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2020 (whole year)  - Image Competition 80+ Score Images

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  • 31 Jul 2022 6:02 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Comets, Meteors & the Milky Way, Oh My!
    We learned so much about photographing the night sky!

    Michael Crawley Night Sky Photography Class reviewed by Shelly England

    We learned so much in our day workshop with Michael Crawley! When it was over my head was spinning like a star trail! He covered it from A - Z and we could have gone for many more days.

    We went over equipment. Carbon is worth it, sturdy is key. And oh, reflective tape might help thee. Lenses, filters and settings too. Color gels, battery packs and whatever you lack. Other essentials: Friends, water and Buc-ees Beaver Nuggets but remember whatever you pack, you must lug it!

    We learned about apps and how to use them - Photo Pills is worth the ten dollar bill.

    Michael also covered:

    • Light pollution and how to find dark places. In Houston, this means not many spaces.
    • Lunar photography and settings to shoot the moon,
    • Processing your photos in Adobe Light Room.

    Light painting looks like so much fun - take a flash or a flashlight and paint like the sun.

    Astronomical twilight and, ah, there are too many things to highlight. Alas, if you want to know, off to Michael's class you should go!

    With all of our knowledge, we are off to see the sky, the wonderful Night Sky!

  • 25 Jun 2022 2:25 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Michael Crawley hosted his workshop “Creating Historic Portraits” on Saturday, June 18, 2022. He began with a detailed slide presentation discussing creating impactful images that tell a story, evoke emotion, and introduce wonderment about a specific time period in history.

    In order to create accurate historical photos many elements need to be considered such as: props, backgrounds, outfits, gun safety, lighting, and which editing software to use for finishing touches on the photo. Michael shared several examples where changing one prop could make the photo more realistic and credible, and other examples where one incorrect prop could discredit the authenticity of the photo. Using correct historical props is especially important if the images will be entered and judged for print competitions.

    Safety is an important element during any reenactment, including at photo sessions. Michael discussed how he handles clients who wish to bring their own weapons as props, whether they be authentic or a replica.

    Planning is paramount when creating historical photos and Michael shared several ways he plans for a session. Both the library and internet are good places to source reliable information about the time period related to your photo session. When creating historical photographs, Michael advises to use reference photos to select the correct props and backgrounds to match the time period. Michael shared several places to find these references at no cost and demonstrated his flow and ways of organizing his personal collection.

    Historic portraits require paying close attention to small details. Items such as the buttons on an outfit, choice of shoes, tablecloth colors and patterns, and even the style of carving on wood chairs are all important to portraying correct and accurate historic photos.

    Michael arranged for two reenactment models that belong to historical groups in Houston to attend and bring multiple outfits and props to help create historical scenes for the workshop. Attendees were able to watch and photograph the models in different outfits with various props to match.

    In addition to being a photographer, Michael Crawley is an avid historical enthusiast who brings his passion for history and love of photography together to create historic portraits.

    Afterward, Michael introduced how to give each photo an aged and realistic look using the Nik Collection of filters. He discussed how various software tools were used and how to create special effects by combining several at a time.

    We would like to give special thanks to two models that shared their time and talent bringing multiple outfits and props to allow attendees to capture and create historic photos. Pictured in the group photo below, Michael Toppeto represented a WWII-US Navy Sailor wearing his great uncle’s uniform and Roland Salazar represented a Mexican Army Soldier 1836 Dragoon.

    L-R: Robert Guillemette, Michael Toppeto, Cari McFarlane, Michael Crawley, Roland Salazar and Duane Blocker.

    Review and photos by Cari McFarlane

  • 09 Jun 2022 11:16 AM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Nikky LaWell opened her home to host her workshop “Refining and Operating a Home Studio” on Sunday, May 22, 2022. She shared how she communicates with her clients before they come to her personal home for their photography session. Good communication sets expectations, avoids confusion and adds to the experience. Maintaining good records and staying organized keeps the business running smoothly. Posting mantras and reminders to quickly refer to while answering phone calls is a great daily visual. A workspace with a purpose helps keep the work flow running and avoids distractions, and a design board keeps the creativity flowing.

