Monday, December 12, 2016


It’s always fun to photograph a family over the years and watch the kids grow up.  I’ve been photographing Roger and Debbie and their kids for many years now.  We had arranged to meet at one of my favorite areas to shoot, however, a community parade route changed our plans and blocked access to our shooting location.  

I quickly called them and told them to stay put until I found our new location.  Our new location had lots of scenic places and while the family were en route, I quickly walked the area and choose three to shoot at.  There were several other photographers already there, so I wanted to choose some unique locations.  
The last area I choose was by a lake, which by itself seems like it should have been scenic, but really most would have dismissed as too crowded and ugly.  There were at least 50 people fishing at the edge of the lake, lots of trash cans, signs and lunch tables.  It wasn’t pretty.  But I saw something.  

I’m not great at behind the scenes images, I’m focused on creating great in front of the camera images. This time, however, I did take a quick photo of just a little bit of the view to show how a change in perspective can change everything.  

And that’s a thought that can be applied to just about anything.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Pro Photographer's Quick Tips: How to Prepare for your Upcoming Family Portrait

I am often asked about the best ways to prep for photo sessions, so I thought I'd share a little advice to help you get ready for your time in front of my lens.  Lots of people can take great pictures, but if you are investing the time and money to hire a professional photographer to create artwork for and of your family, take the time beforehand to prepare for your portrait.  

Prepare yourself for your portrait ahead of time:

Prepping ahead of time allows you to be relaxed the day of your appointment.  Gather your clothing, press it, make sure you have everything you need ready to go.  Ahead of time.  If you are planning on a haircut, schedule it a week ahead so that your hair has time to relax (are you seeing a trend?)  Avoid drinking alcohol or smoking a few days before, instead, drink plenty of water to hydrate your skin which will minimize lines and wrinkles.  Make sure everyone gets adequate sleep the night before to appear rested and you guessed it...relaxed!

Decide what everyone will wear, ahead of time:

I think the rules about what to wear are flexible.  Everyone doesn't need to match; would you all go out to dinner all matchy-matchy?  Didn't think so. Do think about making sure that everyone GOES together--I like to tell people to pretend you are preparing one BIG outfit.  But if you are a bright and bold family, then be bright and bold.  More importantly, choose clothing that fits well, is clean and pressed.  Lay out your clothing and accessories ahead of time.  Choose the colors that look best on you--everyone has something in their closet that is always complimented.  Compliment your body--if you'd like to appear slimmer, keep in mind that darker colors tend to be slimming.

What about hair and makeup? 

Makeup is subjective; if you don't normally wear makeup, don't apply it like Lady Gaga!  However, a concealer matched to your skin tone can provide an even skin tone. Stick with matte foundations, powders and eyeshadows: shiny makeup reflects too much light and can be distracting in camera.  For hair, put a little a smoothing product on your hands and lightly smooth down any frizzy strays.  This is a good time to use a professional makeup artist or hair stylist.  Important things to check for in the mirror before we shoot: stray eyebrows and nose hairs, dry lips and inner eye gunk!

The day of your portrait:

Try to plan a relatively calm day.  (That's where all this advance planning will help out!)  Many times, our portraits will be scheduled at times that may be meal times.  Try to keep sweets and sugar to a minimum, as it can wind kids up quickly, then they can crash just as quickly! It helps to fed the kids prior to our meeting time.  Feel free to bring along some snacks and drinks, both for you and the kids.  Think of this as playtime for your family--be ready to have a great time!  Most times, I've scheduled your appointment time based on the light, so it's really important to be on time.  Plan your arrival accordingly. 

When you schedule your appointment, we'll also start planning your session--location, clothing, props, everything that will make your session great!  Great sessions require a little planning-don't worry!  I'll help guide you through it all. 

Have more questions or ready to schedule?  Send me an email or give me a call!  Talk to you soon!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Why Hire a Professional Anything?

Last week I read a blog post by Nate Berkus.  You know, THE Nate Berkus, interior designer extraordinaire.  It was on the 5 perks of hiring an interior designer and I got to thinking about how that might apply to photography.  I mean, there are lots of people with a good eye, right--AND a good camera?!!

