Getting Personal???

The senior season is starting to slow down… I see a light at the end of the tunnel and I hope to get some fun personal shoots back on the calendar.  I rarely do model calls.  I have so many fun and lovely high school seniors in front of my camera that I like to invite a few back to play and dress up.  I wish I could bring them all back but it generally comes down the girls that fit the mood and vision of the shoot and the girls that are FUN, easy to work with and loved their session.  I have 3 personal shoots in my head and hope to start working the styling and logistics soon.  My 1st model however isn’t going to be a previous client… but my AMAZING makeup artist for the last few years… Miss Eliana Olivo.  One of the most sought after artists in the area….Check her out on Instagram .

So…. as things slow down… I hope to play play play!!!


A few favorite images from recent sessions:



Own it… work it baby….

Can you own your own style?  In my opinion… no way.  You can originate it and you can do it better than anyone else, but soon others will want to emulate your style.

When I first started learning about photography I certainly had an identity crisis.  I thought I wanted to be a children and family photographer and with all the gorgeous styles of photography I found myself all over the place.  Bold/Vidid one day, soft and dreamy another, super sharp then soft and romantic.

When you are starting out you are finding your voice.  Trying to learn and master your craft and with time you fall into your style.  It didn’t take long to learn that I enjoyed photographing adults.  I learned that I’d rather read Vogue than Glamour.  I am drawn to dark imagery like Brooke Shaden and high fashion images like Emily Soto.  I have dressed in muted colors my whole life (except when my Mom takes me shopping) and have always loved the bohemian style….  so it was easy to find my photography inspiration.  Now, I am constantly trying to improve upon my style and improve my techniques.  I am NEVER happy with my work… so I am constantly trying new things (more on this in another post).

So those that originate will always have imitators (Annie Liebovitz, Mario Testino, Sue Bryce, Joey L. and Anne Geddes to name a few).  Imitators who want to learn and draw inspiration (GOOD/GREAT)…. and imitators who want to be all things to all people.  The great photographers will not change because of competition, lack of confidence or a new trend… but we often leave our styles… afraid to own what we do best and so often it can lead to our downfall.  Trying to do it all leads to confusion with clients and a portfolio that is all over the place.  It’s easy to identify the work of the originators… it’s consistent!!!

I don’t expect everyone to like my style or want to book with me.  That is OK!!!  Not every client is meant to be my client.  But I’m not going to change my style to capture market share, to make everyone happy or get published.  Build your style and work to be the originator, not the imitator.

“Work it baby, work it, own it.” Movie quote Pretty Woman



What it Takes… I Need Help

My parents are great!!  They live within walking distance and are over ALL THE TIME.  This past week they have been building desks and decorating the kids art/music room for me.  Something I would NEVER find time for with my schedule.  My Mom is over daily helping me get the day started with whatever I need.  She keeps my world in control.

I never realized when I started the business how much time actually goes into a single shoot. My schedule and editing time isn’t the same as everyone else’s, but this is what is typical for me.  So bad weather can really play havoc with workflow.

Steps for a single client (but I’m usually juggling 3 to 4 clients at a time as these steps overlap each other):

-The welcome email (followup emails and/or phone calls)… the 1st hour of my day is usually spent on these tasks.
-Selecting a shooting date and confirming with makeup artist if necessary
-Creating and sending the session planning invoice
-Creating client profile on calendar and setting up the session
-Mailing out a welcome packet
-Finding a date for the session planning (phone, Skype or in studio) and getting it on the calendar
-The session planning (15 minutes to 1 hour)
-Preparing for the shoot (loading/selecting props, preparing camera and gear, preparing the studio)
-The photoshoot 2.5 to 4 hours depending on location and professional hair/makeup
-Editing the images (I average 20 to 30 minutes per image with breaks to grab food, answer phone call, and other misc. interruptions).  I feel like this is excessive, but I haven’t figured out how to speed it up.   “Yes, ironically mastering doing less takes more time than doing more to a photo” ~ Master Retoucher and Author Julia Kuzmenko McKim
-Preparing sneak peeks for social media
-Contacting client for showing/ordering session and get it on the calendar
-Preparing for the showing (creating Animoto slideshow and preparing ProSelect)
-Showing/Ordering session (1 to 2 hours)
-Create custom products…. book/album etc. and put in a gallery for approval (notify client).
-Place order with the lab
-Burn DVD and USB
-Package it up all pretty for pickup or shipping…
-Go to post office to mail packages

On top of that there is the bookkeeping, taxes, inventory, ordering of supplies, archiving images, blogging (which seems to never happen).  I try to put my work out there a couple times a year through competition, but that is very time consuming and also falls off the plate too often.

My plate is full, but my life is also full.  We have a large family filled with noise, fighting, loving, homework, chaos, friendship, picky eaters, busy bodies, crafters, singers, amazing grandparents and everything else under the sun.




