One Hour Family Sessions
these are my directed portrait's. Okay, these are the ones that I'm taking the initiative to put people where they need to be. I'm choosing where to put him in the light. I just did. Did this shoot? This is a photographer out of Colorado. And, um, I used really nice room light, but I also saw that, like, a little bit further away, that there was this beautiful landscape, and for the most part, I don't care about landscape at all, but this is where they live. So in this situation, it's not like taking someone to an alley like I've never Honestly, I've never understood that taking someone to an ugly gross alley with glass everywhere unless it's good light. And I'm only focusing on the people in using a long lens, and then I'm just utilizing the light. But as far as like taking a really far away picture of a family and alley that has it has no meaning to them like there is no context to that. But in this situation, they live in such a beautiful area. This is context. And so I wanted to ma...
ke ah, wide angle photo. Um, that's that's lovely. that is applicable to their life. And so, in this situation, when I'm using the environment, I'm using it with purpose. Does that make sense to you guys? Uh, the other thing that I'm doing like I said, is all of my family pictures. My formal photos are used in my long ones. They're used with my long lens, and I'm gonna push it to because I want that compression. That's how I get that look. Shooting at 5.6 amateur in the more people that you have the photo, the higher your aperture number needs to be because you want to make sure that everybody is in focus. Well, I don't want the whole background in focus. So the only way to achieve that is really to back up a Zafar as I can push my, um, push my lens to 200 then I can shoot a Yes. Question. How do you deal with the interaction at that point when you are at that distance? Okay, so when I sit them down, I'm gonna say, Are you guys would be kind of far away? Okay? The reason I'm glad that you asked So the reason why I do that is I just want them to get used to me and my camera. At this point. That's another reason for using your long lens. I don't want to be all up in their grill the second I get there. They need a couple of minutes to just get used to me and my camera. So I'd be like, OK, guys, you just kind of looked at me. Smile right now, Talk to each other. That's my favorites. I don't like them looking at me. So now they're just getting used to me in their space, okay? And then I can start to get closer and closer again. My favorite photos are when I tell them toe talk to each other and not look at me. If the kids look at me naturally, it's nice, but I don't force them to, and you can do this. If you have an indoor shoot, it's not specific to the outside. You can do indoors as well is having them play and talk to each other after they've looked at me. Also, I want to include pets this much as I can again using the environment. Um to their advantage. This is where they live, right near where they live and then using the light differently. This is a situation where I had to blow out the background and exposed just for them. But I'm OK with that because this is a formal photo. And what's most important is them is what they look like. Their personalities. OK, so now, Jim, to address the next part of that, my interaction is once I've gotten those those shots which really only take five minutes total, Then I'm going to get close with my wide angle lens. I'm gonna sit right in front of them, and I'm going to start asking them questions. I'm going to start talking to them, and I'm gonna start kind of getting the kids. I'm gonna start getting the kids of kind of tease each other, and that's how I make these kinds of family pictures. So these are partially directed in that I'm right in their space and having them sit there. But by getting them to talk to me into each other really close, I could make these really fun, Um, photos still them in the same place. I've just moved and decided to use a wide angle lens. Here's the family with the, um that lives in Colorado. They just shot. Then I get close. Have them play with their dog. Yes, This on the 35. This is 35. This is all in a 35. And I'm like, asking the kids got any boyfriend girlfriend like that gets him to, like, you know, And then one of the kids will be like, Yeah, she she has a thing like there's teasing. Tell me about school. What's your favorite? Who's your best friend? You know? Okay, the next day, the kids Portrait's and I have three, like kind of, um, no hints as faras the kids portrait's This is what I'm trying to dio and this is what I mean by documentary Children's Portrait's. I want to accentuate their uniqueness. This is really important to me. Each child is different. Each human is different. If I can make a picture that is unlike any other picture of their siblings or anybody else out there that I've done my job and actually made a portrait like it represents who they are, The other thing I dio is I photographed them away from the larger group. Um, have you guys all done family photos before? What happens if you photographed the kids allow, like, just the kids and it's with the parents right there. What happens? I always try to take him away or the kids or their sibling like I e. And I can't connect with them. So I and I physically take them away so that they cannot see the rest of the family if I can. Even the 80 Benny ones. Yesterday I took the two year old away and, like, had him by himself and he the moms like There's no way she's gonna sit for he's never gonna sit for her. And he's like she was like, Oh my God, she's sitting for her. He's sitting for her That's just taking them away and, like, speaking softly and like connecting with them and they will, they will sit for you, and I don't force them to do anything. I want them to know that it's their idea. Hey, you want to take a really special picture with just me, like just a few rather and say it's your turn. It's your turn to