Santa Fe New Mexico Family and Children Photographer – David Moore » Blog

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This is the photography blog for photographer and writer David Moore. He's based in Santa Fe, New Mexico but speaks with a funny accent.


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    December 8th, 2011

    Autumn family photo shoot in Santa Fe

    As snow and cold weather embrace Santa Fe this week, how about a reminder of what a gorgeous autumn we had?

    This shoot for Laura and Rick and their children Merrick and Milana took place on a lovely Sunday afternoon, and featured Merrick’s signature red hat.

    Sometimes the ‘correct’ thing to do for the shoot – it’s easier to photograph someone when they’re not wearing a wide-brimmed hat – isn’t the right thing.

    Merrick wears his hat all the time, its’ a part of what makes him hime right now, and that needed to be shown in the session (I also shot some without the hat).

    The session went really well, and some of the images were made in a lovely accordion folding holiday card – see below.

    Posted on 12/8/11 | no comments; | Filed Under: Children's portraits | read on
    November 18th, 2011

    ‘I probably won’t hit you, but just in case . . . ‘ – Photographing snowkiting for a magazine

    A piece I wrote and photographed for New Mexico Magazine has appeared in the December issue – and getting the shots was a bit more intrepid than the work I normally do.

    Back in March, I went up to a snowy field beside the Brazos Pass in northern New Mexico to talk to and photograph Stuart Penny, who teaches snowkiting – a fast-growing and exciting winter sport.

    The snow was really deep – one step the crust on top would support you, but the next you’d be post-holing up to your crotch in the white stuff.

    Stuart was teaching a class, and I hung out for a while watching him instruct his pupils on how to harness the wind to have them zooming across the the snow.

    When the class was over, we talked about the sort of shots I wanted and how to get them. I wanted some wide establishing shots to show what the sport was about (both in landscape and portrait formats to give the designers options when it came to layout), some close-up portraits and then some shots of him in the air.

    I’d not shot snowkiting before, so beforehand I’d checked online to see what other photographers were doing with it. This gave me a sense of some of the issues I’d face, and helped me visualize what I’d be looking for. One of the ideas I liked was getting the kiter in the air with the sun in the shot, too (shown here in the upper of my two beautiful sketches).

    One question was that for the activity to make sense to people who’d not seen it before (like most of the New Mexico Magazine readers), I needed to show the ground, Stuart and the kite – shown in the lower of the two sketches.

    Shots of him in the air without the ground or the kite would work well as supplementary images, but wouldn’t tell the whole story. I knew that this piece was likely to run only on one page (two if the images were good enough), so the establishing shots and portraits were the must-haves.

    So with all this preparation, Stuart and I quickly came up with a plan. Based on the direction of the winds, he showed me how he’d go aways a little, turn around and then come straight at me. He said he’d stay on the ground for a couple of passes, before going round again and getting airborne.

    ‘I aim to go straight over your head,’ he said calmly. ‘I probably won’t hit you, but just in case, be ready to get out of the way quickly.’

    This could be a problem, as running wasn’t an option. I figured if I had to, I could just fold myself over face down in the snow.

    Stuart nailed his passes, and as he flew over my head I racked my 24-105mm lens as wide as I could and kept shooting (click on any of following images for a larger versions).

    The snow acted as a great reflector throwing light up into his face, so even with the sun behind him, the images worked well.

    Not a normal day at the office for me, but one I greatly enjoyed.

    Here’s what that sketch of a snowkiter airborne with the sun turned into:

    And I like this one with Stuart looking at us with snow coming off the back of his board.

    And finally, the man on the ground:

    The text of the article is here.

    And you can learn more about Stuart on his site.

    Posted on 11/18/11 | 5 comments | Filed Under: News | read on
    November 15th, 2011

    Photographing older children – a girl and her dogs

    Shooting older children can be more tricky in some ways than, say, preschoolers – the older kids are more self-conscious and (wisely) more suspicious of a bloke with a funny accent showing up with a bag of cameras.

    It’s my job to try and make people feel comfortable, which I do in a number of ways. Some of it is just personality, and I talk to children pretty much as I’d talk to adults, which seems to go down well whatever age they are. I also start slowly, learning a little more about the girl or boy, and assessing their temperament.

    I tend to meet them where I find them – if they’re quiet and subdued, I’ll be quieter and smaller in my gestures and suggestions. If they’re energetic and full of beans, I’ll be running around with them in no time.

    Here are some images from a shoot earlier this year, where the subject Heather (I’m not using her real name, at her parents’ request) tolerated me very graciously. She’s funny and open, and loves dogs – we got on well.

    Shot in her yard in the early morning, we picked spots where the angled light would be attractive but not too harsh, and I used a reflector both to bounce light up into her face when she was backlit, or to diffuse some of the harsher light in other spots.

    I got stains on the knees of my trousers from kneeling down to capture Heather playing with her dogs, but only an idiot wears light trousers to a photoshoot, so I got what I deserved.

    I was talking to Heather throughout the whole shoot, and a couple of times she had this great look as she thought about the silly question I’d just asked her. I was very glad I caught it:

    The dogs were friendly and keen to play, so I spent a little time getting their portraits too.

    After seeing the photographs, Heather’s mum said, ‘you have a wonderful way of making people feel comfortable, especially children. [Heather] was very open with you and that was reflected in the photos.’

    I couldn’t wish for better feedback.

    Posted on 11/15/11 | no comments; | Filed Under: Children's portraits | read on
    November 4th, 2011

    How I learned to get out my own way and shoot more

    Why do we why find it so hard to do the things we know we should do? I don’t even mean exercising or eating the right things here – I’m just thinking about taking photographs.

