Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Approach to Portraiture

I have lots of posts to get up (look forward to a NEWBORN shoot (yep, that little darling below), the Photographer's Event at my Studio, and an Engagement Shoot, on location at the McCleary ORV Park!! lol)

But first...I wanted to talk about the email I just got from a "someday wannabe professional photographer" (lol) regarding my belly dancer images. He was just starting to do some of those types of images and felt like there was a lot of not-so-great work out there, and that his own vision of what great shots of belly dancers should look like, appeared a whole lot like MINE. Aww schucks, blush :)

So as I'm writing a reply, I take the opportunity to get introspective and long winded. I mean when your writing an email (or a blog for that matter) nobody can interrupt your winding thought process and everything just spewing out.

So here's sorta what I wrote, which turned into MY APPROACH TO PORTRAITURE!

Thanks for your email...belly dancers are so dang gorgeous in person that I suppose some photographers think it would be easy to take an excellent picture of them. A picture of something BEAUTIFUL is not the same thing as a beautiful PICTURE, I think all us photogs learn that. I think it really shows your photographic "chops" when you can create an image that rivals how it feels to be in the presence of the real thing. When I was approached by my very first belly dancing client, she explained that she did not want to look like a "harem girl" and showed me examples of images she liked. I looked at the kind of work that was out there and just took note of what I thought was gorgeous. I encourage you to keep doing the same!

I think it's also important to note that I'm very serious about my approach to portraiture and the energy exchange between the client and the photographer, the trust that needs to be built and the ability to allow the client to feel beautiful and shoot it. It's a very psychological thing, a photoshoot. I need their trust as well, so that I can relax and allow intuitive ideas to surface. Though obviously critical, I care less about f-stops and ISO, and care more about what fleeting moments happen that make me excited at the beauty I'm seeing and how much I want the client to know how beautiful they are. The shoot is not about us, the photographers, in my opinion, or satisfaction for our OWN sake. I mean maybe if your shooting inanimate objects or landscapes, but not portraiture.

I try to take myself out of it, to an extent. Ideally for me, I just let my style flow and my client shine. I try to think about just the things I have to, and empty my mind of anything I don't.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Last week I also got to do a senior photoshoot with Jessy! Though it was still superhot, we had very little problem finding great shots, and Jessy, being a most poised yet theatrical young woman, was an absolute dream to shoot. I wish you could hear her voice. I used to have a homebased medical transcription business and you could say I "listened" to doctors' voices for a living. It didn't surprise me one bit when Jessy told me she is a singer...she's got a speaking voice like CHOCOLATE! Smooth and rich!

. . . And I'm a sucker for beautiful seniors with retro style...

I told my husband that night that when we find our homstead on 2 acres, I am going to need a cement wall. And I was serious. I could have shot Jessy all day and I did think we go over by about 45 minutes!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Windy Senior Photoshoot with Katie!

If you live around here, you know that last weekend was SUPER HOT & SUNNY, a photographer's most challenging condition to shoot under. It's not that you don't have great spots or opportunities to take great shots, it's just that when it's overcast or cloudy, you have so many MORE options. We started Katie's shoot in her back yard with this amazing little red shed.

There were good pockets of shade here and
interesting textures to work with.

Next we went to Ruston and besides the sun, there was CRAZY wind! Experience and gut instinct helps me decide whether to work with a difficult location because the chance of a big payoff is possible, or when it's better to hop up, look around, and go to the next spot.

I love the effect of the wind in the shot above, at this great Ruston Way landmark, the gigantic sundial...

But we soon decided to mosy away from the waterfront and the wind subsided...and there is something to be said for the day's late afternoon shoot--light clouds began to slide across the sky and helped out with the light. I love Katie's eyes in this one!

Here's the kind of payoff that results from working with difficult conditions...a cool backlit wild hair whip shot!

All that hair whipping sure makes a girl

I really enjoyed hanging out with Katie and her photog enthusiast boyfriend, James. They were great people and are a great example of how I'm so blessed with this career! It really doesn't seem like work!

Mary Anna & Paul's Wedding!

So on May 10th I got to do my first wedding since January 5th, which signifies the official start of my Wedding Season! There was family from all over the country at this wedding; I'd never heard so many states mentioned at one rehearsal dinner in my life!

Adding to the excitement was the fact that Tacoma was holding a marathon that day--and the start and finish line were both basically right at the hotel where the wedding/reception was being held! Most of the runners were gone, however, by the time we went out on the terra cotta colored steps to do formals...

I had found this great brick wall as a plan "B" location...I love Paul's face after they all took a swig from their flasks!!

Always wanted to do this shot, but I was waiting to arrive at a location with just the right windows, and today, here they were!

And this fabulous arched doorway was just right across the street...

Caught this great moment of the B/G getting razzed by one of their guests on the street...

