As soon as I published my website, I immediately had two friends contact me, wanting me to take their babies' first birthday photos. Excited (and nervous), I began scoping out sites for my first session with an adorably active little girl named Sophia. Since we originally met Sophia and her mommy in baby sign language classes, we knew we live close to each other. Sophia's mommy was going to drive over to my neighborhood for the session, so I was able to choose the perfect location: A little park across the street from my house. To prepare, I took my daughter over the day before Sophia's session to scope out places in the park that were baby-friendly (read: no trash or doggy "presents") and had plenty of good light.
I was so happy I did!
When I first walked over to the park, I was looking at it with a different eye than my usual "oh, isn't this a lovely day". As a discerning photographer, I was searching for a place with open shade (better light and good for baby's skin) that also had a good backdrop (no construction, parked cars, etc). It was a little overwhelming and I had my hubby walk around the park one time with baby so I could check things out from baby-friendly angles. It didn't take long to figure it out, however, and I finally placed my little one in a couple of great locations! Whew! One hurdle down...
Then, once I found a couple of good locations in the park to place my little model, I started snapping away to determine which settings to start with on my camera. This became increasingly frustrating as, no matter what I tried (bump the ISO?, lower the aperture?, increase shutter speed?, etc...), the photos were washed out, blue-tinted, and awful! My baby was losing her patience the closer it got to nap time, so I decided to go home, check the photos on a computer (read: with a bigger screen and out of the glare of the sun), and regroup. Two things made me feel MUCH better once I did: One, I saw that it was pretty easy to adjust the temperature of the photos, which fixed the bluish cast. Two, I remembered that my camera's white balance was still set at "incandescent" from when I was playing with Christmas lights photos a couple of days before. After I had a "d'oh!" moment and let my hubby laugh at my mistake (it's good for him to be reminded every once in a while that I'm not ALWAYS perfect), I felt much better and far more prepared for Sophia's session.
Finally, the day arrived when it was time to go meet baby Sophia and her mommy at the park for her session. Sophia was well rested, but since she slept in the car on the way over and a little in the parking lot, it took a some time for her to wake up and become active. This was PERFECT, because I was familiar with just how active this little girl could be and I took advantage of the sleepy lull to snap some cute photos of her sitting calmly.
Once she truly woke up and became her usual rambunctious self (you would be, too, if you had recently discovered the joy of walking!), it was more of a workout to keep up with her than I am used to with my own little crawler! It also meant that the top of her curly-haired little head became exposed to more sunlight than I had seen when I practiced with Aly, so while her adorable curls needed one exposure, her toothy grin needed another. Hmm…turns out, black and white fixed these near-hopeless (light-wise) but precious (expressions-wise) images!
One final lesson that I learned during my photo shoot with baby Sophia: Reflective balloons and photography don't really mix. As if I didn't already have enough going on, running around trying to keep up with a toddler, maximizing my use of light, and trying to make sure the background wasn't goofy, I also noticed that I could SEE myself in the big, silver balloons that I was naive enough to bring for the birthday girl. Unfortunately, one image came out PERFECT except for the fact that you could see me clear as day, laying on the ground, camera in hand, in the reflection of a balloon. I cracked open my Photoshop book (I only recently acquired the program and haven't learned to use it…yet!) and quickly taught myself how to get rid of the unsightly blemish (myself stretched out on the ground in a balloon's reflection). Now, I can look back at the original image and laugh, not only at my naiveté for the choice of silver balloons, but also at the positions I get into in order to capture the perfect image!
So, it all worked out in the end; even with a new location, technical difficulties (read: camera-user error!), sleepy baby, and reflective props. After all, balloons + mirrored surfaces + crazy mommy/photographer antics = VERY happy baby (and super-cute photos!!).