Most people often say they cannot believe the New Year is already upon us. Where did the time go? When you really sit down and think about all you’ve experienced and seen within a years time, its almost hard to believe. When I look back on my year, of course, I see it in pictures. I can look at where I began in Portraits early in the year and see where I am at the end of it, and notice a huge difference with the way I view and take Portraits. Within a years time, my editing style has changed majorly. I can also see where I once felt the need to add a lot of extra things to Portraits, I now add more simplicity. It doesn’t seem like I can ever learn enough about the color of light. One teacher once defined Photography as, “painting with light.” When you photograph as much as I do, you are constantly learning more about how light affects everything and changing your way of seeing things according to how it sees. This may seem weird to read for some, but without it, art in Photography cannot be created.
I’ve decided to share some of my favorite Portraits taken through out the year of 2015. And also share some information not mentioned in previous blogs.
I do not photograph in the Winter months. Cold weather is not fun for anyone when taking pictures. It just isn’t. So I stay away from it. However, in the middle of January, there were three days where out of the blue we had 50 degree weather. Did I mention this was three days straight? It came out of nowhere. Diamond is a friend of mine who was pregnant with her first child and had mentioned to me that she wanted Maternity Portraits taken. I told her that I would love to do it, but the weather would play factor and that we would have to play it by ear. Then, when I saw the three day stretch of pure sunlight, pure warmth in the close future, I called her up and said, “Hey, the weather is great this weekend! Can you be available?” Two days later, we went to St. Mary’s and spent 45 minutes creating Diamond’s Maternity Shoot.
The picture above is my favorite one of Diamond’s Maternity Shoot. But many people do not know that it was a rather hard image to edit. I do not like shooting into the sky if I can help it (sometimes I can’t). The sky needed some major touching up because of it being so bright and almost cloudless. Also, there were many, many houses visible in the background that I worked to remove to where it appeared that is were only scenery out in the middle of nowhere. Though I did spend some time on this image, it is one of my favorites and well worth time spent.
This is real snow. This was a hard image to do as well. I had my camera set on my front porch, out of the snow, while working to make my focus point clear through the snow fall. I ran back and forth from my camera to one spot in my yard about 8 times. A couple other images came out good, but this one, to me, is the best. My knees were in mud and my legs were all wet. It’s the sacrifice one makes for the sake of art. Also you can tell my hair need brushing. This was a last minute thing, for when I noticed it began to snow I grabbed my camera and tripod and didn’t give a thought to how I appeared at the time. I feared it would stop snowing quick, and eventually it did. But I’m glad I was able to catch snow in action while I could.I returned to St. Mary’s for another Session for a sweet family: The Cloyde’s. I always want to take advantage of adding scenery in Portraits and give it something more than the usual. The sun was going down and giving the warm glow that I crave in all my Sessions. In this Portrait, there is so much that is to be seen, not just the people in it. The sky and scenery helps to draw your attention to the subject. In the end you have a landscape and a Portrait combined into one. 🙂This little boy. Gosh, he could not stop smiling. I fell in love with Axl so hard! This was for Easter, and at this time Axl was only 8 months old. He was so good and did everything you would want an 8 month old baby to do. We were in a park, and there was a blue car parked right behind Axl’s Rabbit that I had to remove to be out of view. But that would be extent of editing for this photo. Very few enhancements were added. The sun was perfect. It was a very good day this day.This Portrait of Jeshanah is probably the most talked about one when I hear comments back from other people. I am often referred to this photo, and I am the most proud of it. Jeshanah took me to an abandoned park that had not been mowed in maybe close to two years if not more. I had Jeshanah in several spots where the grass was almost as tall as she was. Her Session was in the middle of May. If anyone remembers, we may have had three days in the entire month where we didn’t have any rainfall. This was one of those days. We were near the Arkansas River and it was overflowing heavy at this point. The mosquito’s were horrible and biting all over us. And we both forgot to bring bug spray. Despite all that, Jeshanah poses as if it were a warm Spring day and everything were to be perfect. And looking back at her Session, it was, giant mosquito bites and all.
