Every year, I get asked bu a couple of folks if I will be doing bluebonnet mini sessions, and I must answer that I don't offer them. Why? Well, mini sessions are short sessions usually around 15-20 minutes, scheduled back to back. The sessions are usually centered around a seasonal theme, so what better seasonal happening to include than bluebonnets? The problem is, bluebonnets are found in open fields without shade. The best times for shooting in these conditions is just after the crack of dawn, or during the golden hour just before sunset. A traditional mini session block would leave most of the clients who sign up with portraits in suboptimal lighting conditions! Could I better the lighting with flash and reflectors? Sure, but that is a lot to deal with in a 15 minute session while still concentrating on quality composition. In order for a reflector and diffuser setup to be effective, The subject can't be free to move about, which is exactly what you want to do when in a field of gorgeous flowers!
So, I broke my own rules on this one, but made it work. Taken at a quick stop driving through Chappell Hill at around 2:00 - a bad time for lighting.
With a little planning, it's easy to take your own beautiful bluebonnet photos including your kiddos. There are just a few points to cover -
Timing – The golden hour just before sunset provides, even, soft lighting, so you can chase that kid that doesn't like to sit still around and keep good lighting when they change position on you like a Rockets point guard.
Location – All bluebonnet patches look pretty from the road, but try to choose a spot where background distractions can be eliminated. These can be hard to find in a city, but placing your subject at the bottom of a sloped patch and shooting upward can result in full-frame backdrop of bluebonnets. In Houston, these are found along our many bayous.
Camera – The best camera is the one you have on you. Phone cameras are capable of taking amazing photos these days. Just keep in mind that the lag time from pressing the shutter to image capture can result in missed expressions and opportunities. If you own a DSLR and are familiar with it's operation, I recommend taking it our for this occasion. As a professional photographer, I am very guilty of not doing this often enough for photos of my own kid.
Wardrobe – You don't need to rush to the children's boutique for a Pinterest – worthy ensemble, but solid colors work best. Patterns tend to distract from faces and can clash with all of those gorgeous bluebonnets.
Here is a case study of taking this year's bluebonnet photos with my kiddo. These were taken in Houston, Texas, but the principles apply anywhere.
I had been searching for a premium patch of bluebonnets along the White Oak Bayou near my home and I found it in Watonga Park. It was small, but adequately sloped. The sprawling fields of bluebonnets seen near Chappel Hill are gorgeous, but sometimes you don't have time to make the drive as a busy parent. Besides, you don't NEED all of those bluebonnets in the frame if you are also wanting to concentrate on your little one's sweet face!
This bluebonnet patch by the Watonga Bat Bridge in Houston was all I needed for this year’s photos. No need to drive out to the Hill Country if you don’t have time!
I asked my husband to come along to get little E to smile and to hold my reflector. Somehow taking photos of my own kid is a difficult job to accomplish solo. We dressed her in a solid navy blue dress, stuck a bow in her hair, and walked to the park to take the ONE picture we all just want to get from these outings. Upon arrival we checked for snakes (important!) then found a bare spot in the patch at the bottom of the hill to sit on. My husband held the reflector's gold side to bounce some light back onto little E's face. It takes a few tries sometimes to get it right. If you use one, just be sure it is pointed at the direction of the sun in the sky with your subject between you and it. It's an optional step for non-professional photos, but I recommend it for that extra warmth and catchlight in the eye. They are cheap to buy online https://tinyurl.com/y5flbczv and fold up compactly to keep in your car for those unexpected photo opportunities.
After less than 10 minutes, we got what we needed and were off to the swings! Here is the final result – I did touch up some stray hairs in Photoshop, but the rest of the work is minimal. Happy shooting!