Take a Peek at Nathan’s Process

When the photoshoot ends, the work doesn’t end for the photographer. Oh, no. Like The Carpenters, we’ve only just begun. Actually, that isn’t true. We’ve done a lot of prep work before the photoshoot even started. Not everyone is a photographer, though, and we wanted to share our process with you. When you see all the work that goes into making your family photos memorable, you definitely have a new appreciation for the finished product that’s delivered to you.

Before the Photoshoot 

Like we said above, only part of what goes into making a photo visually beautiful is what you actually see during the photoshoot. With Our Everyday photo sessions, many of our shoots happen outside where conditions are much harder to predict than inside.

Naturally, we have to get to know weather patterns. Photographers are mini-meteorologists! In the days leading up to a shoot, Nathan is checking his phone’s (many) weather apps to ensure favorable conditions that lend themselves to having electronics (and small children!) outside for long periods of time.

Because of the unpredictable nature of, well, nature, we also have to scout a few locations in case we get rained or snowed out of our main location. If you’re wondering how we handle weather conditions on your big day, we wrote an entire post dedicated to it right here!

When shooting outside, we also have to learn about the path of the sun to ensure you’re in the right place for the best shot and that our cameras are picking up the right light. There are many phone apps to aid in shooting in the best light possible and Nathan has tried just about all of them. He takes lighting very seriously.

Perhaps the biggest thing photographers do before a shoot is learn their equipment. It’s imperative to taking good photos. Think about it: you wouldn’t go into an exam unprepared yet still expect a perfect score. Nathan studies every camera he gets his hands on to understand exactly what he has to do to produce the best possible results. Every good photographer knows his tools inside and out and how they react to light, movement, and other elements in order to get the best results in-camera and minimize the need for editing later on.

During the Photoshoot

Once we know the weather will behave and everything is in the proper light, it’s time to get the perfect shot. While it looks like we’re just running around with your family and a camera, there’s a little more to it than that.

We keep an eye on the scene to make sure the shot is clean. There’s nothing worse than finally getting a smile out of a timid toddler only to realize the picture was sullied by trash on the ground or the appearance of a tree growing out of your head. Sure, we can edit some of this, but it isn’t always possible and we’d really prefer to get a good shot in the moment than trying to airbrush a chip bag out of the frame later.

We’re also adjusting on the fly based on the mood of everyone in the shot. We’d rather naturally let a vignette happen, so we don’t tell you how to pose or where to stand. That said, we will suggest situational activities or guide you into a zone where the light and backdrop makes for a better photo.

After the Photoshoot

Once the camera is cleaned off and the lights are packed away, it’s time to process your photos. The biggest part of post-processing we do is to pick the best photos. You know, the ones where no one’s eyes are closed, no one is mid-sneeze, and so on.

Porter Loves Photography does minimal editing. Real life kids and families interacting together is our jam and as we’ve said many times over, we don’t want perfect photos.

Wait, let me rephrase. You don’t have to be perfect to make memories with your family and we aren’t going to edit you to look like you are! Our typical editing is mainly light color correction, no teeth whitening or waistline reducing happening here. More extensive editing does happen on occasion when kids are sick and we need to break out the Snot-Be-Gone tool in Photoshop. Other than that, we prefer to let you look like you.

Hopefully this has shed some light on the work photographers do when they aren’t actively photographing you. There is a lot that goes into getting a great shot and we wouldn’t trade that work for the world because we know we’re helping you preserve great memories with every click of the camera.

Capture Precious Family Moments when you Hire a Photographer

Event photography is more than just shooting weddings, though we love off-beat celebrations of love. Not many people think of the importance of event photography for your family gatherings until it’s too late. Hiring a photographer ensures that it’s one less thing you have to worry about when you’re putting together an event, whether it’s a milestone birthday or a family celebration. It also ensures you have incredible shots to remember for years to come.

At family events, you’re too busy running around and making a great party happen while keeping Aunt Shirley away from the Schnapps and trying to have meaningful conversations with everyone. There’s little time for taking photos, especially ones that capture the spirit of the event and everyone having fun, you included!

Many times, you don’t think to hire a professional photographer for family gatherings, especially if it’s just a casual backyard party. But with everything else you’re trying to do, it would be a shame to let all that planning slip by without so much as a cell-phone-shot of candles being blown out.

