"Photography is the story I fail to put into words." -Destin Sparks
Transitions have been clearly abundant this past year. From fall to winter, and into spring, the always changing seasons gently and quietly reminds me that we are supposed to grow, and we are always guided to do as such. Each moment so different, and so unique depending on the space we are in when transition arrives. Transitions are gifts, and they can arrive in packages, even sometimes with big red bows. Those are the gifts we accept, the ones that look easy.
Transitions are not always a piece of cake, but being mindful of them as they are brought to our attention is a gift. I usually can feel when one of my seniors is deep in transition. We talk a lot during their photo shoots about their goals, and aspirations, and feelings around growing up. I always tell them to do what makes them happy. No matter what the transition, if we are quiet enough, we can see the gift within the shift.
My class of 2016 senior representatives are my girls. We have spent a lot of time together and I want them to know that I will be thinking of them and sending light through their transition into adulting. You have all outdone yourselves at each photo shoot. You remind me to have fun and to be creative, and honestly, I love doing senior pictures because it reminds me that transitions are a good thing, as they provide opportunity for growth.
I love you.
“Be the person that makes others feel special. Be known for your kindness and sympathy.”-Unknown
It isn’t often that I blog about a particular photo shoot, or highlight a client, but I wanted to take the time to talk about one of my seniors that I was honored to meet a couple of years ago.
Kania, she is one of the sweetest and kindest souls I have had the honor of meeting. She was on my wife’s basketball team and after games the parents and a few of the players would hang around, and as my wife would say we would be, “shutting the party down.” Kania was pretty quiet, she composed herself well on the court, and it wasn’t until talking with a parent that I found out how sensitive she really was. In the dictionary under caring is a photo of Kania. We would laugh as we held our hearts at how she would foul another player, help them off of the floor and sincerely apologize, because that is who she is. I hope I am not embarrassing her for calling out her kindness, but it takes a special type of player to conduct themselves in such a respectful way on and off of the court, she is what other players should strive to be like. She was awarded the Athena Award from her school this year too, well deserved.
Kania, we know you will go on and continue to be a role model and by being yourself you will effortlessly change people around you to see the good in people, to be kind, and to be giving.
We are so proud of you.
“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”— Paul Caponigro
Truth be told, I LOVE shooting Senior Pictures. There is something special and magical about such a huge transition in a young adults’ life. Seniors, you are the stars of the show, you are bravely going into the world with faithful hope, and unlimited dreams, and I wish we were all a little more like you. I love that you take bits and pieces from your past and combine them with your future and show up to shoot with me with intention. Each Senior has their own unique style and vision for life and it always spills over into our photo shoot, it is true brilliance.
I have come up with the Top 10 list for you and your parents to stick to when getting ready for your big photo shoot day. Each step is as important as the other and we want to create photos that you are still proud of in 10 years! Let’s roll!
Seems obvious right? Get…some…sleep. This is usually a pretty easy task for a teen (we have three of our own). Sleep refreshes you, it can assist with relaxing your nerves, and it is your time to let go of your day and rest. The night before you shoot with me, GET SLEEP! This will get rid of bags under your eyes, it will balance your energy and it will help prepare you for your photo shoot. This is a biggie!
2. ASK QUESTIONS. TELL ME ABOUT YOUR IDEAS.
If you have already done a photo shoot with me, you probably remember me asking you to send me pictures of your outfits, hair and make-up styles you like, and to tell me all about yourself. It is so important to me that we create photos that represent who you are. Sometimes this can be a lot for seniors to pick out what they want to wear, to pick a location, but I am here for that. Please ask questions like, "Do these look good together?" Or, will this hair style look good with this outfit?" And the obvi questions, do you know where they have red barns, waterfalls, horses, tall grass, mirrors, and graffiti?" Every question is important and I will always make time to answer them!
3. DRINK WATER.
The day before your photo shoot be mindful of how much water you drink. Not pop, not juice, or coffee, just simple and pure water. This is your best friend for giving your skin a beautiful glow. It will also prevent bags under your eyes. Drink plenty of water the day before your photo shoot as well as the day of. Trust me, water is your bff.
Snack, snack, snack. Please snack the day of your photo shoot. Stay away from eating large meals that may leave you tired and wore out. One of the little secrets to getting though a photo shoot is to eat snacks. I always have some handy for my photo shoots, and parents you will appreciate the extra half hour or hour that your Senior spends with me because they have enough energy to get through. Snack on items such as protein bars, little cute packets of almonds, fruits and veggies, a peanut butter sandwich, but please stay away from the junk, it will fill you up and leave you tired and hungry all over again.
This is for everyone. Take care of your little toes and your fingers. The day before your photo shoot take a little time and pamper yourself with painting your nails, getting old nail polish off, and clean them well. It adds so much to a photo to show that you have taken care of your nails. If your preference is to not wear nail polish then just take a couple minutes and clean them up a bit. This is something that should not be done the day of the photo shoot.