A big thing to happen in my family this year was the first Birthday of my Niece, Lottie. She has changed so much since this picture taken back in June. Her cheeks are more defined and her eyes have taken on more shape and color. I love this little girl. Okay, these kids rock. Seriously. I went to The Fowler’s back yard with a black sky above us and rain following 30 minutes later. It doesn’t matter if you have sunlight or not: you can make it work. You’d never guess that the sky was literally almost black. I had my 60mm 2.0 lens and white balance set to Shade. Thats pretty much it. The session was cut short by the rain of course. But afterwards I enjoyed some ice cold watermelon in the Fowler home.
I was blessed to go on a trip to Atlanta this past Summer. My job was to take pictures. All I did was document the entire trip on camera. The youth group visited Apartment complex’s, ministered and played with the children there. On the last day the teens visited the kids turned into an emotional day for some. I could tell the ones who were giving a little bit more than the previous few days because they felt this could be the last time they see the kids they quickly grew to love. The picture above is a great example of this.
On the last day, Katie was really showing love to this little girl. This girl, among many others, was glued to her hip. She’d pick her up and twirl her over and over. Non-stop. This is my favorite picture of the entire trip because of the message and heart that is shown through it. Many of the teens who were there always felt the same way. It sums up what the trip was really about.
Eight months later, Diamond and Joe’s little boy, Isaiah. I was so excited to photograph him. Diamond and Joe are the first clients that I brought to my own home for their Session. Isaiah was very good at paying attention and almost looked at the camera every time for every shot. I’ve mentioned before how much I love backlighting an image, and thats pretty much why this one is my favorite from their Session. The glow it gives you cannot beat.I met the Green’s at Pendergraft Park. I will never forget that there were at least six other photographer’s doing the same work in almost the same proximity. I was very much aware that there were people around me. One thing I very much made sure to do is to keep the family in open shade. Backlighting as much as possible, yes. But the reason why for this was to keep the light as even toned as possible. It helps with post production when the tone of light is all the same. But what is more difficult is when you can’t always control what is in the background of an image. In this case, I actually removed part of a white picket fence on the left corner because it was too distracting. But I couldn’t move the family any more further without there being something else on the other side of the picture which was also distracting. So I had to made a decision what I would let in and what I wouldn’t, and decided if need to be, leave it there if can’t be removed. The white fence won. But I’m glad I was able to remove it altogether in the end anyway. I’ve told people that when I scoped out this location for The Hutchins Family, I was almost in heaven. It was after church one Sunday afternoon. I remember running through out this park in my dress boots not giving a care in the world how dirty they became afterwards because I saw so much opportunity for great Portraits. I was in awe, and a little overwhelmed. If given the time, I could probably spend a day at this place and come up with a lot of stuff. We didn’t go everywhere where my feet walked, but I picked out a few spots that I felt were good for the family. This particular spot was sorta out of the way and out of view. But the rocks made a good choice for this family to sit for this particular photo. The Hutchins were up for anything and were great to photograph.Kota. He loved the camera. He would run over to me and want to view the pictures I took of him on my view finder. And then run in front of me again, do something crazy, then run back to me to see what I took. He was so, so good! He smiled the entire time. I could tell he had a lot of fun. This particular photo was taken towards the end of the session where I let him move around and do what he wanted instead of trying to pose him. I save the caption moments for last, and this was one of them where he looked up at me at just the right time.
The Floyd’s. I must first share, that I laughed pretty hard when I took this image. And when I uploaded it on my computer, I laughed some more. Its too precious. The girls were so distracted. Not to mention that is was colder than usual and also raining some at the time. And mom decided to stand behind me to attempt to get the girls to smile with daddy. Well, this is what happened instead. And its just too precious.
The Austin boys are by far the best kids ever! They did everything I asked them to. No questions asked. I’m not kidding you. I really hope to see more of them in the future. The Austin Family gave me a lot of joy when I began working on their Family Portraits. This was a location right outside of Bloomer that I hadn’t seen before. There was an old torn down house that gave a nice rustic look along with hay bails and lots of field space to play around with. The Austin’s were the perfect family for a lot of Classy Portraits.It was after church one Sunday that I photographed The Stamper’s. This was one of the first picture’s I took of Nathan and Alicia, brother and sister. The sun was high in the sky, but we were in pure shade. The lighting gave a nice brightness and color that I very much love in this image. I also like the reflection in the window showing the building that is obviously across the street. Little elements like these add to an image. Except for the brief removal of various little things on the ground in front of their feet, very little editing was done to this image.
