Marathon Lifestyle Sessions Day: Sneak Peek

If you’ve ever lived through a Maine winter, you understand the need to squeeze every last drop of summer out of every single year…even when summer seems to extend more and more often into mid-to-late October–maybe even especially then. That never holds more true than when Portrait Season begins where Wedding Season leaves off, and judging by the crowds of families being led by photographers at the Vaughn Woods in Hallowell Sunday, we all knew last Sunday may be the last really nice warm Sunday we’d have before all the leaves are blown off the trees (because, say it with me, Winter Is Coming).

Fortunately the Vaughn Woods State Park is huge, offering LOTS of awesome locations for photos, so while my first session was able to get some portraits in by the pretty stone bridge and little falls that come down from the dam above, the rest of my sessions (two more family sessions and a senior modeling session) moved above the rocks to the beautiful sunlit field.

I’d love to hear what you think — and P.S. I suspect we’ll have a couple of warm weekends still ahead in November, but even if it’s cold, message me now to schedule your family’s lifestyle session!

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Olivia: Sneak Peek

Last night was a gorgeous evening for a sunset lifestyle shoot. Enjoy these sneak peeks from Olivia’s! Check out my investment packages at dorydiazphotography.com/investment.html, and message me to book your lifestyle shoot before the fall colors fade away!

Senior Session: Jack

Nothing makes me happier than photographing my friends (or my friends’ kids). It feels like a gift they give me every time I look at the moments I capture with them. That’s part of why I’m so happy I was able to photograph my friend Mandy’s son Jack’s Senior Session–though I can’t say he was nearly as thrilled. He balked every step of the way about having Senior pictures taken at all right up until the moment he stepped out of the car at our shoot location. But once he was in front of the camera, his entire attitude changed, and he unleashed his inner Zoolander, posing effortlessly, and even suggesting more pictures when I was ready to move on. (His brother Gabe had no issue being in front of the camera as you can see below.) Jack even ate cold, flavorless ramen for a good five minutes while I photographed him from every angle without complaint. At the end of the evening he declared the whole session was a solid 6 out of 10…which for Jack means it was closer to an 8.

I’ll take it.

Sneak Peek: The Boy Who Loved Ramen

I’ve known Jack since he was small, and he’s spent quite a bit of time running around my house with my son Ronan, playing Batman in the pitch dark, making random videos, or just hanging out in the bean bag chairs in our TV room playing Star Wars on his PS4. So when Mandy asked me if I could be the one to capture Jack’s senior session, I was thrilled–and because the kid is seriously obsessed with ramen, I knew that eating ramen had to be a part of our shoot. Enjoy this sneak peek from today’s riverside ramen shoot!

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Senior Session: Dallas

It almost feels like cheating to do a senior session with Dallas. She’s like my second daughter, her grandmother is a talented photographer who’s taught Dal to be an excellent model, and hellooooo…she’s stunning! That skin, those eyes! Seriously. The hardest part about scheduling Dallas’ Senior Session was her schedule–the girl works round the clock, lives in two different places, and has a million responsibilities she juggles. But we finally found a time that worked that lined up with perfect weather, and here’s the result. I really should title this “Senior Session: Dallas, Round 542” because we’ve been working on Dallas’ Senior pictures all year long, with only one season left to cover: winter. I can’t wait!

A Tale of Two Mushrooms (Or, Why Professional Photographers Are Worth the Investment)

Today was a sad day in the Diaz household. My son, getting ready for his first day of his Junior year of high school, called me frantically from the hallway outside of his room, “Mom, come here, quick.” I ran out of my bedroom to see his distressed face. “Penny died.”

Yes, Penny, Ronan’s first pet, a beloved red-eared slider turtle I’d bought for him when he turned 7 years old, nearly exactly 9 years ago today, had suddenly died. And if you’ve never owned a pet for 9 years, one who made the move with you from Maine to Hawaii and back again, or been a 7 year-old boy who once declared, “Penny is my best fwend,” you may not quite understand the sadness that discovery brought on for us today, but trust me: it was a very sad day.

And all of that brings me to this afternoon, when Ronan and I dug a hole (as big as we could manage in our rock-infested back yard) under a beautiful big tree, and had a little Penny funeral. Ronan recounted his favorite Penny memories, I talked about what a great turtle she was and how much she’ll be missed, we made extra sure she really was dead (sadly, she was), and then we buried her. We sat near the grave for a little bit, enjoying the nearly-fall breeze, and just being quiet, and then we got up and headed back toward the house. As we did, though, Ronan pointed out an enormous mushroom he’d spotted earlier, and I borrowed his iPhone 6s to grab a picture.

