CJ Wilkes

About CJ Wilkes Photography

Capturing Your Dance In The Rain is such a thrill and joy to me. Being able to look back on those special times through beautiful artistic imagery makes it a worthwhile challenge.
Learning to Dance in the Rain has been very easy for me. I am drawn to Water & Life! The exciting part for me is to teach you to enjoy your moment in the dance as I capture it from behind my camera.
Looking forward to Capturing Your Dance In The Rain
CJ Wilkes

Tag: ‘Color’

How I See Color

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

One of the things a person needs to be able to do is see color before they can effectively edit an image. Sure, there are tools in the editing programs and even while shooting that can assist, helping to make the job easier.

Here is an example of what I see when someone is just starting out in photography and the editing aspect of it. They want to warm their image and just have a hard time pinpointing what the problem is. They will post an image that looks something like this:



Editing does not involving just tweaking one color or even 2. Editing involves understanding which colors need tweaking and how to do it effectively without ruining the whole image.



In fact – if you look at the above image here – the yellowish orange seems to get stronger in the shadows and edges.



In the SOOC (Strait Out Of Camera) image there was some pooling of Blues and Magentas (which you will see in a moment).  The issues from the SOOC were greatly resolved by adding the warmth or yellow. But I do not want a beach that looks like a toilet or an orange model.



The islands are green here because of the trees – but even so – the atmosphere will give it an almost bluish look. This is too green.



Granted – the image is pretty like this. It is cool (blue tones) but one could get away with this as a final product. I like elevating my images to another level. I dislike blues in my whites. I think it gives the image an unfinished look. I find that the color always seems to grasp onto the shadowed areas. For myself – I see color really easily. I know without having to test it out that I would be Desaturating some Blues, Cyans, and Majentas. Maybe not completely -but some. Either I desaturate Or – I would need to bring in colors that will cancel out the hues that are bothering me.


Here you can really see the cool tones on the islands. For what I am wanting – it is too much blue. If I wanted to depict a winter scene I could easily leave it the way it is and not stress about it. She is in a positions where she is either enjoying the breeze or the warmth of the sun above – or both. When one thinks of warmth it is not a blast as in the first images. For the final product I had many layers combined and masks to isolate where adjustments were made.


(Note – My clients all know that I use PS and that I take artistic liberties. Jenny is gorgeous – as you can see. In the final edit she appears thinner. The reason is because the fabric I had wrapped her in heavily was bunched up heavily making her appear almost pregnant. I could have easily left it – but instead, I used the liquify tool to adjust that.  Some my like that some may not – It does not matter. What matters is she is happy as well as myself.)



That was meant to read – I like to add the sunlight on it’s own layer.



I did not let the shadows go black but at the same time – I ensured they were not Blue or Yellow or Red or Green.



Hahaha – I was doing horribly in typing quickly. That was to read Skin. When I played with the tones in LR I was able to adjust in such a way that the whites were neutralized beautifully. By paying attention to those areas – there was less for me to do in PS.



In fact – the layer I used for the sunlight an playing with the warmth and luminosity I was able to neutralize just enough, leaving an ever slight blue tone to the islands. Much like what you see in real life here.


In my editing flow I always produce a conversion for my clients so they can decide which they prefer best.



The colors were perfect in the final edit though so it would be my personal choice to showcase it.


Some things to note. In LR you have control with the colors. You can play with color tone. You can play with individual colors and their tones, hues, luminosity.  You also have color lens correction in LR & you have brushes where you can edit different parts of the image. The control you have is in the brush size and opacity or flow.  You can do a whole lot.

In my work flow I play some in LR but ultimately I bring it into PS because I love the layers, the masks, the ability to fine tune things so much more with blend modes, and modes – well there is nothing out there that compares. I love the overall control that PS gives me. I can tweak the whole image or just small areas.

Well there you go. I just let you in my mind for a moment. Hope you enjoy and that this helps you to seek out color more effectively.  Stay tuned to some great tutorials in the near future.

(I apologize for the misspelling on the images)

See the Light!

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

See the light!

Light matters in Art & Photography. The way an artist portrays light can make or break an image. Learning to see it first and then capture it is truly vital.  When I started learning the basics, the concept I worked very hard to nail was Catch Lights.

What are Catch Lights?




These last 3 pieces were drawn by my daughter Miriam. I often wondered what that little circle in the eyes were. After studying light more in depth, I realized that this style of art was trying to portray catch lights!  This little piece added to the cats eyes help draw you in to look at its eyes a bit more, much like in photography.


Here you have my son, Edmond, holding his dad’s guitar. He is attempting to play like “Daddy”.  Take note of those eyes. Edmond has eyes that are so brown they look almost black. The only way I am able to see the pupil is in direct light. For picture taking that can be a problem – his eyes can look lifeless (because light is often associated with life, you can see how that may be a problem) if I do not take note to get catch lights. In the image above, Edmond has flecks of light in his eyes.  (The window with white shading was 45 degrees to the right of this image.) Those specks of light help give life & draw the viewers attention to his eyes.

Catch Lights by definition = Catch light or Catchlight is a light source that causes a specular highlight in a subject’s eye in an image. They are also referred to as eye lights or Obies, (the latter a reference to Merle Oberon, who was known for using this technique.)

There are correct and incorrect ways to capture catch lights, but that is not what this particular post is about. It is, however, important that you understand some basics, such as catch lights, though. Catch lights are essential if you want to draw attention to the eyes OR if you are simply wanting to add life to the subject. The lightest or brightest portions in an image will grasp the eyes attention. If you want to bring attention to any part of your image you add light. To take the attention away you will apply the opposite by darkening or removing the light.  Because of light’s affect on images and how we see them, this is something one must learn early on in art or photography.

MaximusMarketable18                                                                                                by Maximus Visual Artistry

Maximus Visual Artistry does well here in this composition by using light to guide you to his focal point. The focal point should be the free floating orb between the girls hands. Then the light spills onto the girl, highlighting her hands, inner legs, chest, and parts of her face. The light does not, however, fall into the surrounding darkness. You can see that there are plants around because the dark sky is not as dark as the brush or grass, yet it is light enough that you know there is sky behind the foliage. The emphasis is not on the foliage nor the sky though. Maximus was sure to bring that point across by the huge contrast created by the background and the main subject.

Light gives an artist the ability to paint a story, or maybe better said, draw out the subject of interest by direction. When working an art piece, learn to lead ones eyes by the use of light.

MaximusMarketableFishoutofwater4                                                                                              by Maximus Visual Artistry

If you have an image like the one above by Maximus Visual Artistry, where the tones are pretty even across the board, the use of light is where you will find strength. If you look at the mermaid’s head dress on the left, also look at the left side of her face, and on her knees. These spots are the brightest portions of the image. Then behind her you see the blacks of the rocks. The contrast works like a map help to guide you to where you should be looking. Your eyes will lead you to to bright first then wander to take in the rest of the view. This is light being used to assist in the storytelling.  The source used is direct and spills over or onto the subjects.

Incident Light: Incident light is the light that falls on a subject, either directly or indirectly.

Reflective Light: Reflected light is the light that bounces off your subject and other elements in the scene.

Contrast: Contrast describes the difference in brightness between the highlight and shadow areas of a photograph.

