Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Are you camera shy?

As a Calgary Professional Photographer, I understand being camera shy. I developed the syndrome from my annual school photos that seemed to amplify every flaw, especially my teenage acne and certainly did nothing to bring out my beauty or personality. I learned the power of the camera from that experience and from the experience of being photographed by one of North America's top Portrait Photographers, the late Darton Drake. Darton had an ability to see light and to use it to enhance the features of those he photographed.  He was also the first Master Photographer that I studied under and one of the last.  

I understand the vulnerability that one feels in front of the lens. I know the power a photographer has and I take that power very seriously. I set aside time prior to my clients even committing to having a portrait taken to get to know them. I also limit the number of sessions I do to one per day. I never have someone nervously waiting for their sitting nor being hurried out the door with another client waiting.  

I know that more happens in my camera room, or in the following case, outside under a tree, than just taking pictures. The following was an impromptu portrait that changed a life.  This is Syl Vie and I saw a photo of her on facebook. She was wearing a bathing suit, standing in a pool & looking towards the camera, fully aware of being photographed and standing in her power.  I commented on how proud I was to see her putting herself in front of the lens.

"Do you remember that day at Satyen's house -- dear Shelley Vandervelde, I had sheepishly asked you to take a photo of me and I put my faith in you. I hated my body and the thought of a picture of myself. I needed a head shot for my skype account --- you are so amazing and I immediately felt comfortable. No make up, no made up hair --- oh natural --- Was so wonderful !!! I felt my whole being had been captured. Thank you --- yes that day was definitely a pivotal moment for me. LOVE YOU sweet sister!!"

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Calgary Child & Children's Portraits

Printed & FramedPreserved for the Next Generation!

In the world of cell phone cameras today's children are being photographed more than any other generation.  But how many of those photos will be printed?  How many will survive the ages. How many of today's children will be able to show their grandchildren a portrait of themselves and say "That was me when I was your age" & how many mothers will compare baby photos and say "You look just like your Daddy did when he was your age"?

The "school pictures" that document what children look like as they grow and mature may well be the only printed photos for many children of this generation. A photo that is usually taken in less than five minutes and the child is encourage to "smile".  

I love photographing children of all ages.  Children's reactions to the camera room and to me varies with their age and their experience having their photos taken. Children are less self conscious and their personalities shine brightly. Some come to the session hesitant and shy and some sit themselves down and say "cheese"; these will be the hardest sessions because my goal is to find the child within and not to photograph the mask they have been taught to wear.  From classical to themed sessions my goal is to connect with the child and to allow them the time to relax during the session, dropping the masks and expressing their true nature.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Profile and Business Portraits

Notice I did not title this post "Headshots"  and I did not use the word "picutres" or "photos".  Kids draw pictures with crayons, photos are what you look like and a portrait is who you are. 

Lorraine is an author. Her first book is being published and I had the honour of creating the portrait for her book.
I was surprised when I checked the page of possible people to connect with and found so many with NO profile portrait. If you are on Linked In to support your business or your career, your portrait is the first impression. No portrait, no impression. A selfie, well that does create an impression, but it is the one you want? 
I have had clients come to me after having two or three other photos taken for their business portraits. They weren't happy with previous photos taken. A headshot can be a 5 or 10 minute deal, done, on with your day.  Kind of like the school photos I remember. They are why I never wanted to be in front of the camera and preferred to stay behind it. They are also why I provide a 100% money back guarantee.  If you don't love your portraits, money back, not questions asked.  
That said, I put my heart & soul into every portrait I create and I expect my clients to do the same. We start with a design session over a latte' or chai to discuss the message you want your portrait to send. I assist you in deciding the colours, clothing, mood and style of the portrait and we book the photography session within the following week or two.  The session is how every long it needs to be to develop your comfort in front of the lens and allow you to show me who you are and what you want to say to your viewers.  For some, that is 10 minutes, but for most, it takes time to relax and drop the facade that we wear. I have had people be so relaxed until I raise the camera and "bang - they are gone!"  Where did they go?  They hid from all those pictures taken in the past that they didn't like. 
After the session, I edit the images down to the very best, you select the one you love the best. I retouch and enhance the image and provide it for use in all your social and print marketing.
Yes, retouching is necessary. the images straight out of camera are like a sketch on a painter's canvas, they are not finished!  In person we see you, in three dimensions, in living colour; your personality and spirit shine through. On paper or screen, in two dimensions, we notice all sorts of little details that we never saw in person. These may be stray hairs, lines, blemishes, and the like. Retouching draws the viewer into the eyes, into the soul of the person portrayed.
Show the world who you are with a professional profile portrait. Call me to book your design session at 403.281.8429 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Photography Competitions by SVP Photography

