Last year was a year of introspection for me. My family had some serious health issues (that we overcame, thankfully) and in order to help with this challenge, I scaled way back on my photography business.
In addition, Bryan and I have been talking for years about leaving San Antonio, and ultimately Texas, if we found a property to build our retirement home on. We did!
So, it is with a heavy heart, that I am saying good bye to the commercial part of SnowPro Photography. I just processed the last portraits I created for my neighbors and I will not be taking any more projects on for other people.
When my daughter wanted to study commercial graphic design, I said, “Okay, but understand that in doing so, you will be expending your creative energy to further someone else’s dream, someone else’s vision.” Providing a service, such as photography, is the same thing. I was always at someone’s event, covering that or creating a portrait for someone that I really didn’t have a stake in (except to have the next job come in.)
What does the next phase hold for me? Right now, concentrating on getting my current home/studio ready to sell and divesting of items I do not need. Next, building my new home. And finally, art. Will photography be part of it? Yes! I have many personal projects that i have been saving for such time, and ideas galore. So, be patient with me my friends. This blog will end up being a journal of the current state of things.
When Dawn and I were married I asked her if there was any place on earth she really wanted to see. She did not have to ponder the question but immediately answered “Venice”. I told her that I would take her there on our 25th anniversary. As that anniversary approached I was busy saving money for the trip but not saying much to Dawn to try and surprise her. Well, several months before our anniversary, our daughter announced that she was going to get married. With that statement, our travel plans collapsed. However, I started saving again, and four years later I had enough money for us to plan the trip. We decided to tour Venice, Florence, and Rome.
In a previous blog I mentioned that all of my photos can be categorized into three files: People, Places, and Things. Not being a “people person”, I left the “people” photos for Dawn to shoot as I concentrated on Places and Things. I never regretted that decision. These three cities had so many targets for the camera I could have easily spent an entire year and still not run out of places and things to photograph.
The area around the Mediterranean Sea has some of the best lighting for photography. The early morning light that reflects off the canals of Venice bathes the colorful buildings with an etherial quality that just begs to be photographed.
We found that the best way to see Venice is just to start walking and, sooner or later, you will come upon a landmark that will allow you find your way back to your hotel. The smaller canals are great to photograph daily life. Here you will find beautiful flowers in flower-boxes on the windows of ancient buildings. Laundry hanging from the windows are a common sight as well. Seagulls are everywhere, as are the tourists. If you want to shoot any of the buildings without people cluttering the photo you must get there early in the morning before the delivery people with their carts begin their deliveries.
Piazza San Marco is best photographed in that early morning light, minus the thousands of people who will arrive later in the day. The Grand Canal is outstanding no matter the time of day.
Basillica de Santa Maria del Flore and Palazzo Vecchio
The architecture of Florence is impressive but the art is overwhelming. The Uffizi Gallery houses Michelangelo’s David and no photo can do it justice. Seeing it for the first time brings tears to your eyes. The Ponte Vecchio, with its overhanging houses, is a landmark bridge over the Arno River, and is a delightful image at night. The most famous of landmarks in Florence is the Basilica de Santa Maria del Fiore and it, along with the Palazzo Vecchio, the Old Palace, dominate the Florence skyline.
There are no adequate words to describe the city of Rome. But if I had to choose one, it would be “timeless”. Standing on the top of The Vittoriano, a building sheathed in pure white marble in the early 1900s, the view of the Roman forum is breathtaking.
But, if you go, be sure to take time to actually view the ancient ruins.
It is all too easy to shoot image after image, and come home with photos but no memories. It is that tempting. From the top of this building I was able to take a panoramic sequence encompassing the Colosseum and the entire forum from this high vantage point. Be sure to stroll throughout the forum and photograph the individual temple ruins if you ever get the chance. (Note: Almost all of my images are shot in threes: that is – one, under exposed by 1 stop; the second, properly exposed; and third, overexposed by 1 stop. This allows me to create a High Dynamic Range image of the scene when I get back home.)