You need to take into account the color or tone of the subject being lit. Dark colored subjects need more light whereas a light subject will not require as much light.

Direction of light – Note where the light is coming from. This will determine the way the shadows fall or where the highlights will hit.

Intensity – The darker the shadows or the hotter the light the more intense the mood that is created (It will also affect whether you need to add reflectors or other light sources for filler. Your camera can only meter off of one spot.)

Source – Take note of the Size and Distance – The size and distance will affect the intensity.

Sculpting with Light: Techniques for Portrait Photographers by Allison Earnest is a book I recommend to any artist.


AdrianMurray3180                                                                                                        by Adrian Murray

When I look at Adrian’s work it always triggers an emotion.  His work captures moments that are timeless. This particular piece is one that most any parent can relate to. I don’t think it would have been as great of an image had the light in the refrigerator not been on, nor if the light in the kitchen was spilling in. The fact that the shadows seep in from the sides to create a vignette, and the main source of light is coming from the refrigerator as the main source of light, allows the artist to bring the subjects to our attention. The contrasting darkness of the children vs the incident light plays a factor in the image as well.  It really does not take much – but it does take a know of the conditions (aka lighting) that you have to work with. Obviously, Adrian is in the know, which brings me to his next piece:

AdrianMurray8896                                                                                                          by Adrian Murray

I had first seen Adrian Murray’s work with his son and the sailboat. I adored everything about it. What caught my eye was how his focal points were placed in such a way that my eye could not miss the story unfolding. It dawned on me was that the lighting is what made this moment stand out in my mind. The brightest features in the image were on and around the main subjects. The light reflects off the water into his son’s face. You also see the sails that are backlit and mirrored in the water below. The backlighting is apparent on the top of the boys head where you see a thin rim of light. The light sail and the fair skin, both, do not need much light. Obviously, the spill of the light from behind and the reflective light from the pond were masterfully utilized in this sweet capture!

Backlighting is said to be a more difficult technique to learn. The reason for that is that you must learn to expose the skin properly and the camera cannot meter for 2 scenarios (as mentioned earlier.) So your options are to meter for one or the other OR have an alternative light source to fill in while you meter for the brighter area or background.

The lack of light with carefully placed or spotlit areas in varying degrees is just as poignant as the presence of light. One will often hear the following comments:

That movie/art piece was very dark!

That image leaves me with a light and happy feeling!

It was a gray and blah sort of day. OR It was a dark and gloomy sort of day.

That was from the dark ages.

I need to watch something light and uplifting.

It is not a coincidence that dark, neutral (gray), and light are used in the description of ones emotions or mood. People relate to light and dark in a very emotional manner.

Pauly Pariwat Pholwises quickly became an artist whose work I love to see. I suffer from chronic migraines, and have all my life. I am very sensitive to light. If something is too bright it can bring on a massive migraine. When I am viewing Pauly’s work there is a certain calming that his images bring. He is able to balance lighting in his images.

PaulyPholwises34by Pauly Pariwat Pholwises

We often talk about framing in photography. In the next image Pauly Pholwises utilized the reflections to create that frame. The lighter top portion almost forces your eyes down while the lower light section (almost a foggy looking piece) pushes your eyes up – The two ends bring your eyes to rest on the face of the girl looking back out at you. This is one instance where the light areas were such that the eye wanted a more soothing and less light shade to look on.

PaulyPholwises33                                                                                                by Pauly Pariwat Pholwises

In this next image – you can see that the variation in color is within the greens that surround the girl. The darkness moves to light from the base of the bloom to the bright tips. Pauly carefully guides your eye by having his subject hold a blossom right in front of her, the brightest part of the flower being just at her top lip leaves your eye to move on to explore her face.  A true artist. I commend his ability to create varying shades and still keep it within a range that allows mood yet not be so harsh that the brights are blinding or the shadows so dark you cannot see the detail. His balance is very soothing to the eye (and my head).

PaulyPholwises30                                                                                                     by Pauly Pariwat Pholwises

PaulyPholwises32                                                                                                 by Pauly Pariwat Pholwises

Pauly Pholwises, utilizes contrast in his work, but it is softened in the way he edits. His mastery of neutral tones is one that is sought after by many. That combined with his composition skills and artistic flare makes it easy to see why his work is loved everywhere!

Strong lighting or lack of lighting will tend to match the emotion it conveys, just as soft lighting will have a more calming effect or balance to that emotion.

InvitingHome.com state this in trying to explain how light creates mood in architecture:

Higher levels of lighting generally produce cheerful effects and stimulate people to alertness and activity, whereas lower levels tend to create an atmosphere of relaxation, intimacy, and restfulness.

As you can see – light creating mood is not limited to art alone, but in Architecture, Home Design, Psychology, and theater.

This next artist is one that I would consider a master at moody Black and White images. He has a way of making the dark & mysterious mood alluring.

EliDreyfuss4133                                                                                                    Imagery by Eli Dreyfuss

Darker shadows, like the way the light hit her hair and created a shadow across her face, gave me the sense that she was in hiding, while her eyes or facial expression tell me she is a strong individual, even if she may be scared. In Eli’s images, I notice that he is always mindful to include the catch lights. In this workflow, I find the catch lights to be vital elements to the images. It assists in definition.

EliDreyfuss38424Imagery by Eli Dreyfuss

The mysterious darkness leaves one longing to know more, understand why. Is she hiding? The use of complete blackness over the eye on the right makes me feel as if it is a way of saying she is in hiding OR is it a metaphor for some unknown secret?

305EliDreyfussPortraitImagery by Eli Dreyfuss

With more light than the first two images (also by Eli Dreyfuss), it feels as if the artist is willing to share more. I almost sense he is willing us to search her expression more and the details about her. Had she been as darkly portrayed we may not have noticed her fingers running through her hair, or the sadder portion of her face (the right eye and downward turn of the mouth on the right).

I know I shoot and show lots of images of people, but all of this applies to animals as well. One artist that I enjoy perusing through his images after he has been to the zoo is Mark Lynham.  Mark is simply put, brilliant, in his work with light. This tiger’s markings make for great contrast already so converting to a BW image allows the contrast to stand out quite nicely. Then Mark adds the negative space above. He could have gone with white, but because the tiger has a nice amount of white already, black is the natural contrasting color that helps the tiger stand out more dramatically. If you look closely at the tiger’s eyes, you can see the fleck of catch lights in the upper portion of the eyes. Flawless exposure, great conversion, and the experts composition makes this a great image that any tiger enthusiast could stare at for long periods of time.


RTLemurMLby Mark Lynham

Of coarse, if your subject has white fur, as this Ring-Tailed Lemur has, when against a darker backdrop, it will stand out. That combined with beautifully focused eyes with awesome catch lights in the upper portion of the eyes makes a very stunning image!

CheetaML by Mark Lynham

Depth of field is usually spoken of hand in hand with blur or aperture. Yes, Aperture does help with creating that depth of field, but as you can see in Marks Lynham’s image above, the depth of field is made that much stronger with the use of light. By making a point of ensuring the large cat in front was lighter than the 2 unfocussed ones behind, the eye is assisted not only in focusing but making that depth of field more prominent.

StormTrooperMLby Mark Lynham

The term “silhouette” has been extended to describe the sight or representation of a person, object or scene that is backlit, and appears dark against a lighter background.

