The kids are all grown up

Call it the season, but I always end up feeling really sappy & sentimental this time of year. While I've always been aware that I struggle with the idea of 'empty nest syndrome' regarding my own children, it has recently dawned on me how hard it is seeing the previous years' workshoppers and former apprentices become successful and get too busy and too smart to ask me questions anymore. On the one hand, it's an amazing thing watching businesses grow and successes mount. On the other hand, it's always sad not feeling like I'm needed anymore. So, this is a shout out to the 2010 participants who are just about to begin their journey - I'm very excited to have you on board - and a whisper from the ground to all the former goslings who've taken to the wing and flown off in their own directions - I miss you, and I'm so proud I could pee my pants. Keep flying - the sky's the limit!


Hello, everyone! As November draws to a close and I sign off as Photographer for 2009, get ready for Christmas, and plan for the DLS workshops, I thought besides getting everyone's albums and discs delivered I ought to get the website up to date.

The 2010 shooting, workshop, and retreat schedule has been added to the calendar at the site. To check available dates, see what workshops are coming, and find out what other fun things are on the horizon for 2010, visit the website and check out the calendar from the links on the left!!!

(p.s. There are even MORE fun things coming - watch for the new monthly schedule in the next couple of weeks!)

2010 workshops

My apologies to anyone waiting for an official 2010 DLS Series workshop announcement - I was sold out before I ever had the chance to make the official announcement! (This is a good thing, really...) I am currently accepting pre-registrations for the 2010 Weekend Warriors on August 21 and 22, 2010. To those of you who managed to get in, congratulations, and looking very much forward to good times in January!!!

tubeLOVE: flashback.

Wow. Just, wow. Have not heard this song in about a bazillion years. LURVE it!

tubeLOVE: crash tests

If I put my cynicism about insurance companies and try to believe for a minute that some engineers out there designing crumple zones are trying to save lives aside for a few minutes, I think I can trust my eyes enough to see the obvious. In 1959 Bel Air v. 2009 Malibu, the Malibu wins. Pretty trippy, hey?

babyLOVE: mad crafting skillz...

OK, so wedding season is over and I haven't had a chance to upload the last of those yet, but I don't want y'all to get bored with the blog so I thought I'd post a gooder.

Serejane and her Grandpa Bear wearing matching fringed vests made from the leftovers of the seamless backdrop from our fabu pin-up sessions last week. (I can't share those yet, either... not until after Christmas... shhhh!)

meLOVE: time spent well, even in Calgary

This past weekend I spent in Cowtown. Saturday was spent with a handful (90 or so) other photographers to attend a workshop put on by the renowned Orange County snapshooter Christopher Becker of [b] school fame. I won't break down the seminar here - it was really more of a social than learning event for me - but I will say I felt affirmed in much of what I've been teaching in the Dirty Little Secrets workshops.

However, I would be remiss if I didn't wax poetic about 2 things: hanging with my friend Tammy of Smiley Eyes photography, who I never get to see anymore because we're always so darn busy - I am so grateful to have had a chance to reconnect. Then Sunday was spent hanging out with mein seestor, which brings me to the second reason to wax poetic, about Sunny the muskox. He lives in Calgary, and who has the best dreadlocks EVER. Love him, even if he was cranky and even if he did snot leech-sized (and shaped and coloured) boogers on my hand when I tried to feed him some yummy pellets.

Isn't he gorgeous? I love him.

tubeLOVE: oh, so funny...

A warning there is some potty mouth in this video, but it's too ridiculously hilarious not to share...

creating an image for yourself on the web

The primary observation I've made when surfing blogs and websites is describable by that silly saying, "Everyone is unique, just like you." I read the adjectives people are using to describe their style and their products and while a few years ago, creative, photojournalism and documentary were the hip descriptors, the current buzzwords are: real classic elegant timeless unique fresh sweet artistic casual natural lifestyle connections

So, if everybody's claiming to be doing classic, elegant, timeless, unique, fresh, sweet, artistic, casual, natural, lifestyle, connections, then how do you REALLY set yourself apart from the pack when people are going to be looking at your website online, or viewing your business card?

