I completely scammed this from Jillian Kirby's blog, and make no apologies. (Thanks, Jillian!) This is a killer read on custom photography, and explains a lot of what I try and explain all the time.

Trash the Dress teasers... *link to album added*

I will post a link shortly. I am holding out until one of the shy workshop participants posts at least TEN of her pictures from the day. You guys are all welcome to harass the person we'll call Miss "A" so I can get on with it...


There are almost 200 images in this collection. You get a dozen teasers...

sick. ick.

Yesterday morning I woke up about 2 a.m. paying dearly for our outing to McDonald's for Serejane's birthday on Wednesday night. Usually when I piss off my GI system with a Big Mac and a Blizzard (soft ice cream is a surefire way to make me sick) it goes away by the time my system if flushed. So about 1 a.m. last night, thinking I was in the clear and sleeping peacefully, I woke up with a wicked gut ache and started all over again. (This is tough when you have an empty stomach - I won't go into details...) This morning I was tired and dehydrated, and suffering stomach cramps so bad I had to curl up in the foetal position until they passed. It's been about an hour without a cramp so knock wood the worst of it is over. I'm not brave enough to eat anything yet - I'm just trying to drink enough water to stave off the headache I've developed. Ugh. Nice way to kick off the weekend.

I'm pretty excited about this weekend though - tonight (providing my stomach decides to cooperate) we're going to visit my friend Amanda, whose twins are like TWO and I haven't MET THEM yet. Yay! Tomorrow I was supposed to do a couple of clients out on Spruce Grove and was hoping to hit the Relay for Life Garage Sale out there but the van developed a shimmy which I discovered when I was driving Bill and his brother to the airport. The steering wheel was vibrating bad enough it made my carpal tunnel hurt. Alas, no highway driving until after the mechanic has a go with Tory now, so it looks like I'll be sticking close to home. Instead, Serejane and I are heading over to the zoo to do a session with Sweet Liam, who has never been to the zoo, and then having company over for dinner. Sunday I was debating heading to Calgary to visit my sister and my other friend Nicole who is visiting from BC, then picking Bill and Ollie up from the airport on the way home, but no van... so with this lovely bit of weather they're predicting for us, we're doing the DLS Trash the Dres field trip, which is SOOOO exciting!!! How fun is THAT, hey? I was hoping for a farmer's field but I barely trust the van to go to the zoo tomorrow let alone head out in search of a half-melted slough or a field of cows to throw the bride in...

What have YOU got planned?

TTD field trip scheduled

TTD is on for Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Mill Creek Ravine. Not entirely kid friendly but such a sweet spot for pictures! Meet at the Mill Creek Pool parking lot at 2:30 p.m. Also, the model is willing to work for free, but I'd really like to give her something, so if you guys would be willing to pitch in $2 or $5 or $10 for her time and her splendid dress that'd be fantastic!

Please RSVP.

can you recommend a camera?

Anonymous wanted to know if I would recommend the D80 or the XTI.

I get asked the "What camera should I buy?" question a lot, and I'm not a technical expert and frankly think there is such a thing as too much of a good thing (google 'camera reviews' and you'll be immediately overwhelmed). You can buy your camera based on reviews, statistics, and performance. You can base your purchase on how much you like the advertising campaign or warranty of the manufacturer. You can base your camera on what it costs or what your friends tell you to do. You can pick a brand based on what camera people you admire shoot with. You can cram your brain with more data than you'll ever need and the second a newer model comes out will have your confidence in that one shattered. If you're desperate to look up the stats I advice As you get into the dSLR world you'll quickly learn that the manufacturers are highly competitive and therefore all have very similar features - dpreview is very helpful when you are torn between two models and just need that one selling feature to push one above the other, like the width of the LCD preview screen or the colour of the writing on the neckstrap... ignore the catty consumer reviews and the companies blowing their own horns and head straight for the technical comparisons - much more impartial and therefore useful.

