It’s Easier Than You Think!
by Jamie Hayes

hayes03It’s summer time again and a great time to market and create beautiful outdoor portraits. We find that our sales are higher from our garden portraits than any other product lines. I think there are two main reasons: first, our clients seem to prefer a more natural look and feel to their portraits and, second, we can create more variety in a shorter shoot time. I use a lot of the lens compression techniques that I have mentioned in past articles to make our images look very different from the pictures our clients create with their cameras.

hayes02First, and most importantly, we always start with a design session with our clients to see the interior spaces where their portraits will be displayed. This will give me  a sense of scale, balance, lighting, colors and textures that I will incorporate into the final portrait.

To change colors in the foreground, mid-ground and background, I use container plants. Over the years I have found that the use of containers for annual flowers and evergreen plants can easily give you the flexibility to move colors around in the image to complete the composition. (Photo 2).

hayes05I start planting in the early spring as soon as the garden centers start to build their inventory. Since most of our garden is covered with shade most of the day I select impatiens for color, hostas and liriope for textures (photo 1).

These will grow like crazy and the perennials will come back year after year. This year, I tried a new variety of impatiens called “sunpatiens” which will thrive in sun or shade. As you can see, I leave several sets of these in different colors in the original containers in which they were purchased. This is so easy because you don’t have to do anything except water them about every 3 days! By not transplanting them, I have created a low to the ground bunch of color that I can move around the garden where I need them. I love the larger containers with the built in handles (see small photos of plants).

Now I have planted the hostas in larger containers so they have height in the background (see the final image background) as well as in the ground with a good amount of space in between each plant. I leave enough space so that I can place one or more of the impatiens containers either in the foreground or the background. I use one of the little blooms for the child’s hands and I have color in the foreground, mid-ground and background.

hayes04For the lighting I use additive lighting as I have mentioned in previous articles, metering for the ambient and adding flash at the same intensity (Photo 3).

So roll up your sleeves and get planting, you will be amazed how easy and fun it is to add a little color to your outdoor portraits.

hayes01Camera: Canon 1DS Mark III
Lens: Canon 35-350 L Series 3.5-5.6 Zoom
Lens set at 150mm
Exposure: 1/85 sec @ f/6.3 400 ISO
RAW File Capture and jpeg (for viewing)
Light Meter: Sekonic L-358
Light Modifiers: 17×17 Soff Box
Strobes: Profoto Acute 600B