TriBeCa dad and badass photographer Michael Edwards has a mic-drop resume, which includes spreads in every mag that matters (Vogue and Glamour, to name a couple). Plus, he's the man behind the lens in the inspirational new Swimsuits for All campaign #beachbodynotsorry. When we got the opportunity to chat with him, we couldn't resist asking our most embarrassing photo questions, from the best way to take flattering family photos to what apps can make our vacation pics look like a fashion mag. Oh yeah, and we wanted to know his favorite places to travel so we can roll like the Edwards crew (hint: swimsuits are involved). Read on for his picks, including the a secret must-buy souvenir in Nosara and the best place to grab a drink in downtown Manhattan. P.S. If you haven't seen Michael's new editorial in Vogue with Ashley Graham, our major girl crush, check it out. Like now.
What's the number one tip you'd give to the amateur photographer trying to snap a good family photo on vacation?
You always have your phone on you and this shouldn’t change when you are on vacation. You should always be prepared, and willing to take a photo and capture the moment. Vacations are something we look forward to, and like to look back on. Be conscious of the fact that a little effort and a few snaps can capture that moment in time and preserve the memory, but you have to take the shot. Don’t hesitate to take your phone out of your pocket and snap away. I used to have to pay to process film, and one of the joys of digital photography is you can never shoot too much. You can look back through towards the end of your trip and you’ll be amazed at how many moments that didn’t seem picture worthy were actually great photo ops that would have been missed if you didn’t have your phone handy.
These days, people are mostly taking photos on their iPhones. Are there any apps you recommend that can help score a better picture?
I like to use an app called After Light for processing my images. It’s a $3 dollar purchase, and it’s essentially like having Photoshop in your pocket. VSCO is also great if you want to layer a ‘film look’ over your images.
Okay, I'm willing to upgrade from carrying just a phone. What's an easy point-and-shoot that won't take up a ton of space but will take better photos?
The key for a good point-and-shoot camera is image quality and camera size. Having a nice on camera flash is a big plus too. For me, Lumix seems to do a great job at the right price. I use a Lumix camera they don’t produce anymore, but the most similar version I would recommend is the Lumix GX8. You can buy different lenses for more control and the manual mode works well too.
I'll take the plunge and ask the question that everyone wants to know but we're all too embarrassed to ask: how can us moms look more like swimsuit models in that family beach photo? But seriously, without starving.
Haha. Well, there are a few little tricks that will make your images better all around, and there are a few slimming techniques that might be helpful too. First of all, always always always look at the background when framing up a shot. No one looks good with a tree sticking out of their head or with a photo-bombing drunk uncle in the background. It’s easy to shift around slightly to hide these distractions in the background, and your images will look better all around.
If you’re looking to ’slim’ down in the shot, try a slightly higher camera angle or back light the shot. Also, standing up or pointing your tip-toes helps to elongate the legs for a slimmer look. And hey, nothing wrong with cropping in when you are shooting… focus on that beautiful smile and give less attention to the fit of the bikini.
Your website is full of amazing pictures of your gorgeous family. Every woman we know complains that their husbands take zero pictures. How can we convince regular dads to get snap-happy?
Well, I’m usually being told to put the camera away, so I’m not sure I’m of much help on that front. I really love taking pictures, especially when I’m experiencing something new, so that makes it easy for me. On a trip through Rome, my daughter and I made a deal to photograph every Fiat 500 we saw, and later turned it into a fun gif file (see it here). I guess we sort of made it into a game, so we were always looking for the cars around Rome, which meant we were taking more pictures of everything as we went along…I suppose creating a list of things you want to shoot and seeing who shoots them first might be a great way to go… besides, kids are the best photographers these days.
What are some of your favorite places you've visited, for work and for fun? What's next on your list?
Southern Europe has never failed me, especially when the trip is planned with a fun group of friends. Sicily, Comporta, Mallorca, Greece, Puglia, Villefranche sur Mer…all super fun. I prefer these to be longer trips to allow for some time to get over jet lag.
I’ve also been working a lot recently in the Caribbean for Swimsuits for All, a swim line for curvy women. Vogue has a behind the scenes peek at a shoot I did for for Swimsuits for All featuring Ashley Graham. This was in Curacao, a small, yet beautiful, island off the coast of Venezuela. Quick flights, on the same time zone or just off by an hour, beautiful water and sand…yes, please. I have always loved St. Barth’s, but I'm really loving Jamaica these days.
Your photos of Nosara were so awesome that we picked up and went there, too. Can you share a few of your favorite discoveries?
Nosara was great. It's a small place, so it takes about ten minutes at the hotel front desk, and you’ve got a good sense of what’s what. We stayed at the Harmony Hotel, which we found was a perfect fit for families. The food was simple and fantastic, with loads for the kids to eat too. Don't miss surf lessons from Agua Tibia and horseback riding, which you can set up directly with the hotel. We also took a break from all the local food and had a great burger at a little spot called Burger and Beer. And the sunset at La Luna should not be missed. We travelled with another family, and my friend Stacy Mayesh shared a secret tip with me: there is an amazing coconut oil they sell at the hotel gift shop. They do run out so be sure you secure some when you first arrive; they make perfect gifts to bring back home.
What about when you're home in NYC? What are your favorite neighborhood haunts?
I live in Tribeca, so if I were to pick one classic favorite, it would have to be the Odeon. It’s good to have a place where they know your name. My favorite new place is Café Altro Paradiso, by the same folks who did Estella. For cocktails I am loving The Happiest Hour….And nothing beats a bike ride over the bridge to Brooklyn on a sunny spring day.