The autum chill crept slowly over New Jersey. The leaves had began to change their fall hues, pumpkins littered patches in droves, and hayrides took families and friends on bumpy but fun strolls. Fall had finally arrived.
For the Szczepanik family, there was much more to celebrate than a quickly approaching Halloween. Their pride and joy, the little boy, their bundle of smiles and laughs, was turning one.
I met the Szczepanik clan at A. Casola Farms in Holmdel, New Jersey. The sky was cloudy and cast a beautiful soft light. The farm itself was packed with donuts and drinks and enough pumpkins and games to entertain even the most picky of people. We made our way to the furthest patch with the least amount of traffic and set up shop.
On the surface I tried to be calm and collected, this was a co-worker after all, someone I had seen day in and day out for over a year, and yet, my nerves were racing. This was my first time taking pictures of a person who was not immediate family. It was a big deal. There was a chance I could mess up. I had packed my camera bag with every conceivable tool and gadget I could think of. I had lights, a gorilla pod, filters and protectors I had batteries and covers and cleaners galore. The prep work had been done and now it was time for the main event.
Almost immediately we found a hay covered wagon with a giant wooden wheel and enough pumpkins to form a compelling scene. The nightmares I've heard of constant screaming and crying children quickly evaporated with the child's comforting giggles and mild wide smile. His parents made faces and sounds and movements that kept him engaged and alert and our first round of pictures went wonderfully.
We grabbed the babe and all of his stuff and a few feet later found a lovely bunching of hay. It was arranged into a form of chair. A perfect fall background. The only issue, the lighting. It was receded in a small barn normally used for storage and was under an orange tent. While the scene was lovely the lightning was not. Luckily, like I mentioned before, I had brought an entire studio in my backpack. I grabbed the (insert light name) and had RL hold it and move around. The shots were quick and the ideas flowed freely.
“Let's get the parents involved” A quick statement that evolved the photo shoot into something more.
Soon after that comment a simple one year old photo shoot turned into the whole family getting involved. I could not have been more excited.
Quickly we made our way out to the pumpkin patch and that’s where the photos truly began to flow. Inspiration surrounded us. Scenes, and ideas, and pinterest worthy shots appeared before our very eyes. To say that little Alex was the superstar of the day is an understatement. He was happy, and smiling, and gave us some of the best modeling not seen since the gerber babies of yesteryear. His smile was infectious and did not let out one single cry. We were taking pictures for well over an hour, which is baby time is like a week, and he gave us very little fuss.
Finally, in what I would call a perfect moment, we used their red wagon, a stack of hay, and some nearby pumpkins to create the most gorgeous display we could have created that day. With the use of the “ONE” cutouts his mother had brought we were able to transform the wagon shots into some of my most proud photographs to date.
All in all I have to say that my first photoshoot was an adrenaline shot in the arm and leaves me wanting more. I know they probably will not all go as well as this one but man, what an experience.
All shots we made on Canon 80D with 50mm lens. The bokeh, the focus, the lighting all seemed to click together so well.
I hope you enjoy looking at the pictures below as much as I enjoyed taking them. Click though below to see some of my favorites.
Thank you to the Szczepanik Family and little Alex for being such a wonderful model.