The whole idea of selling YOU as a photographer, and your presence at a wedding as a photographer, means you have to come up with more adjectives. So now we see words like fun, relaxed, unposed, blah blah blah. But of course, you telling me that you are all these things doesn't really show much of your personality, unless you're personality is really as dry as saying that.

So. There are two parts to your portfolio: your mad photography skills and YOU. Since your first point of contact is going to be your website, if you really want to stand out, you need to give people a flavour instead of just feeding words to potential clients that will supposedly describe your photos and your personality.

As far as the pictures go, if you want people to see you're a fun photographer, put up pictures of your clients doing something fun, not sitting in a tree with stiff smiles plastered on their faces. If you want people to see you're a classic and timeless photographer, put up the best possible examples of your classic and timeless photos, not a picture of the neighbour's dog licking himself. If don't really know what to describe your style, put up an eclectic mix of pictures you happen to like and pray to God someone likes them.

Then you have to sell yourself, and here's where your words become more important than the adjectives you'd use to describe your images. It isn't really what you say, but how you say it, that will truly illustrate to your clientele what it is you're out to accomplish as a photographer. Read the following:

"Hi, I'm So-and-So, and I'm great to hang around with. We're going to have a great time doing informal and fun family portraits."

"Sometimes I like to paint children with mud then put them in trees to take pictures of them. For the bargain basement price of their dignity, you can enjoy the pictures for years to come."

Which do you think really illustrates personality better? Which version makes So-and-So sound like he or she is fun to spend time with? Which version is going to attract the kind of clients that person actually want to spend a day with?

Next, find some common ground. Spend some time sharing a bit about yourself so your clients know whether they are going to connect or not. Again:

"I have two children and have studied photography informally for ten years, I have a great sense of humour, and I love what I do."

"My kids used to drive me nuts, but when I got my first camera ten years ago I started driving them nuts instead. I freakin' LOVE this job."


"I'm easy-going, but still value the the finer things in life, and will strive to provide coverage of all the details of your day."

"I am a sucker for a pair of Louboutin's and really marvel at all the planning that goes into a wedding from the Swarovski gems on the groom's cufflinks to the bamboo centre pieces, but I should probably warn you that if there's someone famous at your wedding I'll probably take a break from all the details to get an autograph..."

When you're doing up a business card, though, obviously you will need to condense the number of words you're going to use, which is where it can get tricky. If you're self-described as a classic, elegant, timeless, unique, fresh, sweet, artistic, casual, natural, lifestyle, connections photographer, your best friend might just be the thesaurus. And if the best words for what you do really are fun, fresh and connected, isn't calling yourself an amusing ripe and juicy human fusion photographer the same thing, only catchier?

My two bits.

it's some of your business...

There are some conversations about pricing and branding over at the Dirty Little Secrets blog. Check them out!

another pricing strategy to consider.

Salfrico commented on my last post, citing this other article on pricing as a counterpoint to the preceding post. (You may want to read that one first, just to catch up.)

The main thing that kind of made me giggle about that article was the idea that you are supposed to remove the emotion from it, because wanting to put a number on the value of your time away from your family is based on emotions, too, not just all that fluffy arteest stuff, isn't it? When you remove the emotion from anything, it means you are making a choice to ignore all those little voices that pop up and say, hrmm, maybe - not always but maybe - there's something deep inside me about this whole thing that makes me feel a little uncomfortable. They don't like hearing my perspective because it makes them question their own philosophy. Maybe they talk the talk but don't actually walk the walk. (And yes, I've met both ilks - there are people who have integrity and demand 6 figures a year, and they are totally cool with hearing my perspective and say, "Yeah? That's nice," and others who feel like frauds and then try desperately to justify their income figure to someone like me who says, "Yeah? That's nice.") A 6-figure income doesn't impress me, unless you donate half your money to charity or something lol.

