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The more things change, the more they stay the same

I’ve been considering what to do. When to do it.

Contemporary Beauty Portraiture
Contemporary Beauty Portraiture

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.

Personal Branding
Personal Branding

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.

20x30, framed., 612.00
In the shop!

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.

 

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The power of (good) photography

 

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!)

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A Trip to Italy (with hindsight)!

(A guest post from my partner in crime, my husband, Bryan)

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Bryan in Venice
Bryan in Venice

When initially planning a trip to Venice, I had all kinds of preconceived ideas of what type of photographs I would be taking.  After all, Italy is one of the most photogenic places on Earth, and I would be remiss if I didn’t plan to take advantage of it.  Along with those ideas I began to mentally list all the photographic equipment I would need to take.

I’m not a people-person.  For nearly 40 years I dealt with people; hundreds of people per day, and I have no desire to do that if I have a choice (and, being retired, I do).  So, my choice of photography naturally falls towards landscape, both natural and man-made.  With Venice, what would be more appropriate than the perfect image of the canals.

After much discussion with my wife/travel/photographic partner we decided on a tour of Venice, Florence, and Rome (in that order).  We would spend three days in each city, and while we knew that it was not a lot of time, we would extend that by going three days early to Venice before the tour actually began.

Once the tour decision was made it was time to decide on what equipment to take.  I initially planned to take a large backpack with as much photo gear as I could fit on my back and extra gear that I could drag along with me.  Not being that experienced with trips to foreign countries, my initial idea was to just take everything with me that was physically possible.  That would include lenses (from fisheye to telephoto as well as tilt/shift lenses), DSLR camera as well as a backup, lens hoods, CF and SD cards, filters and filter holders, tripods, tele-extenders, cable releases, rain sleeves, and a laptop for tethering (and a backup laptop just in case) as well as two external drives for the laptops.

Since I like to shoot landscapes, especially panoramic landscapes, I also wanted to take my GigaPan Epic Pro to be able to capture some really BIG landscapes.  The GigaPan travels in its own backpack complete with battery, charger, and backup battery.

The information we received from the tour company offered some suggestions which began to worry me.  Their instructions said, basically, travel light!  Travel with a backpack for clothes and a small carry-on for cameras and the like.  That didn’t bode well.

My big LowePro backpack was not going to fit as a carry-on, which meant I would have to check it at the airport.  Putting tens of thousands of dollars worth of photographic equipment at the mercy of the TSA didn’t inspire me with confidence; which meant that I would have to trim down my photographic equipment expectations.

Ok, where were we going and what images did I need to capture once there?  Venice – lots of canals, bridges, lots of old buildings, gondolas, some historical churches, and Italian restaurants.  Florence – magnificent artwork/sculpture (including Michelangelo’s “David”), historical buildings and anything DiMedici, and Italian restaurants.  Rome – everything, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, The Vatican (technically it is another country but it’s in the vicinity), the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museum, the Apian Way, and, of course, Italian restaurants.

What did I need to photograph each of these?  One DSLR, no back-up.  Wide angle lens – a 24-70mm f2.8 zoom.  Buildings need perspective control lenses – so a 24mm and 45mm Tilt/Shift lens.  Telephoto lenses – a 70-200 f/2.8 zoom lens.  Might need to shoot buildings from up close so – a 15mm fisheye lens. Decided to also include a Sony point ‘n shoot to put in a vest pocket for shots I might want when I don’t have the regular photo gear at hand.  Tripod.  Ok, I have a BIG Manfroto tripod that normally holds my 4×5 Large Format camera or it holds my GigaPan Epic Pro panoramic gear, but it is too big to carry on the plane.  Same problem with the full size carbon fibre legs.  I decided to buy a small (14 inch long without head when folded) travel tripod that would fit inside my carry on backpack.  All of this (except the tripod) fits inside a LowePro Event Messenger shoulder bag, so I figured I was set.  There was also a pocket in the bag that would hold my iPad, so we headed off to Italy.

ANALYSIS WITH HINDSIGHT:

With all that planning and with the decision that was made on the photo gear, how did that work out?  Well, for the most part, it was adequate to good, with some exceptions.  First of all, the Event Messenger bag contained the following: Canon 5D MkII DSLR camera, 24-70mm f/2.8 Canon zoom lens, 70-200mm f/2.8 Canon zoom lens, 24mm Canon T/S lens, 45mm Canon T/S lens, 1.4X Canon tele-extender; extra battery for DSLR camera, 3 extra batteries for Sony point ‘n shoot, mini table-top tripod, extra CF and SD cards for cameras, assorted hex-wrenches for adjustments to tripod and quick-release tripod mounts.  The travel tripod was carried in my hand.

I must say that the camera bag on my shoulder was uncomfortably heavy.  I would have to move it to the other shoulder periodically or cross the strap over my head to shift the weight.  I would carry the bag from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM every day and it took its toll.  What would I do differently after that experience?  I would have left the heavy 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens at home, as well as the tele-extender.  Some people would suggest that I not take such a fast, heavy lens and replace it with a 70-200mm f/4 lens.  The problem is that many of the locations could not be photographed with a flash and it was dark enough that the ISO had to be raised to the 2000-6400 ISO range and a slower lens would not have be able to capture some of the photographs.  Also, I shot more landscapes and buildings and the medium telephoto zoom lens really wasn’t used that much.  Had I not taken the 70-200mm zoom I would have still returned with 95% of the photos that were taken on the trip.  In reality, I could have gotten 90% of the shots I took on the trip with just the 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens.

IN CONCLUSION:

If I was going to go on the Italy trip tomorrow, here’s what I would carry as far as photo gear.  A DSLR camera with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens and lens hood.  Extra battery and CF cards.  The camera and lens would be placed on a harness system on my hip.  And that would be it.  Simple, not heavy, and I would be able to get all the photos I would need.  This would work on a tour in the cities.  If I was going somewhere else where I would have access to a vehicle I would bring more gear tailored for the targets I would be shooting.  Advice – go light, go comfortable.  In advance of your trip, if you are going to be shooting in cities or towns, take the time to go downtown wherever you live, and spend a day photographing.  See if you are comfortable.  See if you are shooting the kinds of images you will want to bring home.  And last, but not least, have fun and take the time to view the sights with your eyes and heart and, not just through the viewfinder.

From Dawn:
For more images of our trip, check out my Facebook photos: www.facebook.com/dawn.snow/

Ciao!

 

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Find a way . . .

Macrophotography of Baby's Breath blossom.
Macrophotography of Baby’s Breath blossom.

“Either I will find a way, or I will make one.”
— Philip Sidney

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Success at the Botanical Center

Expecting JOY!
Expecting JOY!

Success! The Botanical Center is so nicely decorated for the season (October) and we spent a nice afternoon walking, talking and making great images for Joel and Claudia. I hope you enjoy this. In south central Texas, the blooms just keep coming! In a few weeks, I think we have another “bloom” to look forward to. Right, Claudia?

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Japanese Tea Garden: you let me down!!

ScottEmily-2012-Engage-12
This portrait with lots of color was created for Scott and Emily in September a few years ago.

We went to the Japanese Tea Garden today to scout for a fall portrait.  I was so bummed out! I had been hearing about all the construction that was going on there for months now. When we got there, I realized I couldn’t do the portrait there AT ALL. They denuded the place. No fish (they were moved to protect them from the construction), no lily pads, not lush at all. The beds were done and pretty and manicured, but trees were removed! Who does that? It should be very nice in about 3 years. Let it go! Nature is good!

Suffice to say – we are not doing the session there. We are going to the San Antonio Botanical Center.