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Where in the World is Jared Platt?

It took 14 hours, three jets, a car, a sea plane, a kayak and some walking to get to my destination.  There are no hotels, no houses, but I have cameras.  I am shooting an engagement session for my clients who are getting married at the Grand Canyon in June 2013.  But we are no where near the Grand Canyon.  In fact it is quite the opposite of the Grand Canyon.  While writing this, I don’t actually know what to expect or much more about the location, other than we have to bring our own food, because there is no food where we are going.  I suppose I could eat ants. But we’ll cart our own food along.

I will be bringing several cameras, a Canon Mark III and a Canon G15.  I’ll have over 140 GB of card space and 8 fully charged camera batteries, several flashes with 32 AA batteries and a compliment of lenses.  Oh and a camera backpack to hold it all.

This post was pre-scheduled because I am unable to post a photo from this location, so you will have to see the images when I get back.

So, where am I?

It could be cold…

Travel photography by Jared Platt (5)

Or it could be warm…

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It could be high…

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It could be low…

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Could be in the ocean…

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Could be on land…

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I don’t know enough about the place to give you many more clues, other than to say, I’ll be using a lot of modes of transportation to get to the middle of nowhere…  a  place I am always interested in visiting.

Travel photography by Jared Platt (6)

And don’t worry.  I’ll photograph it.  Those of you who know me or have heard me lecture, know how many images I can shoot in a day.  I’ll be sure to show you the best.

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If you are family or close friend and actually know where I am, 1)don’t spoil the surprise and 2) if I don’t re-surface by Sunday the 27th, send out a rescue party!  I’ll be sure to let you know when I land…

Jared and Alyssa’s Wedding in Mesa Arizona

Alyssa and Jared were married at the Mesa, Arizona LDS Temple.  It was a bit cold and rainy on their wedding day, which meant umbrellas and jackets, but it was a beautiful day and the rain never plagued us for long.  Here are a few of my favorite images from the wedding.

This first portrait of the bride is quite serious, but I think it is also very strong, so with that strong gaze, I figured the best way to compliment that would be with a strong black and white treatment.

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Notice, this black and white treatment is softer, more classic.  That is because the warmth of their smiles inspire a much softer mood.  It is my goal to match the treatment of a photo with the mood or the message of the image itself.

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I have to admit, I have photographed weddings at the Arizona LDS Temple too many times throughout my life.  And for that matter, there are a number of venues I have photographed over and over again.  The questions is, how do you keep yourself engaged and interested as you photograph the same thing for the 100th time.  You have to somehow keep it all fresh and do something a little different.  For those who do not know the LDS or Mormon faith, the Temple is a very important place and being married in a Temple is more important that almost anything else.  So a mormon couple will always have a photo of the temple they were married in hanging in their home to remind them of the importance of their marriage covenants they made to each other.

So every time I shoot an LDS wedding, I try very hard to take a few cool architectural shots of the temple for the couple.  But when you shoot at the temple over and over again, you run the risk of photographing it the same way as last time.  So I work very hard to do something new each time.  It keeps me on my toes and stretches my creativity.  It’s a good activity to sharpen the creative tool set.

The sky was flat overcast, so I needed something to fill the void and help frame the Temple.  So I took a stroll under the trees.  I like what I got, then I went for an older look with grain and a bit of yellowing in the paper.  I think this temple looks very nice as a historical artifact.

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I just love this shot.  “I’m singin’ in the rain…”

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This was a nice playful moment I was happy to have been ready to grab when it happened.

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This image is taken with one soft box off to the right and above the camera.  That flash is filling the shadows.  Without the flash, the two of them would be in their own deep shadow, as the sun is behind them, behind some thick clouds.  I was pleased with the way this image turned out.

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Wedding portraits from a wedding in Mesa Arizona at the LDS Temple (6)

I loved this idea for a quick into to the couple’s love story.  It was a little decor chalk board.  What a great way to tell the story in a very quick way and make a decoration at the same time.

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She just ate an entire cupcake in one gulp.  Looks like I caught her red handed.

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This was a very sweet moment between the grand-parents.

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I just love the the shadows and shapes in this image.  It is a rich, contrasty image by design to accentuate the lines that make up their dancing embrace.