Anyhoo. While she picked a relatively modest income of $50,000 as a nice starting point, she touched on the idea that spending time away from your family for $10 an hour is somehow wrong. I imagine that all those people out there grateful for and dependent on their $10 an hour job are thinkin', "Thanks, lady. Up Yours." She's also missing the fact that if she's charging say $50 for her time and talent and you have to pay another $50 for a single sheet, then as she said, working from the hard cold emotionless facts, I can only afford WalMart, therefore, I'm going to invest in that $50 sheet and call it a day. And, there are those of us who don't give a damn about a surround sound TV so when we say we couldn't afford ourselves while maybe we could, there are also those who don't WANT or need to - in some cases, it's actually a choice not to become elitist in our lifestyles and our shopping choices, right down to the photographer that we choose. Call me a hippy or a tree hugger or whatever you want. Money isn't evil, but it isn't the central focus of my life either.

Because it's a well-known fact that photography has no measurable value - it's really an intangible and subjective thing - and our hard costs after initial investment is so piddly, we are selling is the same damn thing as WalMart - a $50 8x10 sheet. At some point, then, you have to become empathetic to your target market, who values photos of their children equally regardless of income, but who still require that service. So put yourself in the emotional shoes of the person shopping you as a photog. The hard cold fact of life is, the bulk majority of consumers are price shoppers, even when they have $3500 to spend instead of $50; *most* people shop with their hearts, whether the feeling in their heart is a burning desire to have at least one decent picture of their child to hang on their walls (and there's no accounting for taste - there are lots of people out there who still like studio portraits, but no thanks for me) or a burning desire to brag to all their friends on how much they spent on their photographer, to someone else who will care (definitely no thanks.) When you picture someone making 6-figures spending $3,000 on a session, it's not really the same percentage of their disposable income as say someone who is only making $30,000 a year. Go watch My Fair Lady, and pay special attention to the part where Eliza Doolittle's offer is realized as relatively speaking a 'king's ransom' - when viewed from that perspective, it says that someone who makes a meagre income loves their children more, relatively speaking, doesn't it? (And no, of course it doesn't, but when you take the emotion out of it, that's a valuable statistic to consider.)

Some of my clients can afford a more expensive photographer, while others struggle every year to scrape together the pennies they need to pay my fee. They wait 6 months for me not because I'm not the cheapest person out there, but because my philosophy and personality are a good match for them. They tend to be the folks with a strong work ethic, who love their children fiercely, and want to support a local business instead of a chain store. They hire me because they like my work, not because they can brag about who took their pictures. They want me taking their children's pictures because I like kids and kids like me. (I can't tell you how many family photographers say they hate kids... boggles my mind...) I know other photographers out there who kick my ass in talent and skill, so I like to believe that my clients hire me because they respect my integrity.

The point is, price-shoppers don't want me because I'm still WAY more expensive than WalMart, and the elitists don't want me because I have nothing to offer them in terms of superficial value (a label). That makes me feel pretty good about where my prices are set. I'd much rather be respected than liked or admired. I enjoy the basis of her philosophy of working from your desired income up (not a new one, but a popular one that many photographers will sell other photogs for a huge chunk of change, and one that ironically every library on the planet has 68 books geared towards every type of business you can imagine for the low low price of $12 a year) but think she contradicts herself and still treats photography as an elitist service, trying to guilt people into feeling like they are undervaluing their families by working for a mere $10 an hour. Thank you, and screw you.

She doesn't really put her money where her mouth is, because she put in a disclaimer that she aims for 6 figures. I lost respect for her ideology at that point, not because I think she's greedy, but because at that price point I can assure you that we have a very different value system. Having been a single parent and having learned how to have what I need and want what I have, I'm able to pooh-pooh those photogs aiming for a weekly income of 5 figures (resulting in a meagre 6-figure salary of $120,000 a year) and say, knock yourself out. If YOU believe in your pricing strategy, then you have found the right one. If you question your pricing strategy, investigate what's out of integrity in your philosophy. When you can justify your pricing and feel you have a sound balance of emotional and business sense, you're good to go. Every time I hear someone start talking about their pricing and feeling like they can't justify it, saying things like they can't afford themselves, that's usually a better indicator of someone spending more than they make because they want more than they have. They are waiting to have, be, and do more before they are satisfied and find a 6-figure salary really appealing. Me, I admit I completely and totally lack the desire and drive to get there. Too competitive, too much work, too many conferences and competitions to attend, too much travelling, too much overhead, and not enough fun. And, while they are making money hand over fist, they are actually spending as much if not more time away from their family, but feel like they can put a price tag on their absence. There's something fundamentally wrong with saying, I won't leave my kids for $10 an hour, but I will for $100. Your time with your kids is for sale to the highest bidder at that point, so hell yeah - you better avoid feeling any emotion about that whatsoever. Icky. Blech.

