Friday, October 16, 2009

5 Things any Mom can do to take great photos at home.

Yesterday a friend of mine and I photographed her daughter in my studio. My friend is an amateur photographer, but a quick study. Hanging out with her and sharing some tips on how to use her fancy new camera gave me the idea of posting a few tips for every Mom or Dad who wants to take better photos of their kids at home.

1. Look for great light: Forget your on camera flash.
Either take your kids outside and use the best light source in the universe (you know, the Sun?) or during the day use the lovely soft light of a window, skylight, or open door. Keep in mind that photographs are a 2 dimensional representation of a 3 dimensional object. Using the on camera flash creates flat, straight forward lighting that will make your kids look lifeless and many times, overexposed. If you are using a SLR camera you can adjust your ISO to increase the camera's sensitivity to the light. Keep in mind this also increases noise. Many point and shoots also allow you to increase your ISO or they automatically adjust to lower light. Most of all keep in mind that photography is all about light and that it might not be a good idea to always shoot in low light conditions if you want good images. In the image to the left you can see a slight shadow on the left side of Hannah's face. Here the light source was from my right side, about 45 degrees from me and the camera. This subtle shift in the direction of the light makes her look natural. The flat lighting of an on camera flash would have also created harsh shadows under her chin and along one side of her body; not attractive. Good images have a great balance of light and shadow. In summary; they mimic the way our eyes are used to seeing things in real world.

2. Pay attention to your shadows.
Once you've found a good light source, consider where your shadows are falling. If you are photographing your kids outside, think about the time of day. Early morning and later in the afternoon will give you more dramatic directional shadows. I love to shoot people about an hour before sunset. The light is still enough to get a good exposure but no one is blinded when facing the sun. If you do happen to find yourself shooting at noon day, a good way to avoid harsh shadows is to find shade. ( I know, it sounds counter-intuitive, but just go with me here.) Find the shade of a large tree or the open shade of a building. In these spots the light is dispersed and you'll have less of a chance of unattractive shadows. If no open shade is available, try turning 45 degrees from the direction of the sun on a bright day. Luckily, if you live in the greater Pudget Sound, like me harsh shadows are rarely a problem between the months of November-June. Cloud cover provides a natural diffusion of the light (ie- the direction of the light is broken up as it passes through the clouds creating soft shadows and the same kinds of light you'll find in open shade).

3. Get Closer.
Not every image needs to be a panoramic photograph. Instead try to fill the viewfinder or screen with only information you want and nothing you don't need. Portraits are about people. Feel free to include them specifically. This doesn't mean you never take a full body shot of your kids, but it is good to think a little bit about how the composition will look and if additional "stuff" will be distracting.

4. Play with angles.
It's fun to see things from a new perspective. Try getting high above, or down low. Even tilting the camera a little so your subject isn't perfectly perpendicular to the horizon. Images photographed from eye level (the view you see normally when standing up) is well, boring. Mix it up. Just ask any of my clients. I'm not opposed to laying on the ground for a photo. Some of my favorites come from this angle.
This photo of Hannah is photographed from above which emphasizes her size and face.

5. Don't always worry if they are smiling. My favorite photos are many times the ones where you can see what the kid is thinking. Have fun with them, don't make them hate photo time by always requiring perfection. My kids love to have their pictures taken because I let them do whatever they want. Now at 4 and 3, they have developed their own favorite poses and they even ask "Mommy, can we take pictures?" What I love about this last picture is the "baby pout" on Hannah's face. Those Gerber baby cheeks are accentuate and she's staring right at me. Plus look at how blue those eyes are? Super cute, but no smile. I love it.

Thanks Heidi for the fun afternoon and such a cooperative model.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Thanks to all who attended our Grand Opening

Last weekend was fun. Our studio had it's grand opening and we really enjoyed seeing new and r etur ning clients and most of all photographing! Here's a few photos from some of the clients that came by.
To view more check out our Facebook page for Irene Jones Photography. Don't forget to become a fan!
If you attended you already know about our Fall Portrait Special. Right now we are offering 35% off prints when you have your session before October 31, 09. This is a great time to take your family portraits on location and enjoy the great fall weather we enjoy here in Washington. Images from these sessions are perfect for Christmas cards in just a few months as well as wall portraits. Doing a family portrait now can take one more thing off your to do list come December and help make for a smooth relaxing holiday season. Or October is a good time for Halloween portraits of your little trick-or-treaters. For newborns and infants, anytime is a good time t o photograph your baby, but don't miss the milestones. During the first year it's a good idea to photograph your child at 1 week, 8 weeks, 3-4 months, 6 months (or whenever they are sitting unaided well) 9 months and 1 year. Book 6 sessions in one year for your baby and receive a free 8x11 baby book with 20 of your favorite photos from the past year's sessions. It's a beautiful keepsake you'll treasure for years.

