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

The Viewfinder

  • 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.

  • 03 Nov 2022 4:40 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Workshop Review by Melissa Matyiko

    Our Here Comes Santa Claus Workshop was last Saturday, December 3rd from 9 am to 4 pm.

    It took place at Kieso's Keepsakes Photography Studio. We learned how to set up, prepare for, book, photograph, edit and deliver Santa Mini sessions.

      Each session lasted thirty minutes. We had two sessions to observe and photograph. The children loved their time with Santa!

    They each were given a gift to unwrap from Santa. Our students were able to observe the magic between Santa and the children. The workshop was amazing! We all left there with the spirit of Christmas on our minds.

      I am looking forward to our session. My daughter and my three grandsons Carson 5 years old, Benny 3 years old, and Walker 2 months old are going to see Santa at Kieso's Keepsakes this weekend! I can't wait!

  • 20 Oct 2022 2:04 PM | Laura Mansur, Cr. Photog., CPP (Administrator)

     I was so pleased and grateful to have been a recipient of a $500 Scholarship through PPGH. The funny part is, I wasn’t even aware until Laura Mansur Guerra got in touch with me to let me know. This was great timing because working during Covid had made me neglect my photography and I was ready to get back in! 

    I recently attended the I Heart Photography Conference for the first time, and except for me getting ill, it was amazing! 

    On day one, I attended a Pre-Con class, “Photographing All Women” presented by Maria Arellano. If you don’t know, Maria is an amazing women’s photographer. She is Cypress, Texas based and also an award winning photographer specializing in family, child and goddess Fine Art Portraits. As a Boudoir, Maternity and Glam Photographer, this was right up my alley! 

    Maria focused on knowing the value of including women of ALL ages, sizes and ethnicities. Social media has shown us that women are embracing their femininity and stepping in front of cameras. This provides confidence and empowerment along with an unforgettable experience. 

    We covered the Target Market (attracting the clients you want and repelling those you don’t), body types, posing, lighting, hair and makeup, styling, and client closets. Maria also covered the business side as well as incorporating social media. You must check out her TikTok, she is a master! Even if you are an introvert like I am, Maria’s TikTok will give you the courage to put yourself out there. Believe me, it works! Prospective clients want to see who their photographer is. 

    Maria had one of her clients share her story of tragedy that put her into a deep depression. It was quite emotional. She spoke of how her life has changed after her session and how she now values herself. After her story, she was our model and you would think she was a pro! Her confidence was evident in her expressions. 

    Maria went over how to pose and photograph every woman by giving her professional and sincere directions, since these sessions can be vulnerable and intimate. We were able to use these as we photographed her as well. 

    Maria also picked me out of the class to sort of strip down and model! I must tell you, I was nervous at first, but through Maria’s guidance, I felt very comfortable to let Maria and the other students photograph me. I think this opportunity was imperative to me and other boudoir photographers, as it helps you to feel how a client will feel during a session. The important factor is comfort. 

    If you ever get the opportunity to attend one of Maria’s workshops or her online academy, I promise you won’t be sorry. Maria is not only a great photographer that loves educating, sharing and nurturing, she’s a lot of fun! 

    By Donna Frazier

  • 08 Oct 2022 10:34 AM | Duane Blocker, CPP (Administrator)

    Putting together a family portrait session can be time-consuming and stressful, especially when deciding what to wear, who to include in the photo and how to pose. Planning for family portraits can take up so much time and hassle, especially with all the other things families have going on at this time of year. Many clients are trying to get their professional photographer before it's too late. They want a professional photographer to capture their holiday magic.

    As professional photographers with years of experience, we can offer stress-free portrait sessions and high-quality portrait products so that clients can enjoy the large wall art in their homes or give a gift to their family members as a holiday gift. We can assure the clients to have a stress-free photo session and provide high-quality photographs that will last a lifetime.

    Here are few tips that can help your clients with family portrait session.

    Choose a location that is special to the family that you are working with:

    Studios typically offer a variety of backdrop and lighting options, as well as props, so you can create unique and memorable photographs. A professional portrait studio is an excellent option if the family celebrates a special occasion or wants to have some updated family portraits taken. As we are skilled photographers, we will be able to capture the family's personalities and spirit in their photos. So if the clients are looking for something special, I would consider booking a session at my portrait studio with various backdrop options, maybe canvas or modern backdrop, and also skilled in lighting them in the best possible way.

    What if the clients are you looking for a unique way to capture their family's memories? Why not have their portraits taken in their home? A client's home can be excellent for family portraits because it is full of personal memories and sentimental value. Plus, it's a setting that the family is probably familiar with and comfortable in.

    Were the clients looking for an exciting location for family portraits? Think outside the box and choose a place special to the family. Maybe it's their grandparents' farm, the spot where mom and dad of the family got married, or the place where the kids were born. Whatever it is, pick a place where your client will have fond memories of being together. By choosing a unique location, your photos will be sure to stand out from the rest!

    Dress in coordinating colors or patterns

    When it comes to family portraits, there are so many things to think about. What should they wear? How do they pose? Which background looks best? But one of your most important decisions is what the family will wear. Coordinating colors or color schemes can make the photos look polished and professional.

    Pose in creative ways that show your personality as a family

    Are you looking for a way to show their personality as a family? Why not try posing in creative ways? This can be a fun way to express themselves and help you connect with them. As professional photographers, we can help with this and even give tips on how to pose themselves; when your clients are looking to have a family portrait taken, whether it is for their Christmas card, you will want to make sure that they are posed in the best way possible.

    Create wall portrait and hang them in your home for everyone to enjoy 

    When creating a wall portrait, the sky is the limit! One crucial tip when building a wall portrait is to hang it at eye level. This will ensure that your client can appreciate the artwork without straining their necks. You can also offer a digital painting or get creative with mixed media.

    Another tip is to use a frame that compliments the artwork. A simple frame can make all the difference in the overall look of your portrait. Having various framing options in your studio can help your clients decide on the spot.

    Regarding the quality of the print or large artwork, archival quality prints are a great way to preserve memories. Not only will they last for years, but they also provide a high-quality option for displaying their photos on the wall. Unlike regular prints from the local drug store, archival prints are resistant to fading and discoloration, making them an excellent choice for keepsakes. This could be a perfect topic during the sales process.

    And lastly, don't be afraid to get creative! This is your chance to show off your expertise and style. So have fun with your clients!

    Sonia Ahmad

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