Cameron & Ashley’s Wedding in Phoenix, Arizona

Cameron & Ashley were married at St. Francis Catholic Church in Phoenix, Arizona.  Their reception was held at the Arizona Biltmore Resort.  From start to finish, we had a great time.  I knew it would be a enjoyable day after shooting Cameron and Ashley’s engagement portraits in San Diego.   They are a very casual and fun couple, which always helps to make a wedding day go well.  I don’t think I saw Ashley stressed throughout the day.  Even when the limo had a flat and was late to take her to the wedding, they both seemed to be enjoying themselves and relaxing.  I was impressed.

While the girls were finishing up getting ready, we took photos of Cameron and the guys.  It didn’t take us very long.  In fact, when I let the guys go, they were a bit startled…  “That’s it?” One of them said.

Yep, that’s it.

They were all very happy to be released to relax and probebly grab a drink.  But that’s how we roll.  Weddings are not about photography sessions.  As important as wedding photography is to the wedding, that is not what the day is about.  A wedding is about family, friends, love and commitment.  The photographer’s job is to capture moments and help the couple remember and recall the emotions, events and people who attended without getting in the way.  So that is how my team and I operate.

The Biltmore is a great place for portraits because everywhere you go, there is an opportunity for open shade, no matter what time of day it is.  So I just hunt for open shade and settle the group in that area to take the portraits.

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This portrait was taken inside the Biltmore lobby as we walked to the limousine.  We had a few minutes so I used the window light and got this shot.  I have to take my hat off to Ramon Bacaui (hair) and the makeup artist from M.A.C..  I see a lot of makeup and hair, and Ashley’s crew was truly great.  Thanks to all of them, Ashley looked like a million bucks.  It also helps that she’s a natural at posing for the camera.

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Now she’s hiding behind a wall to make sure Cameron doesn’t see her.

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The St. Francis church is a bit tricky to photograph because there are a lot of rules that restrict the photographer’s movement.  So this is about as close as you get.  So the photo team spends a lot of time shooting and reshooting the same basic shots at different times during the ceremony.  Our shots go from full length shots to wide architectural shots, no closeups.  The church is a very beautiful one, so any shot is a nice one, but you don’t get to capture mom or dad looking on as their daughter gets married, because we are not allowed to get into a position for the shot.  With those restrictions in mind, we got some great shots.  You’ll see a number of them in the slideshow.

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I love this shot.

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This one is another favorite.  The flashes are set up for the family portraits on the alter of the church, but they do a great job as backlight and sidelight for a portrait looking back into the church pews.  There is not one forward light on this at all.  Two backlights and a sidelight.  All the forward light comes from reflected light off the marble alters of the church.

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Such a perfect moment in the back of the limousine.  I love it.  This is the kind of shot I would want printed for my wall if I were the groom.

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I just like the simplicity of the design and colors in this shot.

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We had a good time after the wedding taking portraits.  The Biltmore has an attendant following us around with drinks and fruit and cheese, etc… which was much needed.  Ashley was famished.  So we took a little extra time on the front lawn for  a drink and a snack before we finished the portrait session.  I do love the casual nature of this portrait, so much so, that I made it the cover on the slideshow.

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Do I have to even say that I love this shot?  I love the Biltmore architecture, the bride looks great, the tree has all sorts of great texture on it.  I just love it.

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Ashely, you look amazing.  Cameron, you have a lot of great photos to choose from!

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Everyone goes to the roof of the Biltmore to shoot.  We did as well, but some of the best shots are upstairs, inside, near the windows.  This was all window light, no additional lighting.

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This shot makes me think we are up on the empire states building in New York City.  I love the shot, the stone, the lights in the background…

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This was another window lit shot.  The light from the window is the blue soft light from the twilight sky and the light from the interior lights is warm and soft because it comes from a lot of lights throughout the lobby of the hotel.  The ISO was high, so it has a natural grain to it, which was enhanced by NIK Silver Effects Pro 2.  I knew it was going to be a great shot as I was taking it.  Sometimes, you just know.

