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Portrait photography can be so much more!

As I was waiting for this evening’s clients to arrive at our location, I had the chance to observe another photographer.  I always arrive early for any shoot by fifteen or twenty minutes which gives me time to mentally prepare, and to scout the area for light – because even if you shoot at the same location three days in a row at the same time, the light will be different each time.  I’m always surprised at just how different my approach is…  For me, what I do is normal, it’s natural, it’s just how I am.  And I can, and do, forget just how different the experience I provide is.

An iPhone snapshot of the photography team and family I observed today while waiting for my clients.

 

When I first arrived on the scene, I knew the family gathered there weren’t my clients.  The ages and number of people were wrong…  but it was clear they were nervous.  So I laughed with them a little about how popular this particular spot is with photographers, and how it’s unusual to find less than two or three there at any given time.  They invited me to photograph them if my clients failed to show.  LOL  It was casual, easy going, and fun.  We all shared some smiles and laughs – which made everyone feel better.  That’s when the patriarch of the family pointed out their photographers, saying “They’re supposed to be taking care of us.”  The two photographers, or photographer and assistant (their relationship wasn’t clear), were off on their own standing and talking secretively with their backs to the family.

From the moment my clients arrive, it’s my job to help them relax, to put them at ease.  It’s an odd situation – trying to look and act natural in circumstances that are anything but.  If I can help make my clients feel better about things, especially if I can get them to trust me enough to laugh and let go of their fears a little, it makes a world of difference.  Not just when it comes to their experience, but for their photos as well.  Not every photographer does this…  and sometimes I can forget that.

After a while I watched the photographers call the family over and begin setting up their posed shot.  Now, I don’t do posed photography, but many many photographers still do.  It’s a personal preference, and there are clients who feel more at ease being posed.  It certainly requires less effort from your subjects.  Working with me is about give and take, you have to be willing to put yourself out there a little.  Share a little with me, and I’ll give it back to you in a beautiful and amazing way…  it’s exhausting though.  Most of my clients end up pretty tired by the end of a shoot, we’re busy and engaged, a shoot goes fast and by the end you’ll be tired.  Posed shots are easier, they don’t require anything of you.  Just hold a pose and paste on a grin.  But when you don’t give of yourself, the finished product won’t be personal either.  Take a look at the snapshot above, it took the photographers fifteen or so minutes to set it up – and while it will likely be a nice keepsake, it doesn’t tell you anything about the family or their personalities.  There isn’t anything wrong with it, but it’s not a style I can understand or would ever emulate.

When my family arrived, and I say “MY” family quite purposefully, we got the necessary paperwork out of the way but then it was all fun.  We were laughing and sharing.  I get to know their quirks, and how they relate to one another.  I watch the dynamics present, and do my best to capture those quiet moments of knowing.  Sure, we get the portraits where everyone is looking at the camera – the ones for the holiday cards…  but even those share a whole lot more about who each person is.  Their individuality shines through in a big way.

I love my clients, I love working with them.  I love that a photo shoot is about sharing, and supporting one another, creating together.  That is what portrait photography should be, at least in my eyes.

If you ever walk past a family I’m working with, you’ll hear laughter, see people being silly with one another, people being honest and having fun.  The couple of times we walked past the group above it was quiet, I sensed a lot of apprehension and nervousness.  My clients may feel those things at the very onset of a shoot, but in the end?  They are MY families.  I do my very best to take care of them and make them feel great.  It’s not just about creating photographs, it’s about creating memories, it’s about photography as legacy…  and that just means so much more.

A Photography Preview for Reche & Family

When I first received the booking form filled out by Reche, I knew hers was going to be a fun shoot.  You see, the two of us have a past connection.  Her brother and I were very good friends back when we were still teenagers and young adults.  It seems like a lifetime ago now, but good friends never really stop being friends – even when they lose touch.  So getting to see Reche, meet her family, and work with them all really was a treat.  🙂

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… the best family sessions, are those when the kids are allowed to just be themselves.  Let them play, let them show off their personalities.  Sure, it’s nice when everyone is looking the same direction, but those captures that really show how a family is together, that shows those connections?  It really is SOOO much better.

Thanks for the chance to work with your family, and reconnect with you Reche.  It really was a treat!

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The Kaminski Family – a photography preview

As I was working through some of my enhancements, I realized that it’s been a while since I’d posted a preview here.  I’m terrible for that.  LOL  I go in streaks where I’ll share photos on a regular basis, and then nothing for a good long while.  I’ll try to be more regular about it, but feel free to remind me if you haven’t seen anything for a while.  I am shooting, I just don’t always think to share on the blog.

I enjoyed working with the Kaminski’s.  Any chance to work with a family that includes four leggers as well as two leggers is always a good time.  No, working with animals isn’t easy, but it’s a challenge I really enjoy.  I know dogs, I love dogs…  and I’m perfectly content to wait for them to give me exactly what I need.  Hmmm…  clearly I’m too tired to be writing this blog post as I’ve completely lost my train of thought.  It’s just one of those days – and I have a feeling it will be one of those weeks.  Gotta love getting ready (physically and mentally) for an out of town dog show.

