february online workshop | breaking the mold

BREAKING THE MOLD a two-week online workshop february 11th - 25th space is limited registration details below

some topics that will be discussed are: inspiration creativity thinking outside the box finding your style creating strong images building a strong portfolio

participants will receive the following: an honest and intimate look into my photography daily, interactive communication three assignments followed by feedback an inspirational e-book a few special giveaways and more!

details for early registration: 1. this workshop is held via the bloom form & therefore, all participants MUST BE bloom forum members. if interested in registering for this two-week online workshop but are not a yet a member of bloom, you can join the forum (for 3, 6 or 12 months), by clicking the bloom logo below... The Bloom Forum 2. once a bloom member, you can register in the bloom forum, here:  Bloom News section under Mini Workshop Information 3. the workshop will run from monday, february 11th - 25th, with daily posts and interaction 4. active seats are $225.00 per seat. 5. silent/read-a-long seats are $175.00 per seat. 6. the private workshop information will be available for one month after the workshop ends. 7. there is also a private section for all past breaking the mold participants, to continue  interacting and sharing with one another.

and here's what a few former breaking the mold participants had to say when the workshop was done:

I am sad that our time has come to an end in your new workshop ‘Breaking the Mold’. I have enjoyed it immensely.

We so often second-guess our instincts and I have learned lately that mine are very loud and rarely go away. It is funny too, I don’t often shy away from it, unless there is fear involved – fear of rejection, fear of not being validated, fear of moving forward, fear of dwelling too much on the past, fear of trying something new, fear of the competition. Your workshop has not only validated me, my strengths, my weaknesses, but it also brought my journey to a whole other level. I hope that I will continue to adapt and transform and ask myself all the questions you asked of us in your workshop. It was fast moving, made me reflect and helped me see things way more clearly. That is a gift.

There are very few people in my life who have truly given me inspiration, made me want to move forward and try something new. But you sure have! You have allowed me to let loose and share in a comfortable and giving environment. You were warm, generous and giving!!! I so appreciated all your candor. In our short two weeks, you have definitely given me confidence, helped me make sense of the issues and doubts I have been feeling for awhile and made me want to be a better me, for my clients and for my family and friends. Everyone needs that someone to get you “unstuck”. Your words, your exercises for us, and your explanation of your own photography has heightened my love and passion for photography so much more than I ever thought possible. - SARA

i’m so sad that our workshop is over, but i just wanted to take a minute to send you a quick note. this was the very first workshop i have ever taken, i had no real expectations. i can tell you that the last three weeks were unlike anything i thought i would experience in a photography workshop… it was almost like therapy for me, really! i am self taught, and have struggled with the mentality that i’m not up to par because i don’t have the piece of paper to prove that i deserve to be here. i finally think i’m starting to see that i don’t need to be technically perfect to be great at what i do. really, i could ramble on forever but i really just wanted to say thank you! thank you for helping me believe in myself, for bringing so much passion and inspiration to me in a short time and thank you for taking the time to teach us all and for being you!! i have never really surrounded myself with a group of my peers, it’s been an amazing ride. – Lila

I can’t thank you enough for your amazing workshop. It went above and beyond anything I had ever expected. I came into the workshop hoping to learn more about photography, I never dreamed of the personal journey it would take me on or the growth I would have. I have come away appreciating my vision as an artist and not worrying about others. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so open and honest. I have grown leaps and bounds and look forward to continuing to grow even more. - STEPHANIE

new & fascinating

i was at the apple store yesterday with my sick computer.  there for a couple hours, chatting with the apple guy, and we got on the subject of photography.  he actually has an art degree and was pursuing photography on the side [he loves working at the apple store].  he asked me if i heard of the new camera concept, where you can select focus AFTER the fact.  i hadn't. so we talked some more. i guess before steve jobs died, he was trying to buy out this company, so he could bring the concept to apple.  it's just fascinating. so what is it? it's a camera, where you take a photograph, and then you or anyone you share the photograph with, can select a focal point anywhere on the image.  i investigated it a bit and the technology uses 11 megarays to capture a living image via a light field picture file [.lfp].  no printing of the pictures right now, just sharing digitally.  but my guess is printing [converting of these files] is around the corner.

