Jul 022016
 

Family Portraits in Los Angeles are always magical due to the wide variety of sunny landscapes and textured terrain. For this family session, we had the agonizing decision of whether to shoot at the beach or go green within Griffith’s expansive park. It was a tough call but in the end, we decided to go green. The morning of the shoot, it was a refreshing eighty-five degrees and our backdrop was a soft collage of warm woods. The park was a nice break from the city and made for the perfect outdoor photography studio. Of course, we still brought our studio lights, filters, and bounce boards but due to their wireless and light weight nature, they were easily transported… into nature. ;o)

Our family for this family portrait session was the Tran Family. They were one of our larger family sessions this year, with twenty-one members in total, from all over the states. It had been five years since their last shoot so we wasted no time in getting started.
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Feb 232016
 

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Normally when I shoot a family portrait session, we go outside- to a favorite spot, usually one that’s close to the family home or one that holds an emotional note for them. Where we shoot often has a huge influence on the energy and mood. It often contributes to their comfort and confidence. However, all of that being said, I also have portrait sessions within the studio and have often been asked, how do you bring the energy and freedom that the family feels outdoors into the studio? The simple answer… We play. You just make sure that no matter where you are that the element of play is always close at hand.

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All of this came into play when I had Jade and Raylan in the studio recently. Their Aunt requested a studio session specifically and there are definite benefits to that. For example, you have much more control over the lighting, framing, and backdrops. Another plus to the studio, they can’t run as far… lol. So keeping up with their pace is so much more manageable so I set up a few stations, props, games, and questions. By giving Jade and Raylan a few options, I allowed them to make their own choices (which kids love) but the only options that I provided were those related to the shots I wanted. Win/Win.

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My hour-long session with Jade and Raylan was oh so filled and the time flew by. You can tell immediately whether your direction is allowing the kids to feel uninhibited. Kids are pretty honest. If they’re not having fun, they’ll usually let you know so adjust until they do and have options ready ahead of time. What is their favorite song, super-hero or game? What do they want to be when they grow up? Have them act it out.

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Fortunately, Jade and Raylan were pretty quick to engage with me. Some of that has to do with the questionnaire I send to parents beforehand, to get to know their family a little bit better. For Jade, the key was the giant fluffy blue pillow that I brought into the studio. I knew that her favorite color was blue and so I figured she’d love it. For Raylan, it was his big sis and a never-ending game of peek-a-boo. So we ran with those keys, with minor adjustments along the way and they nailed it. In the end, we ended up with a set of JPGs that successfully expressed who they are at this awesome age.  Win. Win. Win.

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30-second recap!

1. Give the parents a questionnaire prior to the shoot so that you can get to know them better.

2. Based off of their answers, have a few options ready to get them quickly engaged.

3. Create a few shooting stations within the studio so that no matter where the kids go, there is shooting potential close at hand.

4. Listen to them and adjust the shoot as you go.

5. Play! Have fun. Be yourself, be yourself at 5, bring the silly and by all means, engage.

 

Questions about the photography you see here? Or perhaps you’d like to make an inquiry regarding our wedding/ family photography packages. We can easily be reached by email:  info@jencastlephotography.com, social media, or by simply leaving us a comment on the blog. We always look forward to hearing more!

Jan 052016
 

It was just another gorgeous, eighty-degree winter morning in Los Angeles when I set out for Kolten’s shoot. He’s all of 2 months old and already bursting with personality. This was actually Kolten’s first session. Three years ago I had the pleasure of documenting his parents as they spoke their wedding vows so meeting and documenting him was an awesome bonus. Plain and simple, this family is Fantastically fun. Mom’s a talented R.N. with a quirky personality and dad is a working actor. I see him in commercials all of the time and so the spontaneity and sense of improv is always vibrant throughout our sessions. And Kolten, well, he was a zen master. Seriously, I don’t know what they’re feeding him but he was chill and happy for the entire hour. It’s not always that smooth however and It’s not their fault, they can’t communicate yet. I’d be cranky too if nobody understood my p.o.v. Sometimes they have a bad day, maybe he/she is teething or didn’t sleep and the last thing they want is a large camera in their face. So you roll with the punches, prepare for anything and try to make their session as comfortable as possible.

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For the ages of one and younger, I usually come to the family’s home and set up my studio there. In general, I like to capture shots that embody each child’s spirit; their room, daily routines, and any personal effects.  I start out by touring the house, mainly focusing on the natural light within. I choose the best spot and then set-up. Usually, I set-up atop a bed or on the floor. I utilize one backdrop stand, a textured blanket (you can get a few good ones at IKEA), a few clips to hold it all in place and a prop pillow for underneath. The set is super small, usually a max of three by four feet but it’s the perfect size for our subject. A few personal props and a sassy sailor-suit later, we have ourselves a shoot.

baby photography los angeles, bella baby photography, burbank ca, candid photography, diy photography, family photography los angeles, family portrait photographer, family portrait poses, fine art photography, journalistic photography, Los Angeles county, newborn photography props, photography blogs, portrait photography tips, professional photography, ©Jen Castle Photography

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Keep in mind, Kolten is only 2 months here- he can barely lift his head, definitely can’t sit yet, is far from crawling and tummy time can be rough. So I always make sure to communicate with mom and dad ahead of time and we take breaks if needed, “if baby’s not happy, we’re not happy so break whenever needed,” If they’re hungry, we break. If they need to have a good cry, we break. It’s that simple. Usually, it’s no more than 2 breaks per session but you never know. From there, we play and I’m always creating an action to keep things interesting- we sing songs, make funky noises, clap, dance, whatever it takes. Oh and stuffed animals can often be found dangling from the edge of my lens. It’s all about baby and I do my best to make the session safe, warm, fun and interesting.

baby photography los angeles, bella baby photography, burbank ca, candid photography, diy photography, family photography los angeles, family portrait photographer, family portrait poses, fine art photography, journalistic photography, Los Angeles county, newborn photography props, photography blogs, portrait photography tips, professional photography, ©Jen Castle Photography

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This is where personal effects or vintage hand-me-downs come into play. This home-crafted sweater and beanie were made for Kolten’s dad, it was his first outfit out of the hospital. The blanket he’s laying on was moms, also hand-made. Items like these are priceless for family photos and always make for a great gift with the grandparents.

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baby photography los angeles, bella baby photography, burbank ca, candid photography, diy photography, family photography los angeles, family portrait photographer, family portrait poses, fine art photography, journalistic photography, Los Angeles county, newborn photography props, photography blogs, portrait photography tips, professional photography, ©Jen Castle Photography

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This ended up being the winner for the Christmas card, we even got the family dog in on the action. The album that we constructed later (below) was a Christmas present from Kolten’s grandmother. It’s a 16 page, lay-flat. leather-bound album and it ended up being the perfect surprise for mom and dad on Christmas morning.


Here’s to 2016 everyone. I hope it’s treating everyone well thus far!

 

Questions about the photography you see here? Or perhaps you’d like to make an inquiry regarding our wedding/ family photography packages. We can easily be reached by email:  info@jencastlephotography.com, social media, or by simply leaving us a comment on the blog. We always look forward to hearing more!