take the picture then you're forcing them. But by asking them permission, you're giving them control to say yes and they will. They'll say yes, and then they'll be more involved in the picture and that itself, and they don't force them to smile. If they smile and actually for me, which most of them do, they sit down their leg. I'll take it because I know that's what Mom and Dad might think they want. And then I'm like, You know what? You don't even have to smile, and some of them will then naturally start giggling. And then I have the natural picture. Right now I have the natural smile, but some of them just look at me. And when they look at me, I feel like they're looking from their whole heart on the inside like there's there's this quiet moment between me and them that's like really them, and that's how I make pictures like this. Um, she was like one of the weirdest, cutest little Children. I never met my life. She looked like a little else, and, um, I hadn't made her picture yet, and I was like, I e want accentuate how elf like she is but I don't know how to do it. And she had been swimming and she put the towel over her. And then when I saw that, I was like, Oh, my God, I think, um, Evelyn, you want to come with me And she's like, she had really high boys like I broader over and I was like, Okay, just just look at me And she smiled on her own. And like, this was just exactly what I needed. Accentuated how big her eyes were, How teeny, tiny tick tack her teeth were. Um, it was just perfect. Like it was everything I could have wanted simply by waiting, being patient, take them away from the scene and accentuating her uniqueness. Um, this is another one where because I always wait till the end of the shoot to do the kids portrait because I want them to wear out. That's the other thing. That's a good thing to tell all of you. I do the structured family photos altogether and then the kids altogether, and then we take a break and play at the very end. I do the portrait of the kids all by themselves. They're more likely to work with me. One on one when they've been with me for 45 to minutes versus right in the beginning also wears them out. Because, as you know, if you work with kids, they have about a 15 minute span before the poop starts hitting the fan. So, um so it's good to just give him a break like they've done a bunch of structure directed photos, Let him just play where themselves out and then bring him back. And so maybe some photographers would have made him wipe the sand office fees. But for me, he was like doing the cookie roll like he was all wet to them, doing the cooking roll down the beach. And he was very difficult to try and work with beginning and by just having him wear himself out and then be like, Hey, do you want to come take a special between me? He gave me this and his mom is a photographer, actually, in my mentoring program, I worked with him, a bunch, this shoot. And then we went to Disney World and did a three day shoot, and I'm now very close with the family, especially the kids But that was the first time I met him. And Heather told me to this day, this is her favorite picture of her kid because it's him and she and she herself was the photographer was never able to make a picture like this ever, um, of her son. But just by like having him look at me, it's like he's looking at my soul like, honestly, I feel like that's him. Okay, this is another little girl. I have a lot of photographers, or mainly my clients. Now, like, have a lot of time for clans. But not all I am lots of heart, but more recently. And, um, this was for workshop. I did, actually, in Canada, and I always have my students wash me, do a whole shoot. They don't even shoot. I don't let him shoot. I just let him watch me. And the mom was a photographer and she brought her kids in. The girl who invited me to come to Canada, Canada. She's like, I have a really difficult family for you. I'm really sorry. I was like their not difficult. She doesn't know it's seriously a challenge. Like this little girl has never got a picture over like just her and her mom's. Everybody will do it. No other for starters, we'll do. It was like I'm not worried because And she's really shy And I guess within like, two minutes she was talking to me and the everyone that knows the mom was I What is going on? L A friend. Buffy was like you Seriously, our kid Whisperer. But it's just a matter of why told you, making that connection beginning, getting down to their level, talking to him about something other than pictures. And I did the same thing I've always done. Hey, would take one special picture with me and she looked at me for a bunch. But, like, this is the one. By being patient and keep shooting, just letting your be yourself and talk to her. This, her mom said, was exactly her personality. Exactly. Curious. Always getting into mischief. Um, okay, jacked up teeth. You know what that tells you? Pretty much how old she is. Right? Because we know what happens to your mouth when you're about eight years old, right? So I took the other picture, like, of her whole face. But then she smiled. I was like, Oh, my God. And, um, when it was perfect, Like this is her uniqueness, right? This is this represents who she is at this time. Right at this time is all these teeth coming in and falling out. And, um, her mom got this picture really big for their house. Um, and I get this. I've shown this photo quite a bit for, uh, workshops. And what have you and people obviously doesn't that piece of hair in the mouth and sand bother you? And I say no. Why? It says everything about where they are, what she's doing and how old she is. And we know it's a girl, right? Pretty, pretty much tell us a little girl. Um, I think you're most perfect when you're in perfect. Like those are what I'm looking for. Yes. Yes. I find those of the kind of comments you get from clients a lot. Just things like that that really niggling yet them and they're really bothered by them. But other people I don't see them. That's no. I