So the day I moved my studio into the building on Westgate Pkwy, I knew that one day we would have to move… I also knew it would be quite the undertaking because I had loads of room to collect things and collect things we did! I also knew my business would be blessed beyond measure in that building. After all, it’s a GREAT location to start or to grow any business. But, I have to admit, I had my heart set on a location just down the street and have wanted to have my artistic business in that building from the very first time I saw it. I went there before each and every move to see if there was an opening and to my dismay each and every time I found myself looking elsewhere because they didn’t have anything available. Well, as my five year lease came close to ending, I thought I’d give that location another look and luckily this time it not only had an available space, but it was the exact one I had wanted all along! I rented it right away and we went to work (seven days a week) getting it ready. We installed new flooring, changed out ceiling tiles, painted and so much more until we ended up restoring the place to it’s original glory. You see, the office carpeting and generic baseboards did nothing for the place! Yes, we installed all wooden baseboards, which are apparently now a big part of my criteria for a studio space, and reworked every single doorway to look more like the European style of the outside of the building! We even installed an ornate old world style door that is now the entryway into the studio! The studio itself is simply my DREAM space with it’s industrial loft vibe including exposed ductwork and large open space. I feel truly at home in this space and I’m sure you will too! I do hope you’ll stop by and visit with me an my new home here in the clock tower building at 179 Honeysuckle Road! I’m in suite 4 and hopefully by this time next week all of our signs will be installed including the decals on that beautiful awning over our doors! I hope to see you soon!
Ok, we’ve all done it. We’ve all fallen into the TRENDY trap. I know I sure have more than a few times. But, is it really the smart thing to do? These are the questions that I have found myself asking lately and more often than not I find myself rethinking more than a few things. I mean, is being trendy and following the latest fads going to build a business that will stand the test of time or is it wiser to create images with timeless qualities that can be appreciated from generation to generation? Also, does one have to give up the WOW FACTOR in order to create truly timeless images?
I’ve been in this business long enough to have seen more than a few fads come and go. If you’re anywhere near my age I’m sure you remember the double exposures that were so popular in the 1980s and for goodness sake let’s not even talk about the romantic brandy glass with a rose version that ran rampant back then! Fads have always been and will always be a part of the photography business, but is it prudent to build a business with doing little or nothing more than following the trends of the day? Let’s see, right now the soon be cliché’ images include the fake sun flare, balloons in the field, railroad tracks, HDR everything, glassy eyed children and of course the unnaturally (sometimes even dangerously) posed newborns. Believe it or not, there was actually a time when moms brought their newborns in and DEMANDED that they be photographed with their eyes opened while fully dressed!
Do I think all fads should be avoided; absolutely not. Some of them actually speak very loudly to my personal sense of style while others make me want to run for the hills. So, how do I know where to draw the line? Quite honestly, it’s not always easy to slow down long enough to truly reflect on every decision I make. But, it is becoming something that I find myself doing more and more of these days. I have found that forcing myself into a corner and demanding a few answers about my own actions is not only refreshing but extremely revealing. You see, that’s what an artist is suppose to do. We have to check ourselves every now and then to stay true to our individual sense of style. We simply can’t remain true to ourselves as artists if we spend all of our time following the current trends (aka: FADS) of this industry.
