April 26, 2012

You Belong in Your Family Photos

Do you have a favorite family photograph?

I have quite a few. I actually had a very difficult time picking one out, but for the purpose of this post, I will focus on this photo:

My mom passed away when I was 9, so the images we had with my mom in them; well, that was it. I’m not saying that I would prefer this image to a professional image of my mom and I, but instead, it got me thinking about all of the rest of the old family photos. Our family has a TON of candid photos that make the memories come flooding back, like the one pictured. Me opening my first glo-worm on Christmas, swimming in the pool with my sisters, smiling with a mouthful of marshmallow by the campfire; the list goes on. I had originally set out to find a family photo that included all of us. I didn’t have much luck finding one that would be “favorite photo” material Basically, the few photos of our family were taken of us literally standing next to each other, as if we barely knew each other. Some were really dark, some bright, and others were fuzzy. And while I love the pictures because of the people of them, I can’t find any image that shows our family being us, like the candids did… so I started looking for an image that made me feel something.

When thinking about why it is one of my favorites, I realized that it had nothing to do with the quality of the image, which is usually what initially draws me into a photo, but instead, it had much to do with the people in the picture itself, which happen to be me and my mom, and the feeling/memory that is attached to it. It isn’t a professional picture, but my dad definitely captured a moment that I can never get back. I cherish all of the photos I have with my mom in them, just as much as I cherish the photos with my dad in them, but I do find myself wishing I had more images like this, with my mom and my dad in them. It’s too late now, but I wish that we would have had a family photographer to capture these moments of us, all of us.

I have a family of my own now. I have followed in the footsteps of my dad, being the shutterbug at family events, and in turn, I’m not in many of our family photos unless we set up the camera on self timer, or have them professionally taken. Try getting good quality, candid family moments while simultaneously pressing the shutter remote button… Not easy…

So, what do I suggest?

I want to stress that snapshots are important. Take the camera out of your purse when you’re together with family and friends, and you’ll have a good chance of getting some really great candids of your loved ones being themselves. But, don’t ignore the other images that are even more important. The ones with you in them, too.

October 22, 2011

Saul + Cory | Plateau Club, Sammamish Wedding

Remember this stunning couple from this session? Saul and Cory met through their softball league. When first meeting Cory, Saul described her as “A beautiful woman who plays softball- this is awesome!”
Their wedding was at the beautiful Plateau Club in Sammamish. It had been typical Seattle – on again, off again – rainy weather all week, and that pattern continued through into their wedding day, but it complemented the day beautifully.
Cory is a classic beauty – I could imagine her alongside of Grace Kelly and Rita Hayworth – and she was a dream to photograph. Her dress was gorgeous, and I loved her choice of red heels! While the girls were getting ready, Saul and his groomsmen were keeping themselves entertained with a game. Their wedding day went without a hitch. They had an awesome magician during their cocktail hour, and the reception was so much fun to photograph! Congratulations to Saul and Cory, it was an honor to be a part of your wedding day!

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September 6, 2011

Beautiful Bokeh!

Sorry for being so quiet lately, it’s been a super busy summer, and I’m sure to have lots of sessions and weddings to post when things calm down! In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to do a little informational post about bokeh and depth of field! For those of you who don’t know what bokeh is, it’s the blurred points of light that you sometimes see in the background of photos. According to Wikipedia, “Bokeh is the blur, or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image, or “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.” My main purpose of this post is to show you a fun idea that you can try at home with just a string of Christmas lights, a subject and a camera. It also happens to be a great way to demonstrate how to capture beautiful bokeh! Let’s get started! I had an engagement shoot on Sunday, and I had this idea in my head that I wanted to try. Since I’ve been studying how the light has been falling in our backyard throughout the day, I knew where I could set up my lights so we’d be in the shade at 4:30. First, I tried stringing the lights in the bushes, but later decided that I wanted to try to tape them to my background stand. I used gaffer tape and it worked well and it didn’t leave any sticky residue on my stand when I took it off. I also decided to hang an old window for this particular shot. The lights were strung in front of the bushes just so they would pop a little off the dark background. Here is what it looked like when I was finished: Note: I used the Canon 50mm 1.2 lens and I set my aperture to 1.2 for all of the images in this post. For those of you who don’t know what aperture is, it is basically the size of the hole that the light goes through when it passes through the lens. Next, I wanted to test to make sure everything looked ok. I didn’t change any settings on my camera. I aimed my camera down at my feet, set my focus, and recomposed my shot back at the lights. I was careful not to re-focus once I was viewing the lights, and I snapped a photo. Here’s what it looked like: As you can see, everything is blurred, because when I set my focus, it was aimed at my feet, which is a lot closer distance than it was to the lights. I find that I get better bokeh when I have a shorter distance between my camera and the subject in the foreground, and a greater distance between the subject in the foreground and the lights in the background. I know, it’s a lot to remember. But I’m hoping once you play around with it, it will make better sense! Ok, so my clients arrived, and I took two shots. Actually, I took a lot more than that, but I am only going to show you two for now. The subjects stayed in the same spot for both shots. Since I was using a fixed lens, I moved closer for the second shot. I kept my aperture set at 1.2 (wide open), and focused on the subjects eyes, making the background blurred. Do you notice a difference? It’s similar to what I did between the first and second image when I focused on my feet. The bokeh (and general background blur) is much more apparent in the last picture, and since the couple didn’t move and I didn’t change any settings on my camera, the only reason for it would be because I moved closer. I could have – and should have – moved the subjects further from the lights in the background, to create even more blur, so you wouldn’t even see the strings of lights. I hope that helps explain how to get some beautiful blurred lights in the background of your photos! This is a great idea for holiday photos, too! I’d love any feedback that you might have, and please feel free to share this with your friends! And share some of your beautiful bokeh on my facebook page! Enjoy!
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August 6, 2011