When the Saints Go Marching in….

Before I started the business I used to photograph my children ALL THE TIME…. to the point they would run from the camera when it came out, but now it’s usually iPhone pictures of them at events.  I’m editing client photos all day every day that the kids portraits have suffered.

I have been wanting to photograph them for a while and we recently finished our 1st shoot.  Tomorrow is All Saints Day and the kids will be dressing up as Saints with friends and classmates for an event at the Church….  I was thrilled at their eagerness and enthusiasm for jumping back in front of the camera.  They wanted to pose, they took direction and they wanted to do well.  As a result, I think we captured some truly phenomenal shots and I can’t wait to photograph them again.  I thought they each did an incredible job portraying their saint.  This afternoon will be the Halloween costume shoot and soon to follow the Christmas card shoot.  What I used to dread, I am now eager about.

In creating the saint costumes…. it totally helped having photography props!!!  My red rose crown for Saint Rose of Lima, my shredded muslim skirt (used on the Native Indian Jewelry shoot) for Saint Joan of Arc, the fur vest for Saint John the Baptist, and my red cape for Saint George.

Everything was shot in the studio with one Alien Bee 800 and a 5 foot soft box.

Kaylee (one of our triplets): Saint Rose of Lima

Addison (one of our triplets): Saint Joan of Arc

Cody:  Saint George

Jadon (one of our triplets): Saint John the Baptist


Saint Rose of Lima
Saint Joan of Arc
Saint George
Saint John the Baptist
The Saints Go Marching In

The Sue Bryce Phenomenon

I have to admit I was rather bummed a couple years ago when I learned that Sue Bryce would be coming to Creative Live.  Up until her debut I thought I was the only one who knew about her and I had been following her forever….  now the cat would be let out of the bag.  As predicted, she hit Creative Live and jaws dropped across the country.

You can hardly scroll Facebook without stumbling across Sue inspired images.  Everyone strives to replicate Sue Bryce even filling closets with gowns for clients and I don’t think thats a bad thing.  Even Sue admittedly strives to emulate Annie Liebovitz.  I wanted to be Sue Bryce for so long.  It’s the greatest form of flattery, but now I just pull inspiration from the photography diva.  I have been a fan of hers forever, but learned she is one of a kind.  So far, no one has been able to nail what she does so well.

So, why the overwhelming draw to Sue?  What made her take the photography world by storm?  Her gorgeous images… yes.  Her incredible before and afters….yes.  BUT, then I thought, she makes it look so easy.  When she started out it was a corner painted a shade of grey or white, a window and a piece of styrofoam.  No expensive lighting equipment, no expensive backdrops, no gels or fancy locations or team of assistants.  It was just styrofoam and posing.  I think we all fell in love with her because she made it look easy… accessible to us all.

I watched her on Creative Live working through posing her clients and thought “ok, piece of cake.  I can do that.  Just look for triangles and work to get that connection in eyes.”  It couldn’t have looked easier and I was inspired.  It didn’t take long to realize what comes natural to her and looks to easy in reality takes LOTS of practice.  The slightest misstep can make or break the pose.

THEN… she came back to Creative Live to demonstrate editing (my passion) and I couldn’t wait!!!!!  I would finally be let in on some of the secrets!!!  Unfortunately, I was disappointed.  There are no secrets when it comes to editing…  the clone tool, some dodge and burn, and warp/liquify.  She uses the same tools of the trade as everyone else, but once again makes it look so darn easy.  BUT THEN…  She met Lara Jade (another of my favs) and introduced Alien Skin.  Of course, I had to have it and immediately added it to my arsenal of actions, tools and plugins.  While, I do like Alien Skin and use it from time to time… my images never look like the those of the Diva Sue, but my images don’t look like hers before they go into Alien Skin.  Which is still the question that eludes me (Why????)… is it her capture, her Raw processing, some editing which we haven’t been privy to yet???  I don’t know….

The Sue Bryce Phenomenon has been incredible to watch and the evolution of Sue has been interesting as well.  She once shunned studio lighting, but has now embraced it.  However, I understand she is shooting with a leaf-shutter lenses (Phase One with a 55mm LS lens) which is a boutique item and very expensive.  It allows for flash sync up to 1/1600th of a second (drool).  She has moved away from painted corners and now shoots on Oliphant backdrops which rent for hundreds of dollars a day and have been used by miss Annie Liebovitz.  She has certainly changed her look… she has slimmed down looks beautiful (but I thought she was always a beautiful woman).  She is now using the healing brush!!  Her success has allowed her to expand and grow and I look forward to seeing what she has in store and to continue to watch her evolve.  Congrats to her!!  She is amazing and I know will continue to inspire.

For the rest of us…. nothing is easy… it’s hard work.  We will continue to struggle, find our path and refine our craft!!

(An image from 2012 – posing practice – headshot for Revision Skincare)