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Senior Portrait: Jessica (The quiet one)

Yeah… she doesn’t talk much.  When she does, you definitely want to hear what she has to say.  But it wasn’t extensive conversation that drove this wonderful session with Jessica.  She was easy to photograph because she has a great look, an excellent sense of fashion, and listened to the instructions during her session.

I sometimes think that we get great clients like this because they know what they want… specifically, they either know what they want their pictures to look like, or they trust us to create something unique and interesting for them.  This was a case where both things applied.

Special Note

Jessica was referred to us by one of our senior models.  If you’re interested in being part of our senior models program, please contact us.

Jennifer & Mike’s Engagement Session: True Love?

The purpose of an engagement session for us is to show off their love without the formality of the wedding.  It also gives us an opportunity to get to know the couple in a more casual environment.  This usually pays off on the wedding day, because we have a more open rapport and a relaxed bring & groom.

So, when Jennifer and Mike came to us for their engagement portraits, a couple we already had some exposure to before, it was just like taking pictures of friends.  There was also the requests for them to have a couple of individual portraits, as well.  They’re a good-looking couple and we wish them the best of luck in their future.

Senior Portrait: Blaise (An exercise in “mom said”)

I suppose it is often enough that we meet interesting people.  It’s even better when they are also smart and opinionated.  Probably pictures was not first and foremost on his mind, but he happily indulged his mom, who had some specific things in mind when they booked their session.  Blaise is a techo-hip kind of guy.  That intrigued me.

Senior portraits, that rite of passage, hope to capture some of the elements of who they are when they come in.  Blaise… is different. 🙂

Newborn: Elsie (and her big sister)

Family portrait with a newborn

Picture 1 of 3

We love newborn portraits. And mainly because they are just so pose-able.  This typically just means that you can put them into any pose or position you want, but we try to remember that they may still want to do whatever they want.  And since this little one has an older sister, it was important to make her part of the portraits, too.

You can see more of our children’s portraits on our website.

Senior: Adam

If you ever wanted to meet the ultimate football player physique, you’d just need to meet Adam.  Of course, it goes way beyond that.  He plays passionately at the game, but is also smart, knows what he wants in life, and has big plans.

Shooting on-location with Adam was a lot of fun, too.  Some weeks we spend more time on-location than we do in the studio.  Adam was accommodating, even when a large number of his teammates showed up to begin practice.

You can learn more about our senior portraits on our Seniors page.

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.

Why Glitter Makeup is not always your friend

Sorry about the eye staring back at you, but it goes to a bigger point about the use of glitter makeup in portraits and other studio photography.

First, understanding why people use glitter and shine makeup was something that took research.  Not because I didn’t know what it was, but because I wasn’t sure how it is used for a lot of things.  An eye, after all, is a very small part of the human face and a much smaller portion of the human body.  And yet, we spend so much time staring straight into it.

Glitter makeup is used by cheerleaders, gymnasts, dancers, stage performers and more.  They tend to bring your focus back to the eye, the face, which is where human drama is created for whatever performance is taking place.  A glittery toe, for instance, does not evoke near the emotion of intensity that can be generated in an instant by the face (a combination of eyes, eyebrows, mouth, jaw, posture, and angle).

But, it doesn’t do well with studio flash and closeup photography.  Here’s why.

Studio photography typically relies on flash.  Studio flash, momentarily, is very bright.  But that much brightness is utilized by the camera to capture all the significant detail of the face (especially) of the subject.  But since it IS a bright light, it also does a lot of reflecting.  As you can see, it’s reflecting off the subject’s eye quite clearly.  But it is also reflecting, in a different way, off the skin around the eye where the glitter makeup has been used.

The result is thousands of tiny speckles.  Some are so tightly grouped together that they appear as one giant reflection.  And although they truly are thousands of tiny mirrors reflecting the light, they also completely distract from the skin’s natural tons and colors.  Skin is beautiful, translucent and an essential element in the consistency of the face.  Glitter makeup almost completely destroys the skin’s color and translucence.  It leaves only a shine.

The outcome is what you see.  Now, this is a very very very tight crop on a recent subject’s eye.  I hope that’s it’s tight enough that you cannot identify the subject, but so that you can see why studio photographers often warn against using glittler makeup.

