Tag Archives: kids

Westminster, CO | Documentary Portraits | Molly & Balloon

With all of the below zero weather this week, I was really longing for some summer sun. I went back through some of my photo shoots from last summer and pulled these documentary portraits of Molly. They were shot during a concert at the Westminster Promenade in Westminster, CO. Molly was having a great time playing with the black balloons while staying in the shade of the Westminster High School tent.

The dark tent overhead, with light streaming in from all sides, made for some beautiful light; and the dark balloons next to Molly’s light skin created really interesting contrast in the images.

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

Little girl holding a black balloon Little girl blowing a black balloon

Little girl holding a black balloon Little girl looking at the camera Little girl holding a black balloon Little girl resting on her mother's shoulder

Tech Info:
Natural Light

Nikon F3
Nikon 50mm f1.4
Ilford HP5 Plus
Ilford Ilfotec DD-X (9min @ 20C)

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

Bookmark and Share
Posted in Portrait | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

Arvada, CO | Children’s Portraits | End of Year Collage

I have posted previously about a collage that I created for one of my seniors. For the holidays, I decided to take that idea and apply it to a bunch of pictures that I had made of my girls thoughout the year. I put together the collage you see below and we gave prints to Grandmas and Grandpas. I think this ended up being a cool way to display a variety of pictures, and it tells a much more complete story than any single image ever could.

These collages would also work really well to display a selection of pictures from one of my documentary family or children’s portrait sessions. Over the course of a single shoot we might not get enough images to put together a complete album, but we will almost always get enough great images to put together an interesting collage. If a collage seems like something you might be interested in, just let me know.

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

Custom collage of kids portraits

Tech Info:
Collage created in Adobe Photoshop CS5
Mixture of film and digital captures

Bookmark and Share
Posted in Portrait | Also tagged , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

Documenting Your Family | Photo Tips | Slow Photography

Portrait of a baby girl Over on Slate.com there is a recent article about the Slow Photography Movement.  Basically, the idea behind “slow photography” is to think before you  shoot (to be honest, I am a fan of this approach in pretty much anything you happen to be doing). As you may have noticed, this is a theme that I return to often on this blog – think about your frame, consider your camera angle, how will your pictures work as a photo story, etc. The Slate article brings up some interesting points, and I like the general ideas behind the “slow photography” movement; but there are some quotes from the article that I wanted to pull out and discuss.

“…by the logic of volume: If you take a thousand photographs, one or two will turn out great. Professional photographers rely on this logic…”

This is what is often called the “spray and pray” approach to photography, and while there are some “professionals” that use this approach, it is definitely not the norm. Most professionals know that every shutter click has a cost. In the digital world, that cost is time sitting in front of the computer editing photos.

“In slow photography, the basic idea is that photos themselves—the results—are secondary. The goal is the experience of studying some object carefully and exercising creative choice.”

I sort-of see where he is going with this, but I really don’t see how you can separate the “experience” from the “results”. As far as I am concerned, the experience isn’t over until you are holding a print in your hand. The “results”, so easily dismissed in the article, have intrinsic value – be it historical, artistic, or whatever – and that value should not be discounted.

“In the logic of slow photography, the only reason to take photos is to gain access to the third stage, playing around in post-production, whether in a darkroom or using photo-editing tools, an addictive pleasure.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t find a lot of pleasure in doing Photoshop (or darkroom) work. It truly is a means to an end. I want a nice image and so I must go through the post production process (especially with digital captures). Given the choice, I will take some extra time while shooting to ensure better results and less post processing. To me, that is the essence of “slow photography.

“No, the real victim of fast photography is not the quality of the photos themselves. The victim is us. We lose something else: the experiential side, the joy of photography as an activity. And trying to fight this loss, to treat photography as an experience, not a means to an end, is the very definition of slow photography.”

In my experience, quality IS a victim of fast photography. You may end up with a few good shots using the “spray and pray” method. But you will have far superior results using a more considered approach. As for the second part of this quote, again, I don’t think the “experience” of photography can be separated from the final image.  If there is no final image, there is no photography, only looking. Looking is fine, but it’s sure not photography.

I will finish up this post with a slightly older quote that concisely explains what I see as the “slow photography” approach.

“Not many realize that good photographs – like anything else – are made with one’s brains.”
— Edward Weston, October 22, 1924
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

Bookmark and Share
Posted in Documenting Your Family | Also tagged , , , , , , , Leave a comment

Arvada, CO | Outdoor Children’s Portraits | Emma+Molly+Tree

There has been a lot of black and white stuff up on the blog recently, so I wanted to break things up with a bit of color. Below are a few portraits of the girls that I shot back before Christmas. I needed to get prints of these pictures in short order, for presents, so I shot digitally. I think the digital files held up pretty well. It would be nice to have a little more highlight detail (like I can get with film), but the prints still look really nice.

Even though these are my own kids, this was a pretty typical “kid’s session” for me. For this shoot, I was more focused on nailing the traditional portraits than I normally would be. We were working on a pretty limited time table, and I knew I was going for a couple of nice prints rather than a photo story or session album. We had to shoot pretty fast because the light was falling and it was pretty cold (but not that cold considering it was December in Colorado).

