Theme of the Day Sessions

Every now and then I’ll be offering themed shoots in my little studio, only available on the specified days.

The idea for these types of more creative portrait sessions has been simmering in my head for a little while. My mum took me to the small photo booth type stall in the local mall every year around my birthday. It was quick, fairly cheap, and the whole family treasures the photos that were taken. I feel this is missing for many families today. Yes, everybody takes lots and lots of photos on their phones … and then what? Most never get printed, many are forever gone when the phone accidentally ends up in the washing machine or is being lost, usually the kids never get to see them anyway. They grow up not having any reference to their childhood face.

The ‘Theme of the Day Sessions’ will be in a decorated studio environment, depending on the theme.

Very easy, really.

Nest session is ‘It’s My Birthday’ on Saturday November 1st.

Children can wear whatever they like. They can bring any toy or favorite thing that they want have in the photo.

For $35 you’ll receive a 12×8″ collage with two 4×6″ photos and one 6×8″ photo with your text.

Contact me for bookings via my Website or Facebook.

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The Texta Devil

This example shows that photos don’t necessarily have to be really, really old to have something terrible happen to them.

The original photo is from the mid 1970s and it had some creative artwork added to it with a blue texta.

When Mum discovered the culprit in the act she tried to wipe the texta marks off – which didn’t work and just got a lot of fluff stuck on the photo.

Luckily, Mum found me at one of the recent markets that I attended.

The blue texta was removed, all scratches and fluff as well. I turned the image black & white to get rid of the age-tint, but I warmed it up with just a little sepia. Overall despeckled and details sharpenend.

A beautiful memory, soured by this texta devil, has been restored in a good way  :)

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Puppy Love

A friend got a puppy.

Everybody in their household was buzzing with excitement. When I first saw it, it was a curly haired furry little sleeping heap. Guess what my first question was? You’re saying ‘Can I take photos of your puppy’? – You’re exactly right. :)

I must have given them a bit of a fright when they opened the door on the day and they saw me buckling under my gear: camera bag, tripod, portable backgrounds, two boxes of blankets and props …

Lucky I didn’t get the door slammed in my face and was still allowed to come in.

The puppy of course – four days older then when I first met it – was wide awake and full of beans.

Three hours later, a lot of coaxing, bribing, a little nap and lots of cuddles, this is a snippet of the result.

Who doesn’t love a puppy?

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Panorama Portrait

A studio is a great luxury. No worries about the weather, about mozzies and if an idea pops in my head I can walk right down and see if it works.

Unfortunately many of my ideas tend to be too big for my studio. You see, my studio is very small. Tiny. In fact teeny.

Portrait shoots are in high demand. Even though almost everyone has access to a digital camera of some sort, most realize fairly quickly that the family snap shot and the professional portrait are at home in two very different worlds.

I do offer several types of portrait shoots, but the Mini is a studio-only shoot, and it is very popular. Reasons being, as mentioned above, no worries about the weather, the mozzies, and many times Mothers seem to think that because it is a confined space it will keep their kids better in check. However, my teeny tiny studio is not coping with the requests any more. Even though I have a limit on numbers of people on my website, it seems to get overlooked and every other week I do get the request to have four or five kids in the shoot. I am sometimes tempted to make an exception (how much harder can it be to fit in one more child?) but in the end I know that making that compromise would also mean making a compromise in regards to the quality of photos that I can achieve in this small space – and I am not willing to do that.

This has disappointed some callers, for which I am sorry. Up to recently, for up to 10 people (plus pets) you would have to book my Regular Shoot, and we would meet at an outdoor location.

It bugged me a lot that I couldn’t help out clients who specifically wanted all the convenience of a studio-shoot for a larger family group. After much thinking and mulling over and trialling, az pictured is introducing tadaaa

The Panorama Portrait Shoot. It is perfect for 6-8 family members, depending on age maybe even 10. The quality photo print comes with backing and matted at a size of 12 1/2 inch x 24 inch.

It has been very well received, yay :)

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Serious Business

To have a job that is supposed to make revenue plus being creative is sometimes a hard task.

Many times my arty side gets left behind a little bit, while I’m dealing with the daily grind of paperwork and online presence and accounting … shudder.