With any dSLR camera, you will likely replace the body before the lenses. So when you buy your first dSLR and start buying lenses, it's a pretty safe bet that you are marrying that company for a noteworthy amount of time. With this in mind, it's important not what you spend or how many megapixles you have, but how well the camera suits you. Ultimately, it's NOT about the camera - a talented and diligent shooter can shoot with any camera and get stellar results. So, completely unscientific, here's the simple 2-step method I HIGHLY suggest when shopping for a camera:

Step 1) Set your price. How much can you afford to spend? This is going to limit your choices right off the bat, so find the models comfortably within your price range. If you have a limited budget, I recommend going with a lower model of body and invest in a lens you'll love. If the sky is the limit then move on to step two.

Step 2) Manhandle every camera in your price range, even the ones you don't think interest you, and try on a few lenses while you're at it. Do your fingers intuitively know where the buttons and knobs and wheels are? Do you love the way things look through the lens? Is the shape of the camera body right for your hand? Does the weight of it feel too light or too heavy? Does it make you feel 'cool' holding it in your hands? Do you BELIEVE in the camera? If it feels nice, ask a million questions. Go home and read up on the one you think you're in love with. Then go back to the store and manhandle all of them again just to be sure. Whichever one feels like it just belongs to you, THAT is the camera you should take home.

If you are asking for my personal opinion between models, I am a Pentax girl at heart, but would gladly shoot with a Nikon. (I mean come on, there's a song that mentions Nikon... that's as good a reason as any, in my books, to go with a Nikon...)

PS - check out deals on eBay!!!!

brilliant video

can of worms: protection or promotion?

I have had several interesting conversations regarding the issue of watermarking images in the past few days with my husband, a client, a fellow shooter, and a third party. One participant felt watermarks were completely ineffective.  Two persons felt that services rendered implied the client had ownership of the pictures to post and do whatever they pleased, and all queried whose benefit the watermark was for, since many people feel that a watermark ruins or takes away from the picture.  There was an accusatory tone to some of the comments. Or maybe there wasn't.  But I felt immediately defensive about my decision to start watermarking. So why the red flags?

~It was about grade four.  For some bible story, in art we had to cut out a pair of large fish shapes from Kraft paper, then paint them and sew them together with yarn so they could be stuffed with crumpled wads of tissue paper.  There had been a thunder storm that had blown a transformer up the street and we were all sitting there listening to the rain in the dark.  While all the teachers congregated in the hallway, smoking and discussing whether we should all be sent home or not, to pass the time until they figured out what to do we were given the opportunity to work on our fish.  

I finished my fish before the electricity was restored (bummer but probably fortunate since the Orange Fairy was on the bus and unable to collect us anyways) and had forgotten to put my name on my stuffed painted fish, and when it came time to claim them, someone else took mine.  He didn't even DO his because after failing to entice me, I distinctly remember him spending most of the power outage trying to get one of the other girls in the class to go in the boot room and look at his penis.  The boy had red hair and freckles, he was my nemesis all through elementary, and I remember crying bitterly when the teacher, who I KNOW knew damn well it was mine said, "Well, let this be a lesson that next time you remember to put your name on it."  The other boy took my stuffed painted fish (and my A+ grade) home, sneering as he walked away.~

There are people who watermark their images for self-promotion so that people will know who to congratulate on the fantastic picture.  There are people who watermark their images as a means of preventing theft.  (Bill says that watermarking is like putting a bike lock on - at least if someone tries to steal it they have to work a bit...  lol)  There are people who watermark their images as a means of obscuring the image and making reproduction difficult if not impossible so that they retain the ability to charge for prints.  There are people who watermark their images as a means of advertising.  Some may claim one reason above the other, but they are all legitimate reasons, and all go hand in hand.

I could give a rat's patootie about promoting myself. If I seriously wanted to put on some kind of advertising campaign I would - I went to school for arts management and so I suppose I could muster some kind of marketing strategy that involved something a little more aggressive than a couple of unlisted blogs and a DIY website... And I take pictures of other people for very selfish reasons, and that other people like them is merely a pleasant side effect of me doing what I happen to genuinely enjoy, and if not a single person liked my pictures I'm pretty sure I'd still be out there shooting at will anyways - for me, a day without pictures is like a day without oxygen.  So though it's always nice to hear a compliment, watermarking definitely isn't about kudos.   And although I take pains to make sure the watermark is sort of attractive without completely obscuring the image, if it's going to be even remotely effective as deterring theft or wrongful use, it's SUPPOSED to detract from the image...

