Posted on July 2, 2013
Last week I did a senior photo session in downtown Cleveland and the surrounding areas. I’ve worked with Claire and her wonderful family in the past and was delighted when she chose me to shoot her senior photos. We met a few months ago to talk about the shoot and to discuss her personal taste when it comes to photos. Talking with her, I learned that she loves Instagram and the filters they offer and also that she loved the idea of doing a portion of the shoot in the heart of downtown Cleveland, OH. We looked at our calendars, nailed down a date for the shoot (and a backup date in case of rain) and began planning.
When I was shooting photos for the Cleveland Marathon a few weeks back, I was stationed at a position in Edgewater Park that allowed for incredible views of the city of Cleveland across Lake Erie. I made a mental note to use that location in a future shoot because I knew I’d be able to make some incredible images there using the right techniques. I’ve also done extensive scouting around downtown Cleveland itself and have a long list of locations where incredible photos can be shot. In the days leading up to the shoot I made a checklist of the locations and shots I wanted to nail for her senior photos and the techniques I wanted to use.
The day of the shoot was one of the hottest of the year. Temperatures were around 90 degrees with high humidity and little wind to speak of. We had originally talked about doing the downtown photos first, but I suggested that we go to Edgewater first because the breeze off the lake would keep us cool while we waited for the temperature to drop in the evening. This, combined with shooting most of the photos in the shade, worked out very well, with neither Claire or I getting too hot.
In many of the photos I shot at Edgewater I used off-camera remotely-fired strobes. This gives me far more flexibility when shooting portraits. If I were going to use only natural light or a camera-mounted flash, I’d be very limited in what I was able to do and the variety of different looks in the photos seen here wouldn’t be possible. We used a reflector in some of the shots instead of the flash when it would work out better, but the clouds kept the sunlight very random and I would rather use a flash in those conditions because the results are consistent.
When the temperature cooled off we moved to downtown for the second half of our session. Starting at the Soldiers and Sailors monument on Public Square, we used the beautiful architecture and landscape to our advantage. In some of these photos I used my on-camera flash with TTL but set to fill flash only. I didn’t want it to look like she was hit with a lot of direct flash light, just enough to separate her from the background. We used the off-camera flash much of the time and used natural light too. I like the variety of looks that can be achieved by using many different techniques.
The entire shoot lasted about 2.5 hours, including driving to the different locations. Claire’s mom worked as my photographer’s assistant the whole time, holding my flash stands from blowing over and also holding the reflector and helping me carry my gear. She was so good that she should put “Photographer’s Assistant” on her resume!
When processing the images, I kept in mind that Claire likes the Instagram-style retro look, so I used split toning in many images to get the effect. Because I do all my editing manually, each of the photos was edited by hand for that specific look.
All in all, the shoot went great and I’m very happy with the final results If you’d like to talk about having senior photos taken this year, please get in touch with me by phone at 330-861-3684, email, or a comment on this post.
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Posted on June 28, 2013
I’ve been doing a lot of photography work recently, but its been for clients that are still reviewing the work or haven’t used it for their websites/businesses yet and so I haven’t been able to show it. Because of this, I’ll fill in the second post this week with some photos of a vacation I was on earlier this year.
I went on a Bahamas cruise and stayed a couple of days in Charleston, SC (the city we were porting out of), and took advantage of the free time to snap some photos. I did a little street photography and some touristy photos – nothing that would win a Pulitzer, but fun to shoot none the less.
I also got up early every morning while on the cruise and went topside to shoot photos of the sunrise and the port we were at. I’m a morning person and it would kill me to sit in the cabin and miss the opportunity. On the second morning at sea, there was this amazing sunrise and I was one of only a few people that saw it.
Part of doing so much photographic work is trying to balance shooting professionally with shooting for fun/inspiration. Because I have children/dogs/friends and I live in such a beautiful area, I always have available subjects to photograph, but finding the time is the challenge.
