Little Angels: a A Child Life Portrait

I photographed two absolute angels this month.  It was a perfect Saturday morning in the most beautiful little grove of trees in Gilbert, Arizona.  The trees had lost a few leaves which had turned a wonderful orange-yellow.  The weather was perfect and the girls were as cute as they could be.  The slide show presents the photos in full color, but I thought I would show my favorite images from this portrait shoot in a muted film style.  I was inspired to present them in this style by the first image in the series.  It just begged to be shown this way, so who am I to argue with an image’s wishes.

Princess dresses, magic wands and pink cowboy boots.  You can’t ask for a better morning than this…

Autumn Children's portrait in grove of trees in Gilbert Arizona (1)

The girls had a lot of fun playing in the leaves and running back and forth in their little princess dresses.  There is a lot of joy in those little girls.

Autumn Children's portrait in grove of trees in Gilbert Arizona (2)

Autumn Children's portrait in grove of trees in Gilbert Arizona (3)

Autumn Children's portrait in grove of trees in Gilbert Arizona (4)

This is the moment we live for.

Autumn Children's portrait in grove of trees in Gilbert Arizona (5)

One of my absolute favorites in the entire set.  I think it is absolutely beautiful and so peaceful.

Autumn Children's portrait in grove of trees in Gilbert Arizona (6)

 But while her sister was falling to sleep, big sister was full of life and energy.  I think princess outfits are like sugar to a little girl.  Put them on and they become full of life and energy.

Autumn Children's portrait in grove of trees in Gilbert Arizona (7)

Family Portrait Location: Gilbert Arizona

Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Slideshow music by Mindy Gledhill, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

The Miller Family Portrait

 

We shot the Miller’s family portraits in and around my new studio space in Chandler, Arizona.  The downtown area is full of great locations for photos and my studio is a great space for both working, meeting clients and shooting.  Come check it out sometime.  I’ll post a blog about it soon.

There is not a lot that needs to be said about these photos.  They are just super cute and were a lot of fun to take.  One thing that I was talking about with my client was the tendency for parents to think that “we got nothing” from that shoot because the kids are being too fidgety or too rambunctious.  But in the end, parents are always surprised by how many great images we got out of the shoot…  Here are just a few of my favorites.  There are a ton of them.

The slide show above is an uncommon one for me, because I typically don’t show a lot of multiple images from the same vantage point and situation back to back.  But this shoot was full of hilarious iterations on a theme.  So I went with it.

This first one starts the ball rolling right.

 

 

Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography.

Slideshow music by Mindy Gledhill, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music.

Family portrait location: Chandler, Arizona

An Afternoon Portrait in the Park with the Flamino Family

I photographed the Flamino family at a park in Scottsdale, Arizona.  The afternoon was full of fun and energy and snacks and running and more running.  Getting either of the kids to sit was a rare occasion, so when they did, I took advantage of the moment.

Child portrait by Jared Platt (2)

Child portrait by Jared Platt (3)

 This was my favorite image from the afternoon and not because of the composition or the light… I just know that’s the moment that matters to me as a father.

Child portrait by Jared Platt (4)

Child portrait by Jared Platt (5)

 She has such beautiful curly hair.  She was so much fun to photograph.

Child portrait by Jared Platt (6)

Child portrait by Jared Platt (7)

 The afternoon ended with fun on the swings.

Focusing on a swinging child is impossible because by the time you get focus, they are on their way out of it.  Instead of trying to get the camera to follow them automatically, I simply set a focus distance and waited until the child entered into my area of focus.

Child portrait by Jared Platt (8)

Child portrait by Jared Platt (9)

 Children’s Portraits by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Slideshow Music by Nancy Falkow, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Location: Park in Scottsdale, Arizona

Sunsets and Dandelions: A Family Portrait in Chandler, Arizona

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

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.

Family Travel Photography in China by Jared Platt (14)

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.

Family Travel Photography in China by Jared Platt (11)

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.

Family Travel Photography in China by Jared Platt (10)

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.

Family Travel Photography in China by Jared Platt (9)

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.

Family Travel Photography in China by Jared Platt (8)

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.

Family Travel Photography in China by Jared Platt (7)

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.

Family Travel Photography in China by Jared Platt (6)

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.

Family Travel Photography in China by Jared Platt (5)

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.

Family Travel Photography in China by Jared Platt (4)

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.

Family Travel Photography in China by Jared Platt (3)

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.

Family Travel Photography in China by Jared Platt (2)

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.