Formals in the courtyard that was full of runners just a few hours beforehand!

The best way to go, in my opinion, is doing formals before the ceremony, like we did here.

Late in the evening, Paul's dad got up and serenaded his son and his new bride!

Shooting from the hip is something I started as a miniature hobby; just randomly. It's important for me to experiment here and there to stay creative and spontaneous in my shooting. I also visualize the unfolding of the wedding day a couple of times the night before. A wedding day consists of many smaller events, i.e., the preparations, the formals, the family shots, the ceremony, the party... which is how I think about a wedding. Not one HUGE event...that would be stressful...just a multilayered day, not unlike the tasty wedding cakes which I enjoy a piece of when I can, as I shoot from the hip... :)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Look who I met at Tot's Wedding

My fabulous bride that you see up above at the top of my blog, is Tot. While shooting Tot's wedding last November, I met Jenee & Nick. We hit it off so I was excited when Jenee contact me about doing family pictures. Jenee was a little worried that her son might not be totally thrilled with getting his picture taken, but we were all assured this was not the case when he enthusiastically posed and ran from tree to tree for different shots! Here are some of my favs:

And I don't mean to embarass you Jenee & Nick, but one of the most striking things about you, and what I remember about you guys as guests at the wedding, was the chemistry/energy radiating from you two when you're together. It's kind of hard to explain, but there's an intensity to you as a couple that amazes me. Somebody should invent a machine that could measure whatever it is that you have! Then harness it, bottle it and sell it! lol

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Last week I got to photograph Heather for her senior photoshoot...I especially loved how the flower shots turned out and am partial to this asymmetric shot...Heather was awesome to photograph. She nailed the very first frame I shot of her, which is rare...the first frames I always consider "warm up" shots but she came confident and ready to go! Check out a few of my favorite shots...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Senior Shoot with Patrick!

This is Patrick. We did his senior shoot last week.

The first shot was taken in the parking lot. I don't waste any time!

Brick is timeless, so I'm always on the lookout for "great brick". I love this sepia shot of Patrick and his serious expression...

Patrick, I think you'd agree we had fun collaborating and coming up with ideas! Happy Graduation!!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

South Seattle Fun

Last week I went along to a group shoot with a bunch of photographers to the International District of Seattle. I don't do too many group shoots. What I love about taking someone's photograph is that Energy Exchange between me and the "someone", and we all give up a certain amount of control when we, group shooters, shoot one person.

It must be what a celebrity feels like on the red carpet...shutters clicking, showing your good side, wanting to turn for everybody so they all have half a chance at getting a good shot of's very public, as opposed to a regular shoot that is quite private. I did totally enjoy bonding with Jen MacNiven, Jenny, Kristin, Cortney, Elise, & Dewey. That's kind of the best part of it, getting to know everybody and laugh as we all got used to being in front of the camera, as most of us are photographers because we are most comfortable behind one. It was neat to demo using a reflector for a couple of the photogs who hadn't used one before. I LOVE my reflectors and someday will maybe create a device that keeps them from Shoo-WOP'ing open whenever I forget I'm holding them under my

It really impressed me to see the results of our shoot! How many GREAT & different takes there can be on the same subject. I encourage you to check out everyone's blog about the shoot!

Mrs. Jenny Joy Heck has joined me in the crazy honor of being Spotlighted by the incomparable Me Ra Koh!

Dewey is a joy to have around. It wouldn't have been the same without him!

Elise...we got some amazing captures of her...I can't wait for that baby to be born and grow up so they can see what joy and beauty surrounded them as they grew...

Jen's totally hot in this picture, don't you think!?

Kristin brought this coat along at the last minute...we were all OVER that fur trim paired with the red brick!!!

Cortney is quite the sultry and gorgeous mom-to-be here...again...we were LOVING the brick!

I got some great shots of Marianne, but I really like this one a whole lot. If you'd like to see the rest, you can visit my website, and click on "View your Proofs". There is a public folder you can view!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Make a shot WORK

I'd venture to say that about all senior portrait photographers want to include the senior's hobbies or interests into their photoshoot. But what do you do when it's almost May and they reply "skiing"?!

I LOVE a challenge like this. I've always enjoyed trying to figure out a way to make A SHOT WORK.

So instead of thinking of the reasons WHY it wouldn't work, I started thinking of what kind of shots I would have tried to get. Immediately I suggested we DO work in skiing into her shoot, and that I'd get tight shots that IMPLIED that she was out at the mountain for a ski trip. I had one shot in my mind particularly, one of her with her sitting on the back of her car, strapping in and looking up at the camera...
Here's some of what we got:

And of course, we would be amiss without Sarah's idea of getting a shot catching snowflakes!

We did plenty of photoshooting before we got to the "skiing" shots...

Take a minute and check out Sarah's slideshow!