Oct 16, 2011

Where on earth IS That Pixel Chick???

OMG has it really been over a MONTH since I last posted on here???  I am soooo sorry!  Things have been pretty crazy in my life - kids starting school (college & middle school -yikes!) a new job, sessions, and unfortunately the blog has suffered... but I promise I will try to do much better from here on out.  I have lots of ideas and not a whole lot of time these days but I will do my best to get on a good posting schedule.  If you have something you'd like to see or learn more about, or a session to share... PLEASE dont hesitate to get in touch with me!  I love to hear your ideas, and publish your favs!  In the meantime... here are a few favorite images from some of the sessions that have been keeping me busy lately!

Sep 8, 2011

Sessions that Rock! Down on the Farm

From Sara Ancich Photography:  www.saraancichphotography.blogspot.com
I recently asked readers to submit recent sessions that they felt were fun, unique or special in some way to showcase here on the blog for inspiration.  Sara Ancich wrote to me about this wonderful "down on the farm" session she recently did with three boys and I adored it!  I mean really, three boys, a farm, goats... whats not to love???  check it out for yourself...
From Sara:

"4 H Club members (2 out of 3).  Dedicated boys...All 3 of them.   Sonora High School Farm in Fullerton is their home base.  I enjoyed this hour long glimpse into their responsibilities, routine, and incredible care of their animals.  This didn't feel like a shoot, but rather a documentary of their real life.  Thank you Kilcullen Family for allowing me to tag along."

Awesome Sara... thank you so much for the inspiration!

Got a session you'd like to share?  Let me know about it at denise.snyder@ymail.com

Sep 5, 2011

Sessions that Rock!

Have a session you'd like to share???  Something unique?  I'm looking to showcase YOUR work here on the blog!  So if you have a session that you are so incredibly proud of that you want to share it with the world, let me know!  Write to me at denise.snyder@ymail.com... I want to feature your sessions that rock!

Sep 1, 2011

Spotlight on .... Margie Hurwich!!!

If you don't already know the work of Margie Hurwich you're in for a treat today!  I "met" Margie on Facebook (gotta love facebook!) and was very quickly drawn to her images of girls in old fashioned clothing... her creative use of texture and light... and her eye for composition and detail.  As I got to know her better, I learned that Margie's photography has been featured on the covers of books all around the world and I was immediately intrigued!  I think you will be too... so sit back and enjoy!

Name:  Margie Hurwich
Business name:  Margie Hurwich Photography

Tell us where you live? 

I live in a far northern suburb of Chicago.  What do you love about living there?  Summers in Chicago are the best!  But don't get me started about fall and winter...not quite sure why I don't live in Hawaii when those seasons come around!

Describe your photography style. 

A touch of vintage, a touch of darkness, a touch of feminity...with many other little things mixed in.  I love finding and shooting images that have the fewest possible elements to create timeless themes and concepts.

This photo (above) really sticks out in my mind as an all time favorite.  It is a more recent shot.  The tension between the two really shows with the slight distance between them.  And yes, I do intentionally cut off heads as you'll see in another image.  :)

How did you get started in photography? 

Throughout my working career I was required to create presentations expressing different themes and concepts.  I always gravitated towards photographs rather than clip art to portray those.  I finally decided to learn photography and since then it has become a passion for me.

Do you shoot professionally? 

Good question.  I do sell my images.  However, I do not make a full time wage.  Of course to do that, you must work full time in order to earn a full time wage, and I do not.  I work daily at photography, but not a full 40 hours a week.  My images are sold at www.arcangel-images.com.  Arcangel specializes in supplying highly creative photography to the book publishing industry.  Currently I have over 50 book covers in 12 countries.  Describe what you do and why.  Every day I am either shooting or processing photos.  I love the every aspect of photography from thinking of ideas for shoots, actually shooting the images and then bringing them into Photoshop to create a final image that I'm thrilled with.  I firmly believe every aspect is just as important as the others.

What’s in your bag, and what one piece of equipment could you absolutely not live without? 

I shoot RAW with a Canon 40D (although a Canon 7D is in my near future) and use the 17-40mm f/4L lens, the 70-200mm f/4L IS USM AF lens, the 100mm f/2.8 macro lens and the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens.  My absolutely not live without...strangely enough...would be my 18-200mm lens.  It is versatile and although some cons mentioned about this lens are vignetting...I love that aspect!

What is your best post-processing tip? 

My best and most favorite post-processing tip is applying NIK's Silver Efex Pro.  Then once I have a b/w image, I change the blending mode of the layer.  Often times Soft Light is the best.  The color comes back, but the subtle contrast of the b/w is still there.