My young one is an apt photographer with a very good eye, and as you learn best when you do something instead of just reading about it, we have started doing little fun projects together. They usually don’t take long to plan and to see through.

Enjoy our results in the series ‘Glue Stick Pendulum’.

And don’t forget to have some fun every once in a while ;)

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Beneath the Surface

Sometimes, looking at a photo straight on, will not reveal any damage, as you can see with this image. Looks fine, doesn’t it?

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Not so when you start tilting it slowly in the reflection of light. Suddenly we had to discover severe scratches, mainly on the face. It is impossible to determine how they have been caused. One can only speculate that the photo had at some stage been stored together with an object that has sharp edges. Maybe it was in an envelope, together with such an object.

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The photo hasn’t faded and other than a slight crease in the top right corner and those nasty scratches there is nothing more to do.

This is the fixed image, and its new print is now safely stored away in an album.

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TIC TOQ

It is quite astonishing, how many people have had a really bad experience with a photographer. This subject came up a lot with people around me in recent weeks.

The photographers in question were everything from the stand in the mall to the high-end studio photographer and the one that had been hired to cover an event.

Having turned my hobby into a business that is supposed to create revenue, I am very much taking to heart every criticism that is being made against my fellow photographer colleagues.

Reasons for the clients unhappiness varies, but in essence, the main complaints are T I C:

T = Time Consuming as in endless shoots, slow work pace of the photographer, leaving the client with sore jaws from endless forced smiling, the children grumpy and the parents dreading the next time they attempt to get some nice photos for the grandparents. Terrible, meaning the photos that were given were considered to be inadequate, either because of their colour, their crop, their composition, or because they were simply bad photos.

I = Irritating: This could mean the shoot itself, that whole business of being ‘posed’ for photos and everything feeling ‘staged’ left clients feeling overly self-conscious and impatient. It also meant the way unselected photos of their precious children were simply thrown in the bin or deleted right in front of their eyes (which has happened to me, too, as a client, and I couldn’t agree more!), and the whole issue of paying extra for prints and not making them available digitally in any shape, way or form.

C = Complicated: for example the baby was grizzly at the newborn shoot and there was no way of rescheduling to a later date, the weather was horrid and the catch-up dates for the location shoot were inconvenient, the photographer growled at guests at the wedding who took photos with their phones

All the T I C‘s seem reasonable, but largely, they could have been avoided with the, you guessed it, T O Q‘s:

T = Transparency: obviously one would think that clients choose a photographer only after seeing his or her work, which means there should be no surprises in regards to whether the photographer likes to use special effects filters in the artistic stage or not, whether the photographer likes a tight crop with lots of emphasis on close-ups or whether the photographer never breaks the Rule of Thirds when framing the shot. Whichever way a client ends up discussing their requirements with their chosen photographer, any and all little details should be discussed. The photographer, being the professional, should be able to lead and explain exactly how he or she is intending to go about the shoot, everything from the setup to the finish, including details about rescheduling, delivery, contract and legal talk. Getting the basic things explained can be time consuming, and mostly, they are repeating themselves for every client, so it is understandable that many photographers have addressed this with information packets or introduction videos.

O = Open: after looking through the photographers online platforms, reading and watching any information provided (which unfortunately most clients do not seem to be doing), the client needs to be open. You don’t like the baby naked in all newborn shoots? Say it. You don’t like the charcoal grey background in the studio? Say it. You feel uncomfortable with the clothing tips that you have been given for the family portrait? Say it. If the photographer is a true professional neither of these things should throw him (or her) off balance. The baby can be wrapped or dressed, the dark blue background can equally be used, the clothing tips can be explained again (there are great colour charts available online that help with that). Some expectations may be unrealistic, as the one that I get all the time about posing and staging the shots. Unfortunately, unless the client is a supermodel and knows all about how to hold the head, place the feet, tilt the hip, work the jaw line and do the squinch, they will have to have a little bit of trust in their photographer to make them look good without overdoing it. No endless smiling in my shoots though, I can promise that :)

