How to Take Better Pictures-Part 3

By · September 17, 2010 · Comments (0)

Cropping for Interest

Go ahead and cut through the top of a head or hat on someone’s head on purpose.  Look at the magazines, even scenes on television; they do it all of the time.  It adds drama to an image. It draws you to their eyes.  Yes, grandma will exclaim, “You cut her head off!”  It is an artistic decision.  They can learn to deal with it. 

Not all images are improved by cropping. Sometimes a client will ask me “How will you crop that?”  I prefer to crop in the camera and get the shot I am visualizing at the moment. So what I show them is what it will look like. As mentioned in tip number one, over cropping after the image is taken degrades the image quality by only using a small part of the original file. 

Be aware that even if a person likes a photographic style and comments on how much they like it, they may still not be comfortable with it on their own images. That happens quite a bit. Educating your subject will make it more acceptable to them, and maybe in time they will trust you to do something creative.

Go ahead and include some images that have dramatic cropping. It adds to the variety of choices. The subject may not select them, and that’s okay. Put one on your wall as a display and enjoy the compliments. 

This is part three of an eight part series from an article  called “Everyday Images Made Extraordinary” that I wrote for a division of Gordon Photography & Gallery dedicated to mentoring other professional photographers who wish to learn more about the business of photography.

Categories : Basic Photo Tips
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How to Take Better Pictures-Part Two

By · September 10, 2010 · Comments (0)

#2 Look Behind Your Subject

Many times we notice after the fact that we have a tree trunk, pole, or some other line intersecting the head of our subject.  Take a moment to look past your subject and see what may become a distraction. You may have to move around a bit to find a more pleasing angle.

If timing is critical, grab your shot regardless of the background first.  Then with the luxury of time back on your side, reposition yourself to eliminate those unwanted lines.  With children and pets, you may not get another chance to get exactly what you want so get the image now.

With this photo of George, I think it is pretty obvious that the pole is distracting. It just so happens that this was my favorite picture of George that I captured during the entire time I was dog sitting him. That expression and angle just did not happen again, so I am glad I took this anyway. Now if I had just had a reflector to fill those dark eyes in! But that is another class.

The excuse of “I’ll just fix that later in Photoshop” is for amateurs and reflects sloppy work. Fixing files also takes time and time is money. Photoshop is a great tool to assist you with challenges in images, but it is not an excuse not to do things right in the first place.

This is part one of an eight part series from an article  called “Everyday Images Made Extraordinary” that I wrote for a division of Gordon Photography & Gallery dedicated to mentoring other professional photographers who wish to learn more about the business of photography.

Categories : Basic Photo Tips
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Custom Art Print for Wall Decor

By · September 10, 2010 · Comments (0)

Fun Photo Friday

This was a treat to create for a special family. The nine “Ways to Be” by Gordon Hinckley inspired this art piece. I sized it to a 20×20 canvas gallery wrap and used colors to tie in with the family portraits we did.

And it turned out so artful, rich, and elegant looking.

I can change the colors to coordinate with any decor. So if you would like these positive “be-attitudes” in your home, please give me a call!

Sign up for your copy of Fun Photo Friday at www.GordonPhotography.Biz

Categories : Custom Fine Art
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How to Take Better Pictures-Part one

By · September 3, 2010 · Comments (0)

Get Closer-Get Lower-Get Higher

Most people I observe stand too far away from the subject they are photographing. I am sure that is because they do not want to call attention to themselves; they want to snap a fast picture and not be noticed or be in the way. But I say, “Get closer to your subject!”

Taking a moment to get closer and not have so much distracting background improves an image greatly.  Cropping in post production later is okay to a point, but I am for doing it right the first time in the camera.  Over cropping degrades the image quality by only using a small part of the file. 

Speaking of getting right in there, I was in Las Vegas and found a crowd of people watching and taking pictures of three living statues. These beautiful girls were clothed and painted in one color and looked like real statues only they moved just a little bit just once in a while. Similar to the English guard, they will not even move to accept a tip or compliment. I carefully worked myself into the center of the crowd and took a photograph…well, okay, lots of photographs.  After a few minutes I realized that the crowd had opened up for me, and I had all the elbow room I wanted. 

Try not shooting everything at your standing level. Add interest to your images by getting lower and shoot at kid level. I squat, kneel, and lay on my stomach (all of which is getting harder at 40 something!).  As shown in the example on the left, I often get on a ladder and shoot down on someone by two feet or more.  Lay someone on the ground and shoot almost straight down on them. That is fun, too!


This is part one of an eight part series from an article  called “Everyday Images Made Extraordinary” that I wrote for a division of Gordon Photography & Gallery dedicated to mentoring other professional photographers who wish to learn more about the business of photography.

Categories : Basic Photo Tips
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Barb Presented Portraits & Stories

By · August 26, 2010 · Comments (0)

I was a presenter Tuesday, August 24, 2010 for the “Especially for You” After Breast Cancer Support Group’s monthly meeting at the Women’s Center at Mercy Hospital. I was asked to share about the inspirational cancer survivor photo essay project I do called Portraits & Stories. was created to inspire, encourage, and support cancer survivors, their families, and their friends through portraits that I create to tell a story about a survivor. The participants also are encouraged to write blog posts to share their experiences with others.

It went rather well for a shy person who does not relish the lime light and public speaking. I didn’t faint or anything! KCRG (a local television station) was also there working on a segment to air in September.

Click here to get more information about this support group at Mercy Hospital.

When you place your portrait orders, I do suggest to parents to invest in an extra image of their family session or of their child’s individual portrait now. Save this image for them to have when the time comes that they can fully appreciate it.

