Tuesday, March 31, 2009

AP/IB Senior Art Exhibition

Alden and I strolled through an art exhibit in Historic Downtown Plano last week featuring original art work from Plano, TX High School Seniors.  From paintings, to sculptures and even photography, this exhibit was AMAZING!  It was above and beyond my expectations.

If you're looking for some creative inspiration, stop by and see what these incredibly talented young people have created.  You won't be disappointed!

The ArtCentre of Plano Presents
Plano Independant School District
Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate 2009
1039 East 15th Street
Historic Downtown Plano
Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

for more information please call or visit their website.

The exhibit is free, but a $2 donation is appreciated.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Senior Pictures: Lauren{Allen Texas Senior Photography, McKinney Senior Photography}

Lauren's mom called last week to schedule her daughter's senior pictures.  She came as a referral from Julie's mom, so Julie earned herself a $35 print credit.  Thanks for the plug, Julie!

In preparing for Lauren's session I suggested to her mom that I would really love to see Lauren wear a pretty sundress.  She and Lauren were tickled because they had just come from Juicy at the Galleria and had purchased an adorable yellow sundress for Lauren's session.  Great minds think alike, I guess.  When she mentioned Lauren had cowboy boots, I was over-the-top excited.  I just knew this was going to be a FUN session - and boy was it!

Lauren is also on the swim team - the fourth swimmer I've had the privilege of taking senior pictures for so far this year.  All of them are in terrific shape.  With 15 hours of practice time each week, it's no wonder.  Swimming seems like the perfect form of exercise.  

Unfortunately, not being able to get my ears wet (and not being able to wear ear plugs) made swimming rather difficult for me.  To this day, I still swim like a drowning dog.  I'll just leave the swimming to you and your friends, Lauren.  Alas...I'm destined to exercise on land.

It was a pleasure spending the day with you and your mom, Lauren. Best wishes to you as you finish out the school year and then as you head out on your own.  There's a whole new world out there to discover, and I just know you're going to take it by storm!

I hope you enjoy your session sneak-peek.  Notice how I tried to pay tribute to the love of scrap-booking you share with your mom?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dina Marie: Interview Part II

I know several of you have been waiting for me to finish up Dina's interview.  It's been a crazy couple of weeks, so I really appreciate your patience.  I promise it will be worth your wait.  So, grab a cup of tea, a glass of wine, a bottle of beer, or an ice cold cup of water (whatever floats your boat) and make yourself comfortable.  We're finishing this baby up today!

Let's move right into the question and answer part of this second installment of Dina's interview.

Kelly asks: What's in your camera bag?

  • Canon 5D
  • Canon 24-70 mm f/2.8 (great indoor lens for low light with a range so you can be in small spaces within client's homes)
  • Canon 50 mm f/1.8 (CHEAP and tack sharp)
  • Canon 85 mm f/1.2 (best portrait lens by far but slow so not good with moving subjects)
  • Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8(great when you want to shoot as an observer and not be in a child's face so much...)
  • Canon 100 mm f/2.8 (I initially bought for my florals but also found skin tones to be amazing, organic, and natural with it.)
  • Sigma 20 mm f/1.8 (wide angle specifically for wide beach shots)
  • Lensbaby 2.0
  • Lensbaby Composer (artful "selective focused" lens)
  • Holga film camera
  • Canon Speedlight 580EX (external flash with the Gary Fong diffuser for a softer flash - although I rarely use flash)
  • extra lens filter for my 24-70 covered with vaseline for artistic impressionistic shots
  • dum dum suckers for the kids (always!)  - Hey, you asked!
  • postcards in case I need 'em
  • lens cleaning cloths
  • battery box filled with batteries for my flash
  • battery charger
  • memory stick case
Man, that's one heavy photo bag, Dina!  I particularly love the vaseline on the extra lens filter idea.  Who woulda thought?  This list brings me to the next question Margaret had for you - that also ran through my own mind.

Margaret asks: Do you have a favorite lens? What makes that your favorite?

Dina:  My lens baby composer. It speaks to me the most for some reason.  I love the effect, and it feels like me.

Many of your images have an artistic flare to them, Dina.  You once told me that you don't do much in Photoshop.  After hearing all your tricks with vaseline and special lenses, I totally see how you are able to produce those artistic shots in camera.  

