The Viewfinder

Welcome to the new Viewfinder format!To keep up with the latest articles and news, be sure to subscribe to the Viewfinder! Subscriptions are provided at no charge! Click here to subscribe.

Please contact us with any questions you may have at

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


No pictures to show


The Viewfinder

  • 08 Jun 2023 4:34 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Photographing the Night Sky

    Presenter:  Michael Crawley

    Workshop Review by Ron Vachon

    I enjoyed attending Michael Crawley’s workshop, Photographing the Night Sky.  Astrophotography has been one of my interests for quite some time.  Even as someone with experience, I learned several new techniques and it refreshed my memory on others. 

    Michael discussed several useful websites and cell phone apps including Photopills which I agree is worth the money.  … Just buy it!

    He discussed some of the essential equipment for photographing at night; this list far exceeds a flash light, camera (or two), wide angle fast lens and a tripod.  He discussed websites to find good locations, especially those with dark sky.

    He showed us images of historical sites he’s researched and has photographed at night with the Milky way as the backdrop.  He even discussed light-painting structures to add an extra point of interest to the image.  Since I’m going on a road trip to a dark sky area later this year, I’m going to use some of what I learned to find some ghost towns or other historic sites.  

    Michael taught us how to setup our camera for night photography, including recommended white balance, F-stops, shutter speeds and focusing using the hyperfocal table in PhotoPills.

    I found the section on comets & meteors very interesting.  He had some great stories to tell and images to show, and he reminded us of some of the meteor showers coming later this year.

    Another of the computer applications he showed us was Starstx which post-processes star trails.  He demonstrated loading multiple images taken a few minutes apart each can be combined to make a beautiful image containing star trails.  It was really neat to watch it as it created the trails.  

    So, if you’re up for some night sky photography later this summer, I’ll be glad to join you.  Just don’t forget your red head lamp, lens warmer, intervalometer, cable release, snacks and a comfy chair. 

  • 17 May 2023 9:17 PM | Duane Blocker, CPP (Administrator)



    PPGH has some wonderful photographers. They come from all walks of life and experience. Twice a year Professional Photographers of America offer a one-day merit class and some of them are taught by those very same people. Mrs. Sonia Farhana Ahmed, CPP, is one of those fine instructors. Her class was entitled – MASTERING THE ART OF LIGHT AND POSE, ELEVATING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY SKILL. I took her class, and all that title is misleading, it should be – SO YOU THINK YOU KNOW LIGHTING AND POSE. We started off with getting to know Mrs. Ahmed, how she started her business and her studio. She then began to explain how she has a formula she sticks to – her go to shutter speed, f-stop and ISO and lighting sets for all of her work. She then told how she looks at her client and how she will light them during their first meeting but also will ask her client if they have a certain style or mood of lighting they want to be photographed in, all this and in her mindset, she is looking at a persons’ features and how to best pose them. We moved into her studio where she started with why one light, then two, three, well you get the idea all offer different looks and moods. She showed how to set a white balance and why it is important and when using a meter how it helps to get everything right on camera. We then went on to how to set the lights and distance. She then used a model to demonstrate how and why it all works so well. While doing this she began to show how to pose, how to talk with your client to get them to move, how to ask permission for touching when it is proper and not, she then the difference for a woman and a man and how a simple change of a wrist, hand or move of the head or adding a prop can make a big difference in a portrait.  We had a beautiful model attend and Mrs. Ahmed showed that with just a few changes of hands, legs, and facial expressions what can be done to make some beautiful images. She explained all this and more in a very short period of time. The last part of her class was how she finishes her idea in PhotoShop and her thoughts on what to look for to make an image the client will be thrilled to have. I came away with a better understanding of how just important it is to know your equipment, how to stay with what works but to also understand when to change. I know putting in a class and talking in front of people is not for everyone, but she did it with ease, experience and confidence and I would like to recommend that if you are having problems with any of these areas that Mrs. Ahmed would be a go to person to learn. What a great day!

    Robert Guillemette

  • 09 May 2023 10:43 AM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, NO it’s a DRONE

    A review of Michael Reiland - PPA Merit Program: Commercial Drone Photography by MIchael Crawley

    I started out the day knowing just a few of the basics of flying drones and commercial drone photography and left trying to keep myself from running out and buying a new toy.  Michael’s passion of photography and drones brought life to this merit workshop and the day FLEW by.  

