The Red Dress

Cleveland Photographer photographs red dress 7Artistic works are filled with images of women in red dresses.  We are not talking about the red in the movie “Annie” that signifies the exuberance and hope of youth.  No, we’re talking about the seductress Charlotte in the movie, “The Woman In Red” or the woman that Chris de Burgh longed for in his song, “The Lady In Red“.  Sociologists call it the Red Dress Effect, where women automatically seem more appealing because of the effect of red on the subconscious, the more vibrant and bold, the better.

Cleveland Photographer photographs red dress 8Cleveland Photographer photographs red dress 9Cleveland Photographer photographs red dress 12The reality is I don’t think that Renee gave critical consideration to the implications of red on the unsuspecting public.  In my mind, La Modèle en Rouge, saw a beautiful dress in a store window and thought, “the only thing that would make that dress better would be me in it!”.  Tell me what you think, was Renee right?

Cleveland Photographer photographs red dress 11Cleveland Photographer photographs red dress 6Cleveland Photographer photographs red dress 10Cleveland Photographer photographs red dress 14

Health is a staircase, not a doorway

Tim Smith smiling

Tim Smith and Kim
Tim and Kim look over the flavor intense sprouts. Various sprouts provide a new year around crop for CGP. Soon sprouts will be available to restaurants and the general public.
Zoning laws in Cleveland allow chicken aiding CGP in becoming a multi-opportunity urban farm
Zoning laws in Cleveland allow chicken aiding CGP in becoming a multi-opportunity urban farm
Tim Smith and his chicken
Celebrating a healthier and thinner Tim!

The guy in the photograph above is Tim Smith, and one of the reasons he might look so happy is that he’s changed his life for the better.  For years, Tim has been promoting healthy eating through his urban farm initiative Community Greenhouse Partners, (CGP) in Cleveland’s St. Clair – Superior district.  Now, Tim isn’t just talking about healthy eating, he’s become a living example of health by losing more than 80 pounds since the fall of 2015.

As the face of CGP, Tim’s two-pronged approach of educating the public about the importance and viability of locally grown food, as well as producing products for market, took a lot of effort.  The CGP campaign also took a toll on Tim’s health; as a Type I diabetic and weighing more than 330 pounds, health problems would often hospitalize him or have him recovering for extended periods of time.

After health screening and clearance in the fall of 2015, Tim underwent one of the most extreme elective body modification surgeries, a Roux-en-Y laparoscopic gastric bypass.  Now, Tim is physically limited to the amount of food he can consume, because surgery has reduced his stomach to the size of an egg. This food restriction, coupled with regular exercise, puts Tim well on his way to next weight loss goal, losing 100 pounds.


7 Pre-Photo Session Tips


Looking your best for portriaits

No matter what style of portraiture you might choose, looking your best is important.  Looking good in front of the camera starts long before removing the lens cap. Below is a fundamental pre-photo list of things to make your portraits better. It’s human nature to look for shortcuts, in this case resisting them is in your best interest.  Taking a shortcut with the tips below will prevent you from looking the way that you should, absolutely fantastic.

1. Make water your friend.

The cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies haven’t found a way to patent plain H2O.  This mean there aren’t any commercials telling you all the how beneficial water is to your body. The current daily recommendation for water intake is 6 to 8 glasses per day. In the week leading up to your photoshoot, I would recommend increasing to at least 10 glasses per day.  The increase in water is important to your appearance.  Think of your skin like a kitchen sponge; when dry, the sponge looks dull, is full of ridges and does not flex a lot without breaking. Hydrate that same sponge and it glistens with water, the pores are smaller, reducing the ridges, and it’s much more flexible. Proper hydration also provides a healthy environment for the body’s other organs.  Those other organs, along with the extra water, can prevent the accumulation of water-retaining minerals. It’s funny that drinking a lot of water keeps you from bloating from the retention of water.

2. Listen…your skin is talking

Your skin is the largest organ of the body, and its condition silently speaks volumes about you. Proper care will ensure that your skin says only good things about you. Drinking plain water for hydration is one side of the coin, and a good moisturizer is the other side. Men and women should apply a quality moisturizer after thoroughly cleaning the skin a few times a day. Your skin also needs time to recover after grooming.  To reduce redness, eyebrow treatments should be two or three days before the photos.   Shaving the night before the portrait session will also help minimize visible cuts and irritation in your finished image.  If you’re wearing make-up, it should contour the cheeks and accentuate the eyes.  This facial contouring is necessary, since photographs often flatten facial features. If it isn’t part of your portrait package, get a professional esthetician or make-up artist to help with the make-up application.  Investing in a professional is an ingenious way to make a positive difference to your look!

3. Don’t mess with the hair

High on the client question list for photography is, “how will my hair look?” I would rank hair and skin at the top of the list of things that have the largest impact on your portrait appearance. Your hair should have a healthy look, with a shine and a minimum of split-ends. Contrary to what you might think, washing your hair one or two days before the shoot is best.  Hair with a light build-up of natural oils looks and styles much better than clean hair. Most of all, avoid the 3Cs two weeks before your photoshoot: cut, color or change of style. The 3Cs cause the hair to go into immediate shock.  The hair needs time to restore to its natural condition, or you’ll need time to find a solution to any less-than-desirable results.

