Thursday, September 25, 2014

7 Things to Look For in a Portrait Photographer

You know you want some amazing photographs. So, you sit in front of your computer and type "photographer" into Google. 24 million results appear. How in the world do you decide who is best for you? I happen to have some tips to help. Let's get right to it...


This is probably the most important factor in hiring a photographer. Does their work speak to you on a visual and emotional level? Does their style fit your vision? When it gets down to it, this emotional connection will likely either make or break the deal. How do you know if this person's work really speaks to you, in this way? Look at several photographers' work. If you still feel the same way, after comparing, you probably have a connection.


Is their website easy to navigate? Does it solve your problem or does the business talk all about themselves. Does the website look good? Is it designed, nicely? Are there typos? Is it well-written? These are attentions to detail that reflect directly on the photographer. If their website looks good, they probably have a good eye for design, which means they are more likely to make your photographs look good than someone with an eyesore of a website. That is because the person with an eyesore website has decided it looks good.

A site full of typos and bad grammar usually speaks to a person's attention to detail, or lack, thereof. If they are not attentive to the details of their own work, what makes you believe they will be attentive to the details of yours? A business' attention to detail is often reflected in their level of professionalism. Make sure they meet your expectations, in this regard. Bad professionalism = a bad experience for you. How much are you willing to trade for a bad experience?


Does their Facebook page have lots of good reviews? Do they have references they can provide you? If they have rave reviews, they are probably doing something good. If they don't want to provide you with references, they may be afraid of what is being said about them.


Do they respond, promptly, to your emails or phone calls? Are their emails well-written? Do they answer all of your questions and make life easier for you? Are they punctual? Are they organized and well-prepared? Do they follow-up and educate you through every phase of the process? Do you feel like you are being taken care of? If you answered, "no," to any of these questions, you should be cautious, because, there are other photographers who will, happily, do all of those things for you.


When you meet with them, do you feel comfortable and in good hands? Do they seem present and care about you or are they rattling off a sales script, talking about themselves, and appear to be thinking about their next appointment? Do they seem honest? Are they someone you trust and get along with? Positive or negative energy will reflect in your photographs. If you like the person, you will be relaxed and more apt to reveal the truest part of yourself that you will always cherish in those photographs. If you feel tension, around that person, your photographs will probably look tense, and tension is not good in a family heirloom.


Do they fit your budget? Like anything, in life, one usually gets what they pay for. A one-of-a-kind experience and gorgeous works of photographic art is not a $100 investment. It will be more, and, one should expect to pay more, if this experience and product is what you desire. If you pay less for a product or service, you are, often, trading that low price for a lesser service or product. That might mean the photographs are of a lesser quality or you won't get the 100% feeling of being in good hands that a higher-priced photographer can provide. When it comes to weddings, that can be a HUGE issue. The last thing a bride wants is to worry about the documentation of her most important day. That peace of mind is priceless. It's not just relegated to brides. How upsetting is it to see a bad photograph of yourself, under any circumstances?

Sometimes, the trade-off is acceptable. Ask yourself what you want out of your photographic experience. Know your budget, and decide what you can and cannot live without. A common system, in the photographic business, is a session fee and a separate fee for prints and products. Make sure you have all of this information, going into your experience, so you have no surprises. A photographer should be happy to provide you with this information.


Do a Google search on that business. See what the buzz is. Spend some time on their Facebook business page and read what they post. Is it negative? Is it positive? Is it a reflection of who you are and who you want to do business with?

There are, certainly, other things to look for, but, these are seven of the most important. If you heed these seven, you will be one educated customer, and on the road to having a wonderful experience and the photographs of your dreams.

Now that you know what to look for in a photographer, how do you know what to look for in a good photograph? I happen to have some tips to help you sift the good from the not-so-good (in my humble opinion, of course). I will share them with you, next time...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Leather and Lace: 11 Questions With Alyssa

Talented SW Misssouri-based model, Alyssa Holland, is a college student studying fashion design and fashion merchandising when not expressing herself in front of the lens. I connected with her, a while back, when we did some portfolio-building work, together. She did such a great job that I needed to bring her back. I did so, and I knew I needed to bring her back, yet again.