    We started the day indoors with a presentation, and Michael showed us how he got into the world of drones and a few of his failures and crashes.   But just like Michael, he didn’t give up on his flying dreams, and he show us how he has built a successful business flying drones for many of his commercial clients. 

    From how he grew his business, we moved into the most intimidating, at least for me, part of flying commercially, earning your part FAA 107 License. 

    This is one of the many things that has kept me from purchasing a drone and using it to make money.   Michael quickly put us all at ease as he discussed the test and licensing procedure.  He shared several great classes, books and apps to prep for the test, as well as briefly touching on each of the five sections found on the test.  I definitely have a much better idea on how to start studying now.

    Lunch found us at Carl’s BBQ where we enjoyed great food and continue chatting about all the things, we learned that morning.   After lunch things began to FLY, or at least Michael and his drone did.  As we launched the drone into the air behind Carl’s, we began the practical part of the workshop.  We lifted off and photographed two buildings in the area, did a drone group shot and made several videos as well.  Michael covered the basics of safe drone flying, how to avoid running into objects during flight and how he would proceed through a typical commercial project capturing both images and videos.  From there we checked out a park and a golf course trying different things during each flight.  We ended the day back at the office watching and doing a few brief edits to the several videos and photos that we captured during the afternoon.  Michael demonstrated putting together a panorama picture in Lightroom, showing us a sky swap, and discussed his process for putting together videos.  

    Time really did FLY by on Saturday and before we knew it, we were out of time for the day.  Michael provided us a drop box link so that we could review our notes, watch the videos and see some of the fabulous images from the day. 

    What an OUTSTANDING day.   If you are at all interested in getting into drone photography, I recommend that you take this workshop in the future.  


  • 27 Mar 2023 3:07 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Workshop Review of GO PRO:  Lighting First, Posing Second

    Today’s lighting workshop with Sonia Ahmad from ETM Portraits was incredibly informative. 

    Sonia’s organizational skills shined through from the moment we entered her home studio. 

    She’s created a functional space in a room approximately 450 sqft with every lighting tool a photographer may need. She skillfully maximizes every space to house every item while keeping everything visibly appealing and within easy access. 

    Sonia organized the course by first explaining and walking us through one light, two light, and three light set ups. She demonstrated which light modifiers to use, how and why. We were also able to see how she reached her light power and chose her camera settings. I’ve always been intimidated by the technical aspects of strobe and flash photography; it took me three years to venture into studio lighting because of this reason. In fact 8 years in I still didn’t understand the need for light meters. However, Sonia has an accessible way of teaching technical processes in a way that’s easily digestible for someone with my brain. In the past I could just feel my eyes glossing over from being overwhelmed and checking out; yet here I was fully engrossed in learning tech stuff! 

    After fully walking us through the light set ups and demonstrating on different skin tones, it was time to watch her photograph and pose with a model. 

    9 year old Bella first model in a pretty dress for a fine art portrait in which Sonia played with different color gels. She explained color choices and placement, and produced some of the most beautiful child portraits. 

    We enjoyed a working lunch followed by some fun tween fashion posing. To end our day Sonia went over the light set ups again using graphic visuals and invited us to ask more questions. 

    We finally went outdoors to play with speed lights and see how flat, bright, or dark natural light can be better utilized by incorporating off-camera flash. 

    Overall I can surmarize by saying that this class is amazing for all photographers at all levels. If you’re thinking of starting your studio at home or are looking to organize a smaller space, you’ll gain so many tools from taking this class. If you’re intimidated by technical aspects , this is absolutely the class to take, and finally all of us need a refresher from time to time and observing a great photographer la process your is invaluable for our continuous education. 

    I am excited to attend more PPGH events and growing with our community. 

    Review by Maria Arellano

  • 22 Mar 2023 11:10 AM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    The Senior Experience: The Pink Parachute

    Thersa Couch's class was an incredible opportunity for beginner and experience photographers. Her knowledge and understanding in the industry shows true value to what photographers need to be aware of not only did we learn about her personal experience, but also the importance of having a network of photographers and other colleagues to be successful. Her success as a studio owner, intrigues, mini classmates, which lead to further questions in understanding of the industry.   The senior experience is only one of the amazing highlights that she strongly possesses. 

