Thursday, April 30, 2009

From My Portfolio: Macy's Prom Fashion Show

Check out the photos I took at the Macy's Prom Fashion show held earlier this month at the Cherry Creek Mall. I tried something risky in my editing process, but it worked out because my client, Cheryl Carter with the Auraria Higher Education Center, loved the end result!

I used the selective coloring technique in several of the images to further emphasis the subject. I've used this approach before when the background was too busy, but I didn't have any control over where the images were being photographed. I could have used my 70-200 telephoto to focus on the subject by blurring out the background with a wider depth of field, but the shooting quarters were too tight (and my smaller 75-300 would have been too slow at f4 shooting indoors).

While some clients have asked me to use selective coloring (including the wedding I will be shooting on May 23), I wasn't sure if my client in this instance would appreciate it. I knew from observing several photos Cheryl had hanging up in her office that previous university-hired photogs had used some unconventional post-processing to showcase their models, who were usually students from the campus. I thought Cheryl would be open to it, but to make sure, I emailed her two photos asking what she thought about my choice and explained to her why I thought it would work in some cases.

Here's one in all color:

Here are the same models using selective colouring:

What do you think? To me, the subjects just get lost in the background that has so much going on, it's hard to separate the models from the mannequins. Cheryl agreed with my assessment, but if she would have told me otherwise, I would have used Photoshop to try to blur out the backgrounds and focus more on the subject. Do you know of any other techniques I could use to avoid this problem of a troublesome background again? I would appreciate the help, as the selective colouring was well accepted in this format, but another client might not like the nontraditional look.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Get Out There: Promoting boudoir as the perfect wedding gift

For the last month or so, I've been doing some research on boudoir photography and whether or not I should create a specialty focusing on only that type of portraiture. I initially created a new website hosted by Smug Mug featuring only my boudoir images, but it wasn't long before I realized just how taxing it would be to try to maintain two separate business sites. Plus, I wasn't convinced (just yet) that there was a solid market just for those kind of images. I decided to place it back into my main website with the main gallery placed inside a new category labeled Glamour-Fashion (basically pairing the nude, lingerie and implied nude shots with those of my model glamour shots.) That took care of some issues that had been raised by colleagues that the images, though tasteful, might be offensive to some clients.

A little more research helped me discover that boudoir photography is also becoming more popular as a service offered to brides by wedding photographers. So now my boudouir imagery is being promoted among my wedding packages!

If I start to get more interest in this type of imagery, I may consider doing what Jim Kennedy did when he created the For His Eyes Only site linked to his main wedding studio page. Be sure to check back on May 1 for a great boudoir session discount I will be running in honor of the wedding season! Hopefully it's gonna knock your socks, pants and shirt off too! ;)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Get the Job Done: Shooting first bridal fitting

Today, I will be shooting my first bridal fitting session for Julie H. I offered this as a free service for Julie as part of her wedding coverage I will also be photographing on May 23.

I'm excited to be able to try shooting this important part of Julie and Joe's wedding because I believe the actual event is more than what takes place during the day of the actual nuptials. It's also all the fun things that lead up to the memory, including the bridal fitting, the dress rehearsal, and even the "spa pedicure" night Julie is hosting for her bridal party. Since both Julie and I enjoy candid photography, she has agreed to let me shoot all of the above on top of the actual wedding and formal wedding party portraits. While Julie will not be having a photographer shoot her small reception being held at a local Italian restaurant in honor of Joe's heritage, I think having these kinds of images will not only widen the "storytelling" I hope to showcase in my photojournalistic style coverage, but also give me some add some dimension to my wedding portfolio.

For the bridal fitting, I am envisioning largely black and white coverage to help promote a sense of timelessness to this wedding rite of passage. Julie has specifically asked for use of selective coloring in my images whenever the subject is appropriate, such as the lovely flower girl hairpins Julie is making herself. She told me the reason why she and Joe hired me was because of this popular image of Teri's Rose.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Instructor's Tip: Polarizers -- Don't leave home without 'em!

