Tuesday, February 23, 2010

When an architect marries a lawyer...

Congratulations to Megan Sheets and Steven McKay married Feb. 20, 2010. Here is one of my favorite photos of them from their portrait sessions.
We photographed their portraits at the Sculpture Gardens downtown Seattle. It was an amazingly beautiful day for February. Thanks El Nino! While the Eastcoast drowns in snow, I'm watching my flowers in my front yard bloom and laughing in spite of myself.
Because it was so bright it was important to use the shade side of the red sculptures to subtract the overpowering sunlight and keep the subjects comfortable. No one likes to look directly in the sun!
The next step was to suspend a translucent medium in front of two sb-800 flash units to create a large soft light source.
The exposure was then balance between the flash and daylight to keep the city blue sky visible in the background.

The shapes of the art as well as the shadows they created add a lot to the image.

More of Megan and Steven's photos will be online in two weeks at Irene Jones Photography Online.

Please search for Megan and Steven and use password 21366 to log in.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Supporting the Hatian Releif Effort: Portrait Event!

I'm a news junkie. I guess I learned that from my Dad. Growing up I watched Dan Rather and pretended I was a correspondent stationed in remote parts of the world reporting on all sorts of world events. Even though I was very young when it happened, I still remember vividly watching footage of the Tiananmen Square Protest on 1989. I couldn't help but feel helpless just watching these events unfold on TV. I wanted to be able to do something but at eight years old my circle of influence was slightly diminished.

It's been over a month now since the Earthquake leveled most of Haiti. It pains me that while these people are still suffering greatly, and conditions continue to deteriorate, that one of the greatest disasters in my lifetime has nearly fallen out of the news cycle. Our lives go on and our attention spans seem only to last as long as a commercial break.

I'm not eight years old anymore and I cannot help but feel a strong obligation to give all that I can to help those in need. I am now in a position where I can make a difference and dispel that terrible feeling of helplessness that I remember from my youth. I encourage all of you donate to the organizations on the ground in Haiti such as the red cross, salvation army and other charities with a track record of good works.

Donating is a great thing, but I also wanted to do more. And short of leaving my young family to go to Haiti myself, I've decided to use the resources available to me here at home to increase the good I can do.

Saturday March 27th my studio will holding a portrait event. 100% of all proceeds from this event will be donated to the Red Cross.

Doors will be open between 9am and 6pm on the 27th. Both walk in and scheduled appointments available. Each portrait session will be up to 15 minutes in length and free of charge. Children of all ages, families, and pets are encouraged to attend! Please call and schedule a session for any pets please. Once your session is completed you may choose one of the following print packages for your favorite image.

Package 1:
-2 5x7 prints
-4 wallets

Package 2:
-1 8x10 print
- 2  5x7 prints
-12 wallets

Package 3:
-1 8x10 prints
-4 5x7 prints
-5 4x6 prints

Package 4:
- 16x20 print
- 25  4x8 photographic cards

Package 5:
- 11x14 print
-2 8x10 prints
-10 4x6 prints
-25 4x8 photographic cards
$ 175.00

Add On Prices:
2 Wallets - $5.00
1 4x6 - $5.00
1 5x7 - $10.00
1 8x10 - $25.00
1 11x14 - $50.00
1 16x20 - $100.00
25 4x8 photographic cards - $20.00

If you would like to purchase additional prints from your session all photos will be posted at our website Irene Jones Photography Online with in 1 week. Any additional print sales will also be donated to the Red Cross.

All packages will be available for pick up at our studio on April 3rd, Just in time for Easter! Cash and Check donations preferred but credit card donations also accepted. For more information or to book your session time please call 425.367.4781.

Our studio is located at 2110 Broadway, Everett WA 98201. Click here for directions.

If you are unable to attend I encourage you to please visit the Red Cross Website today and donate directly today. View the Red Cross's report on what they are doing in Haiti now.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How to choose a professional photographer

This last week I made the mistake of offering my photography services to a family that was asking me a lot of questions and seemed interested. The second the words "when do you want to schedule an appointment?" came out of my mouth (note I don't ask this question randomly) she defensively answered "Oh no, I have a photographer, she's a friend of a friend I go to church with. My friend says she's wonderful." I honestly do not get offended normally when someone tells me they happen to have another photographer. I'm well aware of how saturated the market is and I'm not threatened by the fact that everyone and their dog all own digital cameras now. What threw me off is the fact that she wasn't even willing to review my work despite the fact that she has yet to see the work of her chosen photographer!

I will be the first one to say there is room in my industry for all kinds. I don't take it personal when someone isn't in love with my work. My self worth isn't based on the opinions of others so I'm pretty hard to annoy.

