When it comes to photography, what I have found is that there are very few areas in wich people are willing to easy part with their money. Maternity, newborn, and wedding photography are 3 areas, however, that people will practically hunt you down and throw cash at you when it comes to pictures. Based on my personal experience, people will complain if the have to spend more than $25 on a business portrait, but when it comes to family, children, and loved ones, customers look at it as an investment. People just simply LOOOOVE to have pictures of their kids, and parents LOOVE to brag about their kids! Maternity and Newborn Photography is BIG business. Have you ever met someone that is an absolute stranger, or just someone who you have nothing in common with? Don’t know how to bypass the awkward silence of a conversation? Well I have a secret for you! All you have to do is talk about their kids, and most people will love you forever.  Are you starting to get my drift? 

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to work locally with a young couple on maternity photos, and it was an absolute blast! Bonnie, CJ and their three daughters met me down by the Cobourg beach at Victoria park, and although it was probably the hottest day yet (30 degrees Celsius!) we still made it outside and captured a bunch of perfect moments.

One of the first things I noticed when doing yesterday’s maternity shoot was that I have become very used to conducting my photo shoots in-studio in a controlled setting, and at first I was struggling with the lighting outside.  The clouds were constantly shifting which changed the F stops, and my white balance was also frequently changing, forcing me to change my camera settings from one extreme to another in a matter of seconds. If you have been shooting the majority of your work in a studio, and if you are a bit of a control freak (like me) then this is something you will find very frustrating and annoying (just a precaution!).  Most people I meet who are new to photography will tell me they prefer to shoot in natural lighting, but in my personal opinion, I find it to be more challenging.  

The original purpose of this blog when I first started was to provide aspiring photographers with photo inspiration, tips, and learning material, and so today I would like to share with you a few tips pertaining to the art of maternity photography.

TIP #1 – OVEREXPOSE

In general, when it comes to maternity and newborn photography, photos tend to be more visually pleasing with softer and lighter tones.  Babies are soft, delicate, gentle creatures, and so a photographer should apply lighting in a similar matter. While there are some exceptions, in order to play it safe I would suggest overexposing almost all images for maternity and newborn photos to get a soft, bright, lighting effect. 

Tip # 2 – TRY TO SHOOT MATERNITY CLOSE TO THE DUE DATE 

Bonnie and CJ are due sometime around the 25th to the 28th of July, and so that is why I decided to photograph their maternity photos on the 16th of July. The point here is that you are trying to capture photos of moms nice ‘Large’ and ‘Healthy’ baby belly.  Your goal should be to try and aim to capture photos of the baby bump at its largest point in growth.  If the pregnancy is unpredictable, however, and the due date is uncertain, or if it is twins, I would suggest shooting within an earlier time frame so that there is no missed opportunity. 

Tip #3 – IF IT IS YOUR FIRST MATERNITY SHOOT, TAKE PHOTOS OF JUST MOM AND DAD, DON’T BRING IN THE SIBLINGS 

This tip is aimed specifically at those who are REALLY fresh with the maternity photography.  It can sometimes be difficult working with large groups of people, especially young children.  If you are new to maternity photography and have never done a maternity shoot before, I suggest that you do a more intimate shoot with just mom and dad first to get the hang of it.  Do a second maternity shoot later with siblings once you boost your confidence. 

Tip # 4 – RESEARCH THE CUSTOMER BEFORE THE SHOOT

It will be a lot easier for you as a photographer to capture the special moments your customer is looking for if you know a little bit about your customer! In particular, try to discretely find out more about the status of the family. Are they Common Law? are they married? Are there any siblings? Is it a gay couple? Is it a single mom? Are there any pets? Do they know if it is a boy or a girl, or are they keeping the gender of the baby a surprise? The Standard American family from such as the ‘Leave it to Beaver’ family is less common these days, and it is good to know these things in advance to prevent any potential awkward moments. Get to know the subject you are shooting, and it will really help you to capture their true personality. 

Tip # 5 – STRONGLY ADVISE THE MOM-TO-BE TO WEAR SOMETHING COMFY TO THE SHOOT

Nothing is worse than doing a 2 hour photo shoot in a stuffy outfit that you cannot breathe in or sit down in. Please, whatever you do, make sure that mommy wears something that is comfortable to the photo shoot. If somebody is uncomfortable in their clothes at a photo shoot, you can really see it on their facial expressions in all of the photos.  Your goal should be to get them to relax and be themselves, therefore comfy clothing is a must. 