Posted on June 25, 2013
I was recently hired to shoot senior photos for a family in the Cleveland area at Squire’s Castle in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. The shoot was somewhat short-notice and so we didn’t want to drive to multiple locations to find different scenery and backgrounds. I only knew of some forested areas with large rocks in the Willoughby area, but the family knew of Squire’s Castle and suggested it. I looked up photos of Squire’s Castle and was thrilled! I never knew such a place existed in northeast Ohio that is open to the public.
We wanted to start shooting at 9:00am on a Saturday morning because I wanted to take advantage of the better morning light, but mostly because I knew that this place was going to be packed with people if we waited until later in the day.
When I arrived at 8:30, there was a gym setting up it’s workout equipment around the castle so I talked with them about the shoot we were going to do and we agreed on their placement of equipment so it didn’t interfere with the photos. I spent about 20 minutes walking around the building and surrounding landscape looking for good shooting angles and ideas for lighting. Since I use off-camera remote lighting for many of the portraits I shoot, I was able to bring light into the somewhat dim interior of the building. Using my experience as a photographer, I’m able to make the light come in at pleasing angles and light the area in ways that you wouldn’t be able to see unless I pointed it out.
When the family arrived I had already set up my equipment and we walked around the area, showing them my ideas for different locations.
They liked what I had to say and we started shooting immediately. My subject was a natural at posing beautifully, and she gave a wonderful, warm, genuine smile throughout the session. Her family was willing to help me hold different lighting equipment and was really wonderful to work with. It’s always so helpful when mom or dad is happy to help me move reflectors, speedlights, etc. It keeps everybody engaged, speeds up the process, and they come up with some interesting ideas throughout the shoot.
We used different window and door openings as locations, as well as the lawn, forest, and great hall. I’ve never seen a location with more variety in such a compact area. It was our goal to keep the entire shoot at around an hour and we met the goal. By 10:00 there were three other photo sessions going on in and around the castle as well as families exploring the grounds and another gym was performing their workout on the lawn. Had we waited until later in the day, we would never have been able to get these beautiful images.
If you would like to talk about senior photos for your teenager or family photos at this wonderful location or any other, get in touch with me. My senior portrait packages are quite affordable and I offer both prints and digital copies of the photos we shoot. Also, if you’d like to share this post I’m always thankful for it.
Posted on June 19, 2013
My dad loves his ’63 Split Window Corvette. For his Father’s Day gift this year, I asked him to let me do a photo session with his Corvette to showcase it and him in a cool setting with a lot of thought put into the lighting.
I know of an old industrial area in Akron that would be perfect for photographing the ‘Vette, having old, worn brick faces, lots of cracked and decaying buildings, but new pavement so as not to damage the car or tires. On Father’s Day, the weather was mostly cloudy, which was ideal for shooting photos of the Corvette because harsh sunlight would produce hot spots on the car and would hide the beautiful curves that make this car so amazing.
To see what other photographers have done with this car, I looked around Google and Bing image search for photos of 1963 Split Window Corvettes and was rather disappointed with what I saw. Very few photos showed up that had been professionally shot and edited. Most photos on image search were shot with no thought put into lighting or camera angle, and were also shot with point-and-shoot cameras with no post-processing even done.
I was surprised at that because this car ranks in the top 20 in the Most Collectable Car list.
The split rear window in the 1963 model was produced only that year. They eliminated it in the split in the 1964 model because it impairs visibility, and that makes the ’63 model even more collectable. This car is FAST. It has a 4-speed manual transmission and a small-block V8 engine with posi-traction. It lays rubber with ease and is impossibly fun to drive.
When shooting these photos, I got down very low to the ground to accentuate the lines of the fenders. Because it sits so low, if I shot from a standing position, all you’d see would be the top of the hood and roof.
I also wanted to show a different angle than would typically be seen when walking around the car, which produced photos that are more interesting to look at and engage the viewer. It worked because my dad commented many times how different the car looks in the photos and how pretty the lines are.
