“Will you Photoshop this out?”
A common phrase we hear all too often.
If you’re looking for a photographer to make sweeping changes to an image so you look "perfect", I’m not the best fit. And trust me, it takes a lot for me to say I’m not the best fit.
But it’s time to draw some boundaries when it comes to how we edit and the impossible standards of Photoshopping + Instagram filters + weird apps that alter your face (terrible!).
Let’s break down the most common scenarios:
Well I edit out your freckles? No.
Will I edit out that blemish that’ll be gone in a week? Yes.
Will I edit out scars? No.
Will I edit out wrinkles in clothing? As much as I can without turning your clothing into plastic ;)
Will I edit out that t-shirt stain that appeared after lunch? Yes.
Will I edit out the flyaway hairs? If they're distracting. If they're showing the wind blowing through beautifully, then no.
Will I edit out that piece of trash or water bottle near your feet? Yes.
Will I edit out that distracting tree branch, bugs flying by, stranger in the background? Yes. I have no problem editing out environmental distractions to an otherwise lovely photo.
Will I "fix" your stomach or arms? No, that's what posing + flattering clothes are for. More below...
Will I edit out your “double chin”? No but I will guide you into flattering poses under beautiful lighting. That being said, not every image gets set up for flattering angles.
If your spouse makes you laugh out loud or if he/she says something so sweet that your cheeks flush, I’m not worried about you looking like a model. I’m sending that pic your way because of that special moment.
How do I make those decisions and why does it matter?
1. I would have to charge twice as much to accommodate editing time for extensive and timely Photoshop requests. I'm not interested in offering that service but there are many out there that do!
2. I don’t want to perpetuate impossible beauty standards by making you look like anything other than you. We need to collectively work towards highlighting the beauty of all people, not highlighting the beauty of over-Photoshopped skin or mimicking celeb Insty posts.
It’s hard to define your role in this as a photographer because it’s my goal that you enjoy your experience and the end results. It's up to me to decide what kind of photographer I want to be though.
When you're 80 years old and showing your wedding photos to grandkids, I want you to recognize your beautiful self from so many years ago. I want you to be reminded of exactly how you felt that day. I don't want you to look back on a plastic figure.
Hot tips for a photo session you'll feel great about:
One final thought: You're great just the way you are.
This is a portrait session I did with Christa Briana for her to create a new website (coming soon!). She is a local illustrator who's work is similar to mine so we enjoyed created hauntingly beautiful images together in the woods of Asheville, NC.
Portraits of Asheville artist Christa Briana
Makeup by Serenity + Scott
Clothes are vintage
Props belong to Christa
My hubby Philip and I partnered to create a delicious + spooky Halloween drink for your festival cocktail party this month!
Philip enjoys getting creative with recipes at home and I love capturing food and drinks.
The Witch’s Apple
.75 oz bourbon or rye
1 tsp B&B liquor
.75 oz cognac or apple brandy
.75 oz sweet vermouth
2.5 oz fresh apple cider
2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
1/8 tsp activated charcoal (to make drink black, available at healthy grocers)
Dry ice is an optional and safe way to add some drama.
Combine all ingredients over ice. Stir well. Strain and pour over 1 large ice cube.
If you don't know the perfect spot to have your engagement or anniversary photos taken, how about at home?
Katelyn and Greg had me over for their engagement photos to bring in the fall season. They live in the cutest cabin tucked away in Black Mountain. It was lovely exploring their stomping grounds and hearing about their life together there.
We roamed around, stomped on leaves and visited the friendly neighborhood cow down street. This cow is more like a dog that comes to say hello when they go on jogs together. I had to see it to believe it.
Maybe you're wondering if you have enough fun spots around your home for an hour long session... think about how you spend your time at home. Let's brainstorm...
Cooking dinner together in the kitchen.
Swinging on the front porch swing.
Drinking wine on the deck after work.
Walking the dog.
Cozy by the fire.
Cuddling in bed after getting to sleep in.
Napping in bed after not getting to sleep in.
Dancing in the living room.
Setting the dining table for date night.
Planting or gardening.
Lounging in the hammock.
Still a no go? Plenty of public spaces we can find instead ;)
Sure, we all take photos of sunflowers. Sure, we see them all over Instagram. Sure, some folks are sick of 'em! And if you're sick of them, you may want to skip to another blog post...
Every portrait holds a new opportunity with the lighting, the model, the environment... sure, some things become repetitive but some things are classically beautiful and I'd throw flowers into the latter category.
As the sun set, we went from afternoon light to the golden hour quickly. I love getting a good variety when shooting!
Kristalyn and I created these portraits in under an hour. We both had some free time that evening and I've really been wanting to see the sunflowers. Heads up, Biltmore rotates these so you may want to do a drive by or call before planning a shoot around the sunflowers. They're located near Antler Village.
I also highly recommend the bright yellow canola field in the springtime.
For any clients interested in roaming the Biltmore Estate grounds for their session, I have a seasonal pass which allows me to bring guests in with me for free after 5pm. Some parts of the estate (including the house and rose garden) are closed at that time but there are plenty other spots!
When I first envisioned our trip to Ireland, I dreamt of olive greens on rolling hills. I imagined deep blue shores along the drive. I had it right, the countryside is just as I hoped. Early morning drives and late afternoon lunches let us see so much beauty in many different lights.
First up, the warm tones of olive green and gold that we often saw in mountains, farm land and around the happy farm animals.
Next we have the cool tones that surrounded us after a long rain, near the ocean waves and where the horses roam.
The blues were almost black, so deep and opaque in the shallows.
Love Ireland and want more? Check out these IG feeds:
As someone who spends a lot of time editing photos, I could never choose between warm or cool tones. They both have a special place in our travel memories.
When Aislin's mom Eliza (Aislin's 16) and I decided on a summer styled shoot many months ago, I began dreaming up ideas of how I see summer. If you've followed my work, I'm unlikely to have neon colors and bright light in my portfolio... for the most part ;) so my vision wouldn't be the standard summer scene.
I began imagining dreamy July nights of rolling around in the grass at dusk with fireflies floating around. I imagined eating popsicles on the dock of a lake as the sun set. I imagined how August days ended and the nostalgia of the last days of summer. Denim shorts, romantic dresses, tall grass, pool floats stacked by the shed, bug bites... I should add that all of this dreaming occurred at the end of winter when I was really in la la land.
At some point, the 1999 movie The Virgin Suicides popped into my head and I continued to run with this vision. I partnered with Eric Campbell of Cotton + Denim for styling 2 looks, Erika Stutz for feminine makeup and Natalie Webb for voluminous hair a la the 1970's brush-out. The team brought their A-game when creating a look for Aislin and we had a beautiful evening at Ivy Creek Family Farm for the shoot.
Top and dress: @Anthro_northcarolina
about the book The Virgin Suicides:
In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters--beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys--commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family's fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, The Virgin Suicides is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life.
This book and movie are both very dark and not what comes to mind for most summer styled sessions but I was smitten. This styled session is not reflective of the plot, it is reflective of the cinematic feel Sofia Coppola created.
Being inspired by something shouldn't mean imitation. Inspiration should bring out fresh ideas you didn't know you had to create something new.