Two weeks in Italy was hardly enough to do anything but get the itch to go back. Perhaps, one day we will, but there are still too many sights to see in our own country of the U.S. and lots of photographs that need to be taken here, before we go back overseas.
While the lighting and colors of Italy are magnificent, my own color vision is handicapped by a red/green color deficiency. It means that the colors I see are not exactly the same as people with normal color vision. This makes processing raw images into gallery quality photographs darn near impossible without the help of my wife (who has perfect color vision).
The next best thing for me to do would be to turn all of my photographs into Black & White versions. This not only allows me to process them myself but the final images seem to harken back to the early days when all photography was B&W. It also seems to add a timeless feeling to the images of ancient Italy.
(To enjoy these images in your home or office, we do offer Giclee prints, matted and mounted for sale. Click here!)
We have changed the gallery of images from St. George Church and School this past weekend. If you’ve got a hankering to see some not half bad landscape work, feel free to drop by to see our new offerings. Did you know you could enjoy these images in your home or office? Click on the image to purchase. Remember, a percentage of each sale goes to help with St. George school.
Oh, dear! I forgot my parent’s anniversary. It was this past week, and I’ve been doing lots of stuff – between my own projects and this family photo restoration project… It just slipped my mind.
As a treat, I just finished this. I love this candid, street photography! The look on my mom’s face (my niece, Kat Hensch has that same facial structure and I’ve seen that look on her!) I hope it works for making up for my slip up! I have heard that my dad was a “bad-boy” and my mom was so smitten! I think its funny that they aren’t holding hands! Too cool for that! I think this was taken around 1953. I think my mom was about 14, so I think, my dad was about 16! I remember, too, after we moved to San Antonio, Dad chasing Mom through the house and into the yard for a tickle fest. All us kids jumped in the middle that that too! Now, he gives her love songs for Valentines Day.
(Slide the vertical bar left and right to compare the repairs.)
My Dad (seated) with his big brother, Marvin. (I’m not sure if Marvin ever smiled! and then there’s the time when Marvin pushed my pop out of a 2nd story window… just sayin’)
This next one is my mom, (the little one), her older sister, Marilyn, my grandmother, Olga and my grandfather, Fred. Its funny to look at: my mom looks exactly like my daughter, Lauren when she was at that age. Marilyn looks just like her second daughter, Sarah. I’ve seen the expression on Olga’s face on my mother’s face. It’s a kind of, “omg, take the photo already. What a contraption! I’ve got work to do!” My mom says that white fuzzy spot in the front is her dog Ring running toward the photographer (we think it may be my uncle, Francis.)
One of the recent times I was visiting my mom’s house, she handed me a stack of old family photos. She asked if I could “do anything” with them. I said that I’d give it a shot.
Here are the first few:
This is my dad with my brother, Scott. I think my dad was 19 here!
My dad with my bro again, this time he’s putting my bro to work for his ice cream. (My mom still makes home-made ice cream!!) This was taken at the most magical place, my grandmother Olga’s house in Cedar Rapids, IA. They are sitting on the back stoop. Grandma and Grandpa later enclosed the stoop and made it weather tight. It was a fun place to play in!
I have always loved making portraits. As a young child I drew people constantly. I filled every scrap of paper I could find with studies of eyes, noses, mouths. Studies of anatomy, studies of line expression, all feeding my artists soul. My career took an abrupt turn when I went into graphic design and I put down my trusty graphite stick. Add in one more abrupt turn, when I switched to another form of communication arts: editorial photography. My management at USAA didn’t know there was a difference between editorial, product and portrait photography. So, I had to learn all different lighting scenarios/styles and technologies. (It was one of those situations of “other duties as assigned”.) I appreciated their patience as I learned, experimented, and learned some more. In 2004, I achieved a status that not many could: Certified Professional Photographer, Portraiture. I so enjoyed getting to know the subjects of my editorial portraiture, and really felt pride when so many of my colleagues complimented the work I was producing. The collaboration between subject and photographer was something I took very seriously and strived to bring the story being told to life.