The digital age has changed the face of photography in ways we never could have imagined, some good, others not so good.  The best way to keep your images from being stolen up until the last decade or so was to hang on to your film negatives, but when scanners got good enough for people to make their own scans at home of the prints, we lost the ability to control how and where our images were being distributed.  Having had an image attached to some media I didn't like, having been plagiarized, having had credit taken a few times, having had countless images posted despite copyright restrictions, having stumbled across post-designers and printers who feel no moral or legal responsibility to treat copyright of the images they are reproducing like anything more than an idle threat and empty words, maybe I'm a little bitter, and maybe that makes me a bit defensive.  I can deal with that.

I started watermarking in January of this year under the premise if you can't beat them, join them.  By providing a watermarked low-res set that people were licensed to share online, I have received nothing but positive feedback.  It has allowed people the freedom they wanted to share the pictures they love, while giving me at least some small sense of security that my images aren't being thrown about carelessly in cyberspace for anyone to snag and abuse without having to pick the proverbial bike lock.  People have been very understanding and supportive of this policy, and some people have even asked for watermarks on their full-resolution sets, kind of like a signature.  (I don't do that - the watermark *does* detract from the picture and frankly I'd be a little embarrassed having my name slathered on an 8x10 the way I place them lol.)

At the end of the day, after it's all said and done, those are MY pictures, and I want my name written on them. I made them. They are my art, no different than a painter's painting or a sculptor's sculpture, and no one should feel they are entitled to alter them. They are special to me, and I do not want them to be cropped or tweaked or made into cheesy photocards or edited to look like a charcoal drawing on Facebook. I watermark my images because they are like the shirts I send to camp with my kids. They are like my painted stuffed fish.  If they get 'lost' (like if someone posted them in a child porn site) I would want to know, I would want them returned. If someone likes them and wants to steal them, it's always my hope someone else will notice the name and alert the rightful owner.

Until and unless I decide to make my pictures completely unavailable to my clients, my only defense is to write my name on my damned pictures, and for that I make no apologies.

can of worms: you're special just like everybody else

These excerpted words aren't mine, but the sentiment echoes what I've been saying my entire adult life. I especially love the bluntness of the whole, "You're ALL special, EACH and EVERY one of you," part. Brilliant. The dude's a songwriter, not an essayist, so I'll try and not be too harsh about the whirlpool style (going around in circles for quite a long time before finally getting to the proverbial flush) of writing...

"...This is about us all. This is about a level of self consciousness so high in my generation, that it's actually toxic. This is about the girl in her bedroom who poses in front of the camera she's awkwardly holding in her outstretched hand. She'll take a hundred photos until coming up with one she's happy with, which inevitably looks nothing like her, and after she's done poring over images of herself, will post one on her myspace page and then write something like " I don't give a f*ck what you think about me."

This is about the person trying out for American Idol, who while going off about how confident they are that they were born ready to sing in front of the world, are trembling so badly they can hardly breathe.

This is about me, the guy who walks through a throng of photographers into a restaurant like he's Paul Newman, but who leaves a "reject" pile of clothes in his closet so high that his cleaning lady can't figure out how one man can step into so many pairs of pants in a week.

This is about us all. Every one of us. Who all seem to know deep down that it's incredibly hard to be alive and interact with the world around us but will try and cover it up at any cost. For as badass and unaffected as we try to come off, we're all just one sentence away from being brought to the edge of tears, if only it was worded right. And I don't want to act immune to that anymore. I took the biggest detour from myself over the past year, since I decided that I wasn't going to care about what people thought about me. I got to the point where I had so much padding on that, sure, I couldn't feel the negativity, but that's because I couldn't feel much of anything. And I think I'm done with that.