Why Enter Professional Photography Competitions?

Each year the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) holds an image competition where photographers from across the country can have their images judged by a Panel of Master Photographers for their technical and artistic merit. I joined the association in 2004 and have entered competition at both the Provincial and the National Level every year. I also joined the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and have begun to enter International Competitions.  Why? Conventions held each year allow me to learn from the World's leading photographers.  Competition is a way for me to evaluate what I have learned and incorporated into my art. It also provides feedback on how to enhance my technical and artistic skills. A professional is always learning and growing.

If you would like to learn more about the process of competition and why I enter and what I learn, read the content of this blog. If you just want to enjoy some of my best work from 2014...scroll down to view the portraits submitted in the PPOC 2015 Image Competition.

Competition stretches me and allows me to learn and grow as an artist.  The entire process is challenging, from selecting which images to enter, through retouching and enhancing each one to the best of my ability, to selecting names that support the image and help tell it's story. 

With feedback from the judging I may be able to rework an image before entering it at the next level. The next competition provides me with another set of judges who may find additional areas in which I can improve. All judging is done anonymously so it is critical that photographers keep their entries hush hush until after the competition is judged and the results have been e-mailed to each participant..  Awards for Best in Class and Photographers of the Year are announced at the annual convention's Gala Banquet 3 to 4 weeks after the judging is complete.

The judges also point out what is strong in an image, but it is the little things that I may have missed that continue to help me grow. These elements may be things I could have done differently when taking the photo such as the placement of a hand. In this case, I cannot correct the issue in post production so it will not proceed to the next level. When this happens, I learn to never make that mistake again and I am more mindful during future sessions.

Sometimes the judges notice something I could have done to enhance an image, something that could have been addressed in post production.  It is often a small detail that can keep an image from being accepted or prevent it from being awarded a distinction of Merit or Excellence. The feedback on these small details have added up over the past ten years to allow me to provide my clients with a higher and higher level of portraiture.

My goal in competition is to present my very best work and to improve upon my previous results. What I learn is incorporated into my everyday art. I am able to create more emotional, touching and powerful images because I continue to study and learn.  Every year the bar seems to move up as the field of photography and art blend together. Many people tell me my portraits look like paintings and I believe it is because of my study of light.  Photography mean "painting with light" and I have learned to use light to create a three dimensional quality to my work. I have now begun to offer my clients portrait paintings which begin with a photograph and end with a painted portrait on canvas.

This year's competition included 878 images from Professional Photographers across the country.  500 images were accepted which indicate they exceeded the Standard for professional skill.  230 images were accepted with merit and 10 images were accepted with excellence.  

So which images did I select for the 2015 National Image Competition?  Let me start with Huck's Lil Bro....this image received a Merit standing and the Best in Class Trophy for Child Portrait at the Provincial Competition. However, it was not accepted at the National level. A different set of eyes with a different perspective. The feedback was that they loved the concept, the clothing, the lighting and the pose!  What held it back was that it could have been a touch darker in the highlights...