was not even what would want to it go into that mouth right there. But how do you get around that. That's really because I'm setting the expectation by showing these kinds of pictures on my website so they know they're gonna be perfect right now looking for that. But not it's not looking for the perfect. I just meant toward a student who she's. She was so obsessed with the post, processing in making everything perfect. And when she watched me process, she was like, um, don't you have anxiety about that? I said no Why? And after I left, she said that she wrote me and she was like watching you shoot and watching you choose what photos you do and watching Post process is the most free experience in my life, my professional life, because you get so focused on that stuff that you forget what's really important about making pictures, at least for me, with documentary pictures. This is how it waas. So that's how I'm gonna leave it. Does that make sense? But to find clients that want this again, you have to be showing these. These are what you have to be showing, and that's what I do and show these, like on my head or photos like they're my favorites, accentuating you ate uniqueness. Um, a little boy with freckles. I just loved it. I just love the freckles so much. It'll probably always have him. But I bet he looks the same in the sun when he's 30 as when he was this age. With those freckles in the really blonde hair and the really long eyelashes now making him smile, just letting them be them. She was. This little girl was very wise, like there's a such thing as reincarnation. I feel like she was a very old lady and then became a very young girl. Um, it was just something about her that was kind of mysterious, and you feel, and I feel like I got that in this picture. Um, it can have big ears, and he smiles all the time. And he has these tiny little teeth. And by just letting him be him and accentuating that, that's what makes us unique for him to tell each other a secret trick works every time. Almost every time. Um, I found that this is key. Really. Tell kids All right, kids, no talk to each other. They don't know what to dio. But if you tell each other secrets. They know exactly what to dio, and I always get a different response. It's always something different. They've learned to tell each other secrets differently. Sometimes they tell really sweet secrets. Sometimes really funny. Sometimes they get into a secret match, they might start comparing their feet. I don't know. Okay, there's only one time where this has gone awry and I must share it. Okay, so these three little girls tell each other, See through the parish alike. And then they tell the middle girl a secret, which was a lie. Mom and Dad are really your mom and dad. You were adopted. Okay? This has only happened one time, and it was not true. But, um, I'm just gonna warn you that the telling telling each other secrets could go awry from time to time. And there was one other family where I told you that she couldn't The little boy like needles worn out loud until secrets so But for the most part, it always works. Like for me. It always works. Okay, Working. You have to work the scene. You have to work really hard to make good pictures. Take the first frame. You've got to start somewhere, right? Shoot for a while. If you're not getting anything, change your perspective. That means move your booty. Sometimes people become reliant, unjust, staying in one place. They get bored, they give up just trying. Consider changing your position. Clean up your frame. Maybe try and layer. Once you change your perspective where you know that you're going to have to make a better picture, then focus on your composition. That's when you really clean up the frame. Make sure that nothing is sticking out of people's heads and then be patient. Just wait. It might take 45 minutes for a moment to happen. But if you have a good position, you have a good composition. Just be patient. I think that is the key to making really good documentary photos. Okay, so this is one of my favorite photos from last year. Unexpected. Um, I worked really hard to make an interesting picture, so I'm gonna show you what it took to make this picture. Okay, here we go. So this is all the raw. So he's swinging with mom and dad know, noticed. None of us are great keepers, right? I'm changing my perspective. maybe I'm gonna include the brother. Some of it isn't in focus. Especially when people are moving. It's hard. Uhm, I'm diligent. Impatient. This is fun. Who keeps looking at me? I'm not really making anything. I'm gonna wait. Then I'm gonna move to a different position thinking that maybe by moving myself, it's going to change the picture. I'm liking this a little, but I already know that it's cluttered. See, the background is cluttered. So you're gonna see that at a point. I'm going to get lower to the ground. Here I go. It's gonna clean it up. And so I got the picture. So that's the frame that I got. But it took all of that time to make one picture. I believe that was like 156 frames. The other thing is, I shot past the moment. So I got that frame and I kept shooting. Even though I knew that I probably pretty much had it. I kept shooting a little bit more. Does that make sense? So I always shoot past the moment to ensure that maybe something better is it gonna happen? I'll give it like, a minute or two and then if I'm sure that the frame that I originally got was the right one, then I'll move on. I get the safe shop first, and then I try to see it differently. This was, um, one of my favorite photos from, like, three years ago. Um, very familiar scene on the beach. Bubbles. Sometimes bubble photos could be boring. Um, so I'm gonna show you what it took to get this picture. This I had to work really hard to get. So normal scene, um, blowing bubbles. It was kind of boring. So I got low to clean up my composition. I still just I didn't like the light. It just didn't seem interesting to me. Um, kid having a fit, Um, eventually, I'm gonna go to the other