5/25/12

Keith Pitts Photography: Part One, In Our Apartment


Picture Day!
When Keith Pitts contacted me a few months ago to take my kids photographs, I jumped at the chance. As I browsed his website and blog, I knew he was going to capture my kid's life perfectly. He refers to his style as improvisational portraiture. He writes, "The best photography is like jazz, and must be played collaboratively and spontaneously, inventing a totally unique experience, every time." Perfectly said, right? I couldn't wait for picture day!  

When planning the shoot, Keith's assistant Melissa (she's so wonderful to work with!) told me he likes to start in the home and then work his way outside. This gives him a chance to bond with the kids and learn who they are. It was not mandatory to start in the home, just a suggestion. I love this idea. Starting in the home requires a day of cleaning and scrubbing and hiding and stuffing clutter, but it's totally worth it. 

When the boys were newborns, a photographer suggested starting our house too, but I declined. At the time, I didn't think my house was worth capturing. I thought it wasn't up to par as far as styling and size and lighting. Also, since we were renting, I thought it was pointless to capture a house that was temporary. But that's absurd! I didn't want to make the same mistake this time. 

Sure I don't have matching comforters on my kid's bunk beds. My walls have hand prints and scribbles all over them. My lamp shades are permanently lopsided and cracked. My kitchen needs updating. Our lack of bookshelves and books is embarrassing. But I tried to suppress all these insecurities and let Keith capture my kids in their home. It was the best decision I made. 

My kids greeted Keith at the door and immediately felt comfortable. They tried to impress him with all the facts they knew about black widows and poisonous snakes.  He joined in on the conversation and told them that despite fact that black widows were dangerous, they are actually quite beautiful. This amazed the kids and made their curiosity run wild. Dangerous yet beautiful. How can that be?!

The kids asked Keith about the two cameras he was holding, his bag, and his lenses. He told them about his equipment as they sat on the couch and he snapped pictures of them. The shoot was going smoothly until he asked the kids, "So what do you like to do for fun?" They immediately responded, "Play dress up!" Ahhh! Not dress up, I thought. This could get ugly!

I knew exactly the costumes they were going to put on: Owen was going to put on his ratty old Mater costume (from the movie Cars), and Oscar would pick his dirty batman cape. And Ella? I had no idea what she would pick. They live in costumes, but it's not exactly the look I go for in a photo shoot. Let's just say our costumes don't fit into that cool and editorial style I always try to portray my life to be.

I started to slightly panic and run down the hallway and say, "Uhh, kids. I don't think he really wants you to put the costumes on! Ehh, haha yeah. Um. Wow, the Mater costume! And the hat? Awesome. . ."

That's when Keith smiled and reassured me it would be fine. And I went with it because I knew he was right. But still, deep down, I felt like I would never show anyone these pictures. Ha! Tacky as the costumes were, this again, brought out the best in my kids, which resulted in amazing candid photos. I'm in love with these pictures now that I see them. I'm so glad I didn't intervene and make my kids take off their favorite costumes.

I realized 30 minutes into the shoot, that Keith's ability to capture my kids life was unlike any photographer I've ever worked with. There's nothing worse to me then over stylized (phony) family picture with props that don't seem natural. He wasn't going to lead this photo shoot in that direction. He snapped the most pictures when my kids showed them things that were important to their life. Even if that meant a large plastic Mater truck.

I must confess I replaced the Mater truck (below) shortly after this picture was taken with a wooden pull toy. I can't help myself! But look at this amazing shot of Owen. It's great, not because the toy is a cool vintage find (it's not!), but because Kieth captured a moment with Owen's favorite toy. I can't wait to frame this photo! The pictures of the wooden pull toy? Didn't even make the cut. Ha!
Then my kids asked for cookies. This time I didn't hesitate. Even if they got their new clothes a little dirty, it would be ok. 95% of my kid's childhood is spent with cookie crumbs on their shirt anyway. Might as well capture it on camera! Keith and I ate some too. :)
Keith taught me so much about capturing kids in the first half of the photo shoot. Next week I'll show you the rest of the pictures as we ventured outside to their favorite locations in our neighborhood. 
Also on Monday, I'll give you details about the HUGE Keith Pitt's Giveaway! Yay! 
In the mean time, check out his schedule to see if he'll be in your neck of woods this summer.

Have a good weekend! 
After the jump: 
The slide show he created for me of all the pictures (sneak peak into next week's outdoor shoot!) 
AND the rest of the photo shoot in our apartment. :) 




37 comments:

  1. OH, both have longer hair! I can't tell who is who!

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    1. By the way, this is an awesome post. Your blog makes me feel excited about some day being a mom

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  2. such great photos of your children!

