Results for category "Education"

Top 9 Reasons TLC Photography is Moving

Dance Portraits

We’ve been working in photography in this area for almost 20 years, and have moved our studio twice. We’re moving it again… and we’re convinced that we’re doing it for all the right reasons. But we wanted to make sure that you, our valued followers and clients, understood our reasons and what led to this very big decision. So, we’re sharing our reasoning with you!

9. Our market, clients, and the photography industry have all changed. The shooting space that we have now is no longer suitable for our needs, and we would rather have a more focused space in which we can concentrate on the things that we do best. The new space will be plenty big, and we can still photograph large family groups (up to 35) with ease, as well as babies, seniors and boudoir.

8. We want to feel “at home” in our studio. Since the building we are in was originally designed in a different era of the industry, and with differing goals in mind, adapting to a new and ever evolving landscape in photography would not be as easy as starting with a blank slate. In our new space, we are starting fresh. No fixed sets or fixed backdrops, but a few things we like and use most, along with our own creativity.

Trash The Dress, Shenandoah River

7. We realized that we don’t need a “park” in our backyard, as we have partnered with a few local (and very generous) farmers and other land owners to use their property for sessions. The best part of this is that you will almost surely have exclusive imagery for your on-location sessions. Plus, we have been working on many new technological approaches to putting you where we need you to be for the perfect shot.

6. Our new location does not have any “neighbor” issues, such as barking dogs, skunks, and cats that use our backyard as a litter box. Let’s just leave it at that.

5. The building we are in now, and the property it is on, have a host of issues that we cannot easily overcome. So, changing our location so that we do not and cannot have those issues is a best option. That doesn’t mean we won’t have issues at our new studio… but at least there we have more control over them.

4. We want to make a bigger impression. We have tried several ways to get people to see our work. Facebook and other social media outlets help some. But seeing our work is most of what draws people in. Route 11 (Winchester Ave) is a 40-45MPH road, and even just seeing our sign is not easy. Trying to put pictures out for people to see, even large ones on the deck, would be met with maybe a second’s worth of exposure. In our new facility, we have five huge 5×7′ windows… and we have a lot planned for those big beautiful sunshine gatherers! Plus, in a building with no windows, we get NO sun exposure… now, we will. Every day.

Hummingbird Cooper Captures

3. Cooper Captures (the wildlife and scenic photography started by Diana early last year) needs to shine… the work is exquisite, and it needs a place to really be seen by many. There are NO windowsin our current studio, and like you saw in #4 above, you can’t make an impression by showing it to a few people online. Diana will be setting up a wonderful display of her work in the corner windows, and we will be offering retail sales of matted prints, gallery canvases, greeting cards and much more. Plus, it will be much easier to see other wildlife photos on our large, color-corrected monitors!

2. We need to create… for awhile now, we have wanted total control of our sessions. While we take every measure to ensure that we provide each of our clients with a unique experience, we are surrounded by the sameness of a studio that was designed to churn out session after session with everyone getting the same treatment. We want more than that for our clients, and plan to offer very unique photography you can only get from the creative genius that gets its inspiration from other artists, both performing and from those who create works of art all the time. We’re looking forward to some very new and original work!

1. We crave interaction. In the last year or so, we have gotten much more involved in our community and with fundraising and “people” events. We’ve found that doing that from a building that is located nowhere near any of that, we can’t help as many people as we wish. Being in a downtown location will give us the ability to not only support our merchant neighbors, but to hopefully give them a reason to do the same. We know that is something we will have to earn, but it is also something we are more than prepared to do.

Between now and November 1, we will give you lots more information. This will include a big Open House we are planning, and lots of fun specials you can look forward to for the holiday season! But mostly, we’re looking forward to setting up our first BIG window display in town. It’s going to start small, and grow. Keep an eye out… you won’t be able to miss it!


