This is Finn. He’s a big baby and pretty strong. He’s like a little superman. He can leap tall buildings in a single bound, or more accurately, he can hold his head up. So, this was a fun shoot. Usually infants don’t have much strength for their first portrait session, but because of Finn’s super natural strength, we were able to take some great infant portraits.
Here are a few of my favorite shots from the portrait session.
This first shot makes me laugh. The infant is one cool cat.
While Finn was grabbing a bite to eat in his trailer, we were setting the lights for his next portrait. So Rex (dad) became his stand in.
Finn already plays a little football. And although he is a bit wobbly, with a little help, he can also sit up. So Casey and Rex (mom and dad) kept a hand on him to help stabilize him. I loved the hands in the shot, so I told them not to worry about getting rid of their hands, the shot was so cute with their hands.
Don’t think of this as weakness. He was practicing getting through the line. He’s very serious about football.
He’s very serious. Even when he is wearing a giant sock.
Congratulations Rex and Kacey and welcome to the world Finn. You’re already a star!
Infant portrait by Jared Platt, Platt Photography.
Slideshow music by Sparrow, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music.
We spent the afternoon with the Morris family at Tumbleweed park in Chandler, Arizona and one of their many dogs. Josephine rescues dogs, so she has a lot of them, but we only photographed with one. Jason and Josephine’s daughter is very expressive and a lot of fun. I think one of the reasons I love photographing children so much is that they are so much more expressive than adults. So when you want adults to be expressive, bring along a child that they love and get them paying attention to their child. Suddenly, everyone is expressive and having fun.
Here are a few of my favorite images from the photo shoot…
I think she is saluting me. Maybe she’s just pointing to her head saying I don’t have any hair.
How cute it this little look on her face? Now, we are photographing her in open shade, so there is no absolute need for a flash, but without the flash, I would have a little too much darkness in her eyes, so when possible, I prefer to have an off camera flash putting just a little light into her eyes. You can see the slight shadow on the fence from the flash, which is off to the right of the camera, but because of it’s off camera position, there is plenty of volume in the shot.
Man, she was adorable…
The interaction on the next few images are priceless. These are the shots that matter in life. Take away every family “portrait” I have and leave me with these meaningful interaction shots with my kids and I will be completely happy. And that’s what requires some specialized skill. Catching the moments, being ready for them and not forcing them in a way that kills the authenticity is the challenge of being a family photographer. I’ve started to turn down family photography work these days for people who don’t get what’s important. If someone wants an instant portrait painting of their family, standing stiff in a line, they are not going to respond what I am creating, so I point them to other photographers. I think we are all happier that way.
I love this one.
What child doesn’t smile when they are swinging between their parents arms? But while she’s having all the fun, I am trying to time the focus. I live on the wide side of apertures, so I rarely have any room to breath on focus. What is in focus can be out if there is just a few inches of movement. So, I live dangerously, but the results are fantastic. The trick is to figure out where the focus will be and time for that part of the swing. Oh, and shoot a lot of images!!!!!!
I fell in love with this image when I took it, but I fell in love with it again when I worked on it in post-production. I absolutely love how the tree becomes a line drawing in the background. This one is for the wall.
Dandelions are about the best weed on the planet. They are to fun, that we started thinking of them as flowers.
You see how much fun they are. They are full of absolute fun!
Family Life Portraits by Jared Platt, Platt Photography
Location: Tumbleweed Park, Chandler, Arizona
I take a lot of pictures of a lot of events, people and things, but some of my favorite images come from child portrait sessions. These little people are the most genuine and conformable people I photograph and we get along very well.
This session was a lot of fun. Our little toddler was always on the move, so she was a challenge to follow, but that energy came with a lot of personality. The session started in the park where she wore us all out running back and forth with her ball and when we finally got back to grandma’s house, she was settled down pretty well… and was content to draw, read to her stuffed animal or hold meetings on her cel phone.
Always smiling. The park is her natural habitat.
Get a load of that excitement and energy. That’s truly infectious.
Grandpa got the most love of the day. Grandma spent more time running. I’m glad I got this shot. I would want this shot if it were my daughter.