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I enjoyed making this image.  We used the opposite pillars as very tall and skinny soft boxes.  They worked quite well.  We simply too out 600RT Speedlite flashes and aimed away from the couple into the pillars opposite the pillars you see in the photo.  I love the richness in the photo, the darkness and the mood.

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It is always such an honor to photograph a wedding.  Thank you Jared and Alyssa for trusting us with your wedding.

Wedding Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Mesa Arizona LDS Temple

Slideshow Music, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Have a Magical Holiday Season

Holiday greeting card from Jared Platt

 

We made a holiday greeting card for the McPhie family.  This is the back of the card.  I just had to post it because it makes me smile.  I am sure this little guy will be embarrassed by this photo when he’s 16 years old…

Well, I am preparing for the holiday season, and I am sure you are too.  So, may I join the McPhie family in wishing you all a magical holiday season.

The Seely-Olsen Documentary Session: China

Several of my last posts have been family portrait sessions from China.  This is the last family portrait from China, but it is a unique one.  We spent ten days with the Seely-Olsen family in China.  Becky (the mom) is a super great friend and she and her children have always been very important to us.  Becky was married this year to Jeff (also, super great guy with super great kids).  Well, Jeff works in Shanghai, China, so Becky and her children moved to China and the two families combined to make one very big family!  In China, a big family is a very big spectacle.

We spent a few of our days in Shanghai with Becky and Jeff’s family and then took a few trips out into rural China.  I will make one last post with my documentary/travel photographs from the trip, but this slideshow is a family documentary for the Seely-Olsen family.  We never did a formal portrait session, but rather a ten day documentary of their family as we traveled through China.  As you will see, the results are very different from a formal portrait session.  Both documentary and formal portraits have their place and both are important to a family, but I tend to gravitate toward the usefulness of pure documentary because a true documentary captures families and relationships as they truly are, which is how I would prefer to remember my loved ones.  That is why, even in my formal portrait sessions, I try to keep them very casual and documentary in feel.

Here are a few of my favorites shots from the Seely-Olsen Documentary Session.  I know I have not represented each and every member of the family in this blog post, only in the slideshow.  I have just posted my absolute favorite moments and shots here that can help me describe their life in China.

Becky’s kids are all over nine years old, Jeff’s are younger.  So Becky now has little ones again.  Aliah is the youngest and goes everywhere with Becky.  This is their transportation to and from the market.  All little errands, etc are done on this little scooter.  We would hope in the back and off we would go.  On one of our trips, we ran low on batteries and I was tasked with pushing the cart to get it up to speed where the batteries would keep it coasting a little longer than normal friction would have allowed.  I would jump in and enjoy a short rest and then, I was back out to push again.

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We took a bike ride through rural Guilin, China with all of the kids.  This was at the bottom of a mountain as we prepped for the hike up the mountain.  I love this shot.  These two are very close in age and make up their own little section of the family.  All the kids seem unite to take care of these little ones.

Family Travel Photography in China by Jared Platt (13)

Family Travel Photography in China by Jared Platt (12)

It was quite a hike to get up here, but everyone made it.  Don’t be so surprised that little Aliah made it.  Be surprised that Becky and Jeff made it.  I think Jeff carried her most of the way up the mountain.  I think Becky carried her too.  I only had to carry my camera.  Being a photographer has its advantages.  My photo duties trump good friend, “let me carry your child up the mountain,” duties.  So I only had to drag myself up the mountain.  That was hard enough.

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This was our countryside bike ride.  I could have enjoyed riding a bike through the country there for days.  Every time you came around a bend, there were more of these strange mountains and something very interesting to see.  The people, the farm lands, the buildings, the textures.  I think if I were to go again, I would want to spend a few more days just riding a mountain bike around the countryside.

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We also traveled by boat.  These little rafts are made of bamboo.  They can seat two passengers and a gondolier.  And no, he does not sing to you!  Sometimes, he will try to communicate with you, but ours knew three words in English, so most of our communication was in pointing and nodding.  This is Larsen.  I have known him for a long time (because he is one of Becky’s kids).  We had a good time on our river rafting adventure.

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There’s Jeff with piled high with kids.  By the time we reached the end of our river excursion, it was sunset.  But sunset here is much softer and darker than other places because the finger like mountains block the sun very early in the late afternoon and the humidity (at almost 100%) scatters and softens the light you do have.

