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Israel and Brittany: An Engagement Portrait Session in the Phoenix Arizona Desert

An engagement portrait session is more than just taking pictures. It’s about making art. An engagement session is about connection; capturing the connection a couple shares and building the connection between client and photographer. It’s about understanding who they are as people and connecting with them as individuals. And, of course, it’s about making beautiful images. That’s exactly what I did with Israel and Brittany. I met up with them in the Phoenix, Arizona desert to connect with them and capture their engagement portraits.

Israel and Brittany are a stunning couple. The two of them were so at ease with each other as we wandered through the desert, chasing the light and enjoying one another’s company. I collaborated them in the same way I might collaborate with a model or an art director. Rather than trying to coax poses out of them, the day evolved organically. We let light and conversation guide us around the desert just outside of Phoenix. We captured moments filled with laughter, quiet intimacy, and love. I always aspire to capture real moments, and we did it in every image.

Phoenix Arizona Desert Engagement Portrait Session

The beauty of the Arizona desert is so unique. Within one session, we experienced a wide range of temperatures and backdrops. In the afternoon, the sun beat down warm and golden. When it began to set, both the light and the temperatures cooled, changing the mood and the look of the images. Together, we looked for interesting backdrops and landscapes, hiking high up into the hills for the best vantage points. The desert has so many different personalities that kept the three of us constantly inspired.

I really enjoyed connecting with these two. The conversation flowed easily and we had a great time throughout the session. As we spent more time together, I got to see more of who Brittany and Israel are, and how they interact. They’re a very loving couple, effortlessly connecting in pictures even when they weren’t touching. There’s energy between the two of them and it was easy to document. They’re very much in love. Israel is smitten with Brittany. Natural, easy intimacy like this makes for gorgeous photographs.

I hope you enjoy these portraits. It was a true pleasure collaborating with this couple.

Creative engagement portrait in the desert outside of phoenix arizona by wedding photographer, Jared Platt

Creative engagement portrait in the desert outside of phoenix arizona by wedding photographer, Jared Platt

Creative engagement portrait in the desert outside of phoenix arizona by wedding photographer, Jared Platt

Creative engagement portrait in the desert outside of phoenix arizona by wedding photographer, Jared Platt

Creative engagement portrait in the desert outside of phoenix arizona by wedding photographer, Jared Platt

Creative engagement portrait in the desert outside of phoenix arizona by wedding photographer, Jared Platt

Creative engagement portrait in the desert outside of phoenix arizona by wedding photographer, Jared Platt

Creative engagement portrait in the desert outside of phoenix arizona by wedding photographer, Jared Platt

Creative engagement portrait in the desert outside of phoenix arizona by wedding photographer, Jared Platt

An engagement portrait is an experience and a chance to get to know your photographer and for him to get to know you. Jared Platt takes that to another level and makes an engagement portrait an opportunity for the bride and groom and the photographer to create something special together. It is a collaborative effort with lighting and landscape and love.

A High School Portrait Session with Friends

This is what you get when a bunch of high school friends who love musicals, dressing up, acting, acting silly, making movies, Disney, etc… get together with a professional photographer, makeup artists, in a beautiful mansion!  It was a fun day for sure.

Here’s the concept.  What if the Disney characters were real people and wanted to have their portraits taken?  What if their senior portraits were taken?  What would they look like?  This group included high school seniors to middle school and grade school kids.  All of them were either good friends or siblings.  We took them out to the Chateau de Vie in Tempe, Arizona and spent the day making portraits of them in their Disney costumes.  Yes… you read that right, they own the costumes.  It’s a fun group of kids.  Many of these costumes were made by grandma, who is a very skilled seamstress, an artist with clothing really.  Thanks to my crew, and our brilliant hair and makeup artists, we got a lot of images done in one day.  There were not simple available light photographs, so having my assistants there to help move lights around was crucial.

Here are some of my favorite images from the day and of course a little behind the scenes video above.

Special thanks to the Chateau de Vie for providing such a beautiful location (which is available for weddings and events) and to our hair and makeup artists, Rachel Jolley and Kate Sepic, who are fantastic artists.  They did such a beautiful job on everything.  I think this was the first time they had met, but they worked as a team and got a lot accomplished very quickly and did a magnificent job.  Everyone looked perfect.

Some of these kids are my nieces and nephews, and the super skilled seamstress/costume designer is my mother, their grandmother.  A special thanks to all of Mary Platt’s work on most of these outfits.  That Gaston outfit… she made that entire thing!

Enjoy the photos and the video!

I’ll be posting again about the lighting and production on these photos later.

High School Portrait of girl in Disney Costume Bell Dress

High School Portrait of girl in Disney Costume Bell Dress

High School Portrait of girl in Disney Costume Bell Peasant Dress

Jon and Jessica’s Paradise Valley Wedding

A Family Portrait Session in the Desert of Arizona

I have photographed this family for years. Every time, it’s been an effort to find locations that don’t look like the desert. This time, mom finally embraced the fact that they do, in fact, live in the desert and requested that we go out to get photos in the desert itself. So we met up at the Gold Field State Park Desert just outside of Mesa, Arizona for this family portrait session.