As I approached the house, after the park visit, she was waiting at the door. I wasn’t really ready for the shot, I was packing in gear and so I had to set a few things down to get the shot and I only got one shot and then she was gone. It pays to be ready for the shot. Also, having an assistant to cary the other things would have given me more freedom to get more shots, but I think I got what I needed regardless. I love the shot.
Snack time. This is important on many levels. It is essential that a child have a snack half way through the portrait session so the energy levels are replenished and there aren’t any major breakdowns. It also gives the child a chance to do something they love to do. And finally, it gives me a chance to get some cute photos that are a little different than the rest of the shoot. Snack time is a great part of any toddler portrait session.
When my wife saw this photo, she said in an envious tone, “I want that photo.” With her daughter in it (of course). That’s how I know I got a great shot. My wife covets the shot for her own child.
I was very pleased with the entire setup for this shot. The windows already had great light coming through, which made for a nice backlit situation. The lamp was also proving a glow, as were the lights in the room. Just one addition flash was needed to fill in the shadow and give the subject a little extra volume. The light was a Canon 600RT Speedlite with a Strobie small soft box on a Cheetah Stand. I exposed at a higher ISO and first figured out my exposure for the window light. Then I fired up the flash and pushed it up to a few stops below the window light. I always find the ambient light first, then add flash of constant light to supplement the natural light.
And finally, a happy formal portrait. I am so pleased with all of the shots, but second only to the shot of her on the phone with the bear to her side, this is my very favorite image. She’s just so happy and everything works well compositionally for a portrait print.
Children’s Photography by Jared Platt, www.plattphotography.com
Slideshow music by Anna Sali, courtesy of www.TripleScoopMusic.com
Location, Phoenix, Arizona
Alex met me at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts for her Senior Portrait. There is a little park there in the middle of the city and it is very close to old town Scottsdale. Between the two, we had all sorts of options for backgrounds. Here are some of my favorite images from the portrait session.
I just realized, I have posted all smiling photos of Alex. Well, she has a beautiful smile, so…
I love the rough planks on this building, but this wall of the building is only visible to the back parking lot and alleyway and there really isn’t much room to take the photo. I would have loved a wider shot of the entire wall, but with all the cars in front of the wall, that wasn’t an option, so we went with a tighter portrait.
This next set of images remind me of an Anthropology catalog. When Alex walked out in this dress, I immediately thought of Anthropology, so we went right to this ivy covered wall and my first order of business in post-production was to add the faded warm color treatment you see used on the photo.
Senior Portraits by Jared Platt, Platt Photography
Slideshow Music by Mindy Gledhill, Courtesy of Triple Scoop Music.
Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
Ali, Ted and I met at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens for an engagement portrait session a few days ago. The weather has not turned too hot yet, but the sun was still fairly high in the sky (it wasn’t yet sweet light time) and Ted remarked on that as we were shooting. “I thought the sun would be too high and we’d have to wait for it to drop a bit.” And he’d be correct were it not for the great tree cover in the gardens. There are so many places to hide from the sun and use it for a back light that we were able to get a lot of great shots and still get them off to enjoy the rest of the their evening (which included a baseball game for Ted). Portraits do not have to be difficult, painful or even long.
These are a few of my favorite images from the shoot. There were a lot of them, but I’ll post my favorites here and I will let them speak for themselves.
It’s like the sunset lasted for an hour and a half. Everything was simply gold.
Engagement portrait photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography
Location: Phoenix Botanical Gardens, Phoenix, Arizona
Meet Samantha and Tim. They are getting married this summer at the Grand Canyon. They are both animal health experts. I say it that way because I don’t know what to call tim… animal surgeon? Anyway, I respect them both immensely and what they do. They live in Florida, so the first time I was able to meet them in person was in Key West on the night before our photographic engagement adventure. We sat outside their hotel room and I heard the most fascinating love story… which I will leave to them to tell, but suffice it to say, it was a good introduction to both of them. What I learn about my clients in conversation is as important as the angle and the lighting in the photograph. I will always take better photographs of people I know and care about, because I understand them and care about them and more importantly, they are comfortable with me because they know I know them and care about them. And remember, “photography is nothing… it’s life” that matters. (A little paraphrasing from Cartier-Bresson).
