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  • Welcome to my blog!

    This blog contains updated content about pretty much all the coming and goings of the studio. It also may contain some rants and raves depending on whether there is a full moon. Feel free to leave me a comment. You can also pass these images onto Facebook or Twitter if the spirit moves you!

I thought about what an appropriate title for this blog should be.  I guess I just have to put it out there.  I know… breath….   But frankly, it so hard for me to sit back and watch photographs taken for business have way too much retouching done.  I am seeing more and more “glowing” portraits out there that frankly, well upsets me to no end.  There is an old saying with regards to Photoshop… It goes.. “Just because you can, don’t”.  Basically that means, that I could retouch your image so much that the final image looks nothing like you.  But seriously, is that what you want?  Do you want people to have that confused look on their face when they meet you in person?  That confused look is because you look nothing like your online photograph!

 

So, I have take one of my portrait sessions and given you a peek below of before, after and what’s being posted out there by other photographers. (Basically the “glow” look)  Let me say, that your final image should be retouched.  I am not condemning retouching.   But with careful consideration of your age.  But adding a “soft” filter to the image, it clearly says you are hiding something.  In this day and age, it’s all about being real.  So, yes, are you say 45 years old?  (or 50 or 60).  Okay, then lets retouch a few things.  Here are a few of my views on retouching.

Reduce under eye lines maybe 10-15 percent.  Keep them because you are indeed not a teenager.  Removing them is false advertising.

Whiten teeth about eight to ten percent.  (Only because almost everyone’s teeth has a little yellow in them.)

Reduce a good percentage of fly away hair.  Removing all will make the photograph look too retouched.

Reduce laugh lines about 5-10 percent.

Remove any blemishes… They are only temporary.

Remove any redness in the eyes.

Thats it basically.  If you business headshot or social media image has that “glow” to it, I would advise you to rethink your marketing image.  It clearly looks dated and so 1980’s.  

If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line at lerephoto@gmail.com

 

Keep it real.

Donna

 

 

Happy New Year!

2017… Here we go!  Lots to talk about!  Hope your holiday season was joyful.  For me, it was just wonderful to spend time with both my children and my grand kids.  I always thought there should be a word for your children when they are grown up other then “children”.  Because they are not!  Anyhow, the time between Christmas and New Years is a time I block off every year to just  stop and chill.  Unfortunately, this year, my 85 year old mom came down with a bacterial infection and ended up in the hospital for quite a lengthy stay.  She came home yesterday with an extra body part… a pacemaker.  So, we are giving her a lot of attention right now to help her get her strength back.

Right before the holidays I attempted to paint a new background for my studio.  If I can back up a minute, let me explain what I mean…     Over the years, I have purchased many backgrounds to use in my studio for portraits.  There are companies out there that sell every kind of background under the sun.  And yes, there are companies that sell backgrounds that in fact print backgrounds that look like you are “under the sun”!  But for me, I always preferred to use backgrounds that are muted.  There is an amazing company that makes the backgrounds that famous photographer Annie Leibovitz uses.  The company is called Oliphant.  Their backgrounds are around $1000…. yes.. that much.  But, they are gorgeous.

So, after doing some research, I found out that there is a way I could replicate one of these great backgrounds.  Give me a challenge and I am on!  Now please understand that my background is in no way shape or form anywhere close to a great Olipahant background…. But, I am quite happy with the end results. These are I phone pictures so they actually don’t capture the richness of the black.  It looks pretty grey in these photos.

Here is how I did it:

  1.  Purchase a 9 x 12 canvas backdrop from Home Depot
  2.  Purchase a rag roller spongey type roller, a 3 inch wide brush, 2 plastic sheet type covers for the floor to protect, a large roll of green frog tape.
  3.  Paint… I had 3/4 gallon of left over flat black paint and 1/2 gallon of steel grey paint left over from painting a wall and a previous V-Flat.
  4.   1/2 cup Downy Fabric Softner

First thing I did was to hang the backdrop over my backdrop holder and steam the heck out of it.  This is important to get all the wrinkles out because I believe if you want the paint to dry without obvious lines, a flat backdrop to start with is important.

My steamer is something I purchased long ago and have a love/hate relationship with.  You can see how bad the wrinkles are after I pulled it out of the bag.

