Finola’s family photo shoot, and a few lessons learned

When Finola contacted me out of the blue one day last month and asked if I’d be interested in taking some portraits for her to use for an online avatar, I was absolutely delighted — and absolutely terrified. It’s one thing to take pictures of your own kids, and the kids of family and friends, which gives you the ability to shrug it off any awkward shots and delete the lot of them (the pictures, not the kids) if they don’t turn out like you expected. (Tangent: that’s something that might be worth looking into, now that I mention it, the ability to delete kids that don’t turn out like you expected.) Ahem, anyway, as I was saying… It’s an entirely different ballgame to commit to professional portraits of a complete stranger, no matter how sweet they seem to be from your online encounters, and the idea left me breathless with anxiety.

But you know what? Taking pictures of an exceptionally photogenic adult is WAY easier than taking pictures of an admittedly adorable but restless toddler and his two accomplices. For one thing, Finola actually sits still when you take her picture. What a novel experience! And she doesn’t glare at me like the other adults in my life seem to do when I point my lens at them. In fact, she has a lovely smile that she unleashes in a blink, as opposed to the puckered squints that my boys seem to think passes for a smile. See?

Brick background

We agreed that we both love natural-light photographs, so we made arrangements to meet at Britannia Beach. I knew there’d be a good variety of backgrounds, and plenty of open shade. (Tip: when you’re doing portraits, the blazing mid-day sun is your enemy. It makes raccoon-like shadows around the eyes, and people can’t help but squint. Plus, it’s a harsh and rarely-flattering light. A nice area of open shade, on the other hand, can be very flattering.) And, wouldn’t you know it, all week long the Saturday forecast called for rain. I drove through two separate downpours on the way to the beach. And then, miraculously, the skies cleared and the sun came out just as I pulled into the parking lot.

We tried a handful of different backgrounds — bricks and beach and even the yellow door to the washroom. And, by the way? Finola? Is an extremely good sport, and not once did she look at me like I was a crazy person for chattering in an endless and almost nonsensical stream, nor for making suggestions like, “Go stand in front of the bathroom door.” I was, how shall I put this, positively manic with nerves a little bit nervous.

Speaking of nerves, I completely forgot that I was going to ask her to do a few poses looking away from the camera and try a few profile shots, but at least I remembered to restrain myself from putting her dead in the centre of each frame. My favourite picture of Finola ended up being this one that I took while standing on a picnic table looking down at her!

I think this is my favourite!

Taking pictures of Finola’s daughters N and B wasn’t originally part of the plan, but they were at the park playing contentedly on the play structure while they waited for their mom, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take pictures of something other than boys. I mean, look — how could I possibly resist this kind of cuteness?

Miss B

That’s Miss B. And her sister, Miss H, has an eight-going-on-eighteen kind of serenity in her face that I find simply gorgeous.

Miss N

So here’s something else I learned yesterday: the old “don’t think of boogers” trick that never fails to get a smile from the boys doesn’t work quite so well on girls. It worked like a charm on Finola, though! ๐Ÿ™‚ Who knew — with girls, you just *ask* them to smile and they do!

476:1000 Finola's girls

Thank you, Finola, for the great honour of letting me take these pictures, but especially for being such a fun and easy-going and highly-photogenic subject. It was a delight to meet you and your girls! Oh, and the rest of my set of favourites from the afternoon are, of course, on Flickr.

So Finola, after all that — which one will you choose for new avatar?

Edited to add: Simon was looking over my shoulder as I scrolled through some of these images. “Is that the lady whose picture you took yesterday?” he asked. I told him yes, it was. “Wow,” he said, “she’s just as pretty as you.” I think we can both take that as a compliment, Finola! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Author: DaniGirl

Canadian. storyteller, photographer, mom to 3. Professional dilettante.

11 thoughts on “Finola’s family photo shoot, and a few lessons learned”

  1. Fantastic pictures! Finola you look beautiful. (as do your girls!) Tough decision to narrow it down to one photo….

  2. Wow Dani! Thank you for a wonderful photo shoot and for being such a generous photographer. I really love the photos, but meeting you was the best part of the day.

    Oh, Simon! What a sweetie ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Lovely pictures! The light is perfect and the result is supeer natural.

    As a photographer, I’d say she did a great job! Portraits are hard ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. i thought, how many finolas can there be in this city? sure enough, i grew up down the street from this one! lovely then, and just as lovely now, it seems. ๐Ÿ™‚
    *waves* hi!!

    beautiful shots, dani.

  5. Cool! I just visited Finola’s blog and complimented her on her beautiful new photo! Then I land here and see this post. (and the photo with her girls is stunning too.)

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