When it comes to holidays, they say that if you do something twice it becomes a tradition. Well, this is the third year running that we have created a fun story-telling Christmas card for the Wallace Family and these cards have been ANYTHING but traditional. This year we staged an all out down and dirty food fight. Festivus to the Extreme!
Back in 2017 we created a kitchen disaster complete with fire, footballs, and flying flour and then 2018 brought the living room legacy of the falling Christmas tree, broken and falling ornaments, and a live electrical shock.
While I had played around with some composite work before, I knew that I needed to step up my game so our first year I turned to my friend and photography instructor Dan McClanahan for pointers. I had participated in Dan’s Hawaiian Photography Retreat and Workshop that summer and was blown away by his skills and talent, including his now famous work Friday Night Food Fight. You may see a few similarities here, and I will admit that his piece provided a good bit of inspiration for us this year. Anyway, Dan most graciously provided critiques and tips to help us out.
This year when the Wallaces requested a food fight, I was excited but also concerned about doing anything that would copy Dan’s image too closely and I was hesitant to even ask him for help this time. SO first so we set up some ground rules of our own No copying of his poses or pranks. This meant no spaghetti on the chandelier, and especially no skewered chicken or the ultimate pie pan landing like a hat. In the end I did send him our image and he still helped me improve it a bit. This is one thing I absolutely love about having talented friends and mentors in this industry, people who share knowledge and help each other expand skills.
The first image we created was a very formal beautifully set table which would become the front cover of our card. I’m sure recipients who now look forward to receiving this family’s card every year were confused. Brinkley, the dog seated at the table was the only thing even remotely unusual at first glance. — Oh — and the artwork on the wall — and maybe the mischevious grins on every face. They had to actually OPEN the card to reveal the big surprise.
This project is actually a composite of several images with each person being photographed separately to capture the best action from everyone. We shot in the very brave clients’ own dining room so that we could incorporate their own light fixture and furniture. Our first task was to block out the back window with a painters drop cloth so that we could replace it with a solid wall that would include our two earlier projects.
Once we had that formal image down we messed up the table and the fun began. We knew we were on a roll when we nailed our very first shot, Brinkley catching his favorite treat, a marshmallow, midair. Then we began dripping food onto dress clothes one person at a time, careful to make sure the cranberry sauce didn’t look too much like a gunshot wound. Somewhere along the line the carving knife ended up in the ice tea pitcher so we left it there as we photographed each family member individually.
SAFETY NOTICE: The wood floors became SUPER slippery , so when Braden tipped his chair back, we had older brother, Joshua, securing the feet to keep it from slipping out from under him. A word of warning — repeated for anyone who wants to try this at home — the wood floor became VERY slippery with spilled gravy, potatoes, and jello.
No humans or dogs, however, were injured in the making of this image.
After cleanup in the house, behind-the scenes-magic began. First I created clipping masks of each person and then dropped them all into a shot of the table.
This created a flat cartoonish looking image that became our starting point. I could tell right away that Brinkley didn’t have enough personal space in his original position, so we flipped him around and moved him to the other side of the table. We also needed a little more food in the air so I purchased a bag of frozen veggies, sprinkled them onto a foam board in an arching shape where I photographed them in my studio.
Next it was time to add the artwork to the walls, re-construct the actual floor and baseboards without the sideboard buffets, and to burn in some shadows for depth. Voila!
In the true spirit of Christmas, the Wallace family says it’s always better to give than to receive. And they were still laughing and smiling as we finished and cleaned up. Yes — Dad DID get to smack his youngest son with a cherry pie. Oh MY!
We are already working up plans for 2020 and I can hardly wait. In the meantime, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
I would LOVE to tell YOUR family story in a fun and unique way too. If you would like a personalized story-telling family portrait or Christmas card of your own, reach out to me at SPCcreative.com now. These things take time to dream up and create. Let’s start now.
In the meantime, May your Days be Messy and Bright.
You may have heard that we’ve got a new Grand Dane. That’s right, our kiddos made us proud grand-pup-parents again with this handsome guy, and we couldn’t be happier.
They brought him over for dinner last week so we had to dash up to the studio for a few quick baby portraits. He is a Great Dane, so we know he won’t stay this small for long. Get a load of those PAWS!
We don’t play in the studio often together when the kids come over, but decided this would be a great occasion for our daughter in love to step into the gorgeous lilac dress that we recently added to our studio collection. Isn’t she a dream?
