidelines and I always encourage my client to send me whatsapps of their outfits if they need input.
  5. At what age would you recommend a newborn session and how far out should it be booked?
    I like to give 2 options when booking newborn shoots…we can either go for very new baba days, which must be booked within 10 days of baby’s birth, or we can wait until you are more settled and baba is more ‘awake’ and has a little bit more awareness and personality. It’s totally up to the parents and what they prefer.
    What I find works best is to let me know when your due date is, we can pencil that in and make a tentative booking in the meantime as I know that when it comes to baba’s, timing in up in the air!
  6. Do you have a favorite experience you can share from one of your shoots?
    O blink, I have an embarrassing one….I was shooting for a corporate client, it was one of the inauguration events for President Cyril Ramaphosa. I was shooting privately for my client and there were a bunch of professional newspaper photojournalists who ACTUALLY knew what they were doing. There was this big moment where the President along with his team would be making their big entrance…we were all ready and poised to shoot this important moment….it was then that I realized that I had NO idea what our new president looked like. Not a clue.
    I quickly turned to all the professionals next to me and asked who the President was…which earned me scornful stares. I decided that I would just pretend everyone was the President and proceeded to take 1000 images just to document this 1 moment. eish, face meet palm.
  7. What camera/s do you shoot with and what is your favorite lens? I always work with 2 cameras, my Nikon D750 and a Nikon D610. I prefer fixed lenses over zoom and I love the softness and blur they bring. I work mostly on the Nikkor 85mm 1.4 and the Sigma Art 35mm. This Sigma art is my ultimate best, it gives a wider perspective and shows context, while allowing me to get really close to my subject and make them the focus. This lens gives me goosies. 
  8. Always the one always behind the lens, do you like being photographed? I always tell my clients to relax in front of the camera, but I am keenly aware of how difficult that is. I’m a total introvert and I often feel like I need to be really vulnerable when being photographed, which can be tough. But I am blessed to know some incredible photographers who I call friends who make me feel comfortable and guide me through the whole thing….which is what I aim to do for my clients too. 
  9. What’s the best way to get in touch for scheduling a photoshoot with you? Yay, would love that! My email address is hello@rocketography.com and my cell phone number is 0832934541. Sometimes Instagram and Facebook don’t let me know when I have a new message, so if you are struggling to get a hold of me there, I’m really good on my phone and on email:)
 
Thanks so much to Natalie and Ninho for this lovely feature. Nats has one of those families that take you in and make you feel like you are one of the cousins…so glad to know you Nats!
Natalie-Sign
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