Welcome to the blog home of the Pixel Chicks! :)

We're so happy you've found us! Come back often as we have big big things in store, including contests, giveaways and of course, photography... lots and lots of photography!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cindy Got Married!!!

What a privilege it was to celebrate with Cindy as she married Robert in a magical forest last week. I wish you all could have been there to see how beautiful it was!! Twinkling lights, lightning bugs, beautiful soulful music, and lots of love. Here are a few shots I captured. Laura and Sherry will share more soon, and I will too as I get them edited. ~Alli





Friday, June 18, 2010

A Very Special Wedding

On Saturday evening, June 19, 2010 a very special couple will exchange vows... our very own Cindy Harter will marry her prince charming... her soulmate... Robert Sims. Three of the Chicks will be there to celebrate with her... and the rest of us will absolutely be there in spirit. We are all so thrilled for them both and wish them a lifetime of happiness and love!



There are three things that last: faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.
~ I Corinthians 13:13

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cindy Harter Photography

I had the very talented Danny Kersic come out and shoot me during an engagement session. I can't tell you how much I love doing what I do :) Soooo many wonderful things going on in my life right now. TODAY, I am a fulltime photographer ! I am launching into this biz full steam ahead !!!!!!! I have so many ideas and so many opportunities :) GOD is soooo good ! I get married in 24 days :) LIFE IS GOOD !!! I just had to share !!!! Thank you , to my sweet dearest friends ...MY PIXEL CHICKS .... for staying with me and supporting me on my journey !!!! THESE WOMEN ARE THE BEST OF THE BEST !!! I know of atleast 2 of them that will photograph my wedding WOO HOO ! YEY, for the good life :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Creative Process Feature

Hi ~ Sherry here...
Fall is one of my favorite times to shoot because of all the gorgeous warm colors! Here's an image from winter where I was able to find some of the fall color lingering.
One of the best things about personal images is having the time to get a little more creative and try different things to see what fits your style. With this image, I just let my mind wander until I came up with something that I liked. I actually could have stopped at several times during the process and had an image that would have been acceptable to me but I wanted to push the image (and myself) a little further.

Original

basic S-curve ~added warmth

darkened background ~ soft light layer

slight gaussian blur

texture

slight desaturation ~ clone

The steps behind the process:

1. A basic S-curve to add some depth
2. Pioneer Woman's warmth action to increase the warm tones
3. Darkened the background using the burn tool on a very low opacity
4. Duplicated the layer and changed blending mode to soft light (decreased opacity as desired)
5. Softened the image slightly to give it a more subtle look with very light use of blur
6. Texture added ~ An image of that I had taken of concrete was added as a new layer (the blending mode was changed to overlay). If you've never used textures, find the method that works for you...This is just one of the methods that I use.
Remember: Erase the texture from the areas that you do not want covered, such as the face!
7. Slight desaturation ~ Since I wanted a more subtle look with the texture, I desaturated the image slightly.
8. Cloned distraction ~ The texture overlay added an area that appeared like a smudge. I simply cloned to remove the undesired portion.

So there you have it...a little look at the wheels which turned in my head during the processing of this image. Having a perfectionist streak, I can always find some way to improve on images (and this one is no exception) but I like it when they make me smile! :)

Keep shooting!
Keep creative!
Keep having fun behind the camera...and in your processing!!
~sb

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We have a winner! SEO Guide Giveaway!

Sorry we got a little off schedule here due to some technical difficulties. But we're back and ready to announce the winner of Shannon Steffens fabulous SEO Guide!!!

Drum roll please.... and the winner is HALEIGH ROHNER!!!! In her winning comment Haleigh said: "Great feature! I've been wanting your guide forever! Pick me :)"

Well Haleigh today's your lucky day because The True Random Number Generator at Random.org. did pick you!!! Here's a screen shot:
Congratulations Haleigh!!!! We'll get you and Shannon in touch.

For those who didnt win, or who want more information, please visit Shannons SEO Guide Blog. Thank you again to Shannon for donating this amazing prize and for the fabulous interview!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Jack of Hearts, TV Pilot


Last Saturday I had the pleasure of joining the cast and crew of Jack of Hearts for a photo session. (Side note, if you'd like to follow the journey of filming for this project, check it out here). Jack of Hearts is the brainchild of director Elyjah Wilbur who's wife Kate I met while doing work for the Sacramento Kings. I met up with Elyjah and Kate prior to the shoot to discuss the storyline and characters and get a feel for the show. Together, we talked about how to best capture the essence of the show and bring it out in the photo shoot. It was fun to learn the characters and creatively chew over with Elyjah and Kate the feel of the images, small details that we could include to elude to the character's nature and even the expressions and body language that would best emphasize this.