Contemporary Beauty Portraiture
Contemporary Beauty Portraiture
Illustrative studio work
GOP Presidential Candidate Romney
Illustrative studio work
Congressman Jeff Flake during a private speech.
Contemporary Beauty Portraiture
I considered what my path was to that point and thought,
“well here I am again, making portraits. With a different tool set, but really, I am making portraits and supporting myself.”
When I left USAA, I struggled with the “supporting myself” AND sticking only to portraits. So, I took on other types of photography. Imagine my happiness when I started to develop contemporary beauty portraiture this past summer. Not only did I have a path again, doing work that inspired me everyday. The collaboration that I shared with each of my (limited) beauties was real, and exhilarating. I was creating custom fine art photographic portraiture that very few could. My artist soul was again being fed. The business of that style is a tough one, and not many understood that it is actually the original business model of portrait photography. In today’s immediate-gratification-digital world, this became a constant need for education and more communication. (For both myself and my clients.)
As some of you already know, SnowPro is slowing down purposefully. We have had some family obligations come up, as well as future plans that are not in the Alamo City. Both of these situations combined, have made me realize that I cannot continue to everything. I am winding down all portraiture, commercial & editorial work. I have a few more appointments “on the books” and will continue to service my current book of clients but will no longer be taking on new clients.
We will still offer fine art Placescapes, Landscapes and other types for your enjoyment. This is a more solitary type of work, but is just as fulfilling. Bryan is currently working on some incredible Fine Artscapes of Rome that he will be releasing soon. Be sure to check out our current offerings in our shop.
This doesn’t mean I am going away (yet).
Be sure to reach out, send me a note, a letter, an email. No really, I am asking you to remember me. It will make transitioning to this next chapter so much easier!
I have such a passion for what I do (nearly) every day. I love making portraits. I love people’s faces. I love figuring the ways to light, to mold, to sculpt with light and shadow. The proper way to light someone is to light not only their “outsides” – but to enlighten their insides. People of all shapes, sizes and ages have all sat for me, and all have been astonished of the beauty we discovered. There is nothing like watching someone who doesn’t (has never?) feel wonderful about themselves discover how others see them. The astonishment grows slowly across their face, resulting many times in tears.
Through some outside forces to SnowPro, I started to concentrate less on commercial work and more on women’s beauty portraiture. Last year, we (my clients and I) created some beautiful images. I rediscovered my heart in photography through this endeavor. But, alas, I must put this aside. Family and life changes have become priority and other choices have been made. I’ve made them.
At this point, we have a few Commercial portrait sessions scheduled, but I will not be looking to book more after March. Going forward, I will only be accepting very specific commissions based on the type of art I want to create.
We will still work with our small business partners who book us regularly for products and places, but I will be turning my focus to the home front this year.
I encourage you to look at our shop, right now, as we have a variety of landscapes, mission work and Italy. More images will be added everyday. If you need a different size, let me know. Future products will include stationary and note cards featuring our work and other cool items.
Photography is a fascinating career. However, if you are just starting out with an interest in taking photos, the question sometimes arises – “What types of photos should I take?” This is not such an unusual question, after all, there are a multitude of interests in which photography can play an integral part. I usually divide photo-topics into three separate categories: People, Places, and Things. In fact, all my images are divided into these three file folders.
In order to begin to fill up this file folder you first have to honestly answer a very important question – “Do I like people?”. While this question may seem like a silly one, it should be answered. Are you a people person? Do you like meeting new people and enjoy making new friends and relationships? Are you the type of person who starts up casual conversations with people with whom you are sharing a checkout line, or waiting for a bus? If you are, then photographing people should be a natural direction for you. This type of photography could involve Portraits, Events, Photojournalism, Fashion, and many other styles that involve your camera and people’s faces, bodies, clothes and gatherings. It’s all about people. And, since there are over 7 billion people currently residing on this planet, you will run out of time before you exhaust the targets that your camera can photograph.