Family Travel Photography in China by Jared Platt (1)

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.

Child portraits at the Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona (1)

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.

Child portraits at the Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona (2)

Child portraits at the Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona (3)

Here is his on the go.

Child portraits at the Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona (4)

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

Child portraits at the Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona (5)

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

Child portraits at the Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona (7)

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.

Child portraits at the Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona (10)

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.

Childrens photography by jared platt in Phoenix Arizona (1)

Childrens photography by jared platt in Phoenix Arizona (2)

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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Childrens photography by jared platt in Phoenix Arizona (4)

Childrens photography by jared platt in Phoenix Arizona (5)

Childrens photography by jared platt in Phoenix Arizona (6)

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.

Childrens photography by jared platt in Phoenix Arizona (7)

Childrens photography by jared platt in Phoenix Arizona (8)

Childrens photography by jared platt in Phoenix Arizona (9)

Childrens photography by jared platt in Phoenix Arizona (10)

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

Childrens photography by jared platt in Phoenix Arizona (13)

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.

Childrens photography by jared platt in Phoenix Arizona (18)

Family Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography.

Slideshow Music by Fisher, Courtesy of Triple Scoop Music.

Location: South Mountain, Phoenix, Arizona

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

The Newest Day: An Infant Portrait in Gilbert, Arizona


Many years ago (not that many) I photographed a beautiful wedding in Sedona for a great couple, the Day’s.  I have been photographing their family ever since.  This time I get to show a little progression.  On kind of a last minute shoot, we went out and photographed Amaris’ maternity portraits, but since it she already has a little girl, it was more of a family portrait session.  Later, once the baby was born, I went back to photograph her.

Here are my favorite images from the two sessions.

Lola is the same age (within a week I think) of my daughter, who, although they have only played together once, claims Lola as her “best friend.”  Anyway, Lola is a fun little girl and full of expression.  She wasn’t angry in this shot, I think she was trying to strike a pose.  It makes me laugh.

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Amaris is ready for the baby to arrive, and I think Lola is too.

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Nathan’s truck is a tough lookin’ beast, and much to his wife’s amusement, we both agreed that the truck needed to be in a shot or two.  If I had a truck like that, it might be a part of my family as well.

I love this shot.  Just for the pure documentary nature of it.  I picture my daughter trying to get my attention to have some serious discussion with me.  There’s nothing better than a serious little child putting her tiny hand on your shoulder and having an adult conversation with words you can barely understand.

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Yep.  Perfect little moment.

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She’s so proud to be there with her daddy.  Not planned.  We were getting ready to photograph the baby and as I was putting my equipment together, Lola saw the camera and figured it was time for some snap shots and went to posing for them.  It made us all laugh.

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Such a little ham.  She’s always ready for her closeup.

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And there she is, the newest Day.

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Isn’t this the constant state of life for a baby sibling.  Always clobbered by her sister with affection and love.

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This is one of my very favorite images from the shoot.  The lighting is so perfect and so are the expressions.  This is the one I would have with me at all times.

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I thought all the old items were quite beautiful in contrast with the new baby and the new flowers.  And of course, the light is wonderful.  This is the product of three Canon 600 EX RT Speedlites.  I can’t say enough good things about that flash system.  It works wonders.

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Such a serious face.

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She is beautiful.  Congratulations Nathan and Amaris on another beautiful daughter.  It is an honor to be there to document your family’s growth.

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By the way, this is the coolest front porches ever.

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Family Portrait by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Slideshow Music by Kristen Andreassen, courtesy of TripleScoopMusic

Location: Gilbert, Arizona

The Bells: A Family Portrait in Gilbert, Arizona

We photographed the Bell’s family portrait in Gilbert, Arizona at The Groves.  We have known the Bells for many years now and our children have played together each time they are in the same city, which is not very often.  Cliff is a Pilot in the Air-force.  We love the Bells, and the camera also loves the Bells.  That’s a good looking family!  Anyway, here are my favorite images from the Bell’s family portraits.

Emberlyn (the little girl sitting on her father’s lap), is a complete miracle.  She has lived far beyond her life expectancy.  She has a condition called Lissencephaly, which (with my limited understanding of the condition) in essence causes constant seizures and leaves her without control of her own body.  I am inspired by the Bell family.  I think we all look at families with children who suffer from these kinds of conditions and misfortunes and wonder how they cope with it all.  But, they don’t just cope, they generally excel.  The Bells excel… and I am so inspired by it.  I am convinced that Emberlyn and other children like her are here to teach us all. And families like the Bells, who take the challenge in stride, will be blessed for their part in inspiring the people around them.

