This fall has been a whirlwind of incredibly gorgeous weddings ~ including a local farm wedding (complete with cows, cornfields and a red barn!) just this past Saturday. And as much as I cherish my Sunday afternoons off after a wedding, nothing was more satisfying than photographing a beautiful family like the Boyers the next day. I have years of fond memories and gorgeous images from the first weekend of November. The foliage is always peaking, and the weather is always perfect. I photographed Kirby’s sister Morgan’s wedding on this same weekend back in 2007.
This session with Kirby, Steve and Madeline was part engagement, part family portrait, thanks to the help of Madeline’s Auntie Alex. Kirby just emailed me to say how much fun they had, and that the few moments she and Steve had alone yesterday rekindled their connection and gave them precious time to focus on their love for each other which is so easily taken for granted while parenting. So true… and it only gets harder as the kids get older!
The session was super easy since Kirby, Steve and I all live about 5 minutes from this park, and I am very familiar with it in all seasons of the year. I drive or ride my bike through the park several times a week to check on the foliage and the light at various times of day for upcoming sessions. To my surprise this year, each time I rode through the park there were several photo sessions in progress, but all of the photographers had chosen the darkest, shadiest spots possible. Yesterday I arrived about 30 minutes early to stake out my “special spot” for the Boyers, but alas, not a single photographer had dared to go near the sun. Maybe they had all watched the same webinars that instructed them to always go for open shade. Or maybe they literally didn’t even have the first clue about lighting.
I have been a photographer since college. At my 25th UVM reunion next year, my classmates will not be surprised to learn that I have been making a living as a photographer since graduation. In college I studied all kinds of art, and art history, in Italy. My awakening to how to capture and create light came as I discovered the luscious Renaissance figures popping out of dark, ancient paintings in the back of cold churches in Florence. Rembrandt’s technique, “Chiaroscuro” literally means light and dark combined. Definition: the use of strong contrasts between light and dark to achieve a sense of volume in modelling three-dimensional objects such as the human body. Three dimensional volume is suggested by the value gradation of color and the analytical division of light and shadow shapes.
A photographer is an artist who paints with light. At times when the light actually wraps around my subjects, I feel like I am sculpting with light. I position them in front of the sun, pop a little light back into their faces with a flash or reflector when necessary, and they are wrapped with light which separates them from the darker background, giving the image the third dimension of depth.
The colors in the trees are incredibly vibrant this week, but they actually look like they are ON FIRE when the sun is behind them; shining through the leaves. This is called backlighting. Remember the old slideshows? The pictures came alive because they were backlit. The reason why pictures on your digital devices look brighter than an actual print ~ backlighting. “How do you get those sparkly circles in the background?” asked my daughter while I was editing these images. “That’s the light shining through the leaves, honey.” It’s that simple. An 8 year old kid can understand light. It’s not rocket science, luck, or Photoshop. It’s knowing one’s craft.