The initial contact for the shoot was an inquiry for a large group photo.
Turns out, it was a sort of family reunion and 60th birthday, and the client and I agreed when you’ve got that many family members in one place – better to set up more than just a single group photo. I mean… they even had T-Shirts!
We did small family groupings, generational shots, candid shots – and of course the most important ‘large group’ picture
I think what may have caught me by surprise was the large number of children – 20+ under 10 years of age who I think may have spend most of the bitter cold weekend stuck in doors rather than playing in the Catskills countryside.
You never know what to expect from the Catskills in early March. This year we’ve had springtime in the 60s (maybe low 70s) and single digits. That’s where this family arrived.
Ahead of the weekend visit, I dropped a line to confirm and advise about the coming cold front. I believe much of the family was coming up from Long Island and might not have been checking the mountain forecast.
Now, I never say ‘no.’ I figured we’d shoot inside and out, but with soooo many toddlers, infants and youngin’s involved – we agreed to keep it under roof.
I had fun with the little ones, as I used to do when I managed seasonal mall photography sets that contributed to my training. They all took turns squeaking the ice cream cone squeaky toy I use to draw babies eyes’ toward the lens.
Some times if I’m drawing a K9s eyes, I leave the toy behind (I buy them in 2s and 3s, typically) but somehow when its kids involved it always comes back to the shop with me no worse for the wear.
There were a lot of cooks on this particular shoot. A few times I attempted to move our set up to a neutral wall or different backdrop – the great room had lots of space, but was vetoed so the grayness of the exterior winter world shows in most photos. When I moved to manipulate the pose for height or depth, participants returned on their own to the line-up. Not perfect, but not a deal-breaker.
What was perfect, was the feeling I got that everyone enjoyed themselves – the whole time. OK – a few babies cried, but babies cry. While we worked, those who weren’t in the photo were running, playing, dancing, singing, snacking (and possibly packing for their southbound escape).
It was in many ways the most joyous gathering I’ve photographed outside of a wedding and I hope that feeling stays with me in the months ahead.
Looking forward to the next outing.
~ Jonathan Ment Photography