Archive: August 2010   |   View all recent posts

Down Time
WHO: Me   |   WHAT: Personal, Random   |   WHEN: August 30, 2010   |   WHERE: On R&R

I took a picture of some grass in the front yard tonight because, well, looking at this blog for the last couple weeks has been a lot like watching grass grow.  Not a lot happening.  Each year summer is one of my down times where I don't schedule photography sessions because, let's face it... 103 degrees and smiley, happy clients just don't go together.  Or maybe it's that 103 degrees and me don't go together.  Either way, I've been enjoying my R&R in the AC... maybe a little too much. 

As much as I love being connected with technology - so much so that I'm contemplating whether I have an addiction - the last few weeks have been a little less stressful and I've actually felt refreshed and enjoying the actual face to face time with Kylie and friends.  Imagine... spending time with real people.  Crazy, I know.  And for a few days, I've been reminded what life was like before photography and before I was brain washed into believing that I had to be blogging, facebooking, flickr'ing, RSS'ing, photography foruming, tweeting, or just plain internet'ing every 5 minutes or I'd be missing out on something.  And on more than one occasion, I've been tempted to go back to that life.  But alas, the fstops have been calling my name, and I'm excited about the upcoming busy fall client season.  I've made a few behind-the-scenes changes, though, that will hopefully help me take on more clients but get more of my life back in the normally-crazy next few months leading up to the holidays. 

I've got a couple sessions to post after clients come in to view the images first, so in the mean time here's a bit of randomeness from the last couple weeks.

On the automotive front, we finally decided it was time to trade in Sophie, Kylie's 1998 Saturn SC1, for a new set of wheels.  Searching for a replacement ride was a bit of an 'adventure' with Kylie and I.  She's more into the practical side of cars and as long as it gets her from point A to point B and gets reasonable gas mileage, she's good.  Me?  If I'm going to be going from point A to point B a lot, I want to enjoy the ride.  And while reliability and practicality are also on my list, they're a little further down below the really important things... you know, like the sound of the doors closing, the feel of the turn signal knob, the sound of the horn, the look of the dashboard, etc.  And for the love of Pete, the car has to have an arm rest in-between the driver and front passenger seats.  Sophie didn't have this, and I can't even count how many times Kylie just rolled her eyes at me every time I completely dramatized the re-enactment of me demonstrating to her how I nearly fell into the passenger seat every time I drove her car because couldn't put my right elbow on an arm rest. 

But while I admit I appreciate good design and am willing to pay a little more for it, I'm not willing to go into debt for it.  So, we bought another '07 car, this time an Infiniti G35... and I'm loving it.  After a LOT of looking around and doing some homework, we traded this...

for this...

Mayb the most amazing part about the whole process is that after we finally bought the G35 on Thursday, I listed Sophie for sale on Craig's List around 11:30am Saturday, and by 3:30pm that same day we had sold the car and had cash in hand.  That still blows my mind.  4 hours!  Thank you Craig, whoever and wherever you are.

And on other random fronts, I went to the dentist last December and had some medical Flexible Spending Account money l had to use before the end of the year or I lost it.  So, I went to my dentist and told her I needed a bite guard because I was concerned about grinding my teeth.  Long story short, I called and went in on December 30th and told her I was in a rush to get this before the end of the year, so I paid for it that day but didn't bother going in to pick it up until April of this year.  And after using it for about a whole 5 days, Mia got ahold of it and decided to us it as a $400 chew toy.  End of bite guard.  It wasn't a total loss, though... I still have my wicked cool molds that I can put out as decorations to greet guests with a smile. Although... it looks a little disturbing and kinda like I have 3 week old Fruity Pebble bits stuck in my gums.  Zoinks.  Oh well, cheeeeeeeeeese!


Baby Emily [sneak peek]
WHO: Emily   |   WHAT: Babies   |   WHEN: August 20, 2010   |   WHERE: Murphy, TX
Emily had a rough start in her first few weeks, but she's doing much better now and we were finally able to schedule a session to capture a few sweet images.  Such a precious little girl!  More to come of this sweetie.


Things I Think Rock ~ Buckeyes, Smoothies & Tervis Tumblers
WHO: Me & The Goods   |   WHAT: Things That Rock   |   WHEN: August 8, 2010   |   WHERE: Dining Room Table
With the new site being launched, I've got a little more free time on my hands now, so I thought I'd start a little segment called "Things I Think Rock".  These posts will be related to photography things (artists I enjoy, equipment/gadgets I dig, killer services/solutions, etc.) and non-photography things that I think, well, rock. 