Plus, as always, when you refer a friend to us, you'll each earn a free 8x10 coupon, when your friend books. Call for more details and to book your portrait session. Please remember our sessions are booked by appointment only and we fill up fast, so please don't delay!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Our New Studio Location

I am proud to announce the grand opening of our Everett Portrait Studio! Please come and help us celebrate on Friday August, 28th, and Saturday August, 29th. Hours are from 10am to 8pm both days.

Everyone that attends will receive a free mini-portrait session (about 10 minutes in length) information about our products and services, and a first hand view of what we can do for you! Plus if you bring a friend you'll each receive a coupon for a free 8x10 print. For more information please call 425.367.4781.

Okay now the fine print: Some restrictions may apply, coupons cannot be combines. All mini-portrait sessions are scheduled on a first come first serve basis. All prints are sold separately . Print orders are completed on our website, .

Saturday, April 18, 2009

High School Senior Portraits: How to Refer your Friends and Earn Cash and Prints

This year I will be attending my 10 year high school reunion. One of the most obvious side effects of growing older is lingering in nostalgia. Case in point; I have included my senior photo in the post. No comments please, I am well aware of how terrible the photo is. And no I didn't graduate in 1972- I just dressed like it that day. The point I'm trying to make here is simple, High School Senior portraits are not what they used to be! Today's seniors have the privileged of using photography as a art form and not just a historical (and embarrassing) record. Studio photography has evolved from your local department store cookie cutter photo factory with a selection of five backgrounds and zero chance of actually getting a decent photo into a high tech modern creative outlet. Digital and other photographic advances (radio flash technology, portable thermal printing, and of course Photoshop) has made the realm of possibility endless. Here a few examples.

These images represent what we do at Irene Jones Photography. We want to make real people look their best, show off their style and feel comfortable while doing it. I especially love working with seniors. You see I really found a love of photography in high school. Throughout that whole year I always had my camera at my side, and the same is true today.

For 2010 we have started a new referral program. Presently we are hunting for outgoing students graduating during the coming school year to help spread the word about our different photography packages and quality product. In exchange we are offering a free photo session and the opportunity for you to earn cash or photo credit towards purchasing prints. The friends you refer will earn free photos also, so everyone wins! It's a great program and our website has made referring as simple as following a link. Here's how it works.

1. Visit this link and complete the form to submit your application.

2. Once your application has been received you will be contacted by us to review the information and answer any additional questions we might have.

3. When your application has been accepted; we will contact you to book your Free Portrait Session. We like to contact our reps in a timely manner, so be expecting our call. Most of our reps are photographed on location and many times before the end of June. Your session will be between 1-2 hours in length and your photos will be online within 72 hours at our site for you to review.

4. About one week after your session you'll receive in the mail 50 personalized photo rep cards. These will have photos from your session included as well as your name, email address, link to our website, and coupon for 24 free wallets. It's now your job to get these cards into the hands of your friends so they can book their portrait session with us. Each friend that brings in their photo rep card will earn free prints for them and either $15 cash or $20 photo credit for you. You can also refer friends directly from our website with their email addresses. There is no limit to the number of friends you can refer online.

It's an easy way to put photos or cash in your pocket and share with your friends something you would probably have told them about anyways.

There are a few rules that you should know though. First off, we are limiting the number of reps from each school, so it's best to apply early (say NOW) if you want to get your free session. Second, you friends have to book a session. They must also bring in your photo rep card OR they must enter your email address when they visit our website through the link on their card or email. No other referrals will be counted.

Any questions? Let us know. Oh and don't forget to check out our new seniors only website!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring means great portraits on location!

Any Washington native will tell you, no group of people on earth rejoice more when the first sunny days of spring arrive then those of us in Western Washington. After six months of perpetual overcast, it's hard not to cut out early from work, throw on a pair of shorts and enjoy the great weather while it lasts! I have to admit I'm no exception and I love the warm spring air but for me, nice weather means it's time to get to work. This post is centered around all of the great types of photos that I love to shoot on a sunny Seattle spring day.

In my business the old real estate slogan "location, location, location" also applies. A great photo is often made by the surroundings. For example, below are photos recently done in Mt. Vernon at the start of the 24th annual Skagit Tulip Festival. The spring color of daffodils, cherry tree blossoms, and of course tulips, speak to the wonderful rebirth of spring like nothing else can. Being on location will always create a more comfortable

environment for your child, since all children are uniquely connected and fascinated by the variety of the outside world. This means more opportunities for portraits that reflect your child's personality and carry greater depth and personal significance then those shot in a studio. The images represent more then a photo school, the speak to an experience and how our children relate to the world around them.

