I’ve never sat down and counted the many factors that come into play for a successful photo session. There are dozens; I know that. A few of the most crucial are natural lighting angles, location access, weather, opportunities and abilities for off-camera lighting setup, my creative flow and vision for the shot, and the subject’s comfort level in front of the camera. I think of all these things like the sliders lined across a soundboard. On any given day, these sliders can be all over the place. Maybe we’ll have awesome light at an angle that doesn’t work with the direction of the wind. Maybe we’ll show up to a secluded location I thought no one else knew about, and find a handful of photo sessions taking place in all the good spots. Many of the variables are beyond my control, so I make adjustments as necessary to optimize the situation.
But with Nick’s senior portrait session, every slider on that metaphorical soundboard was dialed up to 11. He was an incredibly confident and stylish subject. He trusted my ideas. We had access to some unique locations as well as some public areas where we encountered not another human soul. We had a perfectly overcast day (my absolute favorite type of natural light) with the clouds breaking right at sunset, soaking the the Kansas City skyline with rich warm tones as the buildings lit up for the night. We had a couple incredibly hot cars to shoot with. It was epic, start to finish.
I love the versatility of the amazing locations all around Kansas City. We have peaceful parks and nature preserves just a few miles from our gorgeous urban areas. The variation of soft natural backgrounds at English Landing Park to the fun lines, lights, and patterns in the architecture in the Power and Light District provided the perfect assortment of backdrops for Riley’s stylish senior session. This young lady had an amazing, warm and welcoming personality that was incredibly easy to work with. Her serious side was fierce and alluring; her smile radiated joy and kindness. We had a lot of fun working together. She even brought along her beautiful dog, Boo, to grab a few photos with him. Boo was a perfect addition to the session, as I encourage my senior clients to make their sessions all about what they love and what reflects their personalities and interests. I always welcome seniors to include family, pets, sports gear, cars, and best friends in their sessions.
I am excited to work with another class of soon-to-be-graduates as this new school year begins! Contact me today to discuss the perfect settings for your high school senior portraits!
I have a maniacal giggle that comes out every now and then. It’s often accompanied by a three-second happydance that would surely embarrass my children. The giggle/dance combo can be seen in nature when everything comes together perfectly to create the shot I have in my mind. Poor Blake had to witness and hear this celebration more than once during his senior portrait session in downtown Lee’s Summit and the Lee’s Summit North track. As my incredible subject, he’s at least partially responsible for it, so I don’t feel like I need to apologize to him.
I will, however, thank Blake for being awesome to work with for this very fun session that shows his magnetic personality and athleticism. I love the mix of shots we captured throughout historic downtown Lee’s Summit (one of my favorite locations for portraits), and I was thrilled with the fact that we were able to spend some time at the LSN athletic complex for some dusk photos of this Broncos track star. The sunset was absolutely superb, with amazing textures and colors that most photographers dream of. Some cheat with Photoshop after the fact, but that’s just not my style!
There are so many details that contribute to a successful portrait session, and only a handful of them are within my control. I have my cameras, lenses, and lighting gear. I have tons of location suggestions. I know the best times of day to shoot at the location my clients want. I have backup locations to battle the “what if” issues at all times. Being a bit of a control freak and a perfectionist, I’ve got those details covered front to back. But there are a few details that are at least somewhat out of my hands. I can’t regulate the weather (which is a shame because here in Kansas City, we have wind, rain, humidity, excessive heat, hail storms, tornadoes, ice storms, and blizzards). And I can’t determine how comfortable my subjects are in front of a camera. Sure, I can help with posing, and tell a joke or two to help people relax, but what most photographers won’t admit is that our interpersonal skills and arsenal of poses can only do so much, or it can take half the session to get someone to relax. I absolutely love it when I can tell I’ve taken someone from apprehensive to confident during our photo session. To see a natural smile or a sincere laugh come from someone who initially had a hard time showing me those things is incredibly rewarding.
But, I won’t lie, it’s awesome when I don’t have to do a darn thing to help someone look and feel completely comfortable in front of the camera. Kevin is most definitely one of those people. He has style, charisma, a great personality, and a wonderful smile.
For Kevin’s session, we explored the West Bottoms, which is a perfect spot for great colors, textures, and variety of backgrounds within easy walking distance of each other. Paired with Kevin’s classic clothing style and perfectly photogenic ways, we ended up with an absolutely perfect photo session.
Working with high school seniors has always been, and will probably always be, my favorite thing to do. They tend to have great fashion sense and personal style, and they enjoy being in front of the camera (I wish I could say that every client is like that, but some people are forced by their bosses to get headshots, and sometimes there’s a less-than-enthusiastic member of the family who has things they’d rather do than spend their free time posing for portraits). Additionally, I’ve had the joy of working with young people who have great confidence in who they are and where they are heading in life. I love this. It makes a senior’s personality easy to capture and allows their style to flow naturally.
This was definitely the case with Desirea, a Lee’s Summit North High School class of 2017 student on the verge of graduation and exciting next steps. She knew from the start that she wanted to explore Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District for her portrait session, as she is an art student who often spends First Fridays at galleries in the area. I could tell that she felt right at home in this area, which is pretty much a photographer’s playground. The interesting doors, grungy alleyways, wide array of architecture, and colorful façades make this one of my preferred locations to shoot any kind of session, but it worked especially well for this young artist. Hopefully one day not too far down the road, I’ll see her back in the Crossroads in a gallery of her own!
This wonderful young man named Dylan from the Lee’s Summit North High School varsity football team stopped by to get some portraits in his gear, and in the process reminded me of how much I enjoy photographing high school athletes. I love commemorating this time in their lives that they’re dedicating to a sport they enjoy so much. In many cases, their hard work, focus, and skill allows them incredible opportunities in college, which is so exciting! And when they step into my studio, it’s an opportunity for me to challenge myself to create more unique and dramatic lighting setups that set the mood for the image. Plus, we have things like footballs and helmets and such to use as props during the session, which is also fun!
For the studio portion of our shoot, I chose to use a gray backdrop, for its ability to appear as varying degrees of gray, all the way to complete black, depending on my lighting angles and camera settings. It allows me to quickly change the look of the photo, which gives us more versatile looks throughout the session – some traditional, and some more dramatic.
I am really excited about how these pictures turned out. I hope I’ll see more athletes in the studio and on the field this year to create some unique portraits for them to enjoy for years to come!
Good luck in the rest of your season, Dylan. Go Broncos!
Arijit is graduating high school this year. I’m sure he’s excited about that. But what is more exciting to him, it seems, is his car. He wanted to have the car in every shot. I convinced him to do a few that just focused on him, but we certainly shot a lot of photos with the car. Oh, and we even took a few of the car alone. It made him happy, and it was a nice change of pace for me.
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