Archive: November 2010   |   View all recent posts

Abby ~ Plano Senior Photographer
WHO: Abby   |   WHAT: Seniors   |   WHEN: November 30, 2010   |   WHERE: Dallas, TX
I've always thought it would be fun to photograph seniors.  After photographing Abby the weekend before Thanksgiving, I'm not sure why I haven't been doing this all along.  I mean, seriously... I had a blast.  I could do this all. day. long.

Abby is the homecoming queen from Highland High School in Ohio, and she also happens to be my cousin's daughter (which I believe makes her my 1st cousin once removed if I understood the surprisingly complicated ancestry chart I just looked up on Google).  Abby, her mom (my cousin) Lisa, and Lisa's mom (my aunt) Janet came down from Ohio for a long weekend so we could do Abby's senior photography and just hang out.

Abby was so easy to photograph... she's a natural.  I couldn't have asked for a better/easier senior to start with.  We drove around to several places around Dallas & McKinney to get a little variety, and I'm really happy with what we ended up with.  I need to figure out how to get more senior sessions on next year's schedule. 

Here's my favorites from that weekend.

I love this next image.  The expression and lighting are killer.

Next up we found an old flour mill in McKinney that made a perfect backdrop for this next series.

This next one is one of my favorites.

The greatest thing about this next image is the story behind it.  I wanted a little wind to blow Abby's hair, but mother nature wasn't providing enough assistance, so I enlisted mother Nicolosi to help out (my mom, Abby's mom and my aunt came along for this session).  I gave her a reflector and what I thought were perfectly explicit instructions on how to hold and wave it to get some wind, but her first 8 takes were fruitless and freakin' funny.  We all laughed at the 2mph wind she was generating.  She eventually got the hang of it, though, and we ended up with this killer wind image.

The making of these next two images was pretty funny, too.  I had my mom holding an off-camera flash with a small softbox on it on one side of Abby, my cousin on the opposite side holding a reflector, and my aunt on flashlight duty shining it on Abby's face so I could get my camera to focus (there wasn't much natural light left at this point).

Eventually the falshlight ran out of juice, and I gave my aunt my iPhone to hold right up to Abby's face to provide enough light to focus.  She nearly poked Abby's eye out with it.

Killer.  We stopped briefly at this next location just to use these two brick walls for an image.  The owner of the building saw us and wondered what we were doing, but he was really cool about lettng us do whatever we wanted.  He did mention that most of the time this space between these buildings was used as an outdoor urinal at night by the guys at the nearby bars.  Nice.

Finally we headed downtown around the Deep Ellum Arts District to get our urban on for a few images.

Thanks, Abby, for the opportunity to capture a few images for you... hope you had half as much fun as I did.


The Reyes' ~ Dallas Family Photographer
WHO: Hector, Susan & Alec   |   WHAT: Families   |   WHEN: November 30, 2010   |   WHERE: Richardson, TX
A couple weeks ago I had a family session with the Reyes family at their beautiful home in Richardson, TX.  I used to work with Susan at Texas Instruments, and she and her husband, Hector, recently contacted me looking to update their family portrait from 5 years ago.  I think it's great that Hector & Susan have made a commitment to updating their family images every 5 years as many families don't think to do this after the kids are grown.We did the session on a Friday evening before dinner (just to torchure their son Alec as we kept talking about those enchiladas that were waiting for him after we were done), and the weather was fantastic.

I found out that Susan is now in culinary school pursuing a second career.  Considering her focus is in pastries, I admittedly felt a little inadequate serving up Nestle Toll House chocoate chip cookies at their viewing appointment.  Oh no, not home made... the kind that are ready-bake from the store.  Classy, I know.

Here are a few of my favorites from their session.

They have a dog named Happy.  How can you not like a dog named Happy?

Love this image with Alec throwing his arms around mom and dad.


WHAT: Cityscapes & Landscapes, Travel   |   WHEN: November 29, 2010   |   WHERE: Princeton, Indiana
Kylie & I just got back from spending a few days in southern Indiana with her family for the Thanksgiving weekend.  We decided to make the 12 hour drive this time instead of fly because we love torture.  Oh, and because we wanted to bring the dog.  Ah, yes... that's why we drove.  Paying $200 (in addition to our tickets) just to allow Mia to sit in our lap on a plane seemed like robbery.  (Although seeing one of those TSA guys give her a pat-down mighta been worth it.)