This point works two-ways though: the photographer needs to be open as well: if there are things they absolutely love to do, they should tell the client, like me, I have a thing for eyelashes, especially with kids, I always like to get some really, really close-up shots. They rarely end up in a frame on the wall, and they probably aren’t going to be Nan’s first pick either, but I love them, and they almost always make my final cut. Same with other people taking photos while I take photos: I don’t like it, when photographing groups, they are confused and don’t know where to look, and at events generally people get annoyed with too many people pointing cameras at them. I do make that clear long before they day, and I ask for cooperation from the client in that. It is not an unreasonable request, and it is not too difficult to let invited guests know that they cannot take photos while the hired photographer is there. I have had clients ask to take photos in the studio, while I work with their kids, which is fine with me. Those pictures usually end up in social media, and in the end could work in my favour :)

Which leaves us with Q = Questions: ask questions. I rather have clients ask too many questions than not enough. I always try to accommodate everything. It’s my job to establish their trust, otherwise they won’t be relaxed in the shoot, which will show in the photos, which is exactly not what anyone is after. We are trying to create a memory after all, from start to finished product.

So, how’s your TIC TOQ when it comes to photography?

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A Soft Spot

I do love faces. Children are the easiest to photograph, adults much harder, and women the worst. They rarely like their appearance (I know the feeling!) and are generally incredibly nervous during a shoot and very critical after a shoot.

This 1400 Mitsubishi Galant is the car of a teacher at my young one’s school. It was parked in the back of the school every day, and we admired it during drop-offs and pick-ups. It probably sounds crazy, but I am sure it winked at us a couple of times, it has that much character! Finally, I took courage and got myself the permission to shoot this car.

I should probably say that I have a soft-spot for little cars, and I am driving myself the Galant’s follower model, the Mitsubishi Colt, which has the name Richard Lionheart. Yes, I do name my cars.

I spent a happy hour circling it with my camera, tripod and various lenses. A wonderful quiet and non-fidgety subject that wasn’t self-conscious for a change :)

MitsubishiGalant

 


Action Plan – Three – Storage and Cleaning

Action Plan – Three – Storage and Cleaning

Remember when I said: ‘Photographs will fade, no matter what you do. Paper will deteriorate, no matter what you do.’ But you can slow down the process by avoiding their exposure to heat, light, humidity and pollution.

Only way to do this is by storing them properly. Firstly, consider the place:

  • Areas with high risk of leaks should be avoided: this includes walk-in-robes or any cupboards which have a shower or laundry on the other side of their back wall. This also includes any roof space (attic) or areas under the house (basement, cellar, garage), as roofs can leak and cellars can flood in heavy rain.
  • Areas that get very hot and humid, followed by cold, dry temperatures should be avoided: again, this largely means any roof space and under the house.
  • Avoid areas around fireplaces, heaters, dryers etc.
  • A good rule of thumb is storing precious photographs and documents where you are also comfortable, not too hot, cold, wet or dry: usually the living-room, the bedroom or even the home office.

Secondly, think about what to use to store everything: There are many good and save options for storing photographs and documents, depending entirely on your personal preference and your budget.

  • Archival boxes: Boxes can be out of metal, cardboard (lignin free, acid free, un-buffered cardboard) or plastic (Polyester, Mylar, Polypropylene, Polyethylene or Tyvek plastic, but not PVC, which is the plastic with the strong smell, so a box from the Dollar Shop won’t do).
  • Albums: They are the most popular storage medium for photographs. Simple acid-free and magnetic-free slip-in albums are a great option to both keep your photos save and be able to look at them without directly touching them. Again, make sure you choose an album made of Polyester, Mylar, Polypropylene, Polyethylene or Tyvek plastic, but not PVC. Archival storage albums are more expensive than conventional albums, but they can well be worth the investment. They are available at most archival suppliers (and here), some office supply stores and good quality scrap booking places.
  • Envelopes: good quality acid-free, high alpha-cellulose papers that are buffered against changes in pH have proven to be most satisfactory for enclosing photographs and documents. Avoid envelopes with the seam down the center and make sure the glue of the lip does not touch the photo, ideally, just cut the lip off.

Cleaning

Now it’s time to look at the state of your photographs and documents. It is certainly not necessary and not really the idea to make an old document look absolutely new and pristine, however, gentle surface cleaning sometimes improves the overall appearance, and it can also remove substances that could eventually cause damage to the paper or be transferred to other papers during handling.