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Yes.  She’s adorable.

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And yes, she can also cry.

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 I am very pleased with this shot.  The baby was not old enough to sit completely on her own, so the hand that was propping her up had to be removed.  But I love the look on her face and to say nothing of the lighting.

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I am very happy with this next shot.  Emberlyn is not always responsive, so catching a smile is a huge deal and I was so happy to grab a few of them.  They only lasted for very brief moments during our shoot, so when I got back to the studio and found a few of them, I was absolutely thrilled.  This is a circumstance, where you don’t dare take a set of photos and then look on the back of the camera to see if you got a good shot or not.  You my miss a smile while you are “chimping” (looking at the back of the camera), and that is unacceptable.  My mantra is this: as long as I am on the job, I am looking for moments and capturing them.  I can look at the photos later in the studio.

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I love this shot.  I have a whole series of images with both of the kids fully in the shot, but this one is the best.  The cropped legs make the shot.

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This is one of my favorite shots from the day.  I am drawn into that protective embrace.  Jaime has a warm, but strong and protective posture and Emberlyn seems to simply melt into her arms where she must feel the greatest security.  Photographs like these mean a great deal to me, because I feel I have captured something powerful and personal.

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Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Slideshow music by Mindy Gledhill, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Family Portrait Location, The Groves, Gilbert 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

Gia Bella: An Infant Portrait in Chandler, Arizona

In my last post, I introduced you to my good friend, Paul Scott, who was acting as my stand in as I was setting lights for his grand-daughter’s portraits.  Here are a few of my favorite images from the shoot.

She looks so snuggly and happy.  I love it when little babies barely open one eye.

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This is one of my favorites.  I love all the hands holding her up.

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I labored over which foot shot to put in the blog post, I liked a number of them quite a lot, but I elected for this one in particular because the toes break the horizon line of her father’s hand.  It is often simple things like that which make the difference between a select and a reject.

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This one was pretty cute too.

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This was my absolute favorite.  I love the composition and I think Kelly (mom) looks like a million bucks.  Great shot.

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Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Slideshow music by Mindy Gledhill, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Merry Christmas from The Platt Family

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Merry Christmas from Platt Photography and the Platt family.

Here is the 2011 Christmas card photo shoot.  My wife, Danielle is always coming up with great ideas for our Christmas cards.  Each year, after Christmas, she starts working on the next year’s photo concept.  This years was particularly difficult as we had to find all the clothing and the props.  Some of it is completely authentic period clothing and some of it was either rented or even made for the photo shoot.

All of this started when my mother produced my grand-father’s kindergarten outfit from the early 1900’s.  Then, Danielle was able to find a dress from about 1890 on ebay.  She found some cute clothes for my daughter off the modern rack that had the same feel and then my eldest son and I rented various costume pieces and my mother sewed a few things we could not find.  I also needed a period camera.  The 4×5 camera I own is too new (circa 1940), so I put out an APB for wooden field camera and my friend Keith Pitts came through.  It is an old thing and in need of much work, but looks great.  Danielle also found an old wooden tripod, but there was no plate to connect the camera to the tripod, so we had to put the camera on a modern tripod and then lash the wood tripod to the outside of the modern tripod.  Then with a little photoshop work, I was able to remove the modern tripod where it was showing through.

You will note that all of the photos are cropped to an 8×10 aspect ratio.  I wanted to keep the authenticity of the shots even down to the aspect ratio common for the time period (i.e. 4×5 or 8×10) owing to the use of large format negatives, glass plates or tin types.  I suppose I get a little persnickety about the details, but I wanted it to feel very authentic.

Here is a photo of my grandfather wearing the outfit my youngest son is now wearing in our photos.  Earl is the one on the left.

My kids were thrilled with this photo shoot.  I told the boys, you are not supposed to smile on any of these photos.  “Really?  Awesome!”  They loved it.

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This is one of my favorites from the entire photo shoot.  It was just a grab during the planning of the photo, but I love it, love it!

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Jackson was really getting into the role.  I explained to my kids that in old photos no one smiled because they couldn’t hold a smile long enough for the long shutter speed and that they were always uncomfortable because they had to hold still and they sometimes even had a brace on their neck to keep them perfectly still for the photograph.  So he did his best.  Indiana (my daughter) on the other hand just did whatever she wanted.