Silhouette’s came about in the 18th century as a cheap representation of a person, object or scene. Today it has been taken to another level. It is not uncommon to find a silhouette created with a spectacular sunset. The brightness of the sun combined with the vibrant colors create an ambiance that paired with the nearly black or solid black of the objects can’t help but make them pop. The key is to get the brighter light source in front of your object.  The back light will help outline your subject best because of the contrast.

_DSC7996cby CJ Wilkes

When Silhouette’s were first created, the backing was usually white or a solid color. Of coarse you would see some that were inverted, but they were hand drawn rather than done with cameras like today. The great artists could pop out a silhouette by eye (without the use of screens), but even the ones that used a screen would get so good at them that they could pop them out in minutes.

Mood created by light is very intriguing to myself. Of coarse it would be! I see and feel emotion in everything. The following site site was fun to study LumiFi They break down lighting and color into moods.

Here are a few interesting examples in terms of how lighting shapes behavior from InformeDesign:
—Visibility of vertical and horizontal junctions aids orientation
—People follow the brightest path
—Brightness can focus attention
—Facing wall luminance is a preference
—Lighting can affect body position
Understanding the ratio of the light on a task or object compared to its surroundings can be very useful.  Since the lighting on the artwork is five or more times brighter than the rest of the room, it draws the eye and commands special attention.
The same can be said about the subjects within an art piece or photography. It is a balance. Mastering that balance is key.
The IES also states:

Our eyes permit us to see not only the shapes and surface characteristics of objects but also to perceive color and its relative brightness.  Color contributes greatly to the quality of life – the thrill of a pink sunset or a blue sky.

Color plays an important part in our selection of furnishings, walls, and window treatments in a variety of applications – and since all color comes from light, it is an important part of our lighting decisions as well.

Light is more than a just a necessary part of the seeing process, it shapes the way we view the world around us and can dramatically increase the enjoyment of your home…

…or art piece or photography.

As IES states, Color comes from light. When I think of light combined with color to make an image strong, I instantly think of Lisa Holloway’s work. I feel that the path is set out for me when I look at her images. There is no guessing. The light guides the eye to her subjects face or desired targets.

LisaHolloway2                                                                                                        by Lisa Holloway

I see a ring within a ring of light in the image above. Starting from the outer vignette to the light from the back lighting to the dark auburn hair and then back to a light colored complexion of the child’s face, and then her eyes are seemingly darker than her face. It is like looking into a tunnel. When the tunnel is strait you look right at the end of it or what is at the end of it. Here, the analogy is at play.
LisaHolloway3                                                                                                          by Lisa Holloway

Living in a forest, there is already contrast with a child vs nature, then add colors as rich and vibrant as the child’s including her blonde hair, then on top of it the drama of the lighting. Because of the lightness of the little girls skin and hair, the light from the source makes her stand out perfectly. That is not done by chance. Lisa looks around at the lighting conditions, angling them in the perfect spot so the light will fall on them just right. It is a dance, it is not chance.
You hear that there are better times for shooting in. It is true. The time of day can affect how nicely the light is.  If the day is overcast, it will work like a giant soft box for you. However, even on cloudy days, you have to watch how the light affects your subject. The Golden hours are a favorite for many (the couple ours at sunrise and the couple hours before sunset). Those times are loved and coveted because the shadows are not harsh like at mid day. But in mid day, there are things you can do to help with your shooting. You can use reflectors or Off Camera Flashes. You are not limited to just those 4 hours. The most important aspect to all of this is to get out there and practice with your camera.  Always take note of the light around you. If you are in the trees and you see light spatters all over the ground and within it is the shadowing of the leaves and branches, chances are you will get a dappled light on your subject as well. Maybe you have to block the light source some or find a location that is not being affected so.

Place your subject in the location you are thinking of. Look in their eyes, look at how the light is playing around them. Is the light hindering your view? Is the light enhancing? That is very important. In the end, you want people drawn to your image. Or do you want to negate the light and simply outline your subject? Create a silhouette? You are the master of your art! And like all masters, you must practice and learn to see in light, in color. Watch and learn from others who are well versed in their crafts. There is a reason they are amongst the best of the best.  These particular artists, featured here, are consistently producing images that Ooooo and awe the masses. For myself it is easy to see why. They understand the fundamentals. Lighting being at the top of the chart.

LisaHolloway6                                                                                                     by Lisa Holloway

When you are reading up on different techniques or concepts, try not to let it all overwhelm you. Pick one, then study it until you know it inside and out. Then move on to the next. For some, this subject is one that they understand while others will need to get a few more books out and play a whole lot before it clicks. That is how it works. Just don’t give up. Work until you see light in such a way that you will have full control over your shoot. Work on back lighting, then move to playing with your shadows, then play some with catch lights. All the while, remember to look over the work of those you admire and love most.

A very special thank you to all the artists that allowed me to feature them in this blog post.

Thank you ~

CJ Wilkes (Cindy)

Are they Pictures or Stories?

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

Something often said to me is – “Your pictures are more than pictures! I can feel the emotion behind them.” Admittedly, that is such a flattering comment. However, I often feel like I am in a rut. Like my work needs to evolve into something more. Why? I am an artist and we are always overly critical of our own selves or striving to be that much better. Sure, I can fall on that – but I think I have since found the answer to my own question. Are my pictures just pretty pictures? Or is there truly something special about them?




My approach to this has been from an emotional starting point. From a rough childhood to life as I know it now, my view on life has been a positive one, even during the darkest times. I think it was my need for beauty and peace that allowed me to look at life the way I do. In fact, I strive to bring what I see to the world through my work.

One day while looking through images, I ran across the work of Morgana Creely of Image Cinematic
Morgana’s style was nothing like mine, yet I was very drawn to it. So much so that I decided to take her 13 week course to see how her mind works. How are her images so profound in my mind? Along with many other artists. She helped open my mind to a new way of thinking. She thinks in Stories! My big profound moment came while looking at this image of hers:

A glass of pills sitting on a table

Can you believe an Ah-ha moment would come from an image as un complex as this? I looked at it over and over. The image was so simple. But what would the point of such a simple image be to me? That was when I realized that I take pretty pictures. Sure, some have a story but my mindset has always been about bringing the beauty before me forth. Allowing each person who see the work to enjoy in the beauty and peace that was before me. Nothing wrong with that except I yearned to be a Artist capable of telling a story through my work. Maybe stir emotion in someone?!

Goodstory PhotographyRecipe

Morgana hit the nail on the head for me which spun me into a search for some good resources and information that I am bringing to you. Thank you for helping me evolve Morgana!

Now before I move on I would like to bring you the definition of Perception. In art, a piece can evoke different emotions that are as vast as there are colors or numbers.

1. the act or faculty of perceiving, or apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding.
2. immediate or intuitive recognition or appreciation, as of moral, psychological, or aesthetic qualities; insight; intuition; discernment: an artist of rare perception.
3. the result or product of perceiving, as distinguished from the act of perceiving; percept.
4. Psychology. a single unified awareness derived from sensory processes while a stimulus is present.

