Before I share another tidbit from our holiday week, we had kind of a crazy morning today. M and I went out to buy school supplies[1] and then grabbed some lunch. In the five minutes it took us to get from Target to the restaurant we caught a break in the storm. But the western skies looked pitch black.

By the time we got inside and had ordered, rain was coming down in sheets again. We got our food, began to eat, and I noticed the winds outside had really picked up. Moments later the power went off in the whole shopping area we were in. Strangely the restaurant’s audio system was on their backup power, so while all the main lights were off and the kitchen was completely shut down, we could still listen to the piped-in music while we munched on our food under the glow of the emergency exit lights.

Then, suddenly, it was like we were in the middle of a hurricane. We couldn’t see the Starbucks that was 50 feet away. Patio furniture was flying all over the place. The manager came out and asked us all to retire to the restrooms. We stayed in there for just a couple minutes before the worst had passed and we were able to return to our tables. When we left 10 minutes later, the power was still off. There were trees down here and there on our way home. Fortunately I didn’t see any damage to our home or property. It appears that we were just in a wave of the storm that had 60+ MPH winds; there was no tornado.

Totally crazy way to spend our lunch time.

We packed so much into the past week that I forgot to share one other kind of big element: I had my first ever photo shoot. A week ago we went up to S’s aunt and uncle’s house for a pool party and the aunt asked if I could bring my camera and take some pictures of her family.

That’s all I knew going in, so I was a little surprised when we showed up and her whole family had coordinated their outfits. Three generations, including a new grandchild and a new fiancé, and I was on the hook for documenting this for Christmas cards, wall calendars, etc.

I have to admit I got a little nervous when I realized that there was some pressure to get this right. I’m pretty proud of some of the pictures I’ve taken over the past two years. But, to be honest, my best pictures are of things and not people. It’s easier to get a picture of a cool building, an interesting aspect of nature, etc. than even one person, let alone nine people. My photographic eye tends to be better when I can focus on a small area of the viewfinder rather than examining the entire space, making sure each person is aligned correctly, the light is flattering to them all, all the kids are looking at me rather than the sky, and so on.

The beauty of digital photography is you can just fire away and you’re bound to get a few right. I shot a couple hundred frames that afternoon. About half of those of the entire family, then smaller groups of two of the sub-families. After editing I ended up sending back about 20 which I think looked pretty good. I was lucky that there was good light (we were outside) and we could also find an area where people weren’t blinded. The kids, who are 2 and 6 months, were both about as good as you could hope for. There was an occasional breeze that moved some hair into faces. But those were minor quibbles.

So I think I can call it a qualified success. I’m not ready to start taking family pictures for money or anything. I’m constantly reading photography books but I’ve never read a single one about portraits. Even if all I ever do are pictures of S’s extended family, I think I need to brush up on my portrait technique a little more before I try it again.

  1. It was pouring rain so we needed to get out of the house and I figured we should knock a bunch of the shopping out now before you have to beat people to claim the last 3-ring binder.  ↩