Monthly Archives: December 2010

Brighton, CO | Documentary Portraits | Merry Christmas Everyone

Merry Christmas!

Here are a couple of documentary portraits from a couple years ago on Christmas day. I like the fact that they include the Christmas tree, but it is subtle and out of focus in the background. I also really like the tones and grain visible in these film scans. As usual, these were shot with available light, in the natural surroundings. Just a couple of quick snaps after the kids had opened their presents. It doesn’t take a lot of time to get great shots. Simply pay attention to the light, the situation, and expressions and be ready with the camera. That is the fun, and the challenge, of documentary portraiture.

You can click on the images to see them larger. Enjoy…

Tech Info:
Nikon N90s
Nikon 50mm f1.8
Ilford HP5 Plus
DR5 Process (B&W Slide)

Camera Scan
Sigma SD9
Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro
Photosolve Xtend-a-Slide

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Boulder, CO | Chautauqua Wedding | Top Knots Photo Contest

I just entered some of my images from Kate and Brandon’s June wedding to the Photo District News Top Knots photography contest. This is one of the biggest contests of the year for wedding photographers. There is some really great work on display, but most of it is more traditional “posed” wedding photography, so I’m not sure how my documentary approach will go over.

The main website can be found here . If you would like to vote for one of my pictures in the “People’s Choice” category, you can click here.

Below are the pictures I submitted for consideration. The four pictures of the Bridal Party walking around in the rain were submitted as a series. I chose these because I felt they really held together well as a series, and they also do a good job of illustrating the documentary style that I use when shooting a wedding. In the portrait category, I chose this particular portrait because I think it is really pretty with nice soft window light, rich dark tones and bright highlights that retain the details in the dress. I also chose this picture because it is somewhat unusual, being a straight profile of Kate’s face.

Hopefully, the judges will find these images interesting, if a little different than the usual wedding photography fare. Let me know what you think of them.

You can click on any of the images to view them larger. Enjoy…

Tech Info:
Nikon F100
Nikon 50mm f1.4
Legacy Pro 400 (AKA – Fuji Neopan 400)
Processing and scanning by Richard Photo Lab

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Documenting Your Family | Photo Tips | Tell An Authentic Story

With the advent of digital scrapbooking, and inexpensive one-off book printing, it is more important than ever to tell a story with your pictures. Rather than thinking about your final product being a print, think about a series of prints or a layout in your very own coffee table book.

When you work in this way, not every picture needs to be able to stand on it’s own. If fact, they probably shouldn’t. Some pictures will just be there to reveal a detail or give a broader view. Some pictures may even be presented simply to give a visual break. The trick is to remember to shoot these “supporting” images as you are out shooting your more traditional portraits and snapshots.

Also, when you are working in a story format, not every picture needs to be technically perfect. You are free to do some experimentation – dramatic lighting, motion blur, soft focus, interesting angles, etc. These elements can all bring depth to a photo story, as long as you already have a few “safe” shots in the bag.

So, when you are out shooting pictures of your family, try to think about how the pictures you are making will work together as a story and whether that story authentically captures the situation.  Remember to experiment with different techniques and grab some of the supporting shots that will add the flavor to your story.

This weekend, get out with your family and try to find a story to tell. I’ll be curious to find out if you found this information useful.


Below is a series of images of Emma that I shot in Glenwood Springs, CO. You will notice that almost all of these are of the more “experimental” variety (my favorite variety) – We have a cropped portrait with dramatic light and motion blur; another portrait shot from a low angle; an “action” shot that focus on leaves and grass rather than Emma walking; a detail picture that doesn’t even include Emma; and a picture of her climbing on the playground, completely unaware of the camera.

Of course, there are a few elements that tie these disparate images together – Emma’s clothes and hair remain consistent, and the pictures were all shot on the same camera/lens/film combination. But I feel like the pictures are really unified and given a purpose by the final, traditional, portrait. It’s clean and sharp and she has a great expression on her face.

You can click on the images to see them larger and read a caption. Enjoy…

Tech Info:
Nikon F3
Nikon 35mm f2.8
Ilford HP5 Plus
DR5 Process (B&W Slide)

Camera Scan
Sigma SD9
Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro
Photosolve Xtend-a-Slide

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Arvada, CO | Documentary Portraits | Real Baby, Really Cute

It’s hard to shoot a picture of a baby that isn’t really cute, but you don’t see a lot of portraits of babies that are really real. They are usually laying on a white background, or sitting on a blanket covered with roses, or popping out of a cabbage patch in a costume. While those types of pictures are fun, they don’t really tell you much about that baby’s personality, or what makes them different.

