It was a hot, hazy and humid day outside. We decided not to have any part of that. (Air-conditioning is a wonderful thing.) I loved the soft light coming in from the living room window, so we moved the couch a little closer to the window. Amanda loves to write poems and draw, so a sketchpad seemed to be the perfect companion. Amanda was constantly smiling and sharing her poems and stories from her Hawaii trip with us. Her smile was a pleasure to capture.
After talking with Andrew’s Mom, I discovered that he became a Red Sox fan during his many trips to Boston for treatment. Being a baseball fan myself I knew what we had to do. Andrew’s Mom got him a jersey and I pulled together additional props. I was hoping for an overcast day since we planned to be outside. However, the day of our photography session was sunny and hot. Luckily, I was able to find a dugout, which offered some shade. We also bounced some light back into the dugout with a reflector. And we got some great photographs as Andrew played with his hat and ball.
After much discussion with Blair’s Mom, we decided to take her photograph at my studio. Blair loved the idea of a “tea party”, so she brought a few summer dresses and we picked our favorite. I selected a scenis background that I knew would look grat in black and white. We all had a great time and I got a wonderful portrait. I just love the small smile in Blair’s eyes in this pose and the way she just slightly turns away. It’s almost as if we just got her attention while she was playing, and captures that little girl smile which will forever be a part of her.
After speaking with Carlos’ Mom we decided to take the portrait outdoors at their home. I also found out that Carlos loves matchbox cars. For our session, we had a soft sunny day, which offers the perfect outdoor light. We took some photographs on a swing that Carlos loves, but there was too much movement. A wooden chair and table in the back yard caught my eye. I knew the texture would be great in black and white. So, I asked Carlos to get out his cars and put some of them on the table. The sun was just coming through the trees, which lit up the back of his hair and separated him from the background perfectly. Carlos’ smile can light up a whole room.
While talking to Dan’s Mom about his many interests, I learned the guitar and writing music were Dan’s favorite. We decided to use my studio for the photography session while Dan was on break from school. He brought some different clothes and we tried them all. Our favorite was what he wore when he walked through the door. The vertical pin stripes on his shirt were a nice contrast to the lines of the guitar strings, I didn’t want the guitar to dominate the portrait so we tried several angles to find the perfect one – more Dan, less guitar. I love the expression in his eyes. There’s a certain relaxed confidence. I wanted the background to be dark, but not black. Dan’s face and eyes light up the portrait.
David’s passion is music and playing the piano His wish was to meet jazz pianist David Brubeck. David attended a summer camp at the Palace Theatre in Stamford. The Theatre kindly allowed us to use the stage for our photographs. We moved the piano in place and had the house lights turned on. We began with David sitting at the piano playing, but he seemed too small in this frame. I wanted to show as much of the concert hall as possible and he was getting lost. When he stood up and leaned against the piano I knew we had our pose. His white shirt and the strong diagonal line of the piano worked to draw attention to David. We enjoyed David’s mini-concert as he filled the empty stage with music.
Erika loves to dance. It’s her favorite thing to do in the whole world. Her Mom told me about several different costumes she has from past recitals. We decided to use a simpler costume. having photographed many dancers, I know how busy some of the costumes can be. I love this classic ballet look with the deeper background and the lighter costume. It has a backstage feel to it. Erika has so much energy, so we tried many poses. This simple pose is my favorite. Her expression and pose work together perfectly.
I learned about hennessy’s fondness for Dora the Explorer from her Mom. Hennessy had a Dora tent that we used for the portrait. We set it up in her living room and opened the window blinds to allow the wonderful soft light to fill the room. We even opened the front door, which added even more aprkle to Hennessy’s eyes. Hennessy had fun watching a large stuffed Dora attack my nose. I think her little sister and I had as much fun as Hennessy, while we took the photographs. This image captures Hennessy’s incredible smile and personality.
Jessica’s home is in a nicely wooded area. There is a huge rock bigger than a pick-up truck in her front yard. We took several photographs around the rock, but my favorite was of Jessica in the woods. I feel the best black and white photographs need to have a full range of tones. Even though we were outdoors I wanted the brightest area of the portrait to be Jessica. Her white shirt made this work well. Jessica posed herself easily and was very natural in front of the camera. I love the smile in her eyes – it is as friendly as Jessica.
Jordan lives near Sundown Mountain and is an avid skier. When we met for the photo shoot, it was a cold winter day with a nice overcast sky. We scheduled the session during the week to avoid crowds at the mountain. The staff at Sundown was glad to have us come by and offered us the use of any location. I found a split rail fence still covered with some snow. Jordan had her ski outfit together. I knew the dark grey fence would provide a nice contrast to the snow and evergreens would provide the darker tones on the top of the photograph. And, more attention would be on Jordan. We took several photographs on both sides of the fence and this one is my favorite. Jordan’s relaxed smile and pose work together.