5. Law. the taking into possession of rents, crops, profits, etc.”

An artist plays with a person’s perception. Artist are often attacked on the precept of being irresponsible in their deliverance of their piece. Running a large group of almost 93,000 members and growing, we often run across huge debates brought about by how the process is perceived. For instance, A small boy was near a body of water. The artist had edited the image so the mother standing right behind said boy was not seen. The angle of the shot gave you the illusion that the water was deep and possibly dangerous. The artist was given the third degree, even when he explained that all precautions were made to protect that child.

People often do not see or understand the process that is taken by Professional Photographers and artists. When working with a client we have to take into consideration not only our vision, but the safety of the people we are working with. Many do not see that the processing is one place where we could delete additional people or, in some cases, the image is put together by multiple pieces of photography to come up with a creative image. That last one is ones imagination being pieced together through the use of today’s technology.  Then there are other things such as the angle an image is shot to alter ones view or perception of depth, size, and even lighting perspective.

The Chase


Tracy Williams is a Fine Art Photographer and Digital Artist. I am often mesmerized by her work. I am grateful to her for letting me use this image for this blog post about Story Telling. All of her work is, simply put, a great example of story telling. Just like a great Author, Tracy is able to tell her story through her imagery. In this particular piece, my heart beats fast because the light coming from the right of the image (you can tell it comes from the right because it is brighter from that side and fades as it cascades over the boys back) is headed straight for the young boy running away from it. You could say – JUMP! But then you see the water below and the distance from the bridge is higher than the boy is tall. To make matters worse, it is dark! The details are not entirely perfect as it would not be at night time. All the mind want to say is Run boy! Run!All the pieces placed together melted into an entire story in my mind. I want to know what the heck that boy was doing on the bridge in the middle of the night in the first place! I want to know if he made it! I want to know where his mother and father are! Tracy Williams is one I would consider a true artist and master story teller!


© Mark S. Johnson Photography


Mark is another great artist that is able to bring images together in such a way that is tells a story. What I love about much of his work is the bright happy feel that he paints by his use of brilliant colors. He takes the different pieces, plays with light and color while spinning his story. I could sit all day and stare at this image, but then I want to go pick up a book after seeing this too. His ability to portray that message is definitely that strong. Easy to say that his work holds much of what dreams are made of. That is what story telling is about! Being able to suggest that the story spilled from the pages of the book, then walla! Here it is before you to behold.
Details! Details! Details! Would it have been as strong of an image without the butterfly? Without the balloon? What about the colors? And the light?!I see Mark’s work here and there and I always know it is his. It is filled with fun imagination and happy thoughts. Helping to bring me to a very good place. He also is great at making the impossible seem like the norm, or at least it should be!


Mark S. Johnson is a Photoshop luminary, a longtime contributor to the KelbyOne and Planet Photoshop sites, a member of Dewitt Jones’ Healing Images campaign, and a Trey Ratcliff Flatbooks author. Mark’s site, www.msjphotography.com, is overflowing with enlightening tutorials and limitless inspiration.


It is very hard to not feel inspiration from such artist surrounding me. Not everyone finds inspiration at the tips of their fingers. I looked around and realized that inspiration is not always happy. There are stories everywhere you look!


1. How are you going to find inspiration in a way that portrays you?
2. How you feel?
3. What you see?
4. Where you have been?


I am often awed by John Mitchell, in a very different way. He is quite profound in his way of depicting life. Much of his art is dark in nature. That does not lesson the intensity of his work, because his work is just that! Intense. Thought provoking. Some of my favorite pieces from him include a poem or story, but do not require it, because the subject is deep.


AntigonishAntigonish by John Mitchell


John’s work uses light in such a way that shadows are lurking everywhere. His poses are menacing, uncomfortable, frightened, or depressing. I also see the blues in many of his pieces. Is the blue to give you a sense of night, cold, unfeeling? It is strange to say this is intriguing, but I am in a state of mind that, if everything was beautiful you could not really understand how beautiful it really is because you would not have anything to compare it to. In life, there are some truly dark and depressing aspects that cannot be ignored. And should it? Maybe it is not for you. Is it possible that it is a cry for help form the artist? Is it a memory? Is it what he pictures as a consequence to some action? Or is it that he is simply looking at life from a different perspective? Either way, there is a story.


Imagery can tell so many stories. Babies, Fairies, Rainbows are all so nice – but issues sometimes need to be addressed. Sometimes the way it is addressed is not so obvious and other times it is quite blatant, shocking even. As a survivor of incest an rape, I am a strong advocate for survivors! I have found that some abuses are overlooked though. Sometimes we need someone to bring to light that truth in a shocking manner, in a way that makes you stop and think! This next artist went to the top of my list with this particular series. I am only going to show 2 of the images, but will provide you a link to his work so you can peruse the series in it’s entirety.


Weapon of Choice by Richard Johnson of SpectaclePhoto.com


Weapon of Choiceby Richard Johnson of SpectaclePhoto.com


If you cannot tell by the imagery alone, Words Hurt! We often look at the bruises because what we see is the easy thing to spot, but then we do not always look at the hurtful less obvious situations such as neglect and verbal abuse. The imagery is profound and spot on. When this series was released, I literally cried as I carefully thumbed through each image. It’s affect on my emotions may not be the same for you, but it spoke to many who have seen it. That is the thing about photography though. Not everyone will be affected in the same manner or for the same reason. What I find touching may come across as, touching, annoying, frustrating, spectacular to a handful of others. In story telling, that is how it goes. It is also the reason there are different ratings for movies. If you have 100 people all in one room – not all of them will like the same sort of movie as the others in that room. The same holds true to photos, and art.


Here are some different ways to help you find inspiration:
1. Go for a walk in nature
2. Meditate
3. Go to the zoo – Take time to watch the people around you
4. Attend an opera or ballet
5. walk into a costume store
6. Look through abandoned areas (Ghost town, Old industrial, Old section of town)
7. Find some magazines of different genres and read them
8. Have a movie a thon
9. Write in a journal
10. Go take some pictures, practice, play, try


Vanille                                                                                                       Jay Kreens Photography


Jay Kreen is know for his beautiful pictures of women with flawless skin and the sensuality they exude in just one movement or look.  I love how Jay will use light and aperture to draw a person to look at what he wants you to look at. Her eyes, her body, her setting.
There have been several images of his that really draw me in as quite a story telling type of piece. This particular one  being one of them. There is hardly anything to the story by way of props. What do we have here? The setting, as perceived through my mind, may be a bed with a very plush blanket. To me the plush blanket gives a feeling of comfort and safety. She is not fully dressed, but is not concerned. Is it because she is alone? What is she thinking? Is she dreaming? Is she thinking of the past or future? Is she happy? Is she content?
Story telling does not have to have all the bells and whistles, it just needs enough to tell the story you are trying to share.