Second only to my love of adorable kids, is the fun that photographing high school seniors brings. It's great to see these young adults as they move to the next phase. I find their goals, ambition, and personal perspective refreshing and I want to express that in each photo. Plus, photographing seniors is very similar to a fashion shoot, but without the deadlines and cooperate undertones. And going on location is the best way to capture all of that excitement. This time of year we are looking for seniors that are fun and outgoing to be photo reps in their schools. We provide a free location session lasting 1.5 hours and including as many clothes changes as you wish, free personalized referral cards (photos from your session), and all of your images on CD and ready to be uploaded to facebook, myspace, or anywhere you wish. For each friend you refer that books with us you'll receive a $20 photo credit or $15 cash. Presently we need seniors from all over the Pudget Sound, so please call us or email to apply. 425.367.4781 or .

Finally,we have family portraits. Now most of us really only start to think about our family portraits during the holiday season. But by the time November rolls around, your options for locations are limited to anything indoors. This does not mean that the only portraits you can get are those done in a studio! I find the best location for family portraits to be where the family resides. This allows for a comfortable and relaxed setting and no worries about trying to make it to the studio without someone having a meltdown or falling in the mud. Spring and summer do offer a greatest variety for locations and many times the most memorable portraits. It just takes a little foresight and planning! During the months of April-June all location sessions for families of 6 or smaller can receive a 1 hour location shoot for half off! Simply mention this blog posting and save.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Candid vs. Posed: The Real Definitions

January 2009 was warm and tropical in the northwest compared to the previous month, and despite my inability to keep warm, I often find myself braving all sort of weather for my clients. This wedding is no exception. The Bride was literally glowing, she was so excited! It was this very heat she was generating that kept her comfortable in the 35 degree weather and wind. Now, I must say that I do a good share of winter weddings, this isn't uncommon. Getting a nice day in January is really where the miracle lies. See for yourself. The photo on the right is taken at Hidden Meadows in Snohomish WA. It has a beautiful view of the valley and nicely manicured grounds. Only a few weeks prior this venue and most of the surrounding area was nearly flooded by the massive rain fall and December snows melting. By Jan. 21, only a few "lakes" remained and all of the sidewalks were dry. Hidden Meadows is one of many lovely country locations. It's a great utilization of what once was mainly farm land. Bonus points to the owners for their decorating and creative architecture.

But as usual, I digress. This blog is about the illusive definitions of candid and posed. Time and time again I find myself meeting with brides, families, high school seniors, etc. who all say the same thing, "I want more candid shots, I hate posed photos. " I of course promptly agree, because I know what they are trying to say is really, "I hate the photos my mom has taken of me and my sisters year after year in front of the Christmas tree. We are all in our pajamas with messy hair and the camera flash always gives me red eye. I don't want to look bad on my wedding day." Anyone can agree with that statement, no one wants that to happen, especially me. My livelihood depends on how each of my clients perceive themselves and how that translates when they are in front of my camera. Do I take posed photos? The short answer is yes. But when it's done right, my posed images look nothing of the sort.

Flip though any magazine and you will find great images that have none of the same qualities as the Christmas photo I just described. Everyone of them is "posed" in the sense that careful attention has be paid to the lighting, background, and positioning of the subject. Each image is created in a photo shoot that includes dozens of people all making suggestions for the model. This is very similar to what I do with each bride and groom. We carefully assess lighting, scenery and positioning. Then undoubtedly your parents, bridesmaids, wedding planner, makeup artist, and cake decorator will be there to critic your preformance. The difference is the model knows how to move and avoid looking static and emotionless (at least the good models know how to do this). Since your wedding has all the same elements of a big production photo shoot but without the years of modeling experience, the bride and groom come to rely heavily on me to direct and guide them. This is what I feel brides are trying to express when they talk about posed vs. candid images. They want to look at the photo and feel a particular emotion and read (through body language) a specific story. My clients hire me because they know that I can make it look effortless. There is no fear of looking stiff or lifeless and because they trust me, they feel free to act naturally. Here is an example.

This is classic framing for a portrait. It's 1/2 of the body, fills the frame, and has a simplified background. My photography 101 teacher would be proud, I followed all the rules to the letter. Well maybe not all of them. I did use a slight tilt for emphasis, so the horizon is crooked but that's a rule that was designed to be broken. What makes this photo great (besides the awesome lighting that perfectly highlights and separates them from the background OR the nice use of perspective and depth of field thanks to the slight compression provided by my 80mm lens) is the tenderness of the bride's kiss. The groom's face is unnecessary because the story being told here is about her love for him, her gentle nature, her dedication to him. Images like this come to symbolize a lifetime of tenderness at it's inception. Yes, this photo is posed. I told the couple exactly this, "Bride, stand on the right and wrap your arm around Groom, then give him a kiss on his cheek." (I obviously have left out their names on purpose- please don't email me suggesting I be more personal and use proper nouns.) This act of a simple kiss took only a second or two, but I knew it would illustrate an emotion far more reaching then they were presently aware of. This is how I tackle every shoot.

