May 31, 2011

June 2011 Cover

Cover Image by Julianna Collett

May 22, 2011

Rookie Photog Shares Her First Wedding Session

By Julianna Collett

Photography has been a part of my life since I had a job in college at a camera store, however I didn’t get serious about learning the technical side of imagery until about three years ago when I reluctantly decided I had to learn to use my digital camera. I am self- taught but by that I mean, with the internet all the resources and tips are out there for the reading. I began stalking the blogs of people who were generous with there knowledge and photo tips and as I learned and had specific questions I would simple google it! I still do, especially when it comes to computer related problems!

I am coming up on my first anniversary of taking paid clients and this was my first solo wedding ( with my daughter as my assistant). My camera bag is ever evolving, right now I shoot with a Nikon D700 with a battery grip, 50mm 1.4, 105 mm 2.8 macro and a Holga. I recently purchased a Minolta Maxxum 9000 film camera and I am looking forward to experimenting with that.

Although I am grateful for the immediate feedback digital photography gives me in enabling me to learn the technical side of the craft, computers make me cry! I am always striving to keep my editing as simple as possible. I use Elements 9 right now, I will upgrade soon, but it scares me (pathetic I know) Every photo shoot my goal is to get more exactly right in camera than I did the last time. I shoot raw so I will tweak in raw and then my edits usually include a levels adjustment if needed and then I go for softer tones so I will usually use the brighten/ contrast layer and take up the brighten slightly and take down the contrast. I quite often use a golden warming layer too. I often desaturate a bit too. On a limited number of images I will use a gradient layer.

This wedding was a great first experience for me. Ashley and Dan were so easy going and I knew a few members of the wedding party. The ladies gathered early in the morning to get ready at the brides home with lots of laughter, make-up and hair product, and a lovely breakfast. The bride gave her bridesmaids beautiful vintage teacups that photographed wonderfully against their yellow dresses [see cover]. After the ceremony, pictures were taken down by the river on the same spot they became engaged.


May 21, 2011

Introducing Jenn Thompson...

By Jenn Thompson

I  love being able to capture a moment for someone that makes them smile every time they look at it.
I can’t start off by saying that I knew I wanted to be a photographer since I was a little girl, because I didn’t. I mean I always enjoyed taking pictures but never thought I would one day become a photographer. I can remember riding in the back seat and looking out the window and noticing how beautiful certain things were. I would see a tree in the distance and wonder what it would be like to lay under that tree or I would see fields of corn, which seem to be everywhere when I lived in the Midwest for part of my childhood, and I would wonder what it would be like to run in them. Just certain things caught my eye and my imagination would run wild. I look back now and wish I had a picture of that tree from my childhood. Certain things will always remain in your memory but a picture of that memory is even better. Because it tells a story, you get a feel for that time in your life, just by looking at it and it takes you back.

I moved to Las Vegas when I was 9. So for the most part I guess I grew up here. I met my husband in 2003 and we married in 2007. In July 2008 I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Emme Jeanine. She is what changed me. Growing up my parents never took pictures and I don’t recall ever having any photos hanging on the walls or displayed in frames throughout the house. When I brought Emme home I couldn’t believe I had created life. And I couldn’t believe how fast she would change from a newborn to a baby, then a child and before I knew it young women.

I wanted to capture every moment I could of her life. I wanted to remember how tiny her hands and feet were at one time, and how she looked on her first day of preschool and every moment in between and after. I loved her and I began to really love photography. So I bought my first nice camera, a Nikon D60 and enrolled in a beginning photography class at the community college. I learned how to set my camera in manual mode and what that meant. I also learned how to find light and how to capture a moment.

I did struggle for quite some time with the camera settings. It just didn’t make sense to me for the longest time. But the more I went out and shot the more I got it. I think at this point you could say photography found me. All I did was surround myself with photography websites and blogs. I also wrote to a few favorite photographers and asked them for advice. I joined an online photography forum, clickinmoms and I attended multiple workshops. I started out shooting as much as I could. I would take pictures for friends and family and of course my daughter Emme was my main subject. I just fell in love with it. I loved being able to capture a moment for someone that would make them smile every time they looked at it.

I then learned all the aspects of starting my own business. Once I started getting clients I saved up and bought a Nikon D300s and a 24-70mm lens. I use this lens for every session and love it. My sweet spot is at f/f 2.8. Love the look of a blurry back ground and the subject the only thing in focus.

My next lens on my wish list would be the 85mm f/1.8. I have found that I enjoy taking pictures of children most. I love their innocence. They are such happy people to be around. I especially love newborns. There is no greater reward than being able to share such a beautiful moment in a couple’s life.

My advice for anyone starting out would be to surround yourself with photography. You don’t have to have a fancy camera to start out, you just have to have passion. Shoot as much as you can. It can be whatever. The more you shoot the better you will get.

The images we capture tell the stories of our lives. Life is short. I want my children to someday share what I captured of their childhood years with their babies. I too want to look back someday when I am old and see myself as a young mother with the children I once raised. We can’t get back or relive moments. I want to be able to give my grandbabies my story. A picture really is worth a thousand words.


