"Capturing Life"

Archive for May, 2013

Commercial Photography


A few years ago, my sons drum instructor, Kit Mills, came to me and inquired about having some portrait work done for his website and business applications.  I had just entered the world of lighting and didn’t have any experience with that sort of thing.  Because I am a “can do” type person, I agreed to give it a try.  It was one of the most nerve-wracking yet exhilarating assignments I have taken on.

We met in our local town and ended up at our train station.  I’m sure it was a little odd to see someone setting up a drumset on the train platform and a couple of trains even came zipping through while we were setting up.  It was a wild few moments hanging on to the equipment so that it didn’t get blown away by the draft created from the rail cars.


After the train station we found an indoor location and did some indoor portraits.  Because I was new to flash photography, I only had a speedlight, light stand, and umbrella.  I raised the speedlight up high overhead and aimed it down, hoping to light Kit and all his drums.  The results amazed me.  While they were not technically perfect by any means, I learned a lot and we ended up with some very cool shots.

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Last summer, I had another opportunity to take some group photos and head shots of some of the agents for a local insurance agency, Leslie Tripp State Farm Insurance Agency.  Again, there was a lot of new territory with this being the first time I worked at getting head shots for business applications.  We set up shop at a local school, using their brick wall as a backdrop.  It was a mixed bag of results, and, once again, I learned much by taking this on.  All of the photos were usable but that does not equate someone being satisfied with the end results.  I learned that while a photo may be technically sound, that does not mean that someone will be pleased with the poses I might choose for them or the angle I choose to photograph them from.   We did end up with some fun group shots in a beautiful red car that worked perfectly for their company Facebook page.


More recently, I had the wonderful pleasure of photographing a young woman, Leanna Crawford, who recently went to Nashville to record 4 original songs which she has written.  She has a new Amazon.com album for sale and also has entered a local contest (link to one of her songs) to be the opening act for a Jars of Clay concert in August.  She is part of the final 3 people being voted on this week to win the contest.


I had been given her rough mixes of the 4 songs so that I could listen to them and try and get a vision for photos that would work with the songs.  We had several ideas and, in the end, only had time to work on a few of them.  The end results were some photos taken in their horse pasture and in the old part of our local city.   Taking the base photos and working on making composites from them created some great final results.  I was able to apply what I’d learned about lighting, photoshop, and telling a story through photos to achieve results that will hopefully provide her with some publicity photos as she launches her music career.

Leanna wanted a light, airy feel to some of the photos.  A composite of 3 photos used to create this end result.

Leanna wanted a light, airy feel to some of the photos. A composite of 3 photos used to create this end result.

There are times when I realize that I’m in way over my head, when I wonder how I’ll ever be able to pull off an assignment.  It may overwhelm me momentarily, I may panic inside and lose any creative thought I’d had prior to showing up on location and I will probably feel that momentary panic again when I first view the photos during post processing.  In the end, however, I am always glad I chose to step out, to take on things that are over my head, to take the risk of failure with the hopes that I’ll actually be able to give my clients what it is they’re hoping for.


It’s Graduation Time

Congratulations, Graduates!

It’s that time of year when students who have 13 long years of education under their belts make the transition from compulsory education to elective education and launch out into the world.  In more simple terms, they’re finally graduating!!

This spring has been fun for me as a photographer.  I’ve had two recent Senior Portrait sessions that were filled with joy for me.  I love doing Senior Portraits and seeing these young adults launching into the rest of their lives.  (okay, so I love doing ALL portraits but Senior Portraits are especially fun for me!)  There is so much hope, joy and sense of accomplishment in their lives at this stage of life and it shines through each of them as a bright light.



One of these soon to be grad’s is Leanna.

Leanna is a beautiful young woman, highly gifted musically, and one of the truly sweetest young women I know.  She enjoys her horses, music, friends and family.  She has a brilliant future ahead filled with many possibilities yet she has a wonderfully down to earth perspective about her giftedness.



The other soon to be grad is Eli. 

Eli is part of our extended family. It was such a joy to be part of his senior year and photograph  his  Senior Portraits.


Eli has big plans for his future, heading off next fall to Washington State University  to possibly pursue a degree in Math. (WSU ranks tops in our household being my husband, Ric’s, Alma Mater) His optimism and wonderful smile coupled with his sense of humor made it a fun time together working to capture his personality on camera.

Once again, congratulations to all the senior’s who are graduating.  I’m so proud for each of you and the accomplishment you have achieved to this point in your life.  May you each achieve your hopes and dreams for your future.