Now on to the candid moments. These first two photos have absolutely no interference on my part. The action was happening and I caught it as it progressed. Here's a few photos you might like.

The flower girl in the photo on the left did a great job. She was cute, accurate in her petal toss, and at no time did she wet herself, say something embarrassing, or begin to cry. Compared to the competition, she's a total shoe-in for flower girl of the year! This image came from a moment during the ceremony. As the bride and groom exchanged rings I noticed her watching me intently. I made eye contact with her to see what she would do; no faked smile or practiced gesture, I found her charming. Plus the light was so soft and gentle I couldn't resist. This is the meaning of candid, caught in the moment. Her thoughtful expression is intriguing and I like the fact that she looks so small compared to the bridesmaids behind her. Best of all I like that anyone can see their is a story behind her eyes.

This next image comes from the couple's first dance. I had positioned myself against the wall on a chair so I could get a better angle on the action. After a few turns the bride and groom laughed hysterically at themselves and I caught this photo. Now even if I wanted to (and the thought has crossed my mind) it's not my place to direct the bride and groom in the mist of their first dance as man and wife. I can just hope for an opportunity like this to arise and they often do.

And finally we have the garter toss. (Shown Below) The expression on the brides face is priceless!It reminds me a little of Amy Adams in "Enchanted".

I do have to admit that this photo while candid in expression, is posed. I told the DJ, Wedding Planner, and Bride where to put the chair, I did my best to direct the crowd of guys behind the groom (they didn't listen- as usual) and then I let it happen. Now I'm not sure which category it should fall into when all of that information is revealed, but it speaks to my overall point, which is; great moments will happen and as a photographer when you can catch those, it's golden. For the other 80% of my time behind the camera it's my job to make perfection a reality. I, in essence, have become the narrator for hundreds of happy couples and as with any story worth telling, the lines between fiction and reality are blurred by emotion, perception and time. I believe when the images I create speak to the love between two people and their commitment to one another then my work is truly fulfilling. In the end I want everyone that sees my photographs to look past categories and definitions to the truth that lies under it all; two people fell in love and because of that, the world is a better place.

Special thanks to Kathi's Frelance Floral, Pink Blossom Events, and Hidden Meadows. All of which are wonderful vendors to work with. Here is just one of the many images of Kathi's fine work.

Monday, January 19, 2009

NW Bridal Showcase

Jan. 17-18th was my annual trip to the NW Bridal Showcase at the Comcast Arena in Everett. All in all I have to say things went pretty well; lots of nice brides and grooms to chat with, a great looking booth, and attractive product (the sample albums I brought were a big hit.) Here is a photo:
This year we tried something new. We offered deep discounts on select packages for those that took the time to come out and see us. These packages are for a limited time, so if you happen to have picked up a flier, I'd suggest you move quickly because 2009 and 2010 are filling up fast.

For those that were interested in attending the show but didn't get a chance, I'd love to post a list of my favorite vendors and a little bit about what they do:

Florist: Kathi's Freelance Floral
Kathi is perhaps the nicest person I've ever met at a trade show and her work is just as lovely as she is! Here are a few photos of her flowers that I've taken. We've done nearly half a dozen weddings with Kathi and every bride has always raved about her work!

DJ: DJGarth (Garth Torgeson)

Last June while working a wedding I met Garth for the first time. I was blown away by the great mix of dance music, his ability to get the crowd going, and avoid all the cliche' wedding music that we've all heard too many times. Once we were done shooting, Terice and I put our cameras away and danced for at least an hour. We kept saying, we'll go when a bad song comes on, but that never happened. He really made the party.

Makeup: Jilladair Cosmetics & Master Artist
Jilladair really knows her stuff. I have honestly never seen such perfect makeup that not only lasted all day through heat and stress, but flawlessly enhanced natural beauty. Check out her before and afters-amazing!

Location: DAR Ranier Chapter House, Seattle
The Ranier Chaper house has perfect lighting which makes it a great indoor venue with classic architecture. It's just minutes away from many great photo spots around town including Pike Place, the SAM Sculpture Park, Seattle Center, and Volenteer Park. Also affordable for any budget and perfect for a average size wedding. This one is a must see since their website doesn't do it justice. (This is true for most locations really...)

Wedding Cake: Edmonds Bakery
Terice's wedding cake came from this fine establishment. It looked great, taisted amazing and was well priced. That's three gold stars folks. Here's a photo of her cake.

So there you go, a few suggestions on local vendors that I love to work with, and I know brides will enjoy also. To find out more about what Irene Jones Photography has to offer, just give me call. I'm happy to set up a personal consultation and mark off the most important item on your wedding to do list!