My holiday traditions have changed radically over my lifetime. I thought I would share some real world holiday trials and tribulations with my photographically inclined readers. I have three daughters as some of you might know. They are all teenagers now but I have as you would expect a bit of experience making photographs of children. If it's my children on my schedule, it's a labor of love but I know what it takes to do "good" photographs of children and it's not an exercise that can really be scheduled and forced.
My advice to all of the people that want me to "do pictures" of their children after seeing some of my triumphs of sheer tenacity is to do it themselves - they will be better than the hour or so that they schedule me to do them. It's just how it works. Parents that spend time with their kids can make way better images than a guy/girl that shows up and tries to do it on demand.
Of course not even my family believes this so… I am elected to "do the Christmas pictures" of the little ones in my extended family. Hey, what can I say, people want what they want and do not believe me when I tell them they can do it better. Here is a brief summary of my process for your enjoyment. Of course I have not much say in the actual process, it gets scheduled in when convenient and I just go with the flow.
Phone rings - Hey sister-in-law, what's up?
SIL - Can you take some pictures for our Christmas cards? (first week in Dec)
Me - Sure when do you want to do it?
SIL - Hmmm, ummmm, how about this week-end.
ME - Okay.
Here is the reality - In the northeast it gets dark about an hour after lunch so natural light is out. We have to do it "after the nap" and the planned week-end day is after church on "Holiday Day". You know all the holiday stuff needs to get done, grand parents coming over, baking of cookies, dad is home, putting up the tree, ohhh and the pictures. Great - in the middle of all the extra stimulus we get to set up lights and try to get a two and three year old to stay in the same couple of square feet for maybe 10 seconds. Yep ideal conditions.
So what do I do? Just go with the flow - no of course not. I add an extra variable into the mix. I chuck a light in my car and decide to use the itty bitty Panasonic LX-5 to shoot it. What the heck - I just want to see if it can be done.
You will be happy to know that pocket wizards work just fine on the LX-5. They are a little ungainly, the transmitter is about the same size as the actual camera shoved into the hotshoe. The focus is way way too slow for auto-focus so a little pre-focus/manual-focus is in order but it worked. Very cool.
As usual my favorite images (the ones that depict the actual reality of the situation and the 2 year old's nature) are forsaken for the more typical "nice ones". Mission accomplished. Yea, not my best work but you try to do it with the cookie baking, mommom and popop trying to "help" make them take the picture, a couple of toddlers and shooting tight with a lighting margin of error of about half a foot.
Just thought I would let you people know - if you are the camera guy/gal this will happen sooner or later. Relax and just soak it in.