Ryan + Megan | Bear Creek Country Club, Woodinville Wedding

Ryan and Megan met through a mutual friend at Lake Cushman, and immediately connected. They exchanged phone numbers and when they returned home, there wasn’t a day that passed that they didn’t communicate with each other. Their gorgeous wedding was at Bear Creek Country Club in Woodinville. What an amazing venue! Megan looked absolutely stunning in her wedding dress. It was an emotional day for her, and I even had trouble seeing through the tears during the father daughter dance. I think they taught everyone who witnessed that wedding a little something about what love truly is. Congratulations to Ryan and Megan! It was a pleasure to be a part of your special day!

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July 23, 2011

Mark + Kristin | Novelty Hill Woodinville Wedding

I am finally ready to get some of these weddings on the blog!

This is the beautiful wedding of Mark + Kristin. The weather could not have been more perfect, and I absolutely loved the venue. Kristin looked absolutely stunning in her dress, and those shoes!!! (need I say more?) A special thank you to Carina Skrobecki for shooting with me! Congratulations to Mark and Kristin!

June 24, 2011

Neil + Violet = Engaged

I’ve been really excited to blog about this engagement session. Violet and Neil are the type of couple that a photographer wishes for. They were so loving and naturally affectionate with one another, even when I didn’t have my camera in their face. Actually, it was almost difficult to get them to just look at the camera and smile for more than a shot or two at a time! I told them this, and Violet responded, “Well, you told us to treat it like a date, so we are!” (Wow, I need to use that one more often!) hee hee. At one point, I turned my back for one second, and turned around to catch them in the middle of a very serious game of thumb war 🙂

They have such a beautiful story, too! They met on eharmony, and  “clicked”. They met at a local Starbucks on January 2nd, 2010. From that moment, they hit it off, and Neil proposed to Violet in June. They went to the beach and while we they were walking around in the sand, he asked her to “turn around and don’t peek!”.  When he asked Violet to turn around, it said “Will you marry me” in the sand. 

Violet and Neil are a unique couple, so I wanted this engagement session to be unique to their relationship. Some of the locations were selected based on where they met and where Neil proposed. Neil plays guitar a lot and sings, so he brought his guitar, and I was lucky to hear him play one of the songs he wrote. It was beautiful! They pamper each other with lots of love notes and flowers, so we hung some of the notes in the background of some of the shots, and Violet likes to go  muddin’  in her truck, which we had to include as well! She told me that her truck is her 3rd baby (Neil, her cat, then the truck). Oh! And the quilt in some of the pictures, was her baby blanket 🙂

I enjoyed this session so much, and I’m looking forward to photographing their wedding in August!



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June 22, 2011

Summer Mini Sessions

It’s the first day of summer, and I’m excited to offer summer mini sessions! Spaces are limited, so email me at joni@jonigirvanphotography.com to secure your session. If you cannot make it to any of the dates listed below, I am still booking limited regular $200 summer sessions through the end of August, even on some weekday evenings, and I’d be happy to include a disk of the images with your session.

I’ll be doing some more mini sessions in the fall, just in time for holiday cards! If you aren’t already following my blog, please subscribe to receive updates of mini sessions, discounts and other fun news 🙂 And please feel free to pass this along to friends who might be interested. I’m looking forward to photographing your family this summer!

June 7, 2011

Cowboy Vintage

I am sure I say it every time I post about this family. But it’s true. They’re my favorite. Not only were they my first “real” client, but they have been loyal to me ever since. I have the honor of photographing them a couple of times per year, when I visit my family in California. It has been so much fun seeing the kids grow up. The little ones (they’re twins) are at the age where they can follow directions, but still add a little of their own personality into every shot. Gabi, their older sister, is by far, the most mature and helpful fifth grader that I’ve met. Alan does a great job of making everyone laugh just at the right time, which gives natural emotion to the photos. And Randi… She is just the best at putting everything together. She does such a wonderful job with everyone’s outfits and props. It goes to show that with a little planning, you can really turn a regular family portrait session into a fabulous one. The other thing about this particular session, is that a lot of the clothes that Randi selected hold sentimental value to her. Randi’s boots were her moms from about 35 years ago. The girl’s outfits were made by her mom about 30 years ago, and the quilt was made by her great grandma over 50 years ago! You will see the quilt in all of their photo sessions – I just love that. Randi also ordered the most beautiful hair pieces for all of the girls from Love Crush Bowtique.

Okay, are you ready to check ’em out? Enjoy the pictures of this beautiful family!


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May 30, 2011

Martin + Jenn

Jenn is a good friend of my best friend, Tracy. They’re teachers 🙂 Jenn and Martin are expecting their little guy in two months, so it worked out perfectly for us to schedule a shoot during my trip to California last weekend. I had a great time photographing these two. Martin kept us laughing throughout the session, and Jenn was just SO cute!

Congratulations, Jenn and Martin! You two will be fantastic parents 🙂 I am looking forward to meeting the little guy on my next trip!


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May 22, 2011

Jackson is one!

Remember this little guy from here and here? He’s turning one! I met them at Golden Gardens on a beautiful Seattle day. It had just started to cool down, and the wind really kicked in for some of the shots! I loved seeing Jackson’s face light up when they brought their two dogs in for some photos. It is so fun to see these little guys develop their own personality as they get older! I am honored to be able to capture the milestones in little Jackson’s life 🙂

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