Monday, December 29, 2008

Joshua and Jeremiah: Take Two{Allen Texas Senior Photography, McKinney Senior Photography}

We finished up our Senior session with Joshua and Jeremiah this afternoon.  Sorry, no exotic cars this time around.  In fact, there were no major tricks up my sleeve at all.  I left that up to Jeremiah. 

Take a look!

Pretty cool, huh!

Joshua and Jeremiah, your whole session was so much fun.  I really enjoyed spending time with you and your mom!  Here are a few more images until I get your client gallery up.  Be on the look out for that later this week via Hoosier internet!

Before I sign off, I wanted to be sure to pass along my congratulations to the Allen High School Football team for winning the state championship this year! Way to go!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Great Expectations

In this season when many of us celebrate the birth of Jesus and look forward to the festivities that come along with all the holiday celebrations, Jason and Shannon's family is expecting a little arrival of their own.  Baby number four is due to arrive early January, but by the looks of Shannon's blossoming bump, they just may have a Christmas baby in their own family.

I wanted to let you all know that this will be my last post until after the 29th.  I'll be checking my email, so if you still want to get in on the Senior Promotion, it's not too late.

Now, seeing as this lovely family has to wait awhile until I can get their client gallery up, I decided to give them an extra special sneak peak.  It is the season of giving after all.

I had a wonderful time with you guys!  Enjoy!

I saved my favorite for last...

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Foreground Interest

Usually, when getting to know someone, it helps to know a little bit about them so we can judge for ourselves whether or not they are someone we want to get to know better.  We run down our list of 20 questions asking increasingly more personal questions as the time goes on.  We seek to establish trust and common ground - a connection.  

Often the best way to figure someone out is to learn about their past - where they've been, what they've done and where they've come from. We ask about their families: Do they have siblings?  Are they an only child? We ask about their hobbies: Do they like to go camping?  Do they like Rock and Roll or Country music?  We interview them so to speak. 

This interchange may take five minutes.  It may take 5 hours.  But, at the end of that first conversation, we pretty much know whether or not we want to pursue a friendship with that person.  With that in mind, most of us usually put our very best foot forward when meeting new people.  We want them to like us.  We want them to give us a second chance.  

So it is with photography. 

When a photographer makes an image, they hope that the image will make people want to take a second look.  They want people to be intrigued with the art they've created.  They want the story they tell to be compelling enough to keep people coming back for more.  They hope their images get people talking about them - in a good way.

There are many ways to accomplish this, but one in particular has to do with using the foreground to enhance the image.  Just like our personal history provides a glimpse into the rest of our story, the foreground can help to tell your image's story - as in these images below:

In this first image, the placement of the dog in the foreground adds to the fun of the picture - as does the dollop of soap suds on his head.  That the dog is even in the image at all tells us that this particular pet is an important part of the family - so much so that he has the privilege of getting in on the bubble bath too.  His presence also adds insight into this bubble-bath-jumping boy's life.  Suddenly you know more about this boy than you would have otherwise.

Ah, Aldi Bear!  Not only can you tell that she likes playing t-ball, but you can tell that she LOVES playing t-ball with the boys.  Had our little buddy not been in the foreground of this image, you might speculate that her expression is one of pride - a "Yea! I did it!" sort of grin.  But by including her pal in the foreground, that expression suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.  And it doesn't take much detective work to figure out what's going through her mind!  

See how much more interesting things can be when we pay attention to the foreground?

Adding foreground interest is not solely for telling a story.  It can also help to add a sense of depth or size to an image.  Take a look at these examples below:

The flags in the foreground in this image help to emphasize the height of the Wrigley Building in Chicago.  It helps to know that the flag poles themselves are massive.  Seeing the building towering above them almost makes my neck hurt.

You landscape photographers will love this one.  I took this image while hiking in Yosemite National Park.  Including these boulders in the foreground of the image helped to give a sense of depth and enormity to the distant mountains below.  With that frame of reference, you realize just how high up I was.  Had I taken this image right at the edge without including any of the boulders in the foreground, the image would not be nearly as dramatic.

What I wouldn't give to be sitting on those beach chairs right now! While I love the color in this image, it doesn't quite do it for me. There's zero depth.  It's way too flat looking for my taste.

Now, that's much better!  Do you see how adding the boy in the foreground and placing the girl between the boy and the chairs helps to add a 3 dimensional quality?  Flat and boring no more!  Not only has depth and dimension been added, but also a sense of place, energy, and adventure.  You now feel like you are part of the story - like you are right in the middle of it all doging the flinging mud.  

