Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

When you give, you get

March 7, 2010

I always look for ways to learn more, as both a parent and professional.

So when our local parent-teacher association asked for volunteers to help coordinate annual picture day at school last week, as a dad and photographer, I couldn’t resist.

Now for me, when it comes to volunteering, I have witnessed, first hand, the power of instant Karma. It might be the generalist in me, the lover of all things, but I always get a great deal of insight and enjoyment from each experience I contribute to. There’s always something great I get in return, when I give a part of myself to any cause.

Picture day was no exception to the cosmic law of give and take.

And it took alot.

As anyone can imagine, photographing hundreds of kids, from kindergarten to 6th grade – in one day – is a major undertaking. I was one of nearly a dozen volunteers to assist the faculty and a corps of about 12 photographers at four portrait stations in the gymnasium.

The biggest insight, professionally, was how much organization and process is going on, behind the flowery scenes and flash bulb pops.

We’re talking about many, many kids here, all at once and one right after the other. They each have their little envelope of money, with their package selected, and a corresponding card with a bar code.

They start up on stage, in the back of the gym ,where they get their class group photo taken, and then the kids are paraded out onto the floor to get their individual portraits.

This is mass production photography.

It’s up to the photographer to keep track of who’s who in the picture and make sure the envelope matches the person in the photo, so that each family gets the right prints back from the lab, with the right amount of photos enclosed.

These picture-day people have been doing this for a long time – you know, you remember getting it done too – and they have it pretty well figured out by now.

But as someone who is always studying others in my own industry, my head was spinning seeing hundreds of envelopes and little cards and bar codes flying around.

I realized pretty quick why annual, package-style, school photos are often so void of creativity. As Philip, one of the photographers there said, “It’s more important for us to be standardized than fancy.”

(read: The same “granny’s porch” backdrop for everyone, and flat, uninteresting lighting.)

But he’s right. To do that many photos in such a short period of time – and to keep it all creative – would be a tall order.

And he said, even if it was possible to be fancy, the extra time and effort for creativity on such a scale would drive prices way out of most families price range.

It was a super valuable lesson for me.

For a while, I toyed with the idea that I might expand my business model to include annual school photos.

Suffice it to say I no longer toy with that notion.

I’ll stick with smaller groups in better settings, like families in their homes or kids at the park, which on that scale, allows both creativity and affordability.

The hours flew by on the big round clock, hanging on the gym wall. And once the last class was process for pictures, I realized how much I really like kids.

Some folks don’t. I get that.

Others like their own kids, and that’s good they should, but they don’t care for other people’s kids so much.

But I just like ’em.

I am inspired by their curiosity and their willingness to learn. I enjoy their enthusiasm. And I know quite well that kids fib, lie and make up tall tales by the dozens – still – they have a certain honesty about them that most adults have lost or misplaced.

It’s a simplicity. It’s the ability to participate with and see things for what they are, without making strong or analytic assertions about them.

Kids have the ability to be in the present, not planning the future or replaying the past. They don’t worry. They smile for real, from ear to ear.

Present in the moment, they make enjoyment seem effortless.

It’s a goodness and a realness that as we grow into adults – for some reason – we lose.

I lose mine more often than not, but I always get it back in the company of kids.

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The Devlin Family

February 28, 2010

I spent Saturday afternoon in the charming household of the Devlin family: Daren, Stace and their 15-month-old son, Tige.

Stace and I had worked it out in the weeks prior, for me to come to their house to photograph them. As handsome as all three are, I couldn’t resist.

I arrived at their home at 1:30 p.m. as they were just returning from spending the morning together over breakfast at a small restaurant, formerly a train dinning car. The Devlin’s are the kind of folks I really enjoy spending an afternoon with.

A very close family, good values, and great company.

Tige was a champ, to be sure – and an absolute joy to photograph.

So full of life and smiles.

Now, I’ve photographed a good deal of kids before.

But Tige is the kind of boy, with is good looks and patience, who just kind of handed me the photos.

“Here ya go, Mister, I’ll make it real easy for you.”

After watching Stace and Daren interact, it soon made sense to me why Tige was so pleasant and content.

His folks really love each other – and take care of other.

As I was setting up the gear, I looked over my shoulder to see Daren straightening up the living room, tidying the sofa, and making it look good for the photos.

Dressing the set, as we say in the industry.

I like Daren. In fact, after the shoot, once back in my own home, I took a page from his book and I tried to do a bit more tidying than I normally do.

Sometimes it’s good to see how other dads role, and borrow good habits from them.

And for those of you who have been reading the blog for a while, you know that I think the best thing a man can do for his kids is love their mother.

No doubt, Daren is in that camp.

There’s a lot of love in their house.

I’m enriched, having spent time with the Devlin’s and I’m inspired to see such such love flourish.

And I’m grateful to have had the chance to capture it in photographs.

Thank you, Daren, Stace and Tige, for a wonderful experience!

Feel free to visit Luke Pinneo Photography for more portraits of families, friends and children.

Photo Website launched … families first

January 24, 2010

I finally took the good advice of many families, friends and On Fatherhood readers. As of early last week, I launched the family-oriented Luke Pinneo Photography.

For those of you who wonder, “Hey … where did the commercially-sheened Luke Pinneo Photography site go?” I can tell you it’s being completely revamped, with galleries of new images and a professional writing portfolio being incorporated into it.

And as 99.9 percent of my photo mentors, and nearly all of the great seasoned photography gurus have always said: Find subject matter you can relate to.

So I’ve decided to really focus on families; bringing them together, encouraging them to have fun … and to smile.

I’ve always been a pushover for a good experience. More than that, I find the best experiences are the ones we give. Which is why as you’ll see on the Website, I’ve really concentrated on providing a fun and stress-free experience for families while creating cheerful pictures of them.

I mean after all, nobody wants more stress today.

Though most agree they like nice pictures of their family.

But besides making pictures, I’ve discovered  something really special happens while photographing families.

They’re on location at the beach or park.

They’re all dressed up. They look great.

It’s almost like a movie.

We’ve planned the day in advance so there’s no rush. No tension.

And for that morning, afternoon or evening – they’re all together.

They’re smiling. They’re happy.

They’re enjoying a rare family moment they might not have had otherwise.

And they’re having a good time.

At that point, the pictures make themselves.

I might need to add some light here or there, or change a lens, but nothing’s forced. It’s all very natural.

When Dad smiles at Mom or the teenage son cracks a genuine smile; these are real moments – and we’re making pictures out of them.

And for me, it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world being invited into their lives for just a time, long enough to help them preserve it.

So if you get a chance, feel free to check out the gallery. And I hope you’ll think of me if you or anyone you know is thinking about having their photographs taken.

It would be alot of fun. I promise.