Alyssa has a very soft, feminine, beautiful look, as you can clearly see. I wondered what would happen if we threw some harsh light and edginess into the equation. She was game, so we gave it a whirl.

Add a bit of her natural movement, gleaned from a background of dance, and we had a recipe for a grand time of creative image-making.

At the end of our session, we played what I call, "The Expressions Game." It is a fun little sequence where Alyssa gives me some silly expressions, at my direction. Her resulting expressions are nearly off the adorable charts. But, you'll see that, later on. For now, you need to get to know our star a little better. Please dig into a very entertaining, 11 Questions With Alyssa.

AB: How long have you been modeling?

Alyssa: I have been modeling for Victor's International Model & Talent Management for about a year and a half now, and have loved every bit of it!

AB: How did you get started modeling?

Alyssa: I actually started modeling by entering a competition at a local mall. In the competition you had to model, walk a runway, and perform a talent, and I ended up winning! This helped me to get started. I then went on to attend a scouting event and was lucky enough to be chosen to attend the next event. After attending and walking in front on multiple agencies, I got a call back and ended up signing with my current agency.

AB: What do you love most about modeling?

Alyssa: There are many things I love about modeling, so it's hard to choose what I love most. If I had to choose one thing though, it would be that, through modeling, I have the ability to help someone bring their creative vision to life. It's so interesting to see all the ideas artists have and how they turn out. Even better, I get to dress up or play a role and do what I love as well, and then I can look back at everything I have accomplished with the people I have worked with. There are some very powerful images that really speak to people, and I'm hoping that at least one of my images will be able to do that.

AB: What advice do you have for young girls who aspire to model?

Alyssa: My advice to young girls would be to be themselves and shoot for the moon. You don't have to be what society considers the perfect model type in order to do what you love. If you want to model, go for it, and don't let anything or anyone stop you. I mean, look at me, I'm 5'2" and doing what I love!

AB: Where do you find creative inspiration?

Alyssa: I find creative inspiration everywhere! I love looking through magazines, though. There are always so many new trends and amazing models from whom I find inspiration.

AB: What are your favorite types of shoots to do?

Alyssa: I really don't have a favorite type of shoot, all of them are fun to me!

AB: How do you describe your modeling style?

Alyssa: I would describe my modeling style as classy with an edge.

AB: What is your favorite non-modeling hobby?

Alyssa: My favorite non-modeling hobby would have to be dancing. I started dance kind of late in 8th grade and continued it throughout high school. I then came to college and minored in dance for the first few years until I decided to double major in fashion design and fashion merchandising, taking me on a different route. I still dance occasionally and participate in something called Greek Jam, a dance competition between all greek life on campus, every year.

AB: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Alyssa: My guiltiest pleasure is definitely food, specifically cookies! I also like to bake and experiment with new things. If I could just spend my days cooking and eating I'd be perfectly content.

AB: What 3 words best describe you?

Alyssa: Hmm, the three words that best describe me would have to be quiet, loving, and unique.

AB: What is one thing people do not know about you?

Alyssa: One thing that people don't know about me (other than my family) is that I LOVE chocolate-strawberry milk...and yes I said chocolate-strawberry, as in the two mixed together. It sounds really weird, but to me it's so good! My grandparents would make it for me when I was little every time our family visited, and I've been hooked ever since.

You can show your support for every step of Alyssa's modeling journey at her Model Mayhem page.

My deepest gratitude to the very kind and lovely Alyssa for a fantastic experience.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Graphique: 6 Questions With Julie

Sleek lines, graphic shapes, and fluid form permeate Julie's elegant "Graphique" photo session.

Further exploring my interest in bold shapes, lines, and forms, I knew I had to get Julie back in front of the camera. Julie Xiong is a lovely southwest-Missouri-based model who brings a variety of creative pursuits, including drawing and painting, to her modeling style. All of her influences reflect in her very fluid and expressive style of movement -- just perfect for my concept.

Julie brings gorgeous hand movement, a smoldering gaze, and a dancer's instinct to the stage. It made perfect sense, to me, to give her plenty of freedom to express these beautiful traits. Edgy light with hard shadows as well as glowing, angelic illumination provided our painting palette, meant to accentuate her lithe lines.

After an evening of two creative minds doing what they love, I knew I had to dig a little deeper. Please enjoy, "6 questions with Julie."

