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  • 17 Apr 2024 12:26 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Brenda Kieso, CPP of Kieso Keepsakes, hosted a few photographers in her home studio for her “Here Comes Santa Claus!” workshop. I was immediately greeted with smells of peppermint and Christmas decor all throughout her house. I was definitely feeling the Christmas spirit! 


    Brenda walked us through her experience over the years of offering these types of sessions. She used one Santa (Santa Darrell) for most of the years, but unfortunately he passed away a couple years ago. It was very obvious he was more than just someone she hired to play Santa for some photos. Her “new” Santa (Santa Gary) used to work for Santa Darrell and was a delight to meet and work with during the workshop. She had worked with one or two other Santa’s between Santa Darrell and Santa Gary, and based on her experience it is very evident how important it is to find a good Santa. You need to find someone that is good with kids, knows how to handle babies and knows how to respond to the kids' requests. 


    Before lunch, we got to help set up Santa’s Mailroom in her living room, which was so helpful because we got to see how simple it could be. A couple backdrops, some faux wrapped gifts, a couple Christmas trees, a good chair for Santa, a “Nice” list, some small gifts for the kids and you are ready to offer something special for your clients.


    After lunch we had a 3 month old little boy come by the studio to model with Santa (got to see how he is with babies), and then my two nieces came by who are 3 years old and 10 months old. Then we got to see how to photograph individual shots of the first child, add in a sibling, and then photograph the second child individually. My 10 month old niece was not loving Santa, which kind of worked in our favor because we had to work through the process of getting her to be okay with Santa near her or distract her enough for him to sneak into the photo! 

    One of the key takeaways from this workshop for me was to start talking about these sessions early with your existing clients. You want to make them aware of them and to plan for them. Build the excitement and post on social media regularly leading up to the session dates!


    I was blown away when Brenda told us that she photographed 46 Santa Experiences over 3 days last year. She has been doing these Santa sessions since 2014, and it was nice to see her growth and “the experience” evolve through the years. As someone that has been considering offering these sessions to their clients, it was helpful to see her process from start to finish. I can now better understand what to offer my clients the first time I offer this experience. 

  • 21 Mar 2024 10:27 AM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Websites That Sell

    Workshop Review by Cari McFarlane

    The workshop “Websites That Sell” was presented by Megan Murray, CPP on Thursday, February 29th, 2024 at Megan Murray’s photography studio located on Sabine Street in Houston, TX. Attended by eight professional photographers with different genres and years of experience allowed for a wonderful opportunity for critique, questions and feedback from all participants in a respectful and educational manner.

    The workshop consisted of a thorough discussion of the building blocks needed for any website, components that attract or repel visitors, ways to use your website as a marketing machine, and how to analyze the traffic it receives.

    Prior to the workshop, the registered attendees were requested to provide the URL address for their own existing website so Megan could look at and prepare feedback to be given to each attendee during the workshop. Incorporating a visit to the various websites into her presentation allowed attendees to analyze and discuss how best to implement the techniques being discussed on a personal level.

    Attendees received information with detailed explanations as to what makes a good website and followed up by visiting various websites to examine each one using the checklists presented. Various ideas were discussed to enhance and improve different aspects of the websites. Megan involved the attendees by collaborating with them on different ways of communicating the desired information to make each website more impactful.

    Discussing the purpose and clarity of message was analyzed on every website
    page. Key elements of each page were reviewed to strengthen and attract more visitors to the website. This workshop covered both designing the perfect
    website and how to use your website to help with marketing, scheduling, and
    booking more clients. This workshop was conducted in a relaxed yet very organized manner allowing the group to collaborate and become closer together by encouraging friendly critiques and ideas to implement for each other’s websites.

    Pictured from left to right:
    Front row:
    Linda Susman, Maryanne Keeling, Theresa Campbell, Patty Okelberry Back row: Tony Chicas, Duane Blocker, Fred Rogers, Megan Murray
    Pictures taken by: Cari McFarlane

  • 19 Mar 2024 10:39 AM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    • PPGH Commercial Drone Photography Workshop by: 

      Michael Reiland, FAA Certified Drone Pilot, M. Photog., CPP

      I had the pleasure of attending Michael Reiland’s Drone workshop on Saturday and I learned more than I thought I would.  The workshop was held at the new business location of Integrity Images, on 249 near Beltway 8 in NW Houston.  Michael recently moved into their new production/office space and it is looking great with several large acrylic prints on the walls from Michael’s trips around the world. 