Really I was just hanging out in the kitchen yesterday makin' myself a smoothie when the perfect trifecta serendipitously melded into a single, glorious object of awesomenicity right in front of my eyes... that's when I knew there was no better time to start this new segment.  I mean, c'mon, a 3-for-1 in the first episode?  Seriously?  It was meant to be.

And so, in this inaugural Things I Think Rock post, I give you Ohio State, smoothies, and Tervis Tumblers.  It's a lot to take in, I know.  Take a second to wrap your head around those 3 crazy three things.  There you go.  Are we ready to move on with the rest of this post now?  Good.

The first thing on my list today is Ohio State.  I won't take much time to cover this because anyone that's been following the blog for very long knows I think Ohio State is the 9th Wonder of the World.  There's a lot of worthy competitors battling it out for the 8th spot, so I skipped that one altogether and went for the 9th.  Genius, I know... arguably only an OSU alumni would've thought of such a strategy.

Having graduated from Ohio State, some may call me biased.  To those people I say get your own Things You Think Rock segment.  A Buckeye I will be until my time is up on this earth... no matter how many times we go to the college football national championship game only to get pummeled by [insert any SEC team here].  Some say that's embarassing.  I say I'd rather they keep making it to the championship and losing then never making it there at all.  Just ask the 1990's Buffalo Bills.  Who's with me?

In all seriousness (if I can muster any), being a member of the Buckeye family is a pretty cool gig.  It's amazing that I can be literally anywhere in the world (it's happened in China and Europe) and when I say "O-H!" to another stranger wearing Buckeye paraphernalia, if they're true Buckeye alumni or fans, I get an "I-O!" shout out in return.  Guess I'm glad I didn't go to Mississippi State or some other univerity with a long name I can only sometimes spell.  Can you imagine?  "M-I-S-S-I!"... "S-S-I-P-P-I!"  Ridiculous.

Next up is the smoothie.  There's not a lot of things I'm good at making in the kitchen, but I make a pretty mean smoothie if I do say so myself.  And there's nothing better than a sweet, fruity, mostly-good-for-you, semi-frozen smoothie treat on a hot summer day... unless I'm near that snow cone place down the street; that's pretty good, too.  I digress, though.  What's my recipe, you ask?  Here's my favorite concoction:

1 handful frozen strawberries
1 handful frozen raspberry/blackberry/blueberry mixture
1 6oz container of raspberry pomegranate yogurt
1 half of a banana
1 cup (maybe a little more) apple juice.

Pay attention, here's the tricky part.  Slap it all together in the blender, crank it on high, and in about 2 minutes you'll have heaven in a cup.  You can thank me later.

And finally, the 3rd spot in this segment of Things I Think Rock is occupied by the Tervis Tumbler.  The next time someone asks me that pie in the sky question about "If you could have dinner with any one person in the world, dead or alive, who would you choose?", I'm not wasting my answer on the usual supspects like Abe Lincoln, Elvis Presley, Michael Jordan or Fabio.  I'm pushing the boundaries and choosing 2 people - Frank Cotter and G Howlett Davis, the 2 guys who invented these molded plastic miracles that keep your cold drinks colder (and no glass sweating!) and your hot drinks hotter.  BTW, if you're wondering how they came up with the name "Tervis Tumbler", they combined the last 3 letters of their last names.  Now go on out and claim a Trivial Pursuit pie wedge with your new piece of knowledge.  Again, you can thank me later.

Kylie and i have recently started running out of room in the cupboard that holds the glasses in the kitchen as we've recently been building quite the collection of "M", "K", Colts and Buckeyes tumblers.  If you ever stop by the house, especially if you're bearing gifts, we'll treat you to the Tervis experience.


The New Site is Live!
WHAT: News   |   WHEN: August 7, 2010
I first contacted Brock and Dave at Infinet Design over a year ago about wanting to combine my blog and my outdated website into a single site to make it easier for people to find everything they needed in one place.  And to be honest, I wanted to simplify my own life by having only one sight to maintain because, let's face it, my previous site was basically orphaned for the better part of 18 months. 

Fast forward a little over a year, and after all the planning, designing, redesigning (due to me changing my mind), testing and tweaking, this new site has finally been breathed to life just in time for the upcoming fall photography season.  It's really gratifying when you see  something you've spent so much time on finally take flight, and it's even more gratifying that I don't have to worry about getting this done anymore... or at least for another two years or so.

Many, many thanks go out to Brock and Dave for all their assistance.  They took my ideas and made them magically appear on the web in spite of my constant iteration cycles and seemingly endless modifications.  They are truly consumate professionals and the epitomy of customer service.  They always come in ahead of due dates, and there's never been a case for me where I haven't had my questions answered the same day (or early the next day if I emailed them late at night).  As busy as they are, I felt like their only customer, and I couldn't ask for more.  Thanks again, gents!