Just to clarify at this point: When I talk about ‘documents’ I am referring to manuscripts, letters, maps. This does not include newspapers, books of any type or fine art prints, drawings or paintings. I have no expertise in any of those, and I would not consider them for any type of DIY surface cleaning. If you need advice on that, please consult a professional conservator.

Tools for Surface Cleaning

Brush: a clean, soft brush is great for giving dusty photographs or documents a gentle wipe over. The brush used for surface cleaning should not be used for anything else. If a brush was used on mouldy material it should be labelled and kept separate and not used for anything else. Never use the brush wet.

Scalpel: a scalpel with a pointed tip or a craft knife are excellent for picking off little insects or insect excretions as well as rust deposits, as they would be left by rusted paper clips. These rusty stains are not only ugly but could also be an ongoing source of damage to the paper. It is a good idea to very carefully remove them. Needless to say to be very, very, very gentle when using a scalpel on a photograph, you don’t want to scratch the surface.

Erasers: good quality erasers can do wonders. Best would be a non-coloured one, these are available as solid blocks and in kneadable form. These kinds are used for art purposes and are available in good art stores. Ask a shop assistant for help if you’re not sure, as there are many types. With erasers it is important to use them very gently only and make sure to not leave any residues. Again, be very careful with photographs. Generally, I avoid using an eraser on the photo itself, but I have used them on the white frames around old photographs and on their backs to remove some dirt and pencil writing.

Sticky tapes and any sort of glue are a nightmare. Sticky tape can stick things together that are not meant to stick. Old sticky tape falls off but leaves ugly marks and the residue keeps eating away on the materials underneath. Use the scalpel or craft knife to cut away sticky tape that is already loose. Other than that there is not much you can do, resist the urge to scratch it off! Learn the lesson and never, ever use sticky tapes or glue on your documents or photos!

Mildly mouldy documents or photographs definitely need a surface clean. Mould goes dormant in low humidity, so don’t attempt this in sticky Australian summer months when humidity is high: use gloves and a particle mask (from the hardware store), separate all items and spread them out in a well ventilated room, away from children and pets, and let them dry. Mould is dry when not smeary or smelly. Brush off the mould with a separate dry brush, don’t forget to wear your mask. Dealing with mould is a delicate process and requires careful work hygiene to avoid contamination. If you decide you have too many items that are mouldy, consider digitizing them as they are, and then disposing of them altogether. If you are going ahead with the process of cleaning them, remember to check back on them regularly, as mould is often dormant, but not dead, and can bloom again in high humidity. At all times, keep them separate from your non-infected documents and photographs.

This is a big subject, I hope I didn’t scare you too much ;)   Next one will be more fun, I promise.

Coming soon: Action Plan – Four – Digitizing and Labelling

Read the first two posts about Action Plan here and here.

ActionPlanThree

 


I am no Michelangelo

Just finished this digital restoration the other day.

Obviously the original had a few issues, the biggest problem the missing arm of the subject. Then some water damage, the most visible being the stain on the ladies forehead. And a few little rips and scratches.

I was intrigued by the photo because of the blouse, I keep saying that patterned clothing in restorations will be the death of me one day ;) – they can be very tedious, but I never had stripes. I also loved the intricate stitching on the neck. I wanted to bring that detail out a bit more.

First I fixed the little rips and scratches. Then I fixed the arm. When I say ‘fixed’, really, I re-painted it digitally – awww the things you can do in Photoshop …  It took a bit of tweaking, to get the folds of the fabric right, I actually hang a shirt of my husband and arranged the arm in such a way that I could see the folds. I am no Michelangelo, he was a true genius with the folds of clothing, but I am happy how it turned out.

Then I took care of all the water stains. I then turned the image black&white, but gave it a bit of sepia, to keep the warmth. I spent a lot of time cleaning up little pixellation specks on the face, and then sharpening the eyes, the hair, the white lines on the blouse and especially the neck piece. I decided to not work much more on the background, to keep it, well, in the background.

Lastly, I gave the image a slight vignette, to darken the edges and draw the eye on the face. What do you think?

MaggieTwo

 


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