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Friday, January 1, 2010

The Best of 2009 - Maris Ehlers Photography

Welcome to the final Best of 2009! I hope you'll enjoy reading a little bit about each image, and please vote on facebook. Voting will start later today! Also, feel free to share this with anyone you think might enjoy the pictures. Click here to view the slideshow. The images shown on the slideshow, here and on facebook are in random order and are the images with the highest votes from the twenty judges who viewed them.

This was an image from my first Sweet Sixteen session in August and is probably one of my most dramatic images to date. The goal was to be inspired by some famous Audrey Hepburn images, and we were! We had HOURS of fun. I'm not sure who this image surprised more: Me, the model, or her mother! This picture and others from the same session gave me a huge boost when I needed one and started a long line of referrals. Thanks, Kaelie!

From a Minneapolis Crisis Nursery fundraiser session, I just happened to catch a lighthearted moment between brother and sister. If I recall, little sister was not interested in posing until she got to be higher up than brother. You can see how how happy she was once she was in what she thought was a better position. :)

During a maternity session for some first time parents, I couldn't get their dog Harley to go pose with them. I ended up just taking some of her with the parents in the background, and fell in love with this shot. As one judge put it, "I have a weakness for man’s best friend. But compositionally, I like that you look to the background and see the couple. It’s as though the composition implies that he’s the ‘only child’ for awhile and he almost has a protective he knows there is a baby on the way and he’s ready to take care of his family."

The best of friends for ages, these girls are known as the "Fab 4". One of the mothers gave the Fab 4 girls a session together for a graduation gift, and we made the most of it. I love this image because it shows the joy of their friendship, the transition of the moment in time (they are each wearing college shirts from the school they would start attending in the fall), and even through their jumping I think you get a glimpse of their personalities. It's pure fun.

This image is from the same Fab 4 session mentioned above. One of the girls, Amanda, is an amazing cellist. I had the opportunity to hear her play at a concert (along with two of the other girls), and so asked them each to bring their instruments. This picture is taken in the tall grass behind my house, and it was about 6 o'clock at night. She's wearing her prom dress, and I told her to just start to play. She did, and I remember having goosebumps while photographing her. It was amazing to hear her play in the stillness of the summer evening, and I kept wondering if our neighbors could hear her.

This past summer I took my first sessions on the road. I photographed several families in Marshall, Minnesota. Reese, shown here, has the most amazing eyes, and all three of the kids were just sweethearts. Their parents have turned their backyard into this magical place where even I want to spend my evenings, so the whole session was a lot of fun - we incorporated their backyard into the images as much as we could, although this one obviously is just a great closeup.

I've started offering ENCORE sessions, which follow the trend of brides and grooms having a photo shoot AFTER the wedding. The bride gets to wear her dress one more time, and the atmosphere for a session like this is really relaxed, We can take the time to do a lot during a session like this without time constraints and Grandma Gertrude looking on. That intimacy and relaxed atmosphere often shows in the images. When you think about the pressure and stress on a wedding day, having some time for the bride and groom after the big event for intimate, fun portraits not only makes sense but it is catching on. This bride had been married about a month. While I didn't photograph their wedding, this was a great session with lots of wonderful images for them.

The quilt in this image was made by my Great Great Grandmother back in the 1800's. I had an idea of how I wanted to use it in a photograph, so I enlisted the help of some friends of ours from Hutchinson. This is their daughter in the picture. We took it at about 7 p.m. in the late summer, so the golden color in the image and dark shadows are caused by the high, warm, fading sunlight.

I love this picture so much. I met Zack and his family this fall because I was looking for a child and dog to photograph for a project and they volunteered. It isn't your typical boy and dog story, though. Zack has autism. Jazz is his service dog, and Jazz helps keep Zack safe. You can read about Zack and Jazz in an earlier blog post if you scroll down, but the reason why I love this picture so much is that it's not about autism, service dogs, or special needs. It's not about what makes Zack different. It's about what makes him like everyone else who has ever found comfort and joy when nestled up against their Mama.

This is a very recent image, and already a favorite. When I look at it, I think if there were a myth or a fairy tale where a doe became human, this is what she would look like.

The little girl shown here is only five, but here she looks wise beyond her years. I happen to enjoy taking the serious, not so smiley images of children. As I told someone the other day, as a mother, my children don't "need" me as much when they are all happy and giddy. It's when they are tired, cranky, sick or hurt that they want my arms wrapped around them and they never have a smile on their face during those times! So while a "pouty" image may not be what everyone thinks of when they imagine a child's portrait, but parents often respond to these images very strongly.

I did a family session for a new client right after Thanksgiving. They were a fun-loving, friendly group who really seemed to enjoy eachother. I had a great time getting to know them. This is their oldest daughter, and we decided to play around a little bit and create some more dramatic images, and I'm so glad we did! It was pretty cold to be outside without a coat, but she did amazingly well. This was the winning image from round one, so the judges thought so, too!

This little girl has the most beautiful eyes. She was picking dandelions and I asked her to make a wish. Her eyes and mouth made these perfect little "o's" that is just very unique and sweet on film. Several judges commented that they weren't sure why, but every time they looked at this image they were drawn in all over again. Hayley and her wish won round two.

I have been photographing Scarlett and her siblings since birth. She always makes me work to get that special smile of hers, but it always pays off!

I did a fall session for a new family at my husband's family's farm in Maple Grove, and I knew when I was taking this series of images that they would be a favorite, this one stands out even today. I love the soulful look and the directness of her gaze. This was the winner of round three.

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