Photo Credit: Russ Burden

I hope you enjoy this week's "Instructor's Tip" by one of my favorite instructors, award winning nature photographer Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ captured the above image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

Don’t Leave Home Without It
My biggest workhorse filter is the polarizer. Most photographers know it as the filter that makes the sky a richer blue while simultaneously making cumulous clouds more prominent. But its power goes much deeper. It’s a great tool for removing glare off reflective surfaces like glass or metal. It also works miracles removing the shine from wet leaves and rocks. When leading my photo tours to the Oregon coast, I use it to photograph tide pool scenics. Rotating the polarizer removes the glare from the pool’s surface and works wonders when we photograph waterfalls in the rain forest.

A polarizer is magical but a photographer can misuse its magic. A sky can be over polarized making it turn black. Back off on its rotation to correct this. Maximum polarization occurs when facing ninety degrees from the sun. The more you deviate from this point, the more uneven the tone in the sky. When turned 180 degrees from the sun, very little, if any, sky polarization occurs. When using 24mm and wider lenses, an unnatural dark blue area appears at the spot of maximum polarization and trails off into lighter tones on either side. When using these lenses, I tend to back off the filter unless the camera is positioned vertically and at a right angle to the sun.


Take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Morning Cartoons

"What the Duck" is an online comic strip created by Aaron Johnson. Viewers are welcome to link, post, copy/paste, or save the strips to their own sites, blogs, forums, newsletters, etc. Aaron also allows viewers to suggest titles for his individual strips, which I think is a great way to interact with his blog readers.

An Aside: 2008 Photography Pulitzers Awarded

Seven-year-old Sonson Pierre sits in knee deep mud outside his family’s flooded home in Gonaives, Haiti, Sept. 4, 2008, days after several storms including Tropical Storm Hannah hit the country. (AP Photo/Miami Herald, Patrick Farrell)

Pulitzer Prizes were awarded last week. The Denver Post's "Captured" photoblog showcased images from the winner of The Breaking News Photography Pulitzer awarded Patrick Farrell of the Miami Herald for his coverage of the victims of disastrous storms in Haiti in 2008 and the Pulitzer for Feature Photography went to Damon Winter of the New York Times for his coverage of the 2008 Presidential Election. Damon Winter’s images can be viewed at The New York Times Website. Below are Farrell’s images from Haiti. He visited the island four times in 2008 and was on the island as Hurricane Ike came ashore.

There is no doubt that these photos are fantastic and filled with the emotion of moment in which they were taken. Draw inspiration Farrell's amazing images but be warned: some of the are extremely troubling to see. I can only hope to one day be able to capture the same kind of humanity and timelessness in my own portraiture as I continue to grow in my craft.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Breaking News: Someone tried to break into my house!

The police officer said I did everything I could to prevent a burglar from breaking into my home yesterday. Knowing that should have made me feel better, but it's going to be days before I feel truly safe in my home again.

My ADT security alarm went off Tuesday at 2:59 p.m. I got a call from the company that someone had tried to enter my home through a basement window and that the police and my emergency contact, aka my neighbors, had been notified. A few minutes after that, I got a call from my neighbor who was checking out the scene with two patrol officers. The would-be burglar had disappeared, but I had a cut window screen, a pried open basement window and some highly agitated dogs to prove a stranger had been there.

Nothing was stolen, save for my sense of security. It stops my heart to think about how close I came to having someone take all of my camera equipment, my laptop, my computer and anything else deemed valuable.

Here's want the officer said I had going for me:

1) An active alarm system: Economic woes have made many people shave off costs anywhere they can...including the monthly service fee for a security system, according to the officer. Even more troubling is the fact that many homeowners may have an active system, but don't set it when they leave.

2) Keep doors and windows locked: Stats show that thieves enter through an unlocked door or window in more than 30% of all residential burglaries. While this won’t prevent all burglaries from occurring, it certainly will deter the opportunistic burglar from making your home his next target.

3) A stick in the window track: The stick I have in both of my basement windows tracks detered the criminal. My sliding glass door has a locking mechanism at the base, but placing another stick there will be helpful too. Also, place a security pin (a large nail will also work) through the frame.