So with this self reflection comes some much needed personal reality checks. With it also comes some need for a bit of change which I hear can be a very good thing in this business! I’ve decided to recommit to staying true to myself as an artist and in doing so I feel driven to create more images that will stand the test of time. One thing I have discovered about myself and my work in recent years is that creating timeless work does NOT mean one has to create boring work. What this does mean is that I will work harder to create an impressive image based on merits that have little or nothing to do with current fads. That means I’ll be concentrating more than ever before on the truly important things like facial expressions instead of leaning on trendy techniques or posing to get that wow factor! How big of a change will this be in the immediate future? Well thankfully there are only a handful of trends that truly bother me or hinder my ability to stay true to my personal style and in recent months I have been avoiding those fads as much as possible. Do I still sometimes pose babies unnaturally? Not nearly as much as I did this time last year and I have even managed to whittle the frog babies and dangling babies down to what is quickly becoming a rare client request. I honestly think that more and more of those modern minded moms are growing tired of some of the weird things being done with newborns. There are only a few changes that I’ve made in my efforts to create more timeless images and I think my clients really enjoy the fact that they have hired a true artist. I mean anyone can hire a very good photographer who simply follows the latest trends, but it takes a little something more to create images that actually say something about the individual artist. So if you’re playing that age old game of follow the leader then perhaps it’s time for you also to start asking yourself a few questions, making a few changes and get to know that inner artist that drove you to start a photography business. I for one don’t want my current work to end up in the bottom drawer right next to grandma’s double exposures, especially if she’s in the brandy glass!
~Cindi Kay McDaniel, Cr. Photog., CPP
Ralph and I just returned from this year’s national photography convention in New Orleans! WOW, what an amazing experience. We brought back loads of new stuff for the studio including a new lens! The kind gentleman shown here helped show us a number of new lens choices and helped us to pick just what I wanted. My final decision was based on f-stop range, but in testing out the new lenses I inadvertently ended up with a perfect example of what lens NOT to use for portraits! The two images shown here were created with two different lenses from the exact same distance. I cropped one in slightly to give you a better view. You should easily see that the lens on the right shot using a much wider angle and actually caused our friendly lens rep to have a much rounder face! WOW, we are talking a 35mm difference in overall focal length here… The image on the left was shot at 85mm, while the one on the right was shot at 50mm using my full frame Canon DSLR. Traditionally the 50mm lens has always been considered the perfect standard focal length, but I beg to differ when it comes to digital! The point of this post is to show you a clear example of what a lens is capable of doing to your portrait clients if you’re using the wrong focal length. Being a professional means that we should be flattering our clients, not exaggerating their features. Keep this in mind as you make your lens purchases and stay away from anything that may have you shooting portraits using a wide angle! I suggest never shooting portraits at less than 85mm. If you’ve ever heard the old saying ‘the camera adds ten pounds’, well now you know that it really can do just that. ~Cindi Kay McDaniel, Cr. Photog., CPP
Below is a post that went up on my facebook about a year ago. I’m reposting it here today in support of a dear photographer friend who recently posted an informative blog about the photography business and was quite literally attacked with a load of hateful comments. It literally broke my heart because I KNOW that her post was meant to be an educational tool and not to discourage anyone trying to start or build a photography business. Many professional photographers like us are trying to reach out and educate through our blogs, facebook etc… So, it is my sincerest hope that this post is taken this for what it is, an honest attempt to educate, not to belittle. I have made many mistakes in this business and many of them are actually listed on this post! My business didn’t begin to thrive until I took a few steps backward and started taking the right steps. SO HERE GOES:
Ok, so you went out and bought a really nice camera and it’s loaded with more than enough megapixels to create some fantastic images… Here’s just a few things you’ll need to know BEFORE you make the leap into your own photography business.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. There are more photographers out there trying to make a living with their camera than ever before. Competition is FIERCE!
2. To be successful, you’ll need to LEARN how to use every feature on your camera including the dreaded MANUAL setting.
3. You’ll need to invest in PROFESSIONAL lighting, light modifiers and lenses in order for your camera to produce truly professional images.
4. You’ll need to invest in at least one very fast computer system designed to handle heavy graphic work, professional software such as Adobe’s Photoshop and Lightroom as well as loads of drive space to hold all those megapixel filled images. Don’t forget you’ll also need an adequate back-up system which should be completely separate from your working system. Drive crashes are a photographers worst nightmare in today’s fast paced digital world.
5. You’ll need to develop a STYLE that STANDS out and offers images that clients simply couldn’t get unless they come to you! Let’s face it, anyone can take great snapshots these days.