Tip # 5 – TRY TO NOT DO ALL YOUR MATERNITY PHOTOS IN A STUDIO 

Be creative! I get all of the benefits that come along with doing maternity photos in a studio, but once in a while it is nice to take the natural beauty of a pregnant woman and combine it with the beauty of the outdoors Yes, studios are more private, and yes the lighting is more controlled, and yes it is nice to have a bathroom that is 5 paces away for the mommy who needs to tinkle every 10 minutes, but you also have to create diversity in your portfolio.  Outdoor maternity photo shoots are also cheaper for those on a budget!  

Tip # 6 – Help Her feel Beautiful 

Most people have a hard time keeping their confidence boosted on a normal day, let alone when they are pregnant.  You know what I mean…you walk funny, you have to pee all the time, you cannot wear jeans anymore, you get stretch marks etc. People don’t like to have their photo taken in general, so you have to make sure that all of your comments stay positive, even if the photo you just took made her look like…well…a beached whale.  No one will ever see that bad photo, so you as a photographer have to act like every photo you take looks like it should be on the cover of the next mommy magazine.  When she believes that she is beautiful, it shows in the photos and in her smile.  

Tip # 7 – TAKE A BREAK 

Don’t be afraid to take a break once in a while! I know that us photographers tend to get into the groove of things or we get lost in the moment of creativity, but pregnant women can get tired easily.  Ask her about every 20 minutes or so if she would like to take a break, or if she needs a drink or a snack.  Just make sure she is comfortable.

Tip # 8 – TRY TO USE BRIGHT OR WHITE CLOTHING 

When doing maternity shoots, many couples will ask me what they should wear to the photo shoot. I often suggest that mom and dad (and anyone else that might be in the photos) wear either white or bright clothing. When it comes to babies, people generally think of them as delicate and innocent, so it is best if the colour theme matches this emotion.  

Tip # 9 – TAKE DOWN THE CONTRAST AND THE SATURATION 

Want to soften that photo up even further? In post, take down the contrast and the saturation levels of the photos! 

Tip # 10 – GIVE IT A SPLASH OF YELLOW 

I find that it is sometimes nice to give maternity photos a bit of a vintage look to add to the softness, so in post I will often adjust the white balance in the camera raw settings in photoshop to add to the softness.  This is a personal preference, so you can take it or leave it. Image

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ImageIf you have any questions or comments that you would like me to respond to, I will be glad to help you out! If there is a particular topic you would like me to write about for my next blog I am open to suggestions as well! 

Goodnight photo Lovers! 

Jess

 

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Good Afternoon my friends! 

Once again, I have  put off my blogging for way too long, and I have left you in the dark.  Life just seems to get unexpectedly busy very quickly, and I miss sharing all of my stories with you! Today I figured I would do a blog on how to take photos of art…more specifically paintings! Many people tend to assume that taking a photo of a piece of art is easy peasy…and if you have ever actually tried to do it you will soon realize there is more to it than meets the eye! The reason I decided it would be a good day to do a blog on taking photos of art is because today I spent my time working with an amazing local artist Pat Purdy so that she could have pictures of her artwork to submit for an upcoming art show. Pat Is an amazing woman with a wide range of artwork for sale that is available on her website, and I strongly encourage you to visit and check out what she has! 

http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/1-pat-purdy.html

Here are a few of the final images I took today of some of the artwork Pat has for sale; 

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The biggest key to taking good pictures of artwork is to make sure that the colours in the final photos are as close to the true colours of the artwork in real life. This is why it is important to make sure you understand how to use your camera’s white balance function manually.  To best achieve accurate colour and a proper white balance, I recommend that you take your photos in a studio or a place where you have full control of your lighting situation. Make sure any windows are blacked out, so that your camera’s white balance is not confused by the colour temperature of daylight mixed with the colour temperature of tungsten lights or studio monolights. It is best take your photos in an empty room with all of the walls are painted white, to reduce reflection of other colours from other objects.  You may even go so far as to wear all white or all black clothing to reduce reflections of colour. This will make it easier for you to control your lighting and your white balance.  Walls that are painted with a certain colour will tend to reflect that paint colour throughout the room and will alter the true colours of  the painting in your photo, ruining the final results. To counteract for this issue, you must either adjust your white balance in camera to compensate for the reflected colours, or control your exterior surroundings.

Many youtube videos will recommend that you take photos of your artwork outside (in natural daylight), and I advise against this unless you are a VERY skilled camera person! To take a photo outside of a piece of art, you would first have to adjust your white balance to compensate for any green tinge the reflection of light on grass causes. You would also have to constantly adjust your exposure due to moving clouds which will cover and uncover the sun, making your exposures change by up to 5  f stops every few seconds! This makes it very difficult for you to attend to any other small changes you may have to make if you are distracted! Taking photos outside will leave you, as the photographer, out of control! 