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Ashley’s sister makes the blog post because she is an extremely memorable character.  She is the kind of person that owns any room she happens to occupy.  Her toast was completely entertaining.  I partially liked the look on the Bride’s face in this shot though.  I don’t recall what exactly was being said, but I think the sisters may be ganging up on the groom.

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I love the emotion in this way Cameron is holding his bride.

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I love sweet moment like this one as well.

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Nice cake topper.  But Cameron is not allowed to dip kiss Ashley anymore… he almost dropped her.

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And finally, I have to say that the band, The Groove Merchants, was fantastic.  They kept that party going all night long.  I have to think that Ashley and Cameron’s friends would probably party late no matter what, but the energy in that room was clearly five notches higher because of the band.  I enjoyed every single song!

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Thank you Ashley and Cameron for trusting me with your wedding photography.  It was an honor.

Wedding Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Slideshow Music by Jonny Blu, Courtesy of Triple Scoop Music.

Wedding Location: St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church

Reception Location: The Arizona Biltmore

Flowers by Designs by Jeremiah

The Band: Groove Merchants

Makeup by M.A.C.

Hair by Ramon Bacaui

Post Processing by Shoot Dot Edit

Baby Smith: An Infant Portrait in Chandler, Arizona

It’s always an honor to photograph a new baby, but especially when it is the baby of a past wedding client.  This is baby Cameryn.  The very first baby to the Smiths, who were married in Sedona a couple years ago.  She was born while I was out of town, so the first image was taken by my associate Robin Lee, who is a very good family and child photographer.  She showed up at the hospital to get a couple shots of Cameryn’s first day in this world.  I think that any infant portrait is “more complete” with great photos early on in the baby’s life.  So when I book an infant portrait, I want to get some images from the hospital.  Most people think they will just get a couple snapshot of their own, but they don’t ever turn out very good, and it is such a historical moment, it just deserves to be captured right.

Thanks again to Robin for getting to the hospital to capture this first image while I was out of town.

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We then scheduled a portrait session at the Smith home a few weeks after the baby’s birthday.  This is the best time for infant portraits.  It gives the baby a chance to acclimate, but not enough time to grow, so when we take those size comparison shots of the baby’s hands and her father’s, it is still quite striking.

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We’re not sure what this look is, but it makes me laugh.

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She is beautiful.

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Yes, the baby is very religious and extremely precocious and is already reading the Bible.

This was something that Allison (mom) suggested.  There are a few issues to deal with on a shot like this.  First, focus on the appropriate words and the child at the same time, without having to great a depth of field… and if everything is sharp, you leave far too many options for the viewer which only creates visual confusion.  The other issue, is design.  How do you design a shot with an infant, and a book?  She’s obviously not going to be sitting up, holding the book and reading it.  I messed with this quite a bit while we were shooting trying to get a composition that I could get behind.  I like this one.

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I love the next two shots.  This was the last shot of the session and she was exhausted.  She fell asleep in this basket and we couldn’t, for the life of us get her to stir, we could reposition her like a little clay model and she would just stay there.  It was good for designing the shot.  And she was obviously enjoying the photo shoot as well.

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Infant Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography.

Hospital shot by Robin Lee.

Location: Chandler, Arizona.

Slideshow music by Cherie Call, Courtesy of Cherie Call.

Portraits from China: The Driggs Family

This is my 3rd post of the China portraits I shot in Shanghai, China.  A few more posts on China to come.

This series of portraits was taken at a Buddhist Temple in Shanghai, China.  The grounds were fairly spacious and offered a lot of great opportunities for backgrounds.  Both of the boys are young enough not to be all that interested in the surrounding architecture and symbolism, but they did enjoy the coy ponds and the many small walls and walking paths.

The slideshow has a lot of great images in it, but I was particularly interested in a small few for the purpose of discussing the lighting.  In the next image, we were on the back side of the property where the light was getting dimmer and softer.  The main light-source was the open (sunless) sky, what we could call “north light”, although I don’t know if it was truly the northern sky.  That open sky was to the child’s right and just behind him.  Notice, how the size of the light source helps to wrap around the child’s face, making smooth transitions extremely soft and smooth.  Of course the sky is a huge light source.  But if the sun were visible in the sky, the sun would become that light source and would create harsh shadows and would not be so pleasing.

