Fall portraits in Duke Forest

The Bisanar family is always a favorite of mine to photograph – they make it so easy. They know what they want out of a photo and they come prepared, well-dressed, even when I ask them to hike into Duke Forest.

They have two children the same ages as my two eldest kiddos and they are sweet and funny and playful. They are not a hot mess like my family. Seeing their family answers many questions I have about what it would look like if I brushed my children’s hair or had them wear matching shoes. It truly quenches my curiouosity.

I get to hang out with the grandparents, too. They have an incredible sense of humor and are always game for whatever I throw their way.

Our most recent portrait session brought us deep into Duke Forest, amongst beautiful fall leaves and afternoon sunlight. There were so many unbelievable natural backdrops that helped make this session a success. Plus, the Bisanars rocked their smiles. 

Until next time!

Woodlake Community trail

As a photographer who leans toward taking portraits in natural settings, my eyes are always peeled for new and different locations. I once visited the Woodlake Community trail in southwest Durham with a photography class and fell in love with the variety of scenes found there. There is a playground, two lakes and three miles of paved walking trails.

For families, this is great. It provides a great deal of entertainment for young children within a small space and keeps them energized throughout a photo session.

From the photographer’s perspective, the setting is nice because there is both shade and sun, plus a variety of backdrops that range from forest to fence, and lake to tall grasses.

While it is most exquisite during fall, when the foliage surrounding the lake is on fire, today’s visit (and inexcusable cell phone photos) showcase some nice nooks for photos even in the dead heat of summer.

One critical thing to note: this is a neighborhood community. I would recommend bringing only very small groups here (4 ppl or under) for photos, and absolutely no equipment beyond a camera and maybe a reflector. Also, because it is a natural setting, there are often geese present. Just something to consider. 

Now snap away to your heart’s content.

Museum trekking in under a minute

If you haven’t yet visited the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!?

Museum trekking in under a minute from Melanie Busbee on Vimeo.

This video hardly scratches the surface of wonder and amazement at the museum (we only had time for 4 of the 11 outdoor exhibits), but it honestly highlights what a 1-hour visit looks like through the eyes of a 1-year-old child. The adorable subject is none other than my youngest daughter, Cameron. 

My goal when shooting a subject is always to accurately and candidly preserve a moment in time. I want the viewer to be tugged and pulled into the memory – to be able to feel it, see it, hear it, smell it (maybe not taste it, unless it’s commercial food photography or wedding cake). 

Shooting lifestyle projects is my ideal method for telling a story. This time around it just so happened to be the story of my sweet little gal enjoying a super fun day in nature.

B is for bubbles

I attempted to make this session with baby Max and his family all about the bubbles. I thought I could distract from the camera with those enticing bubbles (and a new bubble machine, too). But not all plans are destined for success.

Folks, I was outsmarted.

Max knew better. He knew what I was up to. Don’t get me wrong, he liked the bubbles, but he is also as smart as an engineer. He wanted to dig into the bubble machine and figure out the mechanics. How does this contraption work?

Most babies leave it at, oooooohhh shiny bubbles.

Anyway, so Max made me work for it. I had to beg and plead for smiles. But oh, they were worth the wait. He’s perfection – eyes, nose, lips, brain. Everything. I love this kid and his laid back family.

 

Spotting joy

I have an incredible amount of fun photographing my clients, trying to create a comfortable environment for them while balancing the technical aspects of the camera. The photo session is just one piece of the whole picture of my work though.

Once I return home with camera and SD card in hand, I get the pleasure of uploading all those photo moments to my computer and sorting through them. Many times, this can be the hardest part of the job. I have to delete images! Throw them away! It’s tough work I tell ya.

Inevitably there will be some photos with eyes closed, heads turned the wrong way, hair astray, faces out of focus or even a child melting down. For the most part, these little photo flaws render a photo unusable. Sometimes though, there is just too much value in the photo; that’s where I have to use my judgment and wonder would the client want this photo, would this photo still make the client happy.

Sometimes those flaws actually make the photo better.

This one, for example. Check out this little nugget’s facial expression. It’s certainly not a smile…but little did I know these cute fishy lips were sort of baby Claire’s thing.

And this one of sweet Tessa has her hair covering that precious smile of hers. But THE JOY. Those are two joyful people.

Then there’s my Natalie, who loves the swings dearly but despises having her hair brushed. She looks like she hasn’t showered in weeks in the below photo, but she’s so HAPPY and full of JOY.

So often, when I’m sorting the good photos from the bad, I’m looking for the joy, because joy is easy to spot. When you see it, you just know.