A few weeks ago, I photographed a six-year old’s birthday party. I have been photographing the family since 2006, so attending their milestone events is especially fun. It was a totally cool party; the kids got to groom a pony and each got a horse back ride.
The barn staff was great, letting me get right into the ring to get better shots of the kids. At the end of the ride, I wanted to get a group shot of the kids on their horses and the staff was happy to set it up for me. Now let’s be clear, this was never going to be an award-winning shot, just a nice picture for the little girl to be able to look back and remember who her best friends were when she was six.
Unfortunately, the timing of the party wasn’t great for pictures, starting early afternoon on a bright, sunny day. Even around 3:30pm, the sun was still pretty high, if the kids faced the sun, I would be stuck with images where the faces were partially blown out (too light), and with harsh shadows from their helmets.
If the kids had their backs to the sun, their faces might be a little dark and the light wouldn’t be rich and interesting, but the kids’ faces would be completely visible. It was an easy decision, kids’ backs to sun.
At my specific line-up request, a member of the staff began grumbling about how my pictures were going to be awful. Resistance notwithstanding, the staff lined the kids up for me and I took my shot. At that point, the staff member announced to me and the crowd of watching parents something to the effect of, “Now we will line the kids up properly, so you get a decent picture.”
I took the shot that I knew would be unusable, all the while thinking to myself, “She is so adamant, what am I missing?”
And when I realized what it was, I had to laugh. Of course! Her priority was that the horses look their best, they were all dark brown and she was right, with several in a row, they would look best facing into the sun.
My priority, on the other hand, was the line of kids, who would look best back-lit. Here are examples of each. Big grin aside, which do you like better? Note: Sorry to just be able to give you the birthday girl cut out of the line-up, I don’t have signed releases for the other kids.