Timeless Activities: Building an Indoor Fort (D308)

Growing up I remember building indoor forts with every available sheet, blanket, pillowcase, and chair. We would cover the entire living room with randomly colored towers to hide beneath. They quickly fell apart if anyone moved too quickly, but while they lasted, they were more fun than almost any other activity. Building card castles came in a close second, but required much more patience and care.

Today my kids created a fort in our living room and I knew I had to capture the fun with my daily image.

Unfortunately, my son was not in a picture taking mood. Now, normally he is all for it and will pose freely in front of the camera.

Today was not one of those days… since he wanted another bowl of cereal (he already had two earlier in the day), I decided to give in and let him have one if he would pose for me “just a minute.”

Apparently, my minute lasted too long because he went from being pretty agreeable to looking at me as if he couldn’t believe I was taking so long.

Either way, I captured the moment and that’s what we’ll remember.

Technical knowledge: Will be reading up on the Canon 5D manual tonight in prep for a family shoot tomorrow. I like to reset the camera, make sure everything is ready and raring to go. Looked at images by Annie Liebovitz and Zack Arias today.

Navy Man Meets Country Girl (D282)

Justin is a Navy man home on leave for two weeks and happily reunited with his girlfriend of 3 years, Amanda, and his family. I had the pleasure of photographing the two of them this afternoon in an unbelievable outdoor setting.

Justin is also the brother of one of my previous Teen Identity models, Olivia. Since Justin is home for such a short time, he and Olivia’s mom wanted to capture some images of Justin and his girl, as well as some family shots of her children.

I scouted the scene beforehand, choosing locations in the shade since we were shooting at 130 pm in bright sunlight. I know I said I don’t like photographing in the hot, humid summer weather of Atlanta, but today I made an exception. I couldn’t have been more thrilled when I stumbled upon this one green scene hidden away behind a building… I knew it was perfect for a quiet moment between a reunited couple.

Image Specs: 28 mm, 1/125 @ f/5.6, ISO 400. Processed in Adobe Photoshop with Kubota actions and MCP Finish It actions for the frame.

Technical Knowledge and Images: Camera manual page 14, Photography and Playback. Images by artists on the Bravo show “Work of Art.”

Venturing into the Great Outdoors (D281)

It’s summertime in HOTlanta… not my idea of a good time.

Today was a little more to my liking though… cool enough that I ventured outside to capture some of the beautiful, bold, blue flowers in full bloom.

Image Specs: Shot with Nikon D50, 50 mm lens, natural light, 1/100 @ f/3.2, ISO 200. Processed in Lightroom with Gavin Seim Dark Vignette and Criss Cross presets.

Technical Knowledge and Images: Camera Manual page 10, Basic Setup. Viewed Twitter Tuesday photog images.

Chris Brogan Got It Right—Custom IS Everything (D169)

Maybe “everything” is a bit of hyperbole. I’m willing to give you that.

Simplicity and personality are important as well when it comes to connecting with guests, clients, customers… even friends. But after reading Chris Brogan’s post about the importance of customization, you can imagine my pure delight when I opened up a package with my new custom Teen Identity iPhone cases.

tasra365-teen-identity-iphone-case We ordered black and pink to maintain our current branding, but I imagine as we begin offering these as gifts and incentives for our teen audience, that we’ll let them customize their own case. What teen girl wouldn’t want a custom case for her phone with a picture of her when she is at her best? Or even a group shot of her with her best friends? I’m imagining multiple cases in different colors to coordinate with each of her favorite images. She can change her iPhone, iPod, or Blackberry case to match her outfit and mood, just as easily as she changes her purse or jewelry. Now that’s custom fun!

What other products do you think make for great customization? How can you customize more than just products, but your service and experience as well? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Image Specs: Shot two images with Nikon D50, 50 mm lens on white seamless background with Westcott softbox lighting (same lighting I use on all my studio and product shots). Added contrast and sharpness in Lightroom, then took the front and back photos into Keynote to use the alpha and reflection tools. Then quickly took back in Photoshop to add the MCP Finish It Actions thin round border.

