Friday, May 29, 2009

Police Dog Graduation

Yesterday we photographed the annual St. Paul K-9 graduation. The demonstration was spectacular again this year.
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bus Stop Mango

Here's an image from last year's trip to Europe. This one is a "painted" version of Bus Stop Mango - Paris.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tiny Dancer

Here is a quick composite from last week's photo shoot at Beth Campbell's dance studio. Sammy is showing off her dance technique.
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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dance Class Photos

Today I helped my friend Tina photograph dance classes in Spring Park. Katherine, pictured here is one of the most experienced students. She will soon be a member of the new Lake Minnetonka Youth Dance Company. For more information visit:

Art In Wayzata

Today I photographed the Wayzata Art Experience in downtown Wayzata. See more photos at: .
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Friday, May 15, 2009

Burriss Group Photo Sample

Here is a sample shot from our session for the Burriss Group of Wayzata. We love making corporate portraits! This is Jamie.
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Minnetonka Magic

Just a reminder that we still have a limited number of our Minnetonka Magic prints available. They are based on my original oil painting. Call me if you are interested: 952-473-0201.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Background Check

A couple of weeks ago I participated in a webinar given by Brad Mangin, who is a top sports photographer. He regularly shoots for Major League Baseball, Sports Illustrated and the Upper Deck card company. The topic of his presentation was, “What makes a great sports photo?” He believes the answer lies in the following components:

Features Great Light
Captures The Moment
Shows Strong Faces
Tells A Story
Has A Great Background

It is my opinion that these elements apply to any images that features people. Whether it is a senior portrait, wedding image or fashion shoot all of these criteria apply.

The first four are pretty obvious. The interesting inclusion here is background. Why is background listed, when it would seem less important than the other components? After viewing Brad’s sample images it became very clear. Almost every one of his images had clean, non-distracting and soft or relevant backgrounds. Indeed, A beautiful background provides the “stage” for the image to play on. The right background brings out the sense of place, while allowing the subjects to stand out in a seemingly three-dimensional way. This is the stuff that classic images are made of. In sports photography one cannot stop the action and say, “Mr. Player would you mind leaping for that ball one more time?” Everything happens in real-time, without any warning. That great double play or collision at home plate comes without advance notice. The best sports photographers assess the situation and look for angles that will provide the backdrop for that next great action shot.

The moments that really count are sometimes a little bit less spontaneous in portrait and wedding photography, but they exist all the same. A sudden laugh or a father of the bride’s expression as he hugs his daughter at the altar can be just as quick to pass by. Being in the right place at the right time, with good light and the cleanest background possible are what we strive for. The next time you are at a wedding and are looking back as the bride comes down the isle glance over her shoulder and more often than not you will notice the dreaded “exit” sign. Luckily digital retouching can now cure what was once a constant annoyance for wedding photographers. Altar formals can also be very tricky. Nothing looks worse than a cross growing out of the bride or groom’s head. A good photographer learns to “see” the background, and understand its impact on the image.

The studio setting provides a “controlled” environment, where the light can be set perfectly. All the elements of a great photograph still apply, including the importance of strong and beautiful “Backgrounds”. From a simple color paper background to a fully constructed environment, with plants, furniture, accessories and textures almost anything you can imagine is possible. Sometimes the background can be applied in post-production through digital painting, by using “green screen” technology, like you see on the weather segment during TV news or with Photoshop techniques used in the “Marilyn” image we brought in today.

One of the techniques we are excited about uses theatrical gels, which look like this. (hold up) When placed over a background light and directed on to a gray background they create almost unlimited color choices that can be changed very rapidly. (Show Lindsey Samples) This technique can be used to match clothing or compliment hair color.

Photographers sometimes use the terms: high key and low key. This simply put just refers to whether the background is light or dark. A white seemless paper background would be considered high key and a black or dark background is called low key. With my particular style I tend to use darker backgrounds. I do this in order to make the subject stand out as I always try to make the faces the lightest part of the photograph.

Other background choices that we offer include 10 x 20 muslins that can be stuffed into a bag for use on location and rolled canvas backgrounds, like the one you see behind me, which are also easy to carry. Most of our canvases are hand painted to achieve a custom look. In the studio we also incorporate 4 x 6 foot panels that roll on clothing racks. All of these various backgrounds, which can be combined with fabrics and props are designed to set up quickly and give us a look that is unique. I’m sure that some of our clients have been loyal to us for a number of years partly because they want continuity in their look.

When our photo session involves outdoor images of people the background can also be controlled through the use of interesting forms or colorful elements. In general the easiest way to create a soft background is to use a telephoto lens that is set to a large lens opening. Opening the aperature dramatically reduces which elements of a photograph will be in focus. (Show Sample). This effect works in the same way for portraits as it does for sports images. The main idea is to have the important action or featured individual stand out, without distraction.
I realize that most of you have only a casual interest in photography and my presentation may not have you tearing apart the rec room to build a studio. But, I do hope that the next time you are in a position to evaluate a photographer’s work please remember to do a “Background Check” to see if he or she uses the techniques that I have talked about today. How a photographer handles “the background” will tell you a lot about their skill level.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Digital Mats

Today I revisited one of my photos from last year's trip to Europe. In this scene A butcher on Rue Cler in Paris unloads a truck in front of his shop. I decided to create a digital mat in Photoshop using a metal texture overlay and bevel and emboss. Digital mats and frames can enhance the look of your photograph.
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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Corporate Headshots

One of the most important services we offer is location portrait sessions for companies and organizations. We save these groups the hassle of sending their people to a studio. Our system allows us to set up, shoot 20 to 40 portraits and tear down in a matter of two hours or less. Over the last few years we have perfected this carefree and simple way to make these images available to our clients.

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