Be firm and be true to your own value system and you'll figure it out. If you value labels, become a label photographer. If you value artistic integrity, become an arteest. If you just want to have a creative outlet that is a) enjoyable and b) pays for itself, have at 'er. This is the BEAUTY of photography as a business. There is no correct recipe for it. There is no right or wrong answer, and only YOU will ever know what works for YOU. All the high-priced photogs out there encouraging us to shoot for the stars and feel that we low-priced photographers somehow lower the industry standard can, frankly, bite my ass. When you eliminate having to work away from the house every day and are able to sit at the computer and take frequent breaks to make your kids' lunches, kiss their booboos, and avoid the headache and hassle of commuting to some job that leaves you feeling hollow and empty, $10 an hour sounds pretty damn good, doesn't it?

q: why don't you charge more?

So, it's a popular thing to say to each other, and we photographers often do, "Oh, you should be charging more for your photography!" This past weekend I attended a [b]ecker workshop in the town of cows (Calgary lol) and had some very interesting conversations regarding pricing strategies. We all have very different strategies for coming up with our prices, but they essentially boil down to a consideration of some or all of the following:

How much money do you need to make vs. how much money you want to make?
Would you pay for your services what you are charging?
Volume vs. price ie) several sessions at a lower price vs. a few sessions at a higher price?
Is my work worth the price I'm demanding vs. other peoples' work, and do I care?
Frills or no frills?
What is my target market and can they afford the prices I'm charging?
How much are my overhead expenses including postage, equipment, packaging, materials, etc?
How much training, experience and expertise do I have?

I'm sure I missed about a bazillion things, but when it comes time to come up with a pricing strategy, we have to sit and contemplate a LOT of things before we come up with something that works for us. And the bottom line is, ultimately, that there is NO RIGHT ANSWER. Some photographers (and even clients) will say you you need to raise your prices because they think your work is worth more, but there are often more sinister underpinnings to this compliment. In order to illustrate this, I need to explain what in the workshops I discuss as the "Photographer Pyramid." Somebody send me off and email and I'll try and JPEG up the slide so you have a visual, but it looks a lot like the food or energy pyramid, where the photographers who are charging higher prices compete for a very small percentage of the market, while in the middle there is more to go around, and at the bottom there are department store studios and new, inexperienced photographers looking to break into the market.

What I have learned is that the closer to the top of the pyramid a photographer climbs, the stiffer the competition. Because there isn't much room to stand your ground up there, many are less willing to share their trade secrets, don't refer their clients out, and are terrified of the cheaper photographers in the lower echelons who they somehow feel are a threat to their position up on top. Because there is ALWAYS someone better, hipper, and cooler ready to topple them over, this makes it difficult to trust peers (the competition) and gives an understandable but unjustified fear of the lower priced newcomers.

The reason I say it is unjustified is quite simply because the people who are willing and able to pay elite premiums for photography services (which is really all too similar in form and function for comfort) aren't going to shop based on lowest price. You doubt me, but let's put it this way - a person who shops for Christian Louboutin, dresses their kid head-to-toe in boutique clothing, takes vacations in 5-star hotels, and owns a summer villa in Europe isn't going to buy $500 wedding photography services from a no-name photographer any more than they are going to stock their fridge with generic orange juice. In fact, they often won't even accept free services from up-and-comers who are wanting to break into that market, and would probably sooner die than ever be caught dead in WalMart shopping much less getting portraits of their kids taken. Quite simply, people with that kind of money desire the gratification of dropping a name and eliciting admiration of others when they announce who did their family portraits or who shot their wedding. There is only a small fraction of shooters in the photographer pyramid who have the drive, ambition, and desire to go for a hostile takeover of the photography world and knock you off your spot. You don't need to be worried about the multitudes of cheap photographers at all. Promise.