6. PRACTICE POSING.
Please don’t act like you don’t take selfies! Everyone does it, and I love that because it gives you practice. Posing for your photo shoot is such an important piece to getting the right shot. I will be giving you lots of direction as well as my assistants but we need you to feel comfortable with your face and your body. If you are wearing special shoes, put them on a couple days before your photo shoot, throw on Pandora and work! Get moving around and even ask a friend to take some cute pictures. Sounds cheesy, yep, I know, but it really does get you thinking about how your body moves and works and you will know exactly what I mean when I ask you to pose a certain way, or to bring your chin down. Practice makes perfect!
What are your favorite things? Your pets? Your skateboard? Maybe to paint, draw or play basketball? (We are a basketball, dance and volleyball family!) Think about what you really enjoy doing and incorporate that with your photo shoot. Seniors have brought everything you can imagine to their photo shoots with me. I want your pictures to be about you. This is your time to show your best self and it really brings out your personality to bring items that you care about.
This is the most asked question by both seniors and parents. What am I supposed to wear? This is what I suggest, look in your closet and pick out your favorite items. I want you to feel comfortable with what you are wearing and sometimes it feels weird to try a new style. With that being said, I shoot concept Senior Pictures all of the time. Bring your prom dress, or your tux, let’s shoot in a water fountain or a beautiful pool. The more creative the better and this will be planned out well in advance of your photo shoot. I always ask that you text me the outfits you have picked out, and the more the better! This is such a big part of the photo shoot because I know a ton (literally) of locations and I am good at styling the photo shoot to what you are wearing. I can see an outfit and know right away where your location should be. P.S. I adore cowgirl hats and boots, just saying!
9. PREPPING YOUR WARDROBE. BE PREPARED. SET EVERYTHING OUT THE NIGHT BEFORE.
The day before your photo shoot get all of your outfits and accessories and props together. Get everything ironed or steamed, and put them on hangers. Again, lists are such an important tool to keep you organized. Write your outfits down. Put down what shirt, or dress, with whatever shoes and accessories. This will save you so much time. Put everything together sorted by outfit and we will be able to spend more time shooting than getting organized during your session. The time before your photo shoot can easily be organized and well thought out. Seniors, remember, this is a big day! You have worked very hard for the past 12 years to get to this point. Take an hour the day before and set everything out in one area so you can see what is missing, or if you need to add anything to your items. Lists are invaluable, I use them for everything. Make a list, check it twice, and give yourself the gift of being prepared.
10. HAIR & MAKEUP.
Get your hair and make-up professionally done. Yes, it is important. I would say almost 100% of my clients get their hair and make-up done professionally before their photo shoot and there are a couple reasons. This is a special day and you deserve to be pampered and to be stress free when it comes to getting ready. It should be fun and exciting! Teens are experts at doing hair and make-up, however, when you are doing a photo shoot, your make-up needs to be done in a way that is complimenting you for the camera. I work with a professional hair and make-up artist and she is fabulous. I can’t say enough about how creative she is and she makes a world of difference to my work. If you are getting a hair cut before the photo shoot and your hair is short, do it at least the day before the photo shoot to get rid of some of the redness from the clippers and to give your hair a chance to settle down. I don’t recommend coloring your hair or trying a new style right before your photo shoot. I want to ensure that you are comfortable with how you look and it just isn’t the time to try new adventurous styles. Let my hair stylist come up with something creative for you if you are looking for a change in a few of your photos.
Senior pictures are so much more than hair and make-up, your pictures are timeless art that exhibits your personality, your ambition and the way you see the world. Follow this list and you will be very prepared, and you will have fun, because in the end it’s all about you.
“Today everything exists to end in a photograph.”— Susan Sontag
This quote can have many different interpretations. I tend to connect to the one that I can most relate to, the inspiration that speaks to my current emotion, thought or interest. To think that everything exists to end in a photograph is a little unsettling. As a photographer I work hard to photograph things that people have not seen and as they are experiencing my work for the first time I want them to feel emotion. If everything exists to end in a photograph, it is up to us, the photographers, to allow the viewers to experience life through our own vision and intention.
When everything exists to end in a photograph, there is an unsaid contract between the photographer and the one who experiences the photo. There is an expectation to be moved, to feel and to be satisfied. I work hard to maintain this contract, and with every click of my shutter there is intention. When I am working with clients it is always invaluable to concern myself with the outcome of a photo. I intend to produce a certain style of photo, which my clients and supporters are used to and expect. My niche is that I am a connector. I am able to talk to and relate to just about anyone, including animals and places, and I am able to exhibit this through my work. Let’s face it, clients hire me because I know how they want to feel and what they want to experience during the photo shoot. I am good at reading them and delivering certain emotions on a platter in the form of a photo.
Photographers are a means to an end. By this I mean that we are tools to show you things that you could never put in words, things that you connect with everyday such as your family and friends. I am able to capture relationships and bonds between soul mates and you never have to guess how someone is feeling when you see my work. I am a go to for saving an emotion that you want remembered. This can only happen, as it always does, during a certain era of your lives while you have the wonderful intention of love. Clients hire me to photograph what they value.
When your intention is to book a photographer that will capture moments that you forget to see, remember my worth. As you look at your senior in high school, know that I will embrace their personality and it will own the photo shoot. Know that I value each client, each moment, each emotion, and that is why I am a photographer. I know how important it is to be present and mindful and to produce work that will make a tear fall and take your breath away.
