Archives for Children

Ready To Make Someone Smile?

It is that time again.  Time to take on a huge charity venture to help some kids smile.  My son Dean is helping me promote again this year, so here he is to tell you more…. WHAT IS IT? Operation Smile provides free surgeries to repair cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities for children around the globe. It is a wonderful charity that is able to make a HUGE difference in a child’s life. The Professional Photographers of America have teamed up with Operation Smile to present the Celebration of Smiles. Since 1982, Operation Smile — through the help of dedicated medical volunteers — has provided 200,000 free surgeries for children and young adults born with facial deformities. Our work creates a lasting global impact. We train local doctors in developing countries and strengthen healthcare systems so more children in some of the poorest areas in the world can be treated. But don’t take MY word for it.  I DARE you to watch this video and not want to help.  Really… I dare you! HERE’S WHERE YOU COME IN! $240 can help provide a cleft lip or cleft palate surgery. This surgery can change a child’s life forever
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Time To Smile

It is that time of year! This year, our studio is once again participating in Celebration of Smiles- a promotion to raise money and awareness for Operation Smile.  The Professional Photographers of America have participated in this for the past several years and this will be our third Celebration. Operation Smile provides free surgeries to repair cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities for children around the globe.  $240 can help provide a cleft lip or cleft palate surgery. This surgery can change a child’s life forever and can take as few as 45 minutes. Contributions in excess of surgical costs are invested into our sustainability programs, which empower our partner countries to treat more children on their own. The surgeries cost $240 to perform, so I’m trying to raise enough money to pay for 30 of these surgeries this year. Its a lofty goal, but definitely a worthy cause. How YOU Can Help You can help out by passing this link along to as many of your friends as possible!  A few tweets or Facebook updates can make a huge difference. We’ve setup a site to collect the money and you can find it at:  http://www.donationto.com/Smiles2014 If you live in
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Are You Ready To Smile??

$$$ SMILE! $$$ How do you put a price on a kid’s smile?  How about $240??? IT’S BACK! In April, we will once again be participating in Celebration of Smiles – an event organized by PPA Charities.  Those of you who participated last year will certainly remember it.  If you missed it, you need to mark your calendars for April 26 right now! THE CAUSE  The event benefits an organization called Operation Smile.  Started in 1982, this organization is dedicated to treating children who are suffering with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities.  In 1996, they were the first recipient of the Conrad Hilton Humanitarian Prize in recognition of their contributions to alleviate human suffering.  Last year, medical volunteers provided free surgeries for 9,221 children – both international and local.  I think this is truly amazing. As a professional photographer, I make my living off smiles – so this charity was clearly something I wanted to get involved with.  My wife found out about the program at a photography convention last year and we have been big fans ever since. THE EVENT It costs $240 for Operation Smile to repair one child’s smile, so the Professional Photographers of
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How To Find Artistic Inspiration

Of all the things you do as a photographer, coming up with creative ideas is probably one of the most important.  Unfortunately, it is also one of the toughest. You can always buy the latest and greatest camera gear or download the newest Photoshop filters.  You can learn the “rules” of photography, like composition and posing.  You can even check out my humble YouTube channel if you want.  There are TONS of things you can learn about photography.  What you can’t learn is originality.  That is why developing your creativity and artistry is so important.  Artistic talent will out-perform high-end equipment any day of the week. Finding Inspiration Inspiration is all around us.  When you become better at recognizing it, you will tap into a huge resource of great ideas.  It just takes practice. A couple of months ago, a couple came to the studio for portraits of their baby daughter.  During the planning stages, we had discussed that the baby’s grandmother was an artist and had actually painted a scene from the couple’s wedding.  They brought the painting with them and we decided to incorporate it into a few of the portraits.   The question was – how do you
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Be Different or Die

Back in the “good ol’ days” of photography, all you really needed was a nice medium-format camera and a few business cards.  That pretty much set you apart from the parents with cameras.  My oh my, how things have changed!  The camera no longer sets you apart from your clients.  Heck, some of my clients have more expensive cameras than even I use.  Believe me, it isn’t about the camera. It isn’t about the canvas either.  In the past, only professional photographers could get something printed on canvas.  Now you can get it done at 100 different places online.  The products no longer set you apart from your clients. What is left is the image.  This is the one area where you can still set yourself apart from the common person with a camera.  They might have a nice DSLR, but they don’t know how to pose or control light.  That is the big problem that will soon face all the people who don’t know lighting and posing – and just call it “photojournalism.”  Unfortunately, photojournalism isn’t a fancy word for sloppy.  Once all the parents figure out they can take these unposed, snapshot-photos themselves, that is exactly what they
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Senior Portrait: Lara

Last month, I did a senior portrait session with Lara – who has been one of my favorite models since she was little! We did a lot of traditional senior portraits, then decided to work on something a little more artistic.   We went with much more dramatic lighting and played around with some more unconventional cropping. We ended up with this incredible image. I loved the timeless look of the shot- especially the lighting.  It reminded me of Vermeer’s Girl With A Pearl Earring.  Truly a beautiful image.
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The Investment Of Photography

Is Photography An Investment? A lot of times, you hear the word investment used very loosely. You have time investments, emotional investments, and of course – financial investments. Now everyone agrees that stocks and bonds are an investment, but is photography really an investment? I might be slightly biased, but I think it is a wonderful investment. Let’s say you had an extra $1000 sitting around the house and couldn’t decide how to spend it… I know, a good problem to have! Obviously, there are tons of options for you to choose from, but I’d like to just narrow it down to three. The first option would be something Dad would love – a 50” plasma TV for the den. Weekend football just got a whole lot better! Depending on how much television you watch, you could get a lot of enjoyment out of this over the next several years. Another option would be something Mom might vote for – a new sofa for the den. You could pick out something very traditional or maybe a really cool, trendy piece that will change to look of your den. The third option would be a portrait of your kids. Let’s say
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Photography Camp

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of teaching a photography camp at the Westwood School in Dallas. We learned about photography, did some photo scavenger hunts – and even did a little modeling! I put together a slideshow of some of the camp highlights- hope you enjoy it!
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Back To The Beginning

This weekend, Dean played in baseball tournament in Irving. When I arrived there, I was shocked to realize that I had been to this place before. It was the same baseball complex where I had photographed my very first paid photo assignment – when I photographed my boss’ little league team several years ago. How funny to return to the same spot and photograph my own kid so many years later!
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Preparing Your Child For A Portrait Session

After putting it off for months and months, you’ve finally scheduled your child for a portrait session with a local photographer. What now? Believe it or not, the things you do BEFORE the session can have a huge impact on the results of the session itself. As a professional portrait photographer for over 14 years, I’ve seen it all – from very well-behaved kids to wild, crazy, out-of-control kids. The biggest problems, however, were usually caused by things that had nothing to do with the kid. Coaching Whatever you do, resist the urge to coach your child before the session. Working with them on their smile is just about the worst thing you can do. Chances are, your child already knows how to smile. By trying to teach them how to do it on command, you are increasing your odds of getting a really fake expression in the portrait. A good photographer knows how to get expressions out of kids – by interacting with them and making them laugh. If the child says “CHEEEEEEZE” every time I step behind the camera, I know I’m in for a long session. Haircuts Another popular strategy is to take your child in for
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