Here's the secret for getting a shot like this:
Shoot a lot:
Simple as that.
I love these pictures that my recent clients had me do. It was all their idea.
I'd just taken senior pictures of their younger son.
I photographed his older brother two years ago.
Since it's going to be just the two of them soon, she got an empty nest, and we took pictures of just her and her husband in front of their house.
So they could celebrate the sadness and the sweetness of a job well done.
I sorta kinda fell in love with the Senior Photo shoot I did last weekend. My dream job would be shooting for Free People. I imagine travelling and looking for out-of-the-way places. Mom and Pop shops and old farmhouses and warehouses and backroads. Whenever I get their catalogues in the mail, I pour over them. Each one is like a bohemian story. Anyway, this shoot and this girl just had that vibe.
*for more info on my work visit my photography site - which recently got a face lift.
My photography website was feeling a little... meh. You can see a screen shot of the old design here. I like the newer version so much better.
I don't know why I chose all that black to begin with. I love grids. I love stacks of photos. And it seems I'm always pinning things that are clean and white with a splash of color.
Anyway, you can see it for yourself over at Linda Niehoff Photography.
The obvious pictures to take at recital are the ones on stage - a dancer in mid pose, the perfect leap, the final bow. I'm not gonna lie. Those bore me a little. Yes, I love having a record of my own dancer in performance. But the lighting whenever it's straight on (as it is on a stage) is flat. And there's usually very little drama because you don't have that war between light and dark in the picture. For me, that's where the poetry lies. And I'm always looking for that silver thread of poetry in photos AND in stories. I'm looking for the light right up against the dark.
Here's one of my favorites from the weekend snapped with my phone and edited in Instagram (I'm @kckenlin).
My daughter is the one who grabbed me from a different spot backstage and said, "Mom, tutus," just before she went on. And sure enough, there was the poetry. Because I almost always have a 50mm lens on my camera, it wasn't wide enough to get the shot. That left my phone (which in many ways is my favorite camera anyway).
When you only shoot the obvious, you sometimes miss the story. I like little moments. The moments just before or just after. The moments no one else is seeing because no one else is looking for them (and in this case it was my daughter that found it). Unlikely stories, I call them.
So there. One of my favorite photos snapped with a phone. But when you can find the poetry, it doesn't really matter what camera you shoot with.
I've written about it before. But I love it when you plan for something and you get something unexpected - something better - instead. Our big dance recital was this weekend, and I like to take pictures of her and her BFF. This year the wind was blowing hard from the north. And there were people everywhere on our tiny university campus (where recital is held). I didn't get to shoot where I wanted (people had crowded around my favorite shooting spot in front of this building). Or when I wanted (we'd tried the day before but the sun wasn't cooperating and there was just too much going on). So here I was. Stuck with a situation I didn't want.
I wanted them to do a part from a duet they were performing. But the wind! I snapped it and said, "Forget it." And we moved on to something else. That night as I sorted through the 2,000 photos I'd taken, I came across it. It's not the best picture, but to me it captures everything about who they are, blowing hair and laughter. The freedom they feel and the friendship. And to think I nearly threw it away. Because their hair wasn't perfect. Because the moment wasn't perfect.
Once again it just goes to show: You can't always get what you want. But most of the time, you get what you need. Which is always better anyway.
I swear I'll buy anything if this story's good enough. Here's the story of this:
Word has it that in the 60s you could win a little camera on the boardwalk as a prize. Can you imagine being 10 years old and on vacation? Can you imagine a tiny little plastic camera and how suddenly it makes you notice everything? I can almost feel the salty wind in my hair. I can almost hear the gulls crying.
When I turned 40, I figured I needed new camera or two. Because shooting on 3 cameras and my phone wasn't enough. I know, I know. I'm nothing if not excessive. But I started realizing that I was trying to make all my camera phone pics look like they came from cheap plastic cameras.
I first saw these photos years ago and fell instantly in love. As an added bonus, they're taken in the south which just feeds my love of all things Southern Gothic... especially river baptisms and snake handling (not that these are snake handlers or anything - but they do remind me of Appalachia and all the lore and grandeur that's there and no offense to anyone who's been baptized in a river. I have romantic notions about it since I was baptized at an altar - the grass is just always greener, no?). Add those to the mix and I'm a complete and total goner.
I almost couldn't stand it. So I started obsessively checking eBay and grew quickly discouraged. I didn't know what to buy or if it would even work. Besides, the whole world was starting to go digital. Maybe it was not the perfect time to invest in film.
However, I couldn't ever shake the feeling. I love my camera app that can make pictures look old and vintage-y. But sometimes you don't want something to look like the old thing. You want it to be the old thing.
Somehow, somewhere I caught wind of a Diana replica. I reasoned with myself. I put it off. I reasoned with myself some more. I went to a store and held one in my hands. I talked myself out of it and into it and out of it again.
It's not practical.
But I guess dreams are usually all those things. And as much as you talk yourself out of them, they just keep coming back like a zombie apocalypse - not that I've ever been through one or anything - until you do something about them.
I started searching Flickr and Lomography.com for anything tagged, "Diana Mini."
I pinned images on Pinterest.
And I pined.
Then I decided it would be the perfect gift to myself for turning 40.
I shot on the wrong settings half the time. See, there aren't any batteries - unless you count the flash which is an optional accessory. But there's nothing to warn you that you've got it all wrong. You have to think and imagine how the picture will turn out. You have to be in the present moment, which is sometimes a challenge when you like to dream.
Here are some early shots.
There will be so many more.
It seems made for carnivals and fairs, for bare feet and long summer afternoons, but maybe that's just because I've fallen in love with the story of it. But it's going to get used a lot this summer...I'm planning on some adventures - if only for the pictures.
It was this picture that threw me over the edge. I love how it almost looks abstract, almost like a painting. I kept seeing these photographers I love posting pictures like this. How are they getting that look? I was surprised to find out it was with an old instant camera - the telling white border was cropped out. Once I realized that, I started seeing them everywhere. There's even a book coming out... almost in time for Mother's Day.
I don't know why I love them so much. Maybe because they look so dreamy - like the way a memory looks. Faded and hazy and worn. The way I remember my childhood.
But the cameras are expensive and so is the film. I often search eBay, looking and dreaming. I love my Instax mini and use it a lot. But there's something about the older ones - the real ones that get me.
Coincidentally, I've been test driving Rad Lab for 30 days. One of the filters is called SX-70. Oh they know how to hit where it hurts. With a little tweaking, the results look just like the polaroids I so love.
So for a little while, I'm alone in my dark laboratory, experimenting with a different look. I'm making my own instant photographs and watching them develop before my eyes. Just as magical now as it was then, I imagine.
[bloo ou-er] NOUN - refers to the brief period of time just after sunset and just before darkenss. Time of day sought by photographers and artists. It is notable for the quality of light it produces and its ability to make one's heart ache in nostalgia and longing.
From French - l'heure bleue; the phrase has been used to describe Paris just prior to WW I, denoting that it was the last moment of innocence.
dusk, evening, eventide, shadows, sunset, twilight, night, loneliness
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