Story Telling: an Interview with Jared by Blurb Books

This interview with me from Blurb Books just ran via PDN. I thought you might be interested in the content of the interview as well as the great discount for blurb books. Enjoy the interview…

Jared PlattBlurb
Photographer
Spotlight:

Jared Platt

Jared Platt is a commercial photographer, portraitist, and educator based in Arizona who regularly runs workshops and webinars for Profoto and CreativeLive. He’s also an Adobe® Lightroom® devotee and a strong believer in the power of photography to tell stories. When he recently appeared on a CreativeLive segment, he impressed us with his thoughts on music, rhythm, and the photographic story arc.

Why is storytelling so important to you as a photographer?
Photography is storytelling. Some people tell a story in one image, which is always awe-inspiring, and some people tell stories over a series of photographs. But, all photographs have the aim of telling a story. Whenever I am taking a photograph, whether it is at a wedding, on the street, on a commercial shoot, or of a child, I am always looking for the story I want to tell in that one image—or series of images. I have an intense need to tell these stories that I see to everyone who will see my images, because I believe those stories will touch them, matter to them, and make some kind of an impression on them.

How does Lightroom help you with that aspect of your work?
Lightroom is essential to the process of selecting and editing the extreme volume of work I have in front of me constantly. A photo historian, the late Bill Jay, used to remind me that a project (no matter how perfect it was) was of no value until it was completed and available for people to experience. Lightroom helps me get superior work completed efficiently, so I can share it with the world and get busy telling the next story. Companies like Blurb, who connect with Lightroom, have made the process of sharing stories with the world even easier. Producing a masterful photo book is within any photographer’s reach.

How do you use books in your professional life?
As a photographer in the digital age, I transmit images via Facebook, blogs, websites, iPads, and FTP servers. But there is something extremely special about quality paper, printing, and binding. My clients receive physical proof books made by Blurb, which I create directly in Lightroom. I never tire of hearing the exclamations from my clients about how beautiful their books are and how much they love them. Books are also essential in selling my services to future clients. Photo books and magazines are so comfortable and accessible to the client who is relaxing in the studio showroom, and as the client is looking through the book, the book is selling them on my vision and educating them on my style.


Learn More
Whatever your passion—whether you chose it, or it chose you—turn it into a book with Blurb.

Take 20% off any print book order. Use the code PDN11 at checkout.*


And naturally this is related to storytelling…
Making a book takes the opportunity for storytelling to a whole new level. With multiple images spread over days, months, or years, it can come together to make extremely poignant statements. Add titles and graphics and text to the mix and you have limitless opportunities to connect with people and help them see what you see. I think when people say, “This is beautiful,” they are really saying, “I see what you see, and what you see is beautiful.”

How does your personal work differ from your client work?
There is no difference between my personal work and the work I do for my clients. I let one inform and alter the other, so, as my personal work shifts and expands, so does my commercial work. I am simply a visual storyteller. I tell stories about my clients’ lives, products, and events, and I tell stories about my life. I hope they are all interesting to the viewer. If they aren’t, I need to improve.

If money and time were no object, what project would you most want to take on?
I find creative people fascinating. Money and time are always an object and yet I am still on a quest to photograph and interview creative people of all types, from all genres of creativity, to experience their energy, understand their methods, and tell their story. So if money were no object, I would continue full steam ahead telling the story of the creative mind. In a creative way, of course…

At Blurb, we celebrate creativity in all of its myriad expressions. Photographers like Jared embody the creative freedom that our self-publishing platform enables.


Child Life | Jared Platt

Learn more about Jared Platt

> Jared’s website
> Jared’s Child Life book

Photography by Jared Platt


Tell your story with photography in a beautiful book and save

Take 20% off any print book order. Use the promo code PDN11 at checkout.*

Learn More

*Offer valid through December 31, 2014 (11:59 p.m. local time). Valid for printed books only. A 20% discount is applied to your print book product total with no minimum purchase required. Maximum discount is USD $100, AUD $100, CAD $100, EUR €100, or GBP £100 off product total. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.