Manual:Read page 105—Lenses. Have you been reading a camera manual page every day? Why not get started now!

Images: Fellow 365-er Kevin Voth tweeted a link to the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony images, so I took a look at those stunning shots today.

ADD, ASD, OCD, Gifted, Virgo… All in a Single Image (D168)

Today is about the perfect line up of toys, as seen through the eyes of a five year old…


My son’s pattern of lining up toys, especially cars, trucks, trains, and planes, has been growing. Perhaps it was in a movie he saw, but each time he creates his setup, the group seems to grow. It started with just the small cars, but each time he adds a new element to the mixture. Today’s line up had three rows, starting with the Pteranodon (the soaring reptile), followed by smaller cars and motorbikes, then followed up with semi trucks, tanks, and other large vehicles.

tasra365-rows-of-toys-3 The research online says… everything from articles saying it’s a sign of autism, OCD, and ADD to references about gifted kids who have a bent toward music and math… even someone mentioning perfectionism and being a Virgo (as reasons for the line up).

Here’s my take on it… he’s like his Mom. That’s right. Mom likes everything neat and in order. I like to organize… you have seen my uncluttering videos have’t you? Uncluttering, lining things up, straightening up, organizing, all give me a sense of peace. I can’t work in chaos… can’t even think straight. Clearly the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

Manual: Page 45—M: Manual

Images: Looked at images in Photography Essentials for Dummies.

Capturing History with Images & Stories (D152)

How many stories do you have locked inside your head and heart? Are they stories from your childhood, your teen years, or even college days? Whether positive and uplifting or embarrassing lessons learned, we each hold valuable or at least entertaining stories like a deep well within us.

Kind of like my grandmother who is 95 years old, the stories she has locked inside her mind are absolutely astonishing. The tragedy is that we don’t have a record of many of those stories. Although we’ve tried to capture some with a mini recorder and a few by writing them down after she shared them, she refuses to be videotaped or recorded.

Don’t let that happen to your stories. Find a way to share them with the world, even if it’s by capturing images that spark the stories you hold. That’s what I captured today…


This painted shell holds a memory and story that I’ve shared briefly before on my blog and in the Unclutter Your Life in One Week videos. But, I didn’t have any images of it that would outlast the shell. I’m amazed it’s lasted intact for this long!

tasra365-seashell-2 This shell brings back some of the few positive memories I have of my dad. We were camping in Washington state, sleeping in a tent, and eating campfire cooked dinners of whatever we caught while fishing earlier in the day. We did so much outdoor camping for vacations that I didn’t even know you could stay in a hotel until I was in high school. And then I was spoiled forever, no more roughing it for me if I can help it!

So this one camping trip was when I was probably 9 or 10 years old. We had driven to the water and were taking a break from fishing. The outgoing person my dad is, he started talking to many of the locals. One of the people he met was a painter and she painted landscapes on seashells. The intricate details were surprising. The more you study it, the more you start to see all the attention the painter paid to the details.

Before my dad bought this shell for me, he asked the painter to add me to the grass looking out over the water. Do you see it? Right in the left hand bottom corner? Me, looking out at the mountains and the sea (certainly fits the tasra mar vision). Remember an earlier post I did with images of what I wanted to see every morning when I woke up? Is it any wonder where I get it from?

Manual: Page 30—Image Quality and Size

Images: Looked at images from the upcoming Mom 2.0 Summit Exhibit. Check out the intro video below… inspiring.

Fix it in Post… or Not (D149)

The deeper I get into the photography world, the more I learn all the little sayings that photographers have adopted and said through the ages. One of the first that I heard was “Fix it in post.” This week I’m focusing on how not to have to fix it in post.


The question I’m asking this week is… How can I focus on lighting, composition, environment, camera settings, and posing to allow post processing to be optional?


I’ll never completely abandon post processing because I love what it can do to change the mood and tone of an image. But I’m pretty pleased with the results from yesterday and today’s shoots. I used the same set up today that I described yesterday.