In the photos where my dad is behind the wheel, it was too dark inside of the car to properly show him behind the wheel, while properly exposing to show the car off. To fix that, I had a remotely-fired flash inside of the car reflecting off of the dashboard and onto his face, which gave us some really cool photos of him in the driver’s seat.
The last set of photos shows what this car can do when you lay into the throttle. He started at a dead stop and punched it while dumping the clutch. I set the camera on 6 frames-per-second burst mode and captured this awesome burnout. I made 14 frames of it into a GIF, which is epic.
Happy Father’s Day dad!
Posted on June 12, 2013
I was hired to photograph the 2013 Cleveland Marathon recently. With over 20,000 participants, it was challenging, to say the least.
I was stationed at the 2.5 mile point and also the 22 mile point. At the first setup, the 2.5-mile point, my co-photographer and I had to be set up and shooting photos by 7:00 AM because that when the first of the participants were starting to come through. Because of the early start time, we had to be very careful with our camera settings, trying to balance a high enough shutter speed to capture crisp images with the dim lighting, which would want to underexpose the photos we shot.
We wanted a deep DOF, so we had to shoot at a smaller aperture (f/8), which made the settings even more of a challenge in the early morning light. The fact that we were stationed in a heavily-treed area also did us no favors when it came to light, but it made for a very pretty backdrop. After we nailed down the camera settings that were going to give us the best possible images, we waited for the first participants to make their way to us, which only took about 5 minutes.
The first people to get photographed by us were blind runners riding hand-cranked bicycles. They were really amazing to see. They were all flanked by sighted cyclists that gave them directions for upcoming bends and turns in the road, as well as obstacles and runners that they passed. Its hard to imagine hand-cranking these bicycles nearly 23 miles, but these iron-tough participants did it like pros.
After the hand-cranked cyclists came the runners. First they came in small packs, but them the onslaught started. Thousands and thousands of runners came pouring by me in wave after wave. Because they were so tightly packed it was very challenging to pick out individual runners, but I did my very best to do so. I shot my DSLR nearly continuously for over an hour. I was having my own private photo marathon, with my arms feeling like they were going to fall off from holding the camera up for such an extended time. In the short span of 45 minutes, I shot over 1,800 photos. So many that my shutter finger was getting numb!
Slowly though, the runners got more sparse until the final runner made her way by. We immediately swapped out our memory cards, filled out the paperwork, and jumped in the car to drive from the far east side of Cleveland to the far west side to capture the runners on the opposite end of the course.
As we approached the parking area for our next location, the 22-mile point, we couldn’t believe our eyes. The lead runner was already coming up the road! In the time it took us to photograph the participants and drive across town, this guy had run over 22 miles! We stopped the car in the middle of the road, I grabbed my camera (glad that I set my camera up on the drive there), jumped out of the passenger side door (while still moving), and shot this photo of the first-place runner. Whew!
I then had the time to get into position while my co-photographer parked the car and continued to shoo photos of the first-place pack. The crowd of runners was much more spread out at this point, with nearly no large clusters of runners, so I wasn’t so hard pressed to shoot nearly continuous photos. We were stationed at the top of a long grade, so these poor runners had to really push themselves to run toward us, and that’s reflected in their expressions. Amazingly, some runners were smiling, talking, and waving at me for the photos after running for hours on end. We stayed there for nearly 4 hours waiting for the last of the participants to make their way by, then packed our gear, filled out the required paperwork, and headed back.
At the end of the assignment, my arms were tired but I felt great otherwise. I had a great time photographing the event and hope to do it again next year. If you participated in the 2013 Cleveland Marathon and would like to find photos of yourself, go to https://www.marathonfoto.com/ and enter your name or bib number.
Posted on June 4, 2013
This lovely family wanted to have photos showing three generations of their family and all the siblings gathered together in Cleveland. We needed to find a place in downtown Cleveland to take photos that would allow us to achieve a number of different looking backgrounds in a small area because of the large number of photos we wanted to take, while at the same time trying to show bits of Cleveland in the background.