 

On Location with Profoto and Nikon in TTL

We went out along the Salt River in Arizona for our webinar on TTL lighting control with Profoto equipment. In our first shots, we had our model wear a fantastically non-traditional wedding dress by Simply Bridal. Samantha, our model, was a an absolute champ. Balancing in that form fitting dress was quite a challenge in our out of the water. We had a great time and got some fantastic images. Here are the images we used in the webinar, and you can see the full webinar online, just follow this link to Profoto’s webinar page.

bride in wedding dress on a lake in arizona

bride in wedding dress in a lake in arizona

model at a river crossed road in Tortilla Flat, Arizona.

model at a river crossed road in Tortilla Flat, Arizona.

 

 

For this month’s webinar for Profoto, we took our crew and a kit of Profoto B1 off camera flashes  out to the lakes in the desert of Phoenix, Arizona.  This time, instead of shooting Canon, we were shooting with a Nikon D800 on the Profoto Air Remote TTL for Nikon.  Now Nikon users can also take advantage of the TTL abilities of the Profoto B1 lights.  Join me on our Profoto webinars on September 17, 2014 for a free webinar on shooting in TTL and Auto Camera Modes.

Register now:  www.profoto.com/int/webinar

Boxing at the Duce with Profoto

We spent the morning in a boxing club and event venue in downtown Phoenix, Arizona called The Duce for a complex lighting webinar for Profoto (the light shaping company). In this webinar we wanted to create a difficult lighting scenario where we had to build the lighting completely from scratch. Our boxing motif was a perfect opportunity to add a little incongruous wardrobe change, and that was a fantastically non-traditional wedding dress (provided by Simply Bridal. Although this was a stylized photoshoot, I think it proves an interesting point… that couples could do a better job at thinking outside the box when it comes to their wedding and engagement portraits. If you are a couple that is hiring a photographer or a photographer who has been hired by a couple to shoot an engagement session or a wedding portrait session, work together and encourage each other to get a little more inventive on the photo session.

Here are the favorites final images from our stylized portrait session.

This wedding dress was provided by <a href=

The Duce-193-20140805-104032-portraits-at-the-duce-downtown-phoenix=arizona

The Duce-347-20140805-114209-portraits-at-the-duce-downtown-phoenix=arizona

The Duce-359-20140805-114239-portraits-at-the-duce-downtown-phoenix=arizona

The Duce-284-20140805-113019-portraits-at-the-duce-downtown-phoenix=arizona
You can see the entire photoshoot and a discussion about it in an hour long webinar here. Watch he brief trailer for the webinar below.

 

 

Coming up on Wednesday, August 27 at 10 am Pacific time is the latest Profoto lighting webinar with myself and the Profoto B1 off camera lights.  Register online at www.profoto.com/live and tune in as we build a complex lighting scenario from scratch.

Music on this teaser is courtesy of Triple Scoop Music.

FREE Webinar for Non-Professional Photo Enthusiasts

JaredPlatt_Facebook_815x315

 

I teach professional photographers around the world the best post-production methods to help them get their job done.  But there are so many more photo enthusiasts in the world, who need help organizing, editing and sharing their images and these courses are sometimes a little too pro-centered.  So I have developed an online workshop for you all!  Here it is…

Starting Wednesday, June 25 through Friday, June 27, I will be teaching a webinar on photo organization, editing and sharing for non-professional photo enthusiasts.  If you are a mom, dad, photo student, nature lover, or anyone who has a camera and needs help navigating the organizational nightmare of saving photos on the computer, this is a great opportunity for you.  The webinar is FREE.  Just go to www.creativelive.com (look on the CRAFT channel) and sign up for LIGHTROOM FOR SCRAPBOOKERS.  You can watch for free starting on Wednesday at 9AM Pacific Time.  You can watch this on your computer, your iPad or even your phone.  The course is FREE when you watch it LIVE.  You can purchase anytime access to the course for only $59.

Don’t worry, if you are not a scrapbooker, that’s OK because we are talking about photo organization, editing photos and sharing them.  It’s not all about scrapbooking.  It is all about photos and just happens to be the right fit for people like scrapbookers who want help wight heir photos.  So join me on creativeLIVE, no matter who you are and get a super easy, basic, nuts and bolts look at a workflow for personal photography in Lightroom.