Tim and Sam are an adventurous couple, so when we originally talked about making their engagement portraits, we didn’t talk about a portrait session, we talked about an adventure. And that’s what we had.
The Dry Tortugas are a small chain of islands a few hours west of Key West, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the islands are no bigger than your church parking lot and are completely uninhabited. Our destination was Fort Jefferson, which is an old Civil War era fort, built as a show of force for the U.S. in the Gulf. The fort is bigger than the Island and hangs off the island, into the ocean and is complete with a lighthouse, canon turrets and a mote with a crocodile.
The island is accessible by boat or by plane. We arrived on a boat and I flew out by sea plane. If you have never flown in a sea plane, it is an interesting experience, one that I recommend, mostly because it gives you the chance to put your life into the hands of a surfer looking guy that listens to and sings Bob Dylan tunes, never talks to a tower and sometimes steers with his knee. The pilot was super cool. I got to fly up front with him, but that meant that I had a set of controls to dodge while holding my cameras.
I love this shot. I think it gives the best description of the islands themselves. Small, remote and just a foot or two above sea level. Talk about a destination engagement portrait… this is it!
As we would be there for a few days, we set up camp right away in the few trees on the island near the fort. Once we were situated, Tim and Sam changed and we explored the old fort and took a bunch of portraits. We shot on the fort, in the fort, around the fort…
This is absolutely one of my favorite portraits. I love the cross light from the open gaps in the walls to the right and the added fill flash from the same general direction and the perspective from the repeating arches behind them.
There are a few park rangers who patrol the entire National Park area (which is about 100 square miles of ocean), using the fort as a base camp. They have converted a small section of the fort to living quarters for these rangers. A bit isolated, but he seems happy….
When you are on this small an island, you can get a lot of backgrounds without walking very far. Docks, beaches, old deteriorating walls. This place had it all.
This shot is a great use of the arches. I shot a lot of variations on this to get the right symmetry and composition. They got a few minutes of kissing in.
I am very fond of this shot. It is quirky and fun.
And here is a shot without humans for those who just like architectural shots. I’ll even through a few landscapes in here for you non-people photographers.
I was super happy with this shot of Tim. Available light came from a big hole in the wall, where there once would have been a very large canon.
No, the fort never saw any action. It’s just falling apart.
Great spot, great light, great subject, cute dress and hat. I’m trying to think how this one could have been better.
Nope. Can’t think of anything! I love it.
I couldn’t help it. It’s a cute shot. I had an off camera flash with me and could have matched the exterior and interior light, but in the end, left the flash out of the equation and went for the silhouette. Glad we did.
The staircases in the turrets of the fort were a bit dark, but as you reach the top, the light filtering down was bright enough to make a good exposure. In battle, I don’t think this would be a good place to stand.
The brick wall at the bottom of this photo is the outside of the mote, which comes complete with a crocodile. Every mote should have a crocodile in it. Right?
This is a pathway on the top of the fort which wraps all the way around the fort about three stories about the water.
I love this shot. The almost empty frame is so enticing to me.
This is one of my favorite shots. I love the motion of the tie. Tim and Sam will remember when I shot it, I was super excited about it. The off camera flash was important to fill the shadows and gives the added benefit of making the couple jump off the background a bit.
I was also very happy with this image. As we happened upon this little wood and iron bench, I saw the darkness around it and saw this end result in my head. All I needed was to set them on the bench and let them have a chat and the image was complete. I love it when a plan comes together.
The first day was over and we ended it on the beach with a sunset as our evening entertainment. Well, Tim and Sam also had a bottle of wine, some fruit and cheese. They camp in style.
Day two started with a three mile kayaking trip to a neighboring island. It was about two hours each way. My goal was to get a few shots on the way there and back. I have also never been in a kayak before, so it was an interesting experience. What I was not prepared for was the need to continue rowing for the entire two hours. I found that when I stopped, I began to drift toward Cuba, which was not where I wanted to go. Also, to avoid capsizing with all my camera gear, I needed to keep my nose into the waves. When I stopped to take a photo, my kayak would quickly spin parallel to the waves, which made capsizing more probable. But you can’t row and photograph at the same time. So, I would row quickly ahead. Then, I would wait for Sam and Tim to pass by, and while trying to steady my camera against the constant rocking of the kayak, I would try try to keep my boat from spinning or capsizing. It was an adventure.