In my world, I wish I could photograph each moment, each new thing my kids learn, each time my family finds a place to eat in our small kitchen, in order to share a meal together and to laugh and enjoy time. So yes, I do believe everything exists to end in a photograph, whether your priceless experiences come through my camera or not is up to you.
“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.” –Amelia Earhart
Every New Year’s Eve I develop new goals for my life. I create a list of new adventures I would like to experience, all of them enhancing the way I feel about my work, my marriage and my family. I have a vision board that I made a couple years ago that I recently put next to my bed. My wife and I were looking at it the other day and noticing all of the things I had asked for and brought into my life. There was a new car, a new bike, a camera and lens, all these things I took pictures of and placed onto this board, with intention of bringing them into my life. As of right now, everything on the board, with the exception of two things, is in my life now, through the law of attraction and power of intention.
Sometimes I forget how powerful it is to create, to bring new things into my life, to move forward with adventures of new emotions and memories. I lose touch with the idea that whatever I want, I can have. In the past I had scared myself out of having and doing and being, because of the velocity in which it would be delivered, and the impact that it would make on me and my family’s lives. I deterred myself from making it happen because of comfort, awful and staggering comfort. One thing I learned is that with each uncomfortable emotion that I feel, comes new. Uncomfortable brings new feelings, new things, new friends, new love, new money, new experiences and new adventures.
I write a lot about manifesting, and worth, as well as love and compassion. These things you can see in my work. Every year I try something new and every new adventure leads to a new love for me that is in some way connected with photography.
The power of intention and attraction is real, and I am continuously reminded and amazed. I love to photograph horses. This year I am dipping my toes into fine art photography. My wife says I am more of a diving Aries, than a toe dipper, and I accept that, because each splash is a new adventure, a new photograph, a new experience.
“When you don’t know what to do, get still. Get very still until you do know what to do.”-Oprah Winfrey
It has been exactly one month since the last time I had the courage to create another blog post. I decided it was time to be vulnerable, to stop worrying about what my viewers think, to let go of opinions and validations, and again begin to create. When I write it can be nerve racking. There are a few places in my life where once I go there I am free. The first space is my photography. Second, is when I write. I had an amazing English teacher in college who effortlessly encouraged me to write. Her name is Kathleen DeVore. We would read short stories about culture, and laugh while being thoroughly entertained by the ever so witty, Margaret Cho which I had the chance to meet and photograph this summer at one of her shows. (Funny how things manifest.) My teacher knew how to get life out of us and taught me how to put it on paper. I will never forget our sessions of reading our vulnerabilities out loud, sharing what we had written based off of the stories we read. When it was my turn, the class that I grew to love was beautifully silent, and by the time I was done spilling my life lessons, they were moved out of their comfort zones and wiping the tears form their eyes. My teacher had taught me that I could find the empathy that resides in someone’s soul and force it out of them through my experience and deliver it through my words. Kathleen told me to publish my work, honored and a little in disbelief, this is when I fell in love with expressing myself through empathetic emotion.
I am an artist, born into this world to create. From photography, to writing, from cooking to styling, I thrive when I am able to shape and mold an idea and to make someone feel emotion when they encounter my work. Creating takes bravery. It takes the ability to feel safe enough to escape from reality and embrace the unknown, trusting that I will become what I feel and create my vision based off of the limits of my own imagination.
A month ago I told my friend Jose Ruiz, who also mentors me on the fabulous life of marketing, that I was blocked. I had tapped out of the blogging world, I have spilled my soul onto my website for all to read, and I needed a break. Jose, being the calm and collected type of guy that he is said, “Okay, take a break.” This coming from the guy who gets all of my notifications sent to his phone so he can keep tabs on what I put on the internet. He is invaluable in the fact that he supports me, he listens and he trusts my energy to create when I need to and to take a break when I need to. All I can think is that when I am not creating, I am not being, which is totally hypocritical to everything I preach about being present in life. Someone in Brazil has visited my website fifty-five times, my photos and blogs have been viewed from admirers in Australia, Ecuador, Chile, and Moscow, and those are just a few. My business is growing in ways that I imagined, and with each accomplishment and opportunity I am ecstatic, but I had so much pressure on me to create, that I forgot to just be. Once I let go of all of that, I began to photograph the most incredible moments, I was able to see things I had never seen, and my imagination is now able to create freely, without limitation.
I still wake up every morning, thankful for every opportunity to photograph a new client, a new horse, thankful to travel to new places, and to learn new editing techniques. I am grateful for being put here as an artist, pressure and all. I am never content, always challenged and have gratitude for being grounded and present in all of it.
The moral of the story, as they say, is that it is alright to own your creativity, it is humbling yet draining at times to share yourself in this way with so many different people. I learn from being still. You have to learn the discomfort of being still in order to create, in order to imagine, in order to grow.
“We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.”— Ralph Hattersley
Cute, adorable, little bundles of snuggles and no sleep. Photographing babies can be pretty time consuming. Lots of time is spent creating a space for them that is warm and comfortable, and waiting for that perfect moment. For me it is right in between being asleep and awake. Little cuties.
