The month is brand new and yet it’s been so busy that it already feels like it should be over. In fact, the month has been so crazy that these weekly portraits are almost a week old. So, nearly two weeks ago now, the kids and I had some fun experimenting with new ways to capture their portraits, from reflective surfaces to high rises to confined natural spaces, and I really love how it’s added new texture to their year in portraits. One of the things I worried about when starting this project, was that I’d run out of interesting ideas for capturing their portraits. 365 portraits (x’s 3, mind you) is a lot of portraits, and so the idea of making them all uniquely their own was a daunting one. But, I must say, that this is a project my kids and I have attacked with some real gusto and overall I’ve been really happy with the result. As I write this, we have officially surpassed the halfway mark in the year (which we actually reached, rather impressively, on the final image of this post), and while I will admit that some days portraits felt like an afterthought, the collective whole of their ‘Year in Portraits’ has been something I’ve been extremely proud of.
It’s Hard Out There for a Model
I couldn’t have managed this far without the full support of my kids. I’ve had so many comment about how they are amazed that the kids are so cooperative. I won’t deny that; for even when it’s begrudging (and it is on many occasions), they are still really good about it. And, it must be noted that I don’t just make them look at me and smile, either. They have to work for me! Take the above image, for instance. They started the week standing on the roof of the van so that I could get the right vantage point for the ‘head in the clouds’ pictures I wanted. The two littles were very happy to oblige (and have asked a few times since to get back on the roof), but my eldest has a thing about heights and was very nervous with these pictures. She’s also a trooper, so she didn’t complain too much, but while the image captured shows someone confident and comfortable (look at that fierce stance), the minute she heard the click of the shutter she was begging to come down.
In the portraits below, we had discovered a local park that we had yet to explore, and low and behold there was bamboo, which made for really interestingly framed portraits. That being said, they had to wedge themselves between pillars of wood and avoid the lines of ants that were crawling all over the bamboo. Of course, they let me have it about the ants and I had to move them to multiple spots before we found one they could relax in, but you’d never know it when you look at the pictures because when the camera is up, they are on.
And then there was the garage/mirror pictures, which were the most uncomfortable portraits yet for all involved (including myself). The garage was like 90 degrees, and they were dressed up (initially I intended to have more of their bodies showing and so I made them ‘dress for the portraits’, something they hate doing), and I was on a ladder so that I could shoot directly down on them looking directly down at their reflection in the mirror laying on the floor. I was personally drenched in sweat, but I didn’t get a single complaint from them (and the girls even stayed out longer while I took a few different shots with the mirror and some fairy lights, this time with the garage door closed and the lights out), and their portraits are some of the most fun I’ve taken yet.
I guess my point is that I’m indebted to them, really. They even put up with their dad falling into ‘director’ mode as I get impatient with them when they aren’t ‘giving me their all’. They just roll their eyes and then step up their game. I’m blessed, and I know that they will look back at this year with a sense of fondness, especially when they look at their year in portraits and see how special this time was we spent together.
We Can Do This Anywhere
For a long time I felt as if I needed to get the kids out in order to get great portrait shots, at least if I wanted to keep them varied. I’ve found in recent weeks that I just don’t have the time for that. Their portraits, on average, take up about 10 minutes of our day, and so taking out an additional hour of time to travel to a location and find the best spot just isn’t always something we can do. I still have a day job, they have school, and we just have regular life stuff to take care of, and so there are days when we are left to find spots within the house, or around it, to take their portraits. But this doesn’t mean we can’t get creative. Sometimes we go for ‘documentary type’ pictures, like the above shots of the kids just lounging out in the laundry room. It’s real life and it’s real cute.
Sometimes we get to play with reflective surfaces (although, I’ve be criticized about the below images because my windows are dirty, lol, and while I could have cleaned them, I was losing light and quite frankly I like the crackled almost mosaic effect the dirty window gave to their reflections), and it helps knowing the best windows to get in front of at particular times in the day.
And other times it’s really all about the crop. The pictures below were taken in out front yard, directly in front of the living room window. Had I pulled the crop out just a bit and widened the DOF, you’d have seen the house and the window, but by pulling it in and narrowing that DOF, I was able to capture portraits that feel like they were taking in the depths of a forest, the children surrounded by foliage (when in reality this nearly dead tree has but the one flower on it, or I should say it DID have the one flower on it before my son decided to rip it off to give to his mother).
I read this article once about how photographers can create these artistic expressions regardless of their surroundings because they know how to position and how to edit, and so that is something I’ve been trying to incorporate as the year progresses, and I feel as though I’m getting better at it.
And then sometimes still we recycle previous ideas, but edit them in a new light (or in black and white) to convey something different.
Song of the Week: The End of Love
This past week was really about one thing for me, musically; Florence + The Machine. I’ve been a fan of hers for a very long time, and so getting her 4th studio album was a delight. As a whole, High as Hope is wonderful, with so many brilliant gems. While I’ve mentioned adoration of a few of her singles already, the albums near closer The End of Love, really summarizes the new direction Florence took this album. Soft yet so strikingly powerful. Her voice sends shivers, and her command of a track is absolutely undeniable. Even when she’s stripped herself of the musical dramatics and theatrics that have laced her presence since the beginning, she can’t help but evoke all the emotion in the world in a single octave. She still is and will always be a personal favorite of mine.