So how does someone break into the market, then? The truth of it is, usually lucky circumstances. (Read Outliers - it will BLOW YOUR MIND.) They happened to grow up in the right environment, have the right influences and opportunities, then be in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, under the right circumstances to have the opportunity to get their foot in that door - second-shooting a wedding, having a wealthy relative hire you on a lark, whatever. And yes, you can command your destiny and by sheer tenacity probably get into that market if your personality and skills are up to snuff. Go for it. But you certainly have to WANT it, and you have to want all the other stuff that goes along with building a name for yourself. If you're a poor farm kid with a twang in your voice, you better read My Fair lady and study the moves in Catch Me If You Can.

While there are always exceptions to the rule, the elite photographers know that if you want to make it to the top, you're going to have to step on a few heads to get there, and stand on a few shoulders to stay there. The ones who realize it was circumstance that got them there quickly realize it's hard work, integrity, and professionalism that will keep them there. They are the ones who will reach a hand down to help a fellow up, while others will cling desperately to the bricks, kicking the little guys off.

Here's the funny thing. Here's why I always take the comment that I should raise my prices with a grain of salt. Many higher-priced photographers figure the best way to make it fair is to equalize pricing, meaning everyone raise their prices to drive prices up. In theory, equally high pricing is supposed to level the playing field and open the market up by giving people no choice but to pay more, but this makes no sense because increasing our prices isn't going to magically increase a client's incomes. If we all put our prices up where only a few people can afford us, a lot of us will be out of a job because the people who only make enough money to go WalMart or, heaven forbid, support a newbie who is building their portfolio, unless we're willing to move in on the few people who can still afford a photographer. Which means that there would in effect be a thousand times the competition for the same 1% of the population. Beyond that, the ability to get a portrait of your child or have coverage of your wedding done becomes impossible for those who love their children as much as the rich folks but have limited incomes (like single parents or single-income families.) Is that REALLY what you want?

So now, I want to answer that question for anyone who cares to know the answer: why doesn't Yours Truly of Hope Walls Photography charge more for her services? Here's how it adds up:

While I'm admittedly a shoe lover (man, do I ever freakin' love shoes!) I am not a flashy kind of person. I don't care if your shoes cost you $5 or $500 - either way, I will like or dislike them, and won't ever go, "Wow, I admire you because you paid $500 for your shoes." I place no value on that sort of thing and I'm not therefore going to think one baby is better, more loved, smarter, cuter, or better because they got driven to my session in a Lexus and are on the waiting list for Miss BonBon's Pre-playschool University Prep Program. This precipitates to the equivalent of, I am probably not going to do a very good job of showcasing that person's lifestyle because it isn't a lifestyle I lead nor is it one I wish to lead. If I won the lotto, I'd be more likely to give up my day job and be a full-time photographilanthropist than start paying for the ooh-aah designer label on a pair of jeans made in the same factory that pays the same 10-year old kids 18-cents an hour to sew pants for WalMart. This does not mean that I think these people are shallow, dislikable, or greedy - it just means that I don't have the same appreciation or desire for a luxury lifestyle that they do. When they start talking about their investment portfolio, I'm seriously thinking, uh... did I remember to turn off the downstairs bathroom light, and whose turn is it to wash dishes?

As photographers, our personal life experiences will shape the type of photographer we strive to be. If we grew up with parents who always chased money, chances are good we'll chase money, too, and attach our happiness and our feeling of being successful to how much money we make, and how admired we are for that money. In my never-humble opinion, it's a common misconception that money is the ultimate measure of success, and the key to happiness ergo, lack of money is a sign of failure and a reason to be unhappy. This to me is superficial (in the literal sense of the word) because I'm personally in the, "Be happy FIRST," camp. I am free to always have enough, to be genuinely grateful for what I do have every day, weather the storm with a smile, revel in a state of serendipity when the windfalls come, and not be disappointed when they go away or just don't happen. Humility makes it possible to get what I need, and want what I have.