I like this shot.  This little boy is always on the move and always paying attention to everything, not just where he’s going.  I think the image describes that well.  While he is climbing on the wall, he is still keeping track of everything else in the area.  Probably keeping tabs on his little brother…

Here is the little brother.  Those eyes were the subject of most of my photos with him.  This was the perfect outfit to intensify them.  That large open sky, makes a perfect light for portrait.  But notice that I am not shooting with him facing the open sky directly, which would flatten the subject.  Instead, the open sky is off to his left, my right.  The shadow side of his face is toward me.  The soft highlights are coming from his left .  It’s all about volume and depth.  Without some shadow, you have none of that.

OK.  I have been looking forward to writing about this photo for a while.  The basic scene here is lit by the open sky off to the children’s left (the camera’s right).  You can see the lighting effect on the boys’ faces.  Highlights on the right side of their noses, shadows on the left sides.    But there was one very real problem, the background was quite dark.  Everything back there was sucking up the light and with a thick canopy of trees over the background, the open sky was not lighting the back ground with the same exposure as the foreground.  In essence, it was a black hole.

Enter a small Canon 600 RT camera flash placed off camera to the camera’s left and behind the boys.  You can see the light’s glare in the top left corner of the frame.  It is also lighting the grass and the bushes in the background a bit and most importantly, it is catching the edge of the kids’ shoulders and hair to separate them from the background.  Without this little flash, the photo would not be worth showing.  But notice, I only needed one little light to get a very well exposed and expertly designed shot.  This shot could have been designed with many more lights to get practically the same shot, but why?  The point is, that one small, lightweight flash or even a flashlight can escalate the production value of the shot with very little additional cost or effort… efficiency isn’t just for post production.  Efficiency during a photo shoot is just as critical.

If you are interested in these issues, I am teaching a free workshop called The Efficient Photo Shoot online at CreativeLIVE.com on Dec 6-8, 2012, where we will be demonstrating these very concepts.

This kids started running around and around on this little path and I realized, my light from the first shot could still be used to accomplish the same goal right where it was.  It just had to be turned slightly.  With Karen Liu at the light, that was easily done.  I ran to my new position and told the kids to keep circling the path and kept firing away as the got into the positions I liked.  I think they must have run around that path 50 times, over and over, which was good for me, I needed a lot of opportunities to get the right shot.  And good for mom, they must have slept well that night!

I love how the light cascades across the long grass and kisses the little one’s cheeks.  Imagine, without the light, his little hand would be completely lost in the shadow of the trees.

Now, with the open sky light coming from camera left and the flash also on the left, behind him, the light wraps all the way around his left side.  This makes for an even softer look because the rim light is not so pronounced and looks more like a slightly brighter continuation of the sky light.  Again, volume is created by the direction of the light.  The shot is slightly dramatic, but still pleasingly soft.  I love these shots.  If I had gotten nothing but this little series of shots in the tall grasses here, I would have been trilled.

 Child Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Shanghai, China

Slideshow Music by Fisher, Courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Portraits from China:: The Liu-McGee Family

This is my second post of portrait sessions from Shanghai, China.  You will see, we are in a different spot for every photo session and all of them are very unique, as are the photos themselves.  I try not to follow too much of a pattern when shooting sessions.  I want them all to have their own unique flair…

Karen Liu, mother of three great kids and an aspiring photographer, booked a photo session as a learning experience.  So, we shot a little less and spent a lot of time learning.  I took her through my thought process for shooting and lighting on the street with both natural light and additive flash lighting.  We also talked about compositional choices and selecting the appropriate camera settings.  All things I will be teaching in my upcoming free workshop at CreativeLIVE on December 6-8, 2012.  We got to the market in Shanghai, China early enough to avoid the throngs of shoppers and pedestrians that make this place a purely claustrophobic experience during the business hours.  This also gave us great light, since the market is a canyon of traditional Chinese style buildings (I say that with absolutely no understanding of “Chinese architectural styles” but when you look at the images you will understand what I mean).