4) Two large dogs: My dogs will bark relentlessly at ANYONE who gets into my backyard or even near the locked back gate. Although it makes me wonder who would be willing to leap a gate into a backyard with two dogs unless the dogs already knew them to begin with....hmmmm

5) Vigilante neighbors: It may seem as though I live alone and am vulnerable, but people in my neighbohrood have banded to create an informal watch group. I've been taken under at least two sets of neighbor wings who keep a watch out for one of the single females living in a house on the block.

The officer said it was typical that a break-in would occur in the middle of the day because it's less likely that someone will be in the home. Colorado's "Make My Day Law" (shoot first ask questions later) gives homeowners the legal right to use deadly force to defend their home from violent attack or intrusion. So no thief wants to be confronted by a gun-packing homeowner. The officer said he thought it might have been a teenager since the attempt took place right around the time school lets out. Thank goodness I also have insurance covering not only my home but my photography business equipment as well so that I could have made a claim had the thief been successful. But who wants to go through the headache of having to replace so much that they've spent hard money and time trying to be able to afford?

Need more household security tips? Check out this link at

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

This Weekend: Shooting an awards dinner and concert

Cheryl Carter, the Auraria Higher Education Center's public relations director, has hired me to shoot Sunday night's Northeast Academy Charter School's Community Star Awards Dinner and Concert. The event will be held at the Auraria Campus' Tivoli Student Union, so Carter would like the images to continue promoting the student union as an event venue. The musical guests will be the R&B Group Surface and the Mary Louise Lee Band. It should be a great to cover!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Get the Goods: Live forum discussion with photo mentor

Here's your chance to participate in a live discussion with a professional photographer. Join mentor Reed Hoffman live TODAY at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time on the Mentor Series Forum page to talk shop and answer photography questions in real time. Log on to check out the discussion or create a new thread. You need to have a valid account and be logged in to post a message to the forum.

Get the Goods: Russ Burden announces special May/June photography classes

Image by Russ Burden

By now all of my readers should recognize the award winning work and photography instruction shared by one of my favorite teachers Russ Burden. Russ's "Instructor's Tips" shared here on Monday's continually challenges to take our photography to the next level. Here's a chance to experience his unique perspectives first hand by attending several special classes he will be teaching in May and June for the Panasonic Digital Photo Academy.

Each class will be limited to only 10 students giving Russ the chance to give individual attention to each of the participants. As a former class attendee of several of his courses myself, I can personally vouch for his unique ability to make sure you get something out of his courses -- probably a skill set he gained from his 30-year tenure as a former public school teacher. He has worked as a professional photographer for nearly 10 years and his excitement and love of the craft is infectious, plus he's one of the best Photoshop guru's I've had the pleasure of meeting. Get the goods by taking one of his classes:

Saturday May 2nd: Beginner: The Ins and Outs of a Digital Point and Shoot. Learn how to better use your digital point and shoot camera: 9:00AM - Noon (I recommend you take the Composition and Technique class immediately following for a half day of photographic learning and bliss)

Saturday May 2nd: Composition and Technique - NEWLY INTRODUCED CLASS FOR 2009 Learn how to make better pictures regardless of your level of ability! 12:30PM - 2:30PM

Monday May 4th: Intermediate Class: The Ins and Outs of a Digital SLR. Learn how to better use your digital SLR: 6:00-10:00PM Think about taking the Composition and Technique class on the 2nd to be able to better apply what you glean from this class.

Saturday June 20th: Advanced Class, first of its kind: This Advanced class will differ from all the others he's taught as it focuses on a four hour shoot at the Denver Zoo followed by the rest of the day optimizing our photos in Photoshop back at my studio. The emphasis of photographing the indoor exhibits will be on the use of flash. Many people have asked Russ to do a workshop on the subject so here's your chance to get in on the fun.