    (L-R) Megan Murray, Douglas Burns, Aric Hoek and workshop host Nikky LaWell discussing how to manage using your home as your studio space while keeping your business professional.

    Nikky shares how she has a variety of backdrops hanging around the room on rails to make every spot usable while still displaying her artwork for clients to see in the oneroom studio. Walls painted different colors within the room helps with glare and provides additional backdrop options. A variety of seating is available for consultations with potential clients and also serves as props to help with larger family photo sessions. She has created a family portrait that included twenty-two members in this room, demonstrating that being creative with posing and lens choices allows flexibility and opens many possibilities. Her favorite lens is the 24-70mm, although she also really enjoys photographing at 105mm.


    Nikky shares how she has several backdrops installed around her studio room to maximize every wall. She states that everything in her studio space must have a stated purpose.

    As a mother of a college student, her home studio adapts to her family needs. The bed in the middle of her studio is a temporary addition for this summer while her daughter visits to spend time together during the summer. This does not close down her home studio, it opens other possibilities such as outside photo sessions or taking the studio to corporate locations to accommodate clients who prefer to have photos on location.

    Having the bed on wheels allows mobility and greater possibilities for different types of clientele (i.e. boudoir or lifestyle). Light stands can be used as a clothes rod and a modifier helps give some privacy while keeping photo equipment out and easily accessible.The dresser holds albums to share with clients at a moment’s notice. Stacked stools in the corner create an interesting table that holds a bouquet of flowers all within reach. Nikky shared how different poses on the front porch using different angles creates different backdrops and textures for a variety of looks that clients can choose from. Using the outdoors for certain looks provides variety in her portraits offering natural light which contrasts her studio portraits. She invites clients to feel comfortable in her home by giving them a small tour upon their arrival showing them where they can help themselves to beverages and snacks as well as the bathroom.

    Nikky shares how she keeps her business going with a home studio even when her daughter returns home from college for the summer (hence the bed in the picture :) .  

    In addition to showing us nooks and crannies throughout her home to help her keep her home photography business organized and flowing, Nikky surprised attendees at the end with a packet of information that included highly recommended books to further your business, many phone scripts, important questions every photographer should have an answer for “at the ready,” mantras, examples of how to create our own posing binder, as well as suggesting we keep a binder with business proposals for a quick reference. Attendees shared networking ideas with each other throughout the afternoon. The workshop was a conducive environment for sharing and growing your personal business while building friendships.

    Review and photos by Cari McFarlane


  • 09 May 2022 3:43 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Do you use multiple software programs to run different facets of your business? 17hats ambassador, Leslie Cervantez, held a full day workshop with a team of fellow photographers last Thursday to share how 17hats could become a one-stop solution for many of your business needs. For example, did you know 17hats has a bookkeeping module that will connect to your bank account and payment platform, automate your invoicing process, and track your income and expenses just like Quickbooks? It’s true, when you set up the bookkeeping module, you can say goodbye to that extra subscription for Quickbooks, which should save you several hundred dollars a year! That fact alone was worth the price of admission!

    However, Leslie shared so much more about how 17hats can help improve your client experience while relieving you of some monotonous procedures. 17hats centers around the four stages of a client experience – leads, booking, onboarding, and fulfillment.  Leslie walked through each of these modules demonstrating how easy it is to set up 17hats for repetitive tasks. Using a system of templates and workflows, the program is fully customizable to your business.  

    Another exciting feature of the program is the built-in scheduling calendar that allows you to cross reference all calendars in your life so you never overbook yourself. Plus, she introduced an amazing consultant who can assist with setting up the 17hats experience for yourself and your clients. By the end of the day, all attendees, even some who already use 17hats, had more than enough information to begin implementing immediately. Leslie broke the information up into bite-sized pieces to make it easy to understand and covered a ton of content.