So we gave me a little doggy sedative, piled in the car, and headed to Princeton (IN) last Wednesday.  Of course we, or at least I, spent Thursday eating myself into a coma with all the fantastic Thanksgiving day food Kylie's mom and grandma prepared.  We ate around noon.  I watched football and checked my eyelids for holes for a couple hours after that, and then we had round two for dinner before resuming my horizontal position in the living room.  I. Love. Thanksgiving.

Friday, Garry (my father-in-law), Bryce (Kylie's brother) and I headed out early to, well, drive around.  And drive around we did.  And around.  And around.  We ended up on some back-country, over-the-river-and-through-the-woods, winding road for a while where - from the back seat of the truck - I nearly revisited my breakfast if you know what I mean.  Funny thing is we were talking about car-sickness just before that, and I told them I was good to go because, well, I was at that moment.  Shortly after, though, I dunno what happened... maybe it was me bragging how I rarely get car sick, but I about lost it.  Thankfully, I managed to keep it all down and everything was fine after our next stop when I got out of the truck and got some coooold air.

Anywho, I took my camera for our drive and grabbed a few images along the way, and here they are.

First up was this round barn Garry and Bryce knew of.  (And for the record, Garry and Bryce know about everything you could ever wanna know about Princeton and the surrounding area.  I joked that in the course of our 8 hour excursion, I think there were only about 3 houses we passed where they didn't know who currently or previously lived there.  Seriously.)  The barn was kinda interesting because, well, who builds a round barn?

This next one was just a drive by image from the back seat. 

Both Garry and Bryce created a lot of build-up for the jug rock.  I mean a LOT.  Like, you haven't lived until you've seen the jug rock build-up.  By the sarcastic tone in their voice, I prepared myself to be underwhelmed, and I was not disappointed.  It's basically a rock... on top of another rock.  (see below right).  Interesting?  Sure, kinda.  Geologically significant?  Debatable.  Worth the drive through "deliverance country" (as Bryce put it)?  My queasy stomach is still deciding.  One of the more fascinating aspects for sure is how little marketing the locals gave this 8th wonder of the world for as much build-up as it gets.  Check out the huge green "Jug Rock" sign below the "Keep Right" sign (below left) pointing out this marvel as your driving down the road.  They spared no expense, eh?

We did also finally find this covered bridge which was pretty cool.  What was not cool, though - as we heard from one of the locals - is that in the last 5 years someone has tried to burn this bridge down twice.  The good news is there's a renovation project in the works to tidy up the bridge and make it fire-resistant.

Our final stop before heading back to the house was in French Lick, Indiana to see the West Baden Springs Hotel, and it was pretty amazing.  This hotel was considered by some to be the 8th wonder of the world back in the day when it was first built because of it's huge dome that many said architecturally couldn't be built.  If you've ever been to a Gaylord hotel, the West Baden Springs Hotel was kinda like a Gaylord hotel looong before there were Gaylord hotels... and much more opulent.  Walking through the hotel kinda felt like what I imagine walking around on the Titanic was like.  Very elegant in it's hay day with unmatched decor, prestige and reputation.  If you're ever in the area, check it out. After a long period of neglect and deteriation, it's recently been completely restored.

Here's an image of the dome covering the atrium.

A view from the library in the hotel.

A chandelier with a beautiful wood ceiling in the main lobby.

A decorative glass fixture hanging in one of the stairwells.  This is actually a combination of 2 images.  I took a close-up image of the fixture in focus, and then took a second image of the fixture out of focus.  Finally I just overlaid the second out-of-focus image on top of the in-focus image in Photochop and changed the blending mode of the top layer (the out-of-focus image) to overlay.  You can see the two original images below the final image.

Back at the house, my brother-in-law's dog, Phyllis, on the left and Mia on the right, both looking out the back door.  I think this photo is the only time during our 3 day stay these two weren't chasing, playing with, barking at or generally antagonizing each other. 

Yesterday, Garry and I went out to find some heavy farm machinery for me to drive around, but we found a vintage tractor pull first at the local fair grounds.