Was there ever an “aha” moment when you knew you had found your photographic voice? 

It was the day I started using layers of textures and colors over my original image.  WOW, what a difference it makes!  By doing this, it added a whole new element of fun and creativity for me!

This photo (above) was one of my first truly conceptual images.  It is still very powerful and moving to me and I'm thrilled that it was selected to be on a book cover in the UK.

What is your best advice for those who are new to photography? 

You MUST shoot what you love...first and foremost.  Don't let anyone tell you what to shoot...follow your passion.

If you could spend your life doing anything you wanted to do with no financial concerns, what would it be? 

 already am!  :)  (Oh, and live in Hawaii!)

What inspires you? 

I have many photog friends that challenge me on a weekly and monthly basis.  It is those challenges that continue to inspire me to capture the photos that I create.

Show us your favorite image taken by you!   

How do I choose?  But if I have to I guess my all time favorite is one of my beautiful friend Amy walking up a sandy path.  It offers every element of things that I enjoy shooting.

Be sure to visit Margie's website to see more of her incredible work... and leave her some love in the comments section!  Thank you so much Margie for sharing your incredible vision here on the blog!!!  

Aug 22, 2011

5 tips for better beach photos

I have been fielding a lot of questions lately about shooting on the beach, which I do a LOT of all year round.  Since I live in a beach town most of my clients are either locals for whom the beach is a natural setting for family portraits... or they are tourists from other states who want to remember their visit to the Atlantic Ocean.  Either way, they want beautiful images that can bring them back to that amazing time on the beach... the sound of the waves... the sunsets... running bare foot in the sand. 

The beach presents many challenges to the photographer.  First and most obvious - it is BRIGHT.  While light is the most important thing to consider in any kind of photography, you CAN have too much of a good thing... which brings me to my first tip:

1.   Shoot during "golden hour"... that hour or so before sunset.  If you MUST shoot before then, try to find some kind of shade, whether from a building, a pier, or anything else you can find.  If there is no shade, you can use a scrim (this will require an assistant, or a willing client to hold it).  Or you can do what I do in a pinch, as in this image, and position another person between your subject and the sun. 

In this case, baby's mom was sitting at the baby's right shoulder (camera left) both to block the sun and to "spot" this little guy who was just starting to sit upright.  But look how beautiful and soft the light looks!  Had mom not been there the right side of his face would have been too bright, and the left too dark.

Ok... so you've got your clients at the beach and there's about an hour and a half before the sun sets... where do you start? 

2.   Think backlight...backlight... backlight!  I always try to start the shoot with my subject's back to the sun.  If I'm shooting a family, this is when I try to get some nice group shots while everyone is still relatively clean and dry... because believe me as you get into the shoot that will change very rapidly!  Shooting into the sun does not have to be difficult.  I use my in camera meter, set to center weighted, and get nice and close to one person and meter off of their skin.  I then take my position and start shooting, regardless of the fact that my meter is now screaming at me that I've got it all wrong!  Remember, the meter is going to try to expose for all that bright sun in front of you, causing your subjects faces to become horribly underexposed.  So once you've metered for the subjects face and you've set your camera you can ignore the meter until the light changes.  Here are a few examples...

You can also capture some beautiful sun flare using this method!  Such as this one...

Your clients are going to want images of them with the water as a backdrop as well, which leads us to the next tip:

3.   Save the "water shots" until the sun is very very low on the horizon, or has set behind any buildings.  Here's an example of one taken when the sun has almost set:

See how nice and even the light is, and how it has that beautiful golden glow?  Its also a lot more comfortable for your subjects to look at you without having to squint! 

Now, if you're lucky enough to have a cloudy day - that's great!  But you still need to keep in mind where your light is coming from.  If the light is overhead, even though it is softened by cloud cover, your subject's eyes will be dull and lifeless... not to mention the racoon eyes! 

Now this is by no means a comprehensive tutorial on how to handle this kind of lighting... there are other ways to deal with it such as off camera flash... but that is for another day!

4.  Choose your beach wisely!   Last week I had a shoot where I obviously did not choose my beach very wisely.  It was overcrowded, and there was litter strewn everywhere.  On the plus side, there was plenty of shade from the buildings on the boardwalk, and there were some palm trees... something not often seen in New Jersey!  So we made the best of it... we used the shade and the palms to get some nice family shots with some tropical flair...

I did the best I could to avoid the garbage in the images, but I did have to do bit of cloning on some images. 