I suppose you would have a hard time judging when you would get true sunset on any given week as the sun shifts around the sky because the sun can be completely obscured by one of the finger mountains one week and the next week the sun could be seen through a gap between the mountains, giving you another 20 minutes of direct light in the day.  At any rate, the soft quality of this image comes from the low and indirect and soft light of sunset in Yangshuo.  It is truly unlike any place I have ever been on the planet.

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This house was too much to pass up.  I only wish we had been there at a different time of day.  But you take what you can get when you are hiking from place to place.  The light wasn’t optimal, but the house is so strange, we had to grab a shot.

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Yes, it is a real place!  These are rice terraces in Ping’an, China.  I will show more images like this in my next China post, but I thought I would add this to give you a sense of the things we were seeing as a family.

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The kids are all waiting for their foot massages.  Everyone (except for me and Tate) got a foot massage.  Not a bad thing to get at the top of a long hike.

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You can see that the village spills through the rice terraces.  The pathways through the village are windy and steep with lots and lots and lots of stairs.  Hence, the foot massage.

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While all of the less tough travelers were getting pampered with foot massages, Tate and I went in search of a spot to record a video.  I was supposed to record a quick video inviting people to join me in studio at my creativeLIVE workshop in Seattle on Dec 6th, The Efficient Photoshoot.  You can see the video we recorded by clicking here.  Tate was a great director.  We found some steps to rest the camera on and set up the recording.  Once we were back in Shanghai with an internet connection we were able to send the footage to creativeLIVE and let them edit it into a video.  We got a little slap happy toward the end and were making some jokes, but they were all cut out of the video.  Maybe that was for the better.

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Let this be a lesson to you.  When in China and you come upon a fruit stand that has an open bowl of fruits and snacks for purchase, it is very possible that the owner’s child has been licking every sing one of them for the past 10 minutes.  These are dried fruits of some kind and have a sugary dust all over them.  I watched this little guy lick the sugar off each and every one of these dried fruits.  I stood there for about ten minutes to see if anyone would stop him… nope.  He was in heaven.  So was I.

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She is always so serious.  I was so glad to capture this smile.  This was on one of the last days.  I think you just have to be around a child long enough and you will find the moment you are looking for.

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Documentary Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Slideshow Music by Roy Ashen, Courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Location: China

Thomas: A Child Portrait in Phoenix, Arizona

The Farm at South Mountain is a great place to get away from Phoenix for a while, even though it is five minutes from downtown.  There’s great food there for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  When I go there, I feel like I am back in my home town, minus some palm trees that are still visible there.  But mostly, it is a little working farm right in the middle of the valley.  I hope it never goes away.  So when a client wants something that doesn’t look like the desert, but doesn’t want to travel, this is a great spot.  Of course, there are fees associated with photographing here, so be prepared.

Thomas is a cute little kid.  I shot his parents wedding a few years back.  Like I’ve said before, it is always an honor to photograph the children of my wedding clients.  Thomas is a very curious and active little guy.  He’s got the walking thing down and he is like the energizer bunny, so we followed him around and sometimes, like in the case of this first photo, had to keep moving him back into position.  We would get a shot or two before he was off investigating something else.  But we got the shots and the light was absolutely perfect when we first arrived.

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I liked the color on the scene, but on this particular image, he moved into the light and the oranges from the sun were a bit too orange on his skin, so I elected to change it to black and white and loved what I got from it, so this one became black and white.  We could get the same beautiful black and white from all the other images, but this one needed to stay black and white, whereas the rest of the images in the series could be seen in either very well.

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Here is his on the go.

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The fruit kept him entertained for a few minutes so we went with it.

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What you don’t see is that the fruit was in his hand moments before.

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Child portraits at the Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona (8)

This is a Sun Devil Family.  I get that, because we are as well.  So we made a swap into Sun Devil gear and took a few final photos.  I love this shot.  There are more in the slideshow, but this was my favorite.  If you follow my work, you will note that I don’t find typical posed family portraits to be all that interesting.  And while we take them during the course of a shoot.  There are the images I like to pay attention to.  The mean more to me and to the people who are in them.  The typical posed stuff serves more as a record of what a family looked like at the time of the portrait and that’s about it.