This was our destination. This is Loggerhead Key. You can see the lighthouse from the fort on Garden Key, but it doesn’t seem to get any closer for a very long time as you kayak from island to island. I have new respect for the ancient islanders in the pacific, as they traveled from island to island in their canoes. “Are we there yet?”
You can see though, that the Island is quite small. One can walk across the width of the island in about two minutes.
I am fascinated by pelicans. They are down right ugly birds.
On Loggerhead we did a little snorkeling and I came face to face with a Barracuda. That was exciting. I wasn’t in any danger, it was as afraid of me as I was cautious of it. But I did not follow it around trying to take it’s picture, so the shot below is NOT the Barracuda. This fish is a friendly fish who was just happy I wasn’t fishing.
Ocean plant life is so strange. This is a world I have seldom seen in person or in films, so all of it is strange and miraculous to me.
I love this shot of Tim. At first I was upset but the placement of the drops of water on the glass, but they have grown on me. The shot is a gritty documentary shot and now I think the drops of water add to the shot.
I found that if I took a shot as I was emerging from the water, the water would not have time to form into droplets and I could get a far more clear shot. Plus I could get that cool, half under water, half above shot.
After a long morning of rowing, photographing and snorkeling, Tim broke out a pineapple. We had a feast!
As I was returning from snorkeling, I walked up on this scene. Quite literally. The light was perfect, the concept was dropped in my lap by pure photographic providence. So, I snapped a few shots (non of which I am showing here) just to make sure I got something, then I asked them to continue on with the yoga but gave them a little direction to stay separated by a few paces and for Sam to do whatever she did in profile to me. Then I backed up and began shooting. I am super happy with the entire series. Samantha is really into Yoga. Really into it. I watched her do some pretty amazing stuff on that dock.
On our way home we raced the sun and ended up arriving just after sunset. Unbeknownst to me, my kayak was taking on water, so I was lugging myself and a third of my boat in water. I thought I was just getting really tires, but when we were beaching the craft and we couldn’t drag it ashore together, it was clear that I was not such a whip. I like to think I am extra tough!
Anyway, I love the silhouette against the chop of the ocean. And coming from my unsteady, sinking little boat, I was thrilled to get it.
In the slideshow you will have seen my shot of Sam and Tim on the mote wall. We went on a night walk around the fort on the wall. The moon and the stars were our light. I put my camera on a tripod (which I rarely do) and began shooting times exposures. The key is to find the right mix of movement and depth of field.
I suppose there is a metaphor in this photo somewhere.
And finally, this is Sam and Tim’s portrait of me. Once the camera was set and we had taken photos of them on the wall, they took a shot of me. I love the shot. I had to hold still. I also gave them a LED light to shine on me briefly during the exposure to add a little fill. Sam manned the camera shutter and Tim the light. Good work guys. You might be able to shoot your own wedding, but you are in it, so I guess I still have a job!
Thank you Samantha and Tim, for trusting me to be a part of your adventures. It is an honor to get to know you and to photograph you both. Our next big adventure will be on my turf, in the Grand Canyon…
Slideshow music by Child’s Play, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music
Engagement portrait location: The Dry Tortugas, off the coast of Key West, Florida
In Arizona, we don’t have snow days, we have SNOW MINUTES. By the time the clouds had cleared enough to reveal the snow on the mountains, we had minutes to pack up the car, get the kids out of school and drive out into the desert to find patches of snow. As we rounded each successive curve, I worried we may not get anything more than a patch or two of snowy mud in the shadow of a rock, but we beat the melt and found a great view and enough snow to have a little snow ball fight. I grew up around snow. But my wife, who grew up in Phoenix, was 33 when she first saw snow falling out of the sky. So, any chance we get, we expose our children to snow in an effort to make them more empathetic to those who live in the northern climates!