I'm not the first person to admit we're all self conscious, Kanye was. But what I want to do is to shed a little light on why we're all in the same boat, no matter the shape of the life we lead: because every one of us were told since birth that we were special. We were spoken to by name through a television. We were promised we could be anything that we wanted to be, if only we believed it and then, faster than we saw coming, we were set loose into the world to shake hands with the millions of other people who were told the exact same thing.

And really? Really? It turns out we're just not all that special, when you break it down. Beautifully unspectacular, actually. And that truth is going to catch up with us whether we want to run from it or not. The paparazzo following me to the gym ain't gonna be Herb Ritts and the guy he's following ain't gonna be Bob Dylan. It's just a matter of how old you are once you embrace that fact.

And for me, 30 sounds about right. What now, then? I can only really say for myself: Enjoy who I am, the talents and the liabilities. Stop acting careless. In fact, care more. Be vulnerable but stay away from where it hurts. Read. See more shows. Of any kind. Rock shows, art shows, boat shows. Create more art. Wear hoodies to dinner. Carry a notebook and hand it to people when they passionately recommend something and ask them to write it down for me. Root for others. Give more and expect the same in return, but over time.

Act nervous when I'm nervous, puzzled when I don't know what the hell to do, and smile when it all goes my way. And never in any other order than that. And when it's all over, whether at the end of this fabulous career or of this life, which I hope takes place at the same time, I should look back and say that I had it good and I made the most of it while I was able. And so should you.

I'm going quiet now.


And yet, as a parent, wouldn't I be remiss if I were to deny my children all the unconditional bum pats and ego fluffing I can muster? What of it as an adult, then? Am I not still special? Don't I deserve unconditional bum pats and ego fluffing every now and again? Or shouold I develop humility in my children, so that they may have humility as adults?

If you research this particular blog entry, you'll find a number of individuals have felt personally attacked by it.  They've completely missed the point.  I'm just hoping that the people who do 'get' the message find it encouraging (and humbling) - it's a blessing that someone more special than me has finally pointed these things out... ~smirk~

Happy Earth Day!!!

Global Warming apparently skipped Edmonton for Earth Day...

Bill on the subject of Watermarking.


"Isn't it kind of like locking up your bike?  Sure, you can leave it unlocked, but by putting a lock on it you make people have to make at least a bit of effort if they're going to steal it..."

exercise for week of April 21, 2008

I think you guys will have fun with this week's exercise - hopefully it'll cheer you up a bit in this abysmal spring blizzard we're being subjected to.  For those of you participating from warmer climes, zippit.

Keeping with the theme of weddings and events, and inspired by last week's story-telling pictures of life on the farm by Christine and the question from Rebecca about her Grandma's visit, this week your challenge is to plan and create an event album.  The purpose of this exercise is to get you into the habit of thinking on your feet, tapping into your ability to intuitively be prepared to catch those splendid candid moments that occur inside the confines of an otherwise well-planned event, whether it's a wedding, a surprise party, or just a trip to the store which anyone with children will attest can, in and of itself, be an event... so that at the end of it, you have a series of (15) FIFTEEN or more pictures that tells a story more or less from beginning to end.

So here's the method.  "Plan" an event and do a series of before-during-and-after pictures.  Some ideas for kids would be finger painting, playing dress-up, or helping with the laundry.  Some ideas for a grown-up would be baking and decorating a cake or cookies or making something over (a room, a friend, your messy closet) or a coffee date with friends.  If you happen to have something coming up that someone else has already planned (baby shower, birthday party, whatever) you can muscle in on that, too.

The before pictures should illustrate preparation or anticipation - setting things up, people arriving, things being set in place, etc.  The main event should include landmark moments as well as show progress towards and through to the 'climax' of the event.  The after pictures should showcase the highlight, and show that the event has somehow finished - people waving goodbye, the sun setting, the dishes sitting in the sink - whatever point you choose as the final moment.

Have fun!  I'll try and get mine up in the next day or two - still cooking up an idea...  lol

workin' hard?