AB: How long have you been modeling?

Julie: I have been modeling since the summer of 2013.

AB: How did you get started in modeling?

Julie: I started modeling due to events that occurred during that period of my life. Through numerous struggles, I've been convinced to follow my dreams and passions.

AB: What is the best modeling advice you have received?

Julie: All modeling advice I find to be useful. I can't say I have received one piece of advice that is better than another because I believe all advice will advance an individual. 

AB: Where do you find creative inspiration?

Julie: My creative inspiration comes from the successful work of others or the desire to create an image with a message.

AB: What 3 words best describe you?

Julie: As a model, three words that best describes me would be: creative -- when given the opportunity; flexible -- when it comes to building a concept for a photoshoot session; and easy-going -- will listen to and adjust with the photographer's direction.

AB: What is one thing people don't know about you?

Julie: As tall as I am, standing at 5'-6", and besides being taller than all my siblings, I was a premature baby; born the smallest, weighing around three pounds.

Be sure to show your support for every step of Julie's modeling journey by liking her Facebook modeling page.

You may follow along with Julie's artistic journey by liking her Facebook art page.

Many thanks, as always, to Julie for a wonderful experience, an abundance of beautiful images, and for sharing some of her valuable time with me.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mystique: 11 Questions With Bebe

Simmering sensuality, smokey looks, and exotic lines beautifully stir the imagination in Bebe's emotionally-charged "Mystique" session.

One of the terrific things about social media is its ability to connect like-minded individuals, across the miles, with the simple click of a button. Bebe found me through Facebook and was nice enough to send me a very kind message. She resides in Virginia, but has family in the midwest, near my location. She proposed the idea of working together during her next trip to the area. I thought that sounded like a fabulous idea.

I had not worked with her, so, I wanted to do a little research. As of this writing, she is brand new to the modeling world, so her portfolio was in its early stages. However, I saw an individual with grace, artistry, and expressiveness -- 3 traits I cannot get enough of.

Fast-forward a few short weeks, and the opportunity became reality. She stepped on the stage and, with maturity that belies her less than 100 days worth of prior experience, she blew me away with her presence and her ability to effortlessly emote, both with her eyes and with her body, oozing confidence with every turn.

Her story is one to follow. After our tremendous session, I had the opportunity to learn more about our star, in "11 Questions With Bebe."

AB: How long have you been modeling?

Bebe: I started modeling about 2 months ago, in January 2014.

AB: How did you get started modeling?

Bebe: In December of 2013, I paid for a boudoir shoot. And, in January 2014, from the few pictures that turned out okay, I decided to create an account on One Model Place and Model Mayhem. The very next day my inbox was full with messages from local and out-of-state photographers wanting to work with me. And, since then, I've had a shoot just about every weekend and now working on my first fashion show, in March!

AB: What is the most rewarding thing about modeling, for you?

Bebe: The most rewarding thing for me is seeing my progress after each shoot. I have a lot more to learn but this is something I am truly passionate about, so it is definitely rewarding to see myself grow.

AB: What is the best modeling advice you have received, so far?

Bebe: The best modeling advice I received, so far, I read somewhere. I don't remember what site it was but it said something like modeling is a business, and, like any business, it takes time, effort, commitment, and patience. And, I believe if you know where you want to be, then you'll get there.

AB: Where do you find creative inspiration?

Bebe: I'm kind of a boring, plain person, believe it or not, lol. So, I kinda get my inspiration from all around me. I try to keep up with the latest trends and then I kind of just add a little bit of me into it.

AB: How would you describe your personal modeling style?

Bebe: I would like to think of it as sexy yet sophisticated.

AB: What are your favorite types of shoots to do?

Bebe: My favorite is lingerie and glamour. I always wanted to be the hot girl on the cover of a magazine, and now I feel like I am almost there. LOL!

AB: You just won a $1,000 shopping spree. Where would we find you?

Bebe: This has to be the hardest question, so far. I hate shopping because sometimes you go looking for something and never find anything good. But, if I had the money to pay for shipping and handling, you would most likely find me at home splurging online at Bebe and

AB: What is your favorite non-modeling hobby?

Bebe: If I had time for another hobby it would be sports. I use to play volleyball and tennis in middle school and high school and I would love to play again.