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I think this photograph is a perfect representation of Britton’s relationship with Indiana in comparison to the photo above.  Britton has taken it upon himself to be Indie’s protector and caring older brother.  He puts Indie first at all times and she is completely confident with her big brother as her backup.

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This is another one of my favorites.  Of course, the serious looks are perfect for the time period and not completely indicative of my wife and oldest son, but there is something very truthful about this photograph.  You know, I always comment on how “true” images are of people that I photograph, but it is always with limited information about the people and who they are, so I am making educated guesses about their relationships and personalities (which I seem to get right most of the time), but when I photograph my own family, I get to see these shots and the “truths” contained in them with complete confidence that I am reading them correctly.  There is something very proud in their relationship, a seriousness to it, complete with expectations and determination to succeed.  Not that they are not playful with each other, but there is an element of seriousness in their relationship not as prevalent in her relationship with the other children that makes this photograph ring true.

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And Indie continues to smile.  She was just happy to be there.

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Now, if there is one other photograph that rings “true” in this collection it is this one.  This is a very good indication of my relationship with my daughter.  She loves me very much and I am smitten with that little angel.  She has taken to telling me two things on an hourly basis. “I love you” followed by, “I miss you daddy.”  This, of course, melts my heart.  I am not sure she understands what that means, but she seems to understand that it means that she wants to be around me.  She was sick last night and called for me, and I spent a few hours up with her throughout the night, and although she was sick and I was tired, we both thoroughly enjoyed the time together.  So, that is what is happening here in this photograph.  She is breaking away from the family group because I am over by the camera and she wants to be near me, not in a crying and southed only by daddy kind of way, but in a genuine excited to be in my arms, kind of way.

My brother Rex Platt (my chief second shooter) is taking all of the photos that I am in, by the way.  Thanks to Rex for all his help on this photo shoot.  He is a great photographer and an even greater friend.

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This boy just makes me smile every time I look at him.

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And I love this photograph.  That little muff was made by my mother.  It was hard to get Indie to put her hands in it, but as it got colder in the evening, it was much easier to get her to see the wisdom in using it.

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My mother also made his nickers.  Thanks mom.  Good job!

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I think I could have enjoyed being a photographer in 1890, I am, after all a technical kind of guy and good in the darkroom, but I don’t miss the film days in the least.  I shot these photos and an hour later I was sitting in a yogurt shop eating frozen yogurt, looking at the JPG copies of the shoot on my iPad with NIK’s Snapseed App adjusting them and making some preliminary crops and treatments, etc.  Then I went home and loaded the RAW images into Lightroom and made the first round picks and started adjusting them.  Minutes later, I was showing the images to my wife and making plans for the final Christmas card and this blog post, which will be released on Christmas Eve.  This kind of turn around was unheard of anytime in the 20th century.  So I don’t miss film one little bit even though I have extreme respect the medium.

About Snapseed by NIK.  This is the best photo software on the iPad or iPhone.  It does EVERYTHING I need to do to a photo on my iPhone or iPad.  I used to have 30 different photo apps to do what I needed to get done, but now, when I am working on a photo on my handheld devices, Snapseed is all I use.  You have to get this app if you work on your photos at all.

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And while I am on the subject of NIK Software, I also have to mention the fact that every photo in this series went through NIK’s Silver Effects Pro 2 (a Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture Plugin).  Silver Effects Pro 2 is indispensable when you are serious about a film look.  In this case, as much as I like Lightroom’s grain structure, I needed the photos to have a very realistic and accurate grain structure to match the historical feel of the photos.  And when I need REAL FILM GRAIN, I exclusively turn to Silver Effects Pro 2.  It is the gold standard for grain and film effects in digital imaging.  I will have to post a tutorial on using NIK Silver Effects Pro 2, it is a great bit of software.  I have included a screen shot below; it looks and feels a lot like Lightroom.  I am shouting for a few obvious enhancements that need to be made and if I am successful, it will be absolutely perfect!

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I suppose I am a photographer, truly.  I know that sounds strange to say, but when I call someone a photographer, it does not mean they own a camera and make money with it.  A photographer is a different breed of human.  We live to document and capture with “meticulous exactitude”, the world around us.  We don’t separate work from play.  Photography is life, we don’t live unless we record life.  I say this because I am so in love with this photo session because it was an opportunity for me to do something creative, fun and meaningful to me and my family and it was hard work, and it was fun and I cherish the moments we spent creating it and I cherish even more the moments I have spent looking at and thinking about the images and what they mean.  People look at art (paintings and sculptures etc) and ask, “what does it mean,” but they don’t do that with most photographs, when in actuality, every photo has as much or more meaning than a concocted piece of art, because photographs have the added element of reality embedded in them.  Even the randomly captured images have a deep meaning in them, stories, emotions, feelings, joys, sorrows, etc…  I have been spending a lot of time with these photos this Christmas because I am proud of the execution and in love with the meanings they project.