side, so I make all these pictures, but I'm thinking, OK, this might be a better position, but it's a little bit cluttered. So that's what I make the decision to get low and you'll see, um, and I share some of these pictures. I won't get rid of. All of them will share some of them. Um, but I will definitely keep working until I make something that I know is more me more interesting. There's a lot of frames. It took, like 300 frames to get the picture that I liked. This is what I talk about when I say that I'm really stubborn, see, once I get low, I saw it, so that's the frame that I got. But then I believe I have when I shot past it as well. And this is how much I shot past. But I knew I had it. And that's why I only shot about 50 frames past. And that's the frame that I got. Watch for patterns, Um, in strong, graphic directional elements. These are things I'm looking forward. My composition, uh, mimicking behavior, I think is really funny that the dad is reading on the IPad and the little boy is still reading the wimpy kid on a regular book. This is something that will never happen again in my lifetime. This is a very mundane situation, very boring, but that I don't think I'll ever have a lesbian couple with their daughter flying a little mermaid kite and then two birds fly by. So we have to to to that they happen to both reach up at the same time to look at the birds and they make a complete line from corner to corner. Um, some of this is just luck and patients and just kind of waiting for something to happen. Yes, but for question. So I don't know if this is the appropriate time. Maybe it's coming later. But how do you How do you make those decisions? And we get this question a lot. Black and white versus color. You shoot from black and white, Are you? Is it a post thing? Um, a very wise photographer told me once that if color is not adding anything to your story, turn into black and white. So in this situation, I felt that color really added to the story because of the Little Mermaid. And I thought that was an important element. If it was black and white, it wouldn't. You wouldn't have noticed it was little Mermaid as much. So in this situation, color for me was everything. For this. I feel that the color of the sunset adds to the contrast of the kite. Um and so in this situation again, color is for me. It's it's adding to my story But in the next picture, I didn't need color at all. And one thing to point out, we'll talk about this more is there's a pattern in all three of these pictures that make people respond to them really well. Do you guys know what it is? But it is a shape. It's triangles. Our eyes are drawn to first of all, um, odd things. Odd numbers, for the most part, and so there. When you have triangular elements to a new image, our brain automatically responds very well to that. And some people don't even realize that's why they like a picture. And then when they start toe, investigate it, they realize that there's triangles. So there's this big triangle. And then there's the triangle that the kite is making. Here's many triangles. One the big 1 to 1 in the water. Three, um, again here, the element of a triangle shape being made. This is another holy crap that just happened. But they were feeding the birds. That is a great activity. Feed the birds of don't feed the birds till the end, because you will get pooped on it because they won't go away. Um, so I had the kids feeding the birds, and this was after they had finished feeding the birds. And this isn't being my favorite. Um, again, that trying that element of triangle, um, that really draw the birds or triangles? It's making a triangular shape. The boy is almost a triangle. There's a triangle in the shape of the cloud. This is the other thing. If a kid has a sword, I guess then you can have a silhouette. The idea is, you don't want a blob. The two years help that. You know that the kids legs air separated and the sword So you know what's happening? Um, another one of those. This will never happen again in my lifetime. Um, the kids air not on Lee, like in position to all be standing up, but they're in birth order, including the twins at the end, and the boy is the oldest. I did not direct this at all. This just happened. It's a feeling that I've worked with for many, many years when they only had the twins and now they have five. Um, but they just all happen to be playing in the water. And this isn't one of those being patient and just waiting for something to happen. Just this is really boring, but maybe something will happen. So I'm just going to stay here like wait it out because I like that all four of them are standing in a line together, naturally. So maybe we'll just see what happens. So we're gonna wait for humorous moments. They're really hard to catch. I believe that one of the reasons I have a lot of funny pictures is because I like to make people laugh, and I really love laughing. And so naturally I'm drawn to that. Not everybody is. But when I do make a funny picture, I know that I've made it. Um, I want to make people laugh as much as they feel sentimental when they look at these pictures, I just This one cracks me up like teeny tiny little Superman like this teeny, tiny little hand, Um, checking the diaper like I never would have expected that to happen. But it did. Um, And when I see it, when I see the moment, I'm drawn to it right away. Like they're like, there's no question I immediately and gravitating towards the moment. Um just letting kids like play for a minute, and sometimes funny things will happen. Um, try to make one picture. So I said, I try to make one good picture with everyone in the family in it, Um, this one cracked me up and the mom was like, This is totally our family. Like my husband would never know that the dog was dragging the kid around the beach ever like he's just in his own little world fishing while there's chaos going on. Um, I just made this picture recently. I just There's lots of different action happening, both parents being parents, Random