Many “natural light” (I still don’t know what this phrase actually means -isn’t all light natural?) photographers may want to start warning their subjects that glitter makeup adds considerably to the amount of retouching that needs to be done to maintain a good “flow” in the skin.  Right now, if I hadn’t said something about glitter makeup, it could easily be perceved as sweat, oil, or something else.

Any questions?

Change Your Phone Name

Who are you?

Is your phone name “WIRELESS CALLER”?


Or maybe “UNKNOWN”?

These caller ID names come up frequently on our phone system at the studio.  They are generally assigned by your wireless phone company as the default when you sign up for service.  And, you can change them!

Now, I’m not certain how exactly it works for other services, but I’m sure there’s something similar available on other systems.  Here’s how to change your name on Sprint (our wireless carrier):

  1. Login at
  2. Hover your mouse over “My Sprint” (second row of tabbed buttons).
  3. Click “My Account” (it’s clickable, even though there are other options under it).
  4. In the third section (devices), you will see your phone(s) listed.  Under the type of devices, you will see “Caller ID name is set to: ” followed by what people see when you call them.
  5. Click on “Caller ID name” and a pop-up window will show the names for each of the devices on your account, give you the opportunity select one of the defaults, and also to enter a Custom Entry.  Once you’ve done that, it takes up to 24 hours to get spread throughout the system.

Now, when you call a business or someone else with Caller ID, your name will show.  The likelihood of your call being accepted is MUCH greater if you include your name in the Caller ID.  Businesses generally get a lot of Spam calls and sales calls each day, and they will often associate out of area phone numbers (in this area, ones that don’t have a local area code) with another sales call, FAX or robo-spam call.  And they might just get ignored.

We pick up virtually every call.  Since switching to a digital phone service a couple of months ago, we can also recognize people who call frequently and add their Caller ID to our system.  It helps make sure we take calls from people who are clients we know best.

But if you’re calling for a local service or product, and don’t get an answer… maybe it’s because your Caller ID says “UNKNOWN” or something else that’s not as appealing as your beautiful name is. 🙂

The View from Inside the Event

I generally consider myself fortunate to get magazine assignments where I can cover an interesting event.  And this one was definitely interesting.

A big draw for many with cameras is getting the opportunity to play “paparazzi” and covering much of the event from the perspective that everyone is a target and an opportunity.  It adds a fun viewpoint and is kind of a plus for those who like to feel like it’s all about them… and technically, it really is.

I took a different angle.  I shot the event from the inside, not from the outside.  And even in this blog article, I’m only showing a handful of images here, but there’s a way to see all of them by following the instructions shown a paragraph or two down from here.

When speaking with people in attendance, it was somewhat remarkable to me that this event was much smaller in prior years.  I “noticed” it last year, but really wasn’t aware of it.  This year, I was made more aware of it via a Facebook friendship with Tara Lowe.  Getting the magazine assignment pushed me right over the proverbial edge.

I hope we can all agree that this is for a very good cause.  The organizers, and everyone who played even a small role made a huge difference to the cause.  And that’s really what an event like this is always about.

So, here’s how to see the rest from this event:

All images are available for sale as prints or image files.  If you use the coupon code CRISIS, that will take 25% off your order AND we will donate 10% of your order to Breast Cancer Awareness via the same organization that Identity Crisis supported.


We come from this

I was happy to accompany Diana to her high school reunion this year, with a nice dinner party on Saturday, and a picnic on Sunday. We went to another about 5 years ago.

I had the opportunity to chat with several of her classmates, and a few of their spouses. Getting to know a few of them helped me get a better handle on Diana’s origins and formative years. I first met Diana very late in 1992, online at what were then just computer bulletin boards. In short, we didn’t go to high school together. Chatting with her classmates gave me more insight.

One fellow, Brian, was particularly chatty. We agreed that high school reunions are something of an anomaly. It’s one of the only institutions that virtually demands a reunion of people every 5-10 years. But we went on to agree that the high school years help establish who you will become;  but does little to aid in discovering who you are. There are certainly things we take away from the experience, but we don’t always realize it right away.

As we were driving home after the picnic on Sunday, I reflected on what my own high school experience meant to me. And at the time, it just seemed like I was going through the motions. But now I can honestly say that I was creating a sense of self-esteem that would not fully manifest itself until I was almost 50 years old.

Bottom line: you can learn a lot about yourself by going to someone else’s reunion.

Just make sure you’re invited.