Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Beauty & Fashion Tips for Your Grad Portraits

Fashion, Hair & Makeup Tips for Your Grad Portraits

Will you be having multifaceted grad portraits created (casual, sports, hobbies, formal). If so you will want to plan your hair, makeup and wardrobe for each.

Obviously, you want to look like the best version of yourself for your grad portraits. After all, these photos will be seen by your friends, family and peers for many years to come. Here are a few tips and tricks where beauty and fashion are concerned.


First and foremost look after your skin in the weeks leading up to the prom or your photo session and don’t pick (If we are your grad photographer we do blemish touch ups on every portrait ordered). Don't use any new products the days prior to your photos or your prom. This applies to you guys as well.

No faux tans that have the potential to convert you to oompa loompa status. If you are tanning, avoid tan lines that will show with your prom dress!

Makeup reads differently on camera than it does in real life. If you book with us, you’ll be in the informed hands of a makeup artist who knows just what to do. If you are on your own, make sure you use a foundation that matches your skin tone well and blend, blend, blend. 

Don't over powder as a bit of shine on the tip of the nose and the cheek bones and chin creates a three dimensional look to your photos. 

Avoid sparkles or white highlights on your eyes as they will reflect the light and be brighter than you think. And remember BLEND...

False eyelashes create a beautiful look if properly applied. If these are not an option or you are unable to get them to sit properly invest in a new tube of non clumpy mascara and apply two coats. you will be glad you did!


Practice your hairstyle in advance. Try to keep your true essence and don’t wear a hairstyle that’s “not you.” For example, if you wear bangs on the regular, don’t pin them up on your photo shoot. If we are creating your portraits we work with hair stylists who can create a more natural look for your casual photos and a more elegant look for your prom dress. They can also create a great look for the guys. Don’t make any major changes in the weeks leading up to your session. Don’t go from black to bleach blonde, no major haircuts that could incite tears, etc.


Don't forget about your nails...ensure they are clean & evenly trimmed. If you opt for polish ensure the colour goes well with your outfits.  You may want natural for casual photos and  glue on nails that can be added for the formal photos. If you’re wearing open toes, spring for the pedi, too.


If you want VOGUE or GQ style portraiture, keep accessories to a minimum. This is a milestone were you want to present who you are as you move into the next stage of your life. Select outfits that are YOU but also select a few classic outfits that are simple and timeless. We recommend you select colours that work with your skin tone, hair and eye colour and that you avoid patterns such as, stripes, checks, polka dots. Tone on tone patterns can add texture to your portraits but be sure sweaters are newer or have had all fabric pilling removed.

Ensure your socks are colour coordinated and that you have shoes that work with each outfit.  White socks with black pants and black shoes doesn't work in photos.

We would love to create gorgeous, fashion style portraits of you that you will be glad you had created in the years to come.  You can try out our hair & makeup artists and may even want to hire them for your prom day! 


If you are having casual portraits created this is the time to bring in items that speak to your interests and personality (musical instruments, sports gear & clothing, dance attire, books, etc).

If you know someone who is graduating please share this post with them.

Friday, February 16, 2018

February's Portrait Day at Adoniaa Beauty

“Take Time to do What Makes Your Soul Happy”

~ Unknown ~

February’s Portrait Day at Adoniaa Beauty is the perfect day of self-care.  Gather your friends, take a sneak day off and then plan a girls’ night out because you will look & feel amazing!

Click here to reserve your time!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Why I Love being a Portrait Photographer

I'm going to be transparent about why it is I love my "job".

I lost my Mom in a car accident back in 1993.  We didn't have many flattering photos of her, let alone portraits of her, our family or just the two of us. I was a Speech Pathologist back then, busy with my own life and didn't think about having portraits created.

In 2001 my husband underwent a quadruple bypass. At that point, I retired from my career and picked up a camera.  I had always loved photography but didn't want to photograph people. That changed and I found myself beginning a whole new career.

In 2003 my husband began radiation and chemotherapy. Once he stabilized following treatments I insisted that we have portraits created. We had not done professional photographs since our wedding in 1986. I'm so glad I did, as those portraits got me through those first few years after he passed.

I was then faced with my sister having significant health issues and my fear of losing her.  I knew I wanted portraits with her! They are in my consultation room and I'm thrilled to say I love them and I still have my sister. She is 100% healthy!

I joined the Professional Photographers of Canada in 2004 and have never looked back!  I now have the honour of creating portraits for other families. I love photographing babies, children, families and siblings, but especially sisters. I guess because I don't know what I would do without mine!

It provides me with so much joy knowing that these families have these portraits to enjoy and share with the next generation. I know that they may not really know the value of the portraits I create until some time in the future.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Unleash Your Beauty!

We are excited to announce 
our first Portrait Day at Adoniaa Beauty
Executive Portraits with Style

January 26, 2018
By Appointment Only
Only 5 Sessions
Email or Call 403.281.8429 for more information

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mommy's Time Out

The Art of a Baby, a division of SVP Photography a Calgary based Portrait Studio is super excited to share the new session that is just for those Moms who need some time out.  If you are new - or not so new - to mommyhood, you know the feedings, diapers and sleepless nights all take a toll on your energy.  You need your energy to be there for your little one(s) and your big one(s) too! So we created a special session just for Moms!

Every mom wants precious portraits of their sweet babies and it puts one more thing on the to-do list. When do you look after YOU? When do you get some Time Out?  We would love to pamper you while we photograph your little one!  Kerry, who is a Mommy Pro with many children and grandchildren of her own and Shelley, who worked with young children from birth to 6 for over 20 years prior to becoming a professional photographer, will create precious images of your little one while you either enjoy a full body massage or have a mommy makeover with one of our amazing stylists.  

We showcased this session at the Fall 2017 Baby & Tot Show. Our draw included the session and one beautiful desk art portrait with duplicate gift prints for the grandparents and a web-ready file to share on social media.  Jocelyn was our grand prize winner.  Her little one was just wee, so she opted for the Mommy Makeover and being included in the portraits at the end of the session.  She also joined our Baby's First Year Program so stay tuned for her baby's next portrait!

Jocelyn wrote this about her experience. "Thank you, Shelley. Your team pampered me with a wonderful day of hair and makeup that made this new Mom feel human again. Then photos with my baby girl and a wardrobe that made me feel beautiful!  You directed me to ensure my last few baby pounds stayed hidden and I felt truly beautiful and so blessed to share such beautiful moments with my baby girl. The photos are so amazing and really capture our mother/daughter love."

Monday, November 13, 2017

An Early Goodbye

As a Calgary Portrait Photographer and Artist, I usually photograph people.  And as the owner of Mozart, a standard poodle I know the bond between a dog and their human. We often intend to have portraits created of our loved ones and usually life is just too busy to make that happen.  Sometimes we know in advance when we will lose a loved time and sometimes we don't. Brenna and Ben learned that Cajun was ill and that she would not be with them much longer.  Brenna had seen my pet portraits in the Veterinarian office and reached out while Cajun was still up for the session.

I was honoured to have been a part of Brenna and Ben's journey with Cajun and to provide them with lasting wall art of her beautiful spirit!  It was heartwarming and heartbreaking to create these portraits of Cajun as I was told she would be undergoing chemotherapy to reduce her pain and make her last few months more comfortable.

Brenna & Ben wrote "The entire process has been great"

"We felt very comfortable and the photographs are amazing!" 

"We cried when we saw the enhanced portraits"

Thank You So Much Shelley!

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!