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Painful Confession

Wednesday, November 11, 2015   |   News
So the Truthful Tuesday and other posts are again on hold... my Drobo (a machine that holds 16TB of data) aka my server is down again... so I can't access anything to do any work. All files are safe and backed up in triplicate... however, the machine that runs them is busted. The good news I just won a bid on eBay for a new one... so as soon as that ships and arrives - they say be November 23... I will be back online and blogging... #incredibly-frustrated....
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Website Update, Water Portraits

Friday, August 21, 2015   |   News
Happy Friday!! 
 
It is said that water is responsive to our feelings, our words, our energy. I need water! It feeds my soul and nourishes my spirit.  
 
So this summer I have finally got around to building myself a water tank and all these images were taken in the same tank - or one just like it. Yet the feeling and emotions and stories with each is so different. Water is a versatile medium to work with, you can pose in ways you could not think of when standing. It relaxes and soothes you. And it also cools you down in the heat! 
 
So thank you to all the models below for letting me play and create stories. This first image is full of hope and anticipation - its a new maternity image, I took today of the lovely Chrissy.

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This one is sisters - growing in the garden of youth and family.

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This image is my friend Deb - its a victorious image. She has conquered cancer, faith was an important element in her journey. Celebrate with her today, as she releases her book of love letters and images captured using the alternative printing process I so love, photogravure.

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Isn't it so amazing the different look and energy each image holds - yet all were taken in the same setting. This one is not finished. I will being doing encaustic work and overlaying that with more wax... so fun!!! 
 
All this transformation and sudden energy for creativity has been wonderful. My great coach Jeff Shaw gave me a shout out when he was speaking the other day. I have had 600 new hits on my website and its not reflecting new work. So the changes have begun. With this smoke the rest will be finished by the end of the weekend - unless some miracle occurs and all wildfires in the Northwest are put out by some needed rain. So bear with me if the site is not at maximum functionality during the next few days. 
 
And a final shout out to my friend Christie in Austin, Texas who really broke down the specifics of what I needed from Home Depot to build this tank!! Check out her water portraits - they are totally different to these! 
 
Water - it is transformational... find some and rest and revive yourself this weekend!

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Ideas for Clothing

Monday, August 10, 2015   |   News
Day 5 of the challenge - how can I help you with a problem? One thing I know people often have a hard time figuring out is clothing for pictures - whether these are professionally taken or you are having a family gathering and want to capture everyone together. 
 
So here are a few pointers to bear in mind: 
 
Faces in a family portrait should be the first thing you notice. But clothing sometimes competes for the viewer's attention. Clothing that simplifies a group portrait is usually made up of all lighter tones, or all darker tones, not a mix of the two. 
 
A common mistake is mixing dark tops with light bottoms, or visa-versa. This can create a high contrast, "busy" scene, especially with larger groups. 
 
Choose a palette of 3-4 colors and mix it up, including both pants and dresses. You want a cohesive feel, but without being overly "matchy-matchy". Picture a page in a clothing catalog where everyone coordinates, but nobody stands more than the rest. Light clothes look better on lighter backgrounds, and dark clothes look better on darker backgrounds. Also consider the time of year, what are the locations colors, and pick things that compliment the setting. Also if you are planning on a large piece of wall art from the images then make sure the clothes and setting compliment the room you plan to hang your art in. Or you may well find yourself repainting the living room! 
 
A few other generic pointers: Sleeveless shirts and shorts on adults tend not to flatter, but layered clothing is fabulous. Save strong patterns and contrasting colors for areas you want to feature, like young children in the group. Otherwise choose solid fabrics of slightly varying tone. 
 
The image below shows consideration of the season (fall) nobody is too match match, but everyone looks great together.

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Where to start?!! 
 
Begin with a neutral theme 
For a classic look start with solid fabrics. Add a little pattern and splashes of color with the children's outfits and accessories on the adults (scarf, shawl, cardigan, hat, etc). 
 
Do not mix dark and light tops and bottoms. Especially in larger groups. Mixing darks and lights creates a busy look. Keeping the entire group in darker tones or all in lighter tones simplifies and draws attention to the faces. 
 