What are the best ways for you to share your story?
Do you find you are drawn in by color? Or the lack of? Are you drawn in by emotion? Extreme or just whimsical? Do you like to bring contrast to the world? How are you going to do that? Is lighting a factor in the images you like or want to create, or the lack of light? Do you like it all to be in focus or do you want to draw the attention to one focal point? Photography does not begin and end in that moment when you hit the shutter. The possibilities are endless.

 mitova2png                                                                                                            Annie Mitova

The moment I saw Annie Mitova’s work it seemed to draw me into another world. The childhood I only ever dreamed of. The one where there was innocence and happiness. The colors drew me in to the fantasy, the costumes into another era, the textures of the clothing assist with the frilly, romantic feel of the setting. In the image above my first thoughts were of first hints of love and friendship. The connection and reaction the children have with each other both adding to the story being told.

abortweb                                                                                                           Annie Mitova


One aspect I have not spoken about much that Annie is great at implementing is movement. In my own work that too has been a favorite to include. She does it flawlessly. In this particular image the setting lets you know that the child is in the middle of a dance. The child’s clothing builds upon that particular belief: her costume looks like a ballerina’s with feathers and tulle (lots of flowing tulle!) The flowing tulle not being fully in focus help with depth of field. The focus on the child’s face along with the lighting makes you feel like she was captured mid movement while recalling her next move…

 mitova1facebook                                                                                                           Annie Mitova


Textures are often used in story telling and can be found in the fabric, in the environment, in the way one edits. Being able to combine textures successfully to convey a setting and capture the look desired is essential. I remember as a child, having stories read to me and looking ahead to the images just to see if the image on the next page matched what the story was spelling out.  Often those images would allow my mind to race a head to what may or may not happen in the following pages. Much like the winter scene that Annie Created just here.


Subject matter is vital when contemplating the story being told. Is your story telling better achieved with children? Or do you find that your stories are centered primarily around adults? There are those that can set everything up around animals. Maybe humanizing them through the settings they are shot to draw in the very real human aspect to the emotion conveyed? One person who did that so well and built an entire business off the concept was Walt Disney. His ability to think up very human scenarios played out in cartoon by animal characters with human attributes. Another favorite of my own children is Anne Geddes and the worlds she created in her work with babies. Her images captivate many. And although some find her great – others are horrified. She definitely had her own vision which did bring on a spectrum of different emotions. My children and I, however, really enjoy her images and often contemplate what the story must have been to have her build upon it to create such images.


This next artist I have the pleasure of introducing you to hit so many keys of emotion in his work for me. The subjects can be from children to adult while the topics he presents range vastly. What is so riveting about his work, in my minds eye, is that the stories are raw, real, and sincere. His work is displayed much like emotions. Emotions range or vary considerably, much like his work.  I love how his lighting, color, and composition, and set detail dance together to create a spectacular piece.


                                                                                                     Adrian McDonald


The first time I viewed this particular image, it caught my breath. Some artist will create what they are inspired to create then are surprised to see the reaction that was provoked by it.  Really, everyone needs to realize that if an artist is able to bring on strong emotions out of people, then they have definitely found the right key. Maybe not the viewer’s desired key, nonetheless a key that raised a certain level of awareness, awe, and thought. My particular story was mine. I only wished my little brother would have had someone rescue him back in the year 2000. Instead, we are now 15 years without my brother here to share our lives together.  I still long to see my little brother’s face and even the man’s face here. I want to look in both their eyes and say “I love you! Can’t that be enough?!” And yes, I am typing this with tears running down my face.


That is my story. What story in your life did this image trigger to come to surface?
In my mind and heart, Adrian McDonald is an absolute Master of his craft! He not only makes me bawl like a baby, but as mentioned earlier, he can then make my heart swell with happiness as he did here:


bubbleweb                                                                                                         Adrian McDonald


The simplicity, the expression, the innocence. As I said, a master of capturing and captivating.
I have often been told that looking at an image alone cannot teach you anything. I have also been told that artists should be willing to spill all their secrets in how they create what they do. Something that is said repeatedly. The part that people are not getting is that these images are all so very telling. Let’s review what you have seen in these images. I will then share what all of these and other artists inspired within me.1- You can decide to either shoot a pretty picture OR take it the extra step and tell a story with it.
2 – You can use more than one way artistically to create your story. You can set up the scenery before you, OR you can piece it together and complete it in post processing.
3 – You can decide if you want to reach a very wide audience by shooting across a spectrum of ages from young to old OR you can hone in on a specific age range, OR even not use people for your story telling.
4 – You can choose to shoot in a Dark Setting OR Light setting.
5 – You can choose to use color to help tell your story (such as Warm or Cool) OR not use color as part of the story process.
6 – You can choose texture and how it plays in your image OR you can choose motion.
7 – You can choose to Shock and Wow OR you can be more subtle in your story telling.
8 – You can go and look for things that interest you, intrigue you, move you OR you can draw on life’s experiences.
9 – You can go about this on your own OR make it a group effort.


There has been a turn in my work since thinking all of this through. In my last blog I have addressed this. What I will say about it is that this has turned into a Family Thing. That is what works for me. What works for you? Either way, take time to study the artists around you. Take a moment and look at the ones I have shared with you here. I promise that you can learn by looking. But I also know that many are willing to help and share. Some teach courses, while others will answer questions. Either way, in my mind, their contribution to the world of art is very much appreciated. To see my latest growth from pretty pictures to themed or story telling images please check out that last blog It’s a Family Thing


Check back regularly for Introductions to Artists, Tips, and Great images! Thank you
CJ Wilkes (Cindy)



Black & White vs Color – Why? How? When? Where?

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

The question that we see come up repeatedly that boggles many yet is an issue to many others. Which image is better and WHY? WHEN? WHERE? HOW?

Through the next little while we will explore this topic and include many interesting blogs, tutorials, and links that will hopefully help people understand when, why, how, where it is appropriate to choose one or the other of these for your image. Starting out in photography we are learning so many different things from how to use the camera, composition, different editing techniques, focus, proper exposure, textures, two tone, white balance – ok we get the idea, the list goes on and on. We learn through practice and error. We train our eyes to see the different things like what is blown out color channels? What is white balance and how do we properly fix it? What is calibration? All of these are learned and valuable to our art and craft. Same holds true to choosing black & white or color for your image. There are many reasons a person would choose BW or Color.

I will start out with – learning to appreciate both. I have found some people have a strong hold and love of one or the other. As artists it is our choice and preference that directs what we go with. But if you do not have an appreciation for both in the beginning then you may find down the road you might end up questioning that preference and wonder “Will this look good with the other option?”  Wonderful question because then you need to learn the When, Why, Where, and How to choose one or the other.

Color has often been associated with life, vibrancy, the Here and Now, and moods or emotion.

Black and White is often associated with being classic, Forever, Never ending, the past, the here being capsulized for always.

In my own venture I had always had a great love for color. The last few years of being a photographer I developed a great respect, admiration, and yes Love for Black and white images. I offer both to my clients – but if I feel one is a stronger then I just show them the one.

Here is an example of my practicing on a daughter a while back using BW vs Color and light.

Color http://www.cjwilkes.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/DSC4014fweb.jpg

BW    http://www.cjwilkes.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/DSC4014bfweb.jpg

With a candle – the glow of the light on the subject’s skin adds a gorgeous golden shine. But sometimes – black and white still wins – even with candles. The decision would then rest on me as to which is better and why. I would fall back on several questions. What is this for?

A -Is it for a client? If yes, I would show both. Their decision. Solved.

B -Is it for an album? http://www.cjwilkes.com/blog/?p=1382 If yes – What is showing on that spread? Color or BW? If color then I would stick with color because mixing BW and color disrupts a flow. If BW then I would stick with BW for the same reason as with color.

