I went on a trip this past month to visit family in Texas where it is seasonally warmer than Minnesota right now. Spring is in fool bloom and the tulips and foliage are popping all around. I was very glad that I had brought all my photo gear for this trip in order to do some family portraits and spring bloom hunting.
One of my Photo excursions was to the Dallas Arboretum. I’ve visited many times over the past 20 years, but it seems to get better and better every time I go. Kudos to the gardeners and the city of Dallas for maintaining such a treasure. Visiting in March was an exceptional time togo, since all the azaleas, tulips, irises, and many other spring flowers were on their best behavior. It was simple an explosion of color everywhere.
I took this opportunity to shoot some family portraits for my brother and his family in a beautiful setting. The photo-shoot taught me two lessons tho, and I wanted to share them:
First lesson is more of a reminder to focus. With so much color and visual interest everywhere it is hard to keep your eye and mind focused on any one photo. I constantly had to tell myself to slow down, take a deep breath and concentrate on one thought at a time. This was especially important when trying to compose a family portrait. I made myself pick a spot, set up my gear, narrow my focus only to that ‘scene’, and arrange the model(s) for at least 5 shots before I allowed myself to look around again for another shot. The reason I tried so hard to stay focused was because every time I turned my head I saw something else that I wanted to try, and if I didn’t plant my tripod down to take a shot once in a while I’d end up with very few shots of anything at all. Not to mention that my memory of the day would be just a blur of color. My clients (my brothers family) wouldn’t be too thrilled with my shots either if I didn’t compose and focus.
The Second lesson I learned was about babies. Or more accurately It was how to deal with different levels of interest in being photographed. Its true that large crowds are hard to photograph without at least someone blinking or smirking the wrong way, but how do you get a young child to look into the camera and smile when they don’t understand what you are saying. I have a lot of respect for family portrait photographers who shoot young children all the time. I’m sure they have some tricks to get babies to look the right way, but this was my first time. In many of the shots, I had to settle for having 3 out of the 4 family members looking directly at the camera while one was looking off to the side. It was helpful to have a few favorite noise makers and a ‘blankie‘ to grab the children’s attention towards the lens.
Overall, the whole day went great. The kids stayed happy and engaged, I didn’t get overwhelmed by the colorful environment, and my brothers family got some priceless pictures to document this brief stage in their kids lives. As an uncle though, I had a secret motive to do this photo-shoot….. I wanted beautiful portraits of my nieces to hang on my walls.
You think they knew?