Margaret was especially interested in the "old effect" on many of your images.  She felt they gave the impression of peering through a faded window, looking back in time.  Here's her next question.

Margaret asks: How do you achieve that effect?  Which lens or post-processing technique do you use?

Dina I am not sure which shots you are referring to but I LITERALLY shoot through actual WINDOWS a lot and love to throw my lens into manual focus to deliberately blur an image.  Also, I love shooting through a zip lock baggy.  It creates a dreamy effect, but it is not easy...it takes practice.  I like using it over my 24-70 mm lens.

Very interesting...

So, I guess we need to add a box of zip-lock baggies and a jar of vaseline to your list of items in your camera bag as well.  You sure do have some creative techniques up your sleeve, Dina.  Those two ideas alone ought to keep us all busy for months on our next photography field trips.  That's so cool!

Let's finish up with the last of Margaret's questions.  I love that girl!  It's always great motivation to me to see someone so eager to learn new things.

Margaret wants to know:  How do you deal with harsh mid-day sun, especially when you don't have an assistant to help hold a reflector?

Dina:  I never shoot with assistants (unless it is a wedding) and try to avoid situations with lighting that makes it difficult.  I shoot from 9-11 a.m. or 3:00 p.m. and after.  This way the sun can act as a side light and is not directly overhead.  When indoors, the light will be on one side of the house and it makes it easier to utilize indirect window side light.  

Margaret:  Do you have any tips for getting toddlers and young children to cooperate for the camera?  With my experience, they seem to have a very short attention span and they lose interest after 15 minutes.

Dina  I try to understand their unique personalities relatively quick and always make sure to remind myself that they're all going to handle the camera differently.  I try to talk to them about things that interest them like their hobbies, teachers, sports, siblings, cartoons, favorite dolly, etc... I do this WHILE I am actually shooting to give them a comfort level.  Sometimes I am comfortable enough (in home) to ask the parents to "step out" for a few shots.  I tell kids secrets a lot and they are always silly.  If the child is old enough I sometimes ask them to think about something that MEANS something to them or a special thing but I tell them not to tell me what it is but to just think about it and look at me.  It really works. 

I really love that approach!  Coming off a seminar where we were encouraged to share sad stories about our cats (that we don't even own) running away or getting lost just in order to get a serious response and expression on a child's face, I have to say I much prefer your honest approach, Dina.

Each child is unique.  Each child does deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.  I guess the tickler and the rubber chicken have their place, but maybe those should be our last resorts -not our primary tool.  (Those of you who attended that conference with me know exactly what I'm talking about.)

Dina, I wanted to move on to a question from Stephanie.  She's the one who "introduced" me to your work, so it's important to me to include her in on this interview.  She's a huge fan of yours, fellow Californian, and new mommy to a beautiful baby girl.

Stephanie:  I'd like to ask about pricing structures and how to effectively market and network a referral/client base.  That seems to be the most difficult part of the business.

Dina:   I try to do a postcard mailing about three times a year to remind clients to update their photos.  I never run specials on the postcards.  It is purely for name recognition.  I have had a lot of success with postcards.  I have never had a small sized business card.  Postcards end up on their refrigerator (a good place!).  I also have a referral program.  For every paid referral, my clients get a free 5x7.  It may not seem like much but it does encourage them.  Also, this past year I started offering "Collections" (packages) that offer coffee table books, proof sets, framed pieces, dvd slideshow, etc.  It actually took the "guess work" out of it for many people and sales have been higher since.  I also offer ala carte prints.  There is an approx. $300 savings to go with a Collection.

That makes sense, Dina.  I myself am in the process of restructuring my pricing and specialty item offerings.  I'm facing some pretty big decisions.  There's more to it than I imagined, but I know in the long run it will be worth it.  I agree that it will take the guess work out of the ordering process for my clients.  

The post card mailing is also something I learned in my Building Your Own Photography Business course with Terry Wier.  He always stressed the importance of sending out postcard mailings.  He had some great advice to go along with that, but one that stands out was to send them out once every six weeks for six months.  That's how long it takes for name recognition to be established. 

That's great advice, Dina.  Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and insight with all of us. We look forward to checking out your site from time to time.

On that note, before I sign out, I did want to mention that Dina has a wonderful collection of fine art prints for sale on her website.  All of her work is stunning.  Simply lovely.  Check it out!