Monday, August 31, 2009

High School Senior Portraits

I wanted to begin putting up some of my photos on the blog, since I'm only showing 4 images per person on my web site. I try to create creative and unique senior portraits in both indoor and outdoor settings, so 4 images wasn't really a lot of examples. So, the photos I post here are to augment those that I place on the web site and give people a better idea of what a senior portrait session is like with me. You can see more of my high school senior portraits on my site at My studio is located in Beavercreek, Ohio and I photograph seniors from all over the Dayton area.

I'll start with Madison F., a senior at Beavercreek High School. I had a blast with her session. She had a great smile and sweet disposition. Her mom was great also and was always ready to jump in and powder the nose, fix the hair, etc. It was great having a makeup artist on set!
Part 1: Indoor shots
Maddie's hair would just light up when I used the flash. It just glowed!

I love using the baby grand piano as a background.

This one was a lot of fun to put together.

Warm and summery. Her smile just lights up the room.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Learning photography

I was just writing to a high school student about this sort of thing. Essentially, I was telling her to study drawing, painting, and art history as much as possible instead of only focusing on photography. The DWG, PTG, and AH will help to develop composition, sense of light, color, etc. and get them to think purposefully about it because they have to actually create it from scratch.

I see a lot of people migrating to photography because "it's fun" (and easy?). Mastering ISO, shutter speed, and aperture isn't the real challenge. It's being able to see the final image before you click the button.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What camera do you use?

I got this question again the other day. A person wrote me and asked "what camera do you use?" Here's my stock answer:

I use black bodies with either black or white lenses.

In short, I don't like talking about gear. While I think having good camera gear is important, I think the model and brand is usually irrelevant as long as it produces the look you want at a high enough quality to fulfill the customers' expectations.

As soon as you throw out a short answer like "I use a Canon 1D Mk3" or "I use a Canon Xti", the gearheads out there immediately start lining up megapixel count, frame rate, cost, etc., and try to judge the value of your photography (or at least your status as a photographer) by the camera you use. Folks, Chase Jarvis is about to put on a gallery show of photos he took on his iPhone. It's not about the camera.

A saying I like that deals with this issue: If a person comes up to you and says "wow, great photo, I bet you have an awesome camera", you can look at the pen in their pocket and say "wow, great pen, I bet you're an awesome writer".

Friday, August 14, 2009

Where do I buy my gear?

I had a guy call yesterday while I was in the middle of a session--yes, stupid me, I forgot to turn off the phone while shooting. He doesn't identify himself at all, but tells me that he's setting up a studio and wants to know where I buy all my stuff so he doesn't get charged to much. My answer is that I buy all the photo gear that I buy from B&H Photo in New York.

I thought I'd post this here, because if one person calls, others will also. Perhaps this will help.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How to price your photography

I recently had a young woman ask me the tough question, how do I price my photography?

Here's my reply. Let me know if I missed anything:

No problem. The first thing you should do is look around at what others in the area are doing and decide where you fit in. A big problem lots of people cause for themselves when they're starting out is that they are so cheap that they're essentially working for free. What you should do is go ahead and do a practice session for someone, then do all the downloading, processing from RAW, selecting, the processing and retouching, print the proofs, package the proofs, prepare the print order for printing, and send out the print order. Make sure you keep track of all the time spent on all of those steps and all the costs of proof books, administrative costs, shipping, etc. Then decide how much you've spent on your equipment, rent, gas, maintenance, lighting equipment, , insurance, association fees, backgrounds, computers, software, printers, ink, training, etc. Then decide how much you'll spend on a web site, how much time you'll spend on marketing, accounting, advertising, credit card fees, etc. Decide how much time it takes to produce price lists, brochures, the web site, etc. You'll also have to go to the county Auditor's office and get a Vendor's License, because you'll have to collect sales tax on the sessions and print sales and file those twice a year. When you've got all those hours and dollars estimated per session and per year, then decide how much you'll have to make per year to break even. Then, take into consideration that, because you're self employed, close to 40% of your net income will go to the government in taxes. So, take that break even figure, factor in the taxes, and add in how much profit you want to make each year and divide that by how many sessions you want to do. Then you'll know how to price your sessions.

I'm not joking. You really do have to think about all this stuff. I'm consumed with it every day.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I saw this movie last night and I'm bothered by it. The premise of Idiocracy is that smart people are overly responsible and have few to none children (partly because they put kids off too long due to career pressures) while stupid people have tons of children, thus in 500 years, the dumbing down of society has manifested itself in reality.

I remember being taught the evils of overpopulation. I've looked at the financial aspects of having kids. I've seen people around me who wait until they're 40 to begin trying, only to find they can't have kids now. I've got to say, there is more than a bit of truth in this movie. This movie should be required viewing for all college students.