 

Free Webinar with Profoto: One Light Portraits

On May 21, join me at Profoto.com/live on location for a real senior portrait shoot.

Those of you who do not live in the US might wonder what a senior portrait is. It is simply a portrait taken of a student during his or hers senior year of high school.  In this case, I am taking you on a real senior portrait shoot, which we have filmed just for you to see our lighting techniques.

We bring a single flash to the shoot and utilize simple yet effective lighting techniques that make lighting a portrait simple and beautiful.  This webinar is not just for senior portrait photographers.  Any photographer wanting to create beautiful portraits fast on location will have plenty to learn.

The webinar will take place on May 21 at 7PM CET (May 21 at 10AM Los Angeles, 1PM New York, 6PM London, 7PM Paris // May 22 at 1AM Beijing, 2AM Tokyo, 3AM Sydney).

Go to www.profoto.com/live to sign up or watch live.

Tim & Samantha’s Wedding in the Grand Canyon

Samantha and Tim were married on Shoshone Point at the Grand Canyon.  The wedding slideshow features the music of Native American flutist Kelvin Mockingbird (available on iTunes).  These are a few of my favorite images.

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (1)

You may have seen my engagement portrait session with Samantha and Tim on the Dry Tortugas.  Sam and Tim are an adventerous couple and maybe better said, they love life experiences.  So, when they made plans for their wedding, they went beyond planning a wedding and a honeymoon.  They planned a wedding life experience, starting with a four day hike from the north rim to the south rim of the Grand Canyon and ending with a cliff side wedding on the south rim’s Shoshone Point.

Since I am the wedding photographer, their life experience becomes mine as well.  A few days before the wedding, I hiked down the south rim of the grand canyon for four hours with 55 pounds of camping and photo gear on my back (which is apparently more weight that is advisable), so I arrived quite exhausted, but down was easy, up was much harder.

As you can see, the floor of the Grand Canyon is a desert (which at times this week was hitting 120 degrees plus).  The mountains you see in the background are the cliffs that rise up and make the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  We spent the evening on a short  two mile hike, spent the night in our tents and began the long, challenging hike back up the South rim of the canyon the next morning at 5 am (to beat the heat).

Man, I love my job!

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (17)

Following the path you see in the photo above, takes you to another impressive drop in the Grand Canyon to the absolute floor, the Colorado River.  This sheer cliff is mind blowing.  Even standing at a safe distance from the edge will give you the absolute creeps.  But the view just cannot be beat.

When most brides and grooms are planning the final details of their wedding, playing a round of golf, or hitting the spa, Samantha and Tim were hefting their packs for 21 miles over four days in 110-122 degree heat, dropping and climbing roughly 6,000 feet on either side, and seeing some of the most breath taking views on the planet.   I’d say that makes this wedding quite unique.

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (16)

 

It’s a long way down.  Even with a guardrail, you question your safety as you look over the edge.  Tim is not too fond of heights…

At 5am we broke and left camp and headed up the south rim of the canyon.  Each hour, the temperature would rise by ten degrees, so the earlier we started, the better.  Tim gave me a hard time about the weight of my pack, but in the end, it could have been a lot heavier.  I couldn’t risk hiking down into the canyon and have a camera fail, so I needed two cameras.  But instead of taking two DSLRs, I took one paired down Canon Mark III with a 24-70mm lens and a Panasonic GH3 with a 35-100 and a 7-14.  The Panasonic GH3 is a light weight, mirror-less, 4/3 camera and it’s lenses weigh almost nothing, but the quality is very high, so while I still used the Canon for many of my shots, the GH3 was a perfectly usable alternative.

Half way up, I realized I could use the monopod from my small tripod as a walking stick.  That helped.  Tim offered to take the rest of the tripod to lighten the load.  Thanks Tim… my legs still thank you for that.  Suffice it to say, when hiking with photographic gear, you might want to leave the camping gear at home!