To slenderize 
Dark clothing tends to slenderize, especially against darker backdrops. Long sleeves and dark stockings also slenderize and simplify. 
 
Below this family had a basic neutral grey palette but then sparked it up with some splashes of purple... and Lisa got her new purple shoes!!

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For a Natural Look 
Sweaters and other long-sleeved knits help you look relaxed. Layered tops add depth and dimension. Jeans are great because they allow us to sit people on the ground. For outdoor portraits, autumn colors, or jewel tones work better than pastels. 
 
For a Formal Group 
For a stunning formal portrait, start with a blend of rich, understated colors, not too "matchy". Add a little dark-on dark pattern in accessories. Don't be afraid to spice it up with a color splash, over-the-top fabrics, necklines and jewelry. Darker tones work well to simplify the overall look. 
 

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In the studio setting the background is often so neutral in my sittings that we really decide at the consult what the purpose of the session will be and the best clothing and way to photograph to make this happen. The final image below shows a wonderful mother and daughter image, the colors compliment but don't compete and we still look straight at their faces first. 
 
A final tip - before you decide for sure that you have it all figured out! 
 
Try this: Lay out everyone's clothing together in the room where your portrait will live. Replace outfits and add accessories until you achieve a fresh and exciting look for that room. 
 
I hope this helps!
 Crackle

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Taking the teaching role... Day 4 of the challenge

Thursday, August 6, 2015   |   News
Today is day 4 of Alex Beadon's blogging challenge. The topic of the day is to be a teacher - to tell you something that is going to help prevent misperception. For a second I was like what shall I talk about.. then Alex mentioned talk about the one thing that just occurs again and again for you. 
 
So Yes its that topic of Digital Files and Yes a consultation is a prerequisite to a session. So to be more clear and make this an easier process I am going to follow the guru Alexs suggestion of making this more like a question and answer session. 
 
Lets start with the initial phone call or contact. Most people do not know where to start - so straight out the gate they want to know: 
 
How much do you charge? 
 
To that my smarty pants self wants to say - how long is a piece of string?!!! I think you can understand by the analogy - how much chicken do you want? A slice, a whole bird? Its hard to know an answer without knowing exactly what you are looking for and what you are expecting, are you feeding just yourself a snack or a family of 6 permanently hungry teenage boys? 
 
I am happy to explain I am custom portrait studio. I would rather photograph fewer people and have a true connection with them and produce artwork for their home that is meaningful for them. Once I have explained this, and a little of how I work, I can give you an outline of what you can expect to spend. HOWEVER, this is much easier to understand if you can spare 30-45 minutes to come in or Skype and discuss in detail your family, what your needs are and I can tell you how and if we are a good match. Then we can see products and figure what meets your needs. 

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What is the consultation, is it really necessary? 
 
The consultation is a time for us to find out if we are a good fit personality wise, professionally and in what I offer - is this really what you are looking for? Would you buy a dress without knowing you can send it back. Well for me the consult is the opportunity for you to meet me, assess me, see what I do and what products I offer, and does this fit right for you?  
 
We talk about your family and what you want to have photographed. We discuss the best way to capture this idea, the best location and clothing. All of this is also tied to where in your home you want to display your art, how you decorate your home and your longer term vision for your family photographs. 
 
By coming in to the studio space and seeing finished artwork, albums, and image boxes people understand I am a full service studio. I want to create artwork that is finished and ready to hang in your home. Heck we even come and hang it for you if you like! I do not want you to have this forever ongoing list from your photography session - ok pictures taken, now I need to sort them. Now I need to find an app to make them look cool. Now I want to print them. Oh no we have soccer to go to! I have no time! Oh opps the computer got upgraded - I no longer even have a CD drive! Then three years later you find that cd and wonder what was on it? Dang that was a waste of time!! I want to make it easy for you. I want it to be fun. I want to get to know you and your family and make something original, fun and fitting for you and your home. I want this to be an ongoing relationship.  
 
