MacDill Help Portrait

Is this my portfolio for the last month or two? Nope, these are 9 family portraits shot in 3 hours recently. Read on to learn more!

I recently participated in the Help Portrait event. Check out their web site to learn more, but basically, it's about photographers donating their time and abilities to provide portraits to individuals or families in need. There were lots of great events planned around Tampa Bay, but I decided to arrange my own for the benefit of military families stationed at MacDill AFB. While these families may not necessarily fit the idea of "those in need" outlined by Help Portrait, I decided that they all deserved free portraits for their sacrifice and service.

The event itself was rather crazy, trying to get several poses in addition to various groupings (kids only, father and son, etc.) in the allotted time. Sort of like a speed dating version of a photo session! We held the event at the MacDill Family Resource Center in Brandon since most MacDill families live in that area. The FRC has a computer lab on site, and their folks were able to pull an image from the shoot and place it into an electronic greeting card right there on the spot. Very cool.

Thank you to all the MacDill families who participated in the event! You all did a great job! My favorites are compiled in the photo at the beginning of this post, but here are few more...

A big thank you to all the participating families, and all active duty military families around the world. Most of us will never fully appreciate the extent of your sacrifice. Giving you these family portraits seems like a pretty small gesture in comparison.

Thank you.

Kathryn's Christmas Card Photos, Sawgrass Lake Park

Well, it's that time of year...annual family portrait season just in time so send those holiday cards to everyone. Karen, Vanessa and I already paid Kevin and MJ a visit for our annual photos (to be posted soon). But today we're looking at photos taken for Kathryn. We had a lovely day (perfectly overcast = good for photos) at Sawgrass Lake Park. We probably saw half a dozen other groups doing photos that same day. Tis the season!

Kathryn and her son Leo hang out near some trees. Kathryn mentioned she was interested in using pine trees as elements in the photos. There were plenty at the park to work with and incorporate into the scenes.

As usual, most of my favorites are when they are relaxed and just being themselves.

Kathryn even brought someone special along for the shoot...her dog Bella. Luckily, we found some random guy to hold Bella's leash and keep her in the photo. Just kidding, Jordan.

Another one of the whole group.

We strolled around the park until we found another spot with beautiful light. We took a few moments to just concentrate on Kathryn and Leo.

Right when I heard Kathryn mention pine trees, I knew I wanted to take them to this spot in the back of the park. The sun peeked out for a few minutes which added a nice touch.

We took a break from the posed stuff and just had them stroll around together. Very cool.

If the bright sun is going to come out, we might as well use it!

Remember, Leo, never climb on top of boardwalk pavilions. Leave that to photographers who think getting the photo is more important than personal safety. Besides, it was chilly that day; the alligators were pretty lethargic.

A few on a bench in one of the pavilions.

Dogs aren't allowed out on the boardwalks, so Kathryn, Leo and I ventured out into the swamp for some more photos. The previous photos look like they could've been taken anywhere, but these let you know we are definitely in Florida.

A wider angle incorporates some of the forest into the shot.

After we were "done" I couldn't help hiding around the next corner to sneak a few more photos of these two acting natural.

Thanks so much for thinking of me to shoot your holiday photos! Everything came together; a beautiful family, a beautiful park, and perfect weather. Not to mention a very cooperative dog! How often does that happen?

Vanessa's Birthday Photo Shoot

Last week was Vanessa's second birthday. We managed to take a few photos during the party, but we're always so busy it's tough to get more than a few quick snaps. Maybe Vanessa will post those photos to her blog soon (she's been slacking lately). Later in the evening, when we had more time, Vanessa sat down with Mama for as long as a two-year old surrounded by new toys can be expected to sit still.

This was just a light test when I was setting things up, but it ended up being one of her best poses.

Mama jumps in for a few photos.

The two girls ham things up.

Between periods of goofiness, Vanessa can be full of love.

So much love.

Singing songs was the only way to hold Vanessa's attention.

Vanessa was done with photos and acting fussy so we used the oldest trick in the parent book and just started shooting without her. Soon, she wanted to be part of the action again.

Come on Vanessa, show us your teeth. Well, you didn't have to point to them, but that's OK.

Too cute.

Vanessa is ready for her closeup.

Vanessa poses with her awesome new super-soft gorilla from Aunt Christine.

Counting to ten never looked so fun.

Things were easier with Mama behind me holding her attention.

Happy Birthday Vanessa! It's amazing to think about all that's happened in the last two years. In case anyone wants to be reminded of what was going on exactly two years ago, you can read all about it here:

North Carolina Mountain Foliage

We recently took a trip up to the mountains in North Carolina to get a taste of fall. I still believe that Florida has seasons, but there is no comparison when it comes to the fall foliage displays of the northern states. We rented a house for a week and we tried to soak up as much mountain and foliage scenery as we could. I didn't take as many photos as usual thanks to a few days of rain and a few days of being sick.

Here is the long view from the deck. It's quite a sight to see these large swaths of forest all changing color. The area around the house was at peak color, or very close to it.

One morning I got up before sunrise to make a few photos since the forecast called for heavy fog. Up in the mountains, the weather never really followed the forecast and it ended up being rather clear. On other "clear" days the area around the house ended up being completely fogged in. Gotta love that mountain weather. Anyway, this waterfall was just a short walk down the gravel road from the house.

While walking back to the house, the sun came up over the mountain and starting streaming through the foggy forest. I made several photos of the light shining on to the forest floor, mainly ferns, but this one was my favorite.

Back at the house, the early morning light combined with the wet leaves of the past two days of rain made the colors really pop.

The opening in the forest in front of the deck acted as a funnel. The fog and clouds would come floating up the mountain and push right over the house.

I couldn't resist a handheld self portrait in front of the blazing colors.

That same day we did some hiking around Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi. The foliage was already done at these elevations, but the summit of Mitchell is mostly weather beaten pines anyway. It was very interesting to walk through such a unique high elevation ecosystem.

Karen took the camera and got a few shots of me with Vanessa.

Here is Karen taking in the view.

Back at the house, a setting sun backlights the forest and makes the leaves glow.

I managed to capture a few portraits of Vanessa in front of some nice foliage.

During a family hike around the house, we encountered these amazing leaves.

Finally, another view from the deck. The sun had already gone down and it was getting dark. Balancing the camera on the deck rail and using a long shutter speed really brought out the yellows.

Well, that's it for our trip. Karen and briefly lived in Asheville so we really enjoy going back to that area. I wish Asheville had an ocean, or Florida had a mountain range. Oh well.