The McKone Family

The McKone Family

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During my stay in Arizona, I spent time in both Flagstaff and Phoenix. I spent the first couple days catching-up with some distant family who live in Flagstaff. The McKone family were a big help for me, as I wanted to photograph some of the surrounding area, but aside from the Grand Canyon, I didn’t have a clue on what was around, so I didn’t know where to start. Luckily, Rod and Ann Marie, along with their two sons, Richie and Mike, knew plenty of locations to take me.

First thing was first, we wanted to make a new family portrait for the troupe. So, after shortly after pulling into flagstaff after a 21-hour drive, we were back in the car headed for Sedona. I travel a quite a bit for my work, but the bulk is done all in Washington, so my environmental equilibrium never gets too rattled. Extreme environment, weather, temperature, altitude changes, and even sunrise and sunset times were all way off from the norm for me. Predictability of the photographic outcome was kinda non-existent, and it being my first day in the place, taking a family portrait, I had no idea what kind of photos we were going to walk away with. I didn’t even know what the final location for the photos would be, what the background was going to be composed of, if the sun was going to be in front or behind the subjects. We packed the car up with people and gear and hit the road

The family thought Red Rock Crossing was going to be a good spot. Indeed, it had a great rock formation dominating the horizon, but I was having trouble finding a spot where is made sense to pose the family while having a clean view of the rocky background. It’s weird how that works most of the time. People will recommend a location because the area as a whole is a visually pleasing, but a lot of scenic locations don’t make good portrait locations. I’ve been there too many times, locations recommended by non-photographic minded people, and I arrive to their selected location with not much to work with. For this reason alone, I am always cautious to agreeing to un-scouted locations, because most importantly, they have hired me to take awesome photos of them, and I really want to make that happen. Fortunately, the location the McKone’s selected was great, and I was just getting picky with the right posing location. How many portraits will I be taking in Arizona? Not many, so I wanted to nail it, and come away from a challenging, time-limited situation with some great photos.

The location was one-of-a-kind, but like I said, I was just having trouble finding a good staging spot while also having a clean shot of that awesome red rock in the background. We walked all the way to the far end of the park, a couple things stood out, but nothing I was in love with. We walked to the other far end of the park, we hit the end, and we were about to head back for one of the previous locations at the other end of the park. I spotted a little walking path through the brush, along with a little patch of land sitting on the side of the creek. I walked down there, turned and looked back to the red rock, and there it was. Clean view, shaded spot for our subjects, nothing distracting in the background, and even a reflection of the red rock in the creek, booyah. We found the spot just in time to go grab gear out of the car and get setup before we lost the light hitting the rock. The sun drops WAY faster in AZ than it does in WA. In July, the sun is sitting nice and high at 6pm, but is already tucked under the horizon by 7:45.

Total time for this series was about 10 minutes. Quick and painless, but it’s all it took. With such a great location with that background, and it being really the only angle I wanted to capture, photos were getting redundant after about 10 clicks. Spot checked the back of the camera for blinkers and photo exposure as we knocked them out, and that was about it. Group shot; mom with kids; mom and dad; kids; and done.

On the drive back up to WA now. Looking forward to simple, moderate temperatures. I went out to photograph some of the native AZ plants last evening, and was sweating bullets in the 100 degree temps at 8pm. Out. Of. Control.