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Another very important part of photographing artwork is to make sure you take a photo of the artwork straight on.  A popular mistake made by photographers is to take a photo of the art  with the painting leaning against a wall, which distorts the proportions of the artwork in the final image.  If the photo of the artwork is not taken straight on, this can make it challenging for photographers to evenly light paintings across their entire frame.  If a painting is leaning on a wall, the top portion of the painting will appear darker than it is in reality, and will also become deceptively smaller in proportion.  I like to take rulers, levels, and squares (the kind you can buy in the dollar store math kits) with me when taking photos of paintings to make sure the paintings are being photographed straight on.  Some photographers may find it helpful to have a tripod with levels built in to it as well.   

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A third point I would like to make about photographing artwork is to make sure to position your lighting so that reflection of varnished paintings in minimized.  Many paintings will have a clear varnish on them, or in a case like today, metallic paint and metal material, which is highly reflective.  To reduce reflections caused by the materials of the painting, be sure to angle your lights like this; 

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This is the light setup I used today, and I found that it worked very well.  I used shoot through umbrellas with the monolights on a lower power output to reduce reflection even further. For all four of the final images I produced, very little post was required in photoshop.  It is important when photographing paintings not to abuse photoshop. Your aim as a photographer should be not to ‘glam up’ the painting, but to keep the final image as natural and true looking as the painting is in real life. We must remember that just like us, other artists or painters have a vision for what their painting should look like.  It is not our job as photographers to go in and alter the final product! I hope that this post helps! If there are any further questions about photographing paintings, please feel free to post a comment or send a message! 

P.S. If there is a specific topic you would love me to talk about next time, feel free to send in any suggestions!  

Keep Shooting! 

Jess

 

Good evening fellow bloggers!

So I guess it is past time for an update eh? (I know, I have been slacking on the blogging as of late, my bad!). Many turn of events has occurred since my departure from the Bell PMP program, and I have been super busy! Within the first couple of weeks of leaving Bell, I made it my first priority to work on a solid business plan that I could rely upon to set some goals and give myself a timeline to develop my photography business.  I was directed to the local Business Advisory Centre Northumberland, where I have been working with a guy who recommended I apply to the ‘Faster Forward Business Success Program’. I have applied to this program, but before they can consider to take me on and match me to a business mentor, I must first finish my business plan.  At this point, I have completed about 1/4 of my business plan, and I have finished all of the research on Downtown Toronto and the GTA.  Given that I will be operating my business as a freelance service in the beginning, I will also need to complete research on Durham Region, Northumberland, and Kawartha Lakes/Peterborough. Everyone at the advisory centre is very friendly and have been very supportive.  You can check out their website at http://businessadvisorycentrenorthumberland.ca/ . It is made very clear in the beginning, however, that how far you go with your business depends completely on how much work you are willing to put into it (this is something that I though was common sense….but I guess not for everyone!).

Aside from working on my business plan, I have also recently finished up two major studio shoots for two different companies.  The first shoot that I did for Parkhurst (http://www.parkhurst.ca/) was done so that I could send in sample photos to the company to showcase my photographic capabilities in hopes that they may consider working with me in the future.  The great thing about it is that Parkhurst is a Canadian company, and I liked the idea of sending in samples of my work for the chance to work with a reputable company representing the roots and traditions of the country live in. I am hoping that perhaps when Parkhurst is looking for a photographer down the road, maybe they will remember the sample work I sent them. Here are a few of the sample images I took;

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Aside from the Parkhurst studio shoot, I have also been working with Barrick Gold, taking photos of the Barrick Gold Leadership DNA award. This particular project was interesting, and I learned a lot about taking photos of reflective objects!  After 2 or 3 late nights and a few cups of coffee to keep the engine running, I have to say that I am happy with the results.  I would also like to note that Henry’s Camera made my life much easier, and I was happy to have worked with such an efficient and understanding team of Henry’s employees when I needed to get supplies for this project.  They made ordering specialty paper backgrounds as painless as possible, and made sure I had the supplies in time to finish my project in under a week.  I may have paid more for the paper at Henry’s than if I were to have gone to another supply store, but it was worth it for the great service! Here are the final images that I did for Barrick Gold; 

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Today I have also picked up my final piece of IP (intellectual property) from Bell, a poster I collaborated on with other creatives as one of my final projects during my time at Bell PMP.  The posters are made not only to enhance people’s portfolios, but also as a way to advertise Bell workshops that are being put on by the Bell PMP program to train their associates and enhance associate skills.  Here is the final product; 

Mission possible poster

Finally, aside from all of the photo work I have been doing, I have begun offering tutoring services for people who want to learn how to use their cameras.  I have been working with people of various skill levels, and it feels great to share what I know with others!  It is great to visuallt see people’s skills improving, and I am also finding it to be a great way to get to know people in my community. I am also proud to say that I am now employed on a part-time basis at the Home Depot, and my first day will be April 6th! I hope you enjoy the photos! have a great week, and remember to keep shooting! (or whatever else it is you do!)

