Beautiful family portraits and preserving them for the future
That special time of year has arrived again! The cherry blossoms are here and that means the camas and wisteria are not far behind. Each year these 3 beautiful flowers offer their blossoms up and families want to take advantage of their beauty for family photos like these:
I always love this time of year because I know the kinds of amazing photos I can give my clients. But it is also a bittersweet time because every year I also see destruction left by those photographers and budding photographers (pun intended) when they take a client or model to these places and knock cherry blossoms off or stamp down the wild camas so their subject can be “among the flowers.” Every year when we take clients to do photos, well anywhere really but especially these one a year treasure places, we always make it our goal to leave the place just like we found it (and sometimes better!).
Sometimes the ends don’t justify the means
There are always ways to get the photo without destruction. For example, To get the falling blossom effect we pick up blossoms off the ground or wait for the wind to knock them down (as it would do whether we were there or not). For the wild camas, we try to put our clients on paths where we look over the camas to them, or use places that have only grass, to get the same effect as planting them on the camas.
So if you are going to be looking into booking a family session to take advantage of these rare opportunities, it is worth taking the opportunity to tell the photographer you choose (though I would love it to be me!) that you want to conserve the natural beauty as much as possible and save the flowers. Our community and your children will thank you!!
Here at Photos By Orion, we love working with children! They are so fun and spontaneous, and they can have such engaging smiles! But kids, like pets, have only a short amount of time and attention they are willing to give to a photographer, so here are a few tips for helping you get beautiful portraits of your child.
Have them well fed and rested
No one does well in photos if they are hungry or tired, so the best time to do a photo session that will involve children is right after lunch and a nap. It is also best to keep the photo session short, so don’t plan on having your child involved for an entire hour. When we do photo shoots with small children (under the age of 5) they are regularly finished early so the child doesn’t have to be “on” for that whole time.
2) Bring a favorite toy
Often times a favorite toy or toys can make the process easier for a child. They feel safe when they have their “snuggy” with them or when they can see it, so bringing a few props like that can enhance the photo shoot. It is also important to remember that YOU are their most favorite, so helping your photographer out by standing right behind them to call out and play with your child can make a huge difference.
3) Location, location, location!
Choosing where to take photos is a very important decision. Some children do well indoors at a studio (especially the really young children as a studio can be more temperature controlled than an outdoor venue), while others need to be able to run. Whenever we are working with children I tend to recommend venues that are close to, or include, a playground. We use the park as an incentive to get through the “boring” first part of the session, which we try to limit to 30 minutes, and then get fun playing shots at the playground to round out the session and give the children a treat. During the really hot of the summer, three great parks we love to take clients with children are to Riverfront Park and West Bennett park in Salem, and to River Road park near Keizer because each of these parks not only has a playground, but it also has a splash pad where kids can cool off after all that work of looking cute (and it makes for great photo opportunities)!
4) Keep directions (and expectations) simple
Kids are good at following simple directions, so when it comes to posing them for photos, the simpler the directions they are given the better. For the photo on the left, all the direction we gave was to sit on the stool, look at the camera, and smile. He naturally posed himself into that adorable pose so we snapped fast and got that great shot. Children don’t always understand why we are getting photos, so to them, posing is weird! They get lost in multi-step directions like “sit up, put your hands here, your feet here, point your nose toward the camera, etc., and will forget to leave their bodies where we put them as they get each new direction. So with your kids, simpler is better. Letting them sit as they naturally do and then changing 1 or 2 things is the best way to get great photos and to set appropriate expectations for your portrait session.
5) Be relaxed and remember, this is fun!
Children will take their cues from their parents, so it is important for you to be relaxed and to have the attitude that this will be fun. I know that can be hard to get everyone dress and ready to go, but taking a moment to breath and re-center yourself you can help everyone to be in a better mood and therefore get better photos. These are your memories that will last well beyond your lifetime, but they are also a shared family experience. Whether that experience is good or bad is up to you. Getting family photos each year should be something that is fun for all, because having memories of each stage of your family’s life is so important!
