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.
The first test of the light was with their youngest son and his penguin. Penguins are very appropriate for the desert.
Mom’s dress is fantastic. The way it flowed in the wind created lots of movement and interest.
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.
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.
I love crying baby photos. Especially when there are other kids to react. The brothers’ reaction to their littlest sister really needs no explanation.
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.
This image was my favorite because of its documentary nature… and the fact that it just feels like my childhood.
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?
Reagan and Rusty have been dating for a while. Reagan is my niece, so I have seen Rusty at family dinners for a long time. When they asked if I would shoot their engagement portraits, they originally just wanted to do something in Phoenix. But, it was August. August in Phoenix averages 120 degrees. Not good. When thinking about engagement photography sessions, people don’t always think outside of the box. One of the greatest things about Arizona is that within two hours you can be in an entirely different climate. So that’s exactly what we did.
Payson, Arizona Engagement Session
Reagan, Rusty and I packed up and went an hour and a half north of Phoenix to Payson. It was still warm, I couldn’t do much about it being August, but nothing over 90. Fortunately, I do a lot of location scouting. I have locations logged in China, Budapest, London, Iceland, and a hundred other locations across the world. But, when it comes to Arizona, I have thousands. So, I took them to a great spot with tree cover all day long. I also brought my Profoto B1 and B2 along to make the light absolutely perfect.
The light tree cover is not this dark, but with a little extra light, I can remove the natural ambient light and then fill in exactly what I want, giving the image a more dramatic feel.
The lush grass and little spots of sunshine filtering through the trees and onto the grass makes for a perfect backdrop. Lighting is critical on this image to make sure my lights all appear to be coming from the sun so it doesn’t appear to be a flash photo. Obviously, on-camera doesn’t work. So, the flash is off to the left of the camera to follow the natural direction of the sunlight.
At the end of the photo shoot, Rusty was skipping rocks like a little kid. He and I finally coaxed Reagan into going into the water. She kept feeling crawdads crawling around her feet, so this was quite a challenging shot for her. But, in the end, I love the drips of water coming off her feet and the reflections coming toward the camera. Without the right lighting, the water droplets would have melded with the background too much. The drips would not show up and neither would the reflections (not that much anyway). You can see in the final shot where that light was that was separating them out.
Rusty helped me test the light by putting his head IN it! Good job, Rusty. He won’t be my assistant anytime soon.
I photographed Brittany and Tim’s wedding at The Boojum Tree in Phoenix, Arizona. The wedding was packed full of beautiful ideas, tender moments and wonderful people.
My favorite photographs from the wedding
This first photo was one of my favorite details in the wedding. Later, during the ceremony, the bride and groom will braid and tie the three cords, signifying their partnership with Christ in their union. I thought it was beautifully done.
The dress (Tara Keely by Lazaro from Destiny’s Bridal) was absolutely beautiful. The bride had the sleeves added by Destiny’s and as you will see later, it was the perfect thing to do, and so well done.
The entire wedding party was wearing little homages to Star Wars and it all starts with the bride’s R2D2 heels.
The grooms cufflinks quoted the interchange between Han Solo and Princess Leah just before the empire puts Han into carbon freezing.
“I love you.”
I love photos through reflections in glass and of course the moment was a perfect one.
The bride and groom choose a “First Look”
The first look is always a tender moment. It is such a wonderful way for the bride and groom to see each other for the first time. The traditional “don’t see the bride before the ceremony” is a fine way to do things as well, but I think that there is far more tenderness in the first look.
Tim and Brittany took a little walk into the green house at the Boojum Tree for a little one on one time.
With me shooting from a distance.
Brittany made her own flowers out of cloth and buttons. They were quite impressive and I am told, they took a very long time to make. But they will also last a lot longer!
There are the Star Wars Storm Trooper socks. And who can argue with the fashionable and COMFORTABLE shoes. That is a bride who truly cares about her bride’s maids.
The groomsmen were all a bunch of nuts and very happy with their hosiery as well.
It’s all about the flowers and the dress. Brittany couldn’t have found a better dress.
The wedding portrait session
Our portrait session consisted the couple of myself and my assistant (with a Profoto B1 off camera light). We spent about twenty minutes making their official portraits, but the moments between them are the absolute best.