the camera is small [1.61 in x 1.61 in x 4.41 in] and light.  prices range from  $399-$499, depending on how many images the camera can hold.

meet the lytro camera...

you can see the kinds of images the camera captures and what the image can do HERE.  just click anywhere on the image and see the focal point change.  so what do you think?  i'm curious to hear what others have to say about this new technology.

keep, protect, share

keep me, protect me, share me...

i will live forever.

such an awesome kodak ad, which i think and hope is going viral right now.  a video from 2005.  and now sadly, kodak files for bankruptcy. but i don't think this will be the end for kodak. or film. just as the impossible project is doing everything they can to keep instant film alive.

the video also has me thinking about the amazing opportunities we now have to capture a photograph -- film, instant, digital, phone, etc. but are yours protected? will yours have the opportunity to live forever? are your digital photographs backed up? have your images come off your phone? off your computer? something to definitely think about. something i personally am passionate about.

your voice

let's be honest... i had a rough couple of weeks. beyond my husband being gone, a bathroom renovation that is going anything but smoothly, and a re-roofing that left me saying "i really just hate that" [although they are fixing it]...my photography journey had me in tears [more times than once].

wondering... where i'm at. where i'm going. just trying to make sense of it all. of anything really.

but it's like trying to make sense of things in the midst of a tornado.  the eye -- the center of the storm -- is there. you know it. but you can't get there. you can't even see it. you can't get to that bit of clarity...that bit that makes sense. it's all just swirling. that's how things have been and felt lately.

but today, my friend sent this to me, prefaced by...

saw this today and thought about you.

don't dilute your inner voice by soliciting the opinions of others, heeding them over its counsel. why ask mere mortals for advice when you're guided by sacred wisdom? treasure your sixth sense. treat it like gold. wear it close to your heart, and don't allow anyone to rob you of its power. -sonia choquette

can't even begin to share how much this quote speaks to me. so much about this photography journey is trusting yourself. allowing yourself to just be. and learn. and grow. but trusting, and listening to that inner wisdom, along the way. and not being influenced by the craziness that surrounds you. and well, there's a lot of craziness going on in this industry right now.

with that being said, another wise, inspirational friend emailed me last week and shared how i need to just be patient. there's so much i still don't know. i'm still not educated on. instead of focusing on what isn't happening at this moment, i need to embrace and be grateful for what IS happening.  words of wisdom from someone who has been there and done that.

newborn safety in photography

i wrote the post below for the creative mama today, but wanted to share it here as well.  i feel it's so very important that information regarding newborn safety in photography gets to as many photographers as possible.  please pass it on!! +++

It seems that there's a lot of talk happening right now regarding newborn safety, in regards to photography. And honestly, it's about time!!! Yesterday, a friend who is trying to spread the message of newborn safety, shared on her facebook wall, a photograph [from another photographer] of a newborn in a glass vase that looked very unsafe and quite scary!  As the photography industry becomes more and more saturated with photographers [many getting into business well before they're ready], I'm afraid this unsafe newborn posing might also continue to occur more and more. This message needs to be spread --no matter who we're photographing, photographers need to have safety as their number one priority.

Please know that professional newborn photographers, such as Baby As Art and Kelly Ryden Photography, always have newborn safety as their ultimate priority. These photographers have many, many years of experience, work as a team and they have the art of posing newborns and editing in Photoshop mastered.

Jodie Otte recently wrote this great article on newborn safety, along with sharing some behind-the-scenes photographs, showing how this baby on a guitar is actually a composite of a couple different photographs. Never was this baby balanced on this guitar alone, without the assistance of someone else. Please refer to Jodie's article in it's entirety, for additional newborn safety information and behind-the-scenes images.

And this article by Shoot Baby shares additional [frequently attempted] newborn poses, along with how the photographs were achieved, by combining multiple images in Adobe Photoshop.

Parents -- if you don't feel it's safe, you don't think it's right, it doesn't make sense or you're simply not comfortable with something during a photo session, please stop the photographer immediately. Always remember that you have commissioned the photographer; he or she is working for you!

ETA:  if you're going to pose a newborn in a bowl, in a basket, hanging in fabric, etc., you need to do it WELL -- along with the baby being kept completely safe and comfortable at all times!  with that being said, i just don't understand poses like sticking a newborn in a glass vase filled with gum balls [even when done well].  i know and appreciate that photographers have their own creative style, but some of the things photographers are doing with newborns these days just doesn't make sense to me [and often is not even done well, nor seems to be done safely].

and if you put your photograph out there [to the public], it's important to be open to feedback -- both positive and constructive criticism. know why you're creating the photographs you're creating and be sure it's for more than competing with other photographers.

ten things

this is just WAY TOO GOOD to not re-post here, originally shared by chase jarvis [whose blog i really need to visit more often]... Here is a list of 10 things I’ve learned the hard way that every photographer, designer, creative–hell, every creative person–should know.

1. Experts aren’t the answer. The blogs, the teachers, the mentors, the seminars aren’t the answer. They’re not there to tell you exactly what you need to know. If they’re good, then they are there to give you some ideas, some guidelines, or some rules to learn and subsequently break. This isn’t about the expert, it’s about you. In creative pursuits especially…what’s going on inside you is where the answers can be found. Hear what experts say, but don’t always listen to them.

2. Clients cannot tell you what they need. Clients hire you because they have a problem. They need a great visual representation of something, a solution. They think they know the best way to photograph something, but they don’t really. That’s why they hire you. Take their suggestions to heart, because they definitely know their brand, product, their vision–perhaps even shoot a few versions of the images they THINK they want to see first–but then go nuts with own vision. Add value. Show them something they didn’t expect. Don’t be a monkey with a finger. Remember why you got hired…that YOU are the badass image maker. If you are good enough to get selected for the job, you should be good enough to drive the photographic vision.

3. Don’t aim for ‘better’, aim for ‘different’. It’s funny how related “better” and “different” are. If you aim for ‘better’ that usually means you’re walking in the footsteps of someone else. There will often be someone better than you, someone making those footsteps you’re following… But if you target being different–thinking in new ways, creating new things–then you are blazing your own trail. And in blazing your own trail, making your own footprints, you are far more likely to find yourself being ‘better’ without even trying. Better becomes easy because it’s really just different. You can’t stand out from the crowd by just being better. You have to be different.

4. Big challenges create the best work. If you get assignments that are pushing your vision, your skills, then awesome. Kudos to you, keep getting those assignments. If you’re not getting those assignments, then you need to be self-assigning that challenging work. Give yourself tough deadlines and tougher creative challenges. You do your best work where there is a challenge that is clearly present and 10 feet taller than you think you can handle.

5. Aesthetic sensibilities actually matter. Go figure on this one… I’m constantly surprised as how much this is overlooked. Read this and believe it: You must develop a keen understanding of design, color, light, and composition. To just say “I know a picture when I like it” isn’t going to get you anywhere. You need to know –for your own sake as well as the sake of your clients who will ask you– WHY a photo is a great photo. WHY is this one better than that one. If you don’t have any visual vocabulary, opinion, or aesthetic sensibility you won’t be able to explain these things. You won’t get the job. Or if you do get the job, you won’t be able to explain why your photos are worth getting hired again by the same client for the next campaign, story, or video. Trust me on this. Develop a sense of visual taste.

6. Simple is good. Almost every photo that is bad has too much information. Outside of technical basics, the number one reason that most photos fail is because there is no clear subject. Often this is the case with design, film, fashion, you name it. Remove clutter, remove distraction. Tell one story, and tell it well.

7. Make mistakes, learn quickly. Simply put, you need to be able to learn from your mistakes. Avoiding failure is not the goal. The goal is recovering from mistakes quickly. That goes for ever element of your photography–creative, business, vision…you name it. If you’re not willing to make mistakes, you’ll be paralyzed with inaction. That is the devil. Get out there and do stuff. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t work, change it. Quickly.

8. “Value” is different from “price.” Don’t compete on price alone. That is certain death in any creative field. Focus on delivering value and price yourself accordingly. If you deliver great value with your images — better than expected, and better than your competition– and you can illustrate that through any means, then you should be more expensive. And remember that value comes in many forms.