Jess

Photography Survey!

Posted: February 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

Hello Everyone! 

So as you know, I am trying to grow my photography business, and I would really appreciate it if you could take 5 minutes (only five minute, I promise!) to fill out the 10 question survey. Please click on the following link, 

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TKMYV9Z

Thanks everyone! 

Jess H.

Battle of the Scents

A concept I brainstormed up of perfume bottles as checker pieces!

Image  —  Posted: February 27, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Bonjour! (Just kidding, I am actually really poor at french). 

I guess its about time for an update, and so I should probably tell you about the 2013 Oscars that were playing at the Cobourg Park Theatre (http://www.parktheatrecobourg.com/2013/home/)! On Sunday, I went with my brother to the Cobourg Park Theatre to see the live screening of the 2013 Oscars, and of course I snapped some pictures while I was there.  It was a great chance to get out of the house, socialize with people in the community, and support the local theatre business. We arrived early at 5 when the doors opened, and both of us received these awesome loot bags full of goodies from small local businesses! What is interesting about this is that Time staff have reported that guests attending the real Oscars Award Ceremony receive gift bags with a total value of over $62,000! If you dont believe me, visit http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/02/26/whats-in-the-2012-oscars-swag-bags/.  Now I don’t know about you, but for me I think that the value of these bags is slightly controversial, and that much better things could be done with that kind of money.  Are swag bags a necessity at the Oscars? I mean sure they are awesome, but if I was the person receiving one of those bags, I would be tempted to donate the contents of it to other people or associations that need them. Maybe donate them to Make a Wish foundation? Supposedly, this years swag bags included several thousand dollar cosmetics products, food catering services, night stays at a hotel, a two week car rental from a reputable car company, and a a coffee/esspresso machine amongst other extravagant trinkets. The loot bags my brother an I received were filled with Burt’s Bees radiance cream, Moxy’s Salon and Spa gift certificates (in Cobourg), Heaven on Earth Spa gift certificates, Soap samples from Northumberland Soap Works, a tasty food sample from A Matter of Tase Gourmet Food Store (courtesy Elaine Fish), Nivea day cream, perfume samples (Daisy by Marc Jacobs, Shock by Calvin Klein, and Black XS by Paco Rabanne) and a few other things. In total, the gift bags were valued at either $10 or $20 (I can’t really remember), which is, in my humble opinion, much more reasonable. I think I will now definitely be getting my hair cut at Moxys, and maybe get  pedicure at Heaven on Earth Spa in the next week or so.  I also really enjoyed the pineapple rum glaze from A Matter of Taste, and when my limited budget grows a bit as my photography company grows, I will keep them in mind for my grocery shopping trips. The Oscars at the Park Theatre were presented by Star 93.3 and 107.9 The Breeze, which I loved because I think it really shows how our community gets together to support local businesses. Here are some of the photos I snapped while at the event; 

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I have to say that everyone looked absolutely amazing in their snazzy suits and tuxes, and extravagant dresses! The Cobourg Park Theatre invited Chef Michael Pigeon, an IKA Olympics Silver Medalist, to cater for the 2013 Oscars screening event. to read more about Chef Michael Pigeon, go to http://www.northumberlandtoday.com/2012/10/25/silver-as-good-as-gold-for-olympian . Chef Michael Pigeon focused on Seafood based Hors de ouvres for Sunday, and I have to say they were mighty fine! If I ever run into anyone looking for catering, I will definitely recommend his work.  Aside from that, I would like to say a big thanks to Antonio Sarmiento and his girlfriend for organizing such a wonderful and successful event (I will definitely go to this again in the future!) to learn more about antonio, go to http://www.antoniosarmiento.com/ . I am looking forward to going to the Elephant Man, March 15-30th! 

Hello my fellow bloggers/photographers! 

First I really need to apologize for being MIA for so long! I know I promised you something like a blog-a-day way back when….but it appears that I have been overly ambitious once again, and that my life is just too busy at the moment to be spending all of my time sharing my thoughts with an invisible audience! Now would probably be a good time to update you all on my career status as a photographer, and what it is exactly that I have been doing for the last month or so. 