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (15)

Once you are on the trails for four hours, every switch back looks the same.  I thought for sure the top was around the corner at every corner, and since Sam and Tim had not hiked this trail, and I had just come down the day before, when I told them we were almost there, they believed me…  Until we met a ranger who informed us we still had about an hour to the top.  Oops. Well, I was selling hope!

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (14)

No, this isn’t us at the top.  This is us close to the top.  Close is a relative term.

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (13)

After making it to the top, we had a day to recuperate from the hike and get ready for the wedding.  I was grateful for the rest.  Then, on the following day, at about noon, the getting ready began.  Samantha was in her room getting ready and Tim was preparing with a trip to Shoshone Point for a little meditation and mental preparation for the wedding.  You see, Tim has a fear of heights.  Why then did he choose to get married on the edge of a cliff?  I will tell you in a minute.  Suffice it to say, he needed to spend some time with the cliff, so a little meditation was in order.

Meanwhile, the bride was putting on the dress and getting her hair done and looking like a million bucks!  I got to help steam/iron the dress that had gotten a little wrinkled somewhere between Florida and Arizona.

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (11)

Tim is crazy about Samantha!

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (10)

It was a beautiful day and the canyon was singing with shadows and highlights.  A cloudless sky is a double edged sword.  It makes for harsh lighting conditions for portraits, but the lack of cloud cover keeps the canyon alive with contrast.  So, a Grand Canyon wedding comes with it’s own special set of prayers: for scattered  Cumulus clouds with a few strategically placed and well timed Cirrus clouds during the portrait session to soften the sun.

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (9)

We didn’t get the Cumulus clouds, but we got a few Cirrus clouds.

This next shot is during the wedding.  You don’t see the guests because they chose to sit much higher on the point, and you don’t see the officiant because she is awesome and always stands to the side so the couple is not crowded and so their photos don’t all have an officiant in every shot.  How novel is that?  Almost every wedding ceremony image is cluttered up by an officiant’s head sitting between the bride and groom and even during the kiss.  “You may kiss the bride,” and I’ll just stand right here and and watch and make it look like I am kissing you both as well…  Why don’t more officiants have this figured out?  Samantha and Tim are actually saying their vows and I was able to get a shot with just them and the grandeur of the canyon.  That should be celebrated.  Don’t you think.  So, I have to give many many thanks and compliments to David & Debra Joaquim because they think about the aesthetics of the ceremony and take themselves out of the way.  I suppose it is a show of humility, that the wedding is not about the officiant, or the photographer, or the coordinator, or the mother of the bride, or the best man… it is about the bride and the groom and their commitment to each other.  And with a little humility, we can all make the day more meaningful to them by stepping out of the spot light and serving the couple and fulfilling their needs rather than our own.

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (8)

Incidentally, some of those clouds even placed themselves where we needed them.  Photo prayers were answered.  While the lighting was a little challenging on the bride and groom, it was magnificent on the canyon, and in the end, it is easier to light the couple with a soft box than it is to light the entire canyon.

I love this series portraits.  The bride and groom look great and the light is so lovely, thanks to Ryan (my assistant), who was battling the winds with a big soft-box that at one point was trying to push him off the cliff.  Good thing he’s a strong guy!  This shot could not have happened without Ryan and his soft box.  (The light was provided by an Einstein Mono Head, a vagabond power pack, a 30×40 White Lightning soft box and two pocket wizard transceivers.)

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (6)

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (5)

Now to discuss the fear of heights.

When you share major life experiences like these, you tend to develop a deeper relationship with people.  Tim and I have had many deep conversations ranging a myriad of subjects as we have spent a lot of time together.  When you compare  the amount of time we have been photographing to the amount of time we have spent hiking, kayaking, cooking, eating, searching the sunset for the green flash, and discussing life… you might say, we haven’t been shooting photos at all.  As odd as this may sound, coming from Tim and Sam’s wedding photographer, photographing less may be a good thing.  Because portraits are portraits, but understanding is everything.  I am always drawn to Henri Cartier-Bresson’s statement, “Photography is nothing, it’s life that interests me.”  In fact, I have it branded on my studio wall to remind me that regardless of what I know about f-stops and camera gear and lighting techniques, those skills are worthless without a natural curiosity and love of life and for people.  It’s the observation of life that makes great images, because that’s how we see the story that should be told.