    If you get the opportunity to attend this workshop in the future, do not hesitate. It was extremely informative and will undoubtedly help all who attended run a more efficient, organized business.

    Reviewed by Theresa Campbell

  • 14 Apr 2022 1:48 PM | Laura Mansur, Cr. Photog., CPP (Administrator)

     Margaret Bourke-White was a respected industrial and social photographer during the 1930's until her death in 1971.  Her images of Mahandas Gandhi, Joseph Stalin and the liberation of concentration camps in Buchenwald, Germany provided her early notoriety.   Bourke-White was a woman of many firsts.  She was attached to the U.S. Army in Germany & Italy and became the first western photographer allowed in to the Soviet Union, and was also the first female war correspondent to travel into combat zones during World War ll.   She became a symbol of swashbuckling photography. 

    Bourke-White was born in New York City on June 24, 1904.   She studied photography under Clarence White at Columbia University, and began her career by specializing in architectural photography.   "Bourke- White had an excellent sense of simple, poster like design, perhaps the legacy of her apprenticeship in the demanding field of industrial reportage".   Where many would see industrial blights, she saw arabesque shapes and geometric figures. 

     With the onset of The Great Depression, her images chronicled  the course of the mid 1930's.  The Depression caused a steady deterioration of living conditions and quality of life for Americans through the United States, and she captured the images.   Bourke-White saw firsthand the effect of the economic downturn and became interested in politics.   The beginning of Bourke-White's photojournalistic style occurred when she decided to explore the human side of the changing world around her. 

    When Bourke-White joined the staff of Fortune magazine in 1929 at the age of twenty five, she made several trips to the Soviet Union and in 1931 published 'Eyes on Russia'.    In 1935, she met the Southern novelist Erskine Caldwell and during her brief marriage to him, she published three illustrated books: '

    You Have Seen Their Faces'( 1937), about Southern sharecroppers,

    'North of the Danube'1939), about life in Czechoslovakia before the Nazi takeover.

    'Say, Is this the U. S. A.'(1941) a documentary of the Dust Bowl.

    She was criticized for her portrayal of Southern whites as being racists, and her commitment to social causes became evident in her images. 

    The images she captured were and still are unforgettable: a line of black flood victims in Kentucky with a billboard of a happy white family in the background.   Mohandas Ghandi reading a newspaper with a spinning wheel in the foreground.  She actually interviewed and photographed him a few hours before he was assassinated, and had a knack of being in the right place at the right time enabling her to photograph world events. 

     In 1941 she traveled with special envoy, Harry Hopkins, who was sent by President Roosevelt to determine the Russian leader's commitment o fight Germany in WW ll.    Among her images are a rare "smiling Stalin" and Stalin's grandma in the republic of Georgia.  On this same trip, The German forces began invading Moscow and she was the only foreign photographer to capture images of the devastation.   Hopkins carried her film out of the country in a diplomatic pouch and into the photo labs of 'Life"'magazine. 

    In spring of 1945, she travelled through a war torn Germany with Patton's troops.   Entering the Buchenwald concentration camp with the liberation forces, she captured the first images of the surviving Holocaust victims.  "Using a camera was almost a relief.  It interposed a slight barrier between myself and the horror in front of me.", she said.

    Biographer and critic Vicky Goldberg referred to the portraits by Bourke-White as "the posed candid" because she preferred a classical composition to photograph everyday people when she worked outdoors.   Her husband Erskine Caldwell gives us insight into her ability to compose a scene. "She was in charge of everything, manipulating people and telling them where to sit and where to look and what not. That's how she achieved such a good effect. "

    In conclusion, Margaret Bourke-White was a fascinating woman, artist and photographer who documented world events and portrayed the human side of those events. 

    Respectfully submitted by:

    Laura Mansur Guerra

  • 01 Apr 2022 2:59 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Lighting that Sells 

    presented by Sonia Ahmad

    Photo Credit Sonia Ahmad

    Sonia packed so much information & fun into this workshop.  We learned about dozens of lighting set-ups and techniques.  Sonia demonstrated different modifiers along with multiple lighting scenarios.  We also played with different gels and how they change the mood of the image.  