After talking about it, we decided to do the shoot in Willard Park, which is where the famous and iconic FREE Stamp is located. You can see the stamp in the background of some of the photos. Cleveland City Hall is also located next door and that allowed us to use it’s granite walls and steps as props for the shoot too.
Because it was such a bright and beautiful day, we did all of the photography in the shade of the gorgeous trees in Willard Park. This prevented people from needing to squint their eyes in the bright sunshine, and eliminated harsh shadows on their faces. It was also bright enough to where I didn’t need to use a flash or reflector in the shade, which allowed for beautiful, even light on their faces.
The beautiful baby in the photo was such a joy to photograph and she was so good throughout the photography session. She only got fussy after about an hour of posing and being held. Her big, beautiful eyes show up so well in the photos.
Because we were doing a multi-generational photo session, there were numerous grouping that we wanted to capture, and every member of the family was very gracious with the multiple posing and re-posing they had to do. In the end, I think that we achieved a very successful and gorgeous series of photos that captures that.
Posted on May 31, 2013
Mark has been playing soccer in a youth soccer league and I wanted to take some photos of him before he goes pro, moves to Europe, and I have no access to his games. His fluorescent yellow shirt and flamboyant attitude on the field made for some fun photography, and he loved playing it up for his parents on the sidelines. In a youth soccer league (football league, for the Europeans), the coaches have their players change positions throughout the game to allow all the players a chance to experience all the different parts of the game.
Because of the fast-paced action and the different camera angles I was shooting at, I decided to use aperture priority (@ f/5.6) so I didn’t have to set the camera up every time the action moved into shadow (I shoot on manual almost exclusively except when I’m shooting fast-paced action) . The bright summer sun combined with the aforementioned fluorescent yellow shirt made me have to use special photographer tricks with my camera’s settings to make the colors bright. Using a camera on automatic exposure would have made the photos very dark because the camera would think that it was overexposing the images if it took photos as bright as the setting actually was. I increased my exposure compensation 1 stop to make up for that tenancy and bumped my ISO up to 400 to keep the shutter at 1/500 and higher so I didn’t get motion blur when zoomed all the way in to 200mm.
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Posted on May 28, 2013
I really love taking photos of my lilac flowers and my plants in general. The older I get, the more I appreciate flowers and growing plants. I just went to Dayton Nursery the other day and spent nearly $100 on flowers and plants for my vegetable garden and was just as thrilled to be shopping for them as I would be for a new piece of photography gear. Walking through the isles of the nursery, I get all dreamy about what all those amazing plants could look like in my yard and flower pots. It doesn’t help that they’re priced so low ($2-$5 per plant) that its nearly an impulse buy to pick up some new flower that you’ve never seen in the nursery before or a plant that you’ve seen growing in other people’s yards and always wanted to try in your own landscaping.
The lilac bushes in my yard were purchased at a landscape auction about 8 years ago. They were anything but healthy looking when I got them home because they had been sitting in a pot all season, waiting for a landscaping contractor to purchase them for use in a client’s yard. The plants were rather bare of leaves and spindly-looking. I dug holes in my awful, rock-filled soil and planted them on either side of my front steps, making the holes large enough to fill a bunch of potting soil around the lilac bushes because the soil in my yard is so dead. After the first summer, I thought the bushes were never going to make it and was certain they would be dead come next spring.
To my surprise, when spring sprung the next year (probably around 2004), the little lilac bushes had leaf buds and even sprung a couple of flowers to assure me that they were alive and kicking. Fast-forward 8 years and dozens of massive prunings to keep the bushes from growing too large, and I have some of the most full, and beautiful lilac bushes in my neighborhood. Every spring I prune the flowers as they begin to fade because that causes more blooms the next year. I have to cut them bushes back about three times per year because they start to choke my front walk and grow into my front porch. This keeps them tidy and dense.