In one of our conversations at the Canyon, Tim told me that the reason he wanted to get married in a place that would cause him fear was that he wanted to feel his bride’s calming influence and support as he said his vows.  He wanted to feel her lifting him up against the will of gravity.  Tim is a confident and successful man, so to hear him talk about this choice of location for the wedding helped me to see a lot about his relationship with Samantha.  Ergo, it is not an accident or a whim that led to the photograph below.  I watched Tim stay clear of  cliff edges completely, or white knuckle their secure guardrails, while we were in the canyon, but on the day of the wedding he stood at the edge of the cliffs on Shoshone Point as calm as a summers morning.  So this next image has become to me, the most telling portrait I made of the couple, but it comes from hours of discussion and a better understanding of Tim and Sam.

So, perhaps the most important thing a photographer and his clients can do is spend a little more time talking and a little less time shooting.

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (4)

The last moments of light are always the best, and with the help of a small Canon 600 RT flash off to the left, it’s perfect.

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (3)

Once the the sun goes down on Shoshone Point, there no more light.  Fortunately we had a mostly full moon, so seeing was possible, but photography was not, without some additional help.  During the signing of the marriage license, we needed some off camera lighting.  Flash could have worked, but we are outside, so there is nothing off which to bounce the flash, and direct flash in that kind of darkness is blinding at any power.  So the wedding party would have been left to sign the document in darkness.  So we pulled out a constant LED light source called an Ice Light and a pocket LED torch.  I was impressed with the final result.

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (2)

You can see the light setup here.  Ryan’s arms got very tired.

Wedding photography at the grand canyon. (18)

The job of photographing a wedding is a difficult one and requires a lot of problem solving, a lot of energy and a lot of love for the people you serve.  But when you have a job that is this much fun, even when it is challenging, it is hard to call it a job.

Thank you Tim and Samantha for trusting us with the photography of this important year in your life.  I will watch your future with interest and wish you all the best.

Wedding Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Wedding Location: The Grand Canyon, Shoshone Point

Wedding Officiant: David & Debra Joaquim

Wedding Slideshow Music by Kelvin Mockingbird, Courtesy of Kelvin Mockingbird, available on iTunes.

Thank you to Panasonic for the use of their lightweight GH3 4/3 Camera.

Courtney’s Senior Portraits in Chandler, Arizona

Courtney, her sister, her mother and I all headed out into the desert for some cool senior portraits.  Here are a few of my favorite images from the photo shoot.

We started fairly early in the afternoon by lighting standards which means that the sun was high in the sky and very bright.  But with a fantastic camera (the Canon 1D Mark IV) and the best software (Adobe Lightroom) and a good understanding of lighting, harsh lighting does not have to be a problem.

You will notice that in many of those shots, I have Courtney facing away from the sun so that her face is in her own shadow.  This means I have a “north light” studio with a very strong hair light.  Then, with a little off camera fill light, matching the exposure is simple enough.  I prefer to keep the flash (a Canon Speedlight 580 EX – no longer available – instead try the new 600EX-RT) in manual mode so that I am getting the same flash output every time, but in these bright lighting conditions, that requires shooting well above the camera/flash sync speed, and that can only be done off camera with a set of Pocket Wizard radio slaves (TT1 and TT5).  With a speed light and a set of the pocket wizards, I can keep my flash in manual mode, but still have it operating in high speed sync, which makes matching the subject (flash) and the background (ambient) possible.

I do have to say that I am excited about the new Canon flash (600EX-RT) just released this month which may make the pocket wizards unnecessary.  But I will be testing those very soon and I will let you know how well they work.

Senior Portrait in Chandler Arizona

This is another example of using the off camera flash and high speed sync capabilities in a bright sunlight situation.  I couldn’t have done without the flash on this shoot and I didn’t have my assistant, so I am so glad the set up is light  weight and portable.

