This guy didn't make it through our last warm up. The cold and snow have returned for a few days this past weekend however, so maybe some kin will appear in the yard soon.
Happy new year everyone.
I’ve greatly neglected this blog. I’m not foolish enough to make a New Year’s resolution to increase my upkeep of this blog. I’ve resolved the same and failed too many times in the past for me to kid myself. I can only say I intend to try.
I’ll begin with this short post to say thank you to the Cramer and Cheney families for helping me finish out a fun 2016 business year. I’ve found that keeping photography sessions with toddlers simple and giving them some autonomy in posing and locations keeps them smiling and cooperative longer. The kids in both families did wonderfully.
The Cramers and I took advantage of an unseasonably warm November weekend to photograph outside and chat while we walked in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Winter’s cold had arrived by December when the Cheneys opened their house to me to photograph their family.
Toddler photography is some of the hardest work I do, but I am always honored to be given the opportunity to try and share the character and fun of the children and the relationships of the families I photograph.
Last week I spent some time with these two lovable goofs to update their yearly portraits. I’m lucky enough to know these two personally. I’m their Uncle.
The weather forced what we hoped to be an outdoor, autumn session mostly inside, but we made do. I commandeered a wooden toy box and bare wall in my sister’s basement and left the rest up to my niece and nephew’s genetic silliness and fun personalities. A break in the rain let us get a few photos outside as well.
The images in the diptych above are two of my favorites from the day. It’s not every portrait session that I know the clients so well and am thus able to realize which photos mirror the personality of the person I’m photographing well. The two images above perfectly represent for me the personalities of my niece and nephew at this age. My 3-year old nephew is a package of goofy energy, questions, and frequent tests on the limits of one’s patience and rules. My 5-year old niece is all girl right now. Full of sweetness, fashion, and quick, instinctual poses for the camera.
They make it easy to walk away from these sessions full of smiles and laughter.
I've had fun turning our annual Halloween costume photos (a couple in 2013, 2014, and 2015) into an opportunity to learn and test ideas as I play with equipment and reach for looks that compliment our kids' chosen costumes for the year. I took the opportunity this year to play with flash gels and some strobe modifiers. The kids are game for it so I look forward to the Halloween photos every year.
I can't honestly say that I understand what our son's and middle daughter's costumes are, though I was told a literal Ninja Turtle in a tutu (apparently a Pinterest thing) and a mystery Badger (based on the school mascot and colors), respectively. I do recognize the witch theme though!
The past several years I’ve updated our kids’ portrait photos at the start of every school year. Basically a DIY, why-pay-someone-else school portrait session. This year we stayed close to home and simply walked 10 feet out the back door. Over the years they have acclimated to being my models for testing photographic ideas or testing out new gear, and they are good sports about having their portraits taken – even the more formally posed.
It’s a cliche, the Parent’s Lament, but they are growing up so quickly. As I remove last year’s photo from the frame to put in this year’s, their growth is quite literally in front of me. It is at times both exciting and disquieting, but I take comfort in the fact that they are aging to be funny, vibrant, and curious kids...well, teens! I guess. Wow.
I was lucky enough to spend some time in Meeting House restaurant in Amagansett, New York this summer photographing the interior space and some of the plates on the menu.
Meeting House sits on the tranquil open space of the square in Amagansett, a convenient location on a few occasions when the kids became antsy and needed some running room while my wife and I finished a drink and meal.
Commercial photography is a relatively new photographic genre for me, especially restaurant sessions. Time constraints forced us to keep this photography session simple and straightforward and it ran right up to opening time. My compliments to the line cooks at Meeting House. The food landed in front of me plated beautifully and artfully. Further compliments to the staff of the Meeting House as a whole for a wonderful atmosphere and interior for dining.
If you are near or passing by Amagansett, NY, be sure and check out Meeting House and the surrounding businesses in the area.
I have some recent work that is seeing the light of day this month. I've been lucky to spend time with the fantastic ladies at Lulu Tru over the past few months to photograph the large interior and exterior building upgrades and to update staff photos. I'm happy to have my images front and center on their website. I recommend you stop in Lulu Tru yourself and see the building changes and their complete list of services. A fun group of employees that know their stuff.