Isn't this foreground stuff fun!

There's still more.  I want to show you one more way to use foreground interest to impact your images.  At times I like to use tall grasses or bushes in the foreground to frame my subject and add a dreamy feel to the image.  Let's use Julie as our model this time around.

In this first image, I shot through the tall grasses framing the shot so that just her face was free of the foreground distraction.  Since the bottom half of the image is lighter, your eye is drawn to the darker part of the image where her face and smile just happens to glow.

In this image I love how the tall grasses mimic the motion of the wind blowing through her hair.  Again, I left her face mostly free of the grasses to draw attention where it should be.  This is definitely a creative shot where you'll either love it or hate it.  Can you guess where I stand?

That about covers it.

Of course, I can't resist one last example: Meet Candy Cat (our neighbor's cat who sometimes thinks he's our cat).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Senior Promotion

The rest of Julie's pictures are up on my site now.  Now it's your turn to get in on the fun!  Schedule your Senior session before December 31st and receive $50 off your session fee.  Sessions do not need to take place before the end of December to qualify, but you do need to reserve your date.

It gets better:  Referrals = Free Prints

Know Jeremiah, Joshua, or Julie?  Be sure to mention who referred you when booking your session.  That person will receive a free 5x7 for each person they refer who completes their Senior session with us.  (The same offer is available to you once your session is completed.) 

One last thing: We are also currently looking for one or two more senior models for our portfolio.  Give us a call and we'll give you the scoop.

We look forward to meeting you!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Julie {Allen Texas Senior Photography, McKinney Senior Photography}

Julie's mom called me to schedule her senior pictures shortly after Joshua and Jeremiah's mom told her about me.  Julie also swims for Allen High School and will be going to college this fall on both a swim and academic scholarship.  It amazes me how dedicated and hardworking all three of these teens are.  Way to go, guys!

The plan was to drive out to the Arboretum for Julie's session, but the blustery winds called for a quick plan B.  We were able to hang out in Allen for most of the shoot.  The wind made it feel like we were in a studio with big fans blowing through our hair.  It actually made for some great shots.  We finished off the session in Frisco for a change of scenery.

Julie, your pictures turned out so awesome!  You are such a pretty girl.  I can't wait for you to see the rest of them.  They should be up on my site by Tuesday evening.  In the meantime, here are the four I promised you for your facebook page.

If you are a friend of Julie's checking out her pics on my blog, be on the lookout for my Senior Picture Special Announcement coming soon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Filling the Frame

When taking pictures, one of the mistakes often made is not daring to get close enough to your subject.  We either convince ourselves that we shouldn't invade their personal space, or that we need to have lots of the background in the picture.  It could almost be said that we are afraid to get "up close and personal".  

If you are hesitant to shoot up close, you are not alone.  Once, after I sent a picture to my mom, she asked me this question: "Why did you cut Stephen's forehead off?"  My response: "I wanted to see more of his adorable face and capture those big huge eyes."  Since then she has warmed up to my tighter crops and has even learned to appreciate the dramatic affect it has on a portrait.

I'll admit it.  It is definitely a look you may have to grow to appreciate. Once you're convinced this is the style for you, there are two ways to go about achieving this look.  First, you could invest in a good zoom lens and let it do the work while you keep your distance.  Or, second, you could save a chunk of change and just suck it up and move your own body just a little bit closer to your subject.  The choice is yours.  Either way, close the gap!  

Still not convinced?  Take a look online or in a magazine at celebrity portraits or commercial makeup ads.  I think you'll agree that some of the most powerful portraits are those that fill the frame with the subject's face.

For example, take a look at the picture I posted above.  It is one of my favorite portraits of my niece.  It totally captures the emotion of the moment and her joyful, energetic outlook on life.  I LOVE it!  Had I not cropped in so tightly, I would have totally missed the moment.  The larger-than-life crop just oozes emotion.  

Maybe a couple before and after examples will help seal the deal.  The images below also help to show the difference a tighter crop can make. Take a look.

By the way, in case you are growing weary of seeing pictures of my children on this blog, I offer only one excuse: They happen to be THE most available models I have for teaching these lessons.  (It's a convenience thing.)  Besides, how could you NOT love looking at these adorable little faces?  Give me more!  That's what I say.