FREE Photo Evaluation

Many of my students over the last couple of years have asked “would you give me some criticism on a photo I took recently?”  My answer is that I’m happy to do so.  But a proper review is more than just a passing glance and a “yes, no or maybe” type of answer.  30 years of experience has given me the opportunity to learn and to teach that kind of experience.  My hope over the years has been to convey at least some of my adventures over the years to others.

So, I’ll make everyone an offer.  You can submit one photo, privately if you wish (via email), and I’ll provide a detailed review of the image and offer constructive criticism that will help you make the image better.  Let me just warn you in advance, though.  If you’ve added HDR to your image, or some kind of overblown special effect, I’m already not going to like it.  Let’s see some real images, with your style attached.

I strongly dislike criticisms that don’t include a “here’s what I would do to make it better.”  I’ll include it with each one.  But please, for now, just one.  If you like what I do for you, I’m happy to help you with others.  There are most likely a lot of images that you’ve thought “hey, I really like this picture” but you weren’t sure if it was because you got some “Likes” on Facebook or because it has good photographic value.

Note: It’s important that you are as serious about your photography as I am about mine.  Please don’t send snapshots and family pictures from vacation.  Your best images from real sessions and weddings only, please.  Let’s see your best work!

If you know me on Facebook, feel free to contact me there as well.  If you want a non-private review, I can do that on Facebook for you.

What is a Concept Shoot?

In the past several months, we’ve been using the term “concept shoot” on Facebook from time to time.  So, you might be curious as to what a concept shoot means or entails.

Frequently, us creative types get visions of imagery that we want to create.  While many of the best concept shoots require lots of advance planning, some do not.  One type of concept shoot is that which involves a specific scenario, location or setup.  Another type is usually more grandiose, including several people, increased lighting and setup, and plenty of time to create a one-of-a-kind image.

The reason we do concept shoots is to test certain ideas.  For example, we recently did a concept shoot involving people with tattoos.  The objective was to photograph tattooed skin with as much dramatic light as possible, enhancing the overall appearance of the tattoo.  To do that, we recruited models who had tattoos.  The concept was to create this dramatic lighting in the studio.

This is just one example.  Some are considerably more elaborate.  We are working on two now (in the planning stages) that involve a much bigger canvas and some cooperation from the weather and other circumstances.

If you want to be part of any of our future concept shoots, please let us know.  We welcome onlookers and those who want to learn… but don’t be surprised if we ask you to haul equipment or handle the lighting or something.

Studio for Rent

When was the last time you were working on a project and said to yourself, “I wish I had a really nice studio space to work in, with plenty of lights, props and backdrops to do what’s really in my head”?  Well, we’re going to help you with that… AND offer to train you to use it.

Here’s the link to check out what we’ve put together for you (there are more pictures to come): TLC Photography’s Studio Rental Page.


You can rent for as little as two hours, or for entire days at a time.  Small projects to large, we can accommodate you.  And here’s the best part: while the studio introduction is free of charge, Tony is also available for one-on-one mentoring for a smaller additional charge than his usual rate when you are also renting the studio.

Go take a look at the link.  All the information, including the equipment data, rental rates, and a gallery of pictures is right there.  We’re preparing an introductory video as well, which will come soon.  Questions?  Ask!

304-263-3100 or


What is a Visual Cue?

I first learned about the term Visual Cues as it applied to photography, when I started teach studio lighting to college students in 2001.  The concept of defining elements of a picture, which aided in not only attracting the viewer but also in creating a higher sense of artistic appreciation for the image, is not necessarily something that is defined by the term “Visual Cue,” since it is something I use as a reference to those very things.  However, it is those elements of an image which draws the viewer in that make up the collection of things that I call “Visual Cues.”

Visual cues class at TLC Photography

Where is there less light?

