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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
And Indie continues to smile. She was just happy to be there.
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.
This boy just makes me smile every time I look at him.
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.
My mother also made his nickers. Thanks mom. Good job!
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.
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!
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.
Photographs by Jared Platt and Rex Platt, Platt Photography
Location: Gilbert, Arizona