Arizona Desert Family Portraits

Before we shot the family together, we did the children’s photos in the harsher light. It is easier to photograph the group when the light is softer, after sun has gone down a bit.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

The first test of the light was with their youngest son and his penguin. Penguins are very appropriate for the desert.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

Mom’s dress is fantastic. The way it flowed in the wind created lots of movement and interest.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

It’s important to note, desert light is very harsh. Without the use of a 2’x3′ soft box matching the sun’s harsh cross light, the photos would be extremely dark on the shadow side of the face.  Using the Profoto B1 off-camera flash makes this easy. It is powerful enough to match the sun and portable enough to move when I need to move.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

More importantly is its extremely accurate TTL which allows kids to move and adjusts for the change in distance. When little kids move, you have to move with them.

https://bhpho.to/2BaKbCh

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

I love crying baby photos. Especially when there are other kids to react. The brothers’ reaction to their littlest sister really needs no explanation.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

Toward the end, it started getting cold. Yes, it gets very cold in the desert as the sun goes down.

I love when the little ones leaned in to Dad for warmth. And of course, the shot of the family all together really showcases family togetherness at its best.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

This image was my favorite because of its documentary nature… and the fact that it just feels like my childhood.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

By the end of the session, I think all of the kids were either miserably cold, crying or frowning. So, any questions as to why we did the walking away shot for the final shot of the portrait session?

A Night at the Phoenix Symphony

One of the things I like about my life and work is the constant variation in what I get to capture. I shoot weddings, portraits, commercial, documentary, and more. One thing I really enjoy is when I have the opportunity to work with other artists, like the musicians of the Phoenix Symphony. From the musicians and conductors, to the marketing staff and the CEO, everyone is extremely talented. 

A few times a year, the symphony presents multimedia performances that include both music and video at the same time. This multimedia performance was a celebration of the work of legendary composer Elmer Bernstein. His iconic music was paired with clips from the movies his scores brought to life. It was conducted by his son, Peter Bernstein, who shared stories about his father and the music during the performance.

phoenix symphony orchestra platt photography

The musical score to the ten commandments by Ernie Beirnstien.

I like to photograph the score because I like to take visual notes. This practice helps me to remember things, like names, details, and more. And I love the way music looks on a page, the way the notes are like their own language. Even though I have played music my whole life, I can’t actually read sheet music.

phoenix symphony orchestra platt photography

Phoenix Symphony CEO Jim Ward Back Stage with Ernie Beirnstien’s son, conductor Peter Beirnstien

Jim Ward is one of my favorite people. This intelligent business genius has been the captain of ships such as Lucas Arts now leads the Phoenix Symphony. His guiding hand has made it one of the few symphonies in the US that are financially sound. This gives great artists a stable benefactor. Who says art and commerce can’t coexist?

phoenix symphony orchestra platt photography

Phoenix Symphony orchestra master violinist Steven Moeckel getting in the zone before performance.

Phoenix Symphony orchestra master violinist Steven Moeckel getting in the zone before the performance. Steven is truly a treasure. Listening to him play is truly mesmerizing.

phoenix symphony orchestra platt photography

Video of Ernie Beirnstien above the Phoenix Symphony performing his film scores.

phoenix symphony orchestra platt photography

The Phoenix Symphony performing socres by Ernie Beirnstien with the films playing above.

Peter Bernstein, son of Elmer Bernstein, conducted the symphony as they played his father’s exemplary film scores. To accompany the music, video clips from the films and clips of his father played overhead. Between the music, Peter also told stories about his father. One of the stories he shared was about his father’s experience in Hollywood during the McCarthy hearings and the Communist black lists that threatened actors, directors and musicians during that time.

phoenix symphony orchestra platt photography

The Phoenix Symphony performing the score for The Ten Commandments by Ernie Beirnstien with the film playing above.

It was filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille who vouched for Elmer Bernstein to keep him off the Hollywood blacklist. He was the one who gave Bernstein his break in the movies, which began his amazing career as a legend in film scoring.

phoenix symphony orchestra platt photography

The Phoenix Symphony

phoenix symphony orchestra platt photography

Guest conductor Bernstein leading the Phoenix Symphony playing his father’s film scores.

phoenix symphony orchestra platt photography

Dirrector of Animal House, John Landis, speaking about the work of Ernie Bernstein.

Director John Landis (of Animal House, Three Amigos, and other ridiculous comedies) was there to discuss his experiences with Elmer as well.

phoenix symphony orchestra platt photography

The Phoenix Symphony playing the music of film score composer Ernie Beirnstien.

phoenix symphony orchestra platt photography

The Phoenix Symphony playing the music of film score composer Ernie Beirnstien.

phoenix symphony orchestra platt photography

Back stage with Ernie Beirnstien’s son Peter, guest conductor at the Phoenix Symphony.