Let’s take a look at one, just so you have an idea of what I’m referring to.  “Illumination” is the first of the visual cues that I’ve identified as a primary attraction element.  At first, you may say “well, of course

illumination is necessary,” and you’re right.  But without illumination (lighting, light, lightness, etc.), you would flounder in identifying the rest of these visual elements (cues).  The mind works in its own way to help tell you what is and is not basically attractive – not just in terms of “hey, that’s pretty,” but in terms of having artistic flair or increased drama.  Illumination isn’t just being able to see the subject in the picture, but to clearly identify not just the subject, but all the subject’s supporting elements.  Without illumination, you cannot see those important elements.  Without distinctive illumination for certain items within an image, the drama may be lost, the emphasis taken for granted, or the entire purpose of the image diluted by lazy photography… which includes improper illumination.

There are many more elements that not only help you identify the important visual cues, but which are easy to add to your images to make them more visually attractive.

Learn more about photography at TLC

Look at where the light comes from

If you ever hope to become a professional photographer, or you want to increase how much artistic imagery you add to your own pictures through visual cues, you need to learn these things.  Now.

I teach some of them this Tuesday, October 30, at 6pm.  The class runs for three hours and has examples, explanations and an exchange of ideas (hey, the three E’s!!)… you can sign up for the class by going to  Class size is limited to 15, and it’s already 1/3rd full.



Workshops: Every Tuesday

We’re opening our next series of workshops, and they start  Tuesday, July 10.

The first one is the ever-popular “The Camera,” in which we explore the variety of camera types and styles, functions, menus and what all that mumbo-jumbo means in real life.  Everyone who has taken this class has come away with a more in-depth understanding of how to use their camera.  You can even ask Tony to spend some one-on-one time to go over questions specific to YOUR camera and the way you shoot.  The best part is that the first workshop is only $5… this does not include the one-on-one time, however, which is sold separately.

The next one, July 17 (also a Tuesday, oddly enough) is Photography 101.  This workshop gives you all the nuts and bolts in an easily assembled and simply understood set of very specific scenarios.  ISO, exposure, f-stops, shutter speed and much more will be covered.  Don’t worry too much about remembering it, though, since you will also receive a copy of the entire workshop in an easy-to-understand printed manual.  This workshop is only $39.99.

Keep up with all our workshops by going to The Workshops Link!

Our New Website

About four years ago, we replaced our HTML website with an all-Flash website, and then later added in some very important directional elements that helped people “find their way” in our complex website structure.

On Monday, March 12, we are changing the entire look of our website.  It will encompass all of the elements of our existing three sites (main, seniors and workshops) as well as making the links to client galleries and Diana’s nature photography easier to get to.

We invite you to visit our new site, which is a hybrid design that incorporates both HTML and Flash with a very strict database structure that makes everything seem more common across all platforms.  It’s even mobile friendly!

We’ve added all the basics, including all new galleries (pictures never before seen on our website), and intend to add much more for you to look at. This will include some behind-the-scenes photos and video, instructional videos that complement our workshops, and some great announcements for specials that go hand in hand with our social network pages and our blog.

Enjoy!  To see it, go to

Nightly Missive: Show Off!

This is bridal show season.  Everyone and their uncle’s brother’s sister’s relative from Europe is putting one on in some fashion or another.  In year’s past, we have participated in many of them.  And they can be a lot of fun, but are also a lot of work.  In most cases, there is about two hours of setting your booth, and another 5-7  hours of talking with brides, grooms, parents, other vendors.  Well… it’s exhausting.

In the past few years, we’ve narrowed it down to just one show a year.  The best reason I can give you is that shows cost money, time, and are a lot of work.  Since only about 15% of our business is weddings, we just cannot justify the additional expense for the return.  This Sunday, we are attending a bridal show in Hagerstown, hosted by The Herald-Mail.  If you’re going to be around the Valley Mall from 11-6, please feel free to stop by (psst, free chocolate!!!

We always look forward to meeting new people, talking about the latest and greatest venues and hoping against hope that we aren’t bombarded with an overload of noise from a nearby booth.  So far, that hasn’t been an issue.

