Since my daughter Amanda Kosior and her husband Kyle Kosior first started their family with the addition of their son Archie, this creative duo has called on me each year to create a unique holiday card. This year was no different. Inspired by Ralph Lauren, they suggested we create an image fit for any polo or hunt club. Having neither the time nor access to such a splendid space, we had to create it. With two rambunctious boys (now including 2 1/2 year old Charlie), getting everyone to cooperate, stand still, and look just perfect for the snap of the camera was not remotely possible.
With wardrobe and accessories acquired and an elegant arm chair borrowed from our house, we set off to my studio to create the perfect photo. Getting everyone in position and having the perfect pose took numerous attempts. Amanda and Kyle were pretty good and Archie is now of an age where he understood what we were trying to do. Charlie, however, was absent...spending much of this time having stories read to him by his Bubbe (my wife Robin).
Once we took enough shots of the first 3 Kosiors to know we had something to work with, we set out to get Charlie's cooperation. Not only was he uninterested in posing or smiling for the camera, he didn't want to wear the newsboy cap that had carefully been chosen for him.
The heavy lifting came in post processing. "Making" a photo started with choosing the best photo of Amanda and Kyle and, since they were visually connected, masking them out of the background.
Choosing the best pose and expression for Archie was a little trickier. We ended up taking his body from one photo and his face from another and combining them to give us what we wanted. Our goal was to get the right expression and have Archie's body turned so that his shoulders were a bit more squared. We also wanted him to be holding the pipe in a more affected position.
We did manage to get a decent photo of Charlie but he was with the rest of the family in poses we didn't want and he wasn't wearing the hat. We masked him out of the group photo, found another photo where he was actually wearing the hat. We didn’t like his pose so we masked only the hat out of the photo, and digitally placed it on Charlie's head.
The next part of the project combined parents and kids into one group photo.
For the hunt club background, we were unable to find a local venue providing the content and tone we were looking for. After a fair amount of research, we found and acquired an online image the we hoped would work.
Although quite splashy by itself, we needed to do some extensive editing by retoning and recoloring the entire image. We then placed the family on the background but had to go through several versions to get them scaled properly and located in just the right spot in the background. Getting the lion on the left included and scaled properly also required several versions.
Final editing including coloring and toning each person to match the background. I also added a slight blurring effect to the edges of each person’s body to make them look as though they were actually in the room. The result was worth it! A great photo that everyone got a big kick out of. More than a snap shot, the result of a creative process. I’m using this project as another way to illustrate that truly great photos don’t just “happen.”