In this first shot, we had 360 degrees of choices for the shot, but one gave us the best lighting for a complete existing light portrait.  Notice that the strongest instance of sun is coming from behind the kids which gives us the rim light coming from behind them.  Behind me is a large building with a light wall which is reflecting indirect light onto the kids, so, we have beautiful soft light coming forward on them.  So in an instance like this one, all that is required is the correct exposure at the camera.  No additional light is needed to get a nice shot.

As we got further and further into the morning, it got more and more crowded.  I love crowds for portraits, because you get all sorts of additional people in the shot.  If you wait for the “right” person, you get get juxtapositions.  I love this one.  Karen (mom) also loves this street photography style work, so I suspect she will love this one as well.

We stopped for a Chinese snack after the shoot.  I am not this good at chopsticks!!!

This is one of my favorites from the session because I identify with it!  My kids hang on me whenever I am shooting and they are around.  I am sure any of you parents out there with small children experience the same situation.  I think they do it because they know you are not paying attention to them.  Hanging on you seems to force the attention their direction.

Incidentally, I have the same problem when I am traveling with adults.  I get to taking photos and all my attention becomes focused on the shot.  So my wife and all the other adults with me tend to get annoyed with my lack of attention.  So, if you have a photographer in your life… just know that they still love you, even when they seem to be ignoring you.  Want their attention?  Take the camera out of their hand.

Children’s Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Shanghai, China

Slideshow Music by Nancy Falkow, Courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Subject: Photographer Karen Liu

Portraits from China: The Sloan Family

Today starts a series of Portraits taken in China.  I will be posting once each day for the the next few days.  Today, I will introduce you to the Sloan Family.  We went to the Former French Concession in Shanghai, China for a walk with the family.  The Former French Concession is unlike anything else in Shanghai.  Enormous trees canopy the streets and you feel like you are on a street in Europe, except that there are an awful lot of Chinese nationals running around…

The kids were great to work with.  They are extremely expressive and are pleasant children.  So, they make for easy subjects.  Something I had not accounted for, though, was the Chinese people’s fascination with blonde hair.  The boys are all ultra blonde, so these kids are a hit everywhere they go and attract a lot of attention, so we had a lot of people staring.  Fortunately, they were less invasive of our personal space since we looked all official as we shot the photos.  But, it is a common occurance to have the Chinese people run up and take their photo next to your child if you have a blonde child…  Anyway, that is one thing I could have never anticipated about the cultural change between the US and China.

This first shot is pushing the composition, but I really responded to it.  It has a lot of energy and movement in it.  I had to include it as one of my favorites.

I seem to recall some question when we first met being raised about her blouse.  Was it a good choice, etc.  I liked it and now I see why.  That soft pink matches her so well.  You can see that same shade highlighting her cheeks and in her lips.

The light here was quite perfect too.  Everything was soft.  Shanghai is an extremely hazy city (due to it being very polluted), but that works well for portrait light.  Then, the buildings, keep any direct light from hitting the subject and the canopy of trees keeps the light from the sky from being too bright (creating raccoon eye shadows).  So the main light source is reflected and filtered light coming from the street to her right and from behind here.  This puts the shadow of her face forward, creating an alternating light pattern on her face shadow, light, shadow, light.  In this case, it is simply about seeing the right light as it exists and exposing for it.  No other lighting necessary.  It’s simple light, but very pleasing.

There’s the curly blonde hair that is the ultimate stand out in China.  I have a shot or two with his head up, but I love this shot.  I think a lot of who we are comes from our hair, when we have unique tops.  I am completely bald.  That is quite identifying and I tend to wear that proudly (as I wear most things).  So hair like this is also worn with pride, and makes a major identifying mark on a person.  I’m pretty sure he loves his hair.  Who wouldn’t!

There are the trees.  Minus the all the cars on the street, this was a perfect place for photos.  I had to constantly re-frame to avoid too many cars and people.  I love the look on his face.

