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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

She works hard for her money

I have a new semi-permanent assistant/apprentice. Her number one job on my sessions is to hold my light so the wind doesn't knock it down. She is really loving the photographic education she is receiving; and especially on this session, she has been instrumental in helping me to get great expressions. She has been absolutely priceless in my business this fall. Oh, and did I mention she earns FIVE WHOLE DOLLARS every time she helps me? And is absolutely thrilled with her wages? I don't know what I'm going to do when she turns 12 and asks for a raise…

I love missing teeth. LOVE it. Missing teeth is my favorite age to photograph. It was an honor, K family, to help with these, and I really hope next time we can do it in warmer weather so everyone feels more like themselves. Call me this spring, ok?  photo IMG_8896.jpg  photo IMG_8939C.jpg  photo IMG_8921.jpg  photo IMG_9083.jpg
I love it when people just do stuff I never would have thought of. It almost never fails that it turns out to be my favorite image of the session.
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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Prettier than you think

When you think of fall portraits, naturally you are going to think of the bold, bright colors of leaves in brassy, flaming warm tones. It's pretty obvious why October is my number one month for sessions out of the whole year. But I also think there is no good reason for poor November to get the ugly step-sister reputation. I am actually quite captivated by her pastel and desaturated color palette. Oh, and that palette lasts pretty much all winter into late March, so compared to the brief bloom season of some of my favorite locations in the summer, it's very easy to access. This year I developed an obsession with rabbit brush. I love the way light catches it from behind, and its neutral palette that matches anything. I love how soft blues, greys, and tans look - especially when adding contrast with bold colors in clothing. It's pretty perfect. Anyway, thanks to the W family who are absolutely charming both on screen and off. This dad impressed me with his natural, easy fathering and modeling skills. And Mom is sincerely one of the best people in the world. Oh, and whether or not it was intentional, their son has a Star Trek name. Win - the end.  photo IMG_9325.jpg  photo IMG_9278.jpg  photo IMG_9383B.jpg  photo IMG_9285.jpg  photo IMG_9468.jpg  photo IMG_9487.jpg

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Selling Uncut Gems

I want to discuss a photographers' issue that is likely to bring on as many opinions, teeth-gnashings, and assertions of dominance as any (insert rival sports teams names here) face-off: selling digital files. I go back and forth between "Never!" and "Why Not?" every other day. When I re-invented my business this fall, this was the number one issue I had to resolve with myself before everything else could be addressed.

Why is this issue such a big deal for photographers? Well, back in the day, when we photographed with film, we made our income off one of two things: selling negatives, or selling prints. Most commercial photographers were accustomed to including negatives in their negotiations with their clients, because the designers and editors needed to have all the images so they could cover all their bases for different uses, formats, layouts, etc. However, portrait photographers have traditionally built their business models around selling prints because most people only wanted a handful of prints to put on their wall and/or albums and didn't need all the out-takes with Uncle Bob blinking, or baby George screaming. Also, it wasn't practical for the average client to retouch and print their own negatives. There were far fewer options and resources for getting professional quality products, that it was just not convenient for the average person to accomplish.

Enter the digital revolution. Suddenly it was really easy and cheap to take a whole boat-load of images, and so it got really hard to limit ourselves to just keeping a handful. Suddenly it was affordable for people to have the exact same gear the pros had. Suddenly it was super convenient to upload an image to one of hundreds of online labs and get a stretched canvas shipped right to your house. Suddenly there was Photoshop and Instagram and Facebook, and who the heck even prints photos anymore? It is a crazy process that has left professional portrait photographers either struggling and morphing to keep up with the demands of today's client, or shutting their doors permanently. That's why it's such a big deal to photographers.

It's an issue every person has to address in his/her own way, and I decided when I re-launched my business that I would be offering both digital files and prints to my clients. In some ways it's a relief to finally be able to answer "yes" to that question, but I still struggle with the fact that a finished product isn't always the desired outcome of a session. I am a big fat cheater when it comes to photography, and my style over the years has been molded mostly out of the need to fix something dumb I did. Every image that I post on my blog or Facebook has been meticulously evaluated and enhanced with not just retouching, but color and contrast correction, flaw removal, and cropping for best composition. I consider the images that come out of my camera uncut gems that are all in need of a good cut and polish before they are ready to be mounted and displayed. This detailing takes a LOT of time, and it is just not realistic to collect the amount I'd have to charge for this service on every single image of a session.

I have come to realize that it's ok to sell the uncut gems, though, as they still have quite a bit of value to those who love the subjects I'm photographing. And sometimes we don't need the crown jewels for every occasion. Anyway, that is where I stand on the issue now - that both prints and files are important, and if you have anything to say on the matter, I'd love to hear what you think below in the comments.  photo IMG_9468before.jpg

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

These people hired me to do some portraits

They are smart.