Truth is: my biggest pet peeve is ignorance and since the collision of digital photography and the 10% unemployment rate, stupidity has become contagious! There are so many photographers now that consumers are now being hunted like injured gazelle on the Serengeti. Informed customers are the best kind. They get what they want at fair market value. The problem isn't too many photographers, it's not enough buyers have taken the time to understand what they are getting. Thus a large number of photographers creating sub par images are providing work at bargain basement prices. It's the Walmart business model applied to a skilled art and it spells trouble.

So consumers listen up! Here's the things you should look for when choosing a photographer.

1. Don't ask what equipment they have. It doesn't matter. What matters is how they use it. I own a toothbrush and whitening strips but that doesn't make me a dentist. The years of experience, a quality portfolio that shows my results, and an education in the use of all kinds of lighting, subject matters, and business practices is what makes me a professional.

2. Do ask to talk to past customers. The referral should provide you with information about the photographers personal demeanor, skill set, and customer service style (or lack their of). Photography is a art but portraiture is a business, so make sure you photographer knows how to act like a professional as well as shoot like one.

3. Visit their studio or have an in home consultation before the shoot. If you are not comfortable with chatting with your photographer then, how easy will it be to work with them? Not every photographer is right for every person. Shop around until you find one that understands you and your family.

4.Visit their website and compare portfolios first. The fatal mistake many people make is they go directly to the pricing page and never even click farther then that. Price is an important factor but it isn't the right way to select the person who will capture timeless memories for you. Think in terms of quality to help you establish value. Then if you have something different in mind then the specific packages offered on a website, ask about custom packages. I am in no way suggesting you haggle for a better deal. Just inquire about all of your options.

5. Do not ask a photographer to copy an image you saw on someone else's website. Not only is this copyright infringement, but it's in bad taste. You should hire a photographer for their skill and creativity. If you really love an image and want something similar for your own portrait, go to the photographer who created it in the first place! You'll be happier with the quality long term.

6. Never forget that the things we want to photograph in our lives are always life changing events. A birth, marriage, graduation, or a new phase in a child's development. The person you ask to capture these moments should be someone you trust and who knows how the world looks through your eyes. Nothing less should be substituted.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Originally when I started this blog I wanted to post an image a day, Over the last three months I've done my best to keep up with the daily grind but I'm finding it harder and harder to live at a break-neck pace. Alex is three months old this week and demanding non stop feedings. Business is growing (always a mixed blessing) and my pregnancy weight is shrinking thanks to many hours spent in front of our Wii.  Something's gotta give.

So I'm going to reinvent my blog to a weekly installment. I hope you won't be too disappointed! Additionally I'm going to focus on post quality and not quantity, so hopefully it will be an improvement.

But if for some reason you live any die for my daily posts may I suggest you fill your time in with visiting my friend Heidi's blog! She just opened her own photography business (though I still think she should come work for me). Please check it out!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Multiple Flashes With a Little Physics on the Side

This was fun. Courtney is a photography student and when she came to the studio for her portraits I wanted to do something that would blow her mind. So we left the nice part of my studio and set up a few speed-lights in the long dark hall that leads to the rear exit. We are still in the process or remodeling so this hall is what some might call "industrial".

The camera was placed on a tripod and the aperture set to the maximum for my lens so I could get the most depth of field. The shutter was set to 30 seconds. Then came the hard part. Courtney and I had to work in the complete dark. My job was to fire the strobe with the test button from different angles while keeping it out of the frame so I didn't' show up in the image and she had to navigate around the room in the dark. The 30 second exposure felt like for ever.

It took several tries to get the result but here's the final product. No photoshop necessary. This is all done within one frame. This technique can work for still or moving objects as long as the flash is your only light source, it must be completely dark.

In college we did this same technique to get greater depth of field in the studio for product shots. For example, say I was shooting a photo of a large product, like an SUV in studio (never-mind the logistics of getting it in the studio) If I didn't have enough power to get the maximum aperture with one flash, I could increase the number of flashes to increase the exposure.

Now you could do this as a guess and check but there is also an easy equation that will save you time.
E=l/d is the mathematical representation of the way light works according to the inverse square law.  (The link has a good explanation of this.) In simple terms this expresses the relationship between the distance (d) from the light source and the required intensity (l) for correct exposure (e).

To increase depth of field by adding additional flashes we solve for "l" to know the correct number of times the flash most go off for proper exposure at our chosen aperture. The law says that an object 2x the distance from a light source will receive a 1/4 of the illumination. By moving your subject from 4 feet away to 8 feet away, you will need four times the amount of light for the same exposure.

For example: If Courtney is four feet away from the speedlight at full power and I want to shoot at F22 but my current meter reading is saying I have enough power for F8 I'll need to use the flash four times in the same shot to get the correct exposure and make up the two stop difference.

What you may not realize is that this law is in action no matter the light source you're using. Have you ever thought to yourself, "oh my subject just moved farther away from me, I need to open up to a larger aperture?" Then you've just used the inverse square law without even thinking about it. Pretty cool yes?