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!