    During this workshop, it was obvious how well organized Sonia’s small studio is  & how every space is used to its best advantage.  It was a great example to see how every piece of equipment has its own special spot.  This was a great demonstration of how to use a small studio space to its best advantage.

    The level of organization that Sonia had for this workshop was great. The handout/cheat sheets she gave out for each set up were very helpful as a reference. There were no lulls in the blocks of instruction. She moved smoothly between each set up, each talking point and kept the momentum moving forward for the entire class period.

    Sonia invited participants to ask questions during the class.  She addressed each question and demonstrated  fixes for problems.

    If you missed this class, Sonia is giving a Off Camera Flash class in October!

    Review by Kathy Kinser

  • 17 Mar 2022 1:39 PM | Duane Blocker, CPP (Administrator)

    By Jordan Scheiner

    Its march 14, 2022 and in sitting down to write this article for the Viewfinder I realized it is almost two years to the day of the first covid lockdown. I remember that weekend we shut down vividly. I had two giant parties to photograph that got in right under the wire before the city shutdown. No one was wearing masks yet and no one was really freaking out as we didn’t really know much yet…kind of the calm before the storm.

    As a photographer who makes a good part of their living from giant fun parties I hadn’t really thought about what was coming as I have always been a pretty go with the flow dude. So, like most of us, I wasn’t really ready to watch my business come to a screeching halt over night.

    My clients were upset over their lost events, but also really great as we were able to reschedule most of the weddings and Bar Mitzvahs for 6 months later…and then a year later. It was nice to know that I had so many events ready to go in 2021, but now what about 2020?

    After going through the five stages of grief over my business: denial(its all good, covid is just a cold!), anger(this sucks!), bargaining(of course you will be able to have your wedding by May 5th, I mean June 1st, no, September 1st for sure!), depression(drinking) we finally came around to…Acceptance(yay!).

    I won’t lie, it took a while to get there. And that’s when I started talking to some of my other friends in the creative industries and saw that we were all in the same boat. Photographers, caterers, Dj’s, event planners, musicians, fine artists, we were all stuck in covid limbo.

    So, at this point you are wondering what this rant has to do with anything. It’s about community. I realized within these artistic industries we all move through, there is a great community of creatives of all kinds that we work with and may not know as well as we would like. My friends and I started getting together(outside, staying 10 feet apart, of course!) And once we got through the initial “my business is in the toilet” conversation we all got to know each other better and even started working together to figure some of this crazy covid stuff out. We started working on ideas for the future, fundraisers for those covid affected more than us and even started new businesses together.

    This idea of a community of creative people is the reason I joined PPGH in the first place and what makes it important. And what I have found in the last few years as I have gotten more involved in the guild(thanks Laura!) is that our photographers genuinely want to help each other grow and get better in their craft and business.

    So in a final rant. Now that we see the light at the end of the tunnel with this covid insanity we have all been living in, let’s remember how important our photography community is by coming to meetings and workshops and learning from our peers. Let’s welcome the new photographers and help them take their business and craft to the next level, while also welcoming back those members we haven’t seen in a while, and most of all let's keep being a community. 

  • 04 Mar 2022 12:56 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Learning TikTok & Instagram Reels with Leslie Cervantez

    You know the last time you went to a meeting and the speaker asked you to put away your phone?

    You were NOT at Leslie Cervantez’s workshop.IMG_0092.JPG

    We’ve all heard that video is the way of the future for marketing.  You’re going to get more views on your social media when you use video instead of static pictures.

    In this fun, hands-on class, Leslie opened our eyes to the capabilities of the Tik Tok app and how to make short videos\Reels for TikTok & Instagram on your phone; no video camera required.  She gave us loads of lighting, speaking and audio tips & tricks to make the videos look better.