6. You may only get ONE chance to build a solid reputation and stepping out of the gate TOO SOON could leave you at the back of the race for a very long time!
7. Be prepared to spend YEARS developing your skills and your reputation. Photography is NO “Get Rich Quick” scheme. If you’re looking for a quick or easy way to make a few smackers, you may wanna check into selling cosmetics, candles or jewelry.
8. Be prepared to SPEND MONEY on an education which includes learning from other photographers. I don’t know a single successful photographer who hasn’t taken this step. No, you may not need a college degree, but you do have to get educated and NONE of the photographic educational opportunities out there are cheap.
9. Get LICENSED! Photography guilds across the country are working hand in hand with State and Local authorities to help weed out those who seem to think they don’t have to pay taxes. If you’re advertising your services on facebook or elsewhere, then you have some paperwork to do and checks to write.
10. GET INSURED! Accidents HAPPEN in this business and you’re not immune to the possibility of a child taking a serious tumble during a shoot. Babies aren’t exactly stable when they first start sitting up and what IF they don’t bounce right back when they roll over the wrong way? You’re also not immune to grandma tripping over the base of a lightstand! If it can happen, there’s a good chance it will if you’re not properly insured…
11. LOVE YOUR FELLOW PHOTOGRAPHERS! Simply put, do unto others as you would have them do unto you! Whether through a hateful comment, blog post or unethical business practice, you can bet that any negativity you bring to a fellow photographer will surely make it’s way back to you! You will be well ahead of the game and blessed for your kindness by simply taking this one to heart!
PRAYING FOR ALL OF MY PHOTOGRAPHY FRIENDS DAILY INCLUDING THOSE WHO I HAVEN’T YET BEEN BLESSED ENOUGH TO MEET!!! I pray for those who have been in this business for decades as well as those who may just be unwrapping their shiny new cameras! Everything I post here is done with MUCH LOVE for each and every one of you! ~Cindi Kay McDaniel, Cr. Photog., CPP
I’ve been ‘photoshopping’ since the mid 1990′s which will put me right at 17 years into this program come 2012 which just happens to be arriving in just a few days. There is quite literally nothing you can’t do with this program! Here’s a quick example of some DIGITAL MAKEUP that I’ve come to enjoy over the years. Did you know you can add mascara, eye liner, eye shadow, blush, lipstick or even lipgloss? I chose a nice shiny lipgloss for this example… If you’re interested in learning some advanced retouching techniques please feel free to email me at StudioEnVogue@comcast.net and hopefully we can put together a class real soon! ~Cindi Kay McDaniel, Cr. Photog., CPP
What’s a little friendly competition right? Well, it’s everything to me… I am asked quite often ‘WHY’ do I do it? Am I being overly competitive or do I really think my work is better than everyone elses? Quite the contrary on both counts! The only reason I tried print competition was because of the encouragement and support of fellow photographers who had taken this journey before me. They pushed and pushed and then a couple of them pushed a little more until I had no choice other than give it a try! I honestly didn’t believe that I would earn a single merit and let me tell you the first time I put myself out there it was BRUTAL. Everything I thought I knew about photography was quite literally turned upside down within just a few hours of hearing those judges rip the work I thought was good into tiny little scrap pieces of what had once been my overblown ego LOL… But, that day not only changed the way I thought about my work, but it empowered me to learn as much as I could and to become the very best I could possibly be. You see, I didn’t do it to COMPETE against anyone else; I did it to compete against MYSELF! I have earned quite a number of awards over the years through pushing myself harder and harder and I wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t take any of those gut wrenching critiques for anything in the world because they helped me to become the artist I am today. So WHY am I so proud of those shiny pieces of glass and all those plaques hanging on my wall? Because each and every one of them means that a fellow photographer (a master at that) thought my work was not only GOOD but that it was DAMN GOOD! WHY do I brag about them? That would be because I know better than anyone the long difficult journey it was to earn each and every one of them. WHY do I post them here? I do it in hopes that they will inspire other photographic artists to continue to challenge themselves, to learn as much as they can and to be able to stand before their peers with pride and joy for their own accomplishments. To me, these awards DO NOT represent a competition with my fellow photographers at all, they represent my personal journey in striving for photographic excellence. They make me proud to be in a profession that encourages us to never stop growing, to be our very best and to celebrate each achievement along the way. ~Cindi Kay McDaniel, Cr. Photog., CPP
I was thinking of some good ways to approach this whole blog thing and how to write about issues that photographers deal with on a day to day basis as well as a few that only come up every once in a while. So I thought that maybe tackling issues as they arise may be the best course of action. One of the things that we as professionals have to learn to deal with is other photographers. We each have our own practices, very unique talents and personalities. But unfortunately we don’t always show true respect and or dignity to one another.