I have learnt the hard way - its easy to love all your images - that is my goal!! However, if you buy framed prints of them all there is no room for the future images you will want to hang. We have solutions of this and I am going to help guide you through the entire process. I am going to help you identify the best images, the ones to let go and the ones to keep in a keepsake album or box. 
 
Without a consult, a plan we can be coming at the same idea from different directions and that is not a good thing. I need to understand your story. I need to know why now is the right time to create images. We need to course our journey to creating your artwork together so we tell the right story. 
 
So yes the consult is totally necessary, vital and fun!! Anytime I have not done this it bites me in the butt and there is confusion on both sides and guess what that leads to? Disappointment and a failure to meet expectations - a lose/lose situation.

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Do you sell Digital Files? 
 

In case you missed the above - errrrrr no we are a full service studio. I want you to have finished products in your hand. With the correct color, archival presentation and beautiful finishes. However, we are happy to help you with social media files of any prints that you have bought. Every client who completes their order also gets a digital slideshow and video from us and a personalized app for their phone.  
 
A direct answer is always good. No I do not sell digital files as a stand alone product. I want you and your family to have actual tangible images in your hand. I want to take your memories from temporary to tangible. So, if you are looking for a shoot and burn photographer - someone who will hand a CD of unsorted, unfinished images - this is not the studio for you! I have a studio that wants to create more conceptual art, art that just happens to be you and your family. Art that tells your story but is different from the mainstream of photography that is out in the world today. 
 
If this fits what you are looking for then great!! Lets chat! You can email me through the website or call 406.721.8208 - and sorry about the message that explains NO I AM NOT CRACKLE TV!!! That is another thing in and of itself!! Have a good evening! 

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From Camera to Paper

Wednesday, August 5, 2015   |   News
With all the changes in the photographic industry in the past 15 years - digital is the driving force of change. Then add in the smart phone… and you have a revolution. Its the modern day Brownie Camera - its available to everyone, everywhere. 
 
But with this amazing ability of everyone being able to photograph everything we are at risk of losing one valuable thing. The images themselves. The current young generation is the most photographed ever, but also one of the last generations to actually, see and feel a print of themselves. The images remain on the phone which hopefully is backed up to a cloud or hard drive, but they remain digital, the good old print is not happening. I would like to see its revival! I would love to see families sharing their holiday memories in books, snapshots on paper and frames on their walls. 
 
So to help you make your summer memories surround you into fall here are some handy tools and apps for you to improve you initial image and places to print images. 

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Apps to improve and tweak your images beyond the abilities of your phone. My favorite has to be Snapseed - its a phone version of the powerful Nik filters that professional photographers love to use. It has quick filters and a super easy to understand interface. 
 
Another great tweak image tool is PIC-TaP-GO- this is great and versatile you can add multiple filters, adjust the strength and save your own recipes. Plus Doug Boutwell one of the founders has a zany sense of humor so you can’t help but get a giggle when you read his blog posts or twitter feeds. 
 
Now to print those images!! For a wonderful range of products and simple to use straight from your phone is Artfact Uprising - I love this company - their design aesthetic just makes my heart sing and then the quality of the products is top class. Here is an image of the image block the boys and I made Don for Father’s Day. They have just added large prints 40x60 to their line up so you can go and make what ever you like here!!

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Another place I recommend is the side lab of my main pro lab. Mpix - they do everything and will even help you with retouching and color correction. A wide range of products and easy online ordering. Fast, efficient and great delivery too. 
 
If you are looking for something different then think about printing your images on wood. I have tried Woodsnap and they do a good job with great customer service. 
 
Finally my favorite album, is to use Milk Books…. yes I think I am a total sucker for the overall look and feel of a website and this one also just makes me off the chart aesthetic value happy! This company based in my homeland of New Zealand offers a wonderful range of books for different occasions and budgets. I love ,love, love mine!! 
 
So I challenge you to make some tangible prints or products from all the images you create of your family, travels and adventures this summer. Please share some of what you create. Enjoy and have fun. And let me know how it feels when you sit curled up in a chair this winter with your kids flipping through an album that shows all your adventures from this past summer. I bet it is priceless!

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