My backstage lighting was critical to the success of these photos. With the Profoto lighting system, I am able to photograph in completely dark situations with complete confidence. With the A1 On Camera Flash (with a focus assist), and the B1 and B2 off camera flashes hanging from various walls and rafters, there is no image I can’t capture. I know where the action is going to happen and set up my lights prior to the event. Because I can control everything from the A1 On Camera Flash, no matter what direction I am facing, I can create light that will make the image work, even in the darkest conditions. Of course, when the symphony starts playing, the lights go off and I slip into stealth mode.

When all is said and done, photography is my opportunity and excuse to go into everyone else’s world. Whether it is photographing a wedding or a symphony, I love my work. And I love working with talented people who are at the very top of their game.

Reagan and Rusty: Engagement Portraits in Payson Arizona

Reagan and Rusty have been dating for a while. Reagan is my niece, so I have seen Rusty at family dinners for a long time. When they asked if I would shoot their engagement portraits, they originally just wanted to do something in Phoenix. But, it was August. August in Phoenix averages 120 degrees. Not good. When thinking about engagement photography sessions, people don’t always think outside of the box. One of the greatest things about Arizona is that within two hours you can be in an entirely different climate. So that’s exactly what we did.

Payson, Arizona Engagement Session

Reagan, Rusty and I packed up and went an hour and a half north of Phoenix to Payson. It was still warm, I couldn’t do much about it being August, but nothing over 90. Fortunately, I do a lot of location scouting. I have locations logged in China, Budapest, London, Iceland, and a hundred other locations across the world. But, when it comes to Arizona, I have thousands. So, I took them to a great spot with tree cover all day long. I also brought my Profoto B1 and B2 along to make the light absolutely perfect.

payson engagement session platt photography

Engagement portraits are best taken in the cool hights of the forests of Northern Arizona, this is one of my favorite spots, just north of Payson, AZ.

The light tree cover is not this dark, but with a little extra light, I can remove the natural ambient light and then fill in exactly what I want, giving the image a more dramatic feel.

payson engagement session platt photography

Engagement portraits are best taken in the cool hights of the forests of Northern Arizona, this is one of my favorite spots, just north of Payson, AZ.

 The lush grass and little spots of sunshine filtering through the trees and onto the grass makes for a perfect backdrop. Lighting is critical on this image to make sure my lights all appear to be coming from the sun so it doesn’t appear to be a flash photo. Obviously, on-camera doesn’t work. So, the flash is off to the left of the camera to follow the natural direction of the sunlight.

payson engagement session platt photography

Engagement portraits are best taken in the cool hights of the forests of Northern Arizona, this is one of my favorite spots, just north of Payson, AZ.

At the end of the photo shoot, Rusty was skipping rocks like a little kid. He and I finally coaxed Reagan into going into the water. She kept feeling crawdads crawling around her feet, so this was quite a challenging shot for her. But, in the end, I love the drips of water coming off her feet and the reflections coming toward the camera. Without the right lighting, the water droplets would have melded with the background too much. The drips would not show up and neither would the reflections (not that much anyway). You can see in the final shot where that light was that was separating them out.

payson engagement session platt photography

Outside or inside the Profoto light is a critical part or my photography.

Rusty helped me test the light by putting his head IN it! Good job, Rusty. He won’t be my assistant anytime soon.

payson engagement session platt photography

Engagement portraits are best taken in the cool hights of the forests of Northern Arizona, this is one of my favorite spots, just north of Payson, AZ.

payson engagement session platt photography

Engagement portraits are best taken in the cool hights of the forests of Northern Arizona, this is one of my favorite spots, just north of Payson, AZ.

Skye’s Senior Portrait in Chandler, Arizona

Skye’s high school senior portraits were taken in Chandler and Gilbert, Arizona with an extra drive out to Canyon Lake outside of Phoenix.  The music for this slideshow, “Callita Night” by KGB is licensed through Triple Scoop Music.

The final image in the collection was a must for Skye and for me.  This was Skye’s Pride and Prejudice moment… you girls will know what I’m talking about.  Guys, don’t worry about it!

View the entire collection on the web here.

Cade’s High School Senior Portraits

This was a great Senior Portrait shoot with Cade.  My camera needed a bath after this one!

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My traveling RAID1 drive is made by CRU, called the Tough Tech Duo, which is a firewire 800 connection which I have connected via a Thunderbolt converter on my laptop. (CRU has a new Tough Tech for USBc as well, but USB3 cannot power it, so it has to be plugged in).  Find the Tough Tech HERE along with other CRU items, like the small green case of the Tough Tech Mini I talked about earlier in the class.  For the new version of the Tough Tech Duo USBc you will have to go to CRU’s website.

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