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  • Welcome to Our Journal

    Keith is a photographer who believes that kids are nearly perfect and that great images capture a bit of that perfection for all eternity. He loves that children don’t filter their emotions. Living loud is their power. And his job is to capture a moment of their uncontained imaginations: your children, unscripted.

    Melissa is the studio manager, adoring wife, busy mom and occasional writer that believes she is living the most beautiful life in the whole world.

    Keith and Melissa have two amazing daughters, Isabella and Gabriella and a little Jack Russell named Pooch.

    This journal is our personal blog about our family, photography, travel and how we are inspired by children in all their authenticity, one beautiful photograph at a time.

how to photograph kids: a sharp or non-sharp photo | phoenix children’s photographer

“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.” Henri Cartier Bresson

What is a successful photograph? A sharp photograph v a non-sharp photograph – are either of the above photos bad pictures?

Is a photograph bad because it is not sharp? If a photograph is sharp, does that make it a good photo?

Cartier Bresson’s statement reminds us that a successful shot is not entirely based on technical quality. The photographer brings their own experiences to a photograph. The moment and the feeling are what dictates a photographer’s choice. A sharp image or a non-sharp image illustrates a photographer’s vision.

Don’t let someone tell you that a photograph that is not sharp is a failure. Don’t throw a photo away because it is not sharp, throw it away because it doesn’t move you. Would you hang the photograph on your wall? Does the photograph illustrate the moment? Does the content inspire you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then your photograph was successful.

There are plenty of photographers with work sharper than Cartier Bresson’s, but none are more famous.

PS A photograph is not creative just because it is not sharp. It still has to be a good picture. The content has to justify your choice.
The photos above were both photographed with a manual focus film camera.

Kristen - September 21, 2012 - 10:15 pm

GREAT post. I always struggle w/this concept. I love the out of focus shots, but it seems as if mine And what I imagine in my mind never turns out in the image. Ugh.

a beautiful family in paris | family and children’s portrait photographer

There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million. Walt Streightiff

Living in Paris for a few years during childhood – how awesome! Great museums, tons of culture, learning a new language, gorgeous scenery, history around every corner – I have to admit I’m jealous. How fun it must be to spend some time growing up in Paris. But kids find wonder no matter where they are. And this brother and sister were no exception.

I just love how unscripted childhood is. I love that these two beautiful children are just having a blast. The iconic Eiffel Tower as the back drop just doesn’t matter to them. They are enjoying having their photographs taken or maybe they are enjoying themselves in spite of having their photographs taken. These kids are in the present – bonding with their surroundings, running, laughing, just being themselves.

What a kids portrait session should be all about: capturing the wonder of childhood. (and it doesn’t hurt doing it in Paris, either!)

changing schools | phoenix children’s portrait photographers

What an emotional action packed week it has been. Portrait season is kicking into high gear. Keith is in NYC photographing a wedding and a few family portrait sessions. And Gabby changed schools.

We knew the kids changing schools was inevitable once we decided to buy a new home in Phoenix. At the end of last school year, we placed both girls on the wait list at our favorite Montessori school in Phoenix. I think at the beginning of last week, Gabby was #16 on the wait list and they had lost Isabella’s application. Needless to say, based on that info we weren’t optimistic that Gabby or Isabella would be changing schools in the near future. I never imagined that in the matter of a few days, they would call me and tell me Gabby was in position 1. They said it could take a week, a month or the better part of a year for her to get the next available spot. Boy was I surprised on Friday when the phone rang and it was the school telling me they had an opening for her: immediately! Wow. I wasn’t ready for that.

Keith and I needed to make an immediate decision or the spot would be given to the next child on the list and Gabby would move to the back of the line. The benefit was obvious. If Gabby enrolled – it would place Isabella in spot #1 based on sibling priority status. It was what seemed like a no-brainer.

EXCEPT – I love the Montessori school they currently attend in Scottsdale. I love that Gabriella has the same teacher Isabella had when she first started. I love that they stay in the same class for three years. I love the bond we have with their teachers. My heart broke. I was hysterical. I sobbed to Gabby’s teachers. But I didn’t want Gabby to see me so upset. I didn’t want her thinking there was anything sad about her changing schools. Why was a decision that needed to be made so difficult to make?

And then the revelation came – there is just never a good time for these big changes. There is no time like the present. Just make the change. This was a good change. A change that needed to be made. Yet it made me so sad. But Gabby’s last day was Wednesday and her first day at her new school was Thursday.

I explained to Gabby (without tears I might add) about her new opportunity and how she would be at her nice new school for years to come. I told her how her new teacher knew her old teacher. I told her that this would be great. She would meet new friends and still stay friends with the wonderful kids from the old school. She protested at first. She didn’t want to change schools. So I of course resorted to bribery. I offered her two prizes for giving the school a try: either a horseback riding lesson or going to the zoo. I imagine that probably breaks every good parenting rule there is, but it worked. She chose the horse back riding lesson.

Thursday morning, we walked into her new classroom. Her teacher was a delight. She hugged her and just made her feel completely welcome. When I picked her up from school, I asked her what the low point was of her day and she said it was “walking into the classroom that morning”. I asked her what the high point of her day was and she said “everything else”. She said she loved it! She even mentioned to her sister that she was so excited to be going to this school “until I go to college”.

Wow, the lesson I learned? Never underestimate how resilient kids are. (and never underestimate the power of a good bribe).

how to photograph kids: in motion | scottsdale family portrait photographers

Children running, playing, jumping, just having a good time are some of my favorite photos. Personalities jump right out of the picture. Another of my favorites are kids on a carousel. Not a stale, flat picture but one that conveys the motion of the ride. But how do you do this? How can you keep the subject in focus and show motion at the same time. The answer: Panning.

Panning is fairly simple with practice and will offer a creative solution for conveying motion in a still photograph and can also give you a last trick for the end of a shoot when the light may be really dim. Here is how it’s done :

1. Set your camera at a slower shutter speed than you would normally handhold.

2. Follow a subject moving laterally in your viewfinder (on the screen for those of you using a consumer digital camera) with your camera. This technique does not work on subjects moving toward or away from you. You must move the camera with the moving subject.

3. Make your exposure (push the button) at about the time the subject is directly in front of you. Do not forget to follow through with the motion like a golf swing or a quarterback does when he releases the ball.

4. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

It may not work on the first try. Try also to lower the shutter speed below what common sense would allow. Sometimes great things come when you’ve got nothing to lose.

If a child is running like a madman and you can’t slow him/her down then this is a good technique. Even if it’s high noon and the sun is killing you all you need to do is drop your ISO, drop your shutter speed to about 1/30th and stop you lens down ( make the F number get bigger ) to the correct exposure and follow the above instructions.

I hope this is easy to follow. If you have any questions then comment them and I will answer .

happy 3rd birthday | scottsdale family photographer

This little guy is just so darn cute. I can’t stand it. A little over three years ago, his mom had her maternity photos done at about 34 weeks. Thank goodness, because not soon after, she went into labor and had cute little A a few weeks early.

His mom decided to have him photographed throughout his first year. That is just such an amazing time in a little one’s life. They grow so fast! And I always find it just crazy to look back at the first set of newborn pictures and try so hard to remember they were ever that small. You just can’t remember without that visual proof.

Fast forward a few years and he is now celebrating his 3rd birthday. I am forever the broken record – where, oh where does the time go? He is growing up right before the camera. So glad we are able to document him becoming a little boy.

Happy Birthday!