I have learned many difficult lessons in this business and learning how to be respectful of other photographers hasn’t always come easily. You see in the dog eat dog world of business the competitive spirit has a way of becoming a little TOO competitive. Let’s face it, sometimes we choose to view our competition as the enemy and it really shouldn’t be that way. Although I don’t have personal relationships with each of my fellow local photographers, I have come to understand and appreciate each and every one of the them in a myriad of ways. I have also come to respect each and every one of them. Who better to understand the day to day challanges of a photographer than another photographer?
Just this past week I was given an opportunity to show a tiny amount of respect to a fellow photographer. I certainly hope I handled it with dignity and professionalism… The entire situation revolved around my daughter’s graduation this past Friday night. She cheerfully asked me to take photos of her on stage and although I agreed she didn’t quite understand why I simply packed my tiny point and shoot camera in my handbag and didn’t take my ‘work’ camera with all bells and whistles. But, she quickly understood when I explained to her WHY I would NOT be going paparazzi as she walked across the stage at Wallace Community College. You see she had mentioned earlier in the week that a fellow professional would be there and that they were offering a very affordable photo package of the event. Once I learned a fellow professional would be attending in a working capacity my decision was easy. For one thing, I’m a mom and I truly didn’t want to attend my daughter’s graduation with my professional DSLR in hand because I would have felt as though I were at work instead of celebrating an amazing moment of my daughter’s life. Secondly, the school had hired a very capable professional to do the job and I honestly felt I would be disrespecting them by walking in with my professional gear. Get the picture?
I’m so proud of the snapshots I took with my handy dandy point and shoot camera at my daughter’s graduation, but I’m sure they will pail in comparison to the one’s captured by the very professional photographer who was hired to capture this most wonderful event. So, I write this in hopes that my fellow professional photographers take the night off the next time they are invited to an event that involves family or friends. Hopefully they will walk away knowing they did the right thing when it came to being respectful of a fellow professional photographer. Being a true professional in any field not only entails actually learning the trade and having excellent skills, but it should also include showing true respect and admiration for others in the same line of work as we are. Have a blessed evening! ~Cindi Kay
Oh, by the way… the image below was shot with a Canon PowerShot SX120IS from the very back of the auditorium using some very fast settings and of course NO FLASH. Sweet little camera!
MEET NURSE ANNA! I photographed her a few months ago for a series of “HERO” billboards. The home healthcare company she works for chose her to represent the best of the best in her field. How cool is that! You’re about to learn WHY today was the day that Nurse Anna’s session was on my mind and why I’m saluting ALL NURSES TODAY!
You see, on this amazing day, my daughter graduated the practical nursing program at Wallace Community College! I couldn’t be more proud of my baby girl because I don’t think she could have possibly chosen a more noble profession. She and I spent the better part of the afternoon getting ready for tonight’s ceremony and we made lifelong memories in the process. My dear friend Dee Dee Morris volunteered to fix us up with some lovely hair and makeup while I continued to finish up our last few sessions of the week. Sooooooooo, just imagine me snapping portraits of a newborn baby with curlers in my hair LOL… Now that was a session I’ll never forget! Mom & Dad giggled along with us and thought it was so cool that I was waiting for my hair to set while creating something truly inspiring of their baby. To be honest, I believe it’s days like today that make it all worth while! I can just imagine mom and dad telling their beautiful daughter all about her first portrait session years from now and how much fun they had with that nutty photographer who had rollers in her hair. I’m truly thankful for parents like them because I never want to feel as though I can’t share my life with the people who spend quality time in my studio. After all, my studio is a very big part of who I am, what I’m about and if you get to know my studio then you are very likely to get to know the real me. I’m very cool with that!