Registration is not yet open for this class but it's definitely on the "official" schedule, and Russ will conduct the session. If you know for sure you want to participate, send me an email, and he will create a list on a first come first serve basis. Russ will let you know toward the end of April when it's officially posted on the DPA site at which time you can formally register for the class. Visit the site and then click where it says, "Click For Exciting Details About The Special Class Shoot."

After reading each class description on the website, if you're still not sure what level class is appropriate for you, feel free to give Russ a call so he can best guide you into the one from which you'd most benefit. Please make sure you sign up with Russ.

Here is his contact information:

Russ Burden

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Get the Job Done: Shooting a Macy's Fashion Show

One of my previous clients has hired me to shoot a prom fashion show Thursday evening at Cherry Creek Mall. The event, being sponsored by Macy's, will be an excellent opportunity for me to network with one of the nation's largest department store. I've always found fashion show coverage to be challenging, largely because they are often held in extremely low lit "club-like" settings, forcing my flash to work overtime. But I am working on something that should help with that. I will let you know about it after the event. The shot above was taken of model Vivian Iveth during the Touch of Romance Fashion show at DTC last February.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Instructor's Tip: Rain

I hope you enjoy this week's "Instructor's Tip" by one of my favorite instructors, award winning nature photographer Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ captured the above image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.


“Bummer,” I say to myself as the weather channel shows a cloudless sky and full moon across the screen. No shots of city lights reflected off rain soaked streets or streaks of car lights reflecting back the mirrored surface of Interstate 25. “Bummer,” I say to myself while standing in a deciduous forest of maples, oaks and birches. No shots of saturated autumn colored leaves carpeting the forest floor with a polyurethaned look of a fall shower upon them. “Bummer,” I say to myself as I gaze upon a sunlit cobblestone street below. Imagine what a great shot it would be if the rain was falling and a lone figure with a red umbrella walked beneath me.

Don’t get me wrong. The sun is a great ally when it comes to photography. But when it’s obstinate and hides itself behind a layer of dew point saturated clouds, I still head out with my camera. What does change is threefold: What I wear, what I bring and what I photograph.

First and foremost, keeping myself protected is my primary consideration. If I’m wet and miserable, I won’t want to stay out and take pictures. Commensurate with how I feel, the quality of my images will rapidly decline. A waterproof hiking boot is a must. I’ve also invested in a pair of storm socks. They’re neoprene on the outside and fleece on the inside. Even if my boots fail, my socks keep me warm and dry.

Keeping the camera dry can be accomplished a number of ways depending on the intensity of the rain and how long it’s exposed to the elements. Towel drying should work in drizzle type conditions. I also keep the camera and lens inside my waterproof jacket. The only drawback to this is moisture can build up inside if I’m active.


Take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Growing Pains: 20 Tips Every Business Should Know

Quickbook Intuit's website offers a great list of the "20 Tips Every Business Should Know" to its customers to help them create a more efficient and profitable company. I wanted to begin offering this resource on my blog every Sunday in the "Growing Pains" post till we make it through all of them. Here is the next tip in the series:


Studies show that it's cheaper to create a repeat customer than to bring in a new one. Here are some tips to get your customers begging for more:

Incentives: Everyone likes freebies. Offer repeat buyers discounts or free gifts.

Communication: Keep your customers loyal by sending a monthly email newsletter or direct mail sales flyers.

Customer Service: If you treat customers well, they will come back. Always be courteous, and make an effort to learn your customers' names so that you can use them while interacting.

Yesterday, I think I got some of the best show of repeat customer approval ever. My nephew's birthday cake was decorated with the very picture I posted up on my blog yesterday! The hostess, my nephew's grandmother said to me "I hope you don't mind." Are you kidding me!!!! That was AWESOME and some of the coolest advertising ever. Everyone who saw (and ate a slice) of that delicious cake saw the cute pic I took of my nephew. Plus, me wondering around with my camera at the party and having Grandpa say "I've got a Professional Photographer taking pictures for me" was amazing show of support and encouragement for my business.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

This Weekend: Shooting my nephew's birthday party!