Talk about expressive.  The youngest boy is great.  I know Mr. and Mrs. Sloan were a bit worried that he was getting out of line or that he was not being cooperative, but sometimes a character like this has to be set free so you can get those great shots.  And it’s not all just about the funny faces.  It’s about all of the expressions you will see in this post.  Taking a photo of a child is an art in and of itself, and the art is based in knowing how far to push and when to let go of that control.  There has to be a good balance of discipline and freedom to get the expressions and still maintain control over the photo shoot.  The Sloans had the balance and it shows in the final results.

Now that is a shot for the wall!

I love the light on this image and the texture.

This is the Shanghai sky line on one of the only clear days we had in the city.  So we had to take the opportunity to shoot with the skyline in the background.  The first day we got there, we came to this spot and could see only the shadows of the buildings through the smog.  I’ll post those photos later this week.

The light on this shot is simple.  I exposed for the ambient light from the sky and the buildings in the background, but that leaves the family in dark shadow (not silhouette).  So some additional light was needed.  A Canon 600 RT flash does the trick.  It is off camera right just above head level.  That provides all the light needed to match the exposure of the buildings.  Notice that I put the flash to the side that mimics the direction of light hitting the buildings.  You can see this best on the tallest building in the city.  The shadow is on the left, the highlight on the right.  The same is happening on the family’s faces.  Highlights on the right, shadows on the left.  Put the flash on the other side and it would start to look a little strange.

And this is The Bund.  Look a big like London?  That’s because the English built this part of the city.  I like this photo as well.  It’s shot at 6400 ISO f2.5 at 1/125 of a second with no flash.  This is a risky shot.  You don’t always get it right when you play at low shutter speeds and wide apertures.  But it worked and I love the shot.  The thing is, like everything in life, if you always play it safe, you get predictable shots that are good enough, but the truly fantastic shots come from accepting some risk and accepting some failures to achieve the great shots.  Did I get every shot in this series?  Not even close, but I got three from it, that I liked.  Is everyone tack sharp?  No, I’m shooting at f2.5 at 1/125.  But the photo is strong, there are a few people in the focus plane and the rest become supporting actors in a very cool documentary shot that I love.  I’ll have to see whether the Sloans love it, but I suspect they will…

 

Family Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Shanghai, China

Slideshow Music by Mindy Gledhill, Courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Collins: An Infant Portrait in Chandler, Arizona

I’m in my office, listening to music, posting images of Collins, the beautiful new baby to Pat and Laney, who are were married about a year ago.  My own family is traveling, visiting family, and I just received a phone message from my little girl.  Someday soon, Collin is going to be leaving her daddy goodnight messages an breaking his heart with her cute little voice.  Right now, she is melting his heart by sleeping in his arms.  I love my work.

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I was fortunate enough to be in town and available when Laney delivered her baby, so I was able to come to the hospital and see them.  These are some of my favorite images.  Day one is a miracle beyond belief.

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I always love the little hats on the first day.  Maybe the baby’s don’t love them.  Not sure we’ll ever know.  One of these days, a baby is going to start talking on day one and we’ll get the full scoop.  Until then, we’ll keep putting hats on them.

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A few weeks later, we shot her official portraits.  She was exhausted right from the start.  Everything was shot in her home.  I loved the textured wall paper in the family room, so we put together a little photo op for her there.

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She looks so peaceful.  I enjoyed the ruffled tutu in the foreground.

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Now, that is a well styled dresser.  Cute items and a cute little baby.  That blanket is super soft.  We worked on Collins’ position a bit, but she likes to sleep a little more spread out.  I think she looks quite comfortable.  In fact, I would have taken a nap there, but the dresser would have tipped over and the piggy bank is too fragile to fall that far.

Oh and a great composition.  For the photographers out there, notice how every frame edge is playing with the shape of the dresser.  On the top and left, the negative space is creating great shapes.  On the right, the frame is toying with the center support for the shelves and on the bottom, the frame is interacting with the opened drawer.  Framing is very important to every photograph.  I can’t emphasize that enough.  When you are shooting a photo, pay attention to all four frame edges before you take the shot.

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I enjoyed watching Pat with his daughter.  This shot is a pretty good description of that relationship.