      • A few observations,

      • Wow, it is a different world when flying a drone versus holding a camera in your hand. 
      • Drone photography is mostly ‘Available Light’ photography.  A drone pilot doesn’t have to lug around a lot of heavy equipment, in fact, the drone is very light weight. 
      • Drone photography is loads of fun and allows you the freedom to capture the subject from new and exciting angles, and even from directly overhead and way up high.
      • Drone photography is terrific for real estate photography, whether you’re taking stills or video - you truly have a bird’s eye view.
      • The quality from drone cameras produce stunning high-resolution still and 4K video with many advanced camera settings and features.

    Michael shared several ways drones can be used to make money in the photography/videography world including, industrial, construction, real estate, engineering, corporate events & teams, weddings, and senior photography.

    Michael stressed the importance of earning a drone pilot’s license in order to sell drone photography commercially.  He discussed the times of day when you can and can’t fly, restricted locations (such as near an airport), and weather conditions you must consider when flying.  Michael shared lots of do’s and don’ts about flying as well as camera settings for video. 

    After lunch we flew the drones at 3 different locations.  First was a commercial location with a mid-size strip center.  The drone can fly up to 400 high and 1500 feet from the controller, so Michael was able to capture images of commercial buildings on both sides of Hwy 249.  For the second location we went to a nearby park where others flew their drones and fortunately, everyone was able to keep their drones away from the trees and out of the lake. The third location was back at Michael’s office where he dared to fly under and over the overpass to capture images of cars and workshop participants.  This was truly the hands-on workshop.  I don’t own a drone but was able to fly one during the workshop… I wasn’t brave enough to fly over the water though.

    In summary, I would recommend Michael’s workshop to anyone who wants to know more about drones.  If you already have a drone, I think you will still benefit and learn from Michael and this workshop.  If you’re considering getting into the drone market, the workshop can open your eyes to things that will help you make decisions when pursuing getting started, becoming certified, or investing in your next drone.  Either way, you’re going to have fun.

    Ron Vachon – Vachon Photography -

  • 07 Nov 2023 9:58 AM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Lighting & Posing Workshop

    Presented by Sonia Ahmad

    I attended a wonderful lighting and posing workshop taught by Sonia Ahmad. During the workshop, it was clear that her home studio is very well organized  with everything in its own place.  Sonia uses a lighting simulation program to perfect her lighting and advised us to "Practice, Practice, Practice" to become proficient in lighting.

    Demonstrations started with a one light setup and progressed to using four lights, using the workshop attendees as models. She demonstrated both low key and high key setups.  Because she believes in getting the image correct in camera, Sonia uses a light meter to measure the lighting & a Color Expo disc for color consistency.  Our questions were answered fully and with a demonstration, if necessary. 

    During her consultation with the client, Sonia asks what they want the photograph to convey about them.  It could be anywhere from friendliness to portraying a tough exterior, but it is important that the photographer know what result the client wants to portray in their images.  Sonia uses Capture One while tethered to her camera which shows the images on a screen that the client can see during the session. This allows the client to view the images during the session and they discuss any changes that may be needed.  We were able to see how all this works together with a branding client who came in for her session during the workshop.

    We were encouraged to set everything up before the client arrives to be seen as an experienced, competent and efficient professional photographers able to capture the vision the client desires.  It is clear that Sonia believes in organization and "Practice, Practice, Practice" to get it right in camera.  At the close of the workshop, Sonia shared the images and we certainly could see that a minimum amount of time would be spent post-processing so she could deliver the images that evening.  As a bonus, we each received a headshot from Sonia and printed copies of the lighting setups from the simulation program she uses. 

    Review by Kathy Kinser


  • 09 Oct 2023 4:38 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Basic Architectural Photography for the Professional

    with Patrick and Sonya Bertolino

    Patrick is a self-described “blue collar” architectural photographer.  He came up through the school of hard knocks…learning things the hard way.  And by the way, Patrick has earned the Master of Photography degree through PPA.  Sonya, on the other hand, is a “white collar” architectural photographer with more formal education in photography (Bachelor of Fine Arts).  Both are excellent photographers with tons of knowledge and experience.  Each brought their own perspective, learnings, and methods to this class.  We got a 2-for-1 deal!

    In architectural photography, knowing your intended audience is key.  For example, architects will want a certain perspective while interior designers and real estate agents may want a different perspective.  Other elements for each audience may differ like having room lights on or off, camera angle/height, and window pulls. It’s important to know for whom you are shooting before starting a project.

    There are two main challenges to architectural photography: straight lines and exposure.

    One major challenge of photographing interiors is getting the lines of a building straight, both interior and exterior.  Vertical lines need to be vertical and horizontal lines, horizontal.  You can use the level on your tripod.  However, using the level inside the camera is Patrick’s favorite way to ensure everything is level before taking the photo.  Check your camera’s menu for the level.   If the image needs further adjustment, you can use the Transform panel in Lightroom for more straightening.