Senior Portrait in Chandler Arizona

Here, you will notice there are no catch lights in the eyes.  No flash was used.  But since I was not placing her against the sky, I could get all the exposure latitude I needed from the camera without a flash.  This requires attention to the highlights (making sure I do not over expose them) which makes the entire photo seem a bit dark.  But, since I am shooting RAW, I can then brighten up the mid-tones in Lightroom 4 and I end up with a perfect exposure in the end.  This is what Ansel Adams referred to as pre-vissualization.  Were Ansel Adams shooting today, he would be using Lightroom.  And no, that’s not blasphemous.

Senior Portrait in Chandler Arizona

I will always love open shade best.  And this is my favorite photograph of the day.  Courtney’s hair frames the photo nicely and I really enjoy the treatment of the photo.  I have always loved the look of film, digital can be too perfect and too smooth.  In fact, I have found myself purposefully shooing higher ISO shots on my digital cameras even when I have abundant light just to get a little more grain into the photo.

Senior Portrait in Chandler Arizona

Senior Portrait in Chandler Arizona

I love the composition on this shot.  The repeated lines in the skirt mimicked by the white picket fence is nice as well.  One particular part of the composition that I love is the way the porch windows frame her head and shoulders.  And I and so pleased with the faded black and white film look.

Senior Portrait in Chandler Arizona

Ah, the good earth…

Senior Portrait in Chandler Arizona

Courtney just looks fantastic in this shot.  And I love all the texture in the collar.  This shot is taken just as the sun dropped below the horizon.  My favorite time of day.

Senior Portrait in Chandler Arizona

Senior Portrait in Chandler Arizona

If you like the photo treatments on these images, check out my Lightroom 4 preset collection, especially the Film Pack, at www.jaredplattworkshops.com.

Senior Portraits by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Slideshow Music by Mindy Gledhill, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Location: Desert south of Chandler, Arizona

Merry Christmas from The Platt Family

Family Portrait and Christmas Card Photographs (1)

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.

Family Portrait and Christmas Card Photographs (2)

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!

Family Portrait and Christmas Card Photographs (3)

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.

Family Portrait and Christmas Card Photographs (4)

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.

Family Portrait and Christmas Card Photographs (5)

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.

Family Portrait and Christmas Card Photographs (6)

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

Family Portrait and Christmas Card Photographs (7)

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.

Family Portrait and Christmas Card Photographs (8)

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

Family Portrait and Christmas Card Photographs (9)

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.

Family Portrait and Christmas Card Photographs (10)

Family Portrait and Christmas Card Photographs (11)

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

Family Portrait and Christmas Card Photographs (12)

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.

Family Portrait and Christmas Card Photographs (13)

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!

Family Portrait and Christmas Card Photographs (16)

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.

Family Portrait and Christmas Card Photographs (14)

Photographs by Jared Platt and Rex Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Gilbert, Arizona

Shelby and Nick’s Engagement Portraits in Phoenix, Arizona

Nick and Shelby’s Engagement Portraits in the Phoenix Arizona Desert from Jared Platt on Vimeo.

We started this engagement portrait shoot at Shelby’s parents home in Phoenix, Arizona and ended it in the desert as sunset.  Shelby’s parents home is in the shadow of the mountain about two and a half hours before the sun sets, so there is a lot of great open shade around the home, which makes for fantastic images.  The color and texture of the stones is quite nice to work with as well.  And of course, Shelby and Nick are a good looking and cool couple, so it was a pretty nice afternoon.

The night after the engagement shoot, I posted one of the images from the shoot on my Facebook Page.  The shot is below.  Shelby just happen to have a card board cutout of Jacob, from the Twilight Movie series in her trunk.  I remember trying to watch one of those movies on a 14 hour flight home from a wedding in Hong Kong and it was so bad, so poorly acted, that I shut the movie off and did nothing for two hours rather than watch that movie.  It was a lot of fun and the shot makes me laugh, every time I look at it.

We had a lot of laughs while we were making the shot.  And if there is one thing that is extremely important at an engagement portrait session, it is having a lot of good laughs.  It certainly makes my job more entertaining, and the by-product is that the photos look better too.

So, here is the first photo I posted, the night of the engagement shoot.