So, here I am steaming it and also getting a free facial.  When I was done, the canvas was pretty damp.  This was what I considered Day 1.  It took me about an hour to steam the entire thing since it was 9 x 12 and I had to hang it over the backdrop holder.

Day 2

Spread clear plastic on floor and tape that down everywhere.  Then spread out the 9 x 12 canvas and pull snug and tape to plastic backdrop with green frog no stick tape.

The next step is what I came up with because I read and re-read a bunch of posts about painting a back drop.  I decided that I wanted a lighter center spot in my backdrop.  Also, I know that canvas soaks up paint.  So, I took my black paint and added about 1/3 water to thin it. (At this point, I added about a 1/3 cup to the paint solution to keep the canvas soft.)   I also did the same with the grey center paint.  I started very slow and knew that the first coat was pretty much gonna look like crap.  I applied the first coat of black paint and the backdrop was very spotty looking and wet.  I decided to give it a day to completely dry.

Sorry for the sun glare, but you can see the center spot.

Day 3

I arrived very early to start.  I used a regular roller to do the center spot in grey.  However, when I got to the edges of the black, I used my 3 inch wide brush to blend into the black.  This was time consuming.  Remember that the paint is thinned by water.  Slow and steady.  I applied another layer of black.  Time spent here was about 2 hours.  This second coat of black really covered it all pretty well.  I left and came back about 3 hours later.

When I came back, the backdrop was dry!  However, I noticed a few spots that could have used a bit more.  So, I hit it again…. But this time, I watered the paint down a lot more.  Then for the center spot, I hit that one again with a very watered down grey… again using the 3 inch brush to feather the edges into the black.

About 2 hours later all was dry.  But here is where I decided to do something that I was scared to do because I remember Sue Bryce saying she added another step to one of her backgrounds and she should have quit while she was ahead.  But the problem was that the black was too black and the grey was too grey.  So, I took this rag roller and dipped it every so slightly into the black paint and when over the steel grey center very lightly.  Then I washed the roller brush off and did the exact same thing with the grey paint.  I rolled the grey paint over the black to create a very weak texture.

Above:  Before adding texture with sponge roller. It looks much more grey than it really is.

Below is the final product.  Sorry for the sun glare.  I have skylights in the studio.

Here is a mom and daughter.  The center spot is almost covered.  They are about 3 feet away from the background.  I am pretty happy with it.

Total cost without the paint was about $70.  I had about 1/3 gallon of black left and almost nothing of the grey (I started with very little.)

In closing… I am pretty happy with it.  It is a large backdrop.  I wanted a 9 x 12 because I do photograph moms and daughters so I wanted something wider.  I probably will do some smaller ones and get rid of my old backdrops that are so out of date.

Here’s to being more “artsy” in 2017!

Donna

 

I met Stephanie last year at a meeting.  She immediately expressed interest in having a 3 generation photograph taken of her mom, herself and her daughter.  They arrived bright and early to get their hair and makeup done.  Stephanie’s young daughter was so excited she could hardly contain herself.  Stephanie’s mom felt a little out of sorts at first, but warmed up to her photo session almost immediately.  Stephanie made sure that everyone had the right outfits and did a fabulous job of coordinating.  I absolutely loved photographing them.  But more important, I loved giving them a memory.  Great job Stephanie for doing this!

Check out the slide show below and you will see how beautiful this turned out!

stef_williams_collage

I love, love, love it when women take the time to document their beautiful life.  Here is another great example of an exceptionally gorgeous woman who in her own business, loves to style women.  She brought with her several amazing dresses, one of which you will see in the video.  This particular dress was a vintage 1940’s era dress (complete with gloves!).  I had her change then into this amazing beige evening dress that totally changed her body language.

Enjoy..

karenmcollage

 

 

 

Hi Friends!

I will admit I have slipped on the blogging end.  My super special offered in the last blog just went through the roof.  Literally, all my time and energy has been devoted to shooting, editing and of course, the normal holiday rush that comes along with this time of year.  I have, however, put together this 2 minute video of a session I did a while ago.  My desire to urge women to step back into photographs is stronger than ever.  So, if I have to subliminally hit you with a cute video (LOL), then so be it.  What ever it takes you to pick up the phone and call the studio (215.968.5220) by the way.  How’s that for subtle?

Tell me what you think!

Donna

 

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