5.  Go with the flow and be prepared for anything!  During that same shoot, perhaps 15 minutes into it, the littlest one got knocked over by a wave.  Thankfully I came prepared with a blanket we used to dry him off, and again we made the most of it and just stripped him down to his diaper.  To be quite honest, I prefer the shots of him shirtless! 

Its a good idea to advise your subjects before the shoot to bring towels and a change of clothes!

I hope these tips will help you improve your photos next time you're on the beach, or in any other harsh lighting condition!

Aug 16, 2011

Spotlight on... Terry McKaig Photography!

I'm super excited about this spotlight interview!!!  I have been a HUGE fan of Terry McKaig's gorgeous photography for years.  She is such an inspiration to me.  When I finally "met" her on a forum we are both members of I was so excited - and definitely a bit intimidated given her amazing talent.  But she is such a sweet, down to earth kinda girl... and I'm happy to now be able to call her my friend.  So, if haven't seen Terry's work, you're in for a real treat today!  

Tell us where you live?  What do you love about living there?

I live in sunny Arizona……..Peoria to be exact.  Peoria is a suburb of Phoenix on the Northwest side of the valley.  The people are very friendly here and when it gets hot for the few months out of the year we can be at the beach in California in about 5.5 hours or up in the mountains in 2 hours.  The desert is gorgeous and I love the sun…..it makes me happy…….all of that vitamin D I suppose!! : )

Describe your photography style.

I would describe my photography style as chic, modern and stylized. Magazine style comes to mind as well.  I come from an interior design background and love to stylize a session when my client is up for it.

How did you get started in Photography?

I got started in photography when my husband and I started traveling to New England in the fall to experience the beautiful fall colors and small, quaint towns in Vermont that seem to have not changed in the last 80 years!  I wanted a “good camera” so I could take “good pictures”.  Boy was I in for an education about photography.  Having a good camera will no more produce amazing images than a high end oven/stove will give you a gourmet meal but that is another subject all together!

After learning landscape and macro photography and learning about my “good camera”, I started photographing models and seniors.  I now primarily photograph engagements and weddings but will photograph seniors and families now and then.

Do you shoot professionally?  Describe what you do and why?

Yes, I am a professional photographer.  I love to make people feel beautiful or handsome and for them to have an amazing photography experience with me on their wedding day or for any given photo session.  My goal is for my clients to have images that are works of art, not just pictures that they will cherish for the rest of their lives. When they see their images and feel beautiful and confidant in who they are and the images bring about emotion that they will want to see and experience over and over………..that is amazing!!  Just a few days ago a mom of a bride said to me, “you made my daughter look and feel beautiful and even though we have always told her how beautiful she is her entire life, for the first time in her life, I think she believes it” 
That is what I do and why!  :  )

What’s in your bag and what one piece of equipment could you absolutely not live without?

I’m a canon shooter.  I have two camera bodies on me while shooting.  One 5D Mk II and one regular 5D.  Normally the 24-70 is on the Mk II and the 70-200 on the 5D.  I also have the 35mm in my bag for portraits, 50mm for getting ready images and the 100 mm macro for detail images.  I also have two 580EX II flashes and Radio Poppers for my OCF (off camera flash) along with a Sunbounce reflector for natural light.

My go to lens is the 24-70mm lens with the 70-200 being a close second.

What is your best post processing tip?

While developing your own processing style, learn enough along the way to make your own actions. It will save you a lot of cash and the knowledge you gain is priceless.  Lighting is everything, not only in design but also in post processing.    

Was there ever an “aha’ moment when you knew you had found your photographic voice?

When I stopped letting fear have influence in my photography experience…….my photographic voice came to the surface.  Fear stifles creativity and does not allow the freedom you need to have a voice.  Once the fear is gone…….amazing things happen!

What is your best advice for those who are new to photography?

Photograph what makes you happy, be original in that expression.

If you could spend your life doing anything you wanted to do with no financial concerns, what would it be?

Probably nothing very different than what I’m doing now, I enjoy my life and consider myself very blessed.

What inspires you?

Nature inspires me.  The beauty that surrounds us each and everyday is amazing.  It gives me the energy and joy to be creative.

Show us your favorite image made by you.

It was pretty much impossible to pick a favorite image. My favorite images end up being the last images from the the most recent engagement or wedding I photographed, then the next engagement or wedding images are my favorites........I wonder if that is weird? Anyway, I blew this one up big to show clients, so It must be a fave!! : )

Thank you so much Terry for inspiring us with your incredible artistry!  Be sure to check out Terry's website at the link above, and leave her some love here in the comments!

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