Which leads to my pricing strategy, which is more a philosophy than anything. Photographs give us a visual document of the passage of time that illustrates the unfolding story of our lives - marriage, pregnancy, birth, first day of school, graduation, grandparenthood, death... Therefore, I believe that everyone, regardless of income or social status, should have access to affordable photography services whether that's owning a cheap camera, paying for WalMart pictures once a year, or buying a $35,000 wedding package. None of these is more or less valuable, and price is irrelevant because someone who makes a net income in 6 figures is not going to feel the pinch of a $35,000 price tag as much as someone who makes a net income of $35,000. There is more than enough business to go around. Swear it.

The people who are building their portfolios provide this service to people at the base level, which will hopefully give them a different experience than department store or school portraits. Once they have a positive experience with a photographer, they are unlikely to return to Walmart and will either grow with that photographer as they increase their prices, or will remain at the base level and provide a clientele for the next new photographer in the pyramid. Win-win. I charge enough to cover my expenses and my time, but I don't charge more for my photography services than what I would be a) willing and b) able to pay, because gouging people makes me feel icky. Lastly, as I use free or inexpensive web albums and sites, and don't pay for a studio, provide fancy packaging, give out promotional items, use 3rd party services, have a staff, pay for memberships and/or attend a lot of expensive conventions/conferences/seminars, or invest in hoity-toity frills, I do not have to pass those expenses on to my clients and can therefore keep my prices lower. I then have the ability to serve a huge portion of the general mid-pyramid clientele while still turning enough of a net income to meet my needs.

Heavy, heady stuff. Any questions?

newLOVE: a precious little boy

There are no pictures to accompany this newLOVE.

On November 11th, 2009, an angel was born. Although I am a participating member of NILMDTS, this one was off the books because I wasn't there as a guest or a photographer, but as a friend of the family. While it's never easy to see someone lose a child, it's infinitely different when it's a person you know, love, and respect, who has shared coffee, laughter and tears with you, and who already holds a special place in your heart, whether it's a friend, colleague, or blood relative.

I'm grateful for the busy-ness of the past few days because it was a distraction from the heartache of my beloved friend having to leave the hospital with empty arms. But, as is the case with these things, procrastination only gets you so far. I just keep thinking, it isn't fair. I acknowledge that these things just happen, while some believe it is part of a master plan, while others have equally valid philosophies, it does not change the fact that my heart is broken because it just isn't fair. Tonight, after the fanfare of a busy week, I am able to grieve, not just for my friend, but for all my mother-sisters out there who have endured the pain of losing a child.

To my humble and cherished friend, I have no words of wisdom or condolence, nor do I offer a prayer for your beloved son who is in good hands already, but a wish for peace and strength for you and yours. Out of respect for the privacy of the family during this difficult time, if you wish to leave a comment or a kind word I ask that you please refrain from using their names.

If you are a photographer, please consider becoming a member of NILMDTS.

are you a [b]eck(her) chick (or brave boy?)

This is a shout-out to all the girls (and brave boys) I met at the [b]ecker seminar this past weekend~ it was amazing to meet all of you and I look forward to clicking with y'all again soon!!!!



togetherLOVE: loveliness x silliness

It's impossible to pick just a few pictures from this session, for a number of reasons.

1.) I have a soft spot in my heart for Mama N, who I picked up on the internet and fell instantly in love with. She broke my heart when she moved away.
2.) I have a soft spot in my heart for Daughter M, who I had the distinct pleasure of hanging out with for a week in the Dominican earlier this year collecting seashells, wearing piƱa coladas, building sand castles, and not seeing any whales.
3.) I have a soft spot in my heart for rural Alberta, which includes cow pies, cafes, tall grass, rickety fences, barns, dogs, dilapidated buildings, farm equipment, long stretches of highway, and a whole lot more.
4.) I have a soft spot in my heart for N & M's entire family, who welcomed Bill & I with open arms not only into their home but their lives, and for that we are both forever grateful.

For those reasons I'm simply going to post a link to the Picasa album and dare you not to fall in love with these two. Thanks to the proprietors of the Long Branch Trading Company and S-bar Ranches for their invaluable contributions to this photo session.

meLOVE: like Phil Collins says...

It's less than 2 months until the new year, and for 2010 there are some exciting new things in the works: simplified photography pricing, a dedicated website for the DLS workshops, a fun new site for chicks who click, a new and improved referral site for all your photography needs, and a user-friendly page for exercising photographilanthropy. Before anyone asks, NO, my prices for photography services WILL NOT increase, but they will change...