So, take a look around and check out the new digs.  The updated branding is more in line with the type of feel I hope reflects the work I create.  There's a couple new fun bells and whistles including the image voting which feeds into a "Viewer Favorites" gallery and a dedicated "For Photographers" section I'll  add more resources, tips, tutorials, and other photographer goodness to over time.  And if you're a future or past client, check out the "Details" section to find answers to questions you may have or to get a better picture (pun only sort of intended) of what you can expect from a custom photography experience with me.  As I continue to add information to this section, over time it will become you're one stop shop for almost anything you would want or need to know.

Welcome to the new site.  Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you visit often for the latest in what's new!

BTW, I know every post is better with a photo, but an image of the new site seemed, well, redundant, since you're already here.


Proofs vs. Edited Final Images
WHAT: For Clients, Image Retouching, Mentoring   |   WHEN: August 7, 2010
Two questions I frequently hear in the photography industry center around 1) how much editing should be done to an image before it gets shown to a client and 2) how many images should you show them.

Regarding the first question, some photographers feel that clients can't envision what an image could be unless you show it to them fully-edited while others will say that any editing you do to an image before a client sees it is purely speculative and a potential misuse of valuable time if they don't order it.  I used to swear by the first school of thought, but earlier this year I found myself buying into the 2nd approach.  I see the merits of both postions, though, and ultimately for me the answer lies somewhere closer to the middle.  As a result, the process I've adopted that I feel yields the best results is to fully edit/retouch ~10 images before clients come in for their viewing & orderings session, and the rest of the images I show have minimal editing done to them (primarily minor exposure and white balance adjustments and cropping, if needed) to get them to a proof state..  When I show images for the first time at their appointment, I emphasize to my clients that I'm looking for their favorite images based only on expression and composition.  I inform and assure them any images they select for a product they purchase will be fully retouched, and I refer to the sample images on the wall in my gallery room as well as the ~10 fully-edited images I've created from their session as examples. 

Admittedly this works really well for repeat clients as they are familar with my work and I've already built that level of trust with them, but even most new clients are savvy enough to envision what their final images will look like when they can see a few examples. 

About the 2nd question regarding how many images to show, I'll raise my hand and admit that I used to be a card-carrying member "the-more-images-I-show-the-happier-my-clients-will-be" club.  On top of that I was fully-retouching every image I showed, so it didn't take long before I was starting to experience burnout.  I felt like I had to show a lot of images so that my clients would have a lot of variety to choose from and that more variety = more satisfied clients.  In reality, though, more often than not I was finding the more images I showed, the more overwhelming the ordering sessions became because they had too many choices and were afraid of making the wrong ones.  With the investment they were making in custom photography, it was easy for them to start worrying that they were going to have buyer's remorse with so many choices.  Clients (and I) would get stressed out and mentally fatigued at their ordering session.  People like simple, clear choices.  This is why nearly every fast-food chain has gone to a simple number-based ordering system... it's uncomplicated with a few options to choose from.  Easy.

So, all that to say I typically show approximately 25 images (~10 fully-edited) when clients come in to view their images, and I also present a few recommendations to them based on things we discussed in their pre-session consultation.  It's been a win-win situation for everyone involved.

To give a frame of reference of what I'm referring to when I talk about proofs vs. fully-edited images, below are a few examples.

In this first set, the proof image is generally pretty good, but you can see a few blotchy skin areas on little Cassidy that needed to be retouched for the final image.  In addition I added a little more contrast, saturation and warmth in the final edit.

In this next example, the couple was slightly underexposed in the proof, and the image in general lacked a little of the warmth and contrast I typically like my images to have.  I also felt the composition of the final image was a little stronger when the image was cropped to put their shadow closer to the lower right corner.

Occasionally 2 is better than one.  As a photographer, I always want to get everything just right in a single image, but sometimes it just doesn't work out (especially when younger kiddos are involved).  In the images below, I loved Hayley's look and her wind-blown hair in the first image, but I liked Juston's expression better in the 2nd image.  In this case I was able to swap heads in Photoshop because the images were taken at the same angle and distance and with the same lighting conditions, and I think the final retouched black & white version of the image turned out really well.

In this last eaxample, I wanted the image to have more of a fine art feel to it, but there were a couple things I needed to do first for the final image.  I started by editing out the white stripes in the sweater to create a cleaner image with less distraction from the important parts of the image.  Secondly, I retouched the skin a bit.  To give it a more timeless feel, I converted the image to a black & white, added back some warmth, and then overlayed a couple textures to polish off the image.  For this type of finish, I typically fully-edit at least one image like this to help the client see what an image looks like with this treatment since it's a bit more involved than a typical fully-edited image and a little harder to imagine.


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