OBX Sunset Session with the Valleau Family
AVON, NORTH CAROLINA -
Typically, vacations are breaks we take from work. Not so for me, especially whenever I visit the Outer Banks in North Carolina. How can I resist photographing that landscape over and over again? How lucky for me that I adore what I do.
But this last trip in August was the first time I took family portraits on the OBX beaches, and the session has quickly become my most complete to date.
The Valleau Family are friends of mine and were given the portrait session as a Friendsmas present back in January. We collectively decided to conduct the session towards the beginning of our stay during sunset, beginning about an hour and a half before the the sun reached the horizon.
LIGHT AND AIRY
I started the session with a less dramatic, airy set of images using only natural light and a silver reflector. We then moved to the beach where I used the striking blue sky with wispy white clouds as my backdrop and added two off camera flashes to illuminate my subjects.
WET AND DIRTY
Next, we walked over to the ocean and got a little wet and dirty. Though I wish the lighting on the family was a bit better, this photo makes me smile so much. The look of utter joy on their faces as they jump out of the water is simply perfection.
Once the sun neared the horizon and the hues began coloring the coming night skies, we walked to the top of a sand dune full of grass and took full advantage of the dramatic sunset. I put a neutral density filter on my lens to reduce the amount of light entering the camera and positioned my two speedlights mounted together to camera left. This allowed me to capture a dramatic night sky while also keeping my subjects well lit.
No strangers to the dramatic arts, Paul, Kristi, and Paige were easy-going in front of the camera, doing anything I asked of them and more. Having created a mood board before our session, I knew the family was interested in a more candid, silly approach, which is my personal favorite as well. And although they were dressed to impress, no one had any qualms about getting all wet and sandy in the name of good art.
Most sessions up until now have contained at least a handful of amazing images that I'm proud to include in my portfolio. This session, however, was so complete, so well executed, that I simply cannot choose a favorite or even a handful of favorites. They're all my favorites - every single one. Even the outtakes aren't really outtakes, but more duplicates.
This session and the Miller Family portrait session in Annapolis are an important step for me moving forward. In a major way, I am perfecting the combination of silly, fun portrait photography with dramatic, vibrant landscapes, which is a reflection of my own style and taste rather than an imitation of someone else's aesthetic.