My favorite weather conditions to take portraits in is when it’s cloudy. Can you believe it? Bright sun definitely makes for a boost in morale, but it’s really the days when it’s cloudy that I prefer to take portraits in.
Why is that, you ask?
When it’s cloudy, the light is spread out better and colors are more even. If you’ve ever been in a photo studio, you might have noticed those large white screens. Those screens are small versions of clouds. Light is bounced around and reduces shadows, leaving your photos looking better. Fortunately for me, I primarily shoot in the Pacific Northwest where clouds abound. I feel very luck in this respect. I have even nicknamed Oregon the “land of diffuse light”. =-)
Don’t get me wrong about sunlight though. I love to shoot on the sunniest of days as well. Sometimes I’ll position you in the sun for shots, but on these kinds of days, I will usually have the light blocked with either a scrim or I will just position you in the shade.
So don’t worry about scheduling your outdoor photo shoot with me during the fall, winter or spring in the Pacific Northwest. I will keep tabs on the weather so that we can get great images for you!
Have you ever had a photoshoot scheduled and it looks like it’s going to rain shortly before your outdoor-Oregon family photo session? Don’t worry too much about it, call your photographer up and see if they think it’ll still be a good time to take photos. If the weather is like many Spring days in Oregon are, there is likely a chance that that dull gray sky will actually enhance your photos. I like to think of those dull gray clouds as a gigantic light diffuser. Talk to your photographer to see if the weather will be good or not, you may be surprised.
Great foliage backdrops
Spring time is the best time to go out and capture family photos with excellent greenery and flowers. The grass is vibrant green and the flowers are usually plentiful and colorful. If you don’t have a special place in mind for your photoshoot, your photographer will. I have several places around the Willamette Valley that I enjoy taking clients to and I typically try to schedule photoshoots around the times when those flowers and trees look their best. A personal favorite are the Japanese Wisteria in Bush Park.
The weather in Oregon during the Spring is a time of change and your clothing choices should follow suit. =-) I recommend being prepared for both rain and sun. If you happen to have a new jacket, bring it along. It may go great with the background. Not every photoshoot needs to be formal.
Sometimes, props can be great add-ons to a session. Here in Oregon, an umbrella may not get used in the rain, but it can make a great prop for photos! Giving it a little thought and grabbing a couple things that are special to you can take a good photo session to great in a flash.
Like you, and most people I would assume, I like having family portraits around and know that they play an important role over a lifetime. You would think that as a photographer that I would have at least a new portrait every year, but like everyone else, I too have failed to make the time in the past. Sadly, life rarely gives us the time to even think about needing a new portrait, let alone being able to call around to photographers, schedule a session, and get one taken.
There are many reasons to get family portraits done: they chronicle the extremely fast growth of our beloved children, they give us something to put on our Christmas cards, and as I and my extended family recently found out, they give us a way to look back and remember.
This month, my uncle who was in his late 50s passed suddenly from something that his doctors had missed even a couple days before his passing. He left behind a wife and 5 daughters as well as 3 siblings and numerous nieces and nephews. As I was preparing a slideshow presentation for showing at his funeral, I was saddened to see how few of pictures we had of him. Now my uncle was not the type of person who liked to be in front of a camera, so it wasn’t a total surprise that the number was less than his age, but what caused some unnecessary pain for his family was that he had no pictures from when he was with his ex-wife and his two oldest daughters. Even his daughters did not have many photos of them with their father. I was unable to represent them in the slideshow and it seemed unfair and silly that he did not take one hour of his time each year to get photos of himself with his family. It doesn’t seem like a lot to ask, but for so many of us we just don’t give it a second thought as we go through our lives.
So remember, don’t get pictures for yourself, get family portraits for your children and grandchildren. Life is so unpredictable that you never know what situations a fresh family portrait will come in handy. And if nothing else, it gives you the satisfaction of knowing your loved ones will always be able to remember you. You are special and unique and should exist in photos, even if only for your loved ones.
In Loving Memory of Richard J. Webber, Jr. May 1952 – March 2010