Vacation Time - Taking Great Family Vacation Photos

Summer’s here - time for Family Vacation and Photos

Can you believe it is already summer! And that means its VACATION TIME for many of you. Where are you going this summer? Somewhere enjoyable and maybe even exciting I hope! Where ever you go, make the most of it and make it memorable!

As I was thinking about this blog, I made a little trip down memory lane by looking through some photos in our family albums. Wow, I forgot some of the things we did with our children when they were young, and how glad I was that we have pictures to remind us. Now some of my pictures are better than others, some are not at all great technically. When I took these, I definitely wasn’t thinking about all the things that I think about now when I take a picture - like lighting and composition. But, you don’t need to be a professional photographer to do some minor things to help capture a great memory of your family and make it a pretty decent image as well.

Here are a few tips for taking great family vacation photos:

  • Show the personalities of your family members.

  • Show them having fun.

  • Capture them when they aren’t posing, but are just being themselves.

  • Be sure to ask someone else to take a photo of all of you occasionally- so you can be in a few pictures too !!!

  • If possible, try to compose your family with a fairly solid background so they don’t get lost in whatever is going on behind them.

  • And along with that, put some distance between them and the background which will also help them stand out.

  • Avoid standing them up against a wall - so they don’t look like they are in a police line up! Again, put some distance between them and the background.

  • Be sure and download them and save them in whatever format works for you - but prints are good and they are a tangible way to remember!

Take a scroll through a few of our family vacation pics through the years. Some are at the beach, at a friend’s lake house, from a trip to Disney World, and the last one is my son’s favorite of him riding horseback in Royal Gorge, Colorado. I think he likes this one because although we were in a caravan of others on horseback, he looks like a big boy all by himself riding the horse up the mountain! He has other fond memories of the horseback ride that day which further contribute to him liking this image!

Branding - How To Make a Good First Impression and Set Yourself Apart as a Job Applicant

Would you like to earn more money? Secure better benefits? Get a better work /life balance? Get out from under your micromanaging boss? Need to find a new job? Maybe you’ve been recently laid off and desperately need to find a new job! There are some things you need to think about before you submit your next resume and job application..

As a hiring manager with over 30 years of experience, I have reviewed a lot of resumes for a number of different job titles. I continue to receive resumes that amaze me, and not in a good way! For a recent job posting, that has now been posted about 10 days, I have had 90 job applicants - for one position! That means I have had to do a quick scan of each applicant’s resume to pick out key skills and qualities. I have found certain, shall we say, irritations for lack of a better way of saying it, that cause me to move a resume to the bottom of the pile or even to the NO pile. Because with that many applicants, I am looking for the cream of the crop!

How to make a good first impression and avoid the Do Not Consider pile :

1) Your resume should be clean, clear, and easy to read. Use standard fonts, avoid calligraphy or other script fonts. Be sure to include your contact information - phone number and email address.

2) Since you likely will be submitting your resume electronically, save it as a pdf so there won’t be any issues opening it and any tables or formatting you have used will be preserved as you intended.

3) When you save your resume, name the file with your name, such as John Brown Resume.pdf. Please, please, please - don’t submit your resume with the file name - My Resume, or Final Draft, or Clinical Resume, or Latest Resume, etc. As a manager, if I need to save your resume into a folder with other applicants or share with others for review, to be able to identify yours from 15 other files, I have to rename your file with your name, which I will probably have to write your name down before I go to save as or rename feature. That takes up my valuable time and causes me to wonder why you couldn’t think of this on your own.

4) If you are going to include a photo of yourself on your resume, be sure to use a good quality image. I really don’t have an opinion about whether this is something you should or should not do and it probably is more industry specific, but I can tell you I am seeing it on some. And don’t snap a quick selfie and paste it on your resume; or on Linked In for that matter. At a minimum, get someone else to take your picture at eye level, with you smiling and looking bright and intelligent, looking straight at the camera with a clean background. I don’t want to have to look up your nose or see you in a bar or at a party. If you are applying for a professional job, think about the kind of impression you want to make! As the saying goes - A picture is worth a thousand words!

5) Linked In - If you are on Linked In, and you should be, you need to include a good picture of yourself, and ideally a professional headshot image. Many hiring managers will research the Internet for additional information about candidates and Linked In is a good place to start. The information there should match what is on your resume and all should be professional.

6) Proof read your resume - at least a couple of times. Run it through spell check. Read it backwards. That is a proof readers trick to catch typos because when you read it normally, you know what it is supposed to say and your eyes skip right over some of the words. Have someone else read it. I can’t believe the typos that people have in their resumes. That is a real pet peeve of mine!

7) Read the job qualifications and duties and only apply if you really qualify for the job. Please don’t waste my time if you have no relevant experience or don’t meet the stated minimum requirements.