This next image, Elegant Sisterhood, went through the competitions backwards receiving a Merit and being selected for the Loan Collection in the International Photographic Competition of the Professional Photographers of America.  It then received a Merit in both the Provincial and National Competitions with the Professional Photographers of Canada. The judges loved the skin tones, posing but were mixed about the background.  What kept it from excllence?  The hands not showing and the dress on the older girl being somewhat tucked in. I continue to reach for excellence and become more and more aware of the little things!  Relationship portraits is one of my favourite to create, from sisters, brothers, Mother/Child, Father/Child, Couples, Grandparent/Grandchild or Pets with their people.

It was such fun to create a forest with a pond in my studio. The children who come in for these sessions are full of wonder and each session is unique.  A Touch of Fairyland is an elegant portrait that scored accepted at the National Level. The judges felt the image was masterfully created, but that some of the foliage was too bright and the toes of the fairy's left foot should have been showing.  I agree, there is so much to attend to in a session which is why I prefer to have only the subject and myself in the camera room. It may appear that I am just having fun in the session, but my mind in going over a million details!I love all stages of creating a portrait, from designing and developing the set, to the interaction with my clients during the session, to enhancing each image. Adding a painterly effect to this image was something new for me.

Snow Princess was accepted in the National Competition.  What kept it from Merit or perhaps even Excellence was too much dress presented in the final image. This portrait of a young girl was taken during a Winter Wonderland session with her brother. It has led to a whole new set called Ice Princess being available at SVP Photography. This is a session I know girls from 2 to 5 will love!

This final image was created during a lighting class. I entered it in the International Competition first.  It was not accepted as the judges felt it needed to be darker.  It was darkened and entered at Provincials as The Brink of Man, where it was accepted.  I felt it could do better than accepted and that perhaps the name held it back.  I entered it in the Master's category with a new title "Unwavering".  Once again the image was accepted.  The judges felt the camera angle was perfect and that I captured this man in a way that made the female judges swoon...but it was still too light, especially in the shadow side of the face.  More contrast would have created a more powerful image!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Calgary Speed Skater Featured in Photographer's Big Win! | SVP Photography | Shelley Vandervelde | Calgary Portrait Photographer

Facing Forward, Looking Back

This award-winning image of young speed skating star, Gabriel Quon looking back over his shoulder while his body faces forward carries a deep poignancy for the photographer Shelley Vandervelde.
For while Gabriel is working hard towards his goal of competing for Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics, he can look back to a special influence that set him on that path – Shelley’s late husband Rene.
Gabriel was raised alone by his mom Bonnie, a massage therapist. Rene was a client receiving treatment to relieve symptoms of Parkinson's and later issues arising from cancer spreading into his lymphatic system.  Rene became like a big brother to Gabriel, introducing him to soccer and later speed skating.  

Gabriel did not take to the game of hockey, so Rene, hailing from the Netherlands, a powerhouse nation at speed skating, took Gabriel to try his ice sport instead. Out on the ice, Gabriel fell but got up again. While at the oval the first time, Rene told Gabriel  to follow him on the ice and copy his actions. Gabriel took to the long skates like a fish to water!  Bonnie said he was a natural from the start. The following summer Gabriel tried a speed skating camp held at the oval and that fall joined the Calgary Speed Skating Club. 
Since then Gabriel has gone from strength to strength. He has represented Calgary in Age Class Long Track Championships, the Can West Short Track Championships and this season qualified for the Canadian Junior Championships, as well as all the national competitions.
“Speed skating has captured his soul and given him such determination and drive to be at the next Olympics,” says Shelley. Sadly for Shelley, Rene is no longer around to see Gabriel go faster and faster around the oval, improving his personal bests with each competition.

Rene had life-saving heart surgery in 2001 and this prompted Shelley to quit her job of 20 years working with children with autism and pick up a camera. “Rene gave me the gift of a new life as a photographer”, says Shelley. “When he underwent quadruple bypass surgery I realized life is short and that it can end in the blink of an eye.” By the time cancer took Rene in April 2006, Shelley was already gaining recognition. She had a print accepted into the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) provincial competition in 2004   a merit at the PPOC nationals competition in 2005. She also received two accreditations in Studio Portraiture and Children's Portraiture.  

