I've been making pictures for a living for 28 years. I have 14 years of photojournalism experience at newspapers including The Tennessean and The Miami Herald, so I've been trained to capture moments under intense pressure. I also have 14 years of marketing experience photographing Duke doctors, professors, students and staff for various websites and brochures.
What is your process for coordinating a typical family or senior session?
I'll usually exchange emails (though I'm happy to talk on the phone too) to find out more info. about you and find out some dates/times you're available (i.e. - How many children do you have and what are their ages? Are your children shy and take time to warm up or are they more outgoing?) I have multiple locations I use for sessions, but I'll also want to find out whereabouts you live, so I can choose somewhere convenient for you. We can also do the session at your home/backyard. I like to scout a new location ahead of time to look at the light and choose a few nice backgrounds. I'll often re-scout locations I know well during different seasons or even within a week during the same season when leaves are changing in the fall or new blossoms are quickly coming and going in the spring. I do many of my sessions in the evening about two hours before sunset, as this is the softest, prettiest light and the light is mostly getting better throughout the shoot. Early mornings are also great when children are freshest. Late mornings or early afternoons are not ideal times for portraiture as the light is harsh and not as attractive.
What should I/we wear? For family sessions, I'm a fan of mixing patterns, prints and colors within a color palette, but not so much for matching colors. Best to avoid white and overly busy patterns or logos. Pinterest is a great resource for wardrobe ideas. Go to pinterest.com and type in spring family photo clothing ideas, etc. For senior sessions, you might want to bring a few different looks - something more casual, something more formal, but most importantly something that complements your personality. We can also do some shots in a softball or football uniform. Happy to discuss! For a headshot session, solid colors (except white) work best - I especially like jewel tones. Choose an outfit you feel comfortable in!
What can I expect during a typical family session? First, I like to keep the mood light and stress free! If we're doing a family session, my assistant will be working with me to get natural smiles and laughs. I'll usually start by making sure we get a lovely family portrait - I'll try 2-3 different poses and perhaps another nearby spot for a different background. We'll then get shots of the siblings together. At this point, I often like to do some more candid shots - using natural light - so we might get one of you all playing together or the kids running towards me, etc. If time allows, we can do individual portraits of each child too.
How does it work after our session? For a 90 min. session, I'll likely spend 8 hours in post-production, first culling the photos down to a more manageable number for you to look through and choose your favorites. So if I shoot 750-1000 photos during a 90 min. session, I'll narrow this down to 120-150 images for you to look through. I'll usually post an online password-protected proofing gallery within a week of our session. You will choose your favorite images and you can also add comments in the gallery with any post-production requests/questions. I'll spend about 25-30 min. per photo, adjusting the exposure and color then finessing the image in Photoshop: softening wrinkles, retouching facial blemishes/oily skin, whitening teeth, brightening eyes, adding a nice glow on cheeks, etc. I continually calibrate my monitor for color/exposure with a professional device/software. When sending a link to the finished images - usually 2-3 weeks after you make your selections - I'll include lab recommendations so you can make as many prints, holiday cards, etc. as you wish without paying exorbitant prices for enlargements. You can also order prints through my site at reasonable prices and I will help navigate the crops, etc.
Why do you use a light outdoors for portraiture?
I love using a softbox both inside and outside because the quality of light it creates is soft and beautiful. The light also adds a catchlight or spark in my subjects' eyes and brings out the color of the pupils, a look that you can only get with natural light during a very small timeframe early morning or late evening. So I can create golden hour light all day long. Also, the sun is often working for me as an accent light on the subjects' hair and shoulders, adding a layer of three-dimensionality.
Why don't you shoot film? I've shot film for many years, hand developed B/W & color film, made prints in a darkroom, and I can say that digital surpasses film in almost every way. I could write a lot about this but I'll try to highlight the main points. I can shoot in low light situations without the hail-storm size grain or noise you see with film. Some like a filmic grainy look, but I can create this effect in post-production when desired. I shot for many years not fully knowing whether I got the moment or if my light/shadow was falling exactly where I wanted it to, and it's so much better having this immediate feedback. I also like to show my subjects their photos during the shoot to make sure they're happy with what we're getting. Some feel that shooting with film makes it more of a craft - the craft for me is photography itself.
How should I store my photos? First, your photos are meant to be enjoyed, shared and passed down through generations, so I encourage you to make prints, photo books, albums, etc. Besides tangible prints/books, your photos should live on your computer and at least one other backup source, like an external hard drive or on the Cloud. Your computer has a spinning drive that's moving continually - these parts wear out eventually. I change out my hard drives every five years. But you can sleep more comfortably knowing that I continually store all my clients' photos and can re-send them to you if you ever need them again.