If you have been following me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/brookerossphotography and my blog, you know that since I was a little girl I have been obsessed with horses. I am so grateful to combine my passion for photography and horses. It always gets me out of town and on a little adventure. Horses offer an escape from the world of business and lists. For me, photographing horses is so much like photographing people. They always let me know that they see me with my camera, and they give me lots of personality and emotion.
3. Big Beautiful Hair
Yes, yes, yes. My daughters Elina and Naomi have a lot of hair just like their mamma. When parents ask me tips on getting their kids ready for the photo shoot I always ask them about their hair. I recommend that hair is as natural as possible. Hair has a personality all of its own and I really like to capture that in my photos. I have always taught my girls to embrace their hair and I want other kids to see just how beautiful their hair is.
I tell my wife all the time that we are going to have a house on the ocean, and I will be able to walk out of my studio and smell the ocean while sticking my feet in the sand. Until then, I will continue to find all of the coolest places in Minnesota to incorporate water into my photos.
5. Kids at Weddings
Of course the happy couple is the main focus, but honestly, kids at weddings are usually running around and being themselves at weddings. Adults are relaxing after the ceremony, and the kids are excited to have freedom! A little cake, (or a lot) and they are ready to go!
Emotion is always the focus of my work, it is about how my work makes you feel when you see it. I work with Kai a lot, I know her personality and it is easy to capture that with my camera and instinct. Emotion can't be forced and I am in love with the concept of letting people be themselves and letting that be the story.
7. The Skyline
I am such a sucker for a beautiful view of downtown Atlanta. The combination of nature with architecture is a little Gotham City meets master gardener, and I love it!
If I want pure, raw emotion, I go black and white. For my work, it is hands down the cleanest and most conveying way for me to express emotion to my client base. I take away color, saturation, and use contrasting shades of black and white to tell a story. I have always loved black and white and a have challenged myself to do more of it.
Yep, I am obsessed with dogs too. I have been volunteering with my daughter Naomi at Safe Hands Rescue and it is so fulfilling to hear that my photos help get dogs adopted. Our family has two dogs that we adopted, Fat Boy and Duke. Both dogs are Miniature Pinschers and both very naughty. I may have to stick them on a blog post soon. If you are looking for a dog, or just interested in looking you can check out Safe Hands website http://www.safehandsrescue.org/.
10. The Minnesota Lynx
There, I admitted it. I like to go before games and photograph the players warming up, and occasionally run into them at different gatherings. The Lynx have had a profound effect on girls and women’s basketball. Photographing them and posting photos of them is an incredible thing for people to see. I remember taking my son Khalil to see Lindsay Whalen and Janel McCarville play for the Gophers when he was little and he said he didn’t know girls could play basketball. This sport has since became a huge part of our family. My wife is a head varsity basketball coach at a high school here in Minnesota, and we love going to Lynx games. Basketball gives young women an outlet, a goal, and something to look forward to.
"Photography is not about cameras, gadgets and gizmos. Photography is about photographers. A camera didn't make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel." -Peter Adams
Editing, the thing that can capture my attention sometimes for 12-14 hours a day. We have a sincere love/hate relationship, and like my photography skills, it gets better with time. I want to share a little bit about editing with you and get you started towards your own rocky relationship with the wonderful world of digital photography editing.
1. Shooting in RAW.
RAW is exactly that, a raw image file that captures more information than a jpg file which many of you are used to shooting in. There is a setting on your dslr camera to change this to RAW. Do it now. Smileyface. This is the most valuable thing you can do for your photos right now. When you shoot in a jpg format, you are allowing the camera to decide how your photo will look. When you shoot in RAW the camera is gathering all of the information from the camera sensor when you click the shutter and it gives you the ability to edit your photos for correct exposure, white balance, and a wealth of other things that you will not be able to do when you shoot jpg. A RAW image is like a film negative, it is the negative of your digital image. If you are not sure what format you are shooting in, ask yourself, when you upload your photos to your computer, and look at the image file number, is there a jpg on the end of the file? Read your camera manual (the best advice EVER) to see how you can change your settings to RAW. Keep in mind that when you do this you may have to switch to a larger memory card and your computer memory will fill up quicker because you will be working with larger files in RAW. The other benefit to shooting in RAW is that printing large images without shooting in RAW can be a huge mistake. If you want high quality enlargements, shoot in RAW. It will give you the capability to change the file size to where you need it to be for the size of the print you are making. If you are looking to upgrade your photography skills and get more clarity in your photos, begin shooting in RAW and immediately you will see a difference in your photos.
Please, please, please, back up your work. You may be thinking, jeesh Brooke, what does this have to do with editing? It is imperative that you back up your work. Some photographers use external drives, others use clouds that store their files. There is a program called DropBox that you can access on the internet from anywhere and I often use it to send clients their files. You have to decide what works best for you. The process I use is to upload all of my RAW images to my computer, I immediately back them up onto two different external hard drives, and then I begin editing. When I have a project complete I again back up my images to the external hard drives. If you are reading this blog, then you are serious enough about photography that you love what you do even if it is a hobby and you cherish your photos. So back them up!