Like Gabriel, Shelley has gone from strength to strength. Provincial awards for best in class for child portrait followed in both 2006 and 2007 and best in class in figure study in 2007. She has been a finalist multiple times for the Provincial Portrait Photographer of the Year award and received the ultimate recognition of her peers when the PPOC named her National Portrait Photographer of the Year in 2012.

Now, Shelley, who only does 40 to 50 sessions a year, has received the recognition of her province and been named 2014's Professional Photographer of the Year for Alberta. She, like Gabriel, can look back to remember the man who gave them both the inspiration to go forward to success.

Shelley is currently booking sessions for outdoor family portraits. If your children are home for the holidays or heading off to university in the Fall call today to reserve your complimentary design session.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Shelley Vandervelde of SVP Photography goes to Spain | Calgary Photographer

Trying to catch up with all the happenings of 2014 at the SVP Photography Studio here in Calgary, Alberta, I left off with February.  The beginning of March was filled with business, children and family portraits and teaching for Image Square, Canon's Center in downtown Calgary and here at the SVP Photography Studio in Woodlands. 

But the highlight of the month was a trip of a lifetime to Spain with my sister Pamela. I enjoyed being her personal photographer, although getting the shots was difficult as we were on a school tour that was on the go! Stopping for photos was a challenge as the group continued on and we had to make sure we didn't get left behind! 

Here is a slide show of  Pamela's Trip to Spain and below is some of the vistas and places we visited.

Of course I was behind the lens so you don't see me in the slide show. Architecture was amazing and love of
Christ was everywhere. If you get the chance to visit this beautiful country, take your time and explore the people, landscapes and architecture


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Calgary International Awarded Calgary Photographer Teaches the Magic of Lighting Posing and Composition | Shelley Vandervelde | SVP Photography

February was a crazy month...teaching at Canon's Image Square in Downtown Calgary where I also had a two week exhibit of my Portraiture was only part of the fun.  It was pure coincidence that I had just been awarded Portrait Photographer of the Year for Alberta. Because judging is anonymous and these images were going on to the National Competition, I did not post the winners, but those who attended my exhibit were able to see some of them on display. Below are the four entries that led to that award.  Thank YOU to all my clients who allow me to create their portraits and continue to hone my craft!  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Calgary Child Photgrapher | Birthday Portraits | SVP Photography | Shelley Vandervelde

Tyler turned 4 this week and Corina his little sister turned 2.  They came for portraits to celebrate these years when they are growing and changing so much every week.  One day they will show their grandchildren portraits from these sessions and say...That's me, when I was about your age. Click the links below to see their latest photography sessions.

Tyler is Four

Corina is Two

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Baby's First Year Portrait Program.....| Calgary Baby Photographer, SVP Photography

My month of February was spent recovering from a virus, but I did spend time building a whole new Baby's First Year Program and Child's Portrait Program which includes a triple frame with a portrait to celebrate your baby's development as they learn to push up from their tummy, sit up and stand up.  It also includes either a beautiful 10x10 inch album or image box for you to fill with your favourite images from each session.  

 Mia was my first baby and this portrait is from the newborn ad on session.  We have already photographed her push up portraits! Time flies way too fast. If you are pregnant call to book a complimentary session to learn more.  The first year is such an amazing time of firsts, savior those moments in timeless portraits that add to your home's wall decor.  

Shelley @ 403.281.8429

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Calgary Child Photographer has a busy start to 2014...

I can't believe it is 1/4 the way through 2014!  Where did last year go?  I know I've been super busy already!  As an artist I continue to explore new techniques and art forms.  I attended Imaging USA in Phoenix in January to learn more about new products and invest in new backdrops, costumes and props for the studio.  My newest Limited Edition Portraits is the Spring Collection which features a painterly backdrop and a variety of props and sets, from Spring Chicks to Tea Parties.

I hope to post more regularly with catch ups on what's been happening at SVP.