Last week (on February 15th to be exact) was my last day working at Bell PMP as a photographer/intern! I know, exciting right?  Well I guess it is exciting, but at the same time I can definitely say that I am scared shitless because, basically what this means is that now I am ON MY OWN. All on my lonesome. In this gigantic. soul-eating. life-consuming. cutthroat competitive. crazy-ass business market.  

Now that I have ‘dipped big toe in’, as they say, or ‘tested the waters’, it is time for me to go all in and see if I sink or float as a photographer…soo kinda nerve wracking I guess if you want to put it mildly.  No longer am I safely cocooned within the thin, aluminum, construction-paper name-plated cubicle walls that greeted me every week day morning at Bell PMP for over 6 months. No longer will I have the regimented, dependable, structured schedule of your typical 9-5, Monday-Friday job.   Even though I was working at the PMP as an unpaid intern photographer, I honestly can say that I will miss having a regular schedule and a group of people to work with.  Having that schedule really motivated me to keep doing what I am doing as a photographer.  Other people depended on me to be there! Now it is just me depending on myself, and hopefully continuing to keep myself motivated.  My success as a photographer now completely rests on my own two shoulders and the brain that is between them.  Talk about pressure! 

I guess one good thing is that I am not starting off too badly as a freelance photographer, and I am trying to keep my photo bookings as busy as possible!  I just finished a boudoir shoot with a client who has re-booked next month for family portraits (Success!!!…ok now i need a celebratory beer).  On top of that, today (while meeting with insurance brokers to find some new auto and camera Insurance mind you), I met a really nice lady who’s husband recently bought her a camera, and she is looking for someone to tutor her on how to use her camera! We exchanged information and hopefully I will be teaching her one-on-one on how to manually photograph.  I am also waiting to hear back from a lady who is looking to get food photography done for her menu and her website for her restaurant that she has recently purchased. 

In the meantime, I also forgot to mention that I have moved back home with my parents just until I get my business lifted off the ground.  I am hoping that this will happen before the end of the year 2013.  In order to get there in time, I am planning on meeting with a business advisor who will help me draft up a proper business plan.  I am also shopping for camera equipment insurance now that I have accumulated so much gear…and camera insurance is proving to be harder to find than you would think! 

Another experience I feel I should share with you is related to printing.   I have recently printed a photobook with PIkto, a company located in downtown Toronto, currently in the distillery district.  I have to say, I had heard nothing but good news about Pikto, and so this is why I printed with them! This time around though, I needed the photobook for February 14th for a valentines present.  I definitely ordered the book with enough room to spare so that it should have gotten there in plenty of time…. in fact the exact date that I ordered it was February 4th.  Pikto states when you order a book online, that it takes 5-7 business days to process and print the photobook…ok so I’m fine with that.  that would mean that I should have received the photobook on either the 11th, 12th or, 13th.  this still would have given me enough time to gift wrap the book for my client and deliver it on valentines day.  Instead, due to my extraordinary luck, the photobook was not completed and in my hands until Tuesday the 19th.  This is practically a week behind schedule, and I almost lost my client due to their fantastic fucktardidness! On top of that, their prices are kind of high.  After seriously having to break out some of my mad awesome customer retention skills (thank you Starbucks Training!), I have to say, I was not Impressed in the least, and so sorry Pikto, but you have lost a potentially lucrative customer… and I am printing with someone else next time. 

I have also recently photographed some sample products for a canadian clothing/accessory company called Parkhurst, which I sent to the company owner to show him a sample of my work and see if they are looking for photographers.  Unfortunately I can not share the beautiful awesomeness that became of those photos quite yet (still processing the photo release), but I will post them as soon as I can.

In other news, I figured I should share with you that I was matched up for a super fantastic, drool inducing internship opportunity in South Africa! Now thats super-fucking awesome right!  I would be working as a media ambassador on a Rhino Conservatory on behalf of Jenna Clifford, a jewellery company who is financially backing the StopRhinoPoaching.com project. Here I would get the opportunity to photograph and videotape conservation efforts in South Africa, and then upload all of that on social media platforms to raise awareness and increase donations.  This is all super awesome, but again, this is another unpiad internship opportunity…and after 7 months of working at Bell as an unpaid intern, I have had to turn down this opportunity. bye-bye national geographic! This seriously crushed me alive (imagine what your 13 year old car would look like after being sent to the scrappers and being crushed by one of those compactor machines).

And so my life seems to be in extreme limbo right now….and the world continues to turn.  Will I Sink or Float?

Those are all my updates for now! Let me know what your printing experiences are, or if you have any recommendations for camera equipment insurance!