Hardly workin'!

I'm in love with teaching.  I am enjoying sharing my passion for photography with others on a whole new level, watching them grow and master their own cameras, and develop their own styles.

I did a private tutoring session for Jenn (who has wicked taste in kids' clothes) and Isaac on their newly acquired dSLR.  Heather, who recently invested in her own Nikon, came along for the fun.  Jacob (above) was in the way, so what else was I to do but shoot the poor little gaffer?

Of course, besides practicing on weird objects placed on their coffee table to make use of the beautiful available (natural) light pouring in from their patio doors, I made use of the lovely available subjects, being the two beautiful children who get to call Jenn and Isaac Mommy and Daddy.

While Isaac played with his and Jenn's newest accessory, sweet Sydney played with a few of her favourite accessories, like her pink shoes, her etch-a-sketch...

and Mommy...

Thanks for a lovely Saturday morning, Isaac, Jenn, Heather, Jacob, and Sydney!  Serejane's invitation for Sydney to come to her next birthday party seems a bit far off, so maybe we'll have to sneak in a playdate sometime before then.  (Warning: there may not be ponies but I think I could arrange for some rocks...)


I am staying home.  You should too.  Field trip CANCELLED!!!

ponypalooza goes live

Today I became the parent that everyone hates. "But Serejane got PONIES for HER birthday party..."  Serejane's recent fascination with ponies turned this, her fourth birthday party, into a real live Ponypalooza. The ladies from Horse Sence (owners of the fantastic carriage I am DYING to use for photographs...) showed up 'ride' on time for Serejane's party, smiling and in great spirits in spite of the snowy conditions that threatened to spoil our day.

The kids all got multiple pony rides, and learned how to groom and lead the ponies. Serejane took the ponies very seriously, tried everything 6 or 12 times, and pretty much ignored everyone until after the ponies left.

Unfortunately some of our guests were unable to come out (sickness, newborns and babies who honestly couldn't bear the weather, and some unnamed people who are just wimpy lol) but everyone showed up in mitts and snowpants ready to enjoy the day; with a couple of boxes of hot chocolate, a few tarps, and our trusty firepit (bearing a new decal thanks to Mama being an idiot when trying to warm up Serejane's favourite heart mittens) we all managed to stay relatively warm and happy.

It was beautiful outside as long as you were protected from the wind, and we set up camp in in the last picnic site at Goldbar Park, completely surrounded by trees.   Pretty ponies, pretty snow, and pretty awesome friends were the perfect recipe for a pretty perfect 4th birthday celebration.

Happy birthday, my baby girl.  I love you!!!

Thanks to everyone for braving the snow, and an extra special thanks to the folks at Horse Sence - amazing - I very highly recommend them if you ever find yourself in need of a pony.  Or two.  (They even bring their own shovels!!!)

More pictures here:

Judo Jane and her sidekick Dapper Ollie

We went to the Golden Bird for some delicious Vietnamese.  Serejane was having fun with the chopsticks.

My brother-in-law Oliver was looking so dapper in his pageboy cap and new jacket I had to take a picture.

out and about

My charming firstborn.

Spring breakup.

Spring breakup.

Good question.

Good graffiti.

Bad graffiti - how lazy do you gotta be to express your profound love for someone on a wooden bridge using spray paint (better suited to concrete - see above)?  I guess there's some consolation - at least it wasn't done with a Sharpie...

There was a sign like this, written exactly the same, on all eight gas pumps.  Kids - stay in school...

What not to wear?

Shopping convention.


I often tell people the best way to stay inspired and to push yourself creatively is to keep exploring the work of other photographers. I have once more fallen in love with the journey all over again. Enjoy!


I often tell people the best way to stay inspired and to push yourself creatively is to keep exploring the work of other photographers. I have once more fallen in love with the journey - it's like I've started all over again. Enjoy.

welcome, CK!

We did DeeDee's maternity pictures just a few weeks ago, squeezing her in right before I took a break to wait for Canaan to put in an appearance.