The Boojum Tree is full of perfect backdrops and locations. Everywhere you turn is another opportunity for a great photograph. It is a full 360 degree visual feast, which is great because that means you will always be able to find the perfect lighting condition. Some great open shade and the addition of one light is all it took.
Oh, and of course the beautiful couple.
I absolutely love this portrait of Brittany. She shows off the dress perfectly.
Tim is great in front of the camera, it was such a great experience photographing him. Many times, the groom is not all that excited about portraits and photos, but Tim loves the camera and it loves him.
While we were take the couple’s portraits, I spun around to find a number of the bride’s maids watching from the gazebo. I asked the rest to join them to get this shot.
Seriously cute kids were all over this wedding, all of them dressed to the nines.
I loved the flower girls’ dresses. Full of texture!
A tender wedding full of powerful moments to photograph
This is one of my favorite shots from the day. During the ceremony, the bride and groom will be reading love notes to one another, so the bride holds hers in her hands. The “kiss me” detail on her nail is perfect.
This was another great detail. All down the isle were these texture rich collages with scriptures. I thought it was meaningful and beautiful.
Here comes the ring. Notice the ear piece in the protective detail.
The bride’s father lead her to the beginning of the isle and turned to her to read a special note to her before taking her the rest of the way down the isle to her groom. I loved this idea, it was a very tender moment between a father and daughter.
When the bride and groom read their love notes to each other, it was just to each other, no mics. They were not speaking for the benefit of the crowd. They were speaking only to one another.
That is the kind of tenderness and intimacy that makes a wedding great.
The braiding and tying of the three cords was a great idea, but I especially liked the images I was able to capture during the process.
Both the bride and groom are so expressive. It just makes it fun to photograph them. I could wait patiently, knowing that at one point they would both give me beautiful expressions that were full of life.
How often do you see the Groom pick up his bride and carry her down the isle after the ceremony? So perfect!
The tables were set in the green house, but the Tim and Brittany were the first to see the room.
During the cocktail hour, we shot all the family portraits and a few others, like this cute little shot of the flower girls and the bride.
It wasn’t visible to the crowd at the wedding, but the little boy in the wagon was carrying the safe to transport the rings.
Another one of my absolute favorites. That veil was made for her and not by a dress shop. Her mother-in-law made that veil. So delicate.
The battle at the cake table was intense!
Tim and Brittany are too fun!
Tim was a bartender at one time, so I thought this shot would be an appropriate image.
With minutes to the end, the bride sneaks away to pack up her things for the get away!
So much energy, expression and love. It is always my pleasure to be a part of every wedding I photograph. Brittany and Tim, your wedding was an absolute joy as are you both.
I wish you both the best of everything as you head off into the unknown!
Photography by Jared Platt
Wedding location: The Boojum Tree, Phoenix, Arizona
Slideshow music by Hive Riot, courtesy of triple scoop music
Classic Black and White Preset:
My first experience in photography, probably the moment I fell in love with it, was when my sister taught me how to develop a black and white print in the glow of the red lamps. I watched a blank piece of paper slowly drop below the developer and waited, not knowing what to expect. Suddenly, splotches of black began to grow across the face of the paper, like someone had spilled ink and it was running slowly across the face of the print. But the inky spill gave way in areas to a relief of white where the lamp of the enlarger had not exposed the paper and I began to see an image appear. Honestly, I don’t recall what the first image was that I saw printed. I am sure it was a meaningless high-school yearbook photo, but the experience is forever burned (exposed and fixed) in my memory. In honor of those experiences in the black and white darkroom, I have created three Adobe Lightroom classic black and white presets for you to enjoy. They won’t give you the magical experience I had in the darkroom, but they will give you the beautiful tones I was able to create after years of study and practice.
Of course, unlike in the darkroom, with digital images, we start with a color image. The images I am using here is the original color RAW image directly from Lightroom. What you will see in each subsequent image is a one click application of one of the three black and white lightroom.