C -Is it for a series being released? If yes – then I would stick with the pattern in the series. I would not show 1 color in a series of all BW or one black and white in a series of all color. If the series is a mix (which I do not recommend for the fact listed before, that mixing BW with color disrupts flow or boggles the mind. If you do choose to do a mix though – then make sure that mix is half and half with your strongest colors and your strongest Black and Whites. (Also, taking into account keeping your tones of BW matching – Consistency does matter).

Here is a blog I had done of my youngest boys. You can see that I did mix both color and black and white. By following a pattern and helping keep a consistent flow by matching the editing style and tones it still works nicely.


Here is a blog where I had done a session all in Black and White. I went into the session with that in mind. The entire shoot from clothing to lighting and finally editing in Black and white was predetermined and executed just how envisioned:


When shooting cultural shoots many think of the old style sepia. I tend to lean in favor of the Black and white or my own version of a cooler or semi warm black and white. Depends on the mood of the actual shoot. But the vibrant colors from the regalia screams COLOR to me. Yes, in past times maybe black and white is what they had, but today we do have color. So my reverence is often done in the way I pose them rather than by taking it to a classic conversion. I want everyone to experience the Ooo and awe of witnessing the intricate and colorful designs. Of coarse I provide the black and whites for them to view as well, but for display I hand pick what I want the world to see of my work.


As an artist I believe you should be selective in what you show. I believe you should be confident in what you show. If you don’t have the confidence to decide then ask, How am I showing this piece? Why would I want to show it in Color? Why would I want to show it in Black and White? What is the emotion or do I want emotion felt so strongly based on color? What is the Mood? What purposes are these being shown? For a client? For an album? For a showing? What is it being shown with? What are the other images? Will this compliment the other images it is showing with or will they compliment your image? Will your image stand out? Break it down in your mind or on your screen. Make your decision. Stand behind it with pride!


Here are some links talking about BW or Color images:1. Pauls Photo Blog http://paulsphoto.com/blog/2013/08/29/why-choose-black-and-white-photography/


2. Image resource http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2012/11/09/color-vs-black-and-white-photography-debate-stirred-by-new-cartier-bresson


3. Outdoor Photographer http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/how-to/shooting/why-choose-b-and-w.html#.VLX9zHug-zw


4. Eric Kim Street Photography http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2011/04/04/which-is-better-black-and-white-vs-color-for-street-photography/


5. Photoble  http://www.photoble.com/photo-inspiration/black-and-white-vs-color-photographs


6. Ellen Annon writes  http://masteringphoto.com/black-and-white-vs-color-photography/


7. VIDEO Marc’s Photography Tips http://www.silberstudios.tv/videos/marcs-photography-tips-choosing-black-and-white-versus-color/


8. FStoppers  https://fstoppers.com/post-production/determining-if-photo-should-be-left-color-or-converted-black-and-white-8485


9. Photography Vox  http://www.photographyvox.com/a/color-vs-black-and-white-photography/


10. Good ole Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-and-white


11. Good ole Wikipedia Color Photography http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_photography


Interesting research on Color:


1. Color wheel with color meaning http://www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaning.html


2. Life Hacker Learn the Basics of Color Theory http://lifehacker.com/learn-the-basics-of-color-theory-to-know-what-looks-goo-1608972072


3. Psychology of color in marketing and branding http://www.helpscout.net/blog/psychology-of-color/


4. Color Theory for Designers http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/02/08/color-theory-for-designer-part-3-creating-your-own-color-palettes/


This page also published http://photoshoplightroomgroup.com/faq/black-white-vs-color/

Concept Generation

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

There are many parts to a concept From A to Z. I am going to cover the first few steps, which I find to be the most vital, and that is making the concept a reality. Of coarse the first step is to have an idea. Second step for me

is to go and shoot some images that can possible work. Of coarse, getting it in the first shot would be awesome, unless I change my mind – so I shoot several ideas and then some closer details. Once I get home, I cull

through the images until I have found the ones that would work nicely. In this case we are starting with the following 3 images of my daughter just taken yesterday:


These images won the lottery for the project. They will become the third image in the “Cross My Heart” series. So now that I have the images I need to put them together so that they seamlessly fit together. I started with

Images A & C c being the image on bottom and A on top. Before I did that though, I had to extend the walls from image A (This is going to be a vertical layout.)
To extend A I made duplicates of A. 4 to be exact. Sure I could have free transformed, but I did not want much distortion. Instead, I duplicated and masked back. Once I did that, I merged the copies and placed c on top

with a mask.


Once C was on top of a I lowered the opacity so I could see the image below and still see C. Next used Free Trasform (locking it so the dimensions would not warp) and altered the size of the image so it lined up almost

perfectly. I then put the opacity back to 100% on layer c. By inverting the mask I had less to paint, so that is the option I chose. I painted the legs in. For any areas that did not mesh perfectly, I cut and pasted new layers of

the back wall and masked where I needed so it blended well enough.
Here it is with the legs extended:


I knew this image would be a darker image so I did not stress about it being too perfect. The legs would not be the highlight of the image.


Nathanya’s face is lovely here, but the series as a whole is a bit quirky. The first image of my son crossing his heart – his lips were puckered. The second image with my daughter Miriam, her lips were semi puckered and her

eyes were opened wide. When deciding on this particular image, I wanted it to match in flow – not only by color. By tying actions I felt that I could achieve this particular goal. So with this image I had taken some images

where her eyes were open very wide.


I had made a copy of all the below work. Next I placed image B on top with a mask again. (When shooting for a concept I try to shoot several images in a row that are similar. Little details really matter. Same with the close

ups. I try to have those done in the same spot, angle, lighting.) The image with her eyes open were a close up, this helped me not only to get the look I wanted, but the clarity as well. I did the same as I had done with the

other 2 layers. I added a mask to B. Lowered the opacity so I could view the image below. Free transformed the image, locked it so that it does not warp when transforming. I then proceeded to use the eyes as my guide. I

matched the inside of the eye near the nose. Once I matched those fairly well I then set the transform and put the layer back up to 100%. This time, I was using more of the image so I did not invert my mask. (Again, less

painting for me.) Using the black I masked until I was satisfied that it blended well enough.


Now many of you may think that the changes are too subtle, well they are quite subtle, but attention to detail will make and or break an image.


Can you see that mark on my baby girl’s hand? Well that would be one of those stick on tattoo’s. Kids love them. My children are no different. Only problem is, they are a pain to get rid of and fade into an ugly mess. I could

have taken a picture of her other hand and covered it – but instead, I thought – This is another chance for me to learn a new skill! So I decided to make a new rub on tattoo for her hand. Hopefully one that would match the

scenery nicely.


Talk about control freak! Hahahaha I guess I am when it comes to my art. I simply used my brushes to create this little piece:



Sticking it on her hand did not go so great. I had to duplicate the image, add noise and lens blur. Then I added it. I played with a few mode options to see what I liked. I had a normal layer and I believe a linear burn layer.

Lowered the burn layer to the opacity where it blended best. The end results were perfect!


Once I have my piece ready then I can go crazy with color, lighting and overall feel. This is exactly what I wanted to start with. Turned out great! Because of the patience of my girl, I had the shots I needed and was able to

add on to the collection. Introducing the newest image “Lost-N-Found”



If you have questions feel free to ask. Would love your feedback. Thank you!