No, seriously, thanks for the trust, A, and for making such cute children! Incidentally, I love the missing tooth. It speaks so much about the transition into elementary school.  photo IMG_8664.jpg  photo IMG_8732.jpg  photo IMG_8764-2.jpg  photo IMG_8801.jpg  photo IMG_8774.jpg  photo IMG_8882.jpg  photo IMG_8890.jpg

Monday, November 25, 2013

Gentlemen in Training

It seems like I have been working with a higher ratio of boys this fall. These boys were so much fun to photograph, even though the youngest referred to the whole experience to our mutual friend as "awful." You gotta love that kind of honesty. I am still trying to figure out if it's modernly possible to dibs one of these gentlemen for a future son-in-law. Hmmmm…. This is another series of portraits that are years in the making. K and I have been talking about her wall, and what kind of portraits to put there since we started working together in church about 3 years ago. It thrills me to the marrow that her dream will actually come true this week. Happy Thanksgiving, J family, and may you crush the opponents like gentlemen! :-)  photo IMG_9244.jpg  photo IMG_9247.jpg  photo IMG_9267.jpg  photo IMG_9269.jpg  photo IMG_9276.jpg  photo IMG_9430-1.jpg  photo IMG_9525.jpg PS How stunning is this guy in his new suit? They don't get any cooler than that.  photo IMG_9588.jpg  photo IMG_9612.jpg

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Smoke'Em and his girls

Sometimes when I sit down to do a blog post, my mind is a total empty desert scene with a tumbleweed blowing through it. I have never claimed to be talented at writing, or providing great content. I wish I was better at it. I wish I had something very clever and important to say about this session I was lucky enough to photograph, but really, I think the portraits say enough without my help. Brekke is genuinely one of the most generous and friendly people I know. She constantly lends me equipment when mine is on the fritz (which is like every.single.day) and then goes out and buys me chocolate and Coke Zero, and drives over an hour to get them to me just because she knows I like them. I hope one day to feel like I actually deserve you, B.  photo IMG_9687.jpg  photo IMG_9800.jpg  photo IMG_9765.jpg  photo IMG_9727.jpg  photo IMG_9884BW.jpg  photo IMG_0041.jpg  photo IMG_9998.jpg

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Fancy Pants

I love the detailed care that went into designing this fellow photographer's portraits. Your family is adorable, Heather. Maybe you can design my next family session?  photo IMG_8523.jpg  photo IMG_8588.jpg  photo IMG_8366BC.jpg

Haunted Garage - Scarytales Edition

I have the coolest friends. One of my joys in life is being associated with a family who actually loves Halloween better than I do. They turn their garage into a spook alley every year, and there are people who naturally arrange their whole holiday around attending. Remember when they did Frankenstein's laboratory? This year they did a Scarytales theme complete with Snow White's Queen's dungeon, a haunted forest where the Big Bad Wolf chases Red Riding Hood, a very creepy Gingerbread house, and the lair of the Mistress of All Evil herself, Maleficent. Over the top is the only way to go, folks. Over and beyond.  photo 001IMG_8606B.jpg  photo 002IMG_8635.jpg  photo 003IMG_8550.jpg  photo 004IMG_8557.jpg  photo 005IMG_8645.jpg  photo 006IMG_8560.jpg  photo 007IMG_8674.jpg  photo 008IMG_8681.jpg  photo 009IMG_8688.jpg  photo 010IMG_8567B.jpg  photo 011IMG_8715B.jpg

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cosplay for Kids

I could spend every month just making costumes and photographing them. This October has been the best I've ever had. I love saying "yes" to my kids. It's the best part of having talents and creativity - to spoil them with their dreams! Here are my adorable kids in their Halloween finery.
Cinderella's mice friends worked very hard to make this dress for the ball. In the movie it gets torn apart by her jealous stepsisters. Fortunately, we all get along swimmingly in our family, so Cinderella was able to enjoy her rodent-sewn gown for longer than a few moments.
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Strong, fiercely independent, and fully capable of taking care of herself: Catwoman has always been one of my favorite comic book characters. My eldest was going to be a video game character, and at the last minute changed her mind and her costume. It was so much easier to pull off anyway, I had no objections. We argued over the boots, but she won in the end with the argument, "They will just photograph better!" Darn - she knows me too well.
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If you suggest he is Zelda, you may get an earful about the entire Hyrule legends and lore. He is in fact Link, the hero of all the Legend of Zelda games - specifically from The Twilight Princess. His sword and shield are his Christmas presents, but we let him use them for Halloween (just like last year!) He is half-way between epic and adorable. I don't know how many costumes he'll still want, as he'll be going into Middle School next year. I had to put everything into what might be his last one.
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