Secrets to Saving Flood Damaged Photos

Secrets to Saving Flood Damaged Photos

With all the recent flooding across the US, due to tremendous amounts of rain, I decided it was a good time to put together some information about saving your memories from water damage.

When floods and fires hit, people don’t grieve losing a bed or a couch.  However, losing valued family photos, scrapbooks and memorabilia make them cry.  There are things that people can do to help save their family photos, I feel this is valuable information for everyone, so I wanted to share my thoughts.

When facing piles of soggy, mud-spattered photos and other valuables – saving them may be possible by using some of following tips.

The first thing you need to do is CAREFULLY lift photos out water, or from being stuck in the mud.  Ensure that you remove photos from albums and frames, etc, and delicately separate any that are stuck together.  Be very careful to not rub or touch the surface of the wet photograph.

Fill a sink with clean, cold water, then gently rinse both sides of your photographs.  Change the water often, as it is critical that it be clean water, free of dirt and other hazards to your photographs.  Ensure that you DO NOT rub the surface of the photo, do not wipe the photos, just gently rinse the photographs.

Lay each photograph, picture side up, on a clean blotting paper (such as a paper towel).  Do not use paper towels that have printing on them, definitely do not use newspapers either, these can transfer their ink onto the photographs.  Be sure to change the blotting paper every hour or so until the photographs are dry.  Make sure that the photos are not in the path of an open window or door or near direct sunlight.  Sunlight and wind can cause the photos to dry more quickly, which in turn can cause the paper to curl.

Taking extra special care when going through this process will give you the best results for saving your photos from flood damage. If you have any hesitation about doing this process yourself, seek the help of a professional photographer, they can help and can also restore the photos when needed.


Perceptions About Professional Photography

Perceptions About Professional Photography

 How Much Too Much Is It?

 How do you want your business to be perceived by potential new clients?

What do you plan on spending to make your business image look its very best?

Think about it—in a perfect world, what would be the FIRST thought you want potential clients to have about YOUR business based on your website and marketing materials?  AND:  does your website and marketing materials, reflect that thought?

An investment in professional photography is priceless to your business image—high quality professional imagery can be used for the life of the product or service. For a $500.00 shoot, let’s say those images live on your website, making you money, for a year and a half or perhaps longer.  Less than a dollar a day.  You won’t get that kind of value anywhere else.

Too Expensive 

How do you know?  Have you asked?

A good shooter with almost 30 years of professional experience who can think on her feet and has encountered almost every lighting situation there is can get your job done much faster and more efficiently than your employee that has a camera.

Is professional photography in that employee’s job description?  What’s NOT getting done by that employee that they’re supposed to be doing while they’re putzing with a camera or a smartphone?  Will that person have to re-do the pictures?  Are you paying that person to do the same thing twice that they weren’t qualified to do the first time?  For what it’s really costing you—you can hire me instead.

Will those image files be retouched by someone that really knows what they’re doing?  How long will that take and will you like the results?

You want YOUR clients to hire YOU as a professional right??  Let me help you look the part.

 Do You Use A Professional Marketing Agency?

To improve your business image right??

When you think of McDonald’s, what’s the first picture that comes up in your head?  Or Chevrolet?  Or Dell Computers?  Pretty sure if McDonald’s employees took all the pictures for their commercials, we’d all be eating peanut butter and jelly.

If a business works with marketing professionals, they need professional imagery to enhance a professional image.

Are you paying that agency extra to fix amateur imaging mistakes?  Why not just hire a professional photographer that knows what she’s doing, will make you look great, AND stands behind her work?

People remember 2 things:  what’s really REALLY awesome, and what’s really horrifically BAD.  How do YOU want to be remembered, because “you never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression.”

I Can’t Take A Good Picture…OR…I HATE Having My Picture Taken… 

Soooooo…. People compensate for that by taking a cell-phone selfie and posting it on a business website?  People that do that look ridiculous and the sad part is they deserve better.  Esteem is being, and confidence is doing, but a good professional head shot shows the world you’re worth it, and YOUR clients will believe in YOU accordingly.

That’s why you need me…I know how to make you look YOUR best, and retouch your portraits so that you still look like YOU, only better!