8) Cover letters are great - if they are current and are written specifically for the job for which you are applying. When I read a cover letter that is written for a different job, especially if the job title is really different from my job posting, that tells me you can’t even take the time to do this one important thing correctly.

9) Lastly and most important - BE HONEST! Please don’t embellish your accomplishments or past responsibilities. It will eventually come out and then you are toast. I will either find it out when I interview you or, when I call to verify information. If I am not able to verify it and I trust your word and then I hire you and you don’t have the skill set to fulfill my job despite you leading me to believe that you did, that is not going to be a happy outcome for either of us.

10) One last thing - create an email account with your name to use for professional business- i.e. JohnBrown@gmail.com. Avoid emails such as Precioushoney@hotmail.com etc. save that for personal use. You want to avoid a naming convention that may unintentionally bias someone against you.

Remember, You are Your Brand!

How you present yourself and how others see you is your Brand. If your resume is your first presentation of you, ensure you are making a great first impression to set yourself apart from the crowd!

Good luck to you and if I can help you with your personal branding or professional headshots - I’d love to hear from you!

Professional photography - Pictures that Last a Lifetime and Beyond

Who remembers Kinderfoto? I probably just dated myself because I don’t think they are still in business. It was a photography studio in area malls. I don’t remember if you had to schedule an appointment or if you just dropped in. They had packages available that were pretty reasonable given the state of our finances at the time, and seems like we took the kids in at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, and then every year after that. I still have many of the prints, but unfortunately, the color in many of the prints has started to deteriorate. Probably the saying, “you get what you pay for” applies here.

I did manage to “splurge” a few times while my children were growing up and got good professional pictures made. Not surprising, these images still look good - color is still the same as it was when we first received them. And that’s the point I want to share here - professional photography does come at a cost and there are times when it is worth spending the extra money to get quality that will last.

And while we are going down memory lane, who knows what is in the last picture below? That used to go in the A drive on the computer - again, I’ve just dated myself and this is not the oldest media storage - there used to be a real “floppy” disk that I believe went in the B drive. Needless to say, these are now obsolete and whatever was stored on them is beyond retrieval. If it was important, too bad! Digital images certainly have their place, but make sure you get quality prints of the images that you want to preserve! Professional photographers can ensure you get quality from capturing the pose to quality printing on archival paper.

Kinderfoto from the mall.

Kinderfoto from the mall.

Professional photo - I think probably Olan Mills!

Professional photo - I think probably Olan Mills!

Do you know what this is? It used to store digital files/ images. It is now obsolete. I don’t know what is on it because I can’t put this in my computer. It is useless.

Do you know what this is? It used to store digital files/ images. It is now obsolete. I don’t know what is on it because I can’t put this in my computer. It is useless.

Lessons Learned from My Parents

Everyone knows that when we are teenagers our parents are not the brightest stars on the planet. In fact, they can be down right irritating and may be even great hindrances to our ability to have fun! But then, miraculously, as we get older, our parents seem to become much wiser! My dad passed away when I was only 15, so I didn’t have the opportunity to appreciate him as he would surely have grown wiser. My mom passed away while my children were young, so I did have a few years to take advantage of her wisdom. Despite my limited years with them, I did manage to glean a few pieces of wisdom that I hope I have been able to instill in my children, who are now adults.

1)      Love your children unconditionally.

2)      Love God and take your children to church (don’t just send them).

3)      Life is not always easy or fair.

4)      It is good to be self-sufficient.

5)      Education is valuable.

6)      Hard work pays off.

7)      Don’t smoke!  They did and they both died from smoking-related diseases (so did Randy’s parents).   I am passionate about this!

8)      Family is important.

To add one of my own, remember to take pictures your family together - at least at special occasions, but for informal get togethers too! And occasionally, hire a professional photographer to capture some really good memories of all of you together. You won’t regret it!

What are some things you learned from your parents?

I was their Christmas present!

I was their Christmas present!

professional photography - See The Difference!

I came across this poor quality print last evening at home and thought about the difference between it and the print that is currently hanging in my office. As a professional photographer, I understand why some clients may think it makes sense for them to just get digital images rather than paying the cost to have the professional photographer handle the printing for them.

See the two pictures below from the same original digital file - the first one was printed through a company I found online (image was taken approximately 3 years ago - this is not faded from age). I thought it was a great price and I was really proud that I was getting such a good bargain. The second one was printed by my professional lab. The professionally printed one has vivid colors that are true to life with crisp lines (and it has been hanging in my office and exposed to fluorescent and indirect light every day without fading). The mail order image looks faded and just sits in the corner in my studio and rarely gets any light exposure. The difference is really quite remarkable! So where is the bargain if the finished product is of such poor quality that you don’t even want to have it displayed for your enjoyment?

