As a portrait photographer in Austin, I jumped at the chance to photograph these children in their full cowboy and cowgirl garb at their family ranch just outside of Austin, Texas. I'm so glad we made the decision to embrace the ranch feeling because it was a blast! The children in these photographs are wearing their own clothes, shoes, cowboy hats (and chickens). Incorporating locations, props and clothing that belong to my clients makes it vastly more personal and I think everyone would agree that family portraits are personal. I have spent the last nine years in the southwest, so I know the ways of the southwest... but this is "Texas style." I spent a few hours with these amazing children and they were incredibly patient. (They're still kids, you know, so don't think for a moment there were no negotiations involved! In addition I have learned never to tell a 6 year old that I only need three more shots" because they're ALWAYS counting and WILL call me on it!) The "trick" to holding their attention was constant change and play. Each child is different and so I have to think on my toes and improvise a lot during these sessions. I also pay attention to what the children do on their own and see if there's an opportunity to create thoughtful images in the process. They were feeding the chickens, which was exciting to photograph, but I thought (and the children agreed) that it would be even MORE fun if they threw the chicken feed toward me and my camera! This way I could capture the kids' faces and really show the feed being tossed in the air. They loved this playful activity and seemed kind of surprised by what I had asked them to do.
I love the live oak trees here in Austin! I think they look as if they're from a different world or from a fairy tale. The low hanging branch you'll see in a couple of the images was just asking to have a child or two sitting on it. I often associate trees with childhood and I really like these images.
As the children were running out of patience and energy I went for one last activity with the little girl– the lost art of cowboy hat throwing! Okay, I just invented that, but why the heck not?
Children are individuals and I want my portraits to show each child's special character and personality. This is part of the reason why I encourage family members to dress as individuals rather than all in the same color to match one another. These images are meant to be cherished in the family for many years. Generations from now, I want future viewers to look at these photographs and really see the unique characteristics of each person in the photographs.
I have a fantastic job. I am thankful to have the opportunity to photograph families, children and pets in a way that incorporates my creativity and the uniqueness of each family. Here's to many more fun portraits with children in Austin!
Norah Levine is an Austin children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details www.norahlevinephotography.com