So today was an AMAZING DAY all the way around! My daughter graduated college, we both had great hair and makeup AND I had an awesome experience working with yet another beautiful newborn baby! SERIOUSLY, for this nutty artist, it just doesn’t get any better than that!!!!!!!!!
So I’ll end this post with a great big SALUTE to nurses. They are TRUE HEROS and after today they will forever hold an extra special place in my heart! ~Cindi Kay
Now here’s a question we get often! So often in fact that it’s not uncommon for us to place one mom on hold while answering the same exact question from another caller. So, let’s not waist a moment in getting to the answer!
Your new baby will only be what is considered a ‘newborn’ for a very short period of time. Newborns have a very distinct appearance that will change rapidly. Within just a few weeks of being delivered, your new baby’s facial features will ‘fill out’ and the fine layer of tiny hairs that cover its entire body will start to disappear. Your baby will also lose its umbilical cord and once that’s gone then your baby will be well on its way out of the newborn stage. Newborns pretty much do two things and that’s sleep, feed and then sleep some more. Within just a few weeks of life, your new baby will begin to sleep less (in shorter intervals) and when they do sleep it will most likely not be as deeply as it was earlier on. You see, newborn sleep is sooooo unique! It’s the kind of sleep that brings the sweetest expressions with totally spontaneous smiles that are guaranteed to melt your heart. There’s nothing in the world quite as beautiful as a newborn in a deep slumber (aka: ‘la la land’).
You will definitely want to get your baby into the studio while they are still in this fleeting stage of infancy that we refer to as being ‘newborn’… In the days just after giving birth you may still feel a bit icky and not quite yourself. But, I promise it will be well worth the effort in getting out of the house as early as possible to have your baby photographed during this very special time. We tell every mom who asks this question to get their new baby scheduled as soon as they possibly can because some babies are already losing their newborn appearance in as little as TEN DAYS after they are born! Now, with that said, if you have to have surgery (aka: the dreaded c-section) then PLEASE DON’T PUSH YOURSELF! You will know when the time is right to get out of the house. It’s not uncommon for us to see babies in about 3 weeks after a c-section. Simply let us know when you call that you have had a c-section and we promise to do all we can to make both you and your baby as comfortable as possible during your visit!
Also, we recommend getting baby as relaxed as possible just before leaving home. That’s easy enough to do with a newborn because all you have to do is give them a good feeding which will most likely result in a milk induced coma LOL… Then once baby is topped off and ready to head to the studio, we suggest wrapping them in a blanket wearing ONLY a diaper. If you have to fully undress baby upon arrival at the studio then you will risk waking them and that’s the complete opposite of the game here. If we start the photo session with an alert baby, we will most likely end the photo session with an alert baby! Sleepy babies simply make for more photographs with a great deal less fuss during the actual session. The long and short of it: Bring me a sleepy baby and you’ll get LOTS MORE pictures (BIG CHEESY GRIN, hehehe)!!!
Tips for a truly successful newborn photo session:
1. You won’t want to sit and sway or rock baby to sleep just before a photo session because when we lay them still they will most certainly wake up demanding more motion. Motion is sooooooo intoxicating to a newborn!
