Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A Family Portrait Session in the Desert of Arizona

I have photographed this family for years. Every time, it’s been an effort to find locations that don’t look like the desert. This time, mom finally embraced the fact that they do, in fact, live in the desert and requested that we go out to get photos in the desert itself. So we met up at the Gold Field State Park Desert just outside of Mesa, Arizona for this family portrait session.

Arizona Desert Family Portraits

Before we shot the family together, we did the children’s photos in the harsher light. It is easier to photograph the group when the light is softer, after sun has gone down a bit.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

The first test of the light was with their youngest son and his penguin. Penguins are very appropriate for the desert.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

Mom’s dress is fantastic. The way it flowed in the wind created lots of movement and interest.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

It’s important to note, desert light is very harsh. Without the use of a 2’x3′ soft box matching the sun’s harsh cross light, the photos would be extremely dark on the shadow side of the face.  Using the Profoto B1 off-camera flash makes this easy. It is powerful enough to match the sun and portable enough to move when I need to move.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

More importantly is its extremely accurate TTL which allows kids to move and adjusts for the change in distance. When little kids move, you have to move with them.

https://bhpho.to/2BaKbCh

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

I love crying baby photos. Especially when there are other kids to react. The brothers’ reaction to their littlest sister really needs no explanation.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

Toward the end, it started getting cold. Yes, it gets very cold in the desert as the sun goes down.

I love when the little ones leaned in to Dad for warmth. And of course, the shot of the family all together really showcases family togetherness at its best.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

This image was my favorite because of its documentary nature… and the fact that it just feels like my childhood.

Arizona family portrait session platt photography

A family portrait in the desert outside phoenix-mesa, arizona at Gold Field State Park.

By the end of the session, I think all of the kids were either miserably cold, crying or frowning. So, any questions as to why we did the walking away shot for the final shot of the portrait session?

Child Life Portraits by Jared Platt, Taken in Shanghai, China

Portraits from China: The Driggs Family

This is my 3rd post of the China portraits I shot in Shanghai, China.  A few more posts on China to come.

This series of portraits was taken at a Buddhist Temple in Shanghai, China.  The grounds were fairly spacious and offered a lot of great opportunities for backgrounds.  Both of the boys are young enough not to be all that interested in the surrounding architecture and symbolism, but they did enjoy the coy ponds and the many small walls and walking paths.

The slideshow has a lot of great images in it, but I was particularly interested in a small few for the purpose of discussing the lighting.  In the next image, we were on the back side of the property where the light was getting dimmer and softer.  The main light-source was the open (sunless) sky, what we could call “north light”, although I don’t know if it was truly the northern sky.  That open sky was to the child’s right and just behind him.  Notice, how the size of the light source helps to wrap around the child’s face, making smooth transitions extremely soft and smooth.  Of course the sky is a huge light source.  But if the sun were visible in the sky, the sun would become that light source and would create harsh shadows and would not be so pleasing.

I like this shot.  This little boy is always on the move and always paying attention to everything, not just where he’s going.  I think the image describes that well.  While he is climbing on the wall, he is still keeping track of everything else in the area.  Probably keeping tabs on his little brother…

Here is the little brother.  Those eyes were the subject of most of my photos with him.  This was the perfect outfit to intensify them.  That large open sky, makes a perfect light for portrait.  But notice that I am not shooting with him facing the open sky directly, which would flatten the subject.  Instead, the open sky is off to his left, my right.  The shadow side of his face is toward me.  The soft highlights are coming from his left .  It’s all about volume and depth.  Without some shadow, you have none of that.

OK.  I have been looking forward to writing about this photo for a while.  The basic scene here is lit by the open sky off to the children’s left (the camera’s right).  You can see the lighting effect on the boys’ faces.  Highlights on the right side of their noses, shadows on the left sides.    But there was one very real problem, the background was quite dark.  Everything back there was sucking up the light and with a thick canopy of trees over the background, the open sky was not lighting the back ground with the same exposure as the foreground.  In essence, it was a black hole.

Enter a small Canon 600 RT camera flash placed off camera to the camera’s left and behind the boys.  You can see the light’s glare in the top left corner of the frame.  It is also lighting the grass and the bushes in the background a bit and most importantly, it is catching the edge of the kids’ shoulders and hair to separate them from the background.  Without this little flash, the photo would not be worth showing.  But notice, I only needed one little light to get a very well exposed and expertly designed shot.  This shot could have been designed with many more lights to get practically the same shot, but why?  The point is, that one small, lightweight flash or even a flashlight can escalate the production value of the shot with very little additional cost or effort… efficiency isn’t just for post production.  Efficiency during a photo shoot is just as critical.

If you are interested in these issues, I am teaching a free workshop called The Efficient Photo Shoot online at CreativeLIVE.com on Dec 6-8, 2012, where we will be demonstrating these very concepts.

This kids started running around and around on this little path and I realized, my light from the first shot could still be used to accomplish the same goal right where it was.  It just had to be turned slightly.  With Karen Liu at the light, that was easily done.  I ran to my new position and told the kids to keep circling the path and kept firing away as the got into the positions I liked.  I think they must have run around that path 50 times, over and over, which was good for me, I needed a lot of opportunities to get the right shot.  And good for mom, they must have slept well that night!

I love how the light cascades across the long grass and kisses the little one’s cheeks.  Imagine, without the light, his little hand would be completely lost in the shadow of the trees.

Now, with the open sky light coming from camera left and the flash also on the left, behind him, the light wraps all the way around his left side.  This makes for an even softer look because the rim light is not so pronounced and looks more like a slightly brighter continuation of the sky light.  Again, volume is created by the direction of the light.  The shot is slightly dramatic, but still pleasingly soft.  I love these shots.  If I had gotten nothing but this little series of shots in the tall grasses here, I would have been trilled.

 Child Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Shanghai, China

Slideshow Music by Fisher, Courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

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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

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The Nelson Twins: A Child Portrait in Chandler, Arizona

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Yes sir, the Nelson twin boys look handsome in their brand new suites!  These are a few of my favorites from a quick portrait session here in Chandler, Arizona.  I love the black and white on these images and I added a little grain to give them that film look.  I didn’t go into Silver Effects Pro 2 though, this is straight out of Lightroom 3, the grain in LR 3 is very respectable.

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Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Chandler, Arizona (one of many neighborhood green belts)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Shreveport, Louisiana.

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