Engagement Portrait in Phoenix Arizona in the Desert with a cut-out of Jacob from the Twilight Movies

There were so many great shots from the afternoon.  I have posted a few of my very favorite shots below.

Engagement Portrait in Phoenix Arizona against Brick wall

This was one of the earlier shots in the day.  The huge windows behind them make for some fantastic back light and the stair case made for a great angular element to hold the top of the photo together.  For those of you interested in the lighting on this shot, there is a shoot through translucent umbrella above, forward of and to the right of the Nick.  This light is giving the couple some volume by side lighting them, but we are not too dramatic, because it is at a 45 degree angle on them and it is a shoot through umbrella which softens the light a bit because the direction of the light is less defined.  The light was simply a 580EXII Canon Flash attached to a Radio Popper.  My camera is also sporting a 580EX flash with a Radio Popper transmitter and the flash is pounding up into the ceiling to give a little fill light throughout the room.  And then, of course, the window lights are providing shape of the stare case, and a little hair light for the couple.The shutter speed is at 125th of a second and the ISO is at 400.  This allows me to get a good blast from the ambient light outside and the aperture is at 2.8, which gives me that soft look in the background.  I am shooting on a fixed 85mm lens.  The 85mm 1.8 is not a very expensive lens, but it takes a beautiful image.  I love that little lens.

Engagement Portrait in Phoenix Arizona in Home Easy Chair

I love the reflection in the pool and the blue set against the yellow blooms of the desert trees.

Engagement Portrait in Phoenix Arizona by the Pool

Of all the images at the house, this has to be my favorite.  The stone and the tree are fantastic and the tree frames the couple very nicely in the bottom left corner of the photo.  You have to love the color in this one.

Engagement Portrait in Phoenix Arizona against Brick wall under a blooming tree

Engagement Portrait in Phoenix Arizona the Bride

I just love the expressions on this one.  Oh, and the composition.

Engagement Portrait in Phoenix Arizona against Brick wall

Just behind their home, on the side of the mountain is an outcropping of rocks that was quite difficult to photograph.  Once we got them up to the rocks, I had to take position on the top of a wall to get the right angle on the shot, but how can you not love this one.  I was so happy with the image composition and then, Shelby put he elbow up on Nick’s shoulder and that made the photo!  I told her to keep that pose and “never stop!”  I think those were my actual words.  Way to go with this one Shelby.  Way to go.

Engagement Portrait in Phoenix Arizona in the desert mountains

Engagement Portrait in Phoenix Arizona in the Desert

I enjoy the quality of the light after the sun has gone down for about 15 minutes or so.  There really isn’t a better light.  I used to capture this kind of light on film, but I had to use a tripod, I was often shooting a 4×5 camera (those old accordion looking cameras with the dark cloths over the photographer’s head) and the exposures were 30 seconds and of landscapes.  I am so happy with digital cameras today.  6400 ISO?  No problem.  I could enjoy shooting an entire photo shoot AFTER sunset!  It really is the best light ever.

Engagement Portrait in Phoenix Arizona in the Desert

Sweet light.  Sweet kiss.  Sweet shot.

Engagement Portrait in Phoenix Arizona a Final Kiss

Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography
Shoot: Engagement Portrait Session
Location: Phoenix, Arizona, South Mountain
Slideshow Music: Mindy Gledhill, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

The Ivory Coast: The anatomy of an album cover.

The Ivory Coast: The anatomy of an album cover. from Jared Platt on Vimeo.

Making an album cover photograph for piano rockstar, Kevin Burdick, gets increasingly difficult, as we continue to push to limits of where we can take his pianos. His most recent album, The Ivory Coast, took us and his piano to the sand dunes in Yuma, Arizona, where we suffered through extreme heat as we tried to hoist this heavy piano through the sand. It was fun, but challenging to put the album cover together.

This video includes interviews with Kevin Burdick about the making of the album cover, video footage of Kevin’s exclusive sand dune performance of Freight Train and many of the photos from the album photo shoot.

The video was edited exclusively in Adobe Premier CS5, which uses the 5D Mark II video file natively without requiring a conversion like Final Cut Pro. One more reason that Adobe is the best choice for image making professionals.