    As keen photographers of whatever stripe, you’d think we’d be out the whole time firing off shot after shot, especially now there’s no immediate cost to shooting one more digital image.

    But I’ve found that unless I have a paying job, the cameras might stay in their bag from one week to the next. And the longer this goes on, the more grumpy I get.

    So I came up with a two-fold plan to counteract this. The first stage was to buy the Olympus EPL-2 (part of the PEN series) and the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens and leave them in my laptop bag, so I’d always have a camera with me.

    This stage wasn’t completely necessary, but I did leave the big lad at home more than I’d bring it, unless I was going out to shoot something specific.

    The second step was to set myself a challenge to post eight images every week to a new Tumblr site I set up, called 8 Days a Week. A photo project was born

    I thought that I’d be likely to fail if I made myself shoot every day, but I still wanted to make taking photographs into a habit, so delivering eight images every Monday seemed reasonable. That way, if there were three or four good shots from one day, and none for a couple of days, my system was flexible enough to deal with it.

    I’m into my fourth week now, and it’s amazing what a feeling of obligation can do for you, even if it’s self-imposed. Our dog comes to the office with us most days, so I grab the camera while she’s getting her lunchtime walk, and at other times too I’m looking for images in a way I wasn’t before.

    No Pressure

    Most of the time I’m not thinking about whether the images are good or not, I’m just getting them in the camera, and I’ll worry about quality later. That way, there’s no pressure on me to produce – I can just follow my nose.

    And coming up with only 8 images each week that I’ll be sharing with the world doesn’t seem that frightening.

    Often it seems I don’t have the willpower to make myself do things when my internal resistance tells me that I have to work or that there’s no point taking these stupid shots anyway.

    But I am a creature of habit, and if I can persuade myself that I’m just messing around anyway, I can sneak in some shooting before the resistance knows what’s happening. That, and it’s fun.

    You can see all three weeks’ work here, or on the Clearing the Vision Facebook page

    Do you have routines or customs that get you out shooting when you otherwise wouldn’t? Let me know in the comments section below, I’d love to hear them.

    Posted on 11/4/11 | 1 comment | Filed Under: Creativity, Tips/Tutorials | read on
    October 18th, 2011

    Telling richer stories – a hybrid video/stills approach to children’s photography

    Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about what children’s photography is actually about. You’d think it has a simple answer – it’s about taking photos of kids (duh).

    That’s what we do, but that’s not why we do it, whether we’re professionals or taking photographs of our own children. Clients of mine say they want the photographs for a number of reasons – for holiday cards, to send to the grandparents, to mark a birthday, but I think what they really want is to tell the story of their child at a particular time in their life, and (even more importantly) to show how much they love them.

    That’s certainly why I do an annual photo session with my own daughter every Fall (here are some images from 2009’s session). We use the same place – our kind neighbor’s lovely garden – and over time these images will build up to an ongoing record of her as she grows and changes.

    We want her to look good in the photographs, of course, but more, we want to look authentically like her which is a little different. When I’m showing clients the photographs from their sessions, I can sometimes predict the images they’re going to love, but just as often they see in some of them something about their child that I can’t see (because I don’t know them well enough). It might be a facial expression (‘that’s so him’) or an activity, but it’s something that means more to them than I could have predicted.

    Which is why I don’t shoot in a studio and pose the children – I want them to be really them, not to be little models for the afternoon, so they look like themselves when the images come off the camera.

    Deepening the Experience

    If parents want to tell the story of their child, then still images are definitely one excellent way.

    But I’ve also been looking at incorporating video into the mix too. So for this year’s shoot with my daughter, I asked her a few questions on camera, and edited her answers together with some stills.

    The real value is not so much in her answers (though these will be nice to have in a few years’ time), but in watching her answer them. Hearing her voice, seeing how she moves – these are the things that bring her to life. The video elements, together with the stills, tell a richer story about her than the stills alone.

    Not Hard to Do

    This approach is something you can do easily – I shot the video on my Canon 5D II, using an external microphone (that wasn’t quite close enough to my daughter), but you could use any number of video shooting devices for it – iPhone, Flip, whatever. So long as it’s locked down on a tripod or something else similarly stable, you’ll be fine.

    As with still photography, look for a spot where the light is relatively even and where the subject will looking out from shade to a brighter area, to get some catchlights that will make their eyes twinkle.

    I edited it on iMovie on my Mac, using a free music track sourced from the great Vimeo music library.

    I thought about stripping out the voice track and running her answers over some more photographs, but her facial expressions and reactions to the questions were so good that I just kept the audio and video together for the answers, and ducked the level of the audio track up for the photographs, and down for the video.

    The grandparents completely loved it, and Fionnuala enjoyed the video session too. Definitely something to do for next year too. I’ll still be taking any number of still images, but I’m happy with the way the impromptu video session came out.

    And if you’ve got some examples of a similar hybrid approach you’ve made yourself or seen elsewhere, I’d love to take a look at them.


    Posted on 10/18/11 | 1 comment | Filed Under: Children's portraits, Tips/Tutorials | read on
    September 26th, 2011

    Is There a Mirrorless Camera in Your Future?

    The good folks at the monstrously successful Digital Photography School website have been kind enough to publish another of my articles. When I say successful, how does 713,000 subscribers sound?

    This time, I look at the pros and cons of mirrorless cameras. The article begins:

    Up until recently, there were two main paths you could take when choosing a digital camera. As we know, point and shoots offer affordability, small size and convenience, but the trade-offs are limited manual options and constrained image quality.

    You can read the rest of the analysis over at Digital Photography School.

    Posted on 9/26/11 | no comments; | Filed Under: Mirrorless cameras, News, Reviews | read on
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