Yesterday, my nephew Elijah turned 1-years-old! Today, we will be hosting a birthday party/Easter egg hunt for him. He is such a joy to be around. And I'm honored to be shooting photos for his baby book. It will feel good to get the camera back in my hands, as this past month has largely been about editing the NBS photos, getting taxes done, revamping my website and meeting with clients to prepare for the weddings I'm covering next month. I couldn't wait to get up this morning just to start charging my batteries! It feels good to know that photography still feels me with such happiness and excitement. It has continued to be my saving grace.

Today I want to work on getting some candid shots, so I will be using my 75-300. I also want to get more storytelling, environment type shots, so I will also have my wide angle 16-35 and medium range 24-70 on hand. It's always good to shoot for fun so you can get those creative juices flowing. It should be tons of fun, but I will also have to remember to put my camera down every once in a while so I can simply enjoy the moment as a participant and not just a spectator. Eli will only be 1 once!

Saturday Morning Cartoons

"What the Duck" is an online comic strip created by Aaron Johnson. Viewers are welcome to link, post, copy/paste, or save the strips to their own sites, blogs, forums, newsletters, etc. Aaron also allows viewers to suggest titles for his individual strips, which I think is a great way to interact with his blog readers.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Get the Goods: Free photography seminars with Will Crockett

If you are in the Denver metro area next week, stop by to attend two free photography seminars hosted by world reknown photographer Will Crockett of Crockett is the director of photography at Crockett & Co., a fine-edged commercial photo production company based in suburban Chicago.

The seminars, presented by Denver Pro Photo and Bogen, will be free admission and open to the public with no registration. So get there early at 235 S. Cherokee Street, Denver CO 80223, 10866-360-4940

Wednesday, April 15, 6-9 p.m., "Wake Up and Smell the Pixels," will help you build the most efficient pathway from click to print. Generating an income in professional photography means becoming efficient with ALL your resources. Will Crockett is known throughout the industry as a solid shooter who takes the shortest (and most profitable) pathway from "click to print." He uses technology, a little skill, and a boatload of smarts to create digital files that print or go to press with very little (sometimes ZERO Photoshop!) adjustments. See some of Will's "OneLight" simple yet powerful lighting setups, plenty of workflow shortcuts, and more image quality boosting tips. Will will be using his own gear to shoot live images, then will share all his tips on how to move the file directly from the camera to the printer with nothing short of amazing results.

Saturday, April 18, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., "Limitless Lighting with Off-Camera Flash," will start with a digital camera and a shoe mounted flash -- then it will get the flash off the camera for some easy and gorgeous portrait lighting. Crockett will show you his own style of creating light using the simplest of tools. Learn the secrets of using one flash off camera with perfect exposure and color, wireless triggering made easy (and inexpensive!) and a few of his favorite light modifiers for making soft, portable and pleasing light just about anywhere.

Hope to see some of you there!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Growing Pains: Successful Client Consultation

On Sunday, I had a lunch/consultation with Julie H., a young woman whose wedding I will be shooting next month. Every opportunity I've had to speak with Julie has been wonderful and the excitement for her upcoming event is definitely building. I think the goal of a consultation is not just to impart information about services and coordinate schedules; it's an opportunity to really delve into a client's desires. It's the photographer's chance to let the client dream and share so plans can be made to make those ideals come true. Plus, the more I know about what she wants, the better instructions I can give to my assistants to get those kinds of shots.

I asked Julie to collect images she saw online or in magazines to give me a better idea of what kind of imagery she was looking for. There is absolutely nothing wrong with gaining inspiration from other photographer's work. I was able to see that she loves wide aperture shots with blurred bokeh in the background as well as detailed shots, such as ribbons in the flower girl's hair. Her style is a mixture of classic poses in contemporary imagery.