2. Under no circumstances will I let you wipe baby with a cold wet wipe! Cold and wet equals WIDE awake!
3. No patting or petting baby as this kind of stimuli can actually wake some babies up or keep an awake baby from falling asleep. I know it really tempting and so I won’t hold it against you if you slip once or twice…
4. Please, Please, Please turn off your cell phone just before your baby’s session. You won’t want to risk waking baby!
5. If baby is showing signs of colic, please bring gas drops and make sure you have plenty of extra time for your session. Babies with colic can take quite a bit longer to get relaxed. Colic is an extremely uncomfortable condition for infants! It’s not uncommon for colic to rear its ugly head during a photo session. I am a very patient photographer so not to worry if we run into this. Please note that if your baby is refusing to feed or seems to be having problems with digestion please contact your pediatrician asap! Only your physician can confirm that what your new baby is experiencing is colic and not something more serious.
6. Bring a pacifier, even if baby has never taken one. I couldn’t possibly tell you how many beautiful photos I would have missed over the years without a pacifier!
SO THIS IS WHERE I SAY HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO HIRE A TRUE PROFESSIONAL TO CAPTURE YOUR BABY’S FIRST PORTRAITS! I have been working with infants for over 25 years and I’m very proud of the fact that not only are my photographic skills up to par, but my experiences over the years have taught me very WELL… Your baby’s comfort and safety are my number one priority above everything else. GOD BLESS and hope to see you and your new baby very soon!
Inspiration is everywhere. It can be found in the everyday things that surround us. It can also be found in the beautiful things that we are unable to absorb every day. It’s in the things we read, touch, smell and even in the things that others tell us about. So why is it so hard to grab hold of and take ownership of? Have you ever heard the praise “stop and smell the roses”? Well, there you go. You simply have to slow down long enough to experience it and to decide which items in our lives inspire us the most.
I sometimes think I am lucky to have been born and raised in a generation that has allowed me to experience both what I call ‘manual life’ as well as the ‘digital life’. One thing is for sure and that’s we are bombarded with more inspiration today than could have possibly been imagined just one generation back. My grandparents gathered their food from the land, while my generation downsized to a small garden in the backyard! Today’s young adults have most likely never gone pea pickin’… The digital age has brought us the ability to have more information and inspiration thrown at us at one time than ever before in history. What this age didn’t bring was the conscious ability to SLOW DOWN long enough to be able to sort through it and to smack us in the face with the obvious tactile experiences that we really need in order to draw conclusions about what truly knocks our socks off. I not only remember going pea pickin’, but I remember the smells, the bright sunshine on my face and the snapping sound that the pods made when they were pulled on. I guess you could say that I have an entirely differently perspective of an actual pea pod than those who have only seen pictures of them on the web.
What I’m trying to say is that true inspiration can be anything from a color, texture, a feeling or an actual moment in time. But, one thing is for sure is that the things that truly inspire us have actually impacted us in some way. Are those pea pods the reason green has become my favorite color? Who knows? But, one thing is for sure and that’s the impact of picking those peas has stuck with me my entire life. They gave me a special appreciation for the weather worn hands of my grandmother as she showed me how to reach under the plant and grab hold of the prize that would end up in the well used basket we placed them in. So when I think about the things that truly inspire me, what I don’t do is expect it to come from anyplace other than my own life.
Take another quick look at the header of this blog. There is MUCH inspiration there. I have always found inspiration in old cameras. I own a collection of them and each and every one of the cameras you see here are in that collection. Also, the background that encases the old cameras here came from the cover of a little book that I use to write ideas in. Inside that book is a treasure trove of ideas from simple things that came to me in the middle of the night to some great advice given to me from other photographers. That book is one of my most valued possessions and it is only half full of ideas. I’m excited about what the future holds for that little book. The inspiration for my personal blog wasn’t difficult at all for me to find because it was right here in my studio.
So I will end this with a challenge… I love a challenge and love to give them out like candy so here is yours! Find six things that inspire you in the room you are in while reading this. I don’t mean things that you simply like, I mean things that you can relate to, things that truly make your heart sing, things that you could connect with and create with. If you can do that, then you might just be an artist. ~Cindi Kay