I recently had the thrilling experience of seeing one of my photographs translated as an oil painting. The work is stunning. The artist, Beth Borum, and I have been friends since attending St. Catherine’s School together in Richmond. (Though, when I reflect back on our friendship, I am drawn more to memories of our attendance at concerts and shows at the cavernous clubs around Grace Street than pre-Algebra classes!) Reconnecting with Beth on this project came about because our mutual friend Kara, also from school days, contacted us both last summer to ask if we would be interested in collaborating on a commissioned portrait of her two young boys.
I am indebted to Kara for providing such a cool connection point between friends as well as for the opportunity to work directly with an artist of Beth’s caliber. Before the photography session, Beth and I spoke a bit about background, mood and color. We also discussed some more technical aspects of the shoot. I tend to work very close-in with clients — but, in keeping with the ultimate goal of a painted work, I had to alter that approach and work with more distance in mind to avoid any awkward cropping that would not translate within a painted work.
My biggest challenge for this shoot was allowing for the relationship and energy between the two boys (these fellas were 4 and 8 when we did this session–LOTS of energy to work with!) to emerge within the still moments that I needed to present to Beth. We needed totally focused full-body shots with enough room in the background to give her some space to compose her painting. We also agreed to give preference to shots that did not have direct eye-contact with the camera but which still afforded a clear view of both boys’ faces.
Below are images of the final painted work and the photo on which that work was based. I’ve also included a few additional shots from our photography session. It was an incredible experience all-around and I can only hope that in the months to come, I’ll be able to capture an image of my own daughters that is worthy of committing to canvas at Beth’s hand. Or, maybe I already have something! The process of re-exploring my photographs as paintings might open up some new ideas on that front…
I would encourage anyone considering a commissioned work and an exciting, fresh approach to portraiture to contact Beth. Based in Chicago, she is the Artist-in-Residence at The Art House. Her website is www.bethborum.com.
Newborn sessions are among my very favorite shoots. Seeing a family curl around the new babe is such a treat. The little ones tend to need a lot of handling and soothing which means that in between shots, I try to give the new mamas a break AND get my baby fix –winning on all counts! This September saw the arrival of two little boys and I was privileged to receive the invitation to document each of them within their first days at home. It can seem overwhelming to have a photographer arrive on your doorstep within days of the birth, but I keep things unhurried, gentle and cheery. I aim to mix lifestyle shots with contemporary newborn portraits so that clients are able to select images that recall both their early moments as a new family as well as the fleeting look of those delicious new babes.
Small Sessions are my lifestyle photography shoots with children. They are very relaxed and usually take place in a client’s home. I spend most of my time traipsing behind the little ones, asking very little of them outside of steering them towards the best light I can find. I truly love working with kids and am careful to gauge what kind of interaction works best for each child. Some love for me to clown around with them while others prefer that I hang back a bit, speaking quietly, following their lead. Towards the end of a session, I often will suggest that their mom finds her way into the scene so that I can include her in the final images. Capturing the easy way parents engage with their children as they tuck themselves into the crook of an arm or even grip their grown-up’s knee koala-cub style is always a win for me. These sessions are different from a more traditional family portrait in that there is no careful arrangement or countdowns to smiling. I will ask everyone to get comfortable, get close, then closer and hope that they are relaxed enough to settle into the moment as I begin my work of documenting who they are and how they are right now. We found this special place at a recent session and I’ve posted several of my favorite shots below.
Our first fall weekend. We breezed through it like we had a rolling Norman Rockwell landscape as our backdrop. Really, it was the quintessential October weekend in Virginia — kicked off with a trek to the State Fair on a Friday night, and, when the temperatures cooled all day on Sunday, a day trip to beautiful Crozet in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Weekends like this are what allow me to let go of hazy, mellow summers and carry on into the next season. That and the promise of better hair days, new boots and wrapping up in a sweater to sip wine on the porch after dark. Oh, but the weekends like this… they go a long way.
Aubrey is a bright, cheery 7-month-old in these shots and oh, how I adore this age. Such a sweet, fleeting spot between the time when they sit up on their own and that game-changing moment when they begin marching (cruising! running! careening!) along on their own two feet. As we were wrapping up our morning, I was able to sneak in a few quick shots of Aubrey with her mama. It’s so very important for we parents to hand over camera duties from time to time and *get in the picture* whenever there is an opportunity! Little stolen kisses are moments worth remembering.