Photographing the Palouse

A few weeks ago, my husband, Ric, myself, and our friends, Geoff and Sandy Shook, traveled to the eastern part of Washington State for a photography weekend.  The guys are not obsessed with photography, they were just willing enabler’s for the weekend.

Our two biggest supports, our husbands!

The Palouse region of our state tugs at the heartstrings of my husband, for it is the area he spent 5 years of his life enjoying while in college.  The rolling hills, vast farmland of wheat fields and livestock, and the slower pace of life are all things that draw the traveler in.  The  lack of rain that the west side of our state is plagued with is an additional lure for we “west-sider’s”.

A tribute to my husbands Alma mater, Washington State University

The weekend began just trying to get out of Seattle.  Once we passed over the cascade mountains and dropped down into eastern Washington, things began to feel calmer.  It was very late when we arrived in St. John, where we were staying.  Fortunately, some of Ric’s family have homes there and we were blessed with being able to use one of them for our weekend.

Saturday morning came with a wonderfully fulfilled desire of mine.   We have a family friend who lives, of all places, in the small town of St. John.  She is actually a friend of my mother, having worked with my mom many years ago when I was still in school.   We had reconnected via Facebook and she is a portrait photographer in St. John, operating Leifer Photography.  It was delightful to visit Janet and her husband Jim, see their beautiful farm, and catch up.  It was even more delightful when they spent Sunday with us for an afternoon of photography and another enabling husband along!

My friend, Sandy, and I (yes, we share the same name, among thousands of other things in common!) wanted to go to Steptoe Butte at sunset to photograph the surrounding landscape.  We meandered our way there, stopping many times along the way to photograph the varied countryside.  Eastern Washington is such a beautiful place and the farmland, old barns, and remnants of the huge grain operations that take place there continually draw me in.


Arriving at Steptoe Butte with plenty of time to prepare for sunset we were greeting with extreme high winds.  So high, in fact, that we couldn’t stand still enough to hold our cameras still nor could we use tripods.  The view is amazing from the high vantage point you drive to although I am compelled to add that the road getting there is narrow, winding you around the butte to the top.  I’m not a fan of heights and sitting on the passenger side looking down the steep hillside while my husband drove the winding road wasn’t the best part of my weekend.  The wind was literally sweeping up one side of the butte, storming across the top and off to the landscape beyond.  The the clouds decided to let lose of some of their moisture and we were being pelted with rain.  Needless to say, we all ran back for the car and decided maybe there would be a better time to photograph it, like the next morning!

True to our desires, the next morning proved to give us the gift we’d hoped for. We were a little on the early side, seasonally speaking, to capture the green of the newly sprouted wheat fields this area is so well known for, however we still marveled at the ever changing and varied landscape.  The light was AMAZING as the clouds rolled through, causing the sun and shadows to literally dance across the landscape.  I’ve never witnessed anything as beautiful as watching the light move the way it did.  I took many photos and still don’t know if I truly was able to capture it the way it looked to my eyes.

The Palouse region is dotted with small towns which, while not heavily populated, act as the gathering place for those who live in the surrounding farmland.  We spent a bit of time wandering one of the cemeteries reading the dates and names on the headstones.  You can gain a greater understanding of the history of an area by visiting some of the older cemeteries.  The view of the surrounding landscape was again beautiful and, while our husbands wandered the area, Sandy and I were trying to capture the character of our surrounding.

This is one of my favorite photos from the weekend. It has a wonderful painted feel to it that took very little editing to bring out the soft light and details.

Across the landscape, as a crow flies, or a couple hours drive from where we were, lies Palouse Falls.  I had never visited this particular site in all my trips to this side of our state and it was on my bucket list of places to visit.  We were again treated to a beautiful sight and, again, I tried to capture the beauty that was before my eyes.

Wrapping up our time away was bittersweet.  The need to return to our everyday lives is necessary yet the desire to stay in the relaxed pace of those rare weekend retreats is strong.  Our drive home took us through more farmland as we chose to avoid the main freeway and take a slower highway route.  Crossing over Snoqualmie Pass brought an unexpected snowstorm and dropping into the Seattle area brought us back to the reality of life.

If you enjoy traveling I would strongly encourage you to get out and visit your own state, province, or country.  It’s great to travel to those exotic locations we all dream about but what about your own backyard?  What is there that awaits your discovery?  If you enjoy capturing your travels via your camera, make sure you have freshly charged batteries and a willingness to watch for the light to dance across your view.  Capturing it can not only give you great satisfaction; it can also transport you back to those moments in time where you were able to capture life as it happened in front of your eyes.

Enjoy watching this slideshow of more photos from the Palouse

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