So, the countdown begins...

tubeLOVE: for the love of being a hillbilly...

Classic. Thanks to our Hosting Halloweiners for the tip on this one, and a shout out to Heather 'if you believe the Jersey Milk wrapper that there is a Jersey Cow' Duperron of PixelPie, who will appreciate the cow humour today.

...and to sum up...

I spoke last nice to a wonderful and warm group of women at the WISE seminar, and figured I'd post a little summary of the presentation for their (and subsequently your) use and enjoyment. (Sorry, you don't get the visuals - you have to come to a seminar or workshop to see those MUAH hahahaha!)

DLS Myth Busters
10 of the dirtiest little secrets
(about photography)


Myth: You need fancy expensive equipment to take good pictures.

Fact: Owning fancy expensive equipment doesn’t make you an expert photographer any more than owning a fancy expensive piano makes you a concert pianist.


Myth: Knowing how to compose a good picture takes years of education.

Fact: Any person can compose great pictures using any camera employing one simple tried and true rule, and knowing when, why, and how to break that rule.

(Understand the Rule of 3rds, and whether you’re employing or breaking it. Either way is OK as long as it’s a conscious choice.)


Myth: You have to buy Photoshop.

Fact: Picasa is free software that will allow you to do B&W and sepia conversions, sharpen pictures, adjust saturation, crop, and much, much more; for about $100 you can purchase Adobe Elements which in addition to all of Picasa’s goodies will give you the power to zap zits, make collages, and work with layers.


Myth: Taking pictures is easy – you just point and shoot.

Fact: Taking a great picture requires photographer participation. Changing your perspective is often all it takes to make an average picture more interesting or help you tell your story.


Myth: I don’t know the right way to take pictures.

Fact: Since there’s no accounting for taste, there is no ‘correct’ way to compose, expose, crop, process, or print pictures. What’s underexposed and crooked to one person is merely high-contrast and angular to another.


Myth: Pictures that have blur, grain, and/or lens flare are bad.

Fact: Blur, grain, and flare can often add energy, depth, and feeling to a picture. Learn to love the blur, embrace the grain, and celebrate the flare.


Myth: Horizons should be horizontal.

Fact: Horsepoop.


Myth: My camera takes bad pictures.

Fact: A camera is only as good as its operator. Read your manual and learn what all those knobs, buttons and dials are for. If you need a visual, digital pictures are free – take lots and delete what doesn’t work. Make notes for the next time so your camera will do what you want it to the first time, or at least you’ll know how to change the settings to fix it.


Myth: The best way to make people look like they’re smiling is to make them say CHEESE.

Fact: The best way to make people look like they’re smiling is actually to just make them smile, even if that means you ask them to fake laugh until they crack up, put crab apples up your nose, or pretend to fart. Otherwise, they just look like they are saying CHEESE.


Myth: I look horrible in pictures.

Fact: Someone loves you enough to not give a hoot about your zits, your fat, your grey hair, your wardrobe, your crooked smile, your yellow teeth, or your wrinkles. What we tend to see when we look at ourselves in pictures are the things we hate; when your children, friends, and family look at your picture, they only see what they love: YOU.

Now, go take some good pictures with your OWN camera. (Be sure and jump in at least a couple of them!)

youLOVE: pin-up/glam opening!

Unfortunately one of our pin-up girls scheduled for November 11th has had to cancel.. The good news is, this means I have ONE OPENING at 9:15a.m. For complete details, please read this post and contact me at h [dot] walls [at] shaw [dot] ca to book now!

bellyLOVE: the potbelly competition

My new potbelly stove has been sitting in the living room since the Chicks Who Click weekend. So... when my friend Lareina stopped by with her own luscious potbelly the other day, I shot her. Whaddya think?

calling contribeautHERS

Looking for some information, events, links, and articles by other photograpHERs. Send submissions to h dawt walls at shaw dawt ca. This is your official invitation to be a clickin' chick contribeautHER.

festiveLOVE: Halloween in Irma

More to come...