Lilac flowers are some of the most wonderful smelling blooms in nature, in my opinion. They’re so special because they only last for a few weeks, so you fully appreciate them while they’re in bloom. Also, because they have such an abundance of blooms, you don’t feel like you’re taking away from the plant when you take some cuts into your house as decorations. Lilacs are super easy to grow and add a hardy, good-looking green shrub once the flowers fade.
Posted on May 24, 2013
You may recall that I was hired to photograph the Color Vibe 5k in Akron a few weeks back. It was a really great time and everybody that works on the Color Vibe team was fantastic. They are all fun and well organized.
The other day, I didn’t expect to be browsing and come across one of the images I shot for them though. The girl in the glasses was what I remembered from the photo and I instantly thought “I think I shot that photo!”. I went back through my archives and sure enough, I did. It’s a little bit of a pat on my own back to be posting about this, but I’m excited about seeing some of my work being featured in an ad.
As I was shooting the photos for the event I tried to capture the fun and energetic atmosphere that was there. Nobody was having a bad time. There was loud music from a live DJ, plenty of smiling, supportive people, and more amazing color than I’ve ever seen. In front of the DJ booth, the crowd had packets of the colored powder (it’s actually just corn starch with a biodegradable pigment in it) ready for a big countdown to celebrate the run with a big group color toss into the air. I was able to position myself behind the DJ and set my camera to high-speed burst capture mode and continual focus. When the DJ finished the countdown the crowd launched the color into the air in an amazing cloud of vivid color unlike anything I’d ever witnessed before, and that’s when I shot this image.
If you want to run in the most fun 5k on the planet, take a look at the Color Vibe’s website at www.TheColorVibe.com
They’ll be holding another run in Akron next spring and have other runs around the area, including Toledo and Columbus.
Posted on May 21, 2013
I was invited to photograph one of the most fun and well put together surprise birthday parties I’ve ever been to this past weekend at Paolo’s in downtown Akron. Will, who I know through other photography work I’ve done has a very organized and thoughtful girlfriend named Riti, who put the entire event together and invited their closest friends and family.
The party began about 40 minutes ahead of Will’s expected arrival. Riti told him that he was going to be going to a friend’s surprise birthday party there, so Will had no idea the party was actually for him. The guests enjoyed mingling ahead of his arrival and they had plenty of time to catch up with old friends, shoot some pool, and get a drink or two to get in the spirit of the event. Paolo’s has a great party environment complete with free pool and one of the nicest bars in Akron, so everybody had plenty to keep themselves occupied with while waiting for his arrival.
Riti had one of the coolest birthday cakes I’ve ever seen made for the occasion. It has elements from Superman, Batman, Iron Man, and The Hulk all rolled into one very impressive (and very delicious) cake. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen anything like it and it was really the centerpiece of the room with everybody gawking over it. It was a real pleasure being able to see so many people enjoying each other’s company and everybody had a great time, with most guests staying well into the night to enjoy the occasion.
Because the party was held at night and Paolo’s lighting was low and comfortable, I had to use a flash for the event to properly expose the photographs. Thankfully the ceiling wasn’t too high and I was able to use it to help the flash be softer in the photos, and I also used a flash diffuser panel to cast softer light on the people I was photographing. I kept the ISO at around 1,000 and the shutter speed relatively low because I wanted the ambient light that Paolo’s has to show up in the photos, rather than have a black background. I also shot some photos without the flash to show the atmosphere in Paolo’s and to mix the photos up a little.
The staff at Paolo’s was first-rate. I’ve rarely seen such amazing food served at a birthday party and they made sure that everything was cleaned up throughout the night and that nobody lacked for anything. The facility was spotless and has a wonderful atmosphere for any event to be held there. With lots of gorgeous woodwork and artwork throughout the building, it has an elegant, but relaxed vibe that anybody can be comfortable in. If you’re in the Akron area and planning an event or party, I’d highly recommend checking them out at paolosakron.com
Congratulations to Will for his epic 30th birthday party and to Riti for her amazing planning, organization, vision, and execution of such a great birthday party. Few people could have pulled it off like she did.