I also have images in the Summer edition of Edible Cleveland. My photos of local grist mills accompany text on local mills and milling by Steve Corso of Bat Barn Farm. The summer edition is landing on local magazine racks and bookshelves now. Pick a copy up for some good food writing and information on local places to eat and shop. For you non-Clevelanders you'll have to wait a little longer for the pdf version of the edition on the Edible Cleveland website or subscribe to have the quarterly magazine mailed to you directly.
Fantastic first camping trip of the season. Fishing, kayaking, and kids simply being kids.
Our daughters have been putting on a Friday night dance show the past few weeks – or at least on our Friday nights that are free of plans. Our youngest typically spearheads the events and begs her older sister who gamely joins in. They choose 3 or 4 songs, apply some gaudy looks (and too mature poses that are frightening if foreshadowing their teenage years), and freeform some dance moves.
Dance shows are, of course, the perfect excuse for playing with makeup, leotards, and bathing suits. They are also a perfect excuse for me to memorialize this fun age with some portraits.
There was even a special Christmas show with full Frosty the Snowman dress
And then, there are some Fridays when I'm not entirely sure what is happening nor what the night's theme may be, but simply sit back and enjoy.
Halloween seemed to come and go nearly unacknowledged in my house. We didn’t carve the pumpkins until the Wednesday before and still haven’t lit them this year. They are still forlornly sitting out on the front stoop and I’m tempted to light them belatedly over the next night or two just because.
The kids wavered on their costume choices until the week before the holiday and in the end I found myself with a gypsy, an archer, and an undefined, cloaked person wielding an axe.
Despite what seemed like a general apathy in my house toward Halloween as it approached, the night of trick or treating was fun. We spent the night walking and laughing with friends as the kids dashed from house to house. The candy haul (obviously the most important aspect of the holiday) was bountiful. Bags were dumped onto the floor and candy was consumed, bartered and boasted about until the sugar crashes and bedtime.
Our girls have birthdays 1 week apart and it's always been easiest to merge the extended family party into one celebration for both of them. I know many kids wouldn't be happy to share their parties, especially with a sibling, but these two have always been willing and enjoyed it.
At 7 and 10 years old now the sisterly bond is growing quickly and becoming stronger between Abbi and Charley. Sure, it has it's moments of fraying but that's natural and always mended in short order. We have no doubt these two will give us trouble in the future, but they will give us an abundance of laughs and love too.
Happy Birthday Girls!
This Wednesday is our daughter, Abbi’s, 10th birthday and for many years she has been mentally counting the days to that day because my wife and I set the age of 10 as the (arbitrary) “age of piercing” in our house. Yesterday, after the long wait, Abbi had her ears pierced.
The walk through the mall to the jewelry store was tense, but fun to be a part of. Abbi selected a set of post earrings and then nervously sat in the chair quietly answering the clerk’s questions with a blend of excitement and anticipation on her face. As the two clerks – one piercing each ear – began a verbal countdown to “the piercing”, Abbi closed her eyes, bit her lip, and powered through the brief pain to reveal a smile on the other side.
Typical of such events in life, Abbi admits the build up was worse than the act. Now, in 6-8 weeks she can begin to cycle through all the earrings she received for her birthday.
Last weekend brought one of our first real tastes of spring and my wife, daughters and I celebrated with a long hike at Lake Metroparks Penitentiary Glen Reservation.
It was a beautiful day. Nature was just beginning to reveal all its latent colors in flower blooms and and chirping songbirds. Browns were giving way to varying greens all along the trail. The sun broke easily through the trees which are only just beginning to unfold their leaves. Mosquitos don’t have a jump on the warm weather yet and weren’t the annoyance they will soon become for a period.
The park service offers “X-plorer Packs” for kids filled with gear to keep them interested in and excited for the outdoors (magnifying glass, binoculars, bug bottles, butterfly net, minnow net, etc.) and it served its purpose. The girls had fun searching for birds, wading for minnows, and catching frogs and insects for a closer look in the magnifying jars.