    One segment of the workshop was going outdoors, and shooting a senior model and learning her off-camera flash posing and composition techniques. It was an amazing opportunity for both beginner and experience photographers to learn hands on techniques that will help improve the use of off-camera flash, and posing techniques. 

    After an amazing presentation of how to do a senior experience, we later discussed on the importance of having a CRM (Customer Relationship Management software)  and the importance of in person sales.   

    Review by Maria Chicas

  • 10 Mar 2023 3:09 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Websites That Sell

    Presenter:  Megan Murray 

    A good web site is a necessary evil for every legitimate business today. In Megan’s class we learned about SSL, SEO and ChatGPTI just to name a few. We talked about creating a mood board and checking your branding for consistency. There are many components to a web site and how they all tie together to convey the message you want is of key importance.

    Megan not only presented the material but also showed us examples. We did exercises that really made us think about it. Megan showed us her website and other examples that were good role models to follow. We all critiqued 3 class members web sites and gave suggestions on changes that could be made. Having someone else look at it is so helpful for a fresh perspective.

    The most important question to ask yourself is “Does my website convey what I offer?” Megan’s class was very helpful to us all and I think we all got ideas for things we need to change on our websites or add. I recommend this class to everyone - Megan made it fun as well as very useful!

  • 15 Feb 2023 5:53 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)


    The Full-Time Portrait Studio

    By Julizza Gomez and Michael Martinez

    . . . 1,001 . . .  1,002 . . . 1,003 . . .  Counting sheep, can’t sleep!!!  My brain refused to shut down after attending Julizza and Michael’s impactful, PPGH workshop. I was brainstorming about how I could apply what I learned at the workshop. These thoughts were spinning in my head:  “Tame Your Tongue” “Get Rid of Shiny Pennies”  “Power of Positive Thinking” “Who Do You Need to Become?” “What Are Your Core Values?” “I am Worth It!” “Glass Ceilings” . . . and on and on.  After only 3 hours of sleep, I jumped out of bed and said to myself, “Time for a plan of action!”  This workshop was life-changing for me!

    Julizza and Michael opened their program by giving us a synopsis of their journey upward in their photographic business.  When Julizza was only in elementary school, she knew that she wanted to focus on a profession that would allow her to create a better life for herself than she had as a child.  One day, one of her older brothers overheard her ask herself this question, “What could I be when I grow up so that I will be able to make the most money?”  Her brother casually replied, “Become an engineer.”  At the time, she thought that he meant to learn to drive a train!  But as she matured, she realized there were other types of engineers!  She managed to attend college continuing to focus on reaching her dream of creating a better life for herself. She chose electrical engineering as her major, which is the highest-paid type of engineer.  At some point during her junior year, she realized that becoming an engineer was not her cup of tea.  She looked left and then right and her plan took a turn in a different direction.  She ended up becoming a Math teacher since she had taken so much math, even though math was not really her thing.  After several years of teaching, she realized that she was hitting a “glass ceiling” and that in order to reach her goal of becoming a very successful person, she needed to go into business for herself where there were no barriers; no “glass ceilings.”  After she became a mother, she wanted beautiful portraits of her children, but couldn’t afford to hire someone who could fulfill her vision, so she said to herself, if I can do math, I can figure out how to use a camera.  The rest is history.

    In high school, Michael was involved with the school newspaper. His teacher told him they needed pictures to go with the articles, so he promptly assigned that task to himself. This is when he got his first taste of photography.  He wanted to attend college to become a photographer, but his dad said there was no money in that, so he took classes to become a journalist.  After graduation, his first job was working for a very established, high-end photographer.  As Michael developed his skills, he became more confident and felt like he was carrying half the load for the studio, so he approached his boss and told him he wanted to be a partner in the business.  The answer was, “No!”  Michael, too, hit a “glass ceiling.”  So instead of accepting his status as just an employee, he broke away from the security of a job and opened his own business. Immediately, he set his prices twice as high as his previous employer was charging.  Michael developed his own high-end, very successful portrait business. This allowed him to set his own schedule making time to be the father he wanted to be to his two daughters. 