Julie, her fiance Joe and I are on the same page about having a preference for candid and artistic wedding photography. Julie said she doesn't want "weird magazine unrealistic poses," although we spoke about what she wants from the formal portraits we will be shooting of the family and wedding parties. She wants the unobtrusive, documentary type images, such as this one I took at a previous wedding event:

Of course we spoke about the must-have shots with family members who will be making special trips to attend the ceremony. The couple both have amazing eyes, Julie's large and green and Joe's a deep, drowning brown with lashes most women would die to have. I've been requested to shoot several images emphasizing their eyes. And what was the main reason why the couple hired me? Because they loved Teri's Rose and similar selective coloring shots such as this one:

I loved talking to Julie about how her romance with her fiance Joe developed because it gives me a better sense of the kind of photos they might appreciate as a couple. This lovely pair have known each other since they were in high school; they weren't sweethearts, but their lives have always been intwined with mutual friends and experiences that helped build the foundation for their friendship and later their love. She mentioned that it will be two whole days before the bride and groom get to see each other right before the wedding, so the moment they finally lay eyes on each other when she walks into the church will definitely be something that I and my assistants will focus on (one person focusing on Julie and the other capturing Joe's reaction).

I'm very excited that Julie has allowed me to shoot her final bridal fitting and a special "pedicure and wine" party for her bridal party. I think these two events will make their wedding a more complete story and will yield some great timeless, fun shots that will be more relaxed and filled real personality without the added stress of the BIG EVENT. I will also be shooting the rehearsal -- all wonderful chances for the clients to begin to see me as their advocate for capturing the best memories possible.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Instructor's Tip: KISS Method: Keep It Sweet And Simple, PART 6

I hope you enjoy this week's "Instructor's Tip" by one of my favorite instructors, award winning nature photographer Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ captured the above image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

Using Flash and Artificial Backgrounds to Control the Elements:
By using flash on small objects, lots of photographic problems can be solved yielding excellent images that otherwise would result in a bad image. By combining the following with the strategic placement of artificial backgrounds that look natural, successful photos can be made even in some inconceivable circumstances.

Flash can “stop” the wind and allow you to shoot at small apertures by using the power of the light emitted by the flash rather than the relying on ambient light. On a windy morning, an aperture of f22 with the ISO set to 100 should get you in the 1/15 sec. range. The obvious effect is a totally soft, wind blown flower. But the short duration of the flash will freeze the movement and allow the production of a tack sharp replication of the subject. An additional benefit is if the ambient light is too flat, flash can add sparkle to an image using it as a fill in light to give the subject more of a twinkle. By adding both a fill light to the side and a back light to create a modeling effect, in essence, a professionally lit portrait of the blossom is possible.


Take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Breaking News: Photographer diagnosed with cancer

I just received word about the cancer diagnosis of a photographer colleague Cal Cheney, owner of All Digital Photo and Video in Lafayette and a member of the Mile High Photographers. In these emotionally and financially trying times, many of us may be wondering how we can do something positive to lift spirits and morale. I think this is a great opportunity to do so.

Since I've only recently joined Mile High Photographers, I haven't had the chance to meet Cal, but he is very well-known. Here's an example of what other members are sharing about him: "Cal is such a caring and genuine person and gives so much energy and effort to everyone fortunate enough to know him."

A group of colleagues and friends have joined forces to put an event together in honor of Cal to let him know that he is supported and to offer him strength and recovery in our thoughts and prayers. What better way to show him how respected and valuable he is than to have a gala event and raise much needed funds to support him financially as well.

If you are here locally, please plan to attend the fundraising event on Wednesday, April 22nd at the Chateaux at Fox Meadows in Broomfield. Many area caterers and businesses will provide food and alcohol as well as donated entertainment and décor. Tickets will be $25 and cash donations in lieu of attendance are gratefully accepted. The group is hoping for 500 guests in support of Cal and his family.

There will be a silent auction to raise additional funds. We need donated items of any value!!! Any sort of certificate, item, service, or discount you or your company can offer would be much appreciated. We are hoping to collect everything by April 17th. Please contact Jessica Adler or Sidney Stoper ( or to donate goods or services.