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It is always such and honor to photograph the the children of my wedding clients.  Thanks Ashley and Darren for trusting me with yours.  He’s a cute kid.

Child Portrait by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Slideshow Music by Nancy Falkow, Courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Location: The Farm at South Mountain, Phoenix, Arizona

The Basha Family Portrait in Phoenix, Arizona

It’s been a while since I hung out with the Basha boys.  The youngest remind me so much of my youngest boy, so photographing them is a lot of fun.  Well, they seemed to have a good time too.  So I’m going to call it a success all around because we got some greta photos.  Here are my favorites from the day, along with a slideshow of the session.

I think their father was doing something behind me at this point and I think it had something to do with me… that’s ok.  I will take any kind of abuse to get the shot.

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This was an interesting choice.  There’s a lot of green back there that is beautiful, but only when the vines are the majority of the frame.  The composition I think is better when the building plays a greater role in the image, but the color of the building pulls you away from the family, so when they were in front of the vines, I kept the images in color, but when they are in front of the building, I turned the images to black and white with a sepia tone.  I much prefer the sepia toned image to the color anyway, but I can see the merits in the color images as well, so long as the building is not too prevalent in the image.

I tell write this out so that people can get a glimpse into my thinking as I make decisions for the image.  I suppose very few clients would have felt that something was wrong with the color version of the image, but I am certain that if shown the two side by side, the choice would be clear.  That being said, I don’t show them side by side, because I fortunately get to make the decisions…

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One of the most challenging things we do in a child portrait session is try to get a child to smile naturally.  If you tell them to smile, they give you a forced smile, which then makes you wish they would just go back to sullen.  So we go back and forth, smile, frown, smile, don’t smile, we tell jokes, parents act like monkeys, we tell them little lies about spaceships in our cameras, whatever we can do to distract them from thinking about forcing a smile.  Then, once in a great while, they break out the natural smiles.  The ones that say, “you’re funny daddy,” or that show the beginnings of bright eyed wonderment.  All the spent frames can then be dumped on the cutting room floor in favor of the little gems of personality we capture by shear will patience and will power and distraction, of course.

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He was pretty proud of himself, getting on that rock.  It required smashing a lot of flowers!

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This is my favorite shot of the older brother.  This was late into the portrait session, so by this point, he had gotten used to me and was able to let go a little.  The images always get more and more natural as the session goes on.  Imagine what a photo session is like when you spend all day, or three days with the family.  By the last day, the children don’t even know I am there.

I will be posting next, a family documentary portrait that lasted for 10 days in China.  If you have been following the other portraits I shot there, those were two hour sessions, as was this session.  But the family we were there to visit was the focus of my attention for ten days.  I’ll look forward to sharing the images with you.

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I love the fence in the background.  When I found this, I was sold on it and had to bring them here for a few shots.

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I love this image.

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This is not my image, I must admit.  It is one of the boys’ shots.  They wanted to take photos so badly, so I let them.  The camera is a bit too heavy for either of them, but I held the bulk of the weight and zone focused it and then let them frame and shoot the shot.  Not bad.  I don’t know which image was which boys, so we will just say this image was shot by the Basha Boys.  Good job guys.

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Thanks for hanging out with me.

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Family Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography.

Slideshow Music by Fisher, Courtesy of Triple Scoop Music.

Location: South Mountain, Phoenix, Arizona

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.

Baby Girl: Infant portrait in chandler arizona by Jared Platt (1)

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.

Baby Girl: Infant portrait in chandler arizona by Jared Platt (2)

Baby Girl: Infant portrait in chandler arizona by Jared Platt (3)

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

Baby Girl: Infant portrait in chandler arizona by Jared Platt (4)

Baby Girl: Infant portrait in chandler arizona by Jared Platt (5)

She is beautiful.

Baby Girl: Infant portrait in chandler arizona by Jared Platt (6)

Baby Girl: Infant portrait in chandler arizona by Jared Platt (7)

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.

Baby Girl: Infant portrait in chandler arizona by Jared Platt (8)

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.

Baby Girl: Infant portrait in chandler arizona by Jared Platt (9)

Baby Girl: Infant portrait in chandler arizona by Jared Platt (10)

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