As the school year winds down and we prepare for summer vacation, I keep thinking about our 2013 Senior Class and their upcoming graduations. Since I did so many graduation announcements, I know the dates, times, and locations like the back of my hand! I’m sure when next Saturday rolls around, I will be remembering all the wonderful high school seniors and their fantastic parents who graced my studio this past year!

One of our very last 2013 seniors to schedule a shoot was Logan from Brentwood. During our consultation with his mom, Beth, she shared that Logan was “very laid back” and easy to get along with. Truer words have never been spoken! Janice and I usually spend a little time at the onset of a shoot (especially with the guys who tend to be more camera shy) making our client feel comfortable and relaxed.


Totally unnecessary with Logan! In fact, just being around him made us relax! He has an amazing presence and despite the fact that he’s 6’6″ and towered over both Janice and me, he doesn’t use his height to intimidate.


It is truly a gift to feel so comfortable in your own skin, and especially when you are only in high school. I have no doubt Logan will do amazing things in his life because he knows who he is and loves who he is.


Best of luck to Logan and all the Class of 2013 as they stretch their wings and go on to new exciting adventures! We wish you much happiness and success.

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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!


One Response

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