We also had to shoot with the final product in mind - so, for example, the image below (group images, bottom) with a lot of top and bottom room is intended as a possible poster for the show with room left top/bottom for title, info, etc. That's a key detail I learned while working with the Sacramento Kings who use a lot of the images we create at Media Day for their Gametime covers - for projects like this, its really important to know where the images are going and what they're intended for as it can direct how you shoot and compose.

Below are some fav images from the day and a few behind-the-scenes shots. And make sure to check out the fun video of the shoot here!

Image below - thought you guys would get a kick out of this. SO. I could have dressed a wee bit nicer for this project (and maybe styled my hair a bit! geez. ya don't know how bad it is until ya see yourself! LOL) Anyway! Talking in total girl-to-girl mode - the teeshirt I wore did my figure no favors. So, I did what any self-respecting photoshopping photographer would do - I helped myself out. :)

Before (and no, I swear I'm not pregnant! it was just the wind and the shirt! :))


Liquifying tool to the rescue!!! ohhhh baby! check out the flat tummy! :) If you're unfamiliar with the liquify tool, hit me up at my email and I'll send you some tips (studio@llfotos.com). Every women should know this tool - if only for her own vanity - inside and out!






possible posters


some tech tips from this shoot:
Camera used: Canon 5d
Lens used: 85mm 2.8 (all group shots), 50 mm 1.4 (all individual shots)
Lighting: 2 Alien Bees. Most shots had a main 800AB with an octabox camera left in front of subjects at about a 45 degree angle and a 400AB bare bulb, camera left behind subjects. Individuals were shot using "flat lighting" - one 800AB octabox slightly above and behind my head. We used a white foam core board for fill for some of the group shots toward the end as light was dwindling.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Feature Interview with a Giveaway!! Double the fun :)

Hey everyone!! Well today you are in for a double treat here at the Pixel Chicks Blog. We have a fun and informative interview with the Fabulous Shannon Steffens of Candid Moments. And not only do you get to enjoy Shannon's beautiful photography but Shannon has also been so gracious as to give away one of her books on SEO, which I can personally tell you is fabulous!! Her SEO field guide can be purchased by using the link below. As you will see when visiting her SEO blogsite, there are 2 options in purchasing the guide. For the contest we will be giving away the book option which is a $50.00 value!! So sit back, relax, enjoy Shannon's interview and don't forget to visit her website, blog, and SEO blogsite to check out her Gorgeous work. Then make sure you leave a comment to enter the giveaway. Winner will be drawn by random.org.

And now, we introduce Shannon Steffens of Candid Moments. Thank you so much Shannon for the interview and the giveaway!! You are AWESOME!! :)

Shannon's Photography Website http://www.mycandidmoments.com/
Shannon's Blog http://www.mycandidmoments.com/blog/
Shannon's SEO Blogsite http://www.seophotoguide.com/ (link to buy is on top)

1. How long have you been a photographer, and when did you get started? I have been a ‘photographer’ as long as I can remember. I have ALWAYS be interested in documenting life through photographs. I got my first camera at age 7 and have not stopped taking photos since then. I didn’t have one for a while and felt, lost. I had been doing photographs for friends for a while, when I decided to take the plunge and do it as a business. It was a long journey but Candid Moments was born out of my love of capturing those moments the ones you almost don’t see, between the smiles and the tears. I launched officially the fall of 2006, but really get truly going until after I had my daughter the following spring. In all honestly it was something that just evolved out of my love of photography.



2. If you weren't a photographer...what would be your career choice? I would be a librarian. That was my ‘other’ life before I started my own business. Long story short if I could go and do it again, there are days I would. I loved helping people learn how to find information.

3. How would you describe your work? This is hard, but if I had to give it words I would use fresh, clean and basic. I tend to go with simple and processing that will be more timeless. I would love to be known for my black and whites, which are my personal favorites but my clients seem to love my color, go figure!




4. Tell us your background and how you gained so much knowledge of SEO? It’s simple, I researched it. I work for another company online (Flashpalette can I say that here) and wanted to understand better how to optimize a flash site for SEO. It was during that journey I realized that while SEO is important, most of us just need to raise to the top of a small area and not be listed number one for the term photographer. That when people search they search by area, type or other parameters.


5. Show us your very favorite image taken by you. This is so hard. I have so many. I have to say that my current favorite (and that rotates) is this one of my kids. I like it because it so “imperfect”. My daughter has remnants of tattoos, the clothes are not what I would have picked, the background was their choice, but it’s real it’s “THEM”.



6. What equipment do you use? Nikon all the way! I shoot both with a D700 and a D300 and a variety of lens. I primarily use the 24-70, 60 mm macro, 105 macro and the 85 1.8. I have a few others, but these four are my main staples.



7. What is the one piece of equipment you can't live without? Hmm… this is hard, because I think anyone who knows me would tell you I would die if you took away my 24-70 or my macro’s. However, it is not either, it’s my reflector – odd choice I know. However, it saves me so many times when the light is not just right. I also love that I can and have used it to sit on or just catch the attention of a fussy toddler.




8. What is one piece of advice you can give to photographers to help them get noticed on the web? Make sure you have your website listed with Bing, Google and Yahoo. I also recommend you get your website/business listed with Yahoo and Google maps.

9. What is the biggest misconception about SEO? The biggest misconception is that it’s a magic bullet to QUALIFIED clients. Yes, you need to have good SEO to be found, but there is so much more to getting clients to book you. They may find your site, but you may be priced too high, you may be too far or your style may not mesh. Yes, you do need to work on it and have some web presence and come up on searches, BUT you still need to cultivate word of mouth and make sure you are finding other ways to hit your target market.

10. If you could have any superpower what would it be? To fly, for so many reasons, but I think of all I can show my children about the world if I could just transport them to somewhere else for a bit!


11. What's your favorite guilty pleasure? A hot bath, a good book and Diet coke and dark chocolate. I don’t get all four at the same time often, but when I do it’s heaven!


Again...HUGE thank you to Shannon!! We loved having you here on the Chicks Blog. Don't forget to enter the giveaway by leaving a comment and don't forget to check out more of Shannon's work and her SEO Field Guide :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Work It Baby, Work It!

Posing to me is as much the art of photography as is editing. They all work together and without precision and detail to each area, the image doesn’t come together. When I went into business I began to pay special attention to this area because suddenly I was no longer photographing just people I selected but a wide range of people – many with body or facial attributes that required different posing techniques than I was familiar with. And posing men, women, children, high school seniors, elderly people, models, etc., all require different techniques and skills.

There are some simple techniques though that everyone can follow and like everything in photography, you can then take these and build upon them and make them your own. To keep this article relatively short, I’m just going to mention some techniques I use for photographing women.

1. This is simple technique that I find esthetically flattering – I always note what side someone’s hair is parted on and will typically pose them with their parted side faced away from the camera. I like hair to frame the face – depending on their hair length and style, I typically find this the most flattering.

2. Stand on a stool or have your subject on the ground and photograph them angled down. This narrows the image and provides a slimmer view. However, be aware of women with thin or long faces – this will elongate those features even more. This image is an example of both steps 1 and 2.


3. Use strong directional lighting to slim. If you’re working with studio lights this is easier to achieve but if you’re working with natural light there are a lot of ways to do this too. Strong natural sunlight can be used to highlight only the features you want to showcase while letting the rest fall into dark shadow. The image below shows how late afternoon sunlight can be used to do this – I didn’t use any reflectors for this image and let the shadows go dark. This is a very dramatic example – typically, I’d use a reflector to cast some light back into the shadowed areas.

4. Angle your subject 45 degrees away from the camera and have them bring their chin back toward the shoulder that is closest to the camera and slightly angled down. This is a simple technique that works especially well for headshots and close ups.


5. Have your subject bend and pull the arm that is closest to the camera slightly away from their body. This breaks up the “mass” of their body. Have them place their other arm along side the part of their body that is faced away from the camera and let it ‘disappear.’

6.No slouching! I always tell my subjects to give me a ‘tall spine’ – that just reminds them to stand up straight!

These are good tips for us to remember when we’re in front of the camera too! My pet peeves in pictures of myself are slouching and lifting my chin too high which widens my face. See? We all need reminders! Even things that seem inherent are often forgotten when a lens is facing you! Gently coax your subjects with the above tips and reinforce how great they look and you’ll be amazed how small details can make a big difference!

- Laura

Ps:please vote for my little studio to be #1 in Sacramento HERE!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Interview with Rockstar Photography Team Anthony and Adelynne

One week ago we spotted this incredible young, hot and hip team of Anthony and Adelynne. We really thought you would LOVE to hear more about them. This is the original story on the Traina Photography Blog. Check it out first, then check out our follow up interview:

Without further adieu, meet Anthony and Adelynne:



Pixel Chicks: Hi guys, thanks for accepting this interview with Pixel Chicks. You’ve developed a following with photographers who are looking to you as the face of our evolving industry. We wanted to take this opportunity to get to know you, and answer some questions your followers have. First how old are you, and how long have you been shooting weddings?


Anthony:
I’m nine and a half, and Ady (Adelynn) is six, but me mum & dad have been doing this since I was four. I mean when you think about it, I've been part of this industry since before I could properly dress myself. That's the brilliant thing really... this is about art defining you, you defining art... there's really no limit as to the potential we have for self discovery, while at the same time showing your clients who they really are to each other.

Adelynn: We haven't shot any weddings yet.

Pixel Chicks: Are you both from Oklahoma City, because Anthony your accent…

Anthony: (interrupting) Right, so the thing is, I've been watching a lot of Jerry Ghionis lately, and I'm quite taken by him. I can't say his style is exactly where I want to be in say five to ten years, but right now I'm just doing my thing love.



Pixel Chicks: OK, so what exactly made you choose the wedding industry? Why not pets, or kids, or flowers?

Anthony: ...I think really, when you asking yourself what’s this thing all about… my life, my passions yea? It just clicked. I love me two pups, but you gotta remember I'm from the old school. Have you ever tried shooting a pug in your kitchen with a kit lens? There's no future in that. Kids are lovely, mum works with kids, but I find them impossible. They don't listen to instruction, they have no vision... they really don’t respect you as an artist. When I was younger I used to take pics of babies, but they go poop or wee on literally everything. Flowers? C'mon, next question.

Adelynn: I’m not really into photography, more in capitalizing on selling myself to other people, which in this industry works for both my clients & my competition. Win win.

Pixel Chicks: Have you ever heard of film?

Anthony: (laughter) Yea, I get that a lot. The truth is I think it's brilliant really. Five years ago people would look at me and say "is that a digital"? Now people say "where's your LCD", or "Holga, that's so cool"! Those are the people who get it.

Adelynn: Isn’t that what people used to watch before YouTube?

Pixel Chicks: What is the one piece of equipment you can't live without?

Anthony: You know, I don't think it’s so much the equipment. You give some new kid a fresh 5D MK2 with a 50 1.2 or 135 f2 and what are they going to do with it? Tools for the artist I say. I guess I would have to say I'm a painter of light, driven from my soul. Does that make sense?

Pixel Chicks: Absolutely, I think we all…

Anthony: (interrupting) I mean I have no idea what brush Van Gogh used to paint Starry Night, but I don't think that's the question we ask ourselves when we see it yea? When people see my work I don't want them to say was that Nikon or Canon? Hasselblad or Leica? Film or Digital? I want them to say "that was captured with brilliance"! But yea, the D70 is killing me, & I'm hoping my parents upgrade soon so I can snag one of their D300's.

Adelynn: I've noticed there's been no answer in my search for a camera bag that is beautiful & stylish in design, yet built for today’s photographer with a six year old frame. There's a market for that, and I'm excited to announce I’m scheduled to launch a new bag that is more expressive than it is functional.

Pixel Chicks: How would you describe your success with the $99 special you offered?

Anthony: You know, I think we learned a lot from that whole experience. We researched the whole Groupon thing, but I didn't want to get stuck selling 200+ weddings at 99 quid. That's just insane. We just wanted to get out there and shake things up a bit, and make a name for ourselves in our market. I think at this point we've really started to settle into things, and looked more towards the bigger picture like WPPI, mentoring & what not.

Adelynn: We haven’t booked any yet.

Anthony: (responding to Adelynn) Wait, it’s not fair to just put it out there like that. To start the entire model was all off. You can't do the kind of work we do & give it away at $99. We were priced way to low, and I really think we had to take a step back & ask ourselves "how do we do this, and remain true to ourselves". Ultimately we got a lot of people buzzing about us, but when it came down to it we really couldn't find anyone who was willing to pick us up & have us back in bed by 9:00. We've run our pricing by some people on photography forums, and I think we'll really start seeing more success starting at $4,500 instead of $99.

Adelynn: When I showed him what I cost he realized he had to raise some prices.

Pixel Chicks: So if I understand what you're saying, you haven't shot any weddings yet, you didn't book any weddings at $99 but think you will have success at $4,500, and you're looking at mentoring in your future.

Anthony: Absolutely.

Adelynn: No question.

Pixel Chicks: What do you say to brides when they tell you they love your work but you are just too expensive?

Anthony: You know, this hasn't come up in any of our client meetings, but I'm certainly anticipating it as we begin to have client meetings.

Adelynn: I truly believe if you want to make a name for yourself you have to price yourself in a way that is going to demand attention. If I have a bride say "$4,500 for 4 hours of photography with no disc, and no prints... that's crazy"... I know I have them.

