Had quite the run of family portraits this past holiday season which is great for the old bottom line because things tend to slow down around here as the year comes to a close. When networking in late fall, I always try to mention how the holidays are a great time to get the family and extended family together for holiday family portraits especially when folks are coming into Portland from out-of-town or out-of-country like two of my families were this season. Whether coming into the studio or having the shoot at your home, the holidays are a great time for family portraits!
Like a kid with a new toy on Christmas morning I just had to try out the new Lastolite Triflash Bracket I picked up this morning from Pro Photo Supply. I also wanted to test how quickly I could shoot with three flashes rather than one and how good (or bad) the Canon ST-E2 Transmitter would work outside. Granted the light this afternoon was pretty flat and low with lots of medium gray clouds so the transmitter worked fairly well. I was shooting about three feet away with the flashes to my left on a lightweight Westcott stand. Camera was a Canon 5D, ISO 200, 1/200 @ f/2.8.
I didn’t do any posing with the kiddos obviously because they were so giddy with playing and it being Friday after all, that I just wanted to shoot quickly and put the flashes through their paces and keep the energy level high. It does strike me how much $ in flashes you can hang on the thing, where one Alien Bee 1600 monobloc will only run you about $360 so I do suggest a sandbag or gym weights in a sling when shooting with a white shoot-through umbrella as I was here. I can’t wait to use this ungainly thing more often!
I really enjoy shooting senior images and working with high school juniors on their yearbook photos. It is such a special time in a young persons life and senior photos have morphed from the boring old “yearbook” photo of days of old (you should see mine!) to be more fashion-oriented with hipper, more modern looks. I think it will be awesome to look back at their senior photo set as what they looked like at a point in time before their lives really took off!
It seems I have done a lot of guys lately and specifically guys who don’t like to sit for photos! It’s always a fun challenge when after a few clicks, they ask “are we done?” My job is to take their nervousness or nervous energy and turn in into making them a participant and collaborator interested in the final images. I tend to shoot seniors quickly and have lots of staging, lighting and posing set-ups in mind even if we don’t get to accomplish all of them.
Daniel, pictured here, was one such fella. Very accomplished as a musician and cross-country runner, he had a no-nonsense air about him that took a while to break the ice and get him on my side. Even though I endeavor to keep to a minimum showing the subject images from the camera’s LCD during the shoot , in this case it helped to draw Daniel in and to be more involved with the shoot, once he could see the quality of the lighting and images we were getting. It’s always a good idea to keep your peripheral vision on high alert and allow spontanaity to happen during the shoot and not be so “locked in” to your original concept that you miss some great shots that are happening right in front of you.
I raided my daughter’s bedroom for her little keyboard which added a nice propping touch and a little hard graphic element to the first shot. The second shot was our last of the session where he trusted me enough to let down his guard and allow a bit of his true personality come out. He and his family was very pleased with our efforts
Arthur came into the studio recently requesting something different than I usually create for a senior portrait package. I had met him a few years earlier when I was the photographer for his sister’s Bat Mitzvah and ran into him again with his family in Ashland at the Shakespeare Festival that they attend every year. When he showed up for the session in his outfit (which included spats!) I thought he was someone selling bibles He claimed to have no theatrical aspirations but I could tell by his movements and mannerisms that he must have spent countless hours watching Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers movies because he had their shtick down pat and had his mom and I cracking up with his antics. Arthur had very specific ideas as to what shots he wanted to capture/perform so we just worked it out from his list. I love spending time with energetic, creative young people and it’s even more fun photographing them. I’ll still keep my eye out for his name to appear in a production or cast list sometime soon because this young man is really going places!
Little Nolan came to the studio a little while ago to have his very first photo session. We cranked up the heat so the little fella stayed warm and cozy but we may have overdone it because he was so comfortable he fell asleep several times! I had photographed Mom and Dad’s wedding in Hawaii in 2008 and it was awesome to welcome their first child into the world and to see their family grow. I love the expression in this first one…must have been an interesting dream!
Families are starting to call and book the portrait sessions they won in the charity auctions I contributed to this year. Donating the sessions to groups I care about is a great way to give back to the community, increase awareness of my brand and create some exposure about another style of photography I do. As much networking with all the various groups as I try to do, I am always amazed that people will mention to me that “I didn’t know you did that (type of photography)!” Families were also keen to take advantage of my July/August Portrait Specials and recieve a free custom 11×14″ or (2) 8×12″ prints when the session is booked and shot during these two summer months.
Multnomah Arts Center and The Irvington School Auctions were the recipients this year of three portrait sessions each, that were bid on during their silent auctions. Multnomah Arts Center raised over $25,000 that will go a long way to support the arts and art programs at the center, which is very close to our studio, and the The Irvington School Auction raised over $47,900. Way to go!