I know it may sound like a sales pitch but think about this for a moment. Wouldn’t it be cool to give your future son or daughter in-law some portraits of your child at different ages? At the very least save them a high school senior portrait!

I know I would love to have my husband’s high school senior portrait. There are none available. I would also like to have something better than the poorly exposed, blurry family snapshots of him at various ages as a kid too. But there are none.

I am glad to have my dad’s black and white high school senior portrait. And I have an 11×14 sepia print of my mom’s portrait that has been hand tinted. I did not get mom’s portrait until she passed away. I would have enjoyed one much sooner.

A thirty year old reminisces

I remember once when I was thirty and I was home at my mom and dad’s house for a visit I was looking at photos. Hanging in my old bedroom are images of my folks, my brother and I, and a family picture that we had professionally taken when my parents were about thirty years old.

It was neat to stop and think about and compare my life at thirty to what their life at thirty was like. I could see my mom’s hair starting to pepper, while I was coloring mine already. They had two cute kids ages 6 and 9, while I, at that time, was not even married yet. They went to a studio for portraits, I am now a photographer. Stuff like that.

It was also at that point I wished I could have copies of those images for my house too. As it is, I will have to wait until my dad is gone, or steal it off the wall. If my mom had ordered extra images and tucked them away in a safe place (an acid free place of course) for us as grown up kids, how cool that would have been. 

Advice from your photographer

So order them now or you will forget, they are available now, and technology changes faster than your kid’s looks.

So when I suggest you invest in another image for your child’s future spouse or scrapbook, I am not kidding or just trying to increase your bill.

Leave a comment

Did this article inspire you in any way? Leave a comment to tell me how. What have you done to record your legacy?

Life is unpredictable, be photographed often!

Categories : Barb's Articles
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The images I entered at this year’s state competition went on to nationals and they did wonderfully! I got Silver Level Photographer of the Year for 2010.

I will be honored at PPA’s annual convention, Imaging USA, in January 2011 in San Antonio, Texas.

A PPA member earns a Photographer of the Year Award by earning a merit for each of the four images entered for judging. All merited images enter PPA’s renowned General Collection.

This year’s merited images were “Garden Nymph”, “Clay O Patra”, “Queen of the Summer Night”, and “Crystalize”.

The level of award, the Silver Level, means that one of my four merited images, received the highest possible honor: acceptance into the PPA Loan Collection.  Only about 500 images from the approximately 5,000 images entered are selected for the Loan Collection. The Loan Collection travels the world for one year and is displayed at photographic exhibitions, conventions, and other photography events.

“Garden Nymph” was the image that went into the Loan Collection. It will also be published in PPA’s Loan Collection book that will come out in 2011.

“Recipients of the Photographer of the Year Awards have achieved a prestigious achievement,” states Dennis Craft, PPA Print Exhibition Committee Chairman. “These coveted awards honor the consistent quality of the photographer’s images in one of the world’s most celebrated image competition, PPA’s International Photographic Competition.”

I am so excited to be one of only 71 Silver Level Photographers of the Year with the same images I entered at state competition.

If you want to see the images I entered you can go to the post from the state awards.

Categories : Awards
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Midwest Horse Fair Fun

By · April 23, 2010 · Comments (0)

Fun Photo Friday

The Midwest Horse Fair in Madison Wisconsin was a very large, three day event. I don’t know how they organize such a big event, three days just are not enough to see and do everything.

As you saw in the featured image from your Fun Photo Friday newsletter,yes, this horse did “paint” this canvas! The kids really loved this show and they all got to take their picture with the horse and watch him “sign” his artwork.

Big Jake is being considered for the title of the World’s Tallest Living Horse. The 9-year-old Belgian gelding from Smokey Hollow Farm near Poynette stands 20 hands, 2.75 inches – that’s one quarter inch short of 6-foot-11 – from the bottom of his unshod hooves to his withers. He’s taller than the previous record-holder, a Clydesdale from Texas named Remington, who’s 20 hands tall. If you want to read more about him click here.

Another big horse, a Friesian, got to have costumed ladies show him off. The mane is outstanding!

I was jealous that my husband got to do a demonstration (and shake the hand) of one of my horse trainer heros, Richard Winters. All because he wears that flashy jacket, that helps me find him in a crowd. My husband doesn’t even care about horse stuff, but has a new appreciation for it, now that he is “special”.

If you missed the photo of the horse actually painting a canvas, you really need to sign up for your own Fun Photo Friday at so you don’t miss anymore of the really cool stuff.

Categories : Gordon Photography
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Iowa State Horse Fair

By · April 16, 2010 · Comments (0)

Fun Photo Friday

I enjoyed a weekend at the horse fair in Des Moines. There was so much to see at the trade show, a lot of horses in the barns, and a lot of clinics and classes to attend.

This is the hair of a North American Curly horse. It is almost like a poodle! At the Horse Fair, they had a barn fun of many different breeds for us to see.

The big guys are so well trained that they know right and left side stepping from a voice command.

I am at the point of my riding skills to be really confused about all of the kinds, shapes and styles of bits for bridles. This cowboy was giving a clinic on the different types and how they fit in to a horse’s mouth. The skull was a perfect way to demonstrate that.

In addition to all of the tack, saddles, show clothes and saddle blankets for sale, they also had horse trailers on display. Not just bare bones trailers but $70,000 mini apartments with a bathroom horse trailers!

Categories : Gordon Photography
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The Mark of Excellence

By · March 15, 2010 · Comments (0)

I received my Certificate of Recertification from Professional Photographers of America (PPA) today.

My original certification was April of 1995. To become Certified the photographer takes a written exam and turns in twenty images representing their day to day work for evaluation. 

To recertify, so many hours of continuing education is submitted along with twenty images of current work. The certification lasts for five years.

Categories : Gordon Photography
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