May 19, 2011

Top 5 Reasons Your Clients Should Book a Professional Session

5. Does It Really Make Sense To Take The Pictures Yourself?

How many of you have ever thought "why hire a professional to do something I can do myself?" when contemplating booking a professional photo session? Yes we live in a day and age where the digital camera is just as common in the household as a toaster and with scrap booking and photography such fast growing trends, there are a lot of moms out there documenting every second of their family's lives. But there is a BIG difference between family snapshots, and nice professional family photos. And let's face it, even a professional photographer, like myself, can't always take ALL the photos themself, there's really only so much you can capture with a tripod and a timer. I have hired professional photographers a number of times to take our family photos because even though I can, and have, taken our photos myself before, I can't really get the candid, emotional shots that I love when I'm trying to be both in front of and behind the camera. Plus, a professional knows how to get that perfect shot that can really bring a photograph to life.

So even if it's only once a year, it really is a smart (and stress-free) investment to hire someone else to take your family pictures for you. 

4. They're Worth Making Time For

There are 365 days, 52 weeks and 12 months in every year. If you can't find ONE day out of all of that to book a professional portrait session, then you need to better prioritize your time. Photos are an investment, in a fast paced, hectic world, a picture is able to stop time in it's tracks and freeze a moment forever. There are so many life changing and memorable experiences in life, how can we NOT find time to capture them? Weddings, graduations, baby's being born, baby blessings, birthdays, family reunions, anniversaries etc. Far too often do I hear people telling me how they regret that they never got newborn photos taken of their babies, or that they haven't had a family photo taken since their oldest daughter was one, 12 years ago!

It's easy to let time slip by, if you allow it, but a family portrait session is the perfect reason to put your crazy lives on hold, come together as a family and capture a moment you can cherish and look back on forever.

3. You Can Be Photogenic Too!

I know a lot of people who don't prefer to be in photos because they don't like the way they look or think they're not photogenic. I think this is a selfish mind set. Photos aren't always just of one person, and if you haven't booked a family portrait because you don't like how you look, then you're depriving both yourself and your family of important memories. I can understand being insecure and that a photograph can be a very vulnerable thing, but having a nice photo taken of yourself can also be an uplifting and empowering experience. Often times people don't like how they look in photographs because they over think it and look awkward and stiff. A good photographer knows how to capture people of all different shapes and sizes. We know how to work with angles, lighting and posing that is flattering to you and will make you look good in photographs. If you have a good photographer and vocalize your insecurities with them, they will help you to feel comfortable and confident during your session and the more comfortable and natural that you feel, the more you will like how you look.

2. Because You Can't Afford To "Weight"

Most people who feel they are overweight don't like getting photos taken of themselves. Far too often I hear people say "I really want family photos taken....but I want to lose x numbers of pounds first", or "I want to take pics with my newborn, as soon as I get the baby weight off". Next thing they know it's been years and they still haven't had a portrait taken, family or otherwise. Losing weight can be a difficult and timely process, and while I can understand wanting to be in shape for your pictures, at the same time, if you wait til you're "perfect" you may never get pictures taken again. I still have clients I'm "waiting' on that keep telling me their gonna get photos taken soon, "just a few more pounds" they tell me, yet I've been hearing that for years, all the while precious time and memories are passing them by. Their kids don't have any recent photos of their parents and all the "family" pictures are missing mom or dad. I think it's all about priorities and what's really important. Wanting to look super thin for your pictures while passing up multiple opportunities to document the years with your family, or being a little heavy but having years of photos with your family as they grow? Again, if you find a good photographer, and express your weight concerns with them, they will help you feel and look good in your photographs.

And the number 1 reason people shouldn't shy away from getting professional photos taken is....

1. Money

Yes, professional photography can be expensive, but let's talk about why. As a professional photographer I work and have been working extremely hard to learn and improve my skill and knowledge. Photography is an art form, an expression of ones personality, attitude and style. A good photographer knows how to capture someone in their true and unique form. There are a lot of people out there who think that a nice camera=nice photos, but that is simply not the case. While photography is about learning, knowing and understanding your camera, it is also about lighting, posing, angles, knowing how to frame and capture your subject and it's about learning how to deal with and interact with people. Making people feel comfortable, look natural and be themselves in front of a camera. There is a technical, a creative and a business aspect of photography and not all photographers are mastered in all three aspects. A good photographer is in touch with their own personal style and flare but doesn't limit themselves to one particular way of shooting. Photography truly is an art from that is not only learned, but discovered, inspired and mastered.

Photography is also expensive on the photographer's end. We have constantly evolving products we have to keep up with, and camera equipment isn't cheap. Camera bodies alone can be $1000's of dollars, then we've got all the different lenses that allow us to capture images differently and uniquely. We've got lighting, props, camera accessories etc. If you want nice professional images, you need a photographer who has high quality equipment. Everything we own and use costs money, and we have to factor in our time as well. For me, photography is my lively hood, it's my full time job and main source of income. I am extremely passionate about what I do and have taken years to develop my talent. I work hard to ensure that each session is a fun and genuine experience, so underselling myself wouldn't be fair to me or my clients. Often times in the photography world what you pay for, is what you get. If you choose to be cheap and go with someone who charges next to nothing, then chances are, that's what you're going to get... Discount photos that often lack a lot of style, professionalism and quality.

Professional photos are an important investment worth making time for, and if you have to, saving up for, because you know what they say...

"...A picture is worth a thousand words".