Yesterday and today I had the opportunity to be part of preserving family history for two different families: I was blessed with the opportunity to create their family portraits this year.

And both days, I walked away from the portrait sessions with images that I was not only proud of and thought the parents would like, but I walked away beaming, knowing that what I’d composed in my head had made the transition to real life in the form of a photograph.

To me, there are a few things that come in to play when photographing a portrait session, and making memories that will last a lifetime.

  1. You the photographer needs to have an artistic vision—some sense of what you want and what is aesthetically pleasing
  2. A venue or location that complements that vision
  3. Appropriate gear and/OR the technical proficiency to make the best out of inappropriate gear; but having stellar equipment and the knowledge to use it is always the best combination
  4. Editing skills that embrace the vision and desire of your client

And most importantly…

5.  A strong rapport with your subject(s), or the ability to build and generate one quickly

Other photographers may differ in opinion with me on these, but after sitting down and thinking about it, these are most assuredly my biggest five considerations for portraits.

Over the past two days, it has become clear to me that #5 is probably the most important of all the factors. Without a previous relationship with the subjects (I’m their swim coach), I doubt they would have opened up for me the way they did, and I seriously doubt I could have walked away from the shoots with the photos that I did.

Ginger moments…
Hand in hand
Like father like son
I don’t want that hat…
Goofball: hopping in front of me to photo bomb his brother, and I still ended up getting a quality portrait
Hugs and smiles
This made my heart melt
Smiles and a Stetson
Absolute favorite from Friday, and a powerful image in my opinion
In awe of nature
The whole family

I could talk about the technical aspects of how I lit, photographed, and edited the images, but I don’t think many would find that information too intriguing here. So I’ll just jump straight into some more images…

A test shot for my lights, but I loved the final product
A stitched panoramic shot, and I can’t decide if I like the colors or not, but decided it was fairly representative of fall foliage and afternoon sun, so I kept it
What a kid!
Most powerful image of the set, and after tweaking it in Adobe Lightroom, I just ADORED the colors, and thought my composition was pretty close to spot on
Wading through tall grass, catching Pokemon

Most of you will read this on Thanksgiving Day, or later.

Yes. I was very proud of and happy with some of these images. I know there are full-time pro portrait photogs who would put me to shame. But I think that with my existing relationships with the families, and with a bit of luck, I was able to create what I hope will be fixtures in these families’ memories for a long time to come. I think that some of the images are powerful enough to stand on their own, outside of a photo set, and I think that I could continue to consistently generate results that are as good, or possibly better than these.

But mostly, I am thankful. Thankful that I’ve been blessed with the ability and money to be able to capture moments in children’s lives that someday they’ll be able to look back on fondly. I am thankful that I have so many people in my life that not only support me as an individual and a photographer, but that would entrust the preservation of their memories to me.

I am thankful for other opportunities as well. I am thankful for my sports and media credentials, where I can do something challenging that I love, and that the athletes love, by capturing their greatest and shakiest moments of competition.

I am thankful for family, friends, dogs, school (yes! What a privilege!), health and well-being, my general ease of life from day to day, and the many rights and protections afforded to those of us who are citizens of this great nation.

Thank you to those that read this, and thank you to those that have supported me, be it through encouragement, criticism, or all-encompassing love and affection.

I hope you have a marvelous Thanksgiving Day, and take time to think about the wonders in your life—big or small.


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