Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Magic of a Photo Shoot

In general, I don't like paying someone else to do something that I could do (or learn to do) myself, provided there's not too much risk of bodily harm, excessive damage to property, or huge drains on my money or time.  For most of my life, I've felt that way about paying a photographer.

The only time I'd paid someone to take my picture was at my wedding, and I tried to get Tori to agree to have one of my aspiring photographer friends in college do it on the cheap.  No dice.  We paid lots of money, and got nice photos...fine.

Well now many of those aspiring college friends have their own successful businesses, and don't work on the cheap anymore.  And now that we have a baby, Tori really wanted to do a photo shoot with her as a little one.  Though we just bought and are learning to use our own DSLR camera, I agreed to hire our friend Ali, knowing that she does take MUCH better pictures than either of us can, and that way we can both be in them.  Really, those were the only two things I could think of to justify paying someone to take our pictures.

First of all, check out Ali's work on her website: Alisandra Photography.  She's awesome.

Both of my assumptions were true, but a tripod can let us all be in the picture, too.  The reason you should hire Ali for a photo shoot like that is the atmosphere she created in order to get those pictures, and the details you would never think to pay attention to.

Ali lived at our house for a few weeks when we first bought it, while doing an internship in town.  In my mind, that means she knows how to drive there (in actuality, I ended up texting her my address).  In reality, it meant she knew how the house has good natural light in the morning, and wanted to make sure we shot early in the day.

I always hold Fiona with my left arm.  Doing the opposite is like brushing your teeth with the other hand.  But in this picture, Ali had me switch Fiona's direction, to get better light on her face:

Tori and I had a few ideas of photos we wanted to try, like laying on an open book:

What you don't know is, Fiona was not a peaceful little lovely angel for this whole book session.  Books are not soft and fluffy, like everything else in a baby's life, and she wasn't pleased about being on one.  But Ali masterfully captured the milliseconds of pleasant peaceful little angel, and made that look easy.

And laying on the piano while I play:

This was my favorite part of the morning.  They put her up on top just right, and she thankfully stayed asleep.  Ali draped the blanket to create a better shot, and just had me start playing.  I started out playing what was in front of me, but ended up improvising on hymn tunes, with the faint 'click' of a camera shutter punctuating the music.  She adjusted, she changed angles and lenses, and Fiona and I were in our moment, unaware.  That room is NOT that bright, but she knew how to make the best of the light from the window.  And when she was done, she didn't just announce that she had what she needed, she just stopped shooting, and let me finish the tune I was on, knowing that you can't leave the phrase unfinished.

She did other great things too - accommodated two well-behaved but excited dogs, stopped and let us feed Fiona before doing the last bit, and encouraged us to actually talk to each other, smile, move as we would if we weren't being photographed.  No real posing here, no "turn your head a little more, look up, hands just so" kind of crap, and the pictures show it.  And none of this even mentions all the time editing and sending a great finished product.

So I stand corrected.  It's totally worth paying a good photographer -thanks Ali!

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