My childhood friend Jessica contacted me for family photos again and I was so happy when she suggested the California Railroad Museum as their location. It's perfect for my hour long sessions that are half posed portraits and half photojournalism. We started out outside the museum in Old Sacramento. The texture of all the buildings and different location all in one place is a photographers dream. It is literally the perfect place for photos.
However, my favorite part of these sessions will always be the photojournalism half. Catching those candid moments of pure joy or the quiet moments of concentration can never be replaced with poses. Jessica said her kids favorite thing to do in the museum was the mail car. They love to collect the mail and sort them into slots. It made for some pretty awesome pictures too!
After the museum they headed across the street to Danny's Mini Donuts for a snack. Below is a photo of the kids swinging dad like when parents swing their little ones. I just love how into it all of them are and dad is being such a good sport about it!
But I think my favorite photo of the session is of their son Henry below. I just love the feeling and atmosphere of the photo, which goes so well with his expression. It's a photo that would definitely hang in a large format on my wall if it was my family.
Even though that was my favorite photo of the session I really feel that this was my favorite family session of 2018. I am bummed that I didn't get to share it until now. They are just a wonderful bunch who are funny, goofy but very loving! They are willing to work through my silly suggestions and let me have the freedom to make amazing photos for them. Take a look through the rest and let me know which on is your favorite in the comments below.
There's something in photography that kind of took me a long time to figure out and I am a little ashamed to say that. But like my photography I try to keep it real here on the blog. For some reason I never thought to work around my subject to work more efficiently and get a variety of photos without having to think about what direction to give them next. It's easier to let them do their thing and you to compose your photograph around them. In order to visually demonstrate I am using my cute red headed son as an example.
The first photo above is your standard up close full body portrait. It's straight on and what most photographers think to do when photographing.
However, I encourage you to stop and think for a second. Even though the first photograph is beautiful and you would probably be happy with it what else could you do with this scene? The easiest place to start is just by pulling back. Get more of the surrounding scene, which will help tell a better story.
Next pull even farther back incorporating the entire background. Pull backs are a great way to make environmental portraits. If you don't know what an environmental portrait is, here's a great place to start. Surroundings are more interesting for the viewer when incorporated with people in a photograph. They allow the viewer to construct a story in their mind about what's going on making it more captivating for them.
Move to the side of your subject and again get close and pull back from that position as well. For some reason when people first start taking pictures their feet or tripod never move. They stick with one position and wait. However, if it feels stagnant, like it's not working, move. It's that easy.
So at the end of your session, whether it's with your kids or a family, move all the way around them, 360 degrees. Just this one little trick can improve your photography immensely. If you decide to try it post it to your Instagram and tag me. I'd love to see your results. In fact, I hope they are way better than mine.
Whitney and her fiance Jonathan and their little boy Hudson were so much fun! They were willing to do all the silly things I asked of them and their photos turned out to be amazing! I especially love the black and white photos. Whitney kissing Hudson on the head melts my heart! They had so much love for each other and Hudson was just smitten with her. Honestly, he's the sweetest little boy I have ever met, a testament to the love they have for each other. When Whitney booked with me, at the time her and Jonathan weren't engaged, but I could feel that the time was coming for him to pop the question. About a week after our session I saw a post on her Instagram of the ring and her and Jonathan together. All I thought in my head was "I knew it was coming!" So I congratulate them on their engagement and wish them the best! I hope to see them again in the future.
On a side note, the only bad thing about this session is I got stuck. The parking directors at High Hill Ranch parked me in between a tree and another car and I was so close to both I could't turn my wheels to back out. I would have hit either the tree or the car. If I backed out straight I would have hit a large SUV across the aisle where it's tail end was sticking out. I had to wait for an hour before the car in front of me left and I was able to pull forward. So all you photographers out there don't book back to back sessions in Apple Hill on a weekend. Lesson learned, haha!