    We learned how to find trending audio clips and build our videos around that audio.  Since the audio is already trending there is a better chance TikTok will share your video with more of their users.  She even showed us the difference between Solo, Stitched and Duet videos.

    Leslie showed us how to use the Profile and the Insights pages for analytics.  Later in the day she showed us how to screen record the video created in Tik Tok and un-brand it (as a TikTok video) for Instagram**.  

    **Instagram doesn’t like to show TikTok branded videos.

    Ok, so I haven’t made my first TikTok video myself yet, but I’m committed to do it.  Follow Tara Flannery on Instagram; she is burning it up out there with hers. 

  • 02 Mar 2022 7:25 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Colt’ivating Great Clients Workshop

    Colt Melrose Workshop on March 1, 2022

    Colt Melrose put on a very impressive workshop at his Silver Street Studio for 10 participants from Houston and the Brazos Valley. Colt started by having everyone do some personal mapping on their personality traits and what drives them. Everyone shared and gleaned insight into why some of us do what we do.

    Colt and his wife, Lindy, have put lots of effort and education into developing their successful business and it really shows. He told us about the mentors he has and how he has implemented some important procedures that make his business run smoothly while trying to keep a home/work balance. Colt and Lindy have 4 adorable children at home, so they are busy!

    Colt had a client come in for a mini session so he could show us his work flow and how he handles a shoot. While she was in make-up with Lindy, we walked over to the Buffalo Brewery for a quick lunch and continued our conversations. It was a beautiful day and the view on the 3rd floor is spectacular.

    When we got back to the studio, we watched Colt shoot pictures and engage with his client all the way through the image selection process and ordering. Lots of very useful tips were given. We were all mesmerized watching him go through the images with his client. He talked about follow-up with clients and how important it is and different ways to do this.

    After the client left, we continued on talking about the importance of gaining your client’s trust and educating them on the value you are providing them with your services. We talked about vendors and outsourcing what you don’t love to do. Colt continued showing us some of his favorite books on business he has read. The day flew by and we were all so engaged the whole time, I think we could do a second day with Colt! I highly recommend this class to all who are in photography business regardless of the genre you shoot. ~ Shelly England

  • 10 Jan 2022 3:58 PM | Duane Blocker, CPP (Administrator)

    “If you want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.” - Woody Allen

    As I sit here at my computer, trying to create this blog post, I thought of this quote. Why you might ask? Well, COVID hit our house over the weekend and what once was a busy week turned into quarantine and a week off. 

    So, instead of sharing a blog about all the wonderful, amusing questions we get asked as photographers. I am going to give you tips and tricks to get through a week of quarantine. 

    First and foremost, take your vitamins and meds and hope you feel better soon. 

    But, if you have some unplanned free time, here are my suggestions of things to do:

    • Today I am working on my Certified Professional Photographer(CPP) renewal! If you don’t already have your CPP, this is also a great time to declare and start studying. 

    • Polish up an image and prep it for Print Competition! Every photographer who enters Print Competition comes out a better photographer. The beauty of PrintComp, as I like to call it, you are only competing against yourself. If you are ready to take the leap visit

    • Calibrate your monitors! I am using my Spyder 5 to calibrate all 3 computer monitors and Samsung TV. That way I can show my clients their images in their true colors on any device. It’s a great time to sit back with a cup of coffee and watch the pretty colors! 

    • Read or listen to a good business book or two. I generally have two books going at all times. My most recent books that I love are The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran & Michael Lennington and Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey. Audible has been my go to book service. Along with the monthly credits, there are “free” podcasts and books to listen to.

    • Speaking of Podcasts, this is a great time to catch up on them, too! A lot of great photographers and business folks have weekly podcasts from photography world banter. Some of my favorites are Gary Hughes and Booray Perry’s Photobomb or Sue Bryce Education’s The Portrait System Podcast. 

    Last, but not least, rest. Sometimes, unplanned downtime is God’s way of telling you to take a break! Get some fresh air, take a nap, and have Pho delivered to you. 

    Thersa Couch
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