CreativeLive - Day 2

CreativeLive Day 2
The Pavlatos Family-

A few weeks before CL, Victoria emailed me to let me know that she and her family would be my models for my workshop.  I had let my producer (Malika) know that I would love to work with a large family.  In my mind I thought more along the lines of grandparents, children and grandchildren so I was really surprised when my large family turned out to be a Victoria, Timothy and their nine amazing children.

Now, I have to say I am old school - Brooklyn - Italian when it comes to kids, disciple, manners and politeness.  I think I have figured out that when you have that many children they need to be well behaved and not spoiled in order to have peace and harmony in life.
Without a doubt these 9 children blew me away with manners, politeness and personality!  I loved them all.  Having a “normal” family portrait session done with a family of this size is tough on everyone, never mind being on set all day with 3 video cameras along with my camera and an entire crew around.  This most certainly could have become a complete chaotic mess.  The truth is, it was one of my most enjoyable portrait sessions EVER!
If Victoria is ever looking for one of her children that appear to missing - I took one.  The only problem with that is I wouldn’t be able to decide which one to keep - they are all amazing!

The house we were using as our location was a dream for creating out door portraits.  Everywhere I turned there was another beautiful spot to use.  The only problem - I was a bit limited to how far I could go because of the camera wires and mic range.  I’m not used to being restricted and I had to get used to that quickly.  I also had to be done in the front of the house early enough to let the food delivery guys pass through without getting them on camera.  It is so crazy what goes on behind those cameras.

Teaching a workshop is always fun for me.  I really pushed the ladies who attended in a way they have never been pushed and I was nice enough to do it on camera.  For me, the best way to learn something is to do it myself.  I can watch someone do something 100 times but I won’t really get it until I actually do it!  Posing is a skill that needs to be learned hands on.  Christine, Lisa and Erin were great sports as I put them each on the spot to pose different combinations of groups.
Seeing how to puzzle people together while helping them feel comfortable in front of the camera is tough if you don’t have a lot of experience.  It is also helpful when you are learning something new to actually make mistakes.  That’s how we learn, we make mistakes and then learn how to correct them.  It’s pretty rare that anyone can master something new after only one attempt.  
A while back I read that it takes doing something 10,000 times to become a true expert at it.  Practice, practice, practice.....

Anyway,  the images I am showing you here are straight out of LR4 with nothing done to them except the logo and resizing.  A few have been cropped to 8x10 since that is how I intended them to be when I shot them.  

Even though we were shooting at what I would call the worst time of the day for portraits , we were lucky enough to have an overcast day or as I like to call it “God’s Softbox”.  I still would not recommend this time of day for portraits simply because the main source of light is still over head creating raccoon eyes.  Using a reflector under the faces helped to eliminate that problem but I still prefer late afternoon low directional light.  The point is we made it work - camera wires, overhead sun, lunch deliveries and NINE children ranging in age from 6 months to 17 years.

Tuesday seemed to fly by.  Before I knew it I was being flagged down by a white board announcing I had 10 minutes left.  When you are having fun photographing a family time  passes faster than you know it -  however when you are sitting on an airplane in front of a crying baby and a guy next to you that stinks - 3 hours feels like a lifetime! (I’m just saying)

After lunch we headed out back to continue working with the Pavlatos family using a different location.  There was a great deck off the house that provided beautiful open shade (until of course God decided to test me by yanking my softbox away and left me with bright direct sunlight).  I kept inching closer to the building in order to stay in the open shade but by the time the afternoon break came around I insisted on moving back to the front of the house where I had much better light.  

You can see how many different combinations of portraits we created with this family and honestly I could have kept going.  The light was PERFECT about an hour after we wrapped up.  However, from standing poses to sitting on the ground, using an arm chair and even a rock the possibilities for creating images were endless.  Not to mention the EZ Step blocks from Hanson Fong....  I’m pretty sure I could not live without them.

In the end I was thrilled with the images we created on day 2.  I had so much fun with Victoria, Timothy, Dre, Isaiah, Tatiana, Gabby, Anasia, Jordie, Tasso, Noodles and Evie (please forgive me if I spelled a name wrong - I’m thrilled I remember them all - but then again they are pretty unforgettable)

I’m looking forward to having the family over for dinner when they are in AZ visiting.... You know that is going to be fun!!!

Day 2 is a wrap and I’m already sad I only have one day left at CL.....

Tomorrow I will wrap up day 3....

Thanks for reading....




Categorized In: celentano | photograhy | portraits | weddings | wppi

Then and Now...

Then and Now....

It’s Sunday morning and I am just beginning to recover from WPPI in Las Vegas.  I have attended this convention since 1995 and wouldn’t miss it.  In the last 12 years I have spoken many times as a platform speaker but this year there was a really special energy.  
The feeling of excitement was electric and people were incredibly interested in learning how to become better photographers and better business people.

For most of my speaking career I start my programs with some of my very early work.  Going back to my younger days I remember sitting in programs and listening to amazing photographers talk about their work and there was always a little piece of me that wondered “how will I ever be that good?”.

It was daunting as a “newbie” to feel I had such a long way to go.  With that in mind, I decided when I started speaking that I would show my early and very bad early work as a way to show photographers that education is the most important thing you can do for your career and that if I could improve my work so could the students sitting in my class.

SInce then, dozens of photographers have thanked me for being brave enough to show my first wedding images.  They let me know that it really helped them to see that anything is possible - If I could do it so could they...

This exchange sparked an idea for a blog series I call “Then and Now”
Each blog will be dedicated to showing an image from my early work and an image from my current work.  I’m going to have to dig deep to find old images and pair them with new ones but I think it will be fun for everyone.  Fun for me as it will remind me of how much I have grown in my craft and hopefully fun for you to read and learn from.

Since I started my career in wedding photography I thought I would start this blog there.

Here are two wedding images taken years apart.

The first one makes me laugh because I can remember what I was thinking.  “Sweet, a nice gazebo, flowers in front, I’ll throw a flash behind the bride and groom and light them from behind like I learned in my last class.  I’m going to nail this shot”
I came close.... Okay except for the glasses I left of the railing of the gazebo, the backlight is too hot and pointed in the wrong direction and the posing sucks.... But at the time - I nailed it.

The second image is from several (okay maybe 12 years ago) but it is still a classic.  I used the environment, used the directional light, turned the faces of my subject toward the light and they are posed beautifully.  They are both open to the camera, there is detail in her dress as well as his tux.  To me this is a timeless image that could have been taken 12 years ago or yesterday.  

I’m pretty sure image 2 is a far cry from image 1.  

I still can’t believe I didn’t move the glasses from the railing.  Classic rookie mistake.


Categorized In: celentano | photograhy | portraits | weddings | wppi