Caring for your Photographs

Caring for your Photographs

There are a few basics on how to properly store and mount photographs that you should know.  Photos are very fragile, especially as they age and you want to take care of them on the front end of their existence to ensure they last the test of time.  As photographs age, they can yellow, crack and stick to glass.  They can even become moldy, yes this is possible!  If your photos have already been damaged, there are a number of solutions available as well to correct them; often it does require the efforts of a professional.

Photographs have three basic layers and each layer requires special care.  The layers are: the supportive backing, the binder, and the image material. The supportive backing is typically cardboard or heavy paper. The binder is an agent that binds the image to the backing.  The image material is suspended in the binder, and can consist of silver, color dyes, and pigment particles. Each layer requires special care. Over time, the paper can yellow or grow mold; the binder can become soft and sticky, or dry and cracked; the image materials such as color dyes fade much quicker in direct sunlight.

Things to keep in mind when deciding how to store your photographs.  Sunlight quickens the possible deterioration of your photos and humid air can also effect the longevity of your photograph.  When displaying your photos keep them out of direct sunlight and in a cool, temperature controlled room (not too humid or too dry).

There are several things to keep in mind as well, when you are mounting your photographs.  All supplies should be acid-free.  When you are mounting, your photos ensure that you have a good mat, a solid backing board and either use a good quality glazing material or a glass/acrylic frame.  The “glazing” material is any thick, clear material that protects your photo from UV radiation. Do not let the glass or acrylic come in contact with the photograph, use a mat spacer, this will ensure that the photograph does not stick to the glass.

Taking proper care of your photographs upfront will ensure a longer life for your memories, allowing future generations to share your special memories.

Things to Ask Before Hiring a Drone Photographer

Things to Ask Before Hiring a Drone Photographer

Not all Drones are created equals, nor are drone operators!  Are you looking to capture some awesome footage of from above?  With so many drone pilots in the photography space, there’s no shortage of gorgeous overhead shots. What was once a luxury for big-budget productions is now within reach for almost any business looking to boost the quality of their commercials or marketing videos with the help of a drone photographer.

Before you hire your next drone photographer, there are some things you need to keep in mind and make sure you ask.  Knowing the difference in drone levels and asking important questions will help to ensure you get the footage you are expecting.  Also, keep in mind, if the cost you are quoted is too good to be true, it probably is.

The biggest question to ask:  Is the Drone Pilot Licensed?

Starting on Augues 26, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that all non-hobbyists who use unmanned aircraft systems (aka drones) for business purposes must be licensed.  This ensures that any footage captured for your project is legal and does not violate restricted airspace laws.

What quality does your drone offer?

You need to ensure that the drone the photographer has can give you the end quality you are looking for.  Not all drones are created equal.  Ask to see samples of their work to ensure they can do what you are looking for, has the drone photographer completed a similar type job?  If not, how can they assure you they can do what you are looking for.

Flying is one thing – Shooting is another…

Flying a drone and getting beautiful footage, are two completely different skillsets. You need to ensure you hire someone who is capable of doing both.  You need to hire a drone photographer who has a grasp of composition and pacing, as well as someone who has the understanding of how to manually control camera settings for lighting conditions, speed, and subject as well as to achieve the results that they are after.

Do some basic research, make sure you see the drone photographers’ portfolio and ensure it is their work before you hire them.  In the long run, you will be happy you did.

Should I make Faces at my Child During their Photo Session?

Photography Session and Making Faces at your Child

Making faces behind my back to your child or speaking to your children takes their attention off me and onto you.  As a photographer, this can hinder the process of getting the best shot of your child.  You have done your homework and know that I am an expert at capturing your child’s essence, to do this takes a little bit of magic and all my experience.  If you are constantly telling your child to behave or smile, you are taking away my authority.  Let me handle them, remember, that is what you are paying me for!

I have handled more situations that would make you cringe, but I do this all the time so they don’t phase me.  If your child is making a silly face and not smiling, it’s ok.  You know what happens when they make those faces?  We capture the essence of their personality and those photos are great little keepsakes.  Once I let them get that out, I am then able to reign them in and take the sweet smiling posed shots.  There is a process to capturing the perfect shot and trust me I will get it.