Ah!  Speaking of which!

I’ll be in Regina this weekend.  And I may have time to fit in ONE more photo shoot.  So if you’d like to grab that slot, drop me a line by filling out the booking form at TD Photography (http://photography.tobi-dawne.com/) as soon as possible, and I’ll do my best to work it out.  As I’ll be in Regina already, there will be no additional travel expenses to cover.  Just the regular session fee.  But better be quick!  Like I said, I’ll only have time for ONE additional shoot.

Okay, onto the preview:

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A lesson for families on portrait photography.

I was working on the shots from the Pederson’s family shoot, and a couple of things came to mind that I think many families could learn from.  And where better to share these things than here, on my blog.  🙂

One:  The Found Object

I am all about going digging and exploring for cool things.  When we are out on a shoot, why not have a little fun?  You never know what treasures we may discover.  In this particular instance, we found a few “word rocks” tucked into the big wishing boulder out at Gabriel Dumont Park.  Sometimes the object, or the message, is the most important thing.  Why not let your kids share their excitement over their finds?  I can think of an absolute ton of things a family could do with a photo like this:

There is nothing greater these days, than a message of courage.  And by simply allowing children to explore we found the perfect way to deliver that message.  Can’t you just envision this on a great big canvas in the family home’s entryway?  Or how about shared with family and friends on a custom printed greeting card?  I think it would be the fabulous beginning to an inspirational digital scrapbook page.

So let your kids explore – or do a bit of exploring yourself.  You never know what we may come across.  Or if you have a special message you know you want to share, bring something along.  We’ll find a way to use it.

Two:  The Most Effective Portraits

Contrary to what the portrait studios of the world would have you believe, the most effective portraits do not involve you sitting still.  They do not involve you tilting your head to the side with a smile plastered on your face, staring down the lens of the camera.  The most effective portraits share a little about who you are.

We can definitely grab a few shots of your family all looking in the same direction, smiling, for the sake of posterity (and the holiday greeting card).  But lets make sure to grab a few of you just being yourself.  After all, your family knows what you look like, but how often do you really share your true self?  I’d say it’s time we got a photo of you doing just that.

The first step to capturing a truly effective portrait is choosing a place that speaks to you.  Lets hit the river, the library, an old bookstore, a snowy field… someplace you can just relax and be yourself.  Get involved in the world around you, and do your best to just forget about me and my camera.  It’s hard to do at first, but we’ll get there – and that’s when my work begins to fulfill me.

You made me smile!

As many of my clients are aware, I’m quite backed up with edits, adjustments, and enhancements.  I typically prefer to book in three or four sessions a week, which then allows me to get all of my post-shoot work done that same week.  I know what it’s like having to wait on a disc (or on anything else you are excited about) and do my best to cut down wait time as much as possible.  Lately though, it has been taking a month or (as I’m now telling clients) two to get folks their disc of images.

Why the wait?

To get in as many folks who purchased my groupon as possible, before the extended expiry, there are DAYS when I’ve booked in as many sessions as I would normally shoot in a week.  Yep, you read that right.  One week of shooting compressed into one day, with multiple days a week you can only imagine how quickly the stack of “to be edited” shoots can grow.  But, I figure that in this instance, shooting has to take priority, and I SOOOO appreciate your patience.  This is out of the ordinary for me, and I do feel so badly that things are taking this long…  So thank you.  Thank you for understanding.

This backlog of edits, also means I haven’t been sharing previews on my blog very often.  I love doing it, but it takes extra time to upload all the images…  and that’s just time that I haven’t had lately.  This photo though?  This one I had to share.  🙂  This photo BEGGED me to share it.  It got down on it’s knees, clasped it’s hands, gave me puppy dog eyes, and pleaded oh so heart-wrenchingly to be shared.  So what else could I do?  I promised to share it.

Bobby Jo Lardner and Family

I love this picture.  I truly do.  It speaks volumes about this family, about the love they share, about the kinship and camaraderie present in their relationships.  And even beyond what is so obvious to anyone who sees this photo, is the story about the place.  This is where the Lardner family will be building their future home.  The place where they will continue to grow together, building together, creating bonds and memories that will help shape them.

What a fabulous memory in such an awesome place.  I was privileged to be a small part in creating it.

It’s Miller Time!

A few days ago I had the pleasure of hanging out with the Miller family.  Full of fun and energy – with a six and three year old I’d have expected nothing less.  They were an absolute delight, and I look forward to a second session with them in the Fall.

While editing the photographs produced during the Miller’s shoot (which I am really only half way through so far), I created a new Aperture Preset.  I call it “Peachy”.  It treats the images with a light wash of colour, and is gentle to skin-tones.  Very flattering and unobtrusive.  A less harsh black and white option.  For those who have asked (after I shared on facebook) here is a photograph that’s been edited using Peachy (and yes, there is another in the gallery above):

a family of four


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