I find, when photographing kids, it makes things easier if I have something for them to interact with. It takes their mind off of the camera and allows me to get more natural expressions. In this case, we used an almond tree in my parent’s back yard as our “prop”.

We waited for late afternoon to get warm, directional light. I placed the sun at the girls’ backs to give nice rim lighting on their hair and to help show the texture of the tree.

One other element in this shoot was camera angle. You will notice that I was moving around a lot. Some of the shots I was standing on a chair to get a higher angle, and some of the shots I was sitting or laying on the ground to get a lower angle. I like to move around to keep the images from a shoot constantly changing. It allows me to get a variety of different looks from a single location.

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

Portrait of a six year old girl Three year old girl leaning against a tree

Portrait of a three year old girl Six year old girl sitting in a tree

Tech Info:
Nikon D70s
Nikon 35mm f2
ISO 200
Adobe Camera Raw

Bookmark and Share
Posted in Portrait | Also tagged , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

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…

Portrait of a little boy on Christmas Portrait of a little girl on Christmas

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

Bookmark and Share
Posted in Portrait | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

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…

Portrait of a little girl with dramatic lighting

A little girl plays on playground equipment A little girl walks away from the camera

Detail image of playground equipment Little girl climbing on playground equipment A little girl in a winter jacket smiles at the camera

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

Bookmark and Share
Posted in Documenting Your Family | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

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…

Portrait of a baby in a high chair Portrait of a baby in a high chair

Portrait of a baby in a high chair

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

Bookmark and Share
Posted in Portrait | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

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…

Portrait of a young family laughing

Portrait of a mother Portrait of a father

Portrait of a three year old boy Three year old boy climbing over a wall

Portrait of a three year old boy looking down Three year old boy's hands

Portrait of a couple laughing

Portrait of a three year old boy Portrait of a three year old boy standing between is parents

Portrait of a young family Three year old boy talking to his parents

Three year old boy playing on the playground Three year old boy playing on the playground Portrait of a three year old boy kissing his mother Portrait of a father and his son Three year old boy looking up to the sky

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.

Bookmark and Share
Posted in Portrait | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

Arvada, CO | Kids Portraits | Airplanes, Wagons & A Big Bruise

Kids are resilient. Ten minutes before I shot this series of pictures, Jaxon managed to fall and bang his forehead on the asphalt. I would have been laying in bed for a week. He cried for about thirty seconds, and then wanted to get down and play. We watched as the bruise started to come out on his forehead, and I went back to taking pictures. This was something important to document, as a toddler he is pretty much a walking bruise. That’s just who he is at this point in his life.

Jaxon never seems to get too worried about it. He has more important things to think about. Like airplanes flying overhead and wagons to pull and climb on. I guess he figures bruises are just the price you pay for the freedom to walk around and check things out.

I really like the authenticity of these pictures. The bruise, the clothes, the hair, the setting, it all feels real – because it is real. A picture doesn’t have to be staged and styled and manicured to be beautiful. Life is what it is, and I like to document it. Let me know if you have a life you would like to have documented.

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

A toddler looks up to the sky A toddler holds up the handle of his wagon
A toddler slams his wagon handle to the ground A toddler plays in his wagon

Tech Info:
Open shade late in the day
Nikon D70s
Nikon 35mm f2
f2.8 | 1/400 | ISO 200
Adobe Camera Raw
Photoshop Unsharp Mask to boost midtone contrast

Bookmark and Share
Posted in Portrait | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

Documenting Your Family | Photo Tips | Get On Their Level

One of the keys to getting great pictures of kids, is getting down on their level. This simple step accomplishes a few things…

  • It opens your eyes to the way children see the world, and helps you relate to them.
  • It can give interesting backgrounds that mostly go ignored by us grownups.
  • It helps hold kids’ attention, as they are unaccustomed to having the big people look them in the eye.
  • It makes the little ones smile, they love watching us struggle to move around for a change.
  • It lets your camera really see into a child’s eyes, rather than looking up through their eyelashes

So what does moving down to the kid’s level mean from a technical perspective? Since you are lower and pointing your camera up, you are likely to have some sky or brightly lit background in the frame. This can trick your camera’s light meter and cause the images to be underexposed. Just be aware of this as you are shooting. If your camera allows, it might be a good idea to dial in some exposure compensation.

Another thing to consider is your clothing. When I work with kids, I almost always wear jeans or shorts because I am invariably kneeling, sitting or rolling around on the ground. This makes kids laugh, and keeps the atmosphere light, but it is hard on dress clothes.

Below are some pictures from a shoot with Molly. You will notice that I was moving up and down as I was shooting these. I was also moving in and out (with my feet, since I don’t really use zoom lenses). I think this is an important point – allowing the kids to move around, and you yourself moving around, keeps everyone animated and engaged.

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

Young girl playing on a dinosaur Young girl playing on an elephant Little girl playing on an elephant Documentary portrait of a little girl Three year old girl playing on a digging machine

Tech Info:
Natural Light
Nikon D70s
Nikon 35mm f2
Adobe Camera Raw – no actions or filters

Bookmark and Share
Posted in Documenting Your Family | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment