The Importance of Scouting a location for family portraits

Dear Friends,

last week I had the opportunity to do a family portrait session at a beautiful location here in Colorado with a sweet family of 4.  The session lasted about 60 minutes and we had lovely evening light on a cloudy night.  It went smoothly and I felt very much at home at the venue, even though I have only been in Colorado for a few months.

Why did I feel at home?  Because I had scouted out that location months ago!  I took pictures of the location, and went at about the same time of night I knew I would be booking an appointment.  I was familiar with the proximity and availability of parking, nearest restroom facilities,  possible hazards, animals on the property, (in this case, there are abundant bunnies!) possible background textures, structures on the property, and the physical address to give my clients so they could get directions.  I even knew that the access road was under construction so I could tell them to allow extra time to get there.

Are these details important?  I created a whole gallery on my website of “Memphis Photo Shoot Locations” with photos of each location, with and without models to illustrate lighting and features.  That gallery was accessed 2,190 times in the last month!  I have thought about deleting the gallery, since I live in Colorado now, but it’s obviously filling a need for photographers, parents and other folks in the area, so I will leave it open.

When I have scouted out a location and educated myself about everything I can, and anticipated the questions my client might ask (where is the closest bathroom??) I am free to focus on my client and move them from one location or activity to another in a smooth manner.  That way, my energy and attention is completely on providing them with a memorable and positive experience.

If you are a portrait photographer, or aspire to be one, please consider scouting out several locations in your area.  Take a few photos so you can remember what you’ve seen.  You’ll feel more comfortable, and will be able to focus on what’s important:  your client and her family!  🙂

-Laura Lee

 

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Palm Springs is Beautiful in April!

Hi friends!  I thought I would pass along this invitation to attend the Great Escape Publishing workshop in Palm Springs.  I will be speaking (briefly!) in the evening on April 6th.  Please contact me if you have any questions.  This is a wonderful way to improve your photography and meet others that share your enthusiasm!

If you have a sense of adventure, and you’d like to see more of the world in a way that’s different to the typical tourist, then grab your camera – this invitation to join us in Palm Springs is for you…


Join us at this year’s ONLY Ultimate Photography Workshop

When: April 5-7, 2016

Where: Palm Springs, California

Why: In just three power-packed days, you’ll get everything you need to gain the confidence, power, and prestige of turning your photographs into a financially valuable skill. One that earns you a lifetime of travel and fun!

LIMITED TIME OFF

Register by Monday, March 21, and save $200 on your seat. Click here for more details.

Sincerely,

Lori Allen
Director, Great Escape Publishing

Winter, but not for long!

Hi friends!

We have recently moved to Colorado and I thought I would post a few photos from some of my hikes in the area.  The sunrises and sunsets are spectacular, and there is so much natural beauty in this area.  It’s winter time, and on one of my hikes I saw that it was just cold enough that the water currents were frozen into a thin layer of ice surrounding the rocks in the creek.  We have had many sunny days here and although we’ve had snow, it’s melted now, except for the mountain areas.  I hope that you will get out there with your camera and enjoy winter’s wonders.

Chic Critique Spring Photo Contest – Vintage!

 20140131-IMG_9981This is my entry for the Spring Chic Critique photo contest!

I was so happy to have such a beautiful model and 2014 Senior for this photo shoot.   The muted colors, vintage heavy curtains and window light made for a timeless look of beauty and serenity.   Congratulations, Emily and the class of 2014!

CARPE DIEM – seize the day!

My Dad and I have a favorite saying…it is simply Carpe Diem!  This is the Latin form of “seize the day”!  I love this simple saying.  Instead of think about the day, or fear the day, or get through the day, it’s SEIZE the day!  It implies action.  It is active, not passive.  It implies control.  What exactly can we control?  The events of some days seem very much out of our control.  But I do believe we can control our attitude toward events and people.

I believe that all good gifts and talents come from a loving God, and that when you share your talents with others, you often help them as well as yourself.  In photography, I love the concept of “paying it forward” and that photography can be a gift to others.  In the last year, I have adopted the City of Germantown.  I have done numerous photos for Parks and Recreation, including the Bobby Lanier Farm Park and the Special Recreation programs, all free of charge.  This year, I was asked to do the PROM photos for the special recreation department.  They provide an outstanding evening for individuals with mental, physical, emotional and other challenges.  Their decorations were beautiful, they provided food and drinks, music and entertainment for about 130 people in the Germantown area, all without cost to participants!!!  The participants really dress up for this event.  It’s a dressy, formal evening of fun.

PROM

I had a great time, and I know they did, too!  Have I ever photographed a formal event before?  no.  130 formal photos in a short time? no.  But I believed in myself, my equipment, and decided to seize the day.  I learn something new every time I get my camera out.  So, here’s to taking charge, paying it forward, and deciding to seize the day!  Try it!  You just might surprise yourself!

exploring something new…HDR for beginners!

hi friends!

I thought I would talk about something completely different this week!  This week, I took my first steps into the world of HDR (High Dynamic Range) photos.  Let me show you the end result and then talk about how I got there:

1303NatureThis was taken at the Lichterman Nature Center here in Memphis.  It was a rainy day, and I used my most “waterproof” lens, the Canon 70-200mm  f/2.8 L  IS, and a tripod.  Let me tell ya, if you want breathtaking landscape photos, with or without HDR, you have to invest in a tripod!  And if you’re going to shoot in the rain, invest in a very inexpensive plastic “rain sleeve” which keeps your equipment protected!

Anyway, back to our story.  To use HDR software, you really need to take 3 photos of the same, exact thing at different exposures.  You want one that is underexposed (too dark, not enough light) like this one:

1303Nature-2one that is overexposed (too much light) like this one:

1303Nature-4and one that is properly exposed, like this one:  (not too much light, or too little)

1303Nature-3Now, that last one isn’t too bad!  But I’ve lost some details in the shadows, and some details in the very light areas!

Let’s compare the first and the last one once again:

1303Nature

1303Nature-3Now, I have to say right now, that usually  you DON’T want any fast moving objects in your HDR photo!  This means that typically animals and people are not going to give you very good results.  I was taking a big chance on the geese in the picture.  They seemed to be moving VERY slowly, if at all!  Now, look for the AEB setting on your DSLR.  AEB stands for Automatic Exposure Bracketing.  You want to set that to take your 3 shots about 2 stops apart.  Don’t worry if I just lost you…I’ll give you some online references in a second.  Now, set your camera drive from taking a single shot to taking “continuous” shots.  When you click the shutter button, your camera will now take 3 photos very rapidly, with those 3 exposures.  (underexposed, exposed, overexposed)

I purchased the “essentials” package for HDR from http://www.hdrsoft.com which has some additional examples for you to look at.  The “essentials” package was $39 and you download your 3 photos (underexposed, exposed, overexposed) into the software, and it merges or combines the 3 to pick up the details in the shadows, and the details in the light areas!  I was completely amazed at how the final image appeared!  It was almost like taking a step into 3 dimensional  photography!

Okay, I know I lost some of you that are new to DSLRs, but here are a couple of my favorite websites if you need help understanding your camera settings, or with “photography speak” in general:

http://www.freephotocourse.com    (look at February 2013 contributor gallery for wallybird photography’s featured photo!!!)

http://www.digital-photography-school.com

Have a wonderful week!

despite what the groundhog saw…

hey friends.

If I’m not mistaken, that expert on forecasting, the groundhog, predicted an early spring this year.  I know most of my friends in Minnesota and upstate New York are wondering about this prediction, with even more new snow added to their accumulation!

We’ve lived in many states, and experienced Spring in many places.  Here in the (mid)South, spring starts early with daffodils in February and progresses through almost every color of the rainbow by June.  Our winters are fairly moderate, with an occasional ice storm or some snowfall, usually melted within 48 hours.  Here’s what our winter looked like:Image

As much as I enjoy the moderate winter, it isn’t the celebration I experienced in Minnesota.  After a long, hard, winter, I took great joy at EVERY perennial that reappeared in my yard!  I marveled that anything could survive outside in such harsh conditions.  I thanked God for every plant that showed the tenacity to come back after sub-zero wind chills and layers of snow and ice.  It gave me hope that I, too, could survive my experience here, as a seasoned, “perennial” parent.  Maybe God celebrates my growth and resiliency as much as I was celebrating these little blossoms!  The thought put a smile on my face.  Although Spring is not as much of a celebration here in TN,  it still fills me with wonder.  The other day I was driving and rounded the corner to see an old barn, sitting on a hill, with a vibrant green field below it and dark, threatening skies above it.  The contrast between old and new, darkened skies and bright clouds was amazing:Image

Hoping you find wonder in Spring, wherever you may be this year!