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If you are going to catch Collins awake, this is the time to do it.  I was so glad to grab this shot.

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I always love seeing a baby’s nursery.  It ways a lot about the mother (usually – sometimes the father is involved).  Collins’ nursery was decked out!  This wall was great.

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The pink and the grey is a great color combination and I love the bling encrusted mirror.  And there is sleeping beauty again.

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Little fingers and little toes.  No matter how many times I take a shot or look at a photograph of them, I am always amazed by the miracle of these tiny little things!

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Thank you for including me Pat and Laney in this wonderful event in  your life.  She is beautiful.

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I’ve enjoyed looking at these images.  So many great keepers.  What a life.

Infant portrait by Jared Platt, Platt Photography.

Slideshow music by Cherie Call, courtesy of Cherie Call.

Location: Chandler, Arizona

The Curtin Family Portrait in Phoenix, Arizona

I photographed the Curtin Family at The Farm in Phoenix, Arizona. Some years ago, I helped photograph Nicole and Harry’s wedding and have been in touch with them since that time. Nicole is also a photographer. I enjoy working with photographer’s. There is a trust between photographers… we appreciate the style of the other and turn them loose to do what they do best. So it was a pleasure photographing Nicole and Harry’s family.

And now, on to my favorite images from the photo shoot…

Meet the kids… all of them are cute, only one can walk and the baby boy can sit up for only a moment.

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I was impressed with Nicole’s sister’s baby.  She didn’t try to eat all the leaves.  Nicole’s baby boy did.

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I love this shot.It’s got beautiful color.  I am very happy with it.  For those of you who are photographers, this is accomplished with negative saturation.  Try it.  Too many people these days are pushing the color up or taking it too far down, when just a small 8% color desaturation makes things look just right.

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Nicole’s little girl is doing a little twirling.  Why not, she’s in the perfect ballet outfit with those furry boots.  Right?  Too cute.  By the way Nicole, when my wife sees this post she will be coveting this outfit for our daughter.

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The baby wasn’t too into smiling, and Harry looks pretty cool when he’s serious, so I thought this worked out quite nicely.  I suppose that is a mantra of mine… no smiling necessary.

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Family and Children’s Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: The Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona

Slideshow Music: Nancy Falkow, “I Wish You Love” Courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Just the Girls: A Portrait of Friends

My friend and client and fellow photographer, Jessica Brownell, put together a group of her closest and oldest friends for a portrait session.  We spend an hour in the streets of Shreveport, Louisiana.  I lead the way and the girls laughed and chatted and told a million inside jokes.  A good time was had by all.  Here are my favorites shots of the group.

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Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Shreveport, Louisiana.

Slideshow Music: Mindy Gledhill, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music.

The Raybon Family Portrait 2011

The Raybon’s family portrait was shot in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana.  We had a great time and I think it shows in the photographs.  The whole family got into the show, even the little girl.  Here are some of my favorites from the photo shoot.

I love the animation on the oldest boys face.

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Everything about this little girl is darling.

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This is the coolest location.  I had seen this before when I was shooting a wedding, but it works better with a group of people you can space out in-between the pillars.  Of course, the location called for an interesting photo treatment, full color was too over powering and black and white blend together too much.

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Too cool for school.

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This was a pretty funny surprise.  The whole family had fake mustaches.  I loved it.  I like people who don’t take themselves too seriously.

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We went down to the fountains at the riverside and the whole family played in the fountain.  It was just as the sun was going down, so I was shooting with a very high ISO and working very hard to grab focus in-between all the water droplets.  When shooting something like this, I shoot a lot because I have to shoot wide open, things are moving very fast and there are too many variables, it’s easy to miss focus, miss the frame, etc.  The real treat is going through the photographs and finding the gems.  This next one is definitely one of those gems. I love the joy, the splash, everything.

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I didn’t think about the result of this, but I told them to walk into the fountain with the umbrella, which traps the water shooting up and brings it pouring down on anyone under the umbrella.  It was hilarious!

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Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Shreveport, Louisiana.

Slideshow Music: Mindy Gledhill, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music.