3. Editing Software.
There are hundreds of different editing software available. In my opinion, one is not better than the other, they all serve a purpose in some way. For those of you that want to try editing for the first time, there are free programs that you can try and are actually a lot of fun. There is Picasa, where you can also store your files. This can be a great tool if you want to easily access your files and are not using more than one software program to edit. The more popular software programs that are more advanced than Picasa include Photoshop CC, Lightroom, Elements, and another more advanced one is Capture One. Again, they all have different tools and they all have a trial that you can download to see if you like the program. My advice would be to download the trial and really spend time with it to see if you like it.
Ok, down to the nitty gritty. Editing is a very vast subject. Simple editing would include, uploading your images to a program and doing minor color, exposure and white balance correction. Many of you have expressed interest in editing tips. I will continue to get more extensive with you through future blog posts, but this blog is a great way to get you started. You can see by the three photos here that editing your photos can go a long way. The first photo is the RAW image. I shot this on a windy summer day in Minnesota. There was an over cast and I did not use a reflector or a flash. You just never know how a horse will respond to equipment and I knew that I would edit these with more of a matte finish than vibrant and colorful. The second photo I edited using Photoshop Lightroom. I love, love, love this program right now. Although I usually begin editing my photos with it, there are some tools that I need that are easier for me to do in Photoshop Elements. The third photo is the final edit and I finished it in Photoshop Elements. Lots of work? Yes. This is part of what your clients are paying for. As you start to play with your new editing software, you will find a rhythm, a way of editing that you really like. Be creative and take risks here. You are an artist and it is your vision. My cousin takes beautiful landscape photos from everywhere she travels and I am so excited to see the outcome of her creativity through editing. Photoshop Elements has a beginner tool that will allow you to easily change your photo to black and white, remove blemishes, play with contrast, among other tools. This is a great way to learn the program and switch over to the expert tool once in awhile as your comfort level increases. My advice for editing is to play with a program, download the trial, play with a couple photos and I will teach you a few tools in the near future. Stay tuned!
"You know, you do need mentors, but in the end, you really just need to believe in yourself."
When you pick up your camera and it transforms the way you see your world, when you are able to see angles differently and smiling eyes draw you in, and you see something unique that no one else has before stopped to admire, that is a sign of a photographer. You have been given a gift. It takes courage to develop a passion, it takes time, practice, risks, and goals. I can’t say one is more important than the other, but I want to express how valuable all of these tips are in achieving your dream of being a photographer.
1. Set goals.
This is something that I do often. I use the pretty little yellow post-it notes and I write my goals all over them. I have ones that are for daily goals, and others are goals that I have set for myself describing where I want to be with my business. There is no such thing as a small or big goal to me. I believe that once you set your intention you have already began working towards it. The reason that I don’t believe that one goal is bigger than another is because it is all leading towards the same thing, developing you. Whether your goal is to learn the settings on a new camera or to open your own studio, these are amazing steps you are taking with the intention of being a photographer, and it is all relative. Also, it is so important to be grateful for your accomplishments. Every time I can cross off a goal on my little post-it note because I achieved it, I celebrate. Every time you set a goal, take a moment and imagine that you have already reached it. Imagining your goal is the quickest way of bringing it into your reality. Set goals, write them down, look at them often and imagine you are already celebrating your achievements.
2. Be open to a receiving a mentor.
I have different mentors for different things. You have to decide what you need a mentor for and absolutely be open to one working with you. There is a good chance that you may not even know what you need to be mentored in. Photography is sort of like a mosaic containing many different stories and aspects, yet they are all one thing. Along with your goals, decide what you would like to know more about, and accept help when it is offered. I cherish my mentors. They are supportive and have an endless supply of brainstorming power that they share with me whenever we meet. I meet with them often and I open myself to learning. This is your craft, your passion, let others contribute to it and value their time. They want you to succeed as much as you do. They will give you feedback and ideas that you may really need to hear. Let them help you get to where you want to be.
Practice. Practice. Practice. Your skill level will not grow if you are not submersing yourself in your work. You may work a full-time job, have kids, and other responsibilities. I get totally it. Make a decision to bring your camera with you for a day at least once a week. On a daily basis I take note of hundreds of things that I want to take a photo of, and I usually do it. If I am not with a client shooting I make time to practice in other ways. Maybe you are used to shooting with natural light and you want to learn studio lighting. There is a good possibility that you forget how beautiful the snow can be in Minnesota. Learn to shoot something new and jeesh, bring your camera with you!
4. Take Risks.
At every photo shoot I have done, I take a risk. I go to locations where people are not supposed shoot, I move things that I probably should not, and my clients laugh at me a lot while security guards ask me to move to a new location. I take risks. I am not in any way saying that it is okay to break rules or to disrespect space and locations, but I push limits a little bit to get my shot. I am mindful of who I am shooting with and safety is a priority. Being creative is important, and so is achieving a vision that I have for a photograph. Taking risks also means shooting at new locations and being vulnerable with your camera. Great shots often come with great risk. Be playful, have fun, and challenge yourself.