    Exposure is another key challenge to overcome.  Ambient light in a room may only get you so far.  Introducing flash can help with overall exposure and lighten some of those dark corners.  A combination of the two, “flambient” lighting, can produce better results.  Bouncing flash off the ceiling produces a nice overall bump to exposure.  Patrick likes to bracket 3 exposures and combine them in Lightroom.  Sonya prefers a wider range of bracketed exposures and combines the images as layers in Photoshop.  She will paint in each layer as needed for a more light-painted effect.  To correct for color casts, use the HSL sliders in Lightroom.

    We learned so much in this class from Patrick and Sonya.  Married, yet competitors, they have each honed their craft and were a wonderful resource of information on architectural photography.  I can’t wait to learn more from them in the future.

    Review by Tara Flannery

  • 22 Sep 2023 3:47 PM | Duane Blocker, CPP (Administrator)

    Alison Carlino’s Night Skies Workshop: 10/10 highly recommend!

    By: Megan Murray

    Visiting Big Bend had been on my bucket list for years, and when Alison Carlino announced her Photographing the Night Skies workshop, I jumped at the opportunity.  An escape from the city, beautiful scenery, photography, wonderful company, and a scholarship from PPGH – what’s not to love?

    Before the workshop, Alison hosted a Zoom meeting to cover our itinerary, packing list, equipment & software requirements, and answer any questions.  Once in Terlingua, the workshop was a mix of afternoon classroom time and late night photography under the stars.   We covered three main topics: Milky Way, light painting, and star trails.  Alison is an organized, thorough, and passionate instructor!

    Although Alison had done all the preplanning legwork for this workshop, she taught us how to plan future astrophotography shoots by researching dark sky areas and moon phases and location of the milky way.  Here’s a back-of-camera photo from the first night where we photographed the Milky Way over an old church in the Terlingua Ghost town:

    The second night, we ventured into Big Bend Ranch State Park and photographed star trails at an old movie set along the banks of the Rio Grande.  This was my very first attempt at star trails, and while far from technically perfect, I was happy with the end result:

    But just to show you what’s possible, here’s an image Alison created right outside her AirBnB:

    WOW, right?!

    The next afternoon, we covered editing of night skies and learned how to combine hundreds of time-lapse images into one finished star trails image.  The clouds rolled in, so instead of staying up late photographing on the third night, the group went on a sunset hike together.  The conversation, climb, views, and candy-colored skies were the perfect ending to a fantastic workshop.

    I loved the small group format of Alison’s workshop – plenty of personal attention and great company on those late nights.

    And while at Big Bend, I did a little hiking too.  With such wide open spaces and sparse population, it almost felt like I was on another planet.

    In conclusion, I would recommend ANY class Alison teaches!  Her enthusiasm is contagious, and she gives her students 110%.   And if you’re longing for an excuse to get out in nature and try something different, the Night Skies workshop is just the ticket.  Thank you PPGH for making this workshop experience possible with a photography education scholarship!

  • 22 Sep 2023 8:48 AM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    The Grip Gear 101 Workshop by Douglas N. Burns was an enlightening experience for all photography enthusiasts hosted by the Professional Photographers Guild of Houston. Mr. Burns, with his extensive background in both Film and Still Photography, shared a wealth of knowledge that left participants inspired and better informed about the often-overlooked role of a "Grip" in the industry. Throughout his many years of experience, he showcased how the responsibilities of a Grip in the Film industry seamlessly translate into the realm of Still Photography.

    Mr. Burns' workshop began by answering a fundamental question: What is a Grip? He explained that a Grip plays a pivotal role in setting up, rigging, and dismantling lighting equipment on a set. Moreover, Grips are responsible for maintaining equipment and ensuring it remains organized. In the Film industry, the Key Grip serves as the department's boss, while Dolly Grips assist the Camera department by skillfully moving the dolly. This comprehensive overview shed light on the crucial behind-the-scenes work that makes both film and photography projects come to life.

    But what truly set this workshop apart was Douglas N. Burns' commitment to practicality. He not only explained the concepts but also showcased various useful tools and items he has utilized in his commercial work, film projects, and even his own portrait studio. From different light modifiers available in the market to the ones he personally crafted through DIY ingenuity, Mr. Burns provided a treasure trove of insights. This workshop became a true goldmine for photographers, offering a plethora of ideas and tools to elevate their craft.

    As a participant, I can wholeheartedly attest that this workshop was an absolute gem. Douglas N. Burns' passion for the subject matter was infectious, and his ability to bridge the gap between the Film and Still Photography worlds was invaluable. Whether you're a novice or a seasoned photographer, this workshop is a must-attend event that will undoubtedly enrich your skills and deepen your understanding of the art.