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It’s not a bad picture. It definitely captures the enormous mushroom. I could probably fancy it up with some Instagram filters. There’s not a lot of style or substance beyond that, but yup, that’s definitely one big mushroom.

Later, though, after Ronan had left for his after-school job, I felt compelled to pick up my Nikon D810 and just sit with nature a bit. On the way to the line in my backyard where the grass ends and the wild begins, I stopped to take another picture of the mushroom, this time with full control of the lighting and focus.

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Do you see the difference?

Couples every day make the choice between the two mushrooms, and they don’t even realize it. On one hand, they have the first mushroom: inexperienced photographers–sometimes their friends–with an affordable, or even free, price point, who seem like a convenient choice–a lot like that iPhone or Samsung most of us have in our back pocket for a quick picture when we’re in a pinch or just want to take a selfie with a friend, and wow, those other mushrooms are expensive! On the other hand, many realize the value of the second mushroom: photographers with the real deal equipment, experience, and training to do the job right, and yes, they may be more expensive, but they’re definitely going to deliver what the client pays for.

Is there value in both mushrooms? Absolutely! I used to be that first mushroom, just learning with my old Nikon D200, doing weddings and portraits for friends on the cheap while I figured out what the heck I was doing with all these crazy settings on my camera. But I can also see the difference in my work from then to now, several years later, and I know I’m now worth the investment I ask. In those intervening years, I invested in two Nikon DSLRs, a Nikon D800 and a Nikon D810, and I will soon own the D850. I started shooting weddings years ago with a Nikkor 50mm prime lens and a single ancient Nikon speed light, but since then I’ve added Nikkor’s 70-200mm zoom, 24-70mm zoom, 85mm prime, and 14-24mm zoom to my carry list, as well as three Nikon speed lights, and a Paul C. Buff strobe to my equipment list (and that doesn’t even count the transmitters, tripods, light stands, light modifiers, and more). I’ve spent thousands on additional training and workshops. And I’ve spent TIME–my most valuable commodity of all–in learning how to run my business in a way that makes my clients feel valued, special, and satisfied when their wedding or lifestyle session is wrapped. All of that investment I’ve made in my business ensures that when a client invests in me, I know I can deliver the goods they’re investing in.

So which mushroom is better? Neither. The second mushroom could never happen without being the first mushroom–every new photographer needs to have the room to grow and learn, so they can become the second mushroom. My point isn’t which photographer makes the better choice to hire. My point is it’s worth recognizing that when a professional photographer asks you to make an investment in them, she’s asking you to trust that she’s worth investing in–just like that shot of the second mushroom will be the one I print and frame and hang on a wall of my house. When your eyes widen at what a professional photographer asks for a single wedding, know that photographer has most likely invested thousands of dollars, maybe even tens of thousands of dollars, in her equipment, that she is continuing to invest her time and energy in becoming the best photographer she can be, and that she will put dozens upon dozens more hours into your images in the days and weeks after your wedding than the time you pay for on the day itself. In short, she made an investment in YOU long before you knew you’d be investing in her.

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I didn’t only take mushroom pics today! Here are a few more of the beautiful things I encountered today:

Senior Session: Garrett

There’s something about a boy and his truck…er, I think that expression is usually about a boy and his dog, but in Garrett’s case, he’s all about his truck. His Chevy played a big role in his Senior Session, and he had every reason to be proud: he bought and fixed it himself, another in a long line of fixer-upper trucks he’s flipped.

The skies cooperated, too — dramatic storm clouds rolled in as we were headed to our second location, and we just had to stop to grab a couple of shots on an open field, with the big dark sky rolling out over us. As I set up my light, I had a moment to think, Maybe setting up a light with a huge battery on an aluminum pole isn’t the best idea when I can hear thunder, but the need to grab the shot overrode my common sense (and hey! I made it!).

By the time we arrived at our last location, the pond in front of his aunt’s home, the light was fading fast, but Garrett’s friend Cody drove Garrett’s truck around the backside of the pond, and I was able to include it in the shots with gorgeous colors of the sunset providing a backdrop.

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Through it all, Garrett was an awesome sport, willing to do whatever I asked (and even listening to his mom when she told him to use his “real smile”. I’m so glad I was able to spend a couple of hours with him and his family…and his truck, of course!

Senior Session Sneak Peek: Garrett

Yesterday was a nail-biter of a day for trying to hold a senior session. One minute it was pouring rain, the next minute sunny, then before long, dark clouds covered the sun again, and rumbles of thunder could be heard in the distance. But I’m so glad we made it work (even if I did risk getting struck by lightning setting up a light on a metal pole in an open field while it was thundering–the important thing here is that I didn’t. The resulting shots from those dramatic skies were well worth it! Enjoy this sneak peek from Garrett’s senior session!

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