I really do get excited about every portrait session. I prepare myself by taking what I know and making a preliminary plan for the shots I want to capture. That was no different for Daniel's portrait session. Daniel is a senior at Louisville High School. His session was going to be my first for the Class of 2019, so I was extremely anxious to get back to shooting high school seniors. That excitement was fueled by the fact that we were holding his session on their family farm. (Farms are my favorite!) Furthermore, knowing Daniel's family from church made me fully aware that I was placing an amazing young man in front of my lens.
As I drove down the long lane to their beautiful home, my eyes were busy scanning the landscape for portrait opportunities, and I was already choreographing the order in which I wanted to move from place to place. I also spotted a blue chair on their front porch that was just begging to be included in the session. Then, I was warmly greeted by Daniel and his mom, and we discussed our visions, determined our favorite wardrobe options, and finalized our plan.
Do you see that smile in the first portrait below? That is "so Daniel" in every way. That is the smile you get upon meeting Daniel. It says so much about him: warm, hospitable, fun-loving, and confident without a hint of arrogance.
So, this first series of portraits is evidence that we commenced with a strong opening round. That fabulous rustic background is a barn that I passed on my way in. The mere sight of it caused all kinds of light bulbs to flash in my brain. Seeing Daniel in his first clothing choice confirmed my plan for this to be our first stop. That Ohio afternoon was producing a light sprinkle of rain, and the barn offered a little bit of cover. It also seemed to be the perfect spot to highlight that beautiful guitar that I get to hear him play in church. I'm telling you, this guy is talented! Check out that blue chair below. Is that perfect, or what?
The best part came when I got to show Daniel and his mom the back of camera so that they could see just what I was capturing. We all agreed that these portraits were going to be pretty amazing. The ones with his guitar are among his favorites. And we were just getting started! Daniel was so willing to accommodate my every request and gave me such great feedback as we worked. Together, we were able to build his session to effectively tell his story.
In case you haven't figured it out yet, Daniel is a bit of a modern day Renaissance Man. He is active at Louisville High School on the swim team, in drama club, in National Honor Society, and at our St. Joseph, Maximo Parish as a music minister and lector. His friends would describe him as charismatic, adventurous, personable, and as a good listener. I also know that Daniel is very introspective and his spiritual life is important to him. So much so, that he has a favorite Bible verse that has become somewhat of a mantra for how he lives his life. "Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." -Joshua 1:9. We had talked about the idea of including this verse in a portrait that would be a beautiful reminder of just what that means for Daniel, and how it has, and will continue, to shape the way he lives his life. I set up the portraits that you see below with this in mind. Daniel walks confidently into the future with is talents in hand, knowing that God is walking with him every step of the way. What a wonderful way to embark on life's journey. It says a lot about why Daniel is such an inspiration.
We were ready to simplify things a little bit, so we lost the flannel and settled on the blue on blue look. Absolutely perfect with those blue eyes! On my drive down their lane, I had spotted a rock pile high up on a hill. Again, neurons were flashing about the possibilities. The sprinkles had now subsided, and we were grateful for the overcast sky to beautifully filter the sun and to frame Daniel with that soft blue texture. Daniel's zest for life makes him ready to take on just about anything. This "power shot" of him standing on the rocks seems to say just that. I really do love the second portrait below where Daniel is framed by the branches and has the whole world displayed before him. The lush greens feel so nurturing.
Daniel is anything but one-dimensional. He's not even two- or three-dimensional. He enjoys and appreciates variety. Just take a look at some of his favorites. When it comes to movies, Star Wars and Step Brothers rate pretty high along with shows like The Office and Friends. His great taste in music includes Billy Joel, Chris Stapleton and the Zac Brown Band. When reading, he has enjoyed The Grapes of Wrath and books of the Harry Potter series. Consequently, it was important to capture variety in Daniel's portraits. So, it was time to bring out the electric guitar. We also changed up the color scheme and setting. I loved the colors and texture in this barn siding for the series of portraits below. I also wanted to capture something a little edgier with the electric guitar. That was my goal for the portrait on the right. The angle and lighting here played well off of his chiseled features. The black and white version of this is one of my favorites, too.
Although Daniel's talents lie in many areas, music is a dominant theme. His passion for music has motivated him to play a variety of instruments, with the guitar and piano being his specialties. He finds fulfillment in participating in performing arts in school. According to Daniel, "there's nothing like having a crowd of hundreds engaged with you!" That powerful statement indicates his passion. If we had to narrow down that passion into something more specific, it would be his piano.
During our planning in the weeks prior to Daniel's portrait session, I was made aware of the baby grand piano that was his pride and joy. Our conversation upon my arrival included an introduction to the beautiful instrument. I saw that it had a room of its own and its value to Daniel was obvious. I knew that I had to make these portraits extra special.
Both Daniel and I made several changes to accomplish this objective. Daniel certainly did his part by changing into some formal attire and adding the sophisticated spectacles. I found my lighting and played with reflections to show Daniel's spirit reflected in his journey with the piano. In order to capture some authentic portraits that would evoke emotion, I asked Daniel to play for me. I wanted to witness Daniel entering that other world that invites him in when he plays. The black and white portrait below is so fabulous. I feel that Daniel doesn't even know that we are there. I think we accomplished our goal, as he told me these were his favorites.
Daniel likes spending time with family and friends. You might find him at his favorite restaurant, Baker's Cafe, or browsing around Sweetwater Music, Guitar Center, or even at Dick's Sporting Goods. He plans to attend The Ohio State University to explore his interests in Communications or Business. He will certainly have a long list of activities and accomplishments to adorn his application. But, some of the best things about Daniel can't be listed on a resume. Daniel has a servant's heart. If someone is struggling with a door, he is the first one to jump up to assist. If there is someone looking a little down, Daniel springs into action to bring them some light. If it is obvious that a leader is needed, he rises to the occasion. He does these things not for his own recognition, but for the greater good. These are the qualities that will make him a success in all the ways that matter.
Daniel, I am humbled that you have sung my praises as your photographer. It has been my sincere pleasure to work with you and your family. I will be cheering you on as I watch your journey in whatever directions God leads you.
You make the memories; I will help you cherish them.
Love and Smiles,
What did Daniel have to say about his portrait session?
We were referred to Laura Esposito Photography from countless friends who had great experiences.
Laura Esposito was full of numerous creative ideas and made the session a very enjoyable experience!
Her positive energy was contagious, and in the end, we couldn’t have been happier with the results.
My favorite pictures include those taken with the piano, as well as those with the red flannel and acoustic guitar. I was surprised at how easily and effectively Laura Esposito could understand our requests and make those results incredible.