Think about it: you carefully selected the theme, picked out a menu, and worried about the weather all week. For all your effort, there should be beautiful photos of the festivities to remember it by. And you should be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor in the moment!

We especially enjoy being a part of kids’ birthday parties. Goofing around and acting silly is our favorite thing to do (especially smiling. Smiling’s our favorite) and kids seem to dig it as well. Nathan is really engaging and after kids warm up to him, he’s able to see and shoot some very special moments.

We’ve also had a lot of fun at older kids’ birthday parties. Uncle Joe turned 80 and, while it wasn’t as acceptable for him to play with his cake, the pictures still turned out just as memorable as they did 79 years ago.

A family event many people don’t think about hiring a photographer for is a rehearsal dinner. Sure, the wedding is the big event and everyone includes a photographer in the wedding day itself. The dinner is an important part of the wedding weekend and tradition of marriage. The wedding party is gathered and enjoying themselves. The bride and groom can spend more time with the people closest to them. And everyone is looking forward to the next day. Having someone photograph that excitement and anticipation of the day before is just as important.

When we photographed Beth and James’s rehearsal dinner, we could feel the anticipation in the air. Maybe it was the humidity… No, it was definitely excitement.

Another family milestone that many are a part of but that doesn’t get the attention it deserves is a family reunion. Like a rehearsal dinner, family is gathered and enjoying themselves. And, not to be dark here, there’s always a matriarch or patriarch approaching their golden days. Having photographs of this time with all the generations together is an important part of your family legacy. Personally, there are times like this that I would love to have on film.

These kind words prove how important it is for someone else to be a fly on the wall and capture these fleeting moments:

Wanted to take a quick minute to thank you again for coming and photographing at our party. Everyone said that it was a good idea to have a photographer there because we were all so caught up in talking and such that we never snapped a single picture ourselves. Thanks again!

Inviting someone in to take photographs of your family is an investment in your time and your family history. As the host or hostess of an event, it’s one less thing you have to worry about so you can enjoy yourself with the people you love the most.

How We Handle: Cranky Kids

There are certain unexpected things that can happen when you’re taking family photos. One such thing is the weather (which we’ve discussed here). Another is cranky kids. We love capturing children while they’re learning who they are and how to interact with the world, but young children can be as unpredictable as the weather. One moment, they’re happy as a clam and the next is pure chaos.

Naturally, we’re all about not being perfect. You don’t have to be in the best mood ever to have a successful family photo shoot. We believe in capturing the full range of your child’s emotions. We also believe that candid photos are some of the best photos out there. They express the memory of the day and how you’re feeling, not just a pretty pose featuring the family in white polo shirts.

So, we are thrilled to say: bring on those cranky kids! Not in a sadistic way, but in a, “Let’s give you a complete representation of your family,” kind of way.

Through the years, we’ve learned what can help calm the storm. If you’re unsure of how your child will react on photo day, here are a few things we do to keep the peace when things get grouchy.

Prepare for Photo Day 

The more comfortable you are, the more relaxed you are. We’ve found the same to be true for your kids. Take some time to do a little prep work for your family so they’re comfortable when we come with your family to take photos.

Here’s a full post on 5 Simple Steps to Have a Great Family Photo Shoot, and we encourage reading the full thing, but the highlights are:

Be well fed and well rested.

If possible, schedule your session after naptime or in the morning after a good night’s rest so everyone is in a happy, excited mood. And for the love of dog, eat something! Having a good meal beforehand that’ll stick with you throughout the shoot will keep everyone’s energy up. It may be helpful to pack some granola bars, just in case. We’ve found this to be a non-negotiable for ourselves, too!

Wear something comfortable.

Make sure that your clothes are easy for you to move in and make you feel relaxed, confident, and comfortable. Be sure your kids are also wearing an outfit they feel good in, too. If they’re wearing something they don’t like, you will be able to see it in their faces.

Schedule an activity that you enjoy doing as a family.

Little kids are creatures of habit (well, to be fair, we all are). If you do something with them that they’re used to doing, they’ll naturally get into the routine of whatever that thing is. They won’t have time to think about Nathan clicking away with a camera, they’ll just run or play or read or whatever they normally do.