    Tony Chicas 

  • 13 Sep 2023 3:39 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    “You Had Me At Woof!” Review -Brenda Kieso

    I recently had the pleasure of attending Megan Murray’s, “You Had Me At Woof!” workshop dedicated to capturing stunning dog portraits, and it exceeded all expectations. Safety was paramount throughout the workshop, with Megan emphasizing the importance of creating a comfortable and secure environment for both the dogs and the photographers. She provided valuable insights on safety, dog behavior, posing, and incorporating pets in your family portraiture.

    Safely photographing dogs requires a combination of patience, respect for the animal, and photography skills. First and foremost, it's essential to approach the dog calmly and gain their trust before attempting to capture their image. Megan does this at her consultation appointment, whenever possible. She discussed how to make the dogs comfortable and how to keep the dog from becoming frightened by the equipment. She also discussed ensuring proper lighting to highlight the dog's features and using a fast shutter speed to capture their playful or serene moments effectively.

    Megan also taught us how to recognize the dog's body language and signals. Understanding dog behavior played a pivotal role in being a successful pet photographer. Megan shared invaluable insights into canine body language and attention getting ideas, allowing her to anticipate the dogs’ actions and capture candid, heartwarming moments with our models, Shiner, Chance and Penny.

    One of my favorite aspects of the workshop was the focus on posing, and of course, the models she provided!  Megan demonstrated how to position dogs in ways that highlight their unique features as well as how to work with different energy levels and personalities. She demonstrated various angles and simple, effective lighting setups, resulting in a diverse range of portraits that truly captured each dog's character. Whether it was a playful puppy or a wise old dog, the workshop equipped its participants with the skills to showcase each dog’s individuality through photography.

    In conclusion, “You Had Me At Woof!” was a fantastic learning opportunity. Megan’s fun and engaging approach to teaching kept all participants enthralled. Her emphasis on safety, posing techniques, and understanding dog behavior made it an exceptional experience for photographers of all skill levels. We left the workshop with not only a newfound appreciation for the art of pet photography but also a set of valuable skills that will enhance our ability to capture our four-legged friends through the lens and add pet photography to family sessions whenever possible. I highly recommend this workshop to anyone passionate about both photography and dogs.

  • 03 Aug 2023 2:38 PM | Duane Blocker, CPP (Administrator)

    Texas School 2023: John Hartman Light Painting Class

    I was excited to attend John Hartman’s Light Painting class at Texas School this year thanks to a generous scholarship from PPGH! 

    John is an extremely good teacher who is super easy to follow. Our class enjoyed three light painting projects that both challenged and intrigued us. 

    For Project 1, we watched John work his magic on a bright yellow Porsche Cayman S! The car’s owner, who was a previous race car driver, welcomed us into his garage full of high-end vehicles. It was a sight to behold. John selected this yellow Porsche because it was a difficult color to light paint. He shared with us the nuances involved in lighting the car’s fine details just right to enhance its best features, while preserving its true color. This photo is only one of many exposures captured to showcase this awesome car! You can see John’s final version (done quickly of course) on Facebook here: (1) Facebook

    A group of objects on a table Description automatically generated with low confidenceFor Project 2, we all brought in personal items that we set up on tables and learned how to light paint ourselves. Some of us learned (meaning me) how important it is to be sure nothing in your still life set up moves or your light painting project will have to begin all over again! Also, it is best to keep it simple (I added way too many items into my scene!) Here’s the best I could do since I bumped my camera before finishing my project.

    It was meant to be a representation of things captured. The top half of the project is unfinished because that is where things moved. But hey, I know what I did wrong! And have such respect for the level of detail that goes into this process. It was super fun coming up with the concept, learning how to light each element to tell the story, and working on it with oversight by John and his awesome wranglers, Dori and Lowell. I can see so many applications for this approach in compositions for print competition as well as client work and just fun personal projects.

    For Project 3, John light painted an Indian motorcycle that belongs to Ron Nichols (of ProSelect fame). Ron actually brought the motorcycle to our classroom on the Renaissance Hotel’s second floor! John showed us how to highlight the intricate details like logos, how to extract it and place it in a more appropriate environment, and how to pose a person with their bike. You can see his final version here: (1) Facebook

    I thoroughly enjoyed his class and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to try something new and add a little magic to your toolkit.

    Theresa Campbell

  • 19 Jun 2023 12:20 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Creating Historical Portraits

    Presenter:  Michael Crawley

    Workshop Review by Lauren Harrell

    This workshop consisted of learning how professional historical photos are taken. We had the opportunity to learn how reenactment photos are organized. We learned how to search for photos for inspiration and use multiple sources.

    Students had the opportunity to photograph models and experiment with different model poses, camera settings, and lighting.

    It was helpful to learn various tools and resources such as Nik and how to apply filters to edit photos into a historical effect.

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