I’m a fan of winter (I like snow and the cold doesn’t bother me) and we had a good one, but as the snow melted, my thoughts quickly drifted to hikes, kayaking and garden plans. We’re I’m happy to see spring arrive finally.
Last Sunday laughter and yelling drifted in through the open house windows. I looked out and saw that the neighborhood kids had collected at our house. Not at all unusual. The kids float from house to house in the neighborhood like a murder of blackbirds loudly and excitedly alighting on one corn field until bored and then moving on to a new field.
What was noticeably unusual this time was that every kid was covered in mud and more globs of mud were flying through the air striking their mark on backs, heads1, and arms. Mud fight!
My wife and I went outside to get a better look and good laugh and the kids stopped dead when they saw us. It took a moment to realize why: they were waiting to be punished. But it was too funny for anger and our laughter at the look of them covered in mud released the tension and the mud fight began again earnest. The kids actually requested that we turn on some music “really loud” - possibly trying to create an impromptu Woodstock/Bonnaroo (insert your favorite music genre’s largest outdoor concert here) feel. Instead I went in for my camera.
Through threats and, to be honest, a bit of pleading, my camera and I remained mud free as I photographed the action. I suggested that I get a light out for more formal portraits. There have been many times that I’ve lost kids and moments in the time it takes to grab equipment and set up light stands, umbrellas, and lights. Thankfully, this time they were entertained enough that I was able to call them over when I’d prepped a strobe and umbrella near our patio wall.
We sent the neighborhood kids home when dinner time arrived and they walked down the street uncertain of what their own parent’s reactions to their mud-covered clothes would be (it was laughter as well). It was fun to see kids being kids. Fun to bring our own childhood memories of mud fights and friends to the fore. Fun to get some wonderful photos of it all. The mud fight was the talk of the bus stop the next morning. The parents of the neighborhood were "awesome" for not being mad.
A win-win for all.
Many thanks to my freshly showered and mud-free models who helped me test the lights before the mud portraits.
We later tried to establish a “no headshot” rule after a few ears and eyes were mud clogged, but the rule was readily ignored almost immediately after it was made. ↩
I’m ignoring spring yard work this morning (the rain outside helps) and finally going through images from our trip to Florida last week. I posted some sun and fun photos on my Instagram account which usually functions as an easy way to share with friends and family but last week was more of a gloating platform for our northern friends and family still stuck in near freezing temperatures.
Overall I didn’t take a lot of photos over the week and those I did are family photos and, in truth, are likely more interesting personally and to family. There were a few sunrise photos that turned out pretty well. I don’t consider myself a landscape photographer by any means, but most mornings I would creep out of the hotel room before the kids were up and walk the beach and, for an Northeast Ohio kid that lives among hills and at the bottom of one, watching the sun rise over an open horizon is rare and something compelling to photograph. In fact, one morning the kids wanted to be woken early to see the sunrise. Troopers.
It was good to reacquaint with sunshine in Florida after a long, dark winter and a sluggish, delayed start to spring here in Ohio.
And one of my beach girls.
Warmer temperatures have brought mud season to Northeast Ohio. It’s too early in spring for the bursts of color that will appear over the next month, so everything outdoors remains brown, chilled, wet, and uninspiring for me when looking for photographs. But these eggs were sitting on the counter and something about eggs foreshadows spring for me.
Well, truthfully, as a chicken owner now it’s not just a spring-thing. Oftentimes chickens will cease laying for a bulk of the darker months of winter, but I think because our chickens didn’t start laying until late fall we were still getting at least an egg every day even through the winter. Still, with the weather warming into spring – albeit slowly – the bounty has increased over the past few weeks.
Maybe a Catholic upbringing in childhood that included dyeing Easter eggs every spring. ↩
A few weeks ago I photographed Claire. She spent her photo session quietly observing or napping despite the shuffling of equipment, the flash of the strobe, and the jostling about by adults with cold hands.
Welcome Claire. Have fun getting to know your family and good luck in all you aspire to do and be.