Have a great evening!

Nightly Missive: Under The Sea

Not a reference to the Spongey fella that lives in a citrus fruit.

When I first started in photography, I was in high school.  It was a pretty cool experience to play around with exposure and development settings in the darkroom.  Most photographers starting out today have not had to spend hours in a darkroom to get results, and are satisfied with instant gratification. Count me among them, of course.  I relish my days of darkroom tedium, as it has prepared me for the patience I would need later in my career.  But I also like looking at the back of the camera and thinking “okay, that worked!”

As I branched out in my career, it was important for me to learn from other professionals.  There were really three types of educational opportunities; internship, apprentice and assistant.  I interned with one photographer, but for only a short time.  I apprenticed with two photographers for about two years.  And I assisted whenever I could.  I can’t remember how many photographers I assisted.  But that’s not the point.

The point is that instead of just picking up my camera and starting to take pictures, I worked WITH a seasoned professional.  I learned (practically absorbed) everything possible, even if it didn’t seem to have bearing on my future as a pro.  Then, I wasn’t sure that professional photography would work out for me, and wanted to be prepared for whatever might happen next.  By the time I was in my fifth year, I knew a LOT about flowers, dresses, tuxedos, cakes and music (or at least playing it).

Which leads me to the post’s title. What I have long offered is the ability for any student or young photographer to intern or apprentice with me.  No, internships don’t pay money.  Apprenticeships pay little.  The payback is the experience, exposure and thrill of working for and with someone who has had the long-term experience to pass along.  But this is not just an offer to work with me as an intern.

It is also a big time request for you to intern, apprentice AND assist with anyone who could help further your career.  Offer to take out the trash, clean toilets and sweep the porch in exchange for some “sit in the corner and watch” time at the next session.  Go visit a church (or ten) and watch how a wedding unfolds… and ask questions.  Offer to do something for the church in return for putting up with you.

Photography evolved beyond the darkroom.

But it did not evolve beyond the absolute need for photographers to get experience WITH experienced professionals.  Don’t be lazy… go help someone, and help yourself in return.

Nightly Missive: The Plot Thickens

Ever wonder how much your brain can hold?  I have a theory (not scientifically based whatsoever) that your brain retains everything you’ve ever learned or seen, heard or done.  Yes, all of it.  Over time, though, your brain has this keen ability to relegate those things which are “useful as experience” to less than a “remember every detail” role.

With that in mind, I have an opinion about how we decide how things are done in our lives, especially as it relates to those things we do on a regular basis.  Driving, for example.  We take for granted that the car will start in the same way, that we’ll engage the transmission, pull back or forward to leave the driveway or parking spot and then drive on to our destination.  With those repeated instances, we begin to use that experience as things that we will do naturally.

The same kind of thing might occur within our jobs. Someone who may come to me for a portrait session may not realize that a “hidden” part of my job is to size up their family, to analyze their face, or to evaluated their wardrobe as part of how I plan to pose, light or create their images.  To me, it is routine… part of what I do… and is the experience which allows me to do my job without much in the way of complication.

Going back to the driving analogy for a moment… suppose you are traveling at 70 mph (although I realize some of you may travel faster).  You are buffeted in your path by a car some 100 feet behind you, a tractor-trailer beside you and a car 300 feet ahead of you.  Suddenly, the tractor-trailer begins to veer into your lane and intends to occupy it – all without having given you the courtesy of a signal.  What do you do next?  And if you hesitate, you risk quite a bit.

As the driver of a motor vehicle for over 35 years, I know what I would do.

As the driver of a camera in hundreds of weddings, thousands of portrait sessions, and for hundreds of thousands of people in all… my experience comes into play every day.

Every.  Single.  Day.

What happens if something goes wrong? My brain instantly uses all that experience and comes up with the best possible solution.  And all that without letting you know that anything might be wrong.

Experience counts.