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?

Portraits by Jared Platt in Shanghai, China

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

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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

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Just the Girls: A Portrait of Friends

My friend and client and fellow photographer, Jessica Brownell, put together a group of her closest and oldest friends for a portrait session.  We spend an hour in the streets of Shreveport, Louisiana.  I lead the way and the girls laughed and chatted and told a million inside jokes.  A good time was had by all.  Here are my favorites shots of the group.

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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 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 Gregston Family Portrait 2011

The Gregston family portraits were taken at the Norton Museum in Shreveport, Louisiana.  The location is zoo heavily wooded that you can take photos there all day long, but the light is perfect in the mid morning and late afternoon.  I have photographed the Gregston family several times before, so I have been able to watch these kids grow up.  I’ve said this before, but it is fun to see a family once a year and watch those immediate changes that we don’t see in the day to day living with our own children.  from year to year, though, there are striking changes that occur and I enjoy seeing them.

Here are my favorite images from the Gregston family portrait shoot.

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The simple things in life are enjoyed best by children.

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This series makes me laugh.  I love the response she has to her brother’s kiss.

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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 Brownell Family Portrait 2011

The Brownell family portraits were taken in Shreveport, Louisiana.  I have photographed the Brownell family a number of times, so I get to watch the kids grow up.  It is interesting to see them grow up in size, but a lot of their mannerisms stay the same.  I can now predict what they are going to do and what kind of look I am going to get out of them.  Here are my favorite images from the portrait session.

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Normally, I don’t put the “family portrait” into my favorites.  I take them, but they are not the most interesting because they are not real… but I mention this one because of the dog. I did a lot of work for PetSmart earlier in my career and perfected my animal noises.  The great thing about dogs is that they don’t care about visual stimuli, its sounds that grab their attention,so I can stay behind my camera and just make cat noises and the dog will be the most attentive subject in the portrait.

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And of course everyone needs the hero shot of their dog.

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I love this shot.  He’s got this diabolical posture and look as though he’s hatched some brilliant scheme to take over the world.

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Give children a chance and they will just run.  I personally prefer to sleep.  That seems to be one of the major differences between me and children.  They run, I don’t.

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OK, I love this series, mostly because it is what I expect out of the little one.  Last year, we got this same shot with both kids in superman outfits.  We didn’t have to tell him to do this, I can just assume that if I have big brother stand still, and them blow a few bubbles, his little brother will run back and forth, in and out of the frame gleefully chasing bubbles.  I think it is hilarious to see in still images.

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And what is it about bubbles that bring a child pure joy?

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This has to be the funniest shot of the session.  He is using all the lung power he has.  He’s serious about making some major bubbles.

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Family Portrait Session Details:

Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Shreveport, Louisiana.

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