Laughter and puppy breath. Sooooo sweet! We had a wonderful time playing together and it is going to be so much fun watching this pup grow up. His name is Dos, and he’s the second official mascot of Grateful Dane Distilling Co. right here in Houston, Texas.
The next time you are enjoying a cold locally craft distilled beverage and wonder if there really is a Dane behind the label, now you know!
The original Grateful Dane, Jaeger, will never be replaced. He left a pretty big pawprint on our hearts to fill, but I believe Dos has begun filling that space quite nicely.
I simply MUST share my favorite new Christmas Tradition with you. If you do something twice during the holidays and you enjoy it, it becomes a tradition, right?
THIS is how the Wallace Family of Katy, Texas rolls!
Seriously, they’ve got to be the FUNNEST Christmas Family in Texas.
You see, It all started when Mom, Jenny, called in 2017 looking for a fun and unique family Christmas card. They had a general concept in mind, but needed a pro to help them pull it off. Oh my goodness! It was exactly the project that had been bubbling in my own brain for quite a while, and suddenly these people just called me to create it! How does that even happen? Did I ever tell you how much I LOVE my job?
As we began planning for our session, I reached out to one of my photography instructors and friends, Dan McLanahan. Dan is very well-known in professional circles for his amazing skills and talents, but my brain at this time was all-consumed by the reknown “Friday Night Food Fight” composite that he had created a year before. Click on this link to check it out! Dan gave me some pointers to help make our session go smoothly, and he also offered a gentle but extremely helpful critique during the post-production stages of Christmas Kitchen Chaos 2017.
The magic of a project like this comes in compiling several photographs until one composite image is complete. I don’t know what part of this scenario I enjoyed the most.
It could have been Scott’s flaming skillet. (Yes we used real fire).
Or Jenny’s flying flour which looked so realistic because the sons hid behind the island throwing flour and mashed potato flakes into the air until we captured our perfect messy cloud.
Maybe it was Braden’s athletic skills catching a football mid-air with his LEFT hand so that we could still see his face –HOW MANY TIMES?
Josh’s feigned boredom with the whole scenario absolutely cracked me up because it couldn’t have been further from reality. In fact, he offered keen thoughts, insight, and even served as a voice-activated lightstand throughout the session both last year and this year.
However, the story I LOVE to tell about this shoot is about the family dog, Brinkley. This dog is so well-trained that he absolutely refused to steal the lasagna off the counter. In order to make that scenario happen, we had to send dad to another part of the house while Jenny and the sons coerced and tempted him.
This was my first ever attempt at a relatively complex composite image, and it was so much fun. The Christmas card recipients started asking what this year’s card would look like, and the Wallaces quickly realized that they couldn’t ever go back to a traditional smiling family portrait card.
When they called me this year, we sat down together and brainstormed until we came up with a new concept.
Deck the Halls — Wallace Style
The family has actually experienced a couple of real-life falling Christmas tree incidents, so they knew that their friends and relatives would understand the significance.
Everyone maintained their basic persona from 2017. Jenny’s tripping over her own enthusiasm, and so surprised that she’s practically juggling the ornaments as they smash to the floor. Josh is once again absorbed in his technology and light untangling mess. Braden’s adding Santa to the top of the tree — Elf Style. And of course we’ve got Scott, once again about to burn down the house with his Griswold-inspired electrical connection.
We even included last year’s card on the television screen at the back of the room.
Best memory from this year’s photography session? The pure thrill on the guys’ faces when they got to actually throw glass ornaments up into the air, allowing them to smash on the ground. Josh said it was the one thing that you’re always told not to do.
“Don’t drop the ornaments, don’t let them break, be careful with them. Don’t make a mess.”
But on this one day we shattered ornaments on the floor and made a royal mess.
Merry Christmas from SPCcreative Photography via The Wallace Family.
There’s a special sisterhood that we redheaded women share. It can’t be described, but if you are one of us, you know it well. You might catch a glimpse of it in our eyes as we give each other a silent high-five at the grocery store. We connect because we understand. We know sunburns, and freckles, unruly curls. People always ask us if our hair color is natural. Our perfume of choice is SPF 30-plus. If two of us are in a room at the same time someone will inevitably ask if we are related. In a sense, we are because we truly know how hard it is to be so blinkin’ awesome. I LOVE my redheaded sistah’s and when I’m fortunate enough to have one walk through my doors, good stuff is bound to happen.
