Bluebonnet season is here and the roadsides and fields are quickly filling in with wildflowers! Whether you decide to make your own images or hire a professional (ahem,) these tips will help you be sure your bluebonnet family photos will be the best they can be.
#1. Don't pick the bluebonnets, y'all. While it isn't illegal to pick bluebonnets, you shouldn't stomp or pick them. When bluebonnets are destroyed while in bloom, they don't go into the seeding stage where they drop their seeds for the next year. No seeds. No bluebonnets. So watch your step and let's keep this great tradition going for future generations!
#2. Plan your shoot for while bluebonnets are in their prime bloom. This varies from season to season but generally they bloom earlier in the southern part of the state (late March to early April) and later in the season further north (mid to late April). Peak blooming only lasts for a little over a week (or shorter should a hail storm or hard freeze come along) so if you find a good spot, get out and shoot it ASAP.
#3. Be prepared. Make sure your camera's batteries are fully charged and that your memory card has room for plenty of images. Bring a towel to wipe any perspiration and some water to stay hydrated.
#4. Dress accordingly. Spring in Texas can be very warm, so make sure your subjects are comfortable. If there is going to be more than one subject in your photo, color coordinate outfits. Try not to wear anything too distracting like shirts with large logos.
#5. Avoid shooting in the middle of the day. One, it is hotter. Two, the mid-day sun casts unflattering, contrasty light, causing harsh shadows on your subject. Instead try to shoot early or late in the day when the sun is lower in the sky. The sun casts its best light about 30 minutes after sunrise and 30 minutes before sunset. These times are called the "golden hour" as the sun casts a warmer toned, softer light.
#6. Make sure everyone is in a good mood. Be sure kids are well rested and have a good meal before their photo session. Cranky, crying children (and husbands) are an extremely difficult subject for even the most seasoned professional to photograph.
#7. Avoid squinting. Shooting when there are clouds in the sky can make it easier for your subjects to keep those eyes wide and bright. Try to position them so the sun is off to the side or ever so slightly behind them. If you are having a problem lighting your subject's faces, don't be afraid to use your camera's flash to add a little fill light to the scene.
#8. Get the right angle. Try to position your subject and yourself so you are shooting your pictures at their eye level. Ideally you will also be just slightly above the tops of the bluebonnets, which will give a lot of depth to your image and make the bluebonnets in the foreground look extra big!
#9. Get closer to your subject. Of course your audience will want to see the bluebonnets but the most important thing is the people in the picture. Try to keep them relatively large compared to the frame. Use your camera's zoom to accomplish this. Ideally you want your focal length to be somewhere between 50mm-100mm. This will flatten out features and capture your subject in a more flattering manner.
#10 Be mindful of your background. Avoid placing distracting elements in the background such as buildings, power poles and lines. Try not to have the horizon running through your subjects head. If you shoot slightly down on your subject, you should be able to have nothing but bluebonnets in the background.
#11. Be safe! Choose a safe spot for your photo shoot. Avoid spots along the highway or busy roads with a lot of traffic. Don't trespass on private property. Watch your step. Be careful where you place your subjects in the bluebonnets. It is common to encounter stinging or biting insects such as wasps, bees, and fire ants. Although rare, you could even encounter a rattlesnake. Just be cautious and remember, if you leave these creatures alone, they won't hurt you.
#12. Take lots of pictures. People blink, squint, make goofy faces. It's possible your focus may be off on some images. Be sure to take plenty of frames so you are certain you capture that picture perfect smile.
No Texas home is complete without a bluebonnet family picture hanging on the wall. Your kids won't stay this age forever and the unfortunate truth is you're not getting any younger. Get out there and get those pictures to commemorate this time of your life. If you don't feel comfortable taking your own photos by all means consult a professional such as myself.
Feel free to share a link to your bluebonnet pictures below!