Windy Day at Camp Milton – Family Photoshoot

Right before Christmas, I had scheduled a shoot with Machell and her family. On the day of the shoot, it was uncharacteristically windy – with gusts of wind at 25 mph.

“Should we change to another location?” Machell asked me, worried the wind would cause a problem in the flat, open fields at Camp Milton. I pictured hair being blown in faces, and people squinting. I also pictured the beautiful fall colors and yellow grass of the fields – something that you can only find a couple months out of the year in Florida. “Let’s risk it!” I said, and with heavily cloudy sky and chilly wind, I headed out to location.

I’m so glad we did! The cloudy sky gave beautiful even light. The wind pushed everyone’s hair back – in perfect model fashion. Machell’s family even brought their dog, who was so picture perfect and made everyone else smile. I’m glad for the little unplanned surprises that make a photoshoot better than planned.

Alpine Groves Park – Family Photo Session

It was a chilly 8:00 a.m, but the sun pierced through tree and fog to highlight this beautiful family. We walked through a rustic flower garden, climbed up and about the porch of an old, white farmhouse, and ran through grassy fields – the kids getting more and more relaxed as time went on.

My favorite part was when I asked Tammy to pose in front of a fence and I had Brent stand behind me with the instruction to get her to smile. Within moments, she  suppressed laughter and said, “he’s spanking himself.”

Later, when I was doing individual pictures of parent and child, I was touched at how their expressions softened and changed when they were close together. I was happy to capture not only their personality, but their relationship. Enjoy these sweet moments!

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Green Pier on Atlantic Beach – Family Photo Session

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!

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This picture is my favorite. The way their little girl is twisting out of their arms, Heather’s hair is whipping in front of her face, and Greg is looking up for just a split-second – it’s just a moment full of motion and spontaneity. You wouldn’t have even guessed their daughter was squirming and screaming because I was threatening to tickle her. I think she’s looking at my tickling left hand while my right hand is struggling to balance the camera.

As the sun went down, we witnessed amazing colors in the sky.

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I love their daughter’s one eye poking out.
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Heather looks like a model. It’s like a fan is blowing her hair.

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!

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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.

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She’s not letting anyone touch the balloons.

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.

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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.

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Final edited image. It has the best of expression from both pictures.

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!

Christmas Mini Sessions

I love the the child-like wonder, the bright hope, and the feeling of togetherness that comes with Christmas. It’s something I tried to embody in the Christmas mini session photos I took last week at Alpine Groves Park. Here is a sampling of the beautiful families that came and shared the day with me:

Garrett and Vanessa:

Vanessa and Garrett came perfectly coordinated with their little baby boy. It took very little direction to position them to look flawless, but we had to work together to get their baby to smile. We tag-teamed tickling him and playing peek-a-boo.  In the end, what worked best was when I yelled out loudly, “Santa!” Then came his infectious smile. Who knew I was so funny?

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Ron and Susan:

There is something so endearing about this couple. Ron’s no-nonsense reminds me of my dad and Susan always makes me laugh. I’m glad we got to do a glitter throw picture, because it helped me capture an expression that I think we would have never gotten had we just faked it. If you look closely, you can see the real glitter around Susan’s hands and everything else was added in post to look like snow. After I shot this photo, the glitter flew back at them and coated their hair and faces with silver specks. They laughed about it, but I was mortified. Here’s a tip: save the glitter throw for last.

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Derrick and Marissa:

Derrick and Marissa had such a carefree, loving dynamic about them. When I’d fiddle with my camera settings or look around to scope for a good background, I’d turn back to look at them and they’d be cuddling their baby or laughing together. I couldn’t stop taking pictures in case I missed something.

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Chris and Laura:

Chris and Laura’s little girl started out a little shy, but I could see a mischievous glint in her eye. That’s why I employed her with the important task of the glitter throw. It took 3 or 4 tries, but when it was done right, a wall dropped from everyone’s face and they forgot I was there for just a second. I love how their daughter’s dress is bunched up from having just swirled around.  It makes for a fun and beautiful moment.

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Thank you everyone who came and let me capture the love in their families. I can’t wait to do more seasonal mini sessions next year! Merry Christmas!