The Art of Light in Portrait Photography

Any photograph capturing a special moment is beautiful, I think we can all agree on that. But what makes one better than another? The light.

The word “photography” is based on the Greek words phos meaning light and graphê, meaning drawing or writing. Photography, therefore, is “drawing with light.”

Sometimes you just get the most gorgeous light and it turns a photograph into a piece of magic. And sometimes it’s cloudy and rainy and that’s what you deal with, and it doesn’t mean you can’t still get great images, because you can still show emotion on a cloudy day, and often you can’t reschedule a session last minute.

But when that light hits… it’s amazing. Late afternoon and evening is when you hear about the golden hour or magic hour. It’s true! That nice warm light in the afternoon can take an image from good to downright beautiful.

These images were all taken in late afternoon and early evening and show gorgeous golden light spilling onto the subjects from behind.

I’m not saying you can’t shoot in the middle of the day or in the morning. There’s a little bit of a golden hour REALLY early when the sun just comes up (but the dust and pollution that builds up during the day helps make the afternoon light a little more golden and special, ironically!), and if you’re shooting in open shade, a midday shoot can work. But sometimes it’s difficult. I have shot in midday before because it’s convenient for the client, and I don’t think I’ll budge on that again unless I’m really familiar with the session location and I know we have some nice shaded areas to work with. Don’t shoot in an open area unless you’re prepared with heavy lighting… which can definitely take away from the beauty of an outdoor natural light session.

These images were taken in the middle of the day, but I had lots of open shade to use to my advantage to make nice images. Notice that nobody has harsh light in their face and there aren’t any dark shadows under chins or noses, or black shaded eyes, and every person has a nice catchlight in their eyes, which gives soul to the images.

Now, I could try to dig up old portraits I took before things clicked (ha!) and I realized how important the surroundings are- not so much your backgrounds, but the quality of the light around the people you are photographing- but I won’t embarrass myself and my clients from so long ago.

Next time you get out to take some portraits, remember these tips and see the difference!

Want to schedule a beautiful light session with me? If you’re in the Kansas City area, check out my website and contact me. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!

 

More fun with the Mitchell Family

I’d be surprised if you haven’t already seen images from past sessions with the Mitchell family. Ben and Jenny really value the importance of documenting their memories with professional photography, and I’m so grateful to be the one invited into their lives to help them celebrate these special moments!

My first portrait session with the Mitchell’s was a maternity session when the couple was expecting Ella, who has grown into such an adorable girl!

This particular day was, well, cold. And windy! And cloudy. But we did it! We braved the chill and made it happen! Baby Haley had just celebrated her first birthday the day before, joining older sister Ella and Jenny’s mother, brother and sister-in-law.

Although not much had started turning green yet, dad and husband Ben found this location with a nice bridge and a really cool creek. We threw a few rocks into the creek from the bridge. When Ella was asked if she wanted to be thrown in too, she said, “No! I am not a rock!”

Good reasoning, Ella!

 

Here’s the whole group. The cold is starting to really get us, but both girls were cooperating, and you might notice Ella helping to make sure Haley was looking toward the camera if you look closely. 😉

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We ended the afternoon with a few quick photos in this chair, just as we had done a year ago when Haley was brand new. Look at how much they’ve grown… and how much faster they move!

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Thanks for reading!

You can view images from the Mitchell’s previous portrait session here.

Check out my website for more portraits and to connect with me.

Warmly,

Melissa

Hello, baby Ruth!

I got to photograph sweet little Ruth recently, and I’ve never seen a more adorable mermaid! (Read on for those photos!)

Meet Ruth. She’s wearing a bonnet that belonged to her mom, Laura, when she was a baby. She cracked a little smile for the camera after taking in the strange surroundings with all the lights.

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Ruth’s grandma made this owl hat and the sign AND the beautiful mermaid tail. What a crafty lady!

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Here’s the sweetest mermaid ever. Ruth was awake for most of the shoot, but decided to get comfortable and take a nap for her last set of photos. Modeling is hard work, guys!

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Let me know what you think of these images of Ruth!

Connect with me on Facebook, Instagram and my website.

 

All images © Melissa McGhee Photography 2017.

Jackson is ONE!

I first took photos of this family last fall, and mentioned to Julie, Jackson’s mom, that we should definitely schedule a cake smash photo session for his first birthday. Cake smashes are fun- the kid gets to enjoy some cake, and I get to take some cute and messy photos to celebrate a milestone first birthday. Julie put all the props together for the shoot and we were ready to go!

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Except when the birthday boy doesn’t like his cake. That’s right. Julie ordered an adorable cake and Jackson did not know what to do with it. When he tasted a little of the icing, he made a face like he had just eaten something more along the lines of sauerkraut or pickle juice!

This was quite a surprise to Mom and Dad, who noted that he puts everything in his mouth. Leaves, dirt, you name it- much like every other kid his age. Maybe he just doesn’t know what to do on the floor. Maybe he’ll start eating if we put him in his high chair?

Jackson started out being really excited, but his attitude changed when he realized he was getting that same old cake in the chair. He wasn’t having it… Although, Dad was kind of proud of him for not tearing into the cake.

And if he had gotten all messy with the cake, we might not have gotten these adorable photos with the red balloon.

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Happy Birthday, Jackson!

P.S. I hope your mom and dad enjoyed your cake!

Contact me to book your baby’s one year portrait session- cake or no cake! 🙂

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Melissa McGhee

 

Meet Baby Vera

Sweet little Vera entered the world less than two weeks ago. I was so excited to photograph her and her beautiful head of dark hair, which is quite the contrast to her three siblings when they were born! I had the pleasure of taking each of their newborn photos, and it’s so awesome to see traits of each of them in her.

 

I was happy to have the opportunity to put this flower wreath to use, and the photos turned out so darling. Look at the sweetness!

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Vera was sweet and sleepy for the most part- a perfect newborn model! I had MANY ideas for her photos, and we got to most of them before her sisters and brother arrived for the sibling images. But I still have a swing prop I’m hoping to use soon on my next newborn girl for another garden-like look.

When I planned for the shots below, I had it pictured perfectly in my head. The oldest girl will hold the baby in her lap, the little boy on the left will lean against his big sister and the little girl on the right will cheerfully lean against her sister’s legs and everyone will look at my camera at once and I’ll get the perfect shot! …And then I laughed to myself, because that was probably a pretty far fetched idea for children so little.

And you can’t blame the kids- they’re kids, of course! Short attention spans are perfectly normal. When you’ve got little toddlers with minds of their own, it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed, wondering if you’ll ever catch a shot where each kid is cooperating at the same time.

What I do see in these images is a connection between siblings. I see interaction and- obviously-  adorable faces. But the best part was when I showed their mother the preview images. She saw these and an “Ooohhhh!” came out of her mouth. That’s what makes it special.

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I’ll leave you with that! Enjoy this? Visit my website and follow me on Facebook!

If you’re in the Kansas City area, contact me to learn more about my photography sessions. eight-one-six 522.4678

Thanks!

Melissa McGhee