Natalia Cruz: A Gallery of Gifts
You could say that creativity definitely runs in Glam-O-Mama Natalia Soriano-Cruz’s veins. She comes from a family where artists are the norm rather than the exception. This lifestyle photographer by trade and passion discloses what it’s like to be a young working mum in San Diego. She also imparts helpful photography tips for your personal snaps of your kids as well as a sneak peak into a stunningly gorgeous gallery full of her best work to date: her family.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background .
Born in Makati, came to the states when I was six and I’ve been here ever since. Took up photography almost right after high school. Married by 24 to my favorite person in the world Mr. Jeffery Cruz, and we had our baby Amelia when I was 25.
What is like being a young mum to an 9 month old baby?
By far the toughest most rewarding job. I never thought I could feel a sense of accomplishment by being able to make dinner, give her a bath, and get her to sleep before 10pm.
Do you have help taking care of your daughter?
Not really, the beginning was ROUGH. Weeks of sleepless nights and stress. My parents moved to SF about a month before I gave birth because my dad got job pasturing a church up there. Seemed like such bad timing since I’ve always had them so close and Amelia is their first grandchild and they had to leave. However, now with working, this amazing lady named Alma watches Amelia for us, 2-3 times a week. We’re so blessed to have such a great person like her in our daughter’s life, you know you’ve got a great babysitter when you go to pick up your daughter and she’s sad to leave!
Where does your artistic expression come from?
I want to say it’s genetic. Perhaps more from my father’s side (when it comes to work behind a lens)—My brother Jed makes a living doing art/anime commissions and my sister Rebecca is a painter in San Francisco. I took on photography, my parents want to put together a little Soriano gallery one of these days (just for themselves) since all their children became artists.
Did your family’s background influence you in any way?
Both my grandparents were in Philippine cinema (paternal Grandfather is Nestor DeVilla and maternal Grandfather was actor Armando Goyena). I thought that’s what I wanted to get in to when I was in high school, I enjoyed theatre and even wanted to study performing arts in college. My grandfather on my Dads side was an accomplished photographer, he even had his own studio in Manila when my dad was still a kid. I think it was more a hobby of his since his main profession was acting.
However my Tito Jeric Soriano followed in that area, he’s a director in the Philippines, and now my cousin Paul is doing the same. I was surprised when I felt more at home behind a lens than in front of one.
How long have you been into photography?
I’ve been dabbling since I could remember. My dad and grandfather (Soriano) were both in to photography and had great equipment. It always interested me. However I started charging professionally in 2006 when I was living in LA and got in to head shot photography for aspiring actors (commercial, print, etc)
When was Talistudio created?
About 2 ½ years now I’ve had the lighting and backdrop for my studio
What’s your specialty?
More than anything I enjoy lifestyle photography. I know it’s called “TaliaStudio” but initially my studio was my computer in the sense that I was doing all the post processing in what seemed like my own digital darkroom. My main gigs are weddings and engagements, but I will shoot just about anything –as long as it’s tasteful! I don’t just slap my logo on to anything, I want to be truly proud of the work I show.
Is it difficult balancing it all?
EXTREMELY. It’s so true that you never know just how difficult it is until you become a parent. Jeff and I had no idea how upside-down our world was going to turn until Amelia arrived. We were also newlyweds so there was definitely a lot of stress in the beginning. I worked until a week before I popped! I was shooting weddings with a big ol’ belly and I didn’t waste much time getting back in to it after I had Amelia.
Do you have any suggestions for mums out there who are working and want to strike that balance?
I am hardly the one to ask advice from. All I can tell you (and what works for us and our schedule—or perhaps, MY schedule) is that there is no set time for anything personal. There isn’t a 5 o’clock dinner every day, a 7-pm bath time, or even a 8pm tv show we have to gather around to watch (that’s what TiVo’s for anyway).
We just “go with the flow”. That’s our normal. That’s what works for us.
Of course there’s the usual date nights we have to “plan ahead” for. But by plan ahead I mean let a friend know a couple days in advance that I will be needing their babysitting services because Jeff and I need some “us” time. Once we get the sitter and drop off Amelia, we look at each other and say “okay, now what should we do?” it keeps it fun, it keeps it less stressful. We used to have our days planned out but life would always get in the way, and when we couldn’t get something we wanted or planned for we would get upset. This way if there is no set time or plan we get to relax more.
We would love to get some expert tips on how to take nice photos of our kids. Do you have any pointers?
Babies and children are the toughest but most rewarding subjects for photography. They aren’t guarded. If they’re in a bad mood there’s really nothing you can do about it, and if you make them laugh, it’s going to be sincere. You can tell exactly how they’re feeling by the look on their faces. Not like when we’re adults and we learn to mask feelings and emotions by our posture and blank stares. Kids don’t care, if they’re having a bad day you’ll know it. So some tips with photographing children would be:
1. Get to their level. Don’t worry about soiling your outfit, it makes such a difference in photos to take a picture at the level of the subject and not up high all the time. This same rule applies to dogs.
2. If your baby likes a certain noise (you know, the one that always makes them laugh), use it, no matter how silly you sound or look to get that expression, you’re not the one in the picture, so it doesn’t matter.
3. Don’t worry if they aren’t smiling. You want some candid photos to look back on, you don’t want every photo looking like a forced smile. You’ll turn your child off from taking pictures for a while, and even the school yearbook pictures will look depressing. I try to make the camera a game with Amelia. I use it with her when she’s in her good moods. I also keep it on me all the time and let her see the photos of herself after I take them. Whether she understands or not, it’s getting her comfortable around this big glass lens.
4. The messier the better. Let your kid be a kid! Try photographing them in mini photo sets at home, that way when you take them to a place to get their pictures professionally done, it won’t seem so weird for them and they’ll be able to get comfortable.
5. Think about every photo as a story. Play with your angles. There are so many things about your baby/kid you want to show, so work with that. Get side shots, get hands, feet, toes! Lots of close ups and try putting them all together.
Even if the photo is as simple as your baby sitting in his/her high chair watching their favorite cartoon. Don’t just tell them to “smile” as they try to watch their cartoon. Wait until you know their favorite part or character is about to come on and sit back behind the lens and capture the look on their face as this happens. Those are the expressions you want, those are the memories you want to save and look back on. And if you’re not patient enough for things like these, hire a professional to come and do it for you. ;)
For any contact information or samples of Natalia’s work you can visit
April 3, 2011 by Glam-o-Mamas