5. Look for trends in your work.
There are most likely things that you are drawn to photographing more than others. On another level, there is a style that you have that is all your own. Maybe you have identified it, but maybe not. For myself, I love to create portraits and relate it to nature and architecture. I tend to shoot by water too. My style is unique and I don’t tend to fall into current photography styles and use trendy presets. I am learning and developing my own style and I am mastering it. Whether you are into nature, landscapes, birds, portraits, events, you actually do have a style and people get to know it very quickly. Look through your photos, pay attention to what catches your eye. Develop those ideas that you have for your work remember to be unique. Your vision is all your own, be exclusive and rare, it will get you a long way and fulfill you in a way that achieving someone else’s vision will not.
6. Print and display your work.
Yes, I am guilty of not doing this as often as I should. There is something about printing your work that gives it life and I have started to do this more often. My wife and I have a favorite tree that we pass on the way to our home. I stopped to photograph it one night and I got it printed as a metal print and gave it to my wife as a gift. She loves trees and they are very symbolic to her. We spend thousands and thousands of hours shooting and editing and posting on social media, but we often forget the last step of printing, which can bring a new level of confidence to our work. I have also found that it is valuable to print my work so I can see how my photos look off of a computer. I can see little things that I may want to change such as a color, a blemish or tones I may want to play with. It is a disservice to yourself and your work to not print it. Have fun with all of the different options that printing offers and enjoy your work!
7. Believe in yourself.
No matter what has happened in your life, regardless of where you are at in your life this very moment, you have to believe in yourself if you want to be a photographer. For many, it is a very unconventional field to be in. At times you may feel like it is a bit of a hustle, and there can be a lot of unknowns. The one thing that can keep you on the right track is believing in yourself and your work. When you believe in yourself you will attract the right people and opportunities to you. The first few years of photography for most is such a growing time especially skill wise. You will see yourself learning very rapidly and an abundance of opportunities will come your way when you believe wholeheartedly in your passion. Dreams become a reality when you remove doubt from your mind and vocabulary. Tell yourself daily that you got this. Remind yourself that you are worthy of great clients, you are a skilled photographer and that will carry you throughout your career. It can take a lot out of someone to have a passion where you are constantly growing and managing a lot on your own, but that’s part of being a photographer and it is part of the fun. Believe in yourself, you have to be your biggest fan.
8. Try new things.
Whether it is getting a new camera, or finding an amazing print distributor, take a risk and try something new. There is a unique website that will do all of the research for you when it comes to investing your time and money into something new. This is what they have to say about finding a new camera for a new photographer:
For professionals, finding the best DSLR camera comes down to personal preference and skill. But for budding photographers, the best should be easy to use, provide useful features like a long battery life, and help you learn the ins and outs of photography. To figure this out, the team at Reviews.com (a company that creates unbiased reviews) consulted professional photographers, read photography sites, and then tested four highly regarded cameras to find out which DSLR offers the best user experience.
Best for Beginners
A built-in guide will help beginners learn the basics of advanced photography, and its lightweight design and variety of lenses makes it a great camera to practice and grow with. Plus, it’s relatively affordable at only $650.
Others to Consider
Canon EOS Rebel T6i
A microphone port and adjustable display screen makes this camera a great option for shooting video. But in terms of technical specs, it won’t perform as well as the Nikon or be as easy to use. It’s also an investment at $750.
A surprisingly solid camera with technical specs that outperform their top pick. It’s also slightly cheaper at $600. However, it has a much steeper learning curve and won’t be the best fit for beginners with little experience.
To see more of their research and methodology, check it out here: https://www.reviews.com/
Have fun and explore!
“Creativity Takes Courage.” Henri Matisse
1. the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships,or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination
Creativity is found in everyone. At times we hold ourselves back from allowing ourselves to fully express our vision because of fear. As artists we are our own worst critic and I wear that label too often. I retract from pushing my own boundaries, from giving myself the gift of artistic freedom though photography. For me, this fear of creating a visual and emotional masterpiece stems from judgment. Critiquing myself and my work because of fear can be detrimental to an artists’ soul. I can say, over the past year especially I have pushed myself to break boundaries. I try new things, create presently and in the moment, and I have let go of things, sometimes people, and thoughts that may hold me back from creating what I envision for myself and my photography.
My friend Sarah, who is also a photographer, called me a few days ago, just to vent to another artist who could relate to stifled creativity. She has a particular way of shooting and bringing her art to light, as we all do, however her client had a different idea. Sarah and I talked about how much we have both grown as photographers and we encourage each other to be bold and stand up for our art, for expressing ourselves through photography is a gift as is cooking, painting, singing, dancing, etc. We begin to question ourselves, we all do. Artists wonder when their wall will come down and only then can we allow ourselves to be free of rules and cookie cutter, safe haven, Sears family portraits, and jump into the journey of courageous creativity. Only then will we accept and embrace that this is our journey, to discover ourselves through our artistic mediums and know deeply that we never have to offer an excuse for our work, our worth, our courage.
So to Sarah, and other photographers such as myself that value our personal styles, and our unique vision of life, express yourself girl. Take your journey and photograph it the way you want the world to see it. Offer no apologies for your art. Trust that you are creating from the place within you that needs to be expressed. Art is emotion, fear, pain, happiness, memory, it is an invested connection. Trust yourself, and allow judgment and fear to wash away so that we can pick up our cameras and shoot everything as though we are seeing it all for the first time. Approach your work, your vision with integrity and respect, knowing that when we do this, others will as well.
"Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second." -Marc Riboud
As I look around our home, I see moments, memories of my family and times that we shared, precious seconds of our lives that tell a story and put me back in that exact time and place. For me, these photos framed and hung up on our walls, made into canvas prints for others to see, are not just pictures, they are priceless emotion stuck in a time when my three children, now all teens, were little and carefree and all I had to do was be a mom.
When Khalil, Elina and Naomi were little I would play Kenny G while I tucked them in and rubbed their backs, sprinkling lavender oil on their toes, they still remember these moments to this day, and I cherish them. I may not remember an exact date, what the weather was like, but I remember that emotion when everything is right in the world. When you feel that way, nothing else matters, you know you are on the right path and you are grateful, manifesting more of these moments into your existence. This is the essence of a photo.
Everyone has a special photo that maybe they keep tucked away in a book, in a drawer, or proudly displayed in your home. This photo can make you feel like the world around you has stopped, and you are drawn into a feeling of perfection, you are feeling the energy of that exact moment and it has given you the gift of love.
Think about how you feel in that moment, when you forgot to breath, when there was a “what if” attachment that soon faded away and you allowed yourself to forget the past and future. When all you can do is allow yourself to just be present, if only for a moment.
I know the feeling of doing too much, and at the same time, not enough. When my plate is spilling over and I am constantly adding to my list. I get life and its ups and downs, working towards goals, and I am always challenging myself. At one point, I had three babies under the age of five, and I struggled to remain present. My tool for being in the moment with all that was going on was to grab my camera and forget the world.
Photography gave me hope that I was still present, still enjoying life and would one day look back at all of these photos and convince myself that I did something right. You would hardly ever catch me without a camera in my hand. Photography is a healing thing for me. There are moments and feelings that I always want to remember. The photos I took of my children are invaluable and hold a moment where I was present and focused on my children and we shared a moment together that can never be duplicated or forgotten, that’s just how love is, perfection.
There are moments in your life, where you should have a photographer present. You should be hiring a photographer and you should stop putting off your photo shoots, whether it is to lose weight, waiting for the weather to change, or because of finances, make your memories a priority. Moments, hours, days, and years will pass by, you will notice, and you can’t stop it. There are so many occasions to hire me for. Photo shoots are a lot of fun, and my clients take advantage hiring me as someone that knows how important time is. I value memories and know that your relationship with others is invaluable.
Get together with your girlfriends and do a photo shoot, bring me into your home and hire me for a lifestyle photo shoot where everyone can be themselves and the kids can be in their jammies! Hire me to shoot your wedding, your newborn photos, your birthday parties, your horses, your senior pictures, your memories. You can never get those special moments back, but you can remember how they made you feel every time you look at the photo. There is no reason to put off capturing those moments, and it is a priceless investment that will allow you to savor life intensely, one memory, one emotion, one photo at a time.
"It is the nature of babies to be in bliss." –Deepak Chopra
1. perfect happiness; great joy.
We were just beginning to feel the fall weather setting in on this Sunday in October. The leaves were cracking and shuffling under our feet, the sun was getting noticeably lower earlier in the day, and the wind began to work its magic, blowing their hair every which way, only increasing the beauty of their nature. Their bliss.
My daughter assists me at most of my photo shoots, which is a treasure all in itself. I spend time with her while I am at work creating, and she loves it. In this picture she decided to carry one of my clients to get a well deserved sucker after her photo shoot was done. Emotion connected with earth, and their joy came out in their sun kissed locks. Perfection.
I photograph children often, an often dreaded task by many, however, for me, they bring out my truth, my honesty, they remind me that right now is only right now, and I get to decide to play or be burdened. Children allow a new beginning every moment, they do not stay stuck in painful emotion. I admire this whole heartedly. At what point in our lives do we forget what is important, lose sight of joy, and decide to dwell and linger in that which is only a thought, and can be changed? Where did our little selves filled with joy and imagination slip away to?
Children are invaluable, a resource to provide divine happiness at any given time. They allow us to be ourselves, and actually bring out the child in us. It is so important to encourage kids to stay with the feeling of right now while setting goals, and to be present for life. We have to teach them that every thought that they have while growing into their adult selves, contributes to their outside world. If my child wants to be in the Olympics, I will encourage that. Think back to when you stopped dreaming, and know that it is not too late to begin again. You are worthy of goals, you deserve exactly what you want for your life, and the only thing stopping you, is you. Let’s teach our babies that it is priceless to have hopes and dreams. Teach them the value of doing something everyday towards achieving that which manifests in their imagination.
What can you do today to nurture your imagination, to again find your sacred bliss?
“When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.” -Robert Frank
This is exactly the way I want people to feel as they see my photos for the first time. What many of my clients do not realize is how much work goes in to creating their story. From advertising, booking clients, to editing and ordering their prints, there is so much in between. As a professional photographer, I strive to deliver an experience to my clients which includes a connection, as well as beautiful work.