At 10:35 a.m. April 16, 2008, Baby CK arrived, weighing in at an impressive 8lbs and 6oz. Mom called and left a message at the house at 2:35 p.m. asking if I could sneak over and get some super-fresh baby pictures. I arrived at about 7:35 p.m. So, by my math, little CK is just 9 hours old in this, his first out-of-(mom's)-body paparazzi session. Not *quite* as fresh as Canaan was, but pretty close. His hair was softer than a baby chick's feathers, and despite all our stroking, poking, prodding, and petting he wouldn't open his eyes, not for Mom, not for me, not for all the tea in China. I didn't mind, so much - sleeping babies are kinda nice to nuzzle while Mom is taking care of herself... (yes, yes, I had to resort to flash near the end when the sun left me... no comments from the peanut gallery!) Little CK has 3 big sisters who are SOOOO excited for him to come home today! I bet they didn't get to sleep for a LONG TIME last night and $10 says the school ground is abuzz with news of the newest addition! Congratulations to you all!

do I say something?

PQRS wants to know:

I have a query regarding a person I know who is starting a photography business. Wanting to be supportive I went over and took a look and to be honest the pictures were pretty mediocre looked like lot's of point and shoot shots and lighting was off in quite a few of them. I think he might benefit from a photography course but I didn't know if I should offer any constructive criticism on shots or not because I don't want to offend him. By no means am I am expert. So my question is would you be honest in this situation or just ignore it.

Excellent question.

Easy answer... Here's the beauty of the photography world: everyone starts somewhere and they only get better with experience, whether that's guided experience with formal instruction or mentorship, or the school of self-directed education and hard knocks. For every flashy gem of a photographer who hits the ground running I believe there are a dozen or more diamonds in the rough who simply need a little pressure and polishing to outshine the rest, and not a one of us can ever be sure which is which. Here's the harsh reality of the photography world: if you lack or fail to develop style and/or ability, you will perish.

Hard answer... I've had a piano in my house since I was 6 years old. Owning a camera doesn't make you any more a photographer than opening a piano has made me a concert pianist. After over 20 years of sharing my home with an upright, I can play the opening bars of "chopsticks" and a couple of pieces I learned by thumping them out by ear after my sister played them. Even having a natural (or supernatural) aptitude for something doesn't exempt any person from needing to know how to operate, exploit, and master their equipment, whether that's the voice of a soprano, the tools of a woodworker, or the camera of a photographer. In the day and age of marketing companies (hired by camera manufacturers who want to sell cameras) telling the general public that with the right camera (their camera) anyone can shoot like a pro, we are witnessing an unprecedented number of unskilled but highly motivated folks saturating the market with mediocre and sometimes downright awful photography, many of them with the attitude that it's an easy job, or at least an easy way to make some money on the side. Those of us in the industry know that although it is a very fulfilling job, it is a very demanding job that is anything but easy, or easy money, especially in the beginning. Even after many years in the business, several of my photographer friends have second jobs to supplement their photography income.

A person who has never heard feedback from outside their own sphere of well-meaning and supportive family and friends are usually completely unaware of how they may or may not stack up in the prevailing market. Most family and friends are too nice to ever say, well, these pictures are OK but I wouldn't actually pay you for them... Whenever I encounter a situation where I am asked for an honest opinion, I try and give one without pulling a Simon Cowell. If I am not asked, I have to kind of weigh whether or not I think it's worth saying anything. Like when someone asks if their new banana yellow spandex short-shorts make them look stupid, you need to ask yourself if it's more important to protect a friend from being hurt by your honest input, or to watch a friend probably embarrass him or herself.

In the case of this individual (to protect innocence I have declined to publish the web address as well as the name of the person who asked) I would say it's necessary to say something, as the prices he has set are completely off the grid based on the skill, quality, and creativity the work demonstrates. I see enjoyment but not passion, interest but not dedication, functionality but not creativity. This DOES NOT pre-empt anyone from getting better or being successful... but certainly some time should be spent building a proper portfolio. Generally speaking, the pictures aren't very indicative of much other than camera ownership. Specifically, the limited wedding portfolio includes pictures snuck from the sidelines where the couple is quite obviously looking at the actual photographer and not him. These images not only have nothing particularly strong or noteworthy about them in terms of style or ability - weak or non-existent composition, poor exposure, etc. - but illustrate someone else's posing of the subjects, which may or may not be better or worse than your friend.