AB: What three words best describe you?

Bebe: To describe myself in 3 words, it would be shy, easy-going, and strong-willed.

AB: What is one thing people don't know about you?

Bebe: Those who don't know me, personally, would not know or believe that I am a mother to 3 boys. Yes, 3 boys! They are 7, 6 and 1 years old.

Her passion shows in her work and in her drive to excel. Be sure to show your support and follow every step of Bebe's modeling journey by liking her Facebook modeling page.

Thank you, Bebe, for the wonderful experience and the opportunity to span the miles and create something beautiful, together.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Radiance: 9 Questions With Shelby

Sunlit tones, glowing glamour, and classic beauty shine, brightly, with Shelby, in our "Radiance" photo shoot.

Shelby is a lovely southwest-Missouri-based model and student at Ozarks Technical Community College, studying to become a hearing specialist. I wanted to explore soft, glowing looks as well as darker, emotional moods, and a few edgy creations with Shelby. She brings a nice versatility to the stage that transitions, smoothly, from dark edge to engaging elegance, so, I knew she would shine.

But, arguably, what really sets her apart is her one-of-a-kind smile.

Shelby has the kind of smile that makes others have to smile. Even when I see it on my monitor, I can't help but grin. Having worked with her, I can attest it is a reflection of her remarkably kind, enthusiastic, and generous spirit. What a wonderful gift to share with the world. If you are having a tough day, just check back and get your Shelby fix.

After an afternoon of fun, beauty, and personality, I knew her fans would be pining for more. It is my pleasure to share with you, "9 questions with Shelby."

AB: How long have you been modeling?

Shelby: I am fairly new to modeling, going on almost 1 year.

AB: How did you get started modeling?

Shelby: I started doing promotional modeling, working for some amazing companies. I eventually started moving up with some of them which opened up incredible doors and opportunities. I have just recently started print modeling, within the last few months, and absolutely LOVE it!

AB: What excites you about a photo shoot?

Shelby: Every little girl loves playing dress up and now I get to do it as an adult, too.

AB: What advice do you have for young girls who aspire to model?

Shelby: If you want to pursue modeling, look at someone who is successful and see what they did and went through to make them so successful. Talk to as many people in the industry as you can. It is a learning experience. You will find out what works and what doesn’t. One thing that everyone I have talked to in the business has said is to always be yourself! Don’t be afraid to try new things or share an idea you have. You are creating something beautiful. There is no limit. I am still learning as I go but becoming more comfortable and confident with myself, which makes me a stronger model.

AB: Where do you find creative inspiration?

Shelby: I find my creative inspiration everywhere, from people, in general, to the internet. Pinterest is addicting along with Google. I am always looking for the next idea. Once I have an idea or a photographer shares an idea with me, my brain just will not stop until it is done.

AB: What is your favorite non-modeling hobby?

Shelby: That would have to be traveling! I LOVE to travel and plan to do a lot more! The world is so amazing with so many beautiful places to see and wonderful things to do. I try to live life to the fullest and plan to not just sit back and watch it go by. The gym is another one of my favorite hobbies. I love pushing myself and making myself a better person. The more I am able to do at the gym and achieve the results I work so hard for, the more confident and better I feel.

AB: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Shelby: This is a tie. It would have to be shopping and having a bum day. I love to shop whether it is for clothes, shoes, or craft stuff. I just love it! I love buying people gifts, just because! I also love just being able to have a day where I have absolutely NOTHING planned (which is rare). I am bad about always wanting to have a list of things I need or want to get done. So, about once a week or every two weeks we try to have a day where we just go with the flow and enjoy whatever. It really does help recharge and can be very relaxing. I recommend everyone make days for themselves! Sometimes you get caught up in life and forget to enjoy it.

AB: What three words best describe you?

Shelby: Compassionate, giving, and ambitious.

AB: What is one thing people don't know about you?

Shelby: One thing people don’t know about me…hmm. I am a sucker for animals! If I were able, I would take in every stray I could. Growing up, I swore I was going to work at Sea World or with some sort of animal research organization. Animals are so fascinating to me and all so beautiful in some way.

You can follow Shelby's modeling journey at her Model Mayhem page.

My thanks to Shelby for a creating some beautiful images with me and for sharing her warmth with us.