4. What to wear

It is important that the day of your photoshoot be as stress-free as possible. Deciding what to wear at least three days before you scheduled shoot will help ease that stress. The clothing that you want to consider must fit well.  Also, keep the clothing solid colored, with muted tones that are a little subdued. Thoughtful selection of your clothing will make you the star of your photograph, instead of your clothing. For that same reason, keep jewelry simple and minimalistic. If other people are in the portrait with you, coordinate within the same color palette to avoid awkward clashes.

5. Ready, set, GO TEAM!

Your portrait will be a collaboration between you and a photographer as a team, not against one another.  You and your photographer have the same goal, an impactful portrait. The beginning of this team is by finding a photographer whose style represents how you want to appear. Good photographers have their style, (that’s what attracted you to them).  Don’t ask the photographer to recreate the latest internet image that you’ve found. Instead, share with your photographer different images that you like and why you like them.  Help the photographer understand what you’d like to emphasize, and equally important, de-emphasize.  These are the tools your photographer needs to know in order to light, pose and shoot you for your desired look.

6. How are these photos going to be used?

Photographers know this rule as, ‘begin with the end in mind’. Knowing the final purpose of the photographs will help direct the photoshoot. Business portraits shouldn’t have sexy poses, (unless that is part of your business).  On the other hand, casual portraits portraying a no nonsense attitude look odd. There is no such thing as a universal portrait, so use the right look for the right purpose.

7. Attitude is better than just a ‘tude’

Go into your photo session looking and feeling the best that YOU can be. None of these tips are going to make you look like Chrissy Teigen or Gisele Bündchen; that shouldn’t be your expectation. The emphasis should always be how you can maximize your look, that way your portrait will reflect the best that you can look. Have fun, be silly, enjoy the photoshoot; that way you can be in the moment and not just in the photo.

This tips list couldn’t contain every possible thing that you can do before your photoshoot, but it’s a good start. What I hope that you get most of all, is that planning makes the best portraits. With any luck, lots of people will see and admire your portrait; why not present the best version of you that you can?

The Headshot, Your Personal Logo

Friendly head shot with a smilePersonal brands have become more important than ever, with the acceptance of social media in all aspects of our personal and business lives. The idea of a personal brand comes from the idea that we are the culmination of our ability, knowledge and connections. Through networking, new opportunities are born from the personal brand that we created for ourselves. Networking opportunities have little to do with the company we might represent since that may change over time. We know companies by their unique brand logo, an image that serves as shorthand to the community for what that company is all about. As individuals, we too have a unique image identifier and in social media it’s represented by our headshot.

Male Actor Head ShotBeing visually oriented is part of our culture and conditioning from an early age. How often do we recognize a face before we can remember a name? Descriptions of people often include observations like, “kind eyes”, “strong jawline” or “warm smile”. The uncomfortable truth is that as humans, we make unconscious judgements based on these visual, facial cues. The question then becomes, how do we work with those facial cues to support and bolster our “brand”? The headshot becomes the shorthand that sums up our resume, reputation and personality for your network to use for identification.

The old saying of ‘putting your best foot forward’ is truer in today’s age of social media networking. Your brand needs a strong image that goes along with and supports the value that you bring to your network. Unless you’re a skiing, diving or suntanning instructor, replace those vacation pictures occupying your headshot space. It’s nice to be the “fun” person, but your headshot should also say you can get things done. The same banishment goes for group shots, awkwardly cropped photos and blurred pictures as headshots as well. This removal is not to say there isn’t a place for these in social media, just not as your personal logo.

Bad blurry shot
This would be a terrible choice for a headshot

When using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or some other social media site, it’s common to network and create friendships online, in advance of a meeting in person. This new networking model makes your brand more important than ever. Through careful use of posing, lighting, color and the approximately 43 muscles in the face, we can create and support a brand. Want your network to see you as professional, responsive, trustworthy or intuitive? Let your headshot say it first.

In upcoming weeks, we will take a deeper look at how to make strong headshots. It doesn’t matter if you’re hiring an experienced, professional photographer or you’re an enlightened do-it-yourselfer, make your headshot memorable to your network for the right reasons.

Where Does The Time Go?

Ask a parent what is the biggest day in their life and most will answer the day their child or children were born. It seems like, in the blink of an eye, kids go from infants cradled in your arms to stepping out into the world on their own. Mother and daughter in the park

Mother and daughter playing in the parkThroughout history, parents want to capture the beauty and innocence of babies in pictures. Within those images are the moments that we try to remember forever, frozen in time. The last five generations of American families have been able to capture the day to day moments of their children themselves. The convenience of the point-and-shoot camera in the 1950s, to the smartphone of today, we can watch our kids grow up in pics. Those snapshots are important, and should pepper our albums and memory books, however, the formal print portrait still marks milestones, is on display at home and shared with the rest of the family.

Mother and daughter sitting in the park     Mother and daughter playing on a swing

Just 20 years ago, the song Kiss From A Rose by Seal topped the Billboard charts, J.K. Rowling finished her first Harry Potter manuscript, and Brad Pitt was on the cover of People Magazine as the Sexiest Man of 1995. What are the key memories and images of your family twenty years from now? Now is the time to figure out how to save them.

Baby crawling in the grass