Monthly Archives: April 2013

Photography 101: Light

category: Photography Instruction

Break down the word, and “photography” means “writing with light”. In this era of digital media, Photoshop, and the like, it’s easy to forget that light is the essential component of photography and no amount of post-production can “fix” bad light.

Most of my photography students come to class using the “P” or “Program” setting or the “Green Idiot Box” as I  refer to the fully automatic setting. These students are generally frustrated because they spent a lot of money on their nice camera, yet they get inconsistent results with their photography; sometimes they “luck” into a decent shot, then in others it’s over or underexposed, blurry, or partially out of focus.


I always tell them, “the camera doesn’t have a brain; you do! Setting your camera on “P” or the “Green Idiot Box” is essentially telling the camera, “You’re a lot smarter than I am, so go ahead and make all the decisions for me.” And trust me; the camera will certainly try. You have to remember this; the camera really only cares about light and having enough light to make an exposure on the “film” or “digital media”.

I learned an important lesson from one of my mentors, Jerry Ghionis: look for the light first; then look for location. How many times have you spied a beautiful location–let’s say the beach at sunset–and  you say to your kids, “OOH! Go stand over there with your back to the sunset so I can capture a picture of you with that lovely background.” You take the pic  on “P” and what do you get? Probably a nice picture of the sunset with very shadowy children standing in front of it. Look for the light first.


I took the picture below with my iPhone to demonstrate this point:


If you notice, the background is perfectly exposed; the camera did what it is supposed to do! But what about the little girl? This is not the image we are seeking. Had I turned her 45 degrees from the window and exposed for her face, I would have had a nice window-lit image and no underexposure.

If you get brave and decide to try out some of your camera’s other settings, you’ll soon discover a world of possibilities will open to you. In future posts I’ll be talking about how to get there.

Does this mean you should never shoot into a back-lit situation? In general, yes, but if you learn to adjust your camera properly, you can indeed shoot into the sun and get great results. As in all situations, learn the rules first and then you can break them. For example, I purposely placed this high school senior in a back-lit situation:


I metered for her face and set my camera accordingly. Is the background blown out? Yes, but that was the effect I was seeking. Incidentally, this was her favorite image from the session.

I encourage you to be brave and take the camera off “P”! Go out and experiment before you try this at an important event. Subscribe to this blog to receive updates on future posts. Happy shooting!


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Boulay Girls and Guys 2014

category: seniors

As I put the finishing touches on the 2013 Senior graduation announcements and give my seniors goodbye hugs, I find it a little surreal that we are off and planning for the class of 2014. Last year was the first time we had Ambassadors or Reps for Boulay Photography, and I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I guess what surprised me the most was how close I became to those girls and how much I’ve grown to care about them and their futures.

We’ve learned a lot over the past year and are thrilled to welcome our new reps for the 2013-2014 school year. We have another outstanding group of young people working with us and I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish together this year!

 Here they are, the Boulay Girls and Guys team for 2014!



Carter and Lindsay: Independence High School


Carter is a natural leader. His list of school activities includes Young Life, Habitat for Humanity, Hosa, Stars Executive Council, and National Honors Society. He loves playing golf and may pursue that passion in college. He hopes to study medicine and become a cardiologist.

Lindsay has to be one of the nicest young ladies I’ve ever met! She is involved in youth group at church, Habitat for Humanity, and the theater program at Independence. She is a varsity football cheerleader as well.

Mattie and Rachel: Centennial High School


Rachel (left) has a heart for working with children through missions. She is in church youth group, plays guitar and piano and maintains outstanding grades in school. Her faith and mission work in Haiti guide her heart. In fact, she is spending most of the summer in Haiti on a mission trip.

Mattie does a little bit of everything! She is in student council, on the CHS dance team, theater, and FCA. There are no strangers in Mattie’s world! A budding actress, she performs in school shows as well as other local theater productions and is amazing on stage.

Charlotte and Caley: Ravenwood High School


Charlotte (left) puts her “all” into everything she does and has a gift for looking at life with a positive attitude. She is a member of Young Life and is involved with Stars and Saddle Up! She is also an active member at Brentwood Baptist church.

Caley has an amazing sense of style and an engaging smile that draws others to her. It’s no wonder that she’s a Ravenwood cheerleader. Caley truly cares for others and goes the extra mile to help out when needed by her friends.

Mandy and Emily: Franklin High School


Emily (sitting) is a social media “queen” and has a laid-back quality  that makes others comfortable around her. She is a cheerleader at Franklin and also loves baseball.

Mandy sings in the student band at church, is a member of the Spanish Honor Society as well as Future Educators of America, and is on the Student Leadership team at church. Mandy loves working with children, so maybe teaching is in her future!

Laura and Julianna: Brentwood High School


Laura (seated) is a talented lacrosse player and is very involved in her church, Holy Family, where she is a member of the youth group and teaches Sunday school.

Julianna, or “Jules” as she is known to her friends and family, is also involved in her church youth group, and is a member of Young Life. She is also active with Brentwood Girls’ Cotillion.

Alex and McKenzie: Page High School


Alex (standing) is a football and competition cheerleader at Page as well as a member of the Drama club. She also holds many pageant titles, but her passion is in her work with the American Heart Association. She wants to help all teens and kids become more aware of the importance of heart health.

McKenzie is also a football and competition cheerleader and is known for being outgoing and friendly to everyone. She strives to do her very best in school and her faith keeps her grounded and focused in life.

You will be hearing more from these rising seniors as the year progresses. They are already out there spreading the word about Boulay Photography! I am thrilled to have them on board.





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