This session was magical not only because of the Harry Potter theme, but because this session was done with my nephew, Oliver, who is just as much in love with the Harry Potter world as I am!
I got Oliver hooked on Harry Potter when we started watching the movies together last year, and it's been a love that we've shared ever since. Now Oliver tells everybody at school that he's actually Harry Potter, which is pretty believable though since he knows most, if not all, of the spells from the movies!
It's Oliver's adoration for this magical place that not only brought on the theme of our session together, but it also inspired me and his mom to surprise him with a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal! This will be a treat for not only Oliver but for me as well, and I'm looking forward to indulging in all the fun and adventures that it has to offer for us Harry Potter fans!
Fortunately, Oliver already has his Harry Potter look nailed as you can see from these photos. It was only a coincidence that out mutual love for Harry Potter had led to me getting Oliver a Harry Potter wand and glasses set, but from there it turned into much more— the inspiration for this session.
I always try to get annual photos of my nieces and nephews around their birthdays— which ends up being more of a present to their parents than the kids, but they'll appreciate these photos when they're older! For right now, these session are something that they and I can do together and have fun creating.
For Oliver's pictures I knew that I had to do something Harry Potter related! I even had the perfect location to recreate that magic of Hogwarts— Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam, Connecticut. With it's beautiful stone architecture it's easy to believe that the castle was actually Hogwarts itself!
Oliver believes in the Harry Potter world whole-heartedly, which made this session so much fun! When we arrived at Gillette Castle he was immediately spell-bound and I could tell that he was captivated by the magic of the session. For him that meant that the castle was actually Hogwarts and all the spells that I had him perform for the camera was actually him creating real magic!
It's so much fun being able to bring a child's imagination to life. Some magic of my own that I used to enhance these photos were techniques like: lighting— by using a flash capable of high speed sync the background appears much darker than the daylight that we were actually shooting in, spray fog— to add a mysterious and eerie atmosphere to the photos; and photoshop—to add in foreign elements that would be impossible to recreate in front of the camera.
I love to work with clients who have atypical ideas for sessions that are fun and show creativity! In addition to this Harry Potter session, I have also done sessions with young girls as the characters Nakia, Okoye, and Shuri from Black Panther.
What I enjoy in particular about these sessions is that it shows the real character of the kids, and it gives them a chance to show others who they are and who they want to be. Now, Oliver won't grow up to be Harry Potter, but he could want to grow up to be like Harry Potter— someone who is brave, daring, chivalrous, and has nerve (a true Gryffindor)!! Kids should be able to express who they are, and if that goes against that norm, then it's all the better because that's what makes them unique.
What people don't realize about this kind of custom session is that it takes a lot more work than what one would think goes into it. For this Harry Potter session I had a lot of photoshop work to do, which consisted of putting in all the special effects that I couldn't do in front of the camera. While that may not sound like a lot of work it's rather difficult to photoshop in a foreign light and make it look 'natural' in the photo. It's for this reason that the investment for a custom session runs a little higher than the typical portrait session, more work goes into editing the photos.
What can also makes the investment higher is what it takes to get "the shot", meaning, for certain characters they may require a specific background—for example, when I did the Black Panther session the client, my assistant, and I went to Devil's Hopyard in East Haddam, Connecticut. We went to this location because there's a picturesque waterfall at this location that had a similar atmosphere, or as close as you can get in New England, to Wakanda.
Now the drive to the location was not the problem so much as the location itself, to get the right point of view for the photo it required a lot of effort on everybody's part—I had to get almost thigh deep in the water, the child who was dressed a Wakanda warrior had to stand on some rocks that were positioned in front of the waterfall, the child's mother had to be near by in case anything were to happen, and my assistant was also standing on the rocks with an external flash to help with the lighting. It may not sound like a lot of effort but if you have ever been to Devil's Hopyard then you would probably understand how difficult it could be for everyone to be in these positions.
Each custom session needs it's own individual quote though, it's hard to generalize what the price could be when one idea could require ten times more work with photoshop than the next idea. Even though they run a little more expensive than the standard session, some would probably say that the splurge is worth it if you have a child that is really crazy about a show, movie, character, or person.
If you have any of your own ideas and want to discuss or have any questions feel free to reach out to me and we can explore your options!
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