~ Cindy

Color Changes Everything

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

I was going to just post on Facebook a small write up and then decided this deserves a more detailed explanation. I find the blog

is much more suitable for such things. I have been training between shoots. Working on new techniques and honing in on my

skills. (New techniques to me). In this quest to better my work I have started a new collections titled CROSS MY HEART

COLLECTION . It all started with a concept I had (Inspired by Nicole Wells of Australia, work. More specifically, her piece

done of her daughter without a mouth).  I am continually telling my one son to try not talking so much and watch his

surroundings. By watching he will be able to perceive so much. Listen with your ears and not judge with your eyes. Use your

senses and not always your mouth. So my idea was to create a composite where I placed an eye in the place of his mouth and

then his ears where the eyes are supposed to be.


Well, the piece turned out to be a bit on the freakish side and there were mixed reviews. Let me say – in this piece – he is NOT

intended to be any sort of demon. The mouths to me represent beings with no bodies just spewing whatever. The person with

the misplaced mouth and ears was more whole because they utilized some very vital parts of their body – Ears and Eyes. Not just

the mouth. Now everyone will interpret the image for themselves, I am sure. But this was my intentions when creating this piece

with my son.


In creating this piece I took extra careful measures to make sure that the face did not have hard edges – but soft smooth

transitions. All because I did not want it to appear as a monster, so to speak. I also altered his eye color to be a blue color and

added a tear that ran down his chin, because words can be hurtful too.


I was shocked at the response received from this piece. Everything from admiration to deep distaste. Emails, private messages

and so forth. So I decided to re edit it into a more suitable piece (even though this was not anything but a learning – practice

piece for me).  I took the image originally used and did not alter any features. It still had a dark element to it, but it was all in

fun. I altered my son’s eyes to be blue again because brown just looks Darker in images, and it was good practice for me to play

with color.



This piece was titled         CROSS MY HEART” 

Again, surprisingly enough, this piece received great response both positive and negative. The positive outweighed the negative

so I decided to try adding to it. Since I have 5 children that are all willing to help me with my crazy ventures I was easily able to

work on the very next one to this series. This one is titled “Tug-O-War”.


Just a bit of background. My children have vastly different personalities. The titles of these images may not makes sense to you,

but they really do to me. This child has the hardest time making decision. She is quirky, fun, sweet – but decisions are very

difficult for her.


This piece was interesting because my biggest struggle was with color decisions. She had on a red sweater. Anyone who knows

me knows that RED is my very very favorite color. I will lean red when a choice is at hand almost always! That is, until now. I am

going to walk you through my process in color choices.


The first choice I came across was actually with her eyes. Her eyes are a gorgeous dark brown. I love them. The problem I had

though, this piece was so dark in the shadows that her eyes would not be seen. I had taken pictures of her and then of her eyes

opened widely. This particular shot, her eyes were not so open – so I swapped the eyes for an image where her eyes were opened

to my liking. The clarity was gorgeous – so then came the transformation using color. I had altered my son’s eyes to be blue, and

since this was going to be part of the same collection it made sense to alter her eyes to be blue.



As you can tell – her eyes are lovely! The blue was great. The colors seemed great…..   BUT my eyes just kept looking at the

gorgeous red. It is lovely and compliments the scenery perfectly. What is the problem then? The problem is that my daughter

was lost in the scenery. I did not even notice her eyes. I was so mesmerized by her sweater color.


I could have chosen any number of colors. Green, Yellow – but in the end I decided on purple. She loves purple and yellow, but

purple lent itself to the image nicely. I also altered the lips slightly to have a purplish hue to them vs the oh so red like in the

above image.


Little details really do matter when playing with images like these. It can make the image or break it. After getting the lovely

purple how I wanted I looked back and saw that my eyes enjoyed the color, but even more importantly, my eyes were drawn to

her face and her eyes. That is exactly what the aim was in altering colors in the first place.


Here is a quick practice to train yourself in the affects of color. Here is the image with both versions. Purple and Red. Place your

hand over the purple image. Look at the red. Stop and honestly ask yourself what your eye is drawn to.


Next – Do the same but this time cover the red image. Ask yourself what your eye is drawn to when you are looking at it.


Do you see the difference? For some it will have a great impact, for others, well, you may think it is a useless practice. Either

way, thanks for participating. This was just meant as a small look into my minds eye. Stay tuned for the next few images to this

series. :)




Practice Starts with Me March of 2013

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

I am the first to admit that I cannot stand being in front of a camera. I am not comfortable with the skin I am in and am not good at posing myself. I cannot tell you if I look good or not cause I don’t see it. But when I am behind the camera I see what I like or don’t like. Not sure how many can relate to this, but my self image is not the best.

As  a photographer I believe in always challenging myself with new or different things, from editing to ways of shooting. Afterall, the more you shoot, understand, and practice – the better you can get. Does that mean all my images are great? NOPE Not at all. I take my fair share of FLOPS. The thing is I cull through the images before bringing them to you. Heeeheeeheeee. So this particular blog is not going to be my most comfortable blog. I am going to share my personal challenges from Feb. 2013 and a few images from it too.

Always remember that practice is just that – practice. Here I had challenged myself to shoot some self portraits. If I am not comfortable and feel what others feel, I may become more empathetic to how those in front of my camera may feel. Here – you all can see my own discomfort too. :/ Can  you sense my nervousness?


So – I admit one thing here. I did not push the shutter and I had a tad of guidance from my dear friend Stacey. I will go into that later. Some things I did to feel better about the session was make sure I did my hair. I have natural curl, but I still curled it. I made sure to wear a little makeup, and I bought a new shirt. I felt beautiful. Because I felt beautiful – I was much more relaxed than I would have been otherwise.


I loved the look and texture of the gray rug on the floor. Not too distracting but not too plain – hopefully adding without taking away from the image. I think it did well. I also put myself down lower on the ground so you could not all look at my double chin. That meant a lot to me.

As I mentioned, Stacey assisted me some with this, but it help me to think a bit outside the box. When I got home from Wisconsin I decided to try another self portrait session in my own yard, outside, on my own. I did get my daughter to help keep the camera from being blown over – but then I also ran back and forth attempting to get a good shot. (If that was possible.)

The day was a bit rainy so I went with wet hair. (Something, I realize, would have looked better had I done my hair or dried it some.) The feel was intended to be the raw me though, so I feel that it turned out as it should. I feel like a princess living out in the woods. It is hard to feel like a princess in the brush as I hope you can see in the next few shots.


It is hard not to be in tears while posting this. I find that this shot is a small look into my soul so bear with me. I am not comfortable, I am nervous to look at the camera, I am ok with the viewer seeing simply a profile of me. I am a mom of five and my body shows that. Unfortunately, my metabolism does not make it easy to keep my once under appreciated body. It is hard not to look past my own shell.


My first attempt to look at the camera when the shutter released was not easy at all. I had to coax myself into it. Not fully accepting of the moment, the task, or myself – I just did it.


I then told myself to be pleased with the fact that I tried and that is what counts. Honestly, I am very proud of myself and often draw back on this experience when shooting others. I try to stop and remember how I felt so I could better help others feel more comfortable in their own skin.