I love it when I’m invited into people’s back yards and homes for their Portraits, as the McCabe’s did. I also love to capture families where naturally show their love as if I wasn’t even there. We did a lot of playful, snap-shot type pictures to help Paisley adjust better to me being there with a black box in my hand. Her mom, dad, and grandma (who was standing behind me) knew how to make her laugh and forget that she was there to have her picture taken.
Armani. This location was a last minute thing. To highlight that a little more, when you have a Session planned and are already creating images in your mind of how you will pose a person(s) at so and so, sometimes when it comes down to it, the plan does not go accordingly. And often, you will have to change what you originally had wanted and do “on the spot” or “last minute” photography with your client. You have to be able to create an amazing Session experience and Portraits at any location at any time of day for your client. Period. Not saying this would ever happen, but even if you were in a back ally with a dumpster: you make it work and make it the greatest thing ever. It can happen if you know how to do it. This was the case for Armani. Where I had originally wanted her Session to take place did not work out that day. So I had to figure out something else on the spot. Literally. We drove to the other side of the park we were meeting and I was able to find little spots for Armani to sit. She was fantastic by the way. Very photogenic. She would face the camera more than not. She was very quick and very easy. The photo above proves it. I glanced out the corner of my eye and saw this little log that I believed to be a good size for her to sit on. It worked. I just had to look and think fast. Armani sat, and I took her picture. My friend Erica had been wanting some pictures taken for some time, and decided that this past Fall Season would be best. She brought her dog, Buddy, as well. We took a few of her and Buddy, and then the rest of just her. I took two different version’s of this same picture, both from different angles. In this picture, she is positioned in front of a lake and a playground in the background. I really wish I were able to remove the play area but after a few hours at it, I wasn’t very successful. I always have to keep in mind with what is in the background. You never want any more distractions than you can help. So, with that in mind, I did take another series of shots from the opposite angle where the playground was not in the background but instead more open area and sky. While the background was better, the angle of light was horrible. It did not light up her face as it does in this Portrait. I went back and forth trying different settings on my camera to make the other shot work, but the natural light angle at the time won. Even in post production, there was little that could be done. So in the end I went with this picture despite the background. Even though the playground is there, I still like this picture very much. The water gives it a lot more depth. And Erica shows off her beautiful smile as always. The Bodiford Family. I met with them on Thanksgiving Day in the backyard of one of the neighbors houses right before it began to rain. It was very cloudy on this day, but amazing things happen when you have a F1.8 lens. 🙂 This was probably the quickest 8 minutes of my life. But in that small time frame, they had a total of 16 Portraits in the final pick. The rich, natural colors made every Portrait look deep. And soon after the last picture was taken, the rain poured down. I like the feeling of beating the rain.
The last Session that has wrapped up 2015 was one of three families. I am only showing one of the Portraits from that Session, simply because of space. Though all came out fantastic for a cloudy mid-day, this one is probably my favorite. She’s adorable, or course. Her face is perfect and one missing bottom tooth just makes you love her more. I love close up shots, especially of kids. A tad bit of wind to pull away a few stands of her hair, and a little bit of side lighting to create a small shadow on the left side of her face. Classy, just the way I like it.
Something that I don’t believe I have ever shared, is that I never expected that I would photograph so many Families. When I began to photograph people for money, I aimed more for High School Seniors Portraits. Teenagers are usually up for anything and are willing to do some crazy shots to help me practice at being an artist more. However, over the past 2 years it has been just the opposite. I’ve only photographed 1 College Senior, and the rest Families of all sizes. Its something I never expected, but I believe it is what God has given me for a reason. And because of this, I am so happy and blessed to photograph Families today. I loved meeting with every single family, getting to know them, and being a small part of their lives by capturing their smiling faces. The more I do, the more I grow and change. It makes me excited for the next Family I will meet and the next Session I will be able to create.
Thank you to everyone who trusted me to capture the heart of your family. I thank you that I was able to be a part of it. I hope for many more to come.
Erin G. Parker