This image is the type of photography I live for! I love a good portrait, but I think the details are where it's at. Why? Because I remember the details of my son as a baby more than any other part of him. I remember the rolls on his thighs and the way they felt squished between the tips of my fingers. I remember the way he cried and the way he laughed. I remember how the size of his head felt in the crook of my elbow. I remember his pudgy lips and the wrinkles on the bottoms of his feet. I remember tracing my finger along his chubby cheeks and over his coarse tiny eyebrows. For some reason I can't remember anything else until he was about 4 months old. Maybe it's because up until that point they just eat, sleep and poop, there's nothing monumental to note. Or I could just have a horrible memory.
Every time I do a session I try to keep those memories of my son in the back of my mind. It's not just for newborn sessions either. I like to photograph all my family sessions with the intention that the little things really do matter like an occasional embrace from a teenager or mom painting her daughters toes for the first time. It's done commonly in wedding photography too, but is often forgotten during family sessions. Kids go through changes so fast that I feel it's my duty to capture all those tiny things at every stage of life.
If you follow me on Instagram you know that I posted this image with a poem. It's a short poem and it relates to the details.
Memories are about the detail.
Many say the small things don’t matter,
But when they do they leave a trail.
Like a shooting star in the dark
And they fade from our minds
If not captured in our hearts.
I bet you didn't know you I am a wanna be poet, haha. So instead of showing you a bunch of portraits from the session I thought I'd just show you the details as a fun change of pace. I want to know if this is something you think about as a photographer or just a mom who takes pictures of her kids? Would you want these as a part of your session?
Do you want to know the best thing about family portraits? It's definitely the love between the members. Fortunately, I have had the privilege of having amazing families for all my sessions so far, especially the Divelbiss family. They are so sweet and beautiful they make what I do look really easy, plus the siblings love each other. From what I could tell the boys really loved their new baby sister. They were giving her hugs and being very gentle with her. They also were listening well (maybe it was mom's bribes, but I like to think they are still amazing kids) and following directions. Of course, at times there was some wiggling and energy that needed to be spent, but mom and dad were extremely patient and you could tell by the expression on their faces that, even though they were being naughty, mom and dad still thought they were being cute. You can tell by all their smiles that they love each other and have extraordinary amounts of fun together!
Maybe it's because I know that I'll never have another baby again or I just miss the sweet snuggles of a of a tiny human, but these first day of life sessions give me all the feels. I remember those precious first few days like it was yesterday. They were filled with wonder and delight, but also worry. Although this family didn't seemed worried I'm sure there were lots of times they were. It's all a part of being a parent.
Birth is a crazy thing. For a woman to grow another life inside of her is so weird, but also so amazing to think about as the same time. It's something so special that men can not do. Think about that for a second because women you are powerful just in that sense alone. You can birth another human being, men can't do that, they just can't. Women are the only ones and that is so meaningful and so powerful and should be celebrated. Without you, without women our species would fail to exist. I always thought birthdays should not just be for celebrating our children, but also a celebration of the mom that birthed you. Something to think about when your birthday rolls around, maybe a thank you card or small gift for your mom.
My absolute favorite photo from this session it the one pictured above. Mom looks completely in love and content looking at her baby with wonder. Baby is swaddled and in a peaceful sleep. This photo is the embodiment of motherhood that first day. In love, but tired and just wanting to give baby everything.
Oh my goodness! I seriously had so much fun creating some mini sessions for the Sierra Moms play group. I built two set-ups plus there were bubbles to play with. The first set-up was a flower stand and the second was a farmers market stand with real chickens. I was a little concerned because that day it was starting to rain, but I got through everyone before it did. I love cloudy days though with that beautiful filtered light. I love how they turned out and the families had a great time too! Check out some of the images below.
Sneak Peak of one of my favorite family's birthday party for their son. It was held at the indoor playground Wacky Tacky in Rancho Cordova outside Sacramento, California. It's such a fun and exciting place for toddlers and kids of any age, especially adult kids like me! It's also a documentary photographers dream with amazing framing and smiling faces galore.