Just a phone-pic selfie: Here we are hanging out on my front porch with my highly prized Redhead Barbie! — She looks just like us, doesn’t she?
Because women are so fascinating and multi-dimensional, I developed these Total Woman sessions to capture many different facets of an individual. We are more than just a pretty face. We are powerful. We are fun. We are joyful. We are intelligent. We are mysterious. We are strong. We are sexy. We are compassionate. And through it all, we are BEAUTIFUL — but sometimes we forget that part. Total Woman sessions bring a woman from the BOARDROOM to the BOUDOIR and capture that special beauty forever. These sessions are good for a woman’s soul. The images we create also warm the hearts of our husbands and children, whether they are still young or have already grown up.
Jessica is one amazing woman. She’s a cross-fit trainer. She’s a wife and the mother of five fantastic sons. That’s just one more reason to adore her. Red Heads who can raise five sons could rule the world if we wanted to.
It was beyond fun working with her to create these heirloom images.
Can you imagine her sharing these with her grandchildren in the year 2046? Won’t they love this? What a TREASURE!
What would you give to have lovely photographs of your mother at the age that you are now?
And … as we often do after these sessions, we met up at the park with the loves of her life, her husband and boys —
because — well because we just HAD TO create a portrait of the family on the same day we put together Jessica’s heirloom collection!
We only had about 10 minutes before the skies opened up and rain started pouring, but that was enough.
These images have been translated to a canvas collection for their beautiful home.
These kids will grow up, but this precious moment in their lives has been frozen in time and they will cherish it — because they will always be able to see it.
The senior year in high school can be a super emotional time, and I don’t mean just for the students.
In my own experience, as a mom of five sons, I came to think of the senior year sort of like pregnancy. It lasts about nine months, and by the time it is over, you’ll do whatever you need to do in order to get the kid out. I played tug of war between the joys of seeing my children spread their wings oh so ready to stand on their own and become an adult, and the fear of wondering if they would be safe from one day to the next. I worried about each one of them walking out the door to places where we can’t monitor whether or not they and their buddies come home at a decent hour. To this day, I still LOVE watching them take on new responsibilities and excel in ways I could never imagine. I still crumble inside when they face struggles that I cannot and should not even try to fix. I cry a little when I realize that my days of drying tears,mending scraped knees, and keeping a well-stocked pantry and fridge are becoming distant memories.
What many of us moms tend to forget is that the graduate is not the only one facing a new stage of life.
Senior year is a time when the entire family dynamics are about to change in a big way. Parents get to embark on a new journey too. Yes, the adjustment can be very very tough, but for the most part after transition (another pregnancy analogy) it is very very sweet.
Not too long ago I got together with this family to create the first portraits they had made since their son was quite young. He will graduate this June and within just a few short weeks will leave for army boot camp. When he returns, he will be a different human being. That’s what service does for us.
I’m so glad we did this project.
Life for mom and dad will definitely change. Their son will come into his own in a great way. And Mom and Dad are going to be fine. They’ll be just fine.
Here’s something a little different for my blog. I don’t photograph many kids. Mostly I concentrate on teens and adults, and I nearly always leave the whole chase-a-toddler-through-the-park scenario to my colleagues who are more well suited for those antics. But once the kids are school-aged, I have a hard time resisting them. Especially when they’re as fun to hang out with as the kids in the N Family.
I don’t know how I got so luck y to have Little Miss L and her mom knock on my door selling Girl Scout Cookies a couple of years ago. I’m a sucker for Caramel Delights and Peanut Butter Sandwiches. They had the goods. We stood on the porch talking for a LONG time and became friends immediately.
You might recognize some of these faces — or at least one because she has popped in and out of previous sessions with older siblings like she did HERE and HERE
These kids have amazing parents who are committed to capturing great images of them individually on their birthdays and around their half birthdays too. They come from a very large family, so it’s nice to focus attention on just two or three kids at one time. AND — I’m the lucky duck that gets to create those photographs for them. We print all the best images, mount them, and deliver them in a custom keepsake image box.
Are these guys not adorable — running through the tall grass together — in slow motion . . .
You never know who’s going to show up during N Family shoots. It’s Big Brother C and Bubba Kitty!
PHOTOBOMB! YEAH! Our session took place on a steamy morning, so ending the session by cooling off in the pool was a great idea! At least, that’s what L thought.