A New Family

I had the opportunity to photograph a family from Worcester recently. Mark, Astrid, and their first child, 11-day old Noelle, joined me in my home "studio" on a cool, damp day. I use the term "studio" loosely, since it was actually my living room. Because my basement studio was going to be too cool for Noelle, I moved what I needed upstairs and cranked the heat up to 80 degrees or so.

Astrid and Mark came vey well prepared, and we had a really nice 2+ hour session without any real "accidents." You can see a handful of their photos below.

For the photo geeks out there (guilty as charged), I used a large collapsible, light grey background that I lit with two studio strobes cranked up to about 3 stops higher output than my primary light. My primary light was in a 38-inch octabox. This setup gave me a pure white background for most of the shots we took. For the black background shots, I draped a black velvet cloth over the background and turned off the two strobes. We also did a few photos using only the window light in my north-facing dining room. All photos were taken with a Canon 5DIII and a 24-70 2.8.

Favorite subjects

I think like many photographers who photograph people, the last subject(s) we photographed are often our favorite (or at least until the next photo shoot comes along).  But I've got to say that my two grandsons, Sam (6) and Joey (1), are by far my all-time favorite subjects. Sure there are times when Sam just wants to play with me and wants nothing to do with being photographed AGAIN! But more often than not he's OK with it and thinks it's normal that Grampy has a camera growing out of his face. Joey is still at an age where he'll act the same whether there's a camera pointed at him or not.  Our two daughters (my previous all-time favorites) were exactly like that. I can't imagine how many rolls of film and mega-pixels of data I've blown through taking photos of two generations of kids ... but who cares! It's been great!

At some age, maybe four or five?, "real" smiles become "cheesy" smiles - at least when there's any posing involved. And at that age (especially with boys), the only way to get a "real" smile out of them is to get down to their level - right, you guessed it: bathroom humor.

I'd recently hung an adorable new 11 x 14 of Joey on my foyer wall and it begged for a matching one of Sam. I knew my daughter and the boys would be visiting, and knowing that I wouldn't have much "shoot" time with Sam, I came up with a quick setup that used the great light from my north-facing deck doors. To eliminate a busy background, I used the black side of a large 5-in-1 reflector and positioned it about four feet behind Sam. I used a Canon 600 EX-RT flash, also behind Sam, as a subtle background light. Sam was all for the brief session, knowing that he'd have my undivided attention for the rest of the afternoon, and he followed my posing instructions to a "T" ….except for the "cheesy" smile that wouldn't go away. So, knowing my time was slipping away, I told Sam that "x#$&ing" during the session was not allowed. He immediately cracked up and broke into his great, semi-toothless smile. While I fired away, we continued our high-level discussion for the next few minutes. Here's the image that hangs in my foyer:

Sam - Canon 5DIII with 135 2.0

Below are some recent Sam and Joey pictures, including one I took today that'll be used on a Christmas card:



Joey and Sam - Canon 5DIII and Sigma 35 Art at 2.8.

Late Thanksgiving day - FujiFilm X100S.

Halloween-birthday cake - Canon 5DIII with 135 2.0

Joey at a family party - Canon 6D with Sigma 35 Art

Sam in a more contemplative moment - Canon 5DIII with 135 2.0

Joey (new teeth coming in) - Canon 5DIII with 135 2.0


Sam - Canon 5DIII with 135 2.0

Joey programing my TV - Canon 6D with Sigma 35 Art

My first post!

I've been putting this off for some time now, but here goes…..

Thought I'd start with a recent (late fall) photo shoot with a family of four that ended up being a joy to work with. They were looking for outdoor photos in an area of conservation land that I was familiar with. I new that some trees there held great late-season color, and hoped to use the low afternoon sun as a warm backlight. A few days before the shoot I used a really simple but effective (and free!) online app called SunCalc.net. This app showed me the sun's position relative to the trails we were planning to use during the shoot. It worked like a charm…highly recommended.


As planned, most of the shots were of the two children, 9 and 11. They were completely comfortable and natural with a camera pointed at them, and made my job a blast!  BTW, I used a Canon 5DIII with 24-70 and 70-200. A 40" gold reflector added fill for some of the shots.

Here are a few of the photos….