9. A-Gamers work with A-Gamers. If you are good at what you do, then you work–or seek to work–with other people who kick ass too. If you suck, then you put yourself around sucky people to feel better about yourself. If you want to be the best, seek to be around awesome people–be it other artists, assistants, producers, clients, partners, whatever. Shoot high. Shoot for better than yourself.

10. Real artists create. Do you just sit around and think of stuff you could create, photograph, build, ship, or design, but never output anything? Then you’re a poser. Take a new approach and make stuff. Maybe what comes out of your studio isn’t perfect, but there should always stuff leaving the door and hitting the web, the page, the billboard, the gallery, or the street. If you are for real, you’ll be pumping out work on the regular.

There you go. Now don’t just read this list, KNOW this list.

[This list was unabashedly, profoundly inspired by my pal Guy Kawasaki's article "What I learned from Steve Jobs." If you like this version that I've adapted to and reworked to be creative industry/photography centric, you'll still love Guy's version here.]

november mini-sessions | tampa photography

so happy to offer a few fall mini-sessions... MINI-SESSION INFORMATION

four 20-minute fall mini-sessions saturday, november 12th at redington long pier starting at 3:50 PM

to reserve a session time, please email deb@debsphotographs.com or call 858-431-6214.

retainer fee | $300 • includes $200 print credit, applied at time of order • 20-minute photo session for one person [5 months & older] • additional siblings or parents $25 each 
[up to four additional people] • 10-plus edited images presented in online proofing gallery for five days • refer to special mini-session pricing below • tax not included • non-refundable retainer due to hold session reservation

PORTRAIT COLLECTIONS ONE | $500 one 11x14 giclée print one digital file three desk prints

TWO | $750 two 11x14 giclée prints one digital file four desk prints

THREE | $1000 one 16x20 giclée print one 11x14 giclée print two digital files five desk prints

* with purchase of any collection, add all digital files [presented in your gallery] for an additional $500.

A LA CARTE ITEMS desk prints [8x10 & smaller] | $80 11×14 fine art giclée print | $175 16x20 fine art giclée print | $260 individual digital file | $350

and some photos from a few of my most recent family sessions...

the good, bad and ugly

...the real. where should i start? okay, let's start with the good. i had such an awesome time in both san diego and chicago. i got to hang out with lots of friends (old and new).  i shot a ton, which of course, i love and i'm so, so grateful for all the families who entrusted me with their photographs. i'm all caught up on mail and bill paying after two weeks away. i just read this post by the awesome tara whitney. reading that poem makes my heart so happy (tara also recently shared this awesome post). i'm now back home with my family!! YAY!! and i was recently interviewed by lensbaby and the interview went live a few days ago (so, so exciting, even if i do sound a bit like minnie mouse).

the bad and ugly. so it's really not THAT bad or THAT ugly but... i'm 12 sessions in the hole and trying to crawl my way out. but it's slow going. very slow going. i need to unpack. i have to clean, do laundry and grocery shop. i have a shit-load of emails to respond to, but i seem to have become an expert procrastinator with that right now. i need to finish writing something for another photographer (promised i'd get it to her tonight). i need to return phone calls. and well...there's much more where that came from.  yes...after two weeks away, i'm trying not to feel overwhelmed.  every now and then, i feel it sneaking up on me, trying to creep into my soul. but i keep fighting it. shaking it off.

to top things off, i haven't worked out in 2-1/2 months and have been eating like total shit, which isn't helping me feel very good right now. i've gained five pounds, feel fluffy and overall just feel yucky. i'm back to crossfit three times a week, starting tomorrow. i also decided that i'm going to take a couple photos like this tomorrow morning because it's only fair.  i want to keep being real and not just share about my health and fitness when the going is good. it's not going to be pretty strong and healthy, but it will be real.

i sit here blogging as i'm transferring photo files from my laptop to my main computer.  i'm trying to i WILL resist all temptation to visit facebook, pinterest and twitter because each of those usually equates to a major time-suck. i'm trying to keep focused, prioritize and work hard, knowing that eventually it will all get done. i also need to keep myself in check that once my kids are home from school, work stops.  i am theirs -- all theirs!! work doesn't resume until after they go to bed and then it's back at it... tackling one to-do item at a time.

hope this doesn't come across as complaining. it's just life. and i'm grateful for every bit of it -- the good and the not-so-good.

do what you love

holy crap, this is so good!!

do what you love. do what you're about. and you will kill it. you will win. - gary vaynerchuk

thanks david duchemin for the awesome share.

p.s. i did see someone comment about the fact that sure this guy walked away from his wine business, but he probably did so as a millionaire.  regardless, he has a great message and is dynamic as hell.

a mini-workshop | june 3-17

i'm super excited to share that i'll be holding an online mini-workshop on the bloom forum -- june 3rd through june 17th.  this workshop is for bloom forum members only, so if you're interested in participating in this workshop, be sure to become a bloom forum member prior to workshop registration day (this tuesday, may 24th). to register for the bloom forum or for additional information, please click the bloom logo below...

The Bloom Forum

i'm super excited about this opportunity to teach and share.  hope to see you there!!


such an interesting article, from 2008, on conscientious regarding what makes a great portrait? is it...

an intangible element luck and patience the graphic elements, framing, lines and light what is said about the image maker what is said about the subject images that make a statement vulnerability and awkwardness a feeling and reaction an insight into an inner universe an element of surprise insightful and engaging a meaningful connection an emotional exchange tension in the moment infused with believability mutual trust a raw and honest exchange the capturing of a state of grace something that rarely happens an unanswerable question

these were some of the thoughts (of photographers, bloggers, curators, editors and gallerists) shared on conscientious.

the article has me thinking (a lot) about the portraits i've taken. what i love. what i don't love. what i've been doing. what i haven't been doing. where i hope to go. it also has me thinking about how much growing i have yet to do. i try and remind myself often that it's only been six years and i still have so much to learn, expand upon and explore. and patience...i must simply have patience. and continue to study and work hard.

after i read the article, i spent some time with my accessible work | portraits.  here are some portraits i've taken over the past few years that strongly speak to me for one reason or another...

so, what do YOU think makes a great portrait?

i hope you'll not only take the time to read the article, but also sit with your own work and thoughts for a while.

mother's day

yes, mother's day is quickly approaching -- may 8th, as a matter of fact.  and what more magical gift to give a woman for mother's day than a family or children's photo session.  who wouldn't love and cherish that gift?!!  and if they grumble for any reason, simply direct them here -- to my the perfect time post.  i promise they won't grumble any more. i know it's a dream of mrs. B's (below). at the most recent wallflower friends retreat, where we had the awesome opportunity to photograph mr and mrs B and their youngest two, we talked about how one of these days, she is going have all eight of her kids photographed together...and what a special mother's day gift that would be!!

if interested in reserving a photo session or purchasing a gift certificate, simply email me here.

also, don't forget about all my upcoming 2011 travel locations.

upcoming travels | sessions

lots of traveling in the near future -- VA, OBX, san diego, HI, NY & chicago.  and i'm super excited about it!! VA -- april 16-17 OBX -- apr 18 san diego -- apr 23-29 HI (maui) -- july 11 - 21 NY -- august (dates TBD) chicago -- october (dates TBD) san diego -- november (dates TBD)

still a few sessions available. please inquire if interested in more information or reserving a photo session.

also, i had the pleasure of sharing on the creative mama today.  you can check out my post here.

a few photos -- all from past travel sessions:

off and running

i'm excited to be headed to california this morning, for the next 11 days. a wee bit anxious too as i haven't left my kids quite this long, although i do know that my husband is 110% capable of doing just as good of job as i with the kids. and steve's brother will be here to take care of the kids, while steve is at work. this morning, sky said,

am i just going to wear my hair down for the next two weeks. boys don't know how to do hair. unless they work in a shop....are trained in a special shop. and what about buddy's hair? i guess his hair will just look crazy every day.

i put sky's hair in a ponytail or pigtails every day for school. and wet and brush ryder's, as his becomes quite a fluffy mess during the night. so, i leave -- knowing all will run smoothly -- except maybe my kids' hair. and if that's all i have to worry about while gone, that's pretty darn awesome.

i guess i'll include instructions regarding the little ones' hair, in the weekly schedule / note that i'm leaving for uncle joe.  something i didn't think about, but is obviously a bit of a concern for sky.  :-)

i will be two days with my mom, in sacramento, helping her pack up her house for a mid-february move. three days in san diego, where i get the opportunity to shoot an elementary school class, a great friend's family and max's family. this will be the second time shooting max's family since he passed away, august 2008. and then i'm off to twentynine palms for our workshop. so, so excited to meet another incredible group of photographers.

from my last session with the mikulak family, in 2009.  nicky and hannah, with max's favorite stuffed shark, bruce.  nicky was belting out ring of fire, which max so loved to sing.

sure will miss these three, while i'm gone (taken a couple weekends ago, during gasparilla celebration)...

steve too, who continues to support and encourage my photography dreams. love you babe!!

true momentum

true momentum happens when a unique gift is cast upon a moment that has been waiting for it all along. if you don't have it, the spread of your work feels contrived. so you may have lots of twitter followers, but if you garnered them by following anyone and everyone in a desperate attempt to grow your platform, no one really cares.

when true momentum happens, people respond to your work. it's like hoisting a sail and being propelled by the wind, rather than rowing your brains out.

i heard jon acuff say recently that when he launched stuff christians like, the site drew 4,000 readers in just 9 days. his talent was cast upon a moment that was waiting for it. - ben arment

oh how i love his words.  in a sea of photographers, this is something to really think about and take to heart.  work hard. be honest and passionate about what you do. and let things happen naturally.  you might just be surprised.

thanks steph beaty for sharing.  definitely a new blog to add to my reader. so many bits of inspirational wisdom scattered throughout his posts.

permission to dream

as i continue to try and find a way to go to miami and photograph my kids with this piano (dreaming that it IS possible), the past couple days has had me thinking a ton about dreaming and risk-taking. then i saw the following post on facebook, from my friend (and past workshop attendee), jess --

my dream: to have a photograph i have taken...on the cover of a book. i swear...i buy books by their cover...and would die if i could accomplish that!

and i thought, why don't we share our dreams -- our wishes, hopes, desires, aspirations -- more often? what a powerful thing, to put your dreams out there. to set them free. and surround yourself with supporters. and other dreamers. truly, what do we have to lose?

i  so believe... in dreaming big. working hard. taking risks. knowing that anything is possible if we allow ourself to dream!!

yesterday, i read this quote and found it so inspiring... if we always did what was known, there would be nothing to learn, explore or gain. isn’t it the surprises, the unexpected twists and turns that give meaning to our journey and make our dreams happen? Without risk, we’d stay hunkered down in our heads instead of living out loud in our hearts. - author unknown

and then i happened across this quote this morning. every thought you think is taken as a command by your subconscious, but it’s your strongest thoughts that become your true goals. - brian mayne

can't help but think how truly powerful it is to fill your mind up with positive thoughts and big dreams.  so tell me, WHAT IS YOUR DREAM(S)?

this is too good

...not to share everywhere i can. sid savara shares seven reasons why you should never check email first thing in the morning. balance is something that most, if not all, (digital) photographers have great trouble with, especially when it comes to too much time spent on the computer. i think about all the time i spend on the computer -- checking email, editing, blogging, updating, twittering, facebooking, pinteresting, flickering (just to name a few). we talk about all kinds of ideas on how plan to limit our computer time, but it's like crack or something...we're just drawn in and once you're in, you need more. but i'm going to work really hard to start here --and not getting on my computer first thing in the morning. i'm thinking if i'm up at 6:30 (getting the kids off to school), i should give myself until at least 9:30 AM (an hour after i drop kiele off to school) before i touch my computer.

i summarized mr savara's seven steps below...

1. ignorance is bliss...fully productive. when you get up, work on something important first, for 30-45 minutes. you don't know what needs to be addressed, what fires need to be put out, what your best friend has to share, etc. i

2. it's not YOUR to-do list. do what's the most important thing for you to work on instead of being tasked by other people via your email. remember who is in charge of your time -- focus your time and energy on what YOU really would like to work on.

3. it's an excuse to lack direction. if you're checking email (first thing in the morning or often), it's because you haven't decided what your high priorities are and focused on them. when you don't have a clear list of priorities, checking email becomes an urgent one, often at the expense of the important ones.

4. reaction vs. 'proaction'. what is the chance that you checked your email at the exact right moment to address that super important email that just came through? checking email often forces you to react as items come in regardless of their true priority. instead, take proactive actions and work on the things that are important to you.

5. searching for excuses. don't check your email if you're looking for a way to get out of the task at hand -- acknowledge what needs to get done and do it.

6. there's no set time limit. checking email really only takes a minute - but you can get sucked into follow-up activities that result from checking email. don't let email suck you in and cause you to devote more time than you can afford; set productive hours.

7. it builds expectations. how many people say "but i have to check my email; people expect my to reply right away." that's a bunch of bullshit (he didn't really say that, i did). if people do expect a response from you right away, it's because you've created that expectation.

how many of us waste time online, while we should be working on our to-do list? i know i'm so guilty. some days i'm better than others. for a while, i kept my written to-do list up-to-date and plugged away at it. every day, i circled my high priority items and got them done. i need to get back to doing that.

you can read mr sivara's full article here. i now have his site bookmarked. hoping to be inspired by more of his articles. thanks for the little kick in the ass tara and getting me refocused again.  i'm going to work hard at finding a better balance -- and focus on the things that are truly important!!

an artist's style

i subscribed to nate williams' newsletters long ago because i loved one of his art print posters and they happened to be sold out. i was hopeful that maybe he would re-issue it in the future. little did i know that i'd also be receiving great, inspiring articles for creatives from nate williams. in his most recent newsletter, he included an article, does a professional illustrator need a "style". he shares...

As an illustrator, art directors hire you because they want to give a project a specific tone, feeling and they need to be able to count on your work being a certain way for their project, campaign, etc. It’s kind of like choosing a font. Imagine if you bought a Metallica CD and it was full of acoustic Bolivian folk music .. you would be kind of confused??? Art directors usually don’t want to play “style roulette”. This doesn’t mean you can’t do other styles…it just means when you present them to clients have consistency between the bodies of work. A number of illustrators, writers, and musicians work under various names for this vary reason. For example, my other style .. or alter ego is Alexander Blue. This is a wackier, colorful style geared for kids.

and regarding, does having a "style" mean never changing or growing, he states,

No, it just means have consistency between the bodies of work you present. (ie Nate Williams, Alexander Blue .. both me .. just grouped accordingly)

such great words to embrace and think about!! and i love that these thoughts are from a different type of an artist -- an illustrator versus another photographer.

had me thinking, for sure. i often have a difficult time seeing or talking about my own style, although i will when one forces me to. but i do know what i love. and i work hard to only put the photos that i really love in my portfolio. at the end of the day, i feel like if you do your thing and you're honest about what you love and share that in your portfolio, your style will shine without even trying.

and...i'm so excited about ordering this fabulous nate williams print, which was very similar to the print that i was originally longing for. a beautiful life indeed...

lastly, an image from the other day, while shooting with my friend, kathy wolfe. it had been a while since i shot.  and it makes my heart so, so happy when i do.

p.s. no birds were added or manipulated in this image.  it is as it magically was that day...and at that moment.  :-)

should you

...work for free? if you haven't seen this yet, it's a funny read. but not really. it's something to REALLY think about as you contemplate doing business for free. i definitely have my opinionated thoughts about doing complimentary work and those attending the wallflower friends retreat will be hearing about some of those thoughts soon. :-)

created by jessica hische | view the original, larger version here

also... a great little interior design blog post here on when "fine art meets family portraits".

and since i love to include photos with my posts, here's a few favorites of my kids from the past five years...

can't help but mention that in the shot above, it was the first day ryder was potty trained (wearing big boy underwear), he scribbled all over himself and had sky's ponytail holders on, which we called his 'wonder boy bracelets'. sigh...where does the time go?

portfolio questions answered

after my initial portfolios post, i started receiving some emails / questions regarding portfolios, so i decided to answer those questions here... i am always stuck on getting all my images to look the same. like i see many other photographers accomplish... Do you edit all your images the same?..or do you let the image determine how you edit (if you edit at all). Do you think it is important for the consistency or rather letting the image stand out, even if that means it does not "look" like the others..

very rarely do i edit the same; my editing changes with time and often is affected by my mood.  however, i will try to edit a single client session similar or at least make sure that it flows and is cohesive.  and yes, i absolutely let the image determine how i will edit it. i like to say that i feel the image.

i believe that each and every portfolio image is independent of one another and so i don't worry about images within my galleries looking similar or flowing.  i hope they are cohesive though -- in being honest with my portfolio selections, i hope they all look like me [my photography], which lends to natural cohesiveness.

What do you think is a good number of images for a website gallery?

i don't think there's a magic number to the amount of images for a website gallery; however, you do have to be careful of too many.  how many is too many? i'm not sure.  i guess this is really artist dependent.  i try to keep in mind that i don't want to overwhelm my prospective clients.

I notice you seem to integrate more artistic images very well - I have a hard time with this, and I'm not sure how well my own site/portfolio flows. What are your thoughts on combining artistic projects and portrait work?

i have my projects and portrait work in separate groupings [portfolios & projects] on my website; however, that doesn't mean i don't have artsy images within my portrait galleries.  for me, i have absolutely no problem mixing my images. in the end, whether artsy or not-so-artsy, i hope they are both strong and both scream me. i don't think there's a right or wrong answer as to combining or making separate. sometimes  you just have to play and do what seems to work best for your artistry and your website. i do have some images that i love that just don't flow on my website portfolio and so they are not there. for example the images below. i absolutely love them but i don't think they work on my current website | portfolios. but that doesn't mean they won't in the future, as i'd love to begin photographing more in client's homes.  if that was the case, maybe these photos could be part of my online portfolio.

I was just going through your portfolio (love!) and noticed your kiddos were on there. Someone (can't remember who??) once told me not to put my kids photos on the portfolio. I can't even remember why?? Anyway.. I took that to heart and have like 2 photos of my girls on my portfolio. I used to have a section called 'Mine' with my fave photos of my girls.. but got rid of that too. What are your thoughts on this? Some of my fave photos are of my own kids... but then perhaps it is just my own bias because I am so emotionally attached to them.

i think there is NOTHING wrong with having your own children on your website (obviously).  however, i do want to caution you on mommy goggles. every mom photographer knows what i'm talking about -- those images that might not be as strong as others but we have a hard time seeing that because we're emotionally attached to the image because they're our cute kids. just make sure that the images of your kids that you're putting on your site are strong and what you want to shoot with your clients. if you're not sure, run the image by a friend, who will be honest with you.

I hear the needing to keep portfolio images in one easy to access place. I’d love to hear more about how you organize this.

i think portfolio organization is so important. i have a 'portfolio' folder. within that folder, i have a 'high res' and 'low res' folder. and that's it. you're organized. the reason a high res folder is a must is because over time, your website will probably change. with a new website comes new sized web images. if that's the case and your organized, you simply go to your 'high res' folder and batch process the high res files to the new web size needed.

with that being said, my 'high res' folder (10x14 at 300 dpi) is very fluid -- images come and go. if i'm on the fence about an image, i might just leave it there. if i know the image no longer speaks to me, i remove it from my portfolio folder.

also, i recently switched to lightroom and imported all my high res portfolio images and tagged them with the word portfolio (keyword). now, as i shoot a new image that i want in my portfolio, i add the portfolio keyword and then export it to my high res and low res folder.

the key is having all your portfolio images in one place, for easy access.

How do you keep all your portfolio images organized, categorized and sorted so you can find and refer to them easily. I love so many and typically forget I own them or where they are. I am referring to digital and Polaroid.

having my portfolio images in one folder is enough to keep them organized, categorized and sorted.  you really shouldn't have thousands of images in your portfolio.  or even hundreds for that matter (IMO). i do have separate portfolio folders though, e.g. 'portfolio client', 'portfolio polaroid', 'portfolio dress', etc.


if you have a portfolio question, feel free to add it in the comments and i'll do my best to answer in an ETA section of this post.