On behalf of Cal and those organizing this event, thank you so much! I hope to see you on the 22nd of April; and may all our joined positive thoughts and energy help a great person get through this difficult time. I believe that the Lord listens and answers prayers. Cal you are definitely in mine!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday Morning Cartoons

I hesitated about throwing this up on my business blog because I didn't want any potential clients to think I won't do whatever is necessary to make sure they are happy with the final product. But this isn't some kind of comment about how I run my business. It's just stating a fact: photographers, like police officers, have to learn how to laugh off the more difficult parts of the job if they expect to be able to keep doing it. It's either learn how to cope or do something else.

"What the Duck" is an online comic strip created by Aaron Johnson. Viewers are welcome to link, post, copy/paste, or save the strips to their own sites, blogs, forums, newsletters, etc. Aaron also allows viewers to suggest titles for his individual strips, which I think is a great way to interact with his blog readers.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Get Connected: Forum criticism: motivation or madness?

I will be the first one to admit that as a developing artist, I'm still entirely too attached to my work so much so that accepting criticism is difficult. Your first instinct might be to just dismiss negative comments as just that, a negative opinion. Sometimes I can do that and let negative voices roll off my back. Other times, like this week, I allow them to eat away at me, driving me just to the near side of insane. If something keeps bothering you, maybe that's the universe's way of saying, "take another look, stupid." I'm glad I did.

So taking a line from the Sci-Fi series "Battlestar Galactica:" "what the frack am I talking about?" I received a host of negative criticism about my new business logo when I posted about it on the Dgrin forum. I was shocked and disappointed that so many posters to my thread disliked what I thought was a great idea. Part of it was me personalizing the critics as if they were somehow attacking me. Another issue was feeling defensive and trying to protect my friend who created this logo out of the goodness of his heart (and for free!). I loved what my friend created from the get-go. Out of all of my attempts to try to create one myself and by using canned clip art templates online, Paul's "logo" spoke to me, stood out and was drastically different from anything else I had ever seen before. Because I had such a visceral reaction to it, I was SURE that it was the right thing for my business.

But those negative comments needled me so much that I started doing more research about what actually makes up a good business logo. I talked with other successful photography business experts here locally that I trust and got their opinions, and I researched online. Unfortunately, I had to face the fact that Paul's logo wasn't it, namely because logos are usually very simple graphically and has to be something that can be recognized even when printed very small. Paul's logo would start to lose its readability if it were printed smaller than a business card, and even he agreed to that notion. But further inspection let me know that what Paul created will be good for another business prospect. I think it will look perfect on the new postcards I plan to mail out as advertising for my business as soon as I buy a mail list to targeted neighborhoods in Denver! If you remember, last year I sent out this postcard with some limited success in my neighborhood. Imagine how great Paul's logo will look on this with my business information on the back of the card!

I've asked Paul to make a few more tweaks to the postcard advertisement, namely to separate the business name from the globe so that it stands on its own and can be more clearly seen. I am considering starting a logo campaign with logomojo to see what they can come up with. I've learned that there is STILL so much to learn about running a successful business. I should have created a logo right after I came up with a business name...but I guess it's better late than never. I've also learned that not every negative commenter is out to get you. It's really in how the information is thoughtfully presented. I've trusted responses from dgrin posters in the past, and their sincere comments have helped me during times of crisis when I needed advice on how to shoot weddings, runway shows, and deal with other aspects of photography. I'm glad I didn't let my defensiveness get the best of least not for TOO long! ;)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Breaking News: A fond farewell to old friends

I am so sad to learn that one of my favorite local photography stores is closing! The Wolf Camera store at 1802 S Havana St., in Aurora is shutting down. The email just came across my email today from David Ritz:

"Over the past few months, most of us have become painfully aware that that the U.S. economy has tumbled into very turbulent times. At the same time, Ritz Camera has invested millions of dollars in many of our stores to bring you the latest in digital imaging over the web. As an unfortunate consequence of these economic difficulties, the store you have ordered from has closed.

Please use our Location Selector to find another store conveniently located in your area of work, shopping, or home.

If your search returns no stores in your area, we encourage you to try our mail order service. Get the same great quality, delivered right to your door!

We would like to take a moment to express our thanks for your continued patronage, and as a special "Thank You!" we would like to offer the opportunity to receive 30% off the combined total of your next order. Simply enter the promo code THANKYOU30 at check out and hit "apply" to receive your discount. Treat yourself or a loved one to something special, without putting a dent in your wallet, at your NEW location!

This offer may not be combined with any other promotion currently advertised.

This offer is valid on all of the hundreds of items available on, including:

Prints & Enlargements
Custom Photo Books
Picture Perfect Photo Greeting Cards
Personalized Photo Gifts
So much more!

We thank you for your continued use of to fulfill your printing and image product needs, and look forward to continuing our relationship in the months and years to come."

The staff at the Aurora store have been instrumental parts of my journey to become a freelance portrait photographer. Several of my first classes were taken with Terry who was always quick to help me with advice on equipment or business strategies whenever I walked into the store. And if you remember, Jeff Lawson answered a Q&A about aspect ratios that helped me understand printing. I will always appreciate both of your time and willingness to help a newbie like me out. I also wanted to wish all the staff there the best of luck, and I hope to be seeing you at another Wolf in the metro area. I will miss the convenience of the Aurora store, which was closer to my home.

Get the Job Done: Subtle Changes, Big Customer Impact

Since I'm still plugging away on the new redesign of my website and blog, I took advantage of some subtle marketing strategies suggested by photographer and business manager Jim Turley. Jim runs Sweet Water Images and teaches a "Passion + Profits" business management course at Illuminate Workshops.

Jim suggested that I delete the references related to up-front deposits in my Service/Fees. Jim says to handle those kind of conversations during the consultation and contract signing when/if someone wants to book you. The way I had it, stating that a deposit had to be made to secure the session, comes off as a negative first impression among clients. Instead, Jim suggests to aim for "pulling people in" with what you DO offer, and then deal with the terms once your prospect is interested.

Jim thought it would be better if I downplayed the price by putting it at the bottom. He uses a smaller font to lesson the impact on the eye. In such trying financial times when many still view photography as a luxury item, it makes sense to me that you want to convince the potential client of the quality of what you are offering before learning the cost. Although Jim didn't suggest this, I changed out the wording from "cost" to "investment" to push home the fact that this is something to be cherished well into the future.

Placing my "contact me" email link at the end is another subtle way of helping prospective clients see what you offering and then take the next step of contacting you. Jim says he's not reinventing the wheel here, folks, all of this is "just more natural" ways of fostering a more positive first impression.

If you want to learn more knowledgeable nuggets like these and you either living in or planning on visiting the Denver-metro area, take a class with Jim. The next one is scheduled for April 22. I've taken this course and the information Jim shares to help you workout that all-so important business plan is essential to the success of your company!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Get the Job Done: Tips for first runway shoot

I wanted to wish my photo colleague Art Scott good luck on his first runway shoot. Scott is one of my buddies on the Digital Grin Photography Forum where we often chat about the business aspects of photography. In this forum thread another member posted a great video to help Scott answer some of his questions on how to light such a challenging session. I thought the information was so useful that I wanted to share it here too.

I think runway shows can be extremely difficult shoot. They are usually very dark, club-like settings with very little available ambient light. That means you will need to use powerful on or off-camera strobes to freeze motion in low light. That means you need to have a ton of batteries or a battery pack to keep recycling the flash as quickly as possible. I have the Canon battery pack recommended in the video and it has served me well in low-light environments including indoor weddings and runway shows. I can't wait to pull my strobes off camera and have them flash remotely with my Pocket Wizard in a setting like this. So far, I've only used my PWs in studio settings. I want to use them in a live event the way they are used in the video.

Also, get there early and stake your claim on the "sweet spot." You don't want to spend the evening pushing, fighting and vying for limited space near the stage if there are a pack of additional photographers shooting the event. One of the things that has served me well during this kind of event coverage is to gain rapport with as many of the models as possible before they hit the runway. That almost guarantees that they will lock eyes with you when they strut and pose, making for more intimate shots.

Best Posts

Picture Your World Photography is a premiere photographer in the Denver, Colorado Photographer community on