This file folder is easy for me to fill. I like to record beautiful places, places that fill me with joy and bring tears to my eyes. I have been fortunate to travel many places, Taiwan, England, Ireland, Venice, Rome, but the most beautiful places that stir my passions are the National Parks in the U.S. If you love traveling, then this type of photography is certainly for you. In fact, this is an all-inclusive style that unites, people, places, and things in your repertoire of targets, and can be deposited in any of the three file folders. But for some, this type of photography boils down to what is referred to as Landscape Photography. This is the style we see from such greats as Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter, David Muench, and others whose books line the photography shelves in numerous libraries throughout the country. Some landscape photography concentrates on the grand sweep of nature and is best photographed with wide and ultra-wide lenses. Some landscape photography zeros in on the lichens, flowers, and the smaller, more intimate aspects of nature’s realm. Much of the landscape photography we see lies somewhere in between, and, depending on which part of the landscape the composition highlights, can concentrate on the sky, mountains, trees, water, or any number of features that can be found in any number of locations.
This file folder can contain just about anything that isn’t predominately people and places, and can include images of birds, beasts, and natural and man-made “things”. “Product Photography” can have it’s own sub-folder under “Things”, and can include products that clients need to advertise. These may be, but are certainly not limited to, Jewelry, clothes, kitchen utensils, sunglasses, soft drinks, Bourbon, automobiles, and anything that a client may need to photograph for advertisement. Another folder may include aircraft, boats, bicycles, or ceramic vases. The “Things” folder can become quite large with numerous sub-folders that all count as “Things”. As this article points out, photography has a wealth of targets just waiting to be “shot”. One thing that you should do first, sometimes even before you invest in a “good” camera, is to decide what type or style of photography you enjoy. Usually, this is pretty easy. You ask yourself, “What type of photography do I like to see?”. Once you determine your preference, it will drive everything else you do or buy in your quest to make the images that inspire you the most.
Bryan and I are “softly” shopping for our retirement home. We go through this periodically, and this week we are in Sherman, Texas. Some list says its one of the best places in Texas to retire. As you may know, I love Texas. But it is a real Love-Hate relationship – love lots of stuff but OMG -the summers. So, we want 4(ish) seasons. Sherman and the surrounding area seems to fit the bill.
We’ve found 3 properties we are going to look at this week, all acreage with a small house. (Picture that – me on a tractor.) I called my real estate GUY (you know, the “i’ve got a GUY”) who I work for occasionally to set me up and rep us as a buyers agent. But this post isn’t about that.
This post is about the fact that every single listing has abysmal photographs. EVERY SINGLE LISTING. The landscapes, pretty easy – don’t blow out the sky, make sure the grass is green, saturate the colors. oooh, pretty. But really, the interior photographs? the lines are crooked, the houses are covered in clutter, the angle of view is too narrow. Its nuts.
As mentioned before, we do some work for my real estate GUY. We photograph his houses for him. I get the address, we schedule an appropriate time making sure the house is tidy & clean, the yard is tidy and clean and finally, making sure all technical aspects of the photography itself is correct. Do we cost him a bit more than than him doing it himself? Yes, you bet. But remember, this is marketing. It’s deductible, and if it pays off, it pays off big.
According to my GUY, once I give him the photographs, and he lists the property, he has it sold within 2 weeks. I think it may be shorter, but don’t make me lie. We had one go longer, but it had other problems.
Many of the houses that we saw on the sight: listed for over 3 months. Just food for thought.
(P.S. Who is my GUY? Only the biggest real estate agent in San Antonio. Christopher Thompson of Realty Force. His number is 210-739-9244. Give him a call! He is delightful!)