    Julizza and Michael both shared more interesting stories of their journey to success.  They encouraged us to believe in ourselves and to charge what we are worth.  They suggested activities to help us change our mindset and talked about how to streamline our life, like outsourcing what we don’t want to do to give us more free time. Julizza talked about how our conscious and subconscious minds work differently and how they affect our actions.  She stressed how important it is to continually talk to ourselves, out loud with positive thoughts in order to change our subconscious mind. 

     Below are some of the bullet points from their program:

    • ·       Define Your Why
    • ·       Brainstorm a List of Core Values
    • ·       Figure Out WHOM You Need to Become
    • ·       Explore Resources To Change The Way You Think
    • ·       Set Smart Goals
    • ·       Create an Action Plan
    • ·       Market with 10% of Your Gross Sales

    The class was filled with a wealth of knowledge and inspiration in a very relaxed, casual atmosphere.  We took a break and went to Tejas Chocolate + BBQ Restaurant, which was just a short 3 minutes away, where we continued our discussion about Chasing Our Dream.  Julizza’s teaching skills were obvious and made learning easy and meaningful!  My favorite quote from her was “Knowing and not doing, is not knowing.”  (Author unknown)  Michael’s honesty and wit kept us entertained.  If you missed it, too bad, so sad! Just kidding!  Hopefully, they will teach this class again as I feel that they have so much to offer to all levels of photographers.  If they do, it better be on your bucket list!

    Review by Karen Butts

  • 06 Feb 2023 4:30 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Here Comes Santa 

       This class was fabulous even in February - months away from Christmas. Brenda showed us her “why” and the magic behind the experience she creates for her Santa shots.  We went over her backdrops, props and Santa gifts.  We had a working lunch with Santa Claus himself.  We asked him questions and he told us stories while we ate our lunch.  He was a magical Santa and obviously wonderful at his job.  He told us about his "Santa School" trainings.  

    Brenda had scheduled 2 photo sessions for the afternoon. First up was a 2 year old little girl. She was a challenge and really made Brenda work hard for good shots. By the end of the session she had several good shots. Next up were 2 brothers in their pajamas. The oldest was totally into Santa but the younger boy wasn’t so much. Throughout both shoots, Santa was so engaging with the kids - rolling a train to them and even getting down on the floor to play with them. All the while, his voice was so calm and approachable. It was really fun to see the sessions and tricks they use to get good shots.

    After Santa and the kids left, we went over her editing and ordering process. The whole day went by so fast. As soon as you enter Brenda’s front door, you feel the magic. She creates a truly magical Santa session and if you don’t believe, you will after leaving her class!

    ~ Shelly England

  • 18 Nov 2022 9:44 AM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Workshop Review by Ron Vachon

    Lighting that sells

    Sonia Ahmad presented a lighting workshop in her home studio.  Her studio is very well laid-out in her garage.  She has customized it with plenty of storage for her gear and it is even air conditioned.  I was very impressed how organized it is and that even with that amount of gear, she and her husband can park their cars when she moves her light stands out of the way.

    We started with a short overview of the day and a lecture about the fundamentals controlling the light, where to put your light in relationship to the subject and which modifiers she recommends that we use for the lighting styles she demonstrated.  She showed us 3 variations of one, two and three light setups.  We had a model come in the afternoon and we took turns photographing.  She even gave us handouts of each setup so we can reference it later.

    Sonia uses here light meter extensively and she showed us how she sets up her lighting ratios using the meter for the subject and background as well as rim\accent lighting.  Near the end of the day, she showed us some of her retouching workflow including frequency separation.  We finished with a Q&A session.

    Sonia followed up with an email with a list of the equipment she used and a detailed explanation of her retouching workflow.  Thanks to Sonia for her hard work presenting this class.

Upcoming Events

Vendors - Caught Ya Looking!

Let's talk about this space...

webmaster at ppgh dot org


Like It, Share It!

Our Photography Affiliations

Copyright © 1950-2023 Professional Photographers Guild of Houston. All Rights Reserved.
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software