I first photographed Juliana and her family in 2010 for her 7th birthday party. This past weekend I photographed her first communion at St. Paul Catholic Church in Tampa, Florida. I have now photographed her and her family a total of four times. It is always great to work with past clients, and there is no family I have been with longer than Juliana's. Thankfully, since day one, Juliana has been a natural in front of the camera! The above shot will for sure be one of my five favorites of 2014. I heard that Juliana's mom cried when she saw this photo.
I met Juliana about an hour before the first communion ceremony would begin. The church had a great mosaic pavilion in a quiet garden that we used as a background for several portraits. No one was around and there was no wind, so I had not trouble setting up two speedlights on light stands for making strobist (off camera flash) portraits.
Juliana almost needs no instruction when I photograph her as she just naturally has an ability to be creative. While I was moving the light stands I noticed her sitting back and putting her feet into the air and I thought that looked great. I said hold that and it turned out to be one of her family's favorite shots of the morning. I may never have thought of it on my own, so creativity of the person in front of the lens is also very important.
There was not much time to shoot inside the church itself, so I quickly carried in my lights and tried to frame the best shot I could. After this solo one of Juliana, a few family members joined her before we got the sign to wrap it up!
During the first communion ceremony I was not allowed to use flash or move around at all. So I sat in a pew on the other side of the church, cranked up the ISO, put my Nikon on a monopod for extra stability (and to absorb the weight during the hour I was sitting) and looked for candid photograph opportunities. To my surprise the priest asked Juliana to get up in front of the whole church (several hundred people) and give a little talk! She did not know she would be talking either, but did great. I was impressed with her answers and articulate responses.
After the ceremony there was a celebration at a restaurant. I followed them to the second location where it was time for a few warm embraces and then cake!
I always like to make a photograph of someone thinking, especially on important occasions such that 20 years from now when they look at the photo again they may remember what they were thinking, thus giving the photograph extra meaning only to them.