I've always loved photography. Having the peanut was the single best thing to happen to that particular hobby of mine.
I know I've mentioned Nick Kelsh before, but he has definitely been my biggest inspiration on how to go about shooting my family photos. One of my favorite suggestions of his is to allow yourself time for your own private portrait sessions. I'm not talking about the traditional birthday, holiday or special event type moments, I'm talking about random Saturdays in the middle of fall just to document that stage of your child's life.
I've found the biggest keys to this kind of session is to not force them and just go with the flow. Easier said than done for a planner like me. Every successful session I've had started as a spur of the moment thing. But the following elements are always present:
1. The peanut must be in a good mood.
2. The lighting has to be just right. I don't use my flash, ever. So outdoor light is best but we're also lucky enough to have great lighting inside our home on good days.
3. We have to be sure to have an open schedule with no pressure on time. The instant I try to force the photo is the same moment the entire session falls apart.
The rest is relatively easy. This weekend I took the peanut to the Chicago Botanic Gardens. I left the stroller in the car and carried nothing but my camera. After 20 minutes of letting her run her crazies out, I found a bench and parked myself in one spot.
All these shots I'm sharing today were taken from the same bench. The peanut just ran in the field around me and I used my zoom to get in close enough. Most of the time she had no idea what I was doing. When she realizes what I'm up to, I get this:
The last major tip for a photo session like this is to just keep snapping photos. I took 35 pictures to get these 4 worth sharing. With digital photography there is just no excuse for cutting yourself short. You can always crop, edit, and delete later.
And if you don't like any of the dozens you've taken (which has definitely happened to me!) hopefully you've learned something from the experience for next time. Just delete the group and no harm done!
Just some of the lessons I've learned from my failed sessions are:
- just the right time of day to shoot indoors in our living room
- which outdoor locations work best for background shots
- how to choose a spot that allows freedom for playfulness but not so much that chasing is involved
- snacks in the belly beforehand never hurt
But my favorite part of this particular session is that I finally captured some bokeh!! I confess that normally to get that effect in my pictures I have to use a little bit of help. But these shots had them naturally due to the distance between the peanut and myself when the shot was taken.
These aren't my best photos ever, but it was definitely a worthwhile way to spend my Saturday morning. And, a heck of a lot cheaper than hiring a pro!