I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

Britney Spears Inspired

Often we have a lot of fun adapting a famous person’s pose into my subject’s vision. This image of Jen came from one of Britney Spears's famous photo shoots. She has actually inspired a large number of our clients. We can always tell when there is an increased airing of her schoolgirl video!
Some of the appeal of Britney’s images is they tease, they come up to the edge of naughty but don’t crassly crossover. If you look at the style range of her images it really covers the board. Of course part of that is we are seeing her grow up so if you timeline her images there is evidence of a progression, a growth. She doesn’t go back and repeat herself.

Her breasts are hidden just enough to be able to grace a magazine, but daring enough to keep people taking. Even in doing nudes, she winds up showing less than many would in a string bikini. She handles playful, mischievous, temptress, and even the innocent with ease.

Perhaps that is why her images are so often pulled to inspire, she pokes at boundaries in a way that safely tests them but still comes off daring. The women that come into my studio are looking for the same thing. Miss Spears does the same thing but for a larger audience. She seems to have a successful feel or pulse of what boundaries to stay just shy of. 

December 23, 2005 in insight | Permalink | TrackBack

Joy of Photographing Children

Children are so mercurial. In the span of a moment their expressions flee across wide-eyed wonderment, to spontaneous glee, to curiosity, to concern, often ending in screaming mayhem. Then it can as rapidly transverse back through it all in a different order.

Cool_kid_markAt the young ages only the brave or foolish ask a child to smile for the camera, the exaggerated stretching or scrunching of the face is often accompanied by unique body language. We had one little girl in who responded to her mom’s smile request by turning sides ways, lifting her camera side shoulder as high as it could go, squeezing her face into the raised shoulder then showed us so much teeth and gums her eyes disappeared.

A friend of mine had a 2year old girl in who could best be described as kinetic energy with legs. The best image her mom ever had of her was a blur half out of camera frame. His solution was to slip a slender book under a tall stool’s leg, making it very wobbly. With camera ready, mom plopped her daughter on the unsteady stool. The unstable stool wobbled; instantly the little girl froze in wide-eyed surprise at the unexpected.

His motor drive recorded 5 frames before she adapted to the new possibilities and was away. Her mother was as thrilled as you could imagine with those 5 frames!

Most often though, us photographers wait with adrenaline pumping for those moments that work nestled between so many that don’t. We just have to capture such a tiny slice of time to make the whole session so worth while.

Their poor parents leave remembering all the moments that didn’t work, worried about the outcome, photographers go about processing all the in between images that did.

Very young children instinctively know the power they hold and they practice wielding it in often amusing ways. Although usually not so amusing to their parents at the time.

I always enjoy watching parents first view their child’s images, its usually through tears. Those wonderful mercurial moments give the images such depth, and joy.

August 8, 2005 in insight | Permalink | TrackBack

Up In Flames

flames2Her husband was a Cowboy; boots, buckles, hats and bronc busting trophies. Didn’t talk much, I remember that from when Susan brought him in to see her images on the big screen, after the unavailing of the large glamorous wall image she had chosen as the best.

Hardly said a word but nodded a fair bit. As they left, an ecstatic Susan pulled me aside and exclaimed, “He loved them, I rarely see him this talkative, thank you!” And off they went.
Now the story picks up several months later. In the course of a visit conversation Susan mentioned a small fire had started in the ranch house. She was chuckling at her husband’s expense as she explained what he had collected after she was safely out of the house and before he dealt with the fire.

His best boots, a prized belt buckle and her large wall portrait.

I said, “Gee, (yup actually said gee) you know I have the original negative, I could have printed up another image for you. You could have saved something else.”

Sam looked puzzled then said, “You could have, but that was the one she gave me, the other would just have been one you printed up.”

Visually, you would not be able to tell the difference between the two. But Sam was right, the one he saved was more valuable to him. She had given it to him and that made the difference. Big enough difference that it was worth saving over other mementos in a fire. (Sam did get the fire out before it got big enough to damage anything, thought you would like to know.)

Art that touches us, especially art that reflects us, is like that. All the important connections to it happenflames1 under the surface. A stranger looking at your image might sense but not see it, someone who knows you can almost touch it, if its done right.

That is the fun of creating a photographic portrait when your subject trusts you. As an artist you get to explore who they are on film so deeply that people special to them find it resonates with the honesty of the real person.

Maybe a way to consider buying art or photographic portraits is, if my house caught on fire, would I save this from the flames?

August 24, 2004 in insight | Permalink | TrackBack

An Author's Image

scottelaineElaine and Scott Parker, a sci-fi writing team, were in posing for their new dust jacket portraits. Engaging brother and sister collaborators, they see the world in a delightfully mirthful way. The images we created for their new book portrayed their engaging connection with readers and fans. As we wrapped up Scott was asking why it is that some authors, the names he mentioned were very well known, successful writers, had such unflattering images. These images, he explained, did not reflect the life of the book or of the writer, as he knew them.

“Is it that some people just always look bad in photographs?” It’s an interesting point. I don’t think so. Just look at the images Karsh has taken as examples. Most of his subjects were not especially good-looking people yet he had their essence oozes out of his images. So, no, it is other factors. Perhaps the level of photographer they choose, or the constraints they put the photographer under.

Or, as likely, both photographer and author might not really understand the power and purpose of that dust jacket photo.

Now some do. The ones that really do often fill the whole back cover with their image. Clive Cussler, leaning jauntily on one of his antique cars, looking like the man who lived the book’s adventure. (His storied cars are almost characters unto themselves). Tom Clancy’s photo op is usually on an aircraft carrier flight deck, complete with jacket and cap. It suggests he knows this life he writes about, probably even has inside info blurring the fact and fiction of his books.

Joan Collin’s image pretty much identifies the nature of her books. The list of authors on both sides of the topic parades endlessly.

What evolved from the discussion was that the portraits of the authors need to connect with the potential reader. Give the reader the feeling that this person is not just a storyteller but tells a story that will touch the values of the reader.

While Scott instantly saw how this would really help to sell more books, it also shows what all portraits should do.

All portraits should tell your story. In a glance it should tell people about you, project what you want to express. Not necessarily for the world audience, but for your family and friends. Even to reaffirm who you are to yourself.

Every image of you is, after all, an image to the dust cover of your life! Make yours interesting enough that people will want to the story behind the image.

August 8, 2004 in insight | Permalink | TrackBack