AND I did NOT fix it in post today. In fact, I did nothing in post to any of these images except add the watermark. I’m telling you that 149 days ago I would not have posted images without fixing them in post. I lacked the courage and confidence, not to mention everything I have learned on this photo a day challenge. These four images are straight out of the camera.


So, there you have it. Let’s NOT fix it in post… it’s worth a shot. And it’ll challenge you in ways you may have never been challenged before.

Today’s images: My son decided he wanted to do a photo shoot today. He’s been fascinated with the camera since he was able to pick one up. After seeing the Teen Identity photo shoot in our studio this weekend, he’s been asking to do photo shoots every day with lights, camera and action. These shots were the result of a short ten minute session where we took turns shooting one another under the lights. He should have the 10,000 hours it takes to become a master by the time he’s a teenager!

Specs: 50 mm, 1/160 @ f/5, ISO 200, 2 soft box lights, white seamless background

Manual: Page 27—Navigating the Menus

Images: Looked at an album of images shared with me on Facebook by a very close friend of mine. Fascinating.

Fashion Magazine Pop Photography (D146)

That’s my style… or so I’ve been told. I think it has a nice ring to it and describes one style of photography that I like to do, especially with the teen girls I photograph. I’m not sure it’s even a defined style, but if you were to try to find it, you’d see it in the teen fashion magazines like Seventeen. One main difference is the way I shoot the girls… less revealing and sexy, more fun and full of personality. Primarily shot in studio with white backgrounds and studio lights, bright colors, and clean lines.


For today, I’ll take that style and see how it fits. I’m sure it will continue to evolve and change. But even as I shot these bright fun studio shots today, I recognize that shooting in this fashion forward studio pop style is fun and I can’t complain about that.


So what’s your style? Do you see it evolving and taking shape in the images you capture each day?

Manual: Page 24—Basic Playback.

Images: AfterCapture Magazine images from June/July 2009.

D60: Doing the Work

Some days are all about just doing the work. Whatever it takes to get things done, that’s what has to happen. This whole week has been like that. “Git ‘er done,” as one of our wedding clients likes to say.

Point being that the excitement and energy for anything other than the work becomes secondary. I can see and feel it in my photography. (No need to agree with me.) Intellectually, I know this is okay. Life is about seasons, ups and downs, highs and lows. Why would my 365 be any different?

But on a deeper level, I feel guilty, dare I say like a failure. But I haven’t failed. I haven’t quit and yet because my heart hasn’t been in it, I “feel” that way. Scott Bourne, when issuing this challenge, didn’t say anything about being excited along the journey or even liking it for that matter.

So, maybe this is a good thing. Maybe pressing through and doing it anyway when the “good” feelings aren’t there is really more powerful than the serendipitous moments when everything clicks.

What do you think?

This image of a worksite grabbed me because it resonated with how I was feeling. Something barren and stark to the scene. I grabbed it on one of my many trips to and fro picking up and dropping off equipment for the 3 films we just wrapped shooting in prep for Pictage PartnerCon in NOLA. If you’re not going, you’re missing out. This event is going to be fantastic! We’ll post the videos online when we return.

Manual: Page 110—Speedlight Features and Functions.

Images: Looked at images of fellow 365-ers by randomly selecting from the 365 list of those who’ve joined. Have you checked out some new photogs on the list yet? We’ve got some real talent on this journey with us!

D59: Day of Discovery—Part 2

It happened again. Another discovery. Another monumental moment. Another image captured.

Did you know that if you balance them just right, you can hold five “poppers” at a time on your fingertips? Not unlike olives on your fingers at Thanksgiving. That’s a well-known pastime at the dinner table, if you didn’t know. But, this was new. This takes extra skill because the poppers don’t fit perfectly on the fingers.

That was the discovery, the revelation, the news…and the subject of my photo. Simple, yes. Delightful, absolutely.

Manual: Page 1—About the Manual. Overview of which chapters/sections are for point and shoot photogs and which are more advanced.

Images: Since I stopped by her house today, I thought I’d check out images of Liana Banana. Okay, that’s not her real name, but it’s the name of her blog. Check it out.