While visiting my sister in Maui, I looked at the pictures on her walls and loved the beautiful vistas she had shot and edited personally. Her family could be seen in the distance. It seemed more like a visceral memory than portrait or a landscape. I strove to mimic that the next time I went to the beach. It happened to be with my other sister –who was visiting from Utah with her son and my mom. It was the end of the day, but the kids were loving the water, especially my nephew. It was his first time to see the ocean, and his laughter could be heard wafting over the white surf. I hope these pictures have a certain feeling – different from my other pictures. Perhaps it’s just a quiet moment in time in a place that is important to me.
Trees have the magic ability to turn children into monkeys, so we decided to go to Treaty Oak Park – a small patch of land in between busy streets and office buildings in downtown Jacksonville. The tree has huge branches that shade a boardwalk and stretch to the ground. It was the perfect place to capture the happy antics of Lizzy’s young children – shady, quiet, and fun. Most of the time I felt like I was chasing them with the camera, like paparazzi. But I’m glad that in the end, we had some sweet and completely unplanned moments.
I’m glad I get to explore beautiful areas around me and focus on capturing these precious human connections.
A few months back, I had the unique opportunity to see my friend in the hospital just hours after her baby was born. Needless to say, she and her husband were both exhausted, but glowing and as happy as could be. After two beautiful, energetic boys, they finally had their little girl. These are just a few quiet images of their new family:
The first time I handled a newborn session, I was hesitant to touch or position the baby. Even after handling two babies of my own, other people’s babies seem so fragile, they could break. This session was so great for me, because the mother – and my good friend – trusted me completely and gave me full creative control. I did a lot of rocking and soothing and swaddling (quite messily I might add), but it all paid off in the end because this newborn’s perfection was able to shine through.
My friend has a bright loft in her house that was perfect for a quick family portrait.
Balis Park is a little oasis in a quaint yet hopping part of San Marco area in Jacksonville. As I met up with Lizzy’s little girl, I saw her peeking out from behind her mom’s legs. At 18 months, kids are full of movement and personality, but they also are beginning to get more nervous around people. Cue the dog statue! Cue the fascinating water fountain! Cue many rounds of peek-a-boo! Cue tickling. After a tag-team effort between Lizzy and I, we saw many gap-toothed smiles and mischievous looks. It was such a loosely-structured, carefree session, I thought, “I wish I could do this all the time!”
Losco park has a beautiful stretch of old, old trees. There is something about the crawling branches, the close blanket of leaves, and the dotted light that makes me think: fairytale. If anyone is thinking of coming here for a photo session, they would be hard pressed to not be completely charmed.
P.S. This is the first day in two weeks that Simon has agreed to wear a shirt that doesn’t have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I thought it was a moment to commemorate.
Heather, having lived in Florida for awhile, said to me she wanted the obligatory Florida beach photos – because everybody has them. I laughed, but then set out to make her photos different from everyone else’s.
First, I wanted a cool pier or structure to break up the horizon. Atlantic Beach has a perfect green pier that doesn’t quite reach the water. It is old and faded, but I when I first laid eyes on it, I loved it!
As the sun went down, we witnessed amazing colors in the sky.
Second, we took a step back from taking pictures and did some free-form candids – which is risky because it’s just me dashing around trying to get a good angle of while them play. I’m gave them little direction, and didn’t know how it would turn out. But the ocean is too great a temptation to ask anyone, let alone a toddler, to sit still for long. So I relaxed a little and followed them as they played. We ended up collecting a lot of seashells, but it made the moments feel fresh and alive!
3. I like to bring props to mix things up. At the end of the photo session, I pulled out a surprise! I feel with little kids, you can’t ask them to act or pretend – their feelings of joy or surprise must be real. So I bought some yellow balloons and because I’m a dork, I hid them in a large black garbage bag and hauled that on the beach.
When their little girl saw the balloons, it was like she had a sugar spike.
At the end of day, when the light was almost gone, I told them to let go of the balloons and watch them fly away. Their daughter was very concerned. The balloons flew higher and higher…gone. Afterward, she kept on saying, “Balloons, go home.” It was so cute.
This was the last shot of the day. I asked Heather and Greg to kiss their daughter on the cheek, but she was still so concerned about the balloons that she didn’t want to be bothered with a kiss. This is why compositing photos is such an important part of what I do. If any moment is missed, I can merge the best part of two photos.
In the end, I’m glad we took the obligatory beach pictures. But by finding a great structure, taking part in free-form candids, and having a surprise prop, these pictures become so much more!