When a client books a photo shoot with me, whether it is a wedding, an event or equestrian photography, the first thing I always do is spend a moment getting to know my client to see what their needs are. This can include everything from picking a location to their favorite hobby. It is all relative to me, and very important.
As it gets closer to the shoot, I connect with my clients and reassure them that I have been thinking and planning for their time with me. I am confirming the time, date, and location, checking the forecast and thinking of how I can bring their vision to visual art. One thing that I have learned to do is at the initial phone call I ask my clients what they would like to do with their photos. Some clients hire me for head shots and only need digital images, others contract me to photograph art for their homes and love to see my work on a metal print or canvas. When I shoot, I keep this in mind. If they are interested in canvas, I need to compose my shots in a certain way. If they are ordering metal prints, I know what type of light looks best and how to pair the two magically.
The day of the photo shoot comes and I may have three or four photo shoots lined up and it is valuable to start them on time. Two weeks ago I had eleven photo shoots in one weekend and they went smoothly because I was in contact with my clients and prepared. During the photo shoot your attention should one hundred percent be on your client. I talk to my clients all throughout the photo shoot, making sure they are comfortable, many times putting parents at ease. They will remember this. My job as a photographer isn’t only to produce good photos, but to build relationships, and I value all of my clients immensely. How can you tell their story if you haven’t connected with them? Make time for it.
I would say that editing takes up the most time in my day. I deliver images that show how my client and I both felt at the exact moment that I clicked the shutter. I am a perfectionist when I edit, as I should be, and my clients value that. My clients know when they hire me that their photos will capture an emotion, they know my editing style, they have fallen in love with my work, and they know it well. The experience and photography style I am giving them is what they are hiring me for.
Let your clients know what your turn around time is for their photos. This will vary depending on how busy you are. They will want to see them right away, and if it may be a few weeks before you are done editing, you can post a few sneak peeks for them on social media. It lets them know that you are working on them, and they get to share a few photos right away.
I give my clients their photos in many different formats. Some prefer to buy a digital images which is the soul of your photos. Some clients need only one or two photos for press packages and they download them directly from me. The majority of my clients order their photos as a canvas, large and metal prints. They have hired a professional photographer and while it is special to share their photos on social media, they understand the importance and value that displaying them in their home has.
So, you have read an edited version of what goes in to a photo shoot with me. There are many other factors that play a part in my work. I study and work on my art, a lot. It is invaluable. My clients know my work, and they have watched me grow, and they value that I know my craft.
The last thing that I want to share is that I value my time, my work, my style and my ability to connect. This is what my clients are paying for, my worth.
“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” -George Eastman
Light, the essential element to the art form known as photography. Back light, key light, fill light, natural light, they all contribute in a different way and can change the story of your photograph. But the most important light is, your subject’s light.
What I mean by their light, is their essence and their emotion. Take the time to look through your lens, your own light, and connect. The untold alliance that you have between you and your subject is invaluable, even if brief, is lasting. It is more important than the location and wardrobe. You know you have felt their light when your photos are illuminating with emotion.
I had the honor of photographing these three babies a couple of weeks ago. I have gotten to know and connect with each of them and it shows in their photos. I was the photographer for their parents’ wedding, birthday parties, family photos, Christmas cards and modeling portfolios. Their mom actually said at our last photo shoot that what she loves about my work is that I allow the kids to be themselves and I capture their essence as it should be, candidly. I have invested in this family, and they have invested in me. We share light.
This is the norm you will notice and feel as you begin to book me for photo shoots. A connection is going to be made, and I will allow your light to shine.
“Sometimes I arrive just when God's ready to have someone click the shutter.”
― Ansel Adams
Ashlynn has a special story to share. She has been riding horses since she was four years old. Three months ago a horse who she has now named Dyno became an important part of her life. Ashlynn shared with me during our first conversation that she had rescued Dyno, and that she wanted to do a photo shoot with him. I thought to myself that this must be a very special horse and I soon found out how true that was.
I met Ashlynn at ReAnna Stables in Hampton, Minnesota. We talked about Dyno and she shared his story with me. Dyno had been living in Bemidji, Minnesota and was listed on Craigslist. Someone in turn posted a photo of him on Facebook and was crying out for someone to rescue him. Dyno was very underweight, and Ashlynn knew she had to do something. She packed up her horse trailer and they took off to bring this amazing horse home with them.
Dyno is a beautiful Arab horse, and by looking at him you wouldn’t know that three short months ago he was suffering, lacking nutrition and love. Ashlynn is now nurturing him and is being his shield, allowing nothing to hurt him anymore.
Animals that are rescued are special. By that I mean, they have this amazing opportunity to bond with someone, to be social, and to trust. The relationship between her and her horse is nothing short of a love story. She is patient and compassionate with him, she listens to his needs, and reads his energy, she is mothering him, and I captured it all.
Dyno loves Ashlynn. This four year old horse looks to her to show him that the world is safe, and that it is okay to let go. We took Dyno to a fenced in area of the stable and he showed off for us, smiling and eyeing his new mom to make sure she could see how happy he was. He nuzzles her and she kisses him, and to watch these two brought tears to my eyes. It always amazes me when I see a connection between two energies. Ashlynn is giving him life, he is giving her trust, and I arrived with my camera right on time.