Barbra’s portrait

Barbra is a mother of five and widow. She wanted a nice portrait JUST BECAUSE….
At first she was very shy and stiff so I gently added new directives and locations, and made her feel as beautiful as she is. Its not easy to pose and react with a camera in your face so we took it slow and had fun. The hardest part is to make someone trust you enough to relax. AT the end of the session, I had her take her hair down (a million bobby pins) and shoes off and we enjoyed the beach together.

Evolution of a Photographer: My story

I believe I was around 8 years old when my dad gave me a little Kodak Brownie camera and black-and-white film. He was an industrial designer and inventor who loved taking pictures of his eight children and also of his inventions and product models. I started making a little dioramas with my dolls with captions and shot the scenes for posterity. At a young age I excelled in the arts and music. Earning a BS degree in Fine and Applied Art from San Diego State University cemented my intent to become an artist and graphic designer. I bought a fairly good 35 mm film camera in my early 20s. I started with an Olympus and later, the Pentax Spotmatic 35mm cameras. Photography was a hobby for me for many years while my career path meandered from high school art teacher in Carmel, California to working as an art director for an advertising agency in San Diego and then later continued along that path when I move to Jacksonville, Florida. I was a Creative Director for a national direct marketing company in Jacksonville, Florida.  I also was learning Photoshop when it first came out. (I think it was Photoshop 3 then.) In the early years of my photography business, I continued to explore my fine art photography and invested in a large Epson printer to make fine art prints that were sold in galleries around the country. I was tenacious in learning as much as I could. When I didn’t feel confident, I studied on my own to learn the skills I needed.

Experience is your most valuable tool.

Early photo portraits including hand colored Black and Whites

As a graphic designer , composition and lighting product beautifully was key. Working with a half dozen studio photographers around the country and learning as much as I could about studio lighting from those talented professionals was invaluable experience. After 27 years with this company, I was downsized and had to decide where my next career was going to take me. At this point I had just reached my early 50s and decided to start my own company… and I went back to my roots as a fine artist and photographer.
I joined the national PPA and the local JPPJ club to learn photography.Purchased the best equipment that I could afford at the time. I took as many seminars as I could afford and practiced my craft. Some of my mentors were Anne Geddes, Tim Walton, Sue Bryce, Jasmine Star, Laura Jade, Lyndsey Adler, Kevin Kubota, Bambi Cantrell, Marcus Bell, Sandy Puc, among others. 

Making sure I am properly licensed and insured, tending to my finances efficiently, paying taxes monthly, concentrating on very good customer service, my business grew. I am fortunate to have my husband, a CPA handle the accounting over the last decade. He uses Quickbooks and has configured our books properly, with externals backing up everything. In my office, all of the images, raw and retouched jpgs are stored on external hard drives with DVD burns of the final images which I file in job folders. Organizing my clients alphabetically by last name first and also with sub folders for raw, retouched, with copies of invoices and payment information is done weekly. On my 27″ iMACs, I only keep current client images and stored in four main folders: Portraits, Weddings, Fine Art Photography, and Paintings. Since I am good about filing and getting back with clients quickly, its become easy to locate a photo. My rule is always to post the proofs within the week of the session. Even when I have a thousand shots to go through from a wedding, I never have disappointed a client by taking too long to post. They are always anxious to see the proofs so I don’t like to make them wait.

 

BABIES, FAMILIES AND CHILDREN

The key to a good portrait is making your clients feel good and gently posing them. I am a fan of natural light for much of my photographic portraits. My favorite camera for portraits is my Nikon 800E with an 85mm prime lens.

The hour goes quickly if you continually keep moving, making new groupings, concentrating on individual portraits (which gives the others in the group a break) …especially if you sense a person is uncomfortable or if a pose isn’t working. Working with children and babies is difficult at times so I keep the session moving by having several set locations worked out in advance. Also  telling jokes or talking to the little ones directly so they feel comfortable with me (without their parents urging them to smile which generally makes it worse.) Sometimes I bring toys, bubbles and noise makers to help with a little ones attention.

 

 

Studio and Location Portraits

Fine Art Fantasy Photography

As an artist who paints, I also like to explore a bit of fantasy with costumes and artistic manipulations. This requires some conversations prior to a session with your client/model. Then spending the time to locate props and costumes. I actually rented a real wolf for my Little Red Riding Hood portrait. Some are done in the studio and some on location. When I am out and about, I scout for locations continually. Once, a friend had some antique crossbows and archery bows and he was a hunter. So when I did his wife’s portrait, I made her into Diana, the goddess of the Hunt.

