William Tell Themed Children's photo session
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William Tell

Okay, time for some honesty: Over the course of the last year, we’ve undergone a bit of a change. No, we’re not sending the toddlers out to LARP conventions… not quite… yet. Keep checking back, though.

I’d say the transition we’re making right now is more from fairy tale to legend. The stories, the culture, the history of civilizations. When we began themed photo sessions, every one was purely fanciful and magical and began with, “Wouldn’t it be cute if we dressed the kids up as ___” or “We must buy this toy! I’m sure we can work it into a photo shoot!”Now more of our photo shoots start with “Kids, would you like to learn about ___?” And it’s becoming one way of connecting them to this crazy world we live in. Not that we’ve given up on the fairy tales (Star Wars is gonna happen, baby!); just that there’s a bit of a bigger purpose rising out of this hobby, and both we and the kids are loving it. The costumes and pictures are becoming just a bit more gritty, and the locations are– as much as possible– authentic (at least for now, while we live in Europe)

Enter William Tell. The story goes that the tyrannical Austrian overlord in Altdorf, Switzerland had a pole erected with his hat atop and forced all the townspeople to bow to it (There’s an ego for you!). When strong, brave, legendary crossbowman William Tell refused to bow, he and his son were sentenced to death unless– in a sick stunt devised by the overlord– Tell could shoot an apple from the head of his own son. Fortunately, he was as great with a crossbow as everyone said he was, so he succeeded and saved his son. The story goes on with more great feats he accomplished in the fight for eventual Swiss independence.

True story? Don’t know. What I do know is that these are the kind of stories that belong to every culture around the world, and are inextricably linked with history and civilization. Learn them, and you learn about people.

Our middle son loves bows and arrows. He has ever since we shot Robin Hood three years ago, so we thought it would be fun to try him out on a crossbow. We drove three hours south to Altdorf, Switzerland for this photo shoot. Of course the clouds came down and covered the mountains and rain sprinkled down as we took pictures, but the boys loved playing with the new crossbow and arrows, and balancing the apple, so I call it a win. Here are the photos, followed by my gear list.

 

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COSTUME:

-Pants, Tunics, Cloaks, and a Medieval Hood (It was near freezing, so we layered the kids up and let them wear snow boots)

PROPS:

-Crossbow

-Apple (Possibly two, one with an arrow through)

LOCATION:

-A forest location would be perfect, or any place that has old rock walls or ruins.

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The Hunter and the Viking

Up near the top of the things I have learned in life is that the difference between something good and something great is attention to detail (Shout out to my dear friend Denise who taught me the importance of this!). I try really hard to put this mantra into practice with my photography. In practical terms, this means that I frequently sew custom outfits, track down or build the perfect props, go out of my way for the best location, and develop the best processing settings for each set– even hand-coloring the pictures at times (when I am going for a certain yester-year look). With my own kids, this is challenging and time-consuming; with clients it can be even more so, since I don’t always know their sizes, likes, dislikes, personalities, etc. This is where it helps greatly to have involved parents who care as much about making the pictures special as I do. I just want to brag on one of them here.

When a lady came to me recently and explained that she wanted to do a photo shoot for her boys, Orion and Odin, that would capture the meaning of their names, I was elated. First off, I actually have never heard of doing a “name” photo shoot, but I adore putting something together that has real meaning; it lends a higher purpose to the whole project. Second, because Orion is the great hunter and Odin a legendary Norse god, we were working with two great themes that would also combine well. The deck was stacked in our favor.

In this case, both parents contributed crucial elements: the mom worked as hard as I do to create simple but epic costumes, and the dad chose a really beautiful and perfect location. Actually, the only thing I really contributed to the process was the photo shooting (and gummy bears!). It was completely non-stressful and fun, and with three adults to keep things moving, things moved along very naturally.

Here is part of that set. Be inspired!

 

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Viking Hunter Themed Photo Shoot

Viking Hunter Themed Photo Shoot

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Superman and Perfectionism

Hello, I’m Hannah, and I’m a recovering perfectionist.

“Hi, Hannah.”

When I had a third child, my supermom veneer cracked (shattered). These amazing and tiny creatures (especially the tiniest one) can empty the bookshelves, the dishwasher, the kitchen cabinets, and every dresser drawer in the time it takes me to say, “Please don’t lick maple syrup off the floor,” or “Oh, you found mommy’s fingernail polish,” or “I’ll explain that a little better when you are older.” When they band together, they are a formidable force. A formidable dirty-laundry-creating force.

Mostly, I’ve learned to run with it. I like adventure, I like my kids, and I love a challenge, so I’m pretty much set for the ride (if I could only find the car keys that the baby threw away).  But sometimes there is this little part of me that decides it’s my way or the highway and throws an (internal) tantrum worthy of the terrible threes (worse than the twos) when things don’t go as I’d envisioned.

I’m sure you’ve seen the Superman pictures all over Pinterest. Who hasn’t? Everyone has done them now, and they’re all just completely adorable, but Zach and I had this great idea that we were going to take it to the next level by ADDING Lois Lane in, and we were going to do it downtown at the Mercedes Benz museum, and we were going to blow up the internets with our awesomeness DOT COM. The problem is that our gorgeous Saturday suddenly turned rainy and the kids fell asleep in the car on the way, and we got stuck in traffic, turning a 30 minute drive into an hour, and when we arrived, Superman had his knickers in a (kryptonite-ish) twist, and “How did we forget the flash?” happened, and Zach finally said, “Should we forget it and do it another time?” and I was all, “After all we’ve been through? Heck, no!” And so we proceeded.

Since Lois Lane was the only amiable member of our party, we took her photos first.

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And then we showed Superman all the cute ideas we had in an effort to cheer him up.

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But it didn’t work. He did not want to smile. Period.

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Being in a rather stubborn and determined mood, I decided to enroll our new little understudy so we could just get the pictures taken already. Costume switch!

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Oh goodness. So cute.

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Do you think we can get him to do the same thing as that boy I saw on Pinterest?

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No? Okay. Still cute.Finding Storybookland

Wait, what are you doing with my baby?

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Oh, brilliant! How high do you have to throw him for me to be able to crop you out and not even need to photoshop the picture?

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And that’s a wrap, you adorable little guy!

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So not too bad, huh? But, I’m ashamed to say, once we got home and I looked through the pictures, I was bummed that we hadn’t really even touched my “vision” for the shoot. And I couldn’t find a good processing setting for them. And WHY hadn’t I chosen a better angle or remembered the flash, or combed Lois Lane’s hair or a dozen other things. So I sat on these pictures for nine months, not really sure what to do with them because they didn’t really meet the standard I had set for them, and I didn’t want to show all the people on the internet sub-par pictures.

And you know, the truth is that I love these pictures. Life happened, and they weren’t what I’d dreamed up in my head, but they are pictures I love of the people I do life with. And no moment (or picture) with these sweet babies is ever a waste. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to check on the living room remodel they’re working on.