But why hire a professional anything? And in the case of photography, why hire a professional photographer?

When you hire a professional anything--plumber, interior designer, attorney, personal trainer, doctor, are hiring someone who has learned and worked their skill.  Obviously there are certain professionals that must have a formal education--I don't know about you, but when I'm having dental work done, I don't want just anyone with a pair of pliers! Most likely, professional anything have an education in their field.  They keep abreast of new trends and skills through continuing education.  They may have a degree or certification in their field that provides academic knowledge or have spent a good amount of time in an apprenticeship or internship working and learning through many years of experience, providing real world skills.

What does hiring a professional photographer for visual solutions provide?  Education and experience  of a professional provides:

The ability to deliver what you need and the ability to collaborate on a plan to get there
The ability to work with and within a budget
Someone who works with efficiency and minimal disruption
The ability to create the proper licensing terms
Someone who can meet deadlines.
Someone who can provide consistent results.
Someone who will collaborate on marketing your brand and deliver the quality that will exceed your competition's.

This is my job and I have a professional investment in your satisfaction.  Finding the right photographer can be challenging--Have more questions?  Drop me a line!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Editorial Corporate Headshots: How to Choose Your Images

Everyday, we are bombarded with images of all sorts.   My goal is create the ones for you that will stop the viewer in their tracks and make them want to get to know YOU.  But, how do you pick those images?

After my corporate shoots, I release a proof gallery for image selection.  I already know which images my clients should pick--they are the images that will make the viewer stop and take a second look. But images in the proof gallery are unedited so sometimes it's challenging for a client to see how great the final result will be.  To give my clients a head start, the image I choose as the proof gallery cover image is often one of my favorites and I choose it based on certain criteria:

1.  A connection--most likely with the eyes.

2.  A natural smile or laugh.  I'm not usually a fan of the smirk or a non smiling image.  It works in some cases, but I feel the better images will most likely have a smile going on.

3.  There is a sense of confidence and approachability.  That sense of "I know that person!"

4.  Communicating a bit of personality that shows though.  A sense of "realness".

5.  A simple and clean image, usually more about the person, with background filling in a few details.

When looking at your proof images, apply my criteria:  now can you see THE images?

I do understand that it's tough for most regular people to be in front of a camera--for most people, the thought of having their headshot taken is stressful--I like to joke that it's why models get paid the big bucks.

My goal is to make it as easy and as fun as possible, so that I can create that connection and capture your best images to stop people in their tracks.

See you soon!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Where Should We Shoot Your Headshot?

I get that question a lot--where should I have my headshot taken?  My answer is dependent on the look you are trying to convey or the business you are in.  Are you in a traditional business environment? A more casual business?  Do you want to help tell the story about what you do and who you are or simply focus on you?

Many companies that I work for like to show their office culture or tell a story about what their business is.  I often shoot in or around their offices and this works well, especially when I'm shooting larger numbers of people in a day.  I come to the office, find my location and it's a breeze to schedule multiple employees.

However, when I'm shooting individuals, we have more flexibility with locations.  I do limit distractions in the background while still giving the viewer information about the subject.  Last week, during a conversation with a city council candidate, I recommended a couple of well known locations in the city for his background, which would show the viewer this is a candidate of the city.

Several weeks ago, I shot an IT executive at her home.  I like shooting in my client's homes or offices because they feel comfortable in familiar surroundings.  Most people are already apprehensive about having their portrait taken and this takes the element of unfamiliar surroundings out of the equation.  As usual, I brought both backgrounds and portable lighting with me, just in case.  While I do come prepared,  I also know that in most cases, I'll be able to find simple light or dark backgrounds in most home or office situations.  It's not always the case to find those backgrounds with the right light, so I make sure I'm prepared to create my own if necessary.  In this case, I found a lovely bank of windows as well as the background.

A quick test shot with my hairstylist using the background I brought yields a more traditional portrait with absolutely stunning results.  For my client,  I wanted something a little less traditional with a little depth to the background.
Going outside lends a fresh and more casual feel.

Wherever we shoot, I'm looking to provide an engaging, approachable portrait and at the same time a fun and relaxed experience for my client.  

Where will we photograph your headshots?

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