Professional Business Portraits

During the early years of study my photography business, I spent a lot of time and money investing in really good equipment in education. Fortunately for my years as a graphic designer, retouching and working on my images digitally came easy.  As an artist I adored spending hours manipulating my images to be a little bit more artistic and creative. Starting a business is a big challenge of finding clients that trust you to do a great job for them and then delivering on that promise. Being able to offer coffee table books is a great way to share a family’s session with friends and family. I always designed my books with traditional design methods, making thumbnails of the chosen images, design sketches and placing them on pages in Photoshop with no templates. There are many companies now who print consumer books with various templates for photographers who do not have design skills. I feel that my designs are totally unique in this regard.

Custom Designed Books

A lot of my business was word-of-mouth and I have spend a lot of capital on advertising, printed sales sheets, cards, professional folders, packaging, and everything that it took to set myself up as a professional. Because of my graphic design skills, creating custom books for my clients became a big draw. Shooting weddings, portraits, babies and families really kept me busy. I was offering something a bit different: A Traditional and classic posing mixed with tinting and artistic effects.

For the next decade I shot approximately 225 weddings locally and internationally.

Early in my photography career the pro lab that I was using, accidently destroyed two rolls of film from the wedding that I had just shot. It was the worst feeling I’ve ever had because I always wanted to do an exceptional job for my clients. That was when I switched from film cameras to digital professional gear. I’ve been using Nikon products for the last 15 years. I generally like to carry three cameras with various lenses and flashes to big shoots and scale it down to two cameras for family portraits. Having  numerous Nikon cameras, D2X, Nikon D200, D300, D600, couple D700s, D800E are part of my arsenal. I used to use zoom lenses because of the price and convenience but have found that prime lenses are now my go to LENSES. Also using a bracket for my flashes for vertical versus horizontal shots is a must. Notice in the shot above, I have a shadow to the right because my assistant did not use his bracket correctly.

 

Weddings

Over a decade ago, I turned my two car garage into a professional portrait studio and I’ve had a lot of success being able to create images in my studio.

In the studio, I use daylight fluorescent Westcott light Banks and have a myriad of props and backdrops for portraits, children, and fantasy portraits. These Westcott lights are great because they don’t strobe and when you’re shooting a baby or somebody who is sensitive to light flash. …These really are PERFECT. By the way, because they do not flash, there is a chance to capturing a blurry shot so really planting yourself and asking client not to move much helps. For action shots, I make my ISO faster or add more light.

 

I have always enjoyed directing my brides and grooms into having fun,  and enjoying the experience of being photographed.

At this point in my career I’m starting to concentrate on just portraits and families. Still I do my altered fine art photography for galleries and have been concentrating on my paintings too. NEW TECHNOLOGY COMING:   Sometimes, I don’t bring my heavy camera gear and wish I did when inspired. I’m looking forward to owning the new compact Light L16 because it’s much smaller and I’m interested in low light photography. I will be able to slip this camera into my purse and always be ready to capture a scene. So many times, I have been missed getting a low light shot even with a high end digital camera. The L16 uses breakthrough optics design with the most advanced imaging engine ever created to give you the control of a DSLR with the convenience of a smartphone. With many cameras firing simultaneously, the L16 captures the details of your shot at multiple focal lengths, then fuses that information to create an incredible image with up to 52MP resolution. CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE LIGHT.CO.    If you go on to read some earlier posts, you can see more recent portraiture examples as well as some of my fine art photography.  Thank you for checking in.      My websites are:

http://www.lindaolsenphoto.com and http://www.linda-olsen.artistwebsites.com

For the love of Photography

I have loved photography since I was a young girl. It wasn’t until in my 50’s that I left the corporate life as a graphic designer and Creative Director to pursue it full time. Working hard to hone my skills as a portrait photographer specializing in weddings, (over 200) learning and growing continually, I still have made time for my fine art photography. In 2009 I actually was honored as one of the noted fine art photographers internationally by Silvershotz Magazine and have also had my work in many art gallery shows over the last fifteen years. Fine art photography for me is a passion that gives me such joy. I adore adding textures and manipulating my images to create more of the mood of when I captured the image.

Sometimes I find myself in acute back pain at my computer “playing” with an image to enhance and create an effect I envision. Its addicting. There are so many photoshop actions that you can purchase and also I make my own actions of effects that I want to try on other images.

California 2016

Photographing crackling paint, water, rocks or wood textures and then softly layering  into certain areas of a photo alters the feeling sometimes dramatically. Each image calls to me to create something more special than when I originally shot it. Each become unique statements. Each image brings back memories and history.