Often stylistic differences are confused with good or bad photography. It's entirely possible to dislike someone's style even if the photography is fantastic. It is also possible to like someone's style even if the pictures themselves are horrible. There is no accounting for taste, so to be completely fair, let's assume for a minute that the style of pictures this person is taking is actually what he is going for, his 'schtick' - maybe he's trying to go for a kind of cheesy "80s 'home movie' trailer park peeping tom on the sidelines chic", which, if he knows what he is doing, develops an expert level of creating that sort of 'schtick' with consistency, markets himself to the right demographic, and manages to build up a following, could make him a very successful (if not notorious) man. Without being facetious, with photographers battling one another to be the slickest funkiest shooter and baddest sexiest photoshopper, something really edgy and funky like that actually has a pretty good chance of taking off if 'sold' the right way.

Now let's assume it's a case of weak skills, in which case he will most certainly fail to thrive as the market is far too competitive where he has set his price. Even if he were to cut his fees in half, the competition is pretty stiff. It wouldn't take an expert to see that despite the desire he has expressed, there is a long way to go before he can charge that kind of price for, say, a wedding. Frankly I would worry that if he doesn't hear some honest and gentle constructive criticism from someone who does care, he may hear something from someone who doesn't. I don't know which would be worse: false encouragement (on top of unhappy clients and the potential embarrassment, this may lead to huge monetary investments or incurring debt to acquire equipment that never pays for itself) or cruel comments that could not only destroy his enjoyment of taking pictures (that would be the ultimate shame) but irreversibly damage a person's self esteem, especially if the person is of a particularly sensitive or delicate nature.

If you want to avoid hurting his feelings being completely direct, you can always ask him to come out shooting with you so he can "give you some pointers" or share some insider secrets. Once there, ask questions that you already know the answers to in the hopes he will perhaps a) demonstrate that he actually does know what he is doing and just needs the chance to build a portfolio or b) recognize how little he knows and how much room there is for improvement. (For example, ask him how he would meter a light subject on a dark background to get the best possible overall exposure.) You could also suggest he attend a class or workshop WITH you, as moral support FOR you. (Find an inexpensive course at a local community league or whatever and pretend you're painfully shy and just couldn't bear to go without someone by your side.) The funny thing about that is people who honestly think they already know everything they need won't be the least bit interested in finding out how much they don't know because they are genuinely intimidated by the idea of having their bubble burst, and the people who know they don't know much are too embarrassed to expose themselves.

Bottom line is, if you care about the person and think they are making a fool of themselves, you should say something. If the friend is not anyone particularly important to you, you may prefer to let the photography industry take care of its own and on his own steam become hugely successful or shown the proverbial door. Ultimately, only you know the answer to that, and only you will have to answer to whatever course of action you choose.

to give you an idea of what you are up against...


Before you read the rant below, you need to know that not only did the owner of the website clarify that she was kind of unclear how copyright law worked, but was also grateful for the sound advice. I've invited her over to join ticdesign... maybe she knows some design tricks, or for those of you who aren't up to designing fancy custom cards but want to offer it as a service, maybe you can form a partnership with her - her cards are actually pretty durn cute!

So the morality police showed up today when I stumbled upon an advertisement on Facebook for custom-made photo cards. ~rant on~

The 'faq' page irked me something fierce, and the owner tried to pass the buck on recognition of international copyright laws. I imagine she figures she might lose some business by not working with professinal photos, and that by saying in a wishy washy way she asks for a copyright release but will work with them anyways figures she is saving her own butt from prosecution.

It says: I will complete your order before receiving this document, however, I cannot be held liable if I do not receive it, or if the Photographer is unwilling to provide it.