Anthony: Brides usually don't realize how much photos are worth, and when you can chat it up a bit with them as to why you command such high prices I think they begin to realize "Hey, this is what I've always wanted and I never even saw it. Thank you for showing me all this Anthony, you are a true artist".

Adelynn: (rolls eyes)

Pixel Chicks: How do you handle it when the bride asks why the guests' snapshots are better than yours?

Anthony: Is a guest going to tell you "I got a blink in that shot, can we redo"? No. Is a guest going to say "I need to get a shot of your rings dangling from a chandelier, or a shot the whole bridal party jumping"? No. You know why? Professionalism. Anyone can snap good photo, but does a guest know how to handle a Vicar who won't allow photography during the service? Or how bout requests to remove all the color from an image except for the flowers?

Adelynn: Vicar?

Anthony: I’ve read about them on the forums… I feel I’m ready to handle the situation.

Pixel Chicks: Adelynn, what drew you to this brother & sister team?

Adelynn: I wanted to watch WALL-E, and I couldn't reach the DVD player. Anthony said he would put the DVD in if I helped him… he still hasn't put the DVD in.

Pixel Chicks: Final thoughts, what are your goals, and what would you like to accomplish with your photography?

Anthony: I have some large goals, actually. I’m trying to become the youngest photographer to have a print featured at WPPI. I would like to break out some new styles I’ve been researching, some things that will hopefully have a huge influence on the wedding photography landscape. I’m hoping to revolutionize this amazing form of art & expression the same way the people before me have shaped it. It will help tremendously once I am able to book some clients to make this happen.

Adelynn: Honestly, I'm trying to keep this simple. My model is to go to the west coast blogs, copy the trendy shots, and sell it to my local market. It looks fresh & original, and brides think you're the greatest. That gives me more time to live a fabulous life so people will want to hire me. My goal is to get 1,000 followers on my Traina_Rockstar twitter account this month.

Anthony: Mom let you on twitter?
















Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Discount from our friend the Crochet Nanny!

Hey all... our friend Ellen, otherwise known as the Crochet Nanny, has asked me to let our readers know that she is offering 10% off anything in her Etsy Store just for mentioning The Pixel Chicks! How awesome is that?

Go check her out now and mention the Pixel Chicks to get your 10% off!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Portsmouth photo meet up {Littleton NH photographer, Marshfield MA photographer}

Alli G and I (Megan) met up this past Wednesday and Thursday in Portsmouth NH. If you are familiar with NE at all, NH has a very small section of border in the Coast and one of the main area is the city of Portsmouth. It is rich in culture, charm and history. It is an old whaling port, many of the buildings are still there. The town has a beautiful square with great Art Galleries, eateries and shops, even a Repertoire theater.

We arrived on a crumby, rainy, over cast day. We spent the day having lunch, shopping, talking and then went back to go over our work flows, compared notes and gave each other some tips. I have found in the past that it really is important to have a friend/s that you can meet and share like this with. That is one of the reasons why the Pixel Chicks is such an important group to me ;) I always learn an extra tip or two and it also saves my husband from having to listen to me trying to fiddle with things on Photoshop or the camera. Having a colleague to hang out and do this stuff is not only FUN but also productive. The premise of this meet up was to help our work flow productivity, admittedly we were having too much fun to really sit down and go through all of what we wanted. (another trip in the future but this time with our kids?)

One of Alli’s friends used to work in Portsmouth and she recommended a fantastic restaurant, the Dolphin Striker. We both loved what we ordered, had to take our desserts home and waddled our way back to the hotel. :) and go figure we forgot our desserts in the fridge when we checked out now all I want is Baklava, the dessert I forgot…. ;) Alli had some crazy delicious looking cheesecake, sadly forgotten. ;) Thank goodness!

Thursday, Alli and I spent the morning discussing light and angles for faces and poses. We ventured back into the town and looked for some fun easy locations that offered a lot of what we talked about and also it gave us a chance to fiddle with settings on the cameras. One of the things that I came away with was do not be afraid of your settings, and let the numbers always rule you. Watch your histograms too!

Anyone fortunate enough to have Alli as their photographer and friend knows what I am talking about when I say how giving Alli is. She is generous with her art and her eye. She captures life as it is happening in a beautiful artful way. Besides being what we chicks call our resident word smith, Alli is easy going, insightful and REAL. We laughed a lot on our mini trip! (Did I mention we had a magic mirror in our room, we both wanted to take it home with us, LOL)

Have a wonderful Weekend everyone!
Here are some shots of Alli during our time yesterday.
f3.5 iso 200 1/1250 (yes the wall was so wonky with the exposure) 50mm 1.4 lens

iso 200 f3.5 ss 1/500

iso 200 1/250 f3.5 50mm

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