Don't you agree?  In this last picture, I just want to eat her up.  The first one's cute, but this last one makes Alden's bubbly face just jump off the page right into my heart.  These pictures of my son Stephen have the same affect.  It will have the same affect on your client's heart-strings as well!  Why not take one portrait from far off and another one from closer in and increase your print sales by presenting them to your client in a 2 hole frame! Two prints ordered instead of one: Ka-ching!

One thing to keep in mind when filling the frame like this is to make sure you get it "in camera" the way you want it to be printed out.  Sure, you could crop a photo that was taken at a wider perspective AFTER you download it using Photoshop, but doing so may significantly reduce the resolution of the image - and that translates into a loss of sharpness.  You don't have to mess with all that.  Just get it right the first time.

So, you see, just like in a relationship, once you dare to get "just a little bit closer", the rewards are usually so worth the risk!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Michael and Jackie

My grandmother had 40 grandchildren.  Other than my youngest brother Bryan, my cousin Michael is the last to be married.  After pursuing his doctorate degree he and his fiance Jackie are finally getting married in a couple weeks.  I'm so happy for them.

I had the pleasure of taking their engagement pictures while visiting my parent's home this past Thanksgiving.  Though they found each other a little later in life, it's really neat to see how perfect God's timing can be.  

I can't wait to go to their wedding!  From what Michael says, they're going to have a bon-fire of sorts at the reception.  Now, that will be something to see!  They are very much into all things outdoors (which is why our engagement picture setting was perfect for them).  

Jackie is having a local seamstress design her wedding dress.  It was important to her that she support her local economy.  That speaks volumes about her giving heart.  My mind is spinning trying to figure out what the dress will look like.  One thing is for certain, Jackie is going to be quite the stunning bride.  Together she and Michael will be such a handsome bride and groom.

Congratulations, you two!  I can't think of anyone more suited for you Michael!  Jackie's the best!  And, Jackie, everyone who sees these pictures just LOVES your hair!  I have to agree.  You are quite beautiful.


My only regret on this last image is that I didn't see the distraction of the tree trunk growing out of Jackie's head.  Apparently, I was too busy trying to keep warm.  I included it anyway for a very special reason. Just take a look at the expression between the two of them.  The image doesn't do the moment justice.  When I witnessed Michael loving on Jackie like this (He seemed to melt into her, breathing her in.), I almost felt like I was intruding on a very private moment.  I'm glad I was there to capture it for them though.  

What I wouldn't give to have had this emotion captured between my husband and I in our engagement portraits.  I know this will be a special memory for them for years to come.  There will never be a doubt in Jackie's mind that Michael is completely enamored with her.  Now, that's a gift!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Surprise! {Allen Texas Senior Photography, McKinney Senior Photography}

Meet Joshua and Jeremiah - twins from Allen Senior High School. They both compete on the swim team, are active in our church's youth group, and are two of the nicest young guys that I've met in a really long time.  (Their mom's top notch, too!)

When planning their senior session I ran a brilliant idea past their mom that I told her I wanted to be a a surprise for the boys.  I just happen to have THE BEST clients in the world and one such family agreed to meet up with us on our session WITH THEIR TWO LAMBORGHINIS!  Now that's what I call a super senior session!

When I told Josh and Jeremiah's mom about it, she was ecstatic! Maybe it was unfair of me to ask her to keep it a secret for so long (about three weeks), but it sure was worth all her pain and suffering once the boys heard those engines pulling up.  Talk about a great surprise!  I've never seen so much texting going on.  I think I enjoyed it just as much as they did.

Before I post more pictures of the boys, I wanted to post a picture of THE MAN OF THE HOUR - our man Clint.  A special shout out goes to Clint and his beautiful wife Charlie for being so generous with their cars - and especially their time.  The cars were spotless.  Simply Gorgeous! We appreciate you SO VERY much!  (Isn't he the coolest!)

For those of you who live in Allen, be sure to give this guy a friendly wave if you see him driving around town.  But please, DO NOT ask him if you can drive his car to your prom.

Now, I'm about to do what I have never done before here on my blog...I'M GOING TO POST A TON OF PICTURES...I just can't help myself.  These two guys are so stinking good looking.  And, I'm pretty sure this will go down in my books as one of the best photo shoots ever!

Here you go, guys!

Alright you two, you know what to do.  Spread the word.  Talk me up to all your friends over there at church and AHS.  While your at it, be sure to tell your friends to check out this blog and let them know they can brush up on some fantastic photography tips while they're here.  It's a regular feature.


p.s.  Thanks for hooking me up with these two remarkable young people, Jason.