I greatly welcomed a bohemian themed shoot in the awakening Finnish forest this weekend. There is only scattered snow in shaded areas left and the blueberry bushes are just starting to bud and open.
It took half the Winter, but we finally saw snowfall here in Helsinki.
The light and scenery is so exquisite this time of year. Soft and light and lovely. We’re fortunate to have a mild Winter – not too cold for tea parties with friends!
The greatest gift I’ve received as a photographer is the ability to travel around the world to photograph fascinating people. This particular family, photographed outside of the Gig Harbor area of Tacoma, Washington, have been known by me for over six years. It was both a pleasure and and honor to come photograph them in such a beautiful location.
Our luck would have it that although it was a park next to the kids’ school, it would also rain nearly the whole day. Such is the weather in the Seattle/Tacoma area, however, and the children were great sports despite soggy logs and wet shoes!
Fall is just starting to dust the foliage in Southern Finland and I was really looking forward to capturing the colors of the season with this session. I had a lovely family to shoot – and for me, the challenge was to make sure that every image I shot really showed how remarkably kind and sweet this small family is – and to make sure their love came through clearly.
We started in a beautiful forested area by the lake. Of course, with a lake session the challenge is to photograph but still make sure no little ones decide to go swimming. But the lake is also my lighting source, especially on an overcast day like that afternoon. And although I love the diffused lighting, I also have to make sure not to flat light them so that I destroy the dimensionality and toning of the photographs. But that is the challenge of professional photography – to shoot so that I am always optimally positioned for the best light possible (and avoid trees growing out of people’s heads!)
I am so happy when families are completely on board to make the best images possible. Mom and dad brought changes of clothing for everyone and even picnic supplies for the middle of the shoot. And their little one was kind enough to bring me grapes to eat inbetween the photographs! It gave us a wide variety of images and felt like a series of images taken over several days rather than a short hour or so.
One happy aspect of the lake location is the abundance of blueberry bushes. We were able to find some blueberries to keep the little guy happy and even a little froggie appeared from underneath a bush, much to our delight. I’m not sure the frog shared our enthusiasm for the photography but at the very least, he is now a professionally photographed star!
After the shoot, we tried to get some images in the local wheat and rye fields (and look for some horses to say hi to!). But the area had been recently harvested! Fortunately, we were able to head out to a nearby field of sunflowers and do some picking! The field was next to a freeway and new subdivision – making it a challenge to keep whizzing trucks, telephone poles, light posts, and newly constructed duplexes out of the images! Not to mention that all the sunflowers face the sun – and in order to get their front, I had to put the freeway into the background! But when I saw the images, I can see that it was totally worth it and the bright golden sunflowers really make what was a cold Autumn day seem like a bright golden Indian Summer afternoon.
We finished the session in a field of golden dried grass lining the freeway onramp. Their little one had a fun time hiding behind a clump of grass and then popping up and running to surprise mom with a big hug. I love those images best, I think!
This is what I love about shooting in Finland – all these little spots in locations only a kilometer from each other but so diverse. From forest, to field, to grasslands, to shoreline.
This was a special session with model Heidi Moijanen and assisted by make up artist Cemille Nismetdin. She is wearing her mother’s hand sewn wedding dress – a sweet bit of vintage and a special present for her family.
When Heidi contacted me about doing the shoot, I was very eager. She was looking for a magical, nostalgic type of feel using her mother’s hand sewn wedding dress from four decades previous. Now, usually I would be very apprehensive to shoot a wedding dress – they tend to be shiney satin and reflect light back heavily – making it difficult to keep the whites of the dress in good tonality for the rest of the image. But Heidi reassured me the dress was not made of satin and would photograph beautifully. And she was right!
Typically, with models I prefer to bring a lighting rig and really control all aspects of the tonality of the image. But in this instance, I didn’t want to be limited to 2-3 locations and having to set up the rig for each location. I wanted to get much more natural shots and use the location’s fantastic lighting sources to bring the drama and mystery to the images.
To really create drama within the images, I did go for very directional lighting, avoiding flat lighting for the most part and letting the light play across each scene and enhance the subject and let her stand out from the busy-ness of a forest. One challenge was to keep white birch bark from glowing unnaturally and distracting from my subject. And some areas we used meant climbing through areas off the paths and a bit difficult to get to without hiking boots!
For the water shots, I am standing in the water up to my knees. The bottom of the lake is strewn with mossy covered slippery small and large rocks. It makes navigating and moving difficult for both the model and the photographer. I am very lucky that Heidi is such a pro and was able to navigate along the lake bed without slipping and falling in! The rocks don’t feel too nice to step on either. I’m fortunate that in all the times I’ve shot in lakes, I still haven’t go in with the equipment!
For the lake shots, we did have to do them at the very end of the shoot after the sun had set. When the sun is in the sky, it blasts the area with full sun that is very difficult t shoot in. So if you see Heidi in the water, it is after sunset and I ended up having to use a rather high ISO due to the lack of light.
We finished the shoot with some images in a gorgeous red dress Heidi had bought from Thailand. It was a great way to highlight the hair work done by MUA Cemille.
The one drawback of not having the lighting rig is that there was no way to get all the colors of the beautiful sunset in the image. But in all, I was quite pleased with the end result. I thank Heidi and Cemille for the 2 hours in hair/makeup and then also for trooping all over the forest and lake to get those unique locations!
And from earlier in the evening:
Part of the joy of the Vappu holiday in Finland is being able to dress up and welcome Spring in unique ways. Summer is now truly around the corner in this part of the world.
From a shoot in the lovely city of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
They’ve known each other since they were little. And though they each have unique and very different personalities, they still can’t wait to see other and play!
This was their first outing for Summer – can you tell how much they loved that warm golden sun?
I am really loving the depth and profusion of the anenome (valkovuokko) this year! The weather conditions were perfect and areas have whole fields of these lovely and beautiful little white flowers. Although a late shoot caused the flowers to be mostly closed, the wonderful light at this time of the year made it all worth it.
This is a late evening shoot at Hvittrask. The sun was peeping out from behind the clouds at odd moments – but the lighting was bright enough for wonderful shots.