I am a professional and this is what I do every day.  I have found that each child is different and how to capture them is different, it takes us a few minutes to get to know each other, then we are off and running.  Some kids are more well behaved when they cannot see their parents, if you child is this way, I don’t take offence if you leave the room or walk out of sight.  We will work together to get the best photos of your little one.

As a mother, I have learned there is one thing you can always depend on when you give your little one a direct order, they won’t listen or they will do the opposite.  I have learned that giving children space and letting them explore helps us get amazing photos and lets your child feel at ease.  This helps them to get comfortable.  Don’t forget, that sometimes the pouty face looks just as adorable as a cute smile does.


Behind the Curtain of a Photographer

Behind the Campaign Curtain

We’ve all seen “The Wizard of Oz” right?  I love the scene near the end where Dorothy is meeting “The Great and Powerful Oz” only to realize he’s some dude behind a curtain with a lot of smoke and mirrors and microphones.

I recently assisted Marc Abrams getting elected to the Winchester Commonwealth’s Attorney position, so I’ve now spent some time behind the curtain, experiencing and learning how an election campaign really works. I learned several useful nuggets of information, but my biggest takeaways, I’ve realized, were what I contributed to his campaign this time, and what I can assist him with, as well as other candidates in the future, next time.

Marc Abrams is a fine man, well-admired in the law enforcement community.  However, he’s very humble about his talents and accomplishments, and, in his words, “not a politician”. I feel certain he could’ve been elected without my efforts on his behalf.  But he wouldn’t have looked nearly as good, and I’d bet a loan payment that it wouldn’t have been by as wide a margin.

The power of professional photography, combined with professional graphic design, and a positive, consistent social media message were my specific contributions to the talent pool that was his campaign committee.

Once he made the decision to run, he knew he would need professional portraits to get started.  It started with his family portraits and professional head shots over the summer.  As I got to know him and his family, I observed that here was a highly intelligent, excellent attorney who really knew the prosecution process inside and out.  I also learned that he was a very compassionate man who, along with his staff and the folks with the Victim-Witness Program, truly looked out for victims and their families.  I realized that this “not a politician” gentleman really needed help with a campaign image and communicating his message; he just didn’t know it yet.  And that’s how I became a part of his volunteer campaign committee.

In running his Facebook page, Abrams 4 CA, I combed the local newspaper every morning for positive letters to the editor and other writings that flattered Marc (I also specifically avoided letters that merely slammed his opponent too). Each morning, said articles were posted, with credit, on his page, in a professional, easily readable manner.  I coached his committee on how to share these posts.  I invited dozens of friends that lived in or near the city to “like” his page, and the momentum took off.  His posts were now reaching hundreds, and then thousands of voters.  More “likes” and “shares” of the page continued, and within 30 days, his fan base of supporters had doubled.  Even people that “don’t do Facebook” were watching.  And it was fun.

Many election ads are humdrum, boring, and easily missed.  I purposely designed Marc’s ads with only one point per ad, lots of white space, and in both color and black and white so they looked great both online and on newsprint.  I developed my own template, so that each ad had its own focus, but was instantly recognizable as a series.  A consistent look made them easier to spot amongst all the other candidates’ ads, which raised his visibility.  This too, was fun.

Finally, there was the actual photo shoot for the election piece mailed to voters.  Marc’s piece involved creating professional images of him “in action” in the courtroom.  A consistent, positive message, combined with professional images, proper copy, and strong endorsement quotes rounded out this mailer, which really impressed several voters receiving it.  While I was shooting, I kept the experience light and fun while setting up.  During the actual shoot, Marc was questioning a “witness” who in her storytelling on the witness stand, made us all laugh with her “tales of woe”.  I kept all the “models” informed of what I was doing and how the process worked, and was very conscious of their time constraints—this went a long way in gaining cooperation and executing a great shoot.

Would I travel this particular “yellow brick road” again?  You betcha.  Do I have specific recommendations for doing things a bit differently next time?  Absolutely.  Do you know someone considering a run for public office?  That candidate will need some help and should call me—because every candidate needs someone behind their particular curtain.