The tractor pull was kinda interesting, but I had one big beef... I wanted to see a little more bling on the tractors.  I mean, c'mon... I know all the tractors in the competition had to be built before 1958 (or something like that) to be allowed to participate, but why not spruce these babies up with some flame paint jobs, blue under-carriage LED lighting, or at a minimum a little chrome?  Huge marketing opportunity they're missing here.  You know, to appeal to the younger crowd.  Anywho.

Finally, Garry hooked me up with a ride in a Terra-Gator.  That just sounds cool... Terra-Gator.  This chick magnet is a beast, and was so cool to cruise in.  He was brave enough (or crazy enough) to let me drive this bad boy out on the open road (with his supervision, of course, and I gotta tell ya... I was honestly a little terrified I was gonna pancake something or someone with the gigantor tires while cruisin' down those narrow county roads at a top speed of 35mph.  I apologize if I ran you off the road.  I didn't mean to. Promise. 

Actually, everything went fine and good times were had by all.  Well, at least me... Garry was probably white-knuckling it the whole time I was driving.  I'm pretty sure I was a natural, though, so if this photography thing doesn't pan out, I might just become a Terra-Gator driver.

All in all, a fantastic trip.  It was great to see Kylie's family and get some down time in.  And now it's back to the grind to finish out the next few weeks strong before calling it quits for the holidays.


Just the F.A.Q.s ~ Coffee Table Book Layouts
WHAT: For Photographers, Photographer FAQs   |   WHEN: November 25, 2010
Occasionally I get questions about designing coffee table books/albums for clients, so I thought I'd do a quick post to share my philosophy.  Seriously, it will be short because my approach is a simple one, and it goes a little something like this:  Keep it simple.

There are lots of different approaches to book/album design, each of them with their own merits, and I am by no means saying that my approach is better than anyone else's.  It's simply that... my personal approach.  In the end it's simply a matter of preference, so feel free to read this post, call me crazy and move on. No hard feelings.

While I've tried several different design philosophies, I finally settled on the idea of clean and simple with the focus on the images.  I've done album designs that included a fair amount of graphic embellishments and background colors, but I felt like those designs, while appealing, took a little too much attention away from the images and also tended to make the albums/books feel dated faster.  My intent is to deliver a design that will look just as relevant 10 or 20 years from now as it does today, and i think clean, crisp and uncluttered does that.  To that end, I've created a bunch of page template layouts in Photoshop that I can simply drop and resize images into, or, if needed, I can easily modify them on the fly and then drop/resize images into.

And to finish up this post (and because if you're like me and learn through seeing instead of hearing/reading), here's a layout from a recent family session to demonstrate the approach I mentioned above.

Here's the outside cover layout for (in this case) a coffee table book.

And here's an intro page that appears on the right when you first open the book.

And from here on out, you'll see two page spreads for a 10x10 size book (10x20 size when opened and showing a 2 page spread).

And finally a closing page with one of my favorite quotes.


Brandon & Perrin - Dallas Engagement Photographer
WHO: Brandon & Perrin   |   WHAT: Engagements   |   WHEN: November 23, 2010   |   WHERE: Dallas, TX (Deep Ellum Arts District)
I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again... Engagement. Sessions. Rock.  These are some of my favorites sessions to photograph, especially when the husband and wife-to-be are laid back, fun and easy to photograph.  Throw in the fact that I adore the bride-to-be's parents (who coincidentally happened to be Kylie & I's pre-marital mentor couple), and well, that's just photographic gravy.  I photographed Perrin's super-fun family back in early January, but this time around it was just her and her fiancé Brandon.  They got engaged back in August when Brandon popped the proverbial question as they were standing in the donor reflection pool of the new AT&T Performance Center downtown.  In fact, Brandon's big surprise was even captured and posted on the Dallas Arts District Facebook Page.  How cool is that?

We went downtown to celebrate their engagement while they were both in town recently (they live in Oklahoma), and eventually ended their session at the scene of the crime question-popping.  Here's a collection of the images from that day.

This next image to me represents the relationship they have.  They just go together.

I was diggin' Perrin's fun orange shoes.

I love this image for a couple reasons.  1) The expressions are great.  2) A couple minutes earlier while we were further down the alley a scary-looking man was peaking out this door at us.  I was kinda expectin' him to open his door and scare the daylights out of us whle we were taking this photo.  If I had a 3000mm lens, I bet I could zoom way in and see his mug staring back at me in the peep hole.

Ahhh... bak at the reflection pool.


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