Of coarse, I had to turn to my children to brush off the experience,  because thinking too hard about it is never good. I had time enough to edit and dwell on it – then becoming more pleased with the overall outcome.


My girl is my constant companion! She loves to assist me on shoots – even those of just myself. She was also my comforter this day saying “Mom – You are beautiful!” I love that they are there to help me reflect through their eyes. This is my angel. Grateful I can practice on all of my babies.



My son was hanging out watching what was happening. I thought – I want to practice in Full sun. Where would I go in a huge meadow with only one tree. He was in reg. school or play clothes – nothing thought out at all. So we worked it and he of coarse nailed it for me :)

This is not an uncommon day at all for me. I will keep some and get rid of other images – learning from it all. I then will go to plants and work on macro images. They are so fun and help me to become better at focusing. Understanding Depth of Field (DOF).



I have discovered that although tilted images may be popular and fun – I don’t like how I do them LOL I tend to want to tweak it upright after all is said and done.


Here are some shots of our huckleberry bushes. I love the contrast of reds and greens.  shooting in full sun gave me a bunch of options to work on – from dealing with shadows to over exposure. I also work on colors and b&w options.



Both of these shots were played with in color and b&w. In the end I liked both options Hahaha.



Many think that being a photographer is quite glamorous. I am here to testify that it is work, practice, work, with some success inserted – but never without work and practice.

Thanks for letting me pull some pieces out of my vault. Thanks for letting me share a bit of me.

It started with my kiddos…

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

Photography became serious because of my kiddos. I love and always have loved photography, but my kids are what helped me take it to the next level. I wanted great work of them on my walls and in books. So when I take time out to spotlight them, I don’t feel bad at all. My children are the reason I am able to do this all for you too. They are super sports willing to do anything for the perfect shoot.  ***I do not put my kids in danger, nor any of my clients. Everyone’s safety is my first priority*** Basically, the kids are willing to take their coats off and face the wind and chill to get the “look or shot”.
We live near a jetty that just adds a certain element to the beach shoots. I kept thinking – what a fantastic spot! I have to take my kiddos there. Christmas came and the kids received some awesome clothes – it was set! I had to take them there for pictures :)

Just before sharing the images I want to talk about clothes. People always ask me what to wear in a photo shoot. My suggestion is this… Matchy Matchy does not always work, but sometimes it does.  Sometimes I dress my girls alike and then my boys, but I mix it up slightly by having them in different colors than the other. So they don’t all have RED or all WHITE or all GREY. In the images below you will see that my boys all have 1/4 zip sweaters and the girls are in sweater dresses.  It worked out beautifully in my opinion.  I love that the sweater theme was the same, but the colors are mixed. I chose some colors that work really well with each other. Red, White, Black, Gray.  The boys all chose to wear the pants that they wanted. I think my oldest even chose to wear khaki’s LOL.  Usually I would say 3 or 5 main colors but a touch of white or cream  or black does not really count as a color all of the time.
In images words don’t always look great. Patterns are fine if you try to match it with a solid. If you don’t want anyone really matching like my kids do here – then choose Sunday dress, dress/casual, casual, PJ’s and then choose a set of colors…  Blue, Pink, Cream or Mustard, Gray, Black, with a touch of red or maroon.  Make sure that the colors are in the same family. You don’t want a Navy and a teal and an aqua blue.  Each blue is a different blue. Finding a color in the same tone is important. If you have to take a shirt with  you or a color swatch.

I am going to be posting some color ideas in the short future. I think  you will love the ideas. :)  Now some amazing picks of my babies.  Yes, I have mommy goggles. I know it and don’t care. You will see that each child has their own personality. Oh… and know that even my children (children of a photographer) are not easy to shoot. These kiddos made me WORK for these shots. LOL It is all part of being a kid and I love it!

You have to see this too. This was a highlight to our photo shoot. Look behind the kids in the water. There is a seal. Actually, there were 3 that kept bopping in and out of the water. The kids got a kick out of that.

I love to take pics of my kids looking at the camera of coarse because I love to see their faces… but the pics that thrill me are the ones that show their personalities or what I see on a daily basis. My one daughter is always in her own little world. She does not scream for the lime light ~ in fact, she is a quiet little soul most of the time. She is very difficult to photograph because I can rarely get eye contact from her. I don’t mind though because that is her. This next shot with her and her siblings happens to be a very favorite of mine.

When there are young kids I don’t like to mix the poses up very much. They are already out of their comfort zone with someone taking their pictures. Getting the shot is a big deal for these little guys. I do change things up though when I break into smaller groups or individual shots. It really all depends on the children and what they are telling me with how they respond to it all.  Actually, I find it is harder on the parents than the children LOL. Parents, even if your babies cry… it is ok. Your kids will never offend me. Crying is ok. Your caring for  your babies is ok. Never a need to apologize. In fact… those crying babies make for some cute pics too :) I have some arguing sisters in these next few pics that we totally get a kick out of here at home!

Funny thing is that we always tell them that one moment they are enemies and the next they are best friends. This was just one very small moment and we have it recorded for time. Hahaha. For the most part they are so good to each other. I like getting them in their element talking to each other or looking at the seals or watching their brothers. These are my daughters. They can look pretty at the camera… but it is all the other looks that as a mom mean something to me. As a photographer the different crops and angles are fun too.

My boys seriously crack me up! They each have such different personalities and are little goofballs. Samuel loves to cheese it up BIG time! LOL Edmond is a ham who loves to pose or be the center of  attention. The little man is definitely a youngest child. Jared is a young man. So responsible – but he does love attention too. He is not one for taking his picture so he does not always cooperate, but then he will let his personality shine. He is so awesome. Love that boy!

What is a photo shoot if each individual can’t shine for themselves? There is no way I could let these cuties dressed in their best get away without letting them each have their own moment. I usually ask where the child would like their pics or let them do their own thing while I go all paparazzi on them. This time Jared went and found a stick and was roaming around. Of coarse Samuel and Edmond had to pick up sticks too. Instead they were playing king of the mound LOL.  My girls were dancing, jumping, twirling in the wind. Nathanya is like a little dear bouncing and walking on air. Miriam loves to leap and just do her thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang.

Anyone who knows Jared knows that this is him! I am glad I spend time with each child waiting for the real them to pop out. This is the one I look on and think… now that is my boy! The boy who thrives on the smiles, laughs, and attention. The other images are cool, fun, and something to be proud of but this one is the one that touches my heart strings!

Samuel disguises himself as serious then changes in a split of a second. He just makes me laugh as I literally watch his brain in motion in each shot.

Sir Edmond! He begs me to get the camera out and go take pictures of him. He cracks me up!

Nathanya was not in the mood for a photo shoot today which is not unusual. She was not angry. She was not cooperative either. She kept her hands right inside her sleeves to keep them warm. In an image it is not ideal to have the hands not showing, but this is the way she likes to walk around every day. She has no body fat so any extra warmth she will take. The images are not being added to a contest… these are for me and our family.  I love that she is being her.  When we look back on it we can say – remember how  you always…. We still got some very fun shots from her playing on her own.

This is how she travels normally. She almost walks on air.

Ok mom – I think this is old news now! LOL

And last but not least ~ although in birth order she is first, is our Miriam.  All I have to do is ask her to go do her thing… and she does.

There you have it… My kids in our little world.


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