Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WWLW: Expert Bluebonnet Photographers

Y'all.  We've got an awesome special treat for you all!  Today's edition of What We Love Wednesday features Expert Bluebonnet Photographers!  Yep, our three favorite local photographers are sharing the scoop on getting the PERFECT bluebonnet picture. Our photographers are Sarah Burns of Butterfly Chaser Photography, Tamara & Alex Garza of Garza Photo Design and Chantal Bergeron of Whimsy & Style Photography.  We asked them the same serious of questions and here is their expert opinions!  Thanks guys! We so appreciate your EXPERTISE!

1. What's your favorite thing about shooting in bluebonnets?

SB -  I love to shoot outdoors in natural settings best, and what's prettier than bluebonnets in the spring?!?! I also enjoy seeing the yearly change in my bluebonnet clients!

TAG - The fact that it has become a Texas tradition - almost like a Texan right of passage. One of the best parts of living in *this part* of this great state is that the bluebonnets can be found so easily roadside.  And part of the fun of getting those great bluebonnet photos is finding that perfect pasture, field or highway median, and taking an afternoon drive to... say Navasota, Washington-on-the-Brazos or Brenham (Did someone say ICE-CREAM?). A great example of how the journey IS the destination - then you have a great souvenir to show for it.  

CB - Their natural beauty..nature is *THE* best prop in the world ;)

2. Not so favorite thing?

SB - There's a couple of things about shooting in the flowers that can be hard to deal with. Since the Highway department seeds bluebonnets a lot of the available patches are very close to busy roads. I do not shoot in locations I feel are unsafe, so that limits the bluebonnet patches that are available. A good patch (one that is far off the road) can easily become overly trafficked. It's important to remember to be respectful of the flowers and to avoid trampling or smashing them to leave flowers for people who will want to shoot after you. Additionally, since bluebonnets bloom at the start of spring, a lot of young babies have NO concept of what grass feels like, and dislike the texture of the flowers. I feel like a classic bluebonnet shot is a baby in full freak out mode, with their feet lifted to avoid as much contact with the flowers as possible. But obviously you only need one shot like that. ;)

TAG - The fact that they are so fleeting! Oh and sneaky fire ants....

CB -Not gonna lie--much as I try not to think about them there's definitely the potential for snakes and critters to hide out in bluebonnets...I generally try not to put kiddos anywhere where I can't see the ground to minimize this risk but when bluebonnets are in full bloom it often isn't possible to see the ground. I always make sure I stomp around, make lots of noise, and inspect my "area" carefully before I put kiddos down anywhere; or I put kiddos on a prop of some sort (like my little gold bed or my antique blue chair...or even a blanket) to get them off the ground. Working with "runners"--highly active kiddos abouts 2-6--is the most difficult in terms of minimizing this risk.   

3. What should your clients wear?

SB - I feel like there are two tactics to take with the flowers. Match the flowers (blues/whites/purples) or wear complimentary tones to those colors (yellows/oranges/peach). I like organic, muted tones in the flowers best. Children in the flowers feels like a classic "Texas childhood" shot to me and I would probably style a shoot with more earth tones, denim and boots if I were picking out outfits. Avoid neon colors and busy patterns. Babies in denim overalls is my all time favorite in the blooms :)

TAG - I think this is a personal preference. Call me old fashioned, but I like the look of little girls going classic in yellow or white smocked dresses or boys in a buttoned down oxford.  Boots are so much fun too and, of course - totally Texan!  In the case of our photo... we were just wearing what we were wearing with no real plan... I love the image beyond words in spite of the fact that we weren't "coordinated."

CB - Bluebonnets have a *very* traditional feel to me...they don't necessarily *need* to be paired with more traditional clothing...with some careful selections bluebonnets could definitely be modernized or paired with a pop of color...but as a general rule I like to pair traditional feeling clothes with bluebonnets. I generally prefer lighter soft colors for bluebonnets--you can truly never go wrong with a monotone color palate--creams and blues in particular. Soft yellows, pinks, and purples and vintage-y tiny print florals all work well in bluebonnets.  
Go-to awesomeness for bluebonnets:  
  • Well Dressed Wolf--if you haven't heard of them already you really, really need to! Vintage inspired, classic dresses with a slightly modern twist. Be sure to keep up with their Facebook Page--they will post to let people know which dress are being released....and be sure to be ready to go with fast fingers when they load their dresses (typically Thursday evenings). Their dresses--most recently acquired by fashion mavens such as Sarah Jessica Parker--will sell out in minutes if not seconds. 
  • Eden's Bouquet--simply chic vintage inspired dresses, bloomers, and frocks. THIS headband...I die. 
  • Tutu Du Monde--no better time for it (except maybe the beach!). I especially love THIS THIS or THIS for bluebonnets 
  • And OMGee...Lacey Lane for a retro style bluebonnet shoot...swoon...anyone have a vintage VW camper like THIS I can park in some bluebonnets to go with it?!?!
  • Have a vintage dress that's been in your family for years...well NOW is the time to pull that sucker out!  
  • Did I mention Well Dressed Wolf?
 4. Should you use props?

SB - Yes! As I mentioned earlier a lot of children have sensory issues with grass touching them, to avoid this I place children on quilts, or use baskets to separate them from the flowers. Since portraits of your children in the flowers is a timeless Texas tradition think vintage or timeless props, wooden rocking horses, wooden chairs, baskets, quilts. Avoid plastic/signs/banners

TAG - We are personally fans of natural expressions and capturing the raw moments... and thus not *huge* fans of pinteresty props, however "setting the stage" for a shoot by bringing items to interact with are great... like bubbles or a picnic blanket. When I was little, we took photos with ducks and baby chicks, which also make for great expressions on kids faces.

CB -  The better question is: "when should you *NOT* use props" lol! Of course props should be used with bluebonnets! While the bluebonnets themselves are the best prop of all it is helpful to have something to put the kiddos on--to minimize the critter risk described above as well as to just make the kiddos more comfortable (many--especially more sensitive kiddos or those with sensory issues--tend to freak out when plopped down in a field of itchy grass or even softer bluebonnets). Putting an quilt, chair, or other prop down generally helps them feel more comfortable.

5. Any other information or advice?

SB - The best times of day to take pictures in the flowers are RIGHT at dawn (like 7:30) or in the evening right at dusk (also 7ish at that time of year).  I frequently see people taking pictures after church of their kids in the blooms but midday is the worst time of day to attempt a shoot in full sun.

TAG - To get the most of your bluebonnet photo... the key is LIGHT, LIGHT, LIGHT. We'd typically employ any (or both) of our two techniques for capturing great images. The first would be shooting during the "golden hour" (that is about 30 minutes before and after the sun sets). This ensures great even light across faces and figures. But if that is not possible, we would employ the second trick. A lot of folks will be inclined to have their subjects look into the sun... it makes sense.. but that unfortunately results in squinty eyes and / or harsh shadows across your face (not flattering unless you're the Marlboro Man!). The trick is to point the camera into the sun, putting your subject between you (person with the camera) and the sun. If you're getting substantial glare, you can shield the lens a bit with your hand. Having the sun behind the subject can make for a beautiful "rim light." That's photo-speak for the pretty way that the sun highlights the edge of your subject's face or hair, separating it from the background (our photo is a great example of this). As photographers, we're perfectly comfortable saying you *don't* always need a pro to take a great photograph. With a few pointers, anyone can take the perfect bluebonnet family pic!

And because there is no way we could post without pictures, enjoy their work!

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