Not all shoots go as planned...
My youngest daughter is about to turn one, and my wife Ashley and I wanted some pictures to commemorate this important birthday. Ashley came up with a great idea that involved our daughter Tobin holding a large bouquet of balloons while sitting in a vintage chair outside in a rural country setting. I loved the idea, and already had the perfect chair. It was yellow, so we planned to build the cohesiveness of the image around the color yellow. Ashley went to great lengths to find the perfect dress, as well as several different shades of yellow balloons to give depth with minimal contrast. We were set, and scheduled the shoot for a Thursday afternoon.
We planned to photograph at my parents home in west Sebastopol. They live outside of town and have a good amount of property that would work perfectly for the setting we were looking for. I had been out to their house a few evenings that week, checking on things as they were away on vacation. All week consisted of very still, warm evenings with perfect light. The shoot would be a family endeavor, as Tobin's older sisters, Madeline and Brooklyn, as well as her cousin, Jordyn, would be assisting. I was very much looking forward to getting some great images. This was a no pressure, well planned photo shoot of my daughter. Piece of cake, right?
We learned a lot about wind and balloons on this Thursday evening. It wasn't even that windy - It was slightly breezy at best. But it doesn't take much to turn 14 balloon strings into a knotted up mess. Twice we individually removed each balloon to unknot and reassemble the bouquet, but it would quickly return to a knotted up disaster. The few shots we did get were of balloons blown out of frame and Tobin not looking at the camera while almost falling out of the chair. This wasn't going as planned, so we quickly resorted to a new strategy...one balloon and lose the chair. We found a spot sheltered from the wind closer to the house on the lawn. We were able to get a few shots before the automated sprinklers came on! In the chaos of these few moments and with both my camera and my daughter on the ground, I leapt from side to side wrestling with where to go first. I then quickly grabbed my daughter :-). The few workable images we shot are below.
So the shoot didn't go as planned, but we did get a few images that beautifully capture Tobin at this important milestone. Despite the unexpected challenges we ran into, I had a great time working with Ashley getting these photos. A big part of every portrait's success is the experience tied to it, and with that perspective in mind, this shoot went exactly as I had hoped. It was a night full of creativity, improvisation, and a lot of laughter, and these images of Tobin at almost one year of age will always remind me of how much this little girl is loved, and how truly amazing my family is.