I hope you get to spend a little time with a few photographs this Christmas and get the chance to ponder what they are saying to you.

Merry Christmas, from my family to yours and from my photographs to you.

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Photographs by Jared Platt and Rex Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Gilbert, Arizona

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.

The Smith Family Portrait 2011

The Smith family portrait was taken at the Norton Art Museum in Shreveport, Louisiana.  While dad is deployed, the rest of the family did a portrait session as a surprise for him.  We had a lot of fun, the kids were great and I was very pleased with the way the photos turned out.  Here are some of my favorites.

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This is the shot I would want if I were gone from my girls for a long time.

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This guy reminds me of my son, they could be brothers.  I was taking portraits of him and then I started looking around him at all the foliage and thought, how beautiful that mess of greenery is back there, so I recomposed to emphasis the background more.

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I can’t get over how cute the youngest is with he little bun on her head…  such a cutie.

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This one could be used as a lifestyle shot in a magazine.  I love it.

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If they were my kids, this would be a huge canvas print on my living room wall.  But they are not my kids, so I think my wife would find it strange if I print and hang this in my living room.

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This shot is just cherubic.  I love everything about it and she is an absolute doll.

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Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Shreveport, Louisiana.

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

The Maranto Family Portrait 2011

The Maranto family portraits were taken in Shreveport, Louisiana at a duck pond/park.  I have taken a number of portraits there over the years and love the trees, the pond, and the fact that there is a playground there for the kids.  It makes the event a lot more fun for the kids and gives them a reason to be there other than getting their picture taken.  And kids love ducks.

Here are my favorites from the family portrait session.

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Not quite steady on her feet just yet.  I love the pink boots and the pink leggings, that was a good choice.

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This shot is my favorite of the day.  We had to do a creative crop on it to avoid an unladylike pose, but I wasn’t about the trow it out for that.  It was too cute a shot, so I made the crop.  I like it cropped like this though.

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Yes, I know, this one is perfect.  This tree has a whole mess of exposed roots, so the texture just wraps around the baby.

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Some dads can throw their kids higher than other dads.  Mr. Maranto is a champ!  I can’t do that… can you?

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Oooops.  A little help please!

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Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Shreveport, Louisiana.

Slideshow Music: Nancy Falkow, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music.

The Karren Family Portrait 2011

The Karren’s family portraits were taken in Shreveport, Louisiana this fall.  As you can see the autumn colors are out in force.  It was absolutely beautiful.  Here are some of my favorite images from the portrait session.

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The barn is a perfect backdrop.  I am so glad that someone has not taken it upon themselves to repair this old barn, it is too perfect as it is.

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This shot just makes me smile.  I love the implications of the older brother’s gesture.

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This one is just full of joy.

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Someone is pleased with their load of leaves and what they will do with them.

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I love the throwing leaves concept.  Do people do this outside of a photo shoot though, I don’t remember.  It has been so long since I have lived somewhere with seasons and leaves that fall off trees, I have forgotten.  I think as a kid I used to rake the leaves and jump in them, but I can’t be certain…

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I love this shot.

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This was an interesting shot.  The barn is a beautiful red barn, as you have seen, so why didn’t I keep this in color?  Well, that fence is an ugly pinkish color.  Enough said.

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Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Shreveport, Louisiana.

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

The Herrera Family Portrait 2011

The Herrera’s family portraits were taken in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana, which is one of my favorite down-towns in the country, and I’ve been to a lot of cities around the world.  There are several reasons for it being my favorite, the first is the beautiful textures, the second is the impressive number of different options in a relatively small area, and third is that is it not a busy metropolis (parking is not an issue, there are not a ton of people getting in the way, etc).  The Herrera’s are on their way to Spain I believe where Mr. Herrera will be forming a Christian congregation, I wish them the very best.  God bless you Herrera’s.

Here are a few of my favorite images of the Herrera children.

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child near textured wall, child portrait (5)

child near textured wall, child portrait (4)

child near textured wall, child portrait (3)

child near textured wall, child portrait (2)

I guess it is my own daughter that makes me prone to love shots of fathers and their daughters.

child near textured wall, child portrait (1)

Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Shreveport, Louisiana.

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