Classic Black and White Preset:
One thing that was lost in the digital world of high contrast, smooth, textureless images and poppy colors and has only been brought back by digital nostalgia, was the beauty of seeing all the zones in a black and white print on fiber paper. If you don’t know what I am talking about, Ansel Adams (I sure hope the name rings a bell) developed a method for seeing and printing identifiable zones from pure black to pure white (Zones 0-10). High contrast prints on glossy or pearl paper could never really exhibit all of those zones because they would invariably skip a zone here or there and head directly from black to light grey or white. This was something my film students would get a bad grade for doing, and now almost every photographer on the planet does daily because they are in love with the contrast knob in Lightroom and they print only to glossy or pearl papers. Well, I have created a Black and White Lightroom Preset for you that will take you back to the Classic Black and White era, and if you have a proper exposure, you will feel the the beauty of a full tonal range black and white print on beautiful fiber paper, even if you are using a pearl surface paper.
Ultra Contrast Black and White Preset:
And for those of you who still want your contrast, you can get your fix with a truly high contrast black and white preset that comes from a place of subtlety and beauty rather than the brutish, blunt force of the contrast slider. That’s right, there are other places that provide much better contrast than the slider that bares the name! The tone curve is where contrast was born, the contrast knob is just a cheap imitation! Well, give it a whirl and see what you think. I’ve also added some rich and toothy grain to complete the look that you might get when you push your B&W film (which is where you would see such contrast emerging). I like to think of it as a bit of a TMAX grain. It always felt a bit like sandpaper. Very beautiful sandpaper.
Toned Black and White Preset:
Finally a bit of warm toned black and white for those who can’t stay away from color. Now in the olden days of film, we bought warm tone paper, or cool tone paper. Or we dropped our silver prints in a bath of sepia, or selenium toner. This was very different then adding a wash of color over the top of our prints. True print toning doesn’t stain the paper, it stains the silver (the dark parts of the print), which means that the paper stays white while the shadows change colors and do so a rate somewhat proportional to the amount of silver that is congregating together to make a deeper shadow. The easiest way to accomplish a toned print in Lightroom is to add color to the shadows in the Tone Panel. But I have taken you into a deeper, more robust realm… the tone curve. Oh, yes, it seems I am in there a lot. It is a very powerful tool. Here I can change the response of each color channel to respond to the tone curve independently. This give me complete control over the colors and allows me to create subtle toners that create depth and contrast in my toned black and white prints. And I give you a taste of a warm toned preset from my upcoming collection of toned black and whites. Don’t just use it. Study it and play with it. Get to know the Tone Curve panel in Lightroom.
Learn More About Lightroom Tone Curves:
Each of these presets are heavily based in the Tone Curve pane in the Lightroom Develop module. To learn more about using the Tone Curve, make sure to watch this free video about using Lightroom’s Tone Curve pane.
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 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.
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.
Learn more about Jared Platt
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.*
*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.
You won’t find me at my desk or on this blog, or on Facebook or on location somewhere shooting today. You can find me anywhere in the world that has an internet connection. I am teaching on creativeLIVE.com today and tomorrow (Feb 24 and 25) for Photoshop Week. It is LIVE and it is FREE. So don’t miss it. You can even ask questions and I will be answering them live, online. CLICK HERE and watch!
What did you do on New Years Day? It is hard to believe that anyone felt more important than these five little girls this New Years Day. It was about the cutest event I have ever seen. My wife is an amazing event designer (although she doesn’t do it professionally). The amount of love that goes into this kind of a party is off the charts, and the girls felt it. There’s nothing like seeing a little girl turn into a real princess for a morning.
Party Design by Danielle Platt
Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography
Slideshow Music by Mindy Gledhill, courtesy of TripleScoopMusic
I spent a week in Greer photographing collateral images for Hidden Meadow Ranch (one of my favorite places in the West). I am working on some of them now and came across this fun little shot at the dinner table full of sunlight and sunshine.
I had a number of cameras with me on this job. Dinner time was the one moment of the day I wasn’t shooting or planning a shot, so it was my time to enjoy and to play with some of the cameras I had at my disposal. This shot was taken with the Leica M rangefinder camera and adjusted in Lightroom. More images from this shoot are forth coming. Lot’s of cool cowboys, horses, etc…