 

By the way, the last photo is me.

Nicki and Jon’s Wedding at the Historic Casa Monica

Nicki and Jon had a beautiful wedding at the Casa Marina Hotel in Jacksonville Beach. I had one wonderful assistant, Nancy FLynn who helped me cover the key events as well as details to tell the entire story of their wedding in photos.

Senior Portrait in Studio, garden and beach

Soraya finally became a senior in high school and like many her, was very disappointed in the standard graduation contracted photos. I was thrilled to work with her. She was very shy so when she arrived, I showed her samples of poses and expressions. She really relaxed knowing I had something more interesting in mind.
She didn’t have to smile. Her mom stayed in the other part of the house so I could work one on one with Soraya. I also painted a 7×3 foot board to have a white background outside, did some studio portraits, some den photos and garden scenes. The last set was our beautiful beach. We were done in about an hour and a half.

Professional Portraits for Retirement Navigation LLC

Friday I shot 6 executives to update their website and advertising materials. I orchestrated 4 different locations within a lovely hotel and also found two areas to do natural light with fill card, individual portraits.
Wolf Retirement Navigation executives were so pleasant to work with.

Professional portraits for New Business

Alena wanted a portrait for a new business that she is working on. She brought the globe prop to help with her idea. For a woman in her mid forties, Alena is quite lovely.

Alena wanted a portrait for a new business that she is working on. She brought the globe prop to help with her idea. For a woman in her mid forties, Alena is quite lovely.

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video of gliding

Gliding at 4,000 feet

Well. I checked an experience off my bucket list Saturday. My friend Frank has been flying since the late 1960's and I trusted his piloting completely. I had no idea how it worked, jumping from cloud to cloud on he cloud street. First we were towed up behind a single engine plane. It was important to keep the nose at the right angle so A. we didnt pull the towing plane down or B. we didnt make the plane crash. Success! When we were towed to the first cloud which was close to 3,000 feet, I was able to pull the yellow tow hitch and we were on our own. Clouds have updrafts underneath and finding the updrafts, which are like invisible tornadoes, was hard but frank knew what to look for. With no clouds, you glide back down to earth. Following the hawks and eagles gave clues to where the updrafts were. To go higher, you must ride the updraft in a circle round and round as you get higher. Then you can glide to the next cloud, looking for another updraft.We glided for an hour between 3-4,300 feet in the quiet. Theonly noise was the wind blowing through the porthole window and the altimeter beeping as you descend. It was an amazing feeling. I couldn't stop smiling!! Perfect day to see all of Duval county, downtown Jacksonville and eastward to the ocean. I only had a 24-85 lens on my camera. No room in tight space  for a longer lens.

Well. I checked an experience off my bucket list Saturday. My friend Frank has been flying since the late 1960’s and I trusted his piloting completely. I had no idea how it worked, jumping from cloud to cloud on he cloud street. First we were towed up behind a single engine plane. It was important to keep the nose at the right angle so A. we didnt pull the towing plane down or B. we didnt make the plane crash. Success! When we were towed to the first cloud which was close to 3,000 feet, I was able to pull the yellow tow hitch and we were on our own. Clouds have updrafts underneath and finding the updrafts, which are like invisible tornadoes, was hard but frank knew what to look for. With no clouds, you glide back down to earth. Following the hawks and eagles gave clues to where the updrafts were. To go higher, you must ride the updraft in a circle round and round as you get higher. Then you can glide to the next cloud, looking for another updraft.We glided for an hour between 3-4,300 feet in the quiet. Theonly noise was the wind blowing through the porthole window and the altimeter beeping as you descend. It was an amazing feeling. I couldn’t stop smiling!! Perfect day to see all of Duval county, downtown Jacksonville and eastward to the ocean. I only had a 24-85 lens on my camera. No room in tight space for a longer lens.

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Family Portrait with Santa Claus

Every Christmas the Ingram Family hires Santa and Mrs. CLaus to make a personal visit with their three families with grandchildren under the age of 6.  I photograph the entire hour of fun with individual and family portraits. I then custom design a large book for each family with the images form the session. The little ones remember me now and welcome me with kisses and hugs. One little 5 year old came up and told me I was the best picture taker EVER.. OMG I melted.

Every Christmas the Ingram Family hires Santa and Mrs. CLaus to make a personal visit with their three families with grandchildren under the age of 6. I photograph the entire hour of fun with individual and family portraits. I then custom design a large book for each family with the images form the session. The little ones remember me now and welcome me with kisses and hugs. One little 5 year old came up and told me I was the best picture taker EVER.. OMG I melted.