It sounds like: I don't actually care if you provide copyright or not - I will take your money and deliver your order like anyone else's and if I find out later I wasn't actually allowed to use the picture I'll just say it was your fault.

I am waiting to see if hear back from this email (condensed version here):

"Hi, L.

I followed your ad link on Facebook. I'm a photographer and though I initially stopped by for a completely different reason, I am now looking for some clarification in regards to the use of professional photos on your FAQ page where it reads: I will complete your order before receiving this document, however, I cannot be held liable if I do not receive it, or if the Photographer is unwilling to provide it.

For your own protection, regardless of whether your client is providing their own photo for you to use or one that someone else took, I would strongly advise you to revisit your policy, and start providing your clients with a copyright or license release form that they or their photographer must complete BEFORE you even commence working that reads something like, "I, (insert name), own the copyright to the image identified as (insert file name or names and description) and do hereby give permission to (your name) to use this/these images in the design of a custom card specifically for the purpose of (insert reason.) The following limitations will apply: (this is a place where photographers like me may limit the number of copies or prints you may make, or prohibit you from using the image as a display item without proper photo cred.) In signing this document, I hold harmless (the name of your company) from any and all legal proceedings that may arise from the use of this picture.

This should help prevent people from providing illegal images for you to use and putting you at risk, too. In the meantime, good luck with your design company - very cute cards!



As much as I wanted to tear a strip off of her I figured it was better to be diplomatic and helpful. Unfortunately this kind of blase attitude towards copyright runs rampant. Turning a blind eye isn't the same thing as refusing to work when a copyright release or license has not been provided, and rest assured, if she were to use one of the images my client provided in a design without seeking a proper release I would, in a heartbeat, sue her as well as my own client. Not only does it show a lack of professionalism, but it's kinda disrespectful... Wonder how she would feel if someone used one of her designs and used it without asking...

~rant off~

Trash the Dress!!!!

Alright peoples - it looks like it is going to be a high of only zip zilch zero with 'snow showers' on Sunday April 20th, which is WAY too cold for a TTD session outdoors, and they aren't much fun indoors... so0000 I'm putting it on a rain check for April 26th when the weather is (hopefully) more cooperative, and inviting you all to bring your kids and meet me instead from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the John Walter Museum where they're teaching how to hook rugs from old clothes!  (Admission is FREE!)

for the bride who has everything but still wants more....

lighting guru

I've often consulted with the archives of the Strobist when in need of guidance on something I really have very little knowledge of, being a natural/available light photographer. I was cruising over there today looking for something I need for an upcoming shoot and found this great little video series. Here's the first one - I encourage you to watch LOTS of his little videos - he's very knowledgeable about controlled lighting and he's got a sense of humour to boot (always a selling point in the world of photorgaphy where far too many take themselves far too seriously... lol)

spring has sprung

Yes, it has arrived, spring has shown it's beautiful face in the form of my lonely lovely prairie crocus.

this weekend

Visiting friends, hanging with family, going to the park, gymnastics, looking at sweet baby chicks, tromping through the wilderness, scooter and bike rides, meeting fellow shooters, picnicking in the great outdoors, cleaning the van, taking bottles back to the depot, raking leaves, weenie roast around the firepit, taking pictures...

Bill, lunging.  He likes to lunge.  I like the lens flare - very pretty!

My Mom displaying why all of us blood-relations come by our weirdness honestly.  This picture is proof that poor Mads doesn't have a clue what she's gotten into.

Madisyn's butterfly-in-waiting.

Proof that maybe we're rubbing off on Mads...

A family portrait.

Kaelan is taking to the camera well.

Looking for rocks.

I can't even begin to tell you how amazing the scenery was at Elk Island Park - the colours were so vibrant and the sun was SO warm... it was amazing!

My sweet baby girl.

My sweet firstborn watering himself.

Crazy kids at the gymnastics club...

Families and bikers were out in full force today.

My sister, being tough.

Egg in nest on beach, rock in sunken buffalo poop...  You decide.

See the rest here: