Archive for April, 2010

The Best Lighting for Outdoor Family Portraits

I’ve always believed that the best time of day to photograph almost anything is just after sunrise or just before sunset. The problem with that is that most of us aren’t prepared to do that. Just try telling your teenager that you are getting them up at 5 am for a family photo shoot. I’d like to see that face just for fun but you get the idea. The same thing goes for sunset. It’s the witching hour for young kids, can you say terrible twos.  I won’t even book a two year old in the late afternoon because it only works out about one out of a hundred times.

So the light is great at sunrise and sunset but the people aren’t in a great mood, so what do you do? The truth is that the best light is the light when you get everyone looking good, not squinting or throwing a fit or bags under their eyes etc. although we can usually fix the bags in Photoshop.

Here are a few things I often do with families and groups. Have them face away from the sun. Unless your family members are professional models or you want them all wearing sunglasses they probably can’t help but squint. Not the best photo. Next I try to have them all in the same light. I often see photographs where some of the people are in shade and the rest are in sun. This makes for a lot of contrast, which most digital cameras can’t handle. Either the highlights will be blown out or the shadows will be muddy or blocked. I also try to get people sitting or standing comfortably. It’s not always possible but people look better when they feel better. I once photographed a man when he was sick and his face looked a shade of green in the picture. I never thought that was possible.

I don’t want to get too technical because for most people they just want a to take a decent photo of their family with their digital camera. If you can, do a test shot before you are ready to take their picture. Read your camera manual. I’m a pro and I keep my manual in my camera bag most of the time.

The important thing is to get the picture. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I would rather you get an okay photo of your family than say “oh the light isn’t right I guess we’ll wait ‘till next week” or whatever. While your goal is better photos, any photo is better than no photo. Can you imagine a photo album with no photos because the light wasn’t the best? Leave perfect for God.

Shoot often and have fun.

Jon Lamar

Two Gorels / Two Girls

Every morning when I go down the stairs to get my two girls I have a good idea what is going to happen. First I go to Sophie’s room and get her out of her crib. This usually requires a little dialogue and trust me when I say that girl can talk and talk. After I get her out of her crib I ask her if she wants to get Lilly and she bolts out of her room and flings open Lilly’s door. I often carry her in just because she is so rowdy and has no concern about how loud or what might be in the way. Subtlety is not her strong suit but you have to love her enthusiasm.

Lilly is generally  standing up and ready to get out of her crib. She’s a peach. She has this infectious smile and way about her. Sophie is saying “hi Lilly” “hi Lilly” over and over. Lilly just says aghh, at least that’s what it sounds like to me but it probably means get me out of here. At this point Sophie’s on the ground and I pick Lilly up and head for the stairs. That’s when I hear “two gorels” which has a great deal of inflection and really means, daddy carry both of us girls up the stairs at the same time. Now I know why my back hurts. They love it and so do I. It’s such a little thing but it touches my heart everyday. That’s what I love about life. There are all of these little moments that happen in life and we are all blessed to be a part of. I know one day either she’ll quit asking or they’ll be too heavy, but until then I’m going to keep picking them up and hauling them up the stairs. They’re not heavy, they’re my two gorels.

Barrett Honors College Video Winner | Mesa Senior Portraits

A while ago I wrote about my nephew Josh and how great it was taking his senior pictures. Now he is at ASU in the Barrett Honors College and just won a video contest. It’s a short video, so I hope you can check it out.

This is an excerpt from the school’s web site.

“Barrett student Josh Lambert won the Eyes on Barrett student video contest with his piece, “Humanity: an Autobiography.” Lambert submitted a two-and-a-half minute video of evocative campus scenes and piano music, interspersed with clips from his own family life.

Videos were judged by a panel of Barrett students at the ASU Polytechnic campus. Each video was scored on its originality, interpretation of the theme and its overall effect. Lambert won the grand prize, a Flip camcorder. ”

I love the whole transition from high school to college and the journey it takes people on.


Lilly | Baby Photographer Gilbert, AZ

I look at my strawberry blonde baby with her big crystal blue eyes and wide grin with just the two lower teeth showing and I can’t remember my life 1 year and 1 day ago. I know my life must have been “less messy” with just one baby in the house instead of the two we have now.  There was less laundry, less dishes in the sink, a little more leisure time, and a little more money in the checkbook.  I know there had to have been a lot more sleep in my life 1 year and 1 day ago, but I don’t care. The arrival of Lilly in our family has made this year so incredible, so exhausting and well, so miraculous.  I just wish I could rewind and replay most of it, so I could try and absorb it and savor it for just a little while longer.  Her first year went way too fast, as did Sophie’s, and now my baby girl is now 1.

As many of my friends are visiting colleges for their daughters and throwing graduation parties, planning weddings and even … ahem, baby showers for their grand babies, I have potty-training , 1st sleep over’s and swim lessons ahead of me and I’m thrilled.

So I will count my blessings, knowing I have so much to look forward to, being thankful for the past and what it’s taught me, and to be in the moment as often as I possibly can. ~Bethany

Gilbert Christian High School | Senior Portraits Gilbert

I have been going over to the new Gilbert Christian High School and taking pictures of the progress at various stages. Each day I go over there I am amazed at what is going into the school. This is going to be one fantastic facility. As I see the walls go up a little each day I’m impressed with how much concrete and steel is going into this place. All in all it is really something to see it go from that bare empty lot to the campus it is becoming.

A strange thing happened while I was walking around looking for interesting shots of workers doing what they do. I started to get a vision of what the school is going to be like. I can see students driving into the parking lot, walking down the halls, playing sports in the gym and of course learning all they will learn in the classrooms.

When I picture the future of the students who will be attending GCHS I am a little jealous. My wife went to Phoenix Christian High School and I’ve always been impressed with her ongoing friendships with her classmates. I went to the big public high school in southern California and really struggled and felt sort of lost in the crowd. My jealousy is really more along the line of “ I’m so excited for the incoming kids.” They have so much to look forward to.

As I imagine all that will go on here, it’s not the bricks and mortar but the relationships with their friends, teachers, parents and the Lord that will take them forward in life. Most of the students will have no idea how much sacrifice went into providing a place for them to grow into men and women. Some teens may understand it now but most will get it later in life.

I see great things happening here.

Searching For A Photographer | Scottsdale Portrait Photographer

Wanted: Family Photographer as good as the one back home.

So, last year I get a call from Deborah, a self-proclaimed, “picture person” (which means someone who’s passionate about her family photos… this is a good thing). She let me know that she had worked with the same family photographer, whom she dearly loved, in New York since they had started their family 4 years ago.   Since moving to Gilbert she was now in search of a new photo studio they could feel as comfortable with as their beloved family photographer  “back home.”  Yea, it was a little intimidating at first.  We wanted to be the new beloved family photographer, I knew she would be a great client, but those were big shoes to fill.  Anyway, she booked an appointment for her son Antonio and for their family portraits including their 2 Standard Poodles.

Thankfully, it was a great fit. They loved us and we loved them. They are a beautiful family and were so relaxed in front of the camera we soon forgot about trying to impress them and just had fun.   Their super cute 3 year old and 2 beautiful dogs kept us laughing and sweating as we chased them around trying to corral everyone into family photos. Here are a few samples from the shoot.

This year we went on location to their new home in Scottsdale, and did the photo shoot in their front courtyard. Their home is a lovely Santa Barbara style ranch home that was a perfect background for the wall prints we had planned for their interiors.  As expected, more laughing and chasing in sued only Antonio was now 4 and Rada , one of the poodles, was no longer a puppy. I especially loved the photos of Rada, and Antonio.  It was the classic “A boy and his dog” moment.   During the shoot, I looked over at Deborah and she was absolutely beaming and I knew we were giving the “picture person” exactly what she wanted, and I was reminded of how much I love what we do. We get to be part of a family’s history.  We get to grab a few moments of their lives and capture it in a way that they will linger over and enjoy for years and years.

These are a few of the photographs from the shoot. While we ended up making several large wall portraits, this 36 x 36 panel was fun for all and captures this special time in their lives.

Family Wall Portrait