Mix Things Up

Like we just mentioned, kids are super-expressive. If they aren’t enjoying an activity, it’ll come across on their faces. When we see this happening, we like to mix things up and offer an alternative activity for them to do. This tends to head off a tantrum before it happens.

Nathan doesn’t “direct” a shoot, but he does suggest different scenes and ways to interact for everyone to warm up. Kids especially take a little warming up, but even adults take time to get into the natural rhythm of the camera.

Just Roll with It

Sometimes the best thing you can do is roll with the punches. Nathan is a master at figuring out what interests kids and how to make them feel comfortable. He’ll do his best to listen and chat along with them, despite having any hope of understanding what’s actually being said.

He’ll also take the time to familiarize them with the camera. Occasionally, he’ll stop and show a kid a photo he just took of them so they start to understand what’s happening (it’s that comfort thing we just talked about!)

If you want to know what it’s like to work with Nathan, Sam wrote this unique perspective!

That said, temper tantrums happen. Kids are unpredictable! When that happens, we’ll continue taking pictures. Cranky, crying faces are hilariously real. We’ve had parents say to us, “Tom looks like me when he’s happy, but he’s a duplicate of his father when he’s upset.” If we stopped the shoot for a fretful face, you wouldn’t be able to remember that duality present in your child.

We’ve found that the more familiar kids are with what we’re doing, the day is happy and goes down without incident. From your end, you can make sure your child is comfortable. From our end, we’ll make sure your kid has fun and is familiar with us before we begin. And when cranky kids happen, it’s okay! That’s life and it isn’t perfect. We wouldn’t want it any other way.

Supporting the Community through Photography

We’ve had a busy fall season with event photography. We’ve had the honor to photograph two film festivals, the 2nd Annual Nine Mile Bike Tour & Block Party, the Pittsburgh Glass Center Art on Fire annual auction, Bridgeway Capital brand photography, and Swissvale Fall Family Mini-Sessions.

While we can’t pick a favorite, and we’ll soon be sharing photos from these events with you, we love working with community-focused organizations. Here are a few of our fall community events.

2nd Annual Nine Mile Bike Tour & Block Party

We recently had the opportunity to sponsor the 2nd Annual Nine Mile Bike Tour & Block Party. This is a fundraiser for Nine Mile Run Wastershed Association. Over 100 cyclists rode through the East End, touring the sites where the NMRWA has done work to aid in cleaning and maintaining the watershed. The cyclists and spectators were able to learn about the work that NMRWA does throughout the community. It’s incredible to see the impact this group has had in our region!

We jumped at the chance to photograph this event because we hold Frick Park near and dear to our hearts. Jeanie and Porter love the dog park. Without NMRWA, the park would not be anything like you see today. Thanks to NMRWA, this is a safe space for both dogs and humans to play. We’re thrilled to be able to support this fantastic organization and know that we’re helping our community continue to flourish.

You can see our event recap here on the blog.

Bridgeway Capital

Bridgeway Capital works with startup entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profits to pursue growth opportunities. Their network of investors and partners sparks Western Pennsylvania commercial and non-profit entities, allowing them to grow more than they would have on their own.

We had the great pleasure of once again taking environmental portraits of their clients. Environmental portraits accomplish a few things. You can see these budding entrepreneurs in action, working in their actual business environment to tell a story of their passions and business. It also shows them in their real-life surroundings to see how they interact with others in their business. It’s a great way to showcase someone’s personality and unique business culture.

We love knowing that we’re supporting small businesses in a meaningful way. The photos we took are able to be used on their website, social media marketing, and business material collateral. It allows their business to present a professional image and help them get even further along in their work.

Here is a selection of client photos we took last year for Bridgeway Capital.

Swissvale Fall Family Photos

We live and work in Swissvale, PA, and we love supporting our community in any way we can (if you couldn’t tell!) We’re always looking for ways to assist in improving communication between residents and local officials, attracting people to move and open a business here, and generally uplifting the image of Swissvale throughout the region.

New families are essential to the growth of our community. As a way to give back to the neighborhood that supports us so generously, we offered mini-family photo sessions to residents in our community. Everyone, regardless of their background, should be able to have memories of their family interacting together. We were happy to create inspiring images that families will always love.

We hope to offer these sessions again!

Please let us know how we can support your community organization. Send us an email!