When I learned about Kerri’s wish to be a model on a professional photo shoot, I knew we needed to do something with modeling. I came up with the idea of recreating a Hollywood Glamour photograph. We coordinated the schedules of make-up artist Charyn Scully and hair designer Steven Williams. Both donated their services to help create the look we were after. Kerri brought many outfits with her and we photographed them all. The ruffles on this one worked with the Mediterranean look of the set. I used a spotlight to create the sharp eyelash shadows that are reminiscent of the glamour portraits of the 30’s and 40’s. Everyone had fun making this special portrait of Kerri. Kerri lover being photographed and was great to work with.
Lamar’s wish was for a shopping spree which took place at the Trumbull Mall. He was chauffeured by a driver in a limousine to different stores. Hy’s Limousine Service of New Haven provided a limo for our photo shoot. We met Lamar at the mall and I found a location that I liked with a plain background. Lamar’s Mom & Dad stayed warm in the limousine while we took some portraits outside. We took some photographs around the car, but I knew I was going to like the front of the car the best. The shape of the chrome grill matched Lamar’s smile. As a little bonus, Lamar was shuttled home in the limo.
Melvin was a football player in high school and his favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys. We arranged a visit to ESPN and scheduled a time to photograph on one of the sets. We surprised Melvin with a Cowboy jersey and I brought along a football. The set was fun and Melvin had a blast! I had to use an exposure time of almost 2 seconds to pick up ambient light and match the light with the background. Melvin was quite good at staying still. The pose that I selected caught his great smile and wonderful spirit, enhanced by the super location.
Morgan loves stuffed animals and American Girl Dolls. We decided to take her portrait in her bedroom with all her animals and dolls in attendance. I loved the shape of the headboard of her bed and we came up with a pose where it framed her nicely. We moved the animals and dolls around to different area to try to find the best combination. I didn’t want all the other faces to take attention away from Morgan’s sparkling smile. We found the right grouping that was natural and not overwhelming. We all enjoyed cookies and lemonade after the session.
We decided to take Natalie’s photographs at her home. natalie likes to make jewelry, and some pieces were displayed at a store near her home. My original plan was to photograph her working with her craft, But, as it turned out Natalie had a much better idea. She wanted to create a portrait with her cat, which is very dear to her. I could tell right away that we didn’t have much time to work with because “sunshine” was moving and scratching, trying to escape. I made a few strange sounds to get Sunshine’s attention and Natalie looked up. This photograph was a fleeting moment in which their relationship showed itself. Natalie and Sunshine are both trying to protect one another in a special way.
I met Quinn while he was sitting on a bench enjoying an ice cream cone at Buttonwood Farms. This is a very special place in Griswald. For two weeks every summer, over 300,000 sunflowers are in full bloom covering 11 acres. The owners Duane and Kim Button donate all the proceeds of sunflower sales to Make·A·Wish! They even make a special “sunflower” ice cream flavor for the event. While Quinn was finishing his ice cream, I drove around the farm looking for the best location. I found the perfect place – a stonewall overlooking the fields. I used a portable light to separate Quinn from the background to capture his wonderful smile.
Richard had a NASCAR wish, so he naturally gravitates towards most anything with wheels. He had a go-cart that was “snowed in” in his backyard and his 30-year-old tractor that he restored with his Dad. I liked the front of the tractor, so Richard set it into position where the sun was behind him. We took several different poses, which all looked great. The confident smile in Richard’s eyes was the impressive NASCAR model collection, and shared with us his great wish experiencing meeting famous drivers and riding around the racetrack.
Sadie’s Mom told me that Sadie loves to draw. So, we planned to take the portrait in her room with a floor easel. When I got to their home I noticed a wonderful window seat in front of a large picture window in the living room. We walked upstairs to Sadie’s room, which was really adorable, but I couldn’t figure out a way to light the room that would look natural. We picked out an outfit that Sadie liked and headed downstairs with a small easel from her room. The only light was the natural soft daylight coming in from the window. Sadie has a wonderful smile, but her eyes make this portrait extra special.
One of Taylor’s favorite activities is to ride a horse named Smedley, which lives at TerryAllen Farms in Terryville. This is a family owned farm and everyone was very gracious with their time. We were allowed to take photographs anywhere we wished, and our friends at the farm helped us with Smedley. My previous experiences with horses taught me that these animals tend to dominate photographs with children because of their size. i asked Taylor to wear a white shirt, which I knew would help. The stable had large wooden windows, and light streamed in from both ends of the stable. We took some photographs outside as well, but there was something about Taylor’s eyes and how Smedley frames her that makes this one my favorite image.
Rod Jovanelly has been photographing Weddings, Families and Children for over 25 years. He has a relaxed easy-going personality that children just love. Many of his Wedding couples become clients for life – bringing their children and families back year-after-year for special portraits.