The final album cover contains four different photographs: the piano, Kevin on the sand dunes, the ocean and boat and then the texture.  Follow the post below to see the various elements of the album cover and the progression of the album cover.

Kevin Burdick, The Ivory Coast, Album Cover by Jared Platt

Moving the piano was very difficult.  We obviously could not get it to the top of a 30 foot sand dune, so we found some small “mini dunes” that were accessible by truck and off loaded the piano there.  But even then, it took three of us to move the piano and I think all of us almost popped a disk in our backs.  This was one of those old pianos and it was HEAVY!

Our first photograph was the piano.  Since it was the hardest thing to move, we figured we would start with that and match all of our angles for future photographs to that.  We shot the piano early in the morning as the sun rose so we could get the same lighting we would get at the top of the sand dunes down the road.  We had to shoot pretty quickly so we could get out the the large sand dunes before the sun got too high in the sky, so we got our shot done and sped off for location 2.  The Sand Dunes.

Kevin Burdick and his Red Piano on a small Sand Dune

This is our second shot, which is not too complicated a shot to create, it is just getting to the spot that is difficult.  In order to get out to a spot that has the same angle as our piano shot we had to hike in a mile or more into the Sand Dunes.  This is not like walking on the beach.  First, it is hot as hell.  Second, the sand is very deep.  Third, walking up hill while the sand falls downhill makes for some very intense stair step workouts that create the sense that you are not going anywhere.  Fourth, did I mention it was HOT!  And of course, Kevin is not wearing shoes!

Once we climbed high enough to get a shot from above looking down on Kevin and a series of dunes behind him, we got many many variations, as well as some video footage for music videos, etc.  We also got some cool shots for Dixon Golf in the United States’ biggest sand trap (watch for tomorrow’s post).  And then it was up to me to get the rest of the shots.

Kevin Burdick on a Sand Dune for the Album Cover Photograph

This photograph, which I had taken earlier at a wedding in San Diego worked perfectly for the background.  We wanted our Sand Dunes to overlook the ocean with some kind of a boat back there, so I searched my image catalog for the terms ocean and boat and come up with this image.  I worked perfectly.  I suppose, had we been going for realistic, the clouds would have been completely wrong for the photo montage, but we were looking for a dreamlike album cover of a place that exists only in the mind, so this fit the bill.

Sail Boat on the pacific Ocean

Then it was off to the image catalogs again to find the right texture to distress the image a bit.  The texture also helps to mold things together that otherwise wouldn’t fit all that well.  I keep a collection of textures for this very purpose in my image catalogs.  When I am shooting weddings or travel photography, I keep my eye out for interesting textures and collect them for uses just like this.  Being organized enough to find them is the real key.  So, I typed in the word texture into my Lightroom Image Catalog and choose the texture I wanted.  If you are having trouble finding your images, you need to do more key-wording!

This is what the photo composite looks like without the texture, before it is cropped and placed into the album cover design.

Man on the sand dunes with a red piano and an ocean and sailboat in the background

And again, once we have added the texture and the text to the photograph.  You can see how much the texture helps to soften the look of the image and make it a bit more dreamlike.  I actually prefer the tall skinny version of the image more than the square album cover.  I miss the days when you purchased a CD in one of those long skinny cardboard boxes that you could further design.  This would have been a perfect photograph for one of those.  But alas, now you will simply go to iTunes and purchase Kevin Burdick’s new album, The Ivory Coast, on iTunes and see only the square front cover.

The final album cover before the final crop

But of course, if you do that, you can see the back cover here.

Kevin Burdick's, The Ivory Coast Album Cover Back

We actually set up the piano the night before the shot so that we wouldn’t have to cary that thing in the dark.  So as we left it for the night, the sun set in the desert and the lonely piano stood quiet and alone among the shrubs.  I love this shot.

Piano in the desert at sunset

Photo Shoot Details:

Photography: Jared Platt, Platt Photography
Music: Kevin Burdick, (follow him on Facebook)
Photo Location: Yuma, Arizona
Video Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Video Editing Software: Adobe Premier CS5