Below, I have some documentary style baby portraits. These pictures were made in a real location, with natural light and authentic everyday baby clothes. Through the pictures, you can relate to this little one’s environment and understand how  she interacts with the world. They give you a good sense of how old she is, and where she is in her development. She is alert and aware – curious about the camera. She is able to pull herself up to a sitting position. She is very tactile, using her fingers to better understand her surroundings. This is all important information that can be effectively communicated through documentary portraits. And of course, you also get to see all the “cuteness” visible in a more traditional studio portrait – the big eyes, the peach fuzz hair, the chubby cheeks. I think it is the combination of all these elements that makes for interesting pictures.

You can click on any of the pictures to see them larger. Enjoy…

Tech Info:
Nikon N90s
Nikon 50mm f1.8
Ilford HP5 Plus
DR5 Process (B&W Slide)

Camera Scan
Sigma SD9
Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro
Photosolve Xtend-a-Slide

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Northglenn, CO | WHS Senior Portrait Session | Collage

Here is a collage that Breanna asked me to create using her favorite images from our Senior Portrait session this summer. This image is pretty different from the work I usually put up on the blog – I tend to lean more towards black and white images on simple backgrounds. But this was a fun project, and it shows the variety of opportunities that are opened up with technology.

Having been out of high school for more than a few years, I didn’t know that collages were “a thing”.  Now that I have had my eyes opened to the possibilities, I am definitely interested in where they may lead. Collages seem to be a great way to showcase a wider variety of imagery and include some of the “edgier” pictures that might never see the light of day in the traditional world of 8X10’s hanging on the wall.

Anything that lets people see portraiture in a new context, and exposes them to interesting imagery, is okay in my book. What are your thoughts?

You can click on the image to see it lager. Enjoy…

Tech Info:
Collage created in Adobe Photoshop CS5
Images are a mixture of film (Fuji Pro 400H) and digital (Nikon D70s) captures

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Westminster, CO | Documentary Photos | WHS 2009 Las Posadas

With the Holidays upon us, I wanted to put up some documentary pictures that I shot last year at Westminster High School’s Las Posadas celebration/parade/march. The event was a lot of fun, it included Mary, Joseph and even a real donkey. There were candles, guitars and lots of singing. The large crowd moved from church to church through the old town area of Westminster and ended up back at the high school for refreshments after the march.

It was pretty cold, and very dark, so photography was a challenge. I wanted to document the event, but using flash would have been very intrusive and would have looked awful – red eyes and blown out faces with pure blackness in the background. Instead, I chose to shoot in the available light (err – darkness). I utilized the  highest ISO the camera would allow and then under exposed by about a stop, and I also used my fastest lens. It was too dark for the camera to auto-focus (without an annoying AF assist lamp) , so manual focus was the order of the day.

Even though these pictures are very grainy, I think they do a good job capturing the spirit of the event. They are authentic. They illustrate the setting of the event – the cold and dark of a December night, punctuated by the warmth and light of community and candlelight.

You can click on any of the images to see them larger and read a caption. Enjoy…

Tech Info:
Nikon D200
Nikon 50mm f1.8
ISO 3200 (underexposed, so more like 6400)
It was DARK!

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Arvada, CO | Arvada Center | Documentary Family Portraits

Below are some pictures from one of my fall documentary family portrait sessions. These pictures were all shot over the course of a couple hours at the park behind the Arvada Center for the Arts in Arvada, CO.

I was fortunate to get to work with such a fun and happy young family, with a three year old son who reminds me so much of Molly (also three) it’s scary. We were blessed with a warm day, nice late afternoon light, and beautiful fall colors.

It was fun to document this family interacting and having a good time. I think we were able to capture some great images that really tell a story about who these people are and how much they enjoy each other.

You can view the whole event and order prints HERE.

Click on any of the images to view them larger and read a caption. Enjoy…

Tech Info:
For this shoot, I used three camera/lens combinations

B&W Film
Nikon F100
Nikon 85mm f1.8
Legacy Pro 400 (AKA – Fuji Neopan 400)
Richard Photo Lab

Color Film
Nikon N90s
Nikon 50mm f1.4
Fuji Pro 400H
Richard Photo Lab

Digital
Nikon D70s
Nikon 35mm f2
Adobe Camera Raw

If you would like to figure out which combination was used for which picture, you can look at each image’s IPTC info (using Jeffrey Friedl’s Exif Viewer) or you can hop over to my Flickr photostream and look at the image tags.

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