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  3. Laura I was thinking the same thing! except when they're in costumes. Love the picture of them on the couch; the boys just hanging out and ella sitting pretty

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  5. These are amazing! You should be so proud of your kiddos. ;)

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  6. these are fantastic sharon. i keep flipping back through to see them again. props to keith!

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  7. I love these photos! Your kids are adorbale and the photographe did a great job.

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  8. Wow, his work is fantastic! And your home is adorable, I LOVE the vintage kitchen, the checkerboard floor is awesome, and I think the authenticity of the photos makes them even better. Seriously that one of the Ella and Oscar (Owen?) standing on the chair in the costumes is priceless, looks like it could be on the cover of Domino Magazine. Also, as a side note, my brother lived in the red power ranger costume when he was a kid, even to the grocery store, its part of childhood, can't wait till my two year old embraces costumes, even if they aren't stylish. ;)

    Shannon
    Wishing Keith Pitts would come to Florida!

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  9. These are fantastic! I think any pictures of your children would be fantastic though.

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  10. these photos melted my heart! your children are beautiful!

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  11. you should be so proud of your home and family JUST as it is. the blogsophere can create so many insecurities for us...but im telling you...just from reading your blog a few months, you have such an inspirational, authentic and lovely family (and home!). the flaws are the best part. xo

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  12. These are AMAZING! Honestly, I am blown away by the simple beautiful honesty of these photographs. You are one lucky mama to have these done. Congratulations!

    http://nomadic-d.blogspot.com/

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  13. oh my goodness, sharon. these are so, so beautiful. and i agree with paige, the "flaws" of people are always the best, they're what make people fun to be around!! i LOVE these photos so much. that 5th shot of the kids on the chair looks straight out of Cookie Magazine. what beauties you guys are!! joannaxoxo

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  14. These are beautiful!! Who cares that you don't have matching bedspreads- your kids look so happy and loving!

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  15. wow, love these! the kids look so comfortable and natural and like they're having FUN :) i love your blog because it's very clear how authentic you are on a daily basis. i love how you admit the anxieties you had of the presentation of your apartment and about the costumes. it's honest and endearing! also, has anyone ever told you that ella is the spitting image of a young reece witherspoon?! so cute and so photogenic!

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  16. These pictures are amazing! Ella looks so cool sitting on the sofa in her sunglasses and the shots of them in their costumes are fantastic! I agree with Angela, I love how you openly share your hesitations and anxieties - we all have them! The internet can sometimes make us all seem like sloppy underachievers. But these pics clearly show a home full of love! What more can we ask for?!

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  17. These are incredible! It's awesome that they were taken where you live, the kids are really natural and comfortable looking :)

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  18. Such wonderful photos! Such beautiful, spontaneous kids! This pictures will make you happy now and in all the years to come! Enjoyed so much the slide show!

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  19. Shannon, your kids are beautiful! The pictures are amazing! I love all the photos! Cant wait to see the outdoor pictures!

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  20. I think I might love the first one the most - it's like a little sneak peak into your life - including you! That first photo is just a lovely glimpse.

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  21. I love the concept of this, these photos are beautiful. I wish more people understood the natural photos like you do :)

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  22. Can I adopt your kids....like for real?
    So happy you got these shots!

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  23. These are wonderful photos! Thank you for sharing them! I would want to frame all of them! Even though you can't see his face, I really like the one of Batman in the hallway!

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  24. STUNNING! These photos are insanely good, love how he captured them looking and being so natural!

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  25. Oh these are beautiful! For the first time ever, we just had our family pictures taken. They came out great, but not as natural as yours. Next time I will have him come to our home like you had instead of going to his. I think the kids would have acted more natural in their own environment.

    I love the one on the chair at the end! Perfection!

    PS - The boys look so much older in these photos!

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  26. Lovely kids, cool pictures and awesome photography. :)

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  27. Wow: It seriously looks like the photographer spent a week with your family. I can't believe how happy & natural the kids look the whole time. Glad I checked in here today :)

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  28. Great photos!! May I ask where your daughter's green dress is from? I'm going to nab one for my little girl!

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  29. These pics are simply amazing! Definitely captures the children as children should be...silly, fun and being free to be just themselves... I love that none of them look staged or posed, they just look like the kids were having a great time with each other, laughing, playing, showing off and eating cookies. Just an awesome job from the photographer, he "sees" people as they are, and can capture the true simplicity and beauty in those smaller moments.

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  30. Awesome post! These pictures are beautiful!

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