Yes, there is more cost associated with having images printed professionally. But the end result is well worth it. Besides looking better, it will be printed on an archival medium that will last for many, many years. The colors will be calibrated and true to life. And don’t think that if you have the digitals you will always have them - how many computers have you upgraded and still have programs and files from 10 years ago? We can’t be sure we won’t lose thumb drives or that the technology to read these won’t change over the years. Don’t take chances with your precious memories!

So unless you are just wanting to post some fun images on Facebook, go with the investment of a professional photographer and professional printing!

poor quality from online mail order lab

poor quality from online mail order lab

Professionally printed fine art image - hanging in my office!

Professionally printed fine art image - hanging in my office!

Why you need a personal branding session instead of just a headshot

For many years, all you needed to promote yourself was a great resume.  Maybe you had a great headshot too.  For those really innovative people, they would add a small square headshot image to their resume.  That was yesterday.  Today, it takes more, a lot more, to get noticed and make an impression.

Personal branding is quickly becoming the new standard. 

What is personal branding? 

Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands.  Your personal brand is how you promote yourself – it is your reputation. It tells a story – your story!   Its all about you - how you present yourself, who you are, what you stand for, the values you embrace and the way you express those values. Its how you interact with others.  Your brand communicates your value to make you stand out, communicates your unique identity whether it is to potential employers or potential clients. In short, it is a personal online portfolio.   Tim Salau, community builder and founder of Mentors & Mentees, says “Your personal brand should follow you everywhere you go. It needs to be an authentic manifestation of who you are and amplify what you believe.” 

 What are the benefits of creating and promoting your personal brand?

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A Little R&R in the Texas Hill Country!

Its Springtime and Randy and I celebrated our wedding anniversary this past week, so we decided to take a little road trip to the Hill Country. One of many nice things about living in Texas is that there are so many great places to visit and it can really feel like a totally different place than our everyday world. Such was the case with the past few days.

We started our trip by driving to Gruene, Texas (pronounced Green for anyone not from Texas reading this). Gruene is a little German settlement, technically in New Braunfels, along the Guadalupe River in what is known as the Texas Hill Country. IOne goal in choosing the Hill Country was so we could take advantage of seeing the spring wildflowers in bloom - and we were not disappointed! We have also visited Gruene a couple of times in the past and knew it would be a fun destination. We were not disappointed!

I must say that my diet somehow got slightly misaligned on our travels. When you stay at a bed and breakfast and they serve you an amazing feast, its hard to resist. And it was served buffet style with the chef standing right there, and I didn’t want to offend him by not trying everything!

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Caroline's Senior Session

Senior Year! What a special time in a young person’s life! They have their whole life in front of them. I recently had a senior photography session with Caroline. We did her session at Trinity Groves - an up and coming area just west of downtown Dallas. Caroline expressed wanting to have some colorful backgrounds in her images and also wanted some of the skyline of Dallas. We hit the jackpot at Trinity Groves.

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Print Your Memories, Your Life

As a member of Professional Photographers of America, I see it as both a perk and a responsibility to educate my clients on why it is important to print images. Once your photography session is completed and you have the chance to view your gorgeous images, think about where you can display them. Where will you most enjoy looking at them, every day

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Choosing Clothes for your Portrait Session

What to wear? Whether you are preparing for your family photography session, senior session, or business headshot, clients always struggle with this basic question. Here are a few suggestions to get you started! Number 1 - Select clothing that is comfortable! Something that you like. Something that you have been told looks good on you.

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Choosing a Professional Photographer

When it comes to choosing a professional photographer for your family photography session, your senior, or your baby session, It can be really confusing. What questions should you ask? What should you look for? How much is this going to cost? I’m sure you are doing some Google searches and maybe you even have a friend who has used a professional photographer before

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Digitals vs Printed Images

Since we live in a digital age and because we are visual people, it is not uncommon for clients to assume that having their images in a digital format is the way to go. Seems like this makes good sense. After all, digital files don’t take up that much space and if they are on your phone, you can easily get to them

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Preparing for your Portrait Session

For most people, choosing what to wear to their portrait session can be a challenge. Below are a few guidelines that will help. 1) For most types of portrait sessions, you want to think long term. Meaning, when you look back at your image or images in 10-15 years, will you say, “What was I thinking? Why did I wear that that?” You want your clothing and style to be timeless - classic.

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New Year, New Goals

Well, January really flew by and February is here. Despite that, its early in 2019 so I’m thinking it still counts for the New Year. I’m not a big New Year’s resolution person. Always figured if it was important enough to me, I’d just do it and otherwise, I would feel bad if I didn’t follow through.

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