Family Portrait Free Play

Letting Go of Restrictions 


Professional portraiture has a lot of rules. Rule of thirds. Inverse Square Law. Exposure Triangle. Color Schemes. Posing Dos and Don'ts. I've been on a mission to learn them all over the last five years, and I've come a long way in that time. But rules, by their very nature, are restricting, especially in high-pressured situations. 

So every once in awhile, when the opportunity presents itself, the rule book gets tossed out the window and the fun can begin. That was what happened during my shoot on January 28, with Sarah and her son, Ajax.

When I chatted with Sarah during our pre-shoot consultation I asked her what she and Ajax would be wearing for the session, a typical query for every collaborator. "Ajax will likely wear whatever he wants -- which is usually eclectic."

Little man didn't let me down

Donning a fantastic pair of grey Star Wars sweatpants, Ajax put on his Saturday best sandals and ankle socks, perfect for that brisk January morning. His Puma track jacket, ear warmers, and mom's Baltimore Orioles cap topped off his wild golden locks to complete his promised "eclectic" look.

Sarah was outfitted in black tights and a mid-length orange and white floral dress, which complemented her curly ginger locks. My favorite part of the ensemble was definitely her tiger-print heels, and I was impressed with how well she could navigate a soccer ball in grass wearing them.

(Side note: I find it weird that I'm writing about fashion right now because I am so not the fashionable type. That said, I have to applaud this family's free spirit.)

We started our session at Patterson Park. Being a chilly morning, we didn't stay long and went back to Sarah's house where we could snap a few pictures in Ajax's equally eclectic bedroom. Looks like fun, doesn't it?

After our bed-jumping session, Sarah, Ajax, and I headed up to the roof deck, which has an amazing view of Baltimore. The sky was very grey that day, so we didn't take many pictures. But even on an overcast day the view was awe-inspiring. I'm hoping Sarah loves these photos so much that she'll be willing to share her roof deck with me come Fourth of July or perhaps a sunrise or two. Fingers crossed :)

Throughout our shoot, any time we went to a new location for pictures, I contemplated setting up my off camera flash and situating Sarah and Ajax in to some kind pose. Each time, though, it just felt too contrived. Ajax is the epitome of a free spirit, and if I'm truly going to capture the essence of his personality - which is ultimately my job as a portrait photographer - then I must set him free to follow his vision wherever it takes him (to paraphrase JFK).

Although the photos are not technically perfect, there is an overabundance of personality in each of them. I'll take personality over perfection any day of the week.