Anyway, here was our view this afternoon as we played in the snow.
Mattie and Riley were married in the Mesa, Arizona LDS Temple and their reception was later that evening at her parent’s home in Chandler. Here are a few of my favorite images from the wedding day.
The temple itself is a symbol of eternity and devotion, so it becomes a central figure in the documentation of an LDS (Mormon) Wedding. Because the wedding is held inside and there is no photography allowed, I think a portrait of the temple itself is not only appropriate, it is absolutely essential. So, whenever I photograph an LDS wedding, I make sure to work on a few artistic shots of the temple on the day of the wedding. I could just take one great shot of the temple and add it to everyone’s wedding that I take there, but I feel like that would be cheating. So, I try to make something unique each time.
Any wedding (not just an LDS wedding) requires this kind of attention to the location. People choose the location of their wedding with a lot of care. The place they get married says a lot about the couple, their beliefs, their personalities… so location is always important.
Because we would be going from the temple to portraits without a break for lunch, the wedding party packed a little snack. They were hanging out on the lawn having a bit of a picnic while we shot portraits. I thought it was pretty fun.
Mattie looks beautiful in that dress.
This is my favorite shot of the bride. We have her in the open shade of a tree. The sun is lighting up the trees and the bride is generally lit by the northern sky with a soft box to her right, which gives her face that beautiful shape.
We shot a few more portraits in downtown Chandler. I enjoyed this group shot.
They gave out little honey jars as favors at the wedding, which were cute, and also a great spot for the ring shot.
A winter wedding is not complete without a Christmas Tree… and this one was full of photos of the couple from our engagement portrait shoot. What a beautiful tree.
Wedding Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography
Wedding Location: LDS Temple in Mesa, Arizona
Wedding slideshow music by Fisher, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music
Megan and Blake were married in the Mesa, Arizona LDS Temple. I have known Megan and her family for a few years now and feel a bit like an uncle rather than a hired photographer. It’s fun to be close to the family for a wedding, it changes the dynamics a bit and makes things a little more personal.
Here are a few of my favorite images from the wedding, which spans over a few weeks: the wedding was a few weeks before the reception.
When the sun is out in force in Arizona, shade is an important thing to find. The temple has a few trees that are large enough to block out the sun and allow for some soft light.
The reception was held at the ValVista Lakes Club House in Mesa, Arizona. This is one of the only places in Phoenix where you can get a good shot on a dock with water like this. It’s definitely a unique spot in the desert. I was very happy with this shot.
The staircase was my favorite spot inside.
Megan had a great dress and of course every bride wants a shot of her dress from behind, but often times the shot is a bit contrived because it it is out on a lawn with the dress spread out on the grass, and looks a bit posed. I have a shot of the bride earlier at the wedding that is this way. You have to get one, so we got one. But, when the opportunity presents itself to get something even better… well, I’ll take it! I feel there is a story that wants to be told in this shot. The shot is manufactured (a lot of lighting went into the shot); the stairs lead to an office so I put a big flash head up there to create the light and shadow cascading down the staircase, and there are two soft boxes lighting her with an extra flash out to the right of the staircase, filling in some shadows. But the light looks natural and that is what makes the shot work so well. I love the shot.
This is Megan’s brother, who was tasked with lighting the candles before the guests arrived. But, unbeknownst to Megan and her brother, someone in the staff had replaced the real candles with LED candles, which he was able to light! We were all a little taken back when the candles began flaming up and smoking and one exploded. So we all ran around blowing out LED candles that were aflame! It was quite funny. So now you know… fake candles can also be lit like real candles, but they act a little more like fireworks in the end.
This was a good idea for throwing the garter. Seems a bit more manly and easier to throw a good distance.
Megan and Blake wanted to take a photo with me. Like I said, I feel a bit more like an uncle than a hired photographer. But we had to hand my camera off to a guest and it took a few shots before we got one in focus. Lesson: always check focus after someone else uses your camera!
Congratulations Blake and Megan. I wish you all the happiness in the world.
Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography
Slideshow Music by Anna Sali, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music
Location: LDS Temple and ValVista Lakes, Mesa, Arizona