Guillaume, Charlotte’s husband, and my husband’s best friend for ages, could not make it, he had working obligations. So I was left working with the mama and her boys (the baby to come is another son), and in all honesty, that was fine with me. Dealing with two people is already a bunch in a portrait shoot. Not that the daddy wouldn’t have been welcome, but let’s say I was happy working with the mother/son duo. Their bond is omnipresent, and makes for charming moments.
Gear wise, I had packed the NEX 7 with its 18-55 kit zooms (I had a few wider angle shots in mind), the SEL35/1.8 (which ended up NOT being used) and the modified industrial, C mount, Navitar 75/1.3, which happens to be my favorite non AF lens this side of the universe.
This is not part of the “keepers”, but it shows the mood of the shoot. Marla came along as my “assistant” (she even carried my bag part time !) and is so used to be in the frame it was a little hard getting her to move to the side !
The indoor shots are courtesy of the PEN F 38/1.8, at F2. I chose it over the SEL35 as manual focus is better for focus selection (no annoying AF point to move around) but weirdly enough the PEN doesn’t peak well at all with this unit of NEX 7 I currenty own (it did fine with the previous ones), so nailing focus was a bit of a chore.
The more portrait shoots I do, the more I realize the number one difficulty to overcome, WAY above technical detail or even above handling the light, is getting your subject to relax. I think my own daughter Marla is the ONLY human above 4 yrs old I know who is totally natural, at ease and oblivious of the lens when in front of the camera.
Even as a long time friend, and positively trusting me, Charlotte had a hard time relaxing in front the camera, as you can see here, there’s a hint of tension both in body posture and expression. She is was much more relaxed with her son around, which gave me another idea…
I remember reading a study once about people being recorded for TV broadcasting, non professional, average joe folks. Their anxiety levels were through the roof as TV show environment is so unnatural and fazing. Their blood pressure and heartbeats were recorded. Then various pets (dogs, memory serving me well) were introduced, and the participants heartrate and blood pressure instantly dropped to very comfortable and close to normal levels. I’ve tried this several times before in shoots and it always worked. If your subject have pets and you’re in their homes, make sure to start the session with the animal around, in the owner’s lap for a car or small dog, at his/her feet for larger dogs. Once the person is comfortable, tactfully cast the pet a bit further.
I still have trouble understanding why “family photography” would be so looked down upon. It’s one of the most trickiest thing to nail, and the most gratifying to do when you succeed, because you know those pictures will be cherished forever.
I know my friends are super happy with the shots, but truly *I* was grateful to be given the opportunity to capture those moments. It’s good being a photographer