ducks in there on then the little girl who and she really used, like she's the quieter one more, um, independent, one looking out by herself. And this is all things I noticed during my shoot that I make sure to make pictures of this like that represent their families. Um, and I don't always have to have everyone's faces in it, everyone's bodies, but I like to have won at least one really good picture with everyone in it. Layering will talk more about layering. Layering is not easy, I say. It's like, you know It's the next step in photos, and I'm still learning wiring. Um, sometimes if I have an activity they brought doughnuts to eat will make a good picture with them in the activity, sometimes really random. I have no idea Deal with that guy's doing, um, so I work for an equal number of action shots and tender moments. That's what I said. Like, it's very much my personality. I love to have fun At the same time, I'm, like, really drawn to just quiet moments with action. I like to have as many people like. I like to include the people watching the activity. So in this case, I made a bunch of photos with the kids playing. But also I wanted Dad, um, the photo that Dad was watching them, um, and then really just quiet, tender moments as well, running any time you get kids running in ares fun. But then simply late just going and I didn't direct them to do this again. This is just letting them be. And, um, it's also important to me that I make one really good picture with the couple any adult couples that are there because they probably haven't had a really nice portrait made of them since their wedding, and most them hate their wedding photos anyways, if it was like way back when, so they always love it when I can just make one really nice picture and we'll talk on the third day about really why this is so important, especially for grandparent's, um, but they all do it. They might feel uncomfortable at first, but they will all do it. Remember this couple? We'll talk about them on Saturday. When do you do that, Kirsten. At the very in, Right after I'm done with the kids Portrait's, I'll do that, I'll photograph them. And then, of course, the kids want to be in any of the pictures of formal pictures until the parents are only getting their pictures and then they want to be in it and is really important to remember this. Do not stop shooting until you're driving away. Always have just one camera on you because you never know when there's gonna be this last picture that you want to make. In this case, I rode with the family in the car, and I just like this is typical, like riding in the car with the kids and had to make it or, you know, they're walking away. Um, I can't drive that point home enough. Always have your camera on you. It happened yesterday when I was shooting. We had stopped the shoot. The crew had stopped filming. We're packing up. I still have my camera on me. And then there was just this lovely moment of the oldest daughter with the youngest little boy and they were walking on the beach. And then I made a really nice picture that will look at, and I wouldn't have been able to make that picture if I'd put all my gear away. I still had that one camera on my shoulder, and I actually like, stopped having a conversation to go take the picture because it was important to me any questions about this section. I went kind of fast cause it was a lot of content, but that's like how I do it. Formal families of formal family photos, first with a long lens, then go to the wide angle. Then I let them play. Then I do the kids portrait's and then at the very end will do the adult portrait's. And that's really like if you do this those formal photos first. It really like helps to build that trust by talking to them that when you're playing with them for the rest of the day are the rest of the shoot. There are a lot more natural. They feel more comfortable with you. So Ashbery has a question, and then we'll go to the studio audience. How do you get the little ones with the helicopter moms? How do you get the moms not to follow you around and say Smile? Does she mean with the portrait part or just in general, think in general, um, I ignore them. And if they continue to tell all, Smile, smile, smile. It doesn't happen often, but when they do that, I just kindly look at them and, like, you know what? They don't even have to do that this part Security, like did that. We're just gonna let him play, and usually if you're really nice about it and smile and make it like not a big deal, it's just gonna let him play. They'll usually ease off, but the helicopter moms I have more issues with what I'm doing the formal portrait, and that's why I take them away from the group. You're welcome. Studio audience. Is that what you gonna ask? I can't remember. How well do you think about any questions? Asked me again. Yes. I was thinking I had other times where they've been playing. And then they get messy. And I know that one with the sand on the face. Do parents ever wish that you had just the portrait's of them before they get clean to get dirty? I've never been told that they were unhappy ever. Um, I part of that, I think, helps when I get all the kids together and do their picture in the beginning. So their latte, at least they have all it, like one picture with all of their kids together, like really clean face. But no, I'm never, like had an issue. And when I worked in the beach, we would let the kids go into the water. So then a lot of them would be soaking what? When we did there. They're like their portrait, but I think again because I set up the expectation that these are gonna be them. These are gonna be your kids, This is gonna be your family. There's no expectation about, like the perfectionism as faras like what their faces look like, or their clothes. Or if they're dirty or their hair's a mess. They Ernie are expecting it to be a kind of a wild ride, so they know what their pictures, you know, they are expecting that that's what their pictures are gonna end up being.