Why Amateur Photography Hurts Your Business

Why Amateur Photography Hurts Your Business

Your professional image on the line here.  This is what your clients see, how they perceive you, and whether or not they will refer you. Are you’re willing to risk all of it with a mere smartphone, or in some cases, a not-so-smartphone?  As a professional photographer, with almost 30 years in the business, my smartphone rarely leaves my pocket during a professional photo shoot.  I ensure that I create the most amazing  images  possible to capture the best of your business.

Let’s start with headshots. It is a small investment that can pay huge dividends in a professional arena, because you look your best to your potential clients.  You can only get the camera as far away as the length of your arm. Most camera apps are equipped with wide-angle lenses, this is not flattering for most of us, they actually make your face look wider than it really is.  Think about that the next time you upload a “selfie” to a professional networking website.  Professional photographers use appropriate equipment, lighting, composition, and retouching to make you look your very best.

Now let’s look at the Real Estate Industry and how this can impact your sales.  Smartphones have come a long way, however they can’t compare to a professional setup, with proper lighting and equipment.  Professional Photos make your listing stand out, they grab the attention of your audience.  You have less than 20 seconds to make an impression on a buyer online, you need to make sure you are putting your best foot forward.  Professional Photographers know how to photograph a room so that it looks inviting and beautiful, they have tools available to them that help them capture the essesnce of the room that are not available with your smartphone. Professionaly photographed listings generate more interest, showings, and sell sooner, rather than later based on national studies that have been completed. Now that’s money in your pocket, because you worked with a professional photographer.

How can professionaly photos take your manufacturing or industrial business to the next level you ask?  I have no idea how to use water jets to cut metal.  No clue about how to build a facility with tiltwall technology either, but I sure can make it look really cool to your clients.  That doesn’t mean your clients don’t want to see the inner workings of your business.  With lighting, colored gels, and Photoshop software I can absolutely make it look like the most amazing thing your clients have ever seen, and you will be seen as a rock star.  I make sure that I know what is important to you and understand who your audience is.  Once I know who your audience is, I wow them with photos about how your business works and show them the process to set you apart from your competition.

My “tagline” for my studio is “Making the Ordinary Appear Extraordinary”, because that’s what I do.  Think about your company’s professional image, and use a professional photographer to illustrate it.  Put your phone back in your pocket and leave your imaging needs to professional photographers. You are worth the investment.



Differences Between On-Location/Custom Photographers and Mall Photographers

Differences Between On-Location/Custom Photographers and Mall Photographers

I create a 1-of-a-kind piece of art that you will treasure for decades.  Photography is my passion and I have been fortunate enough to make it my profession.  There are two types of photographers out there, on-location/custom photographers and mall photographers.

There are several factors you want to keep in mind when you are choosing the person that will photograph you and your family and help capture your memories and keepsakes.

Mall photographers are limited with what they can do.  They offer studio times limited to 15-20 minutes.  They have a set number of photos they are allowed to take.  Most of the time mall photographers are high school or college students making minimum wage, without benefits.  The photographers often begin working without even the most basic training required to operate the camera. Mall photographers are also limited to a corporate “look”, which doesn’t allow for much creativity with your portraits.  Also, they are studio photos, there is no flexibily to offer on-location photo shoots.

Mall Photographers (and department store photographers) have a low-cost business model focused on paying their workers the least amount possible and relying heavily on up-selling products to the customer.  The super low sitting fee is intended to get you in the door.  Department store portrait studios often operate at a loss, or just barely break even.  Their whole reason for existing is to draw clients into the store where hopefully they’ll make other purchases at the same time.  So thinking the cost is going to be a lot less isn’t normally the case once you area all said and done.

Custom/On-Location photographers have a lot more flexibility to offer their clients. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography, as well as 30 years of professional shooting experience both in studio and on-location. As a custom photographer, I have longer session times, I spend 60-90 minutes with my clients or longer when needed to ensure we get just the right shot.  Do you want a shot of just the kids or grandkids as well as your huge family group? No problem, and no extra charge either.  If there is something that needs a little touch up, I am an expert with Photoshop and can touch up little things, or add fun things to the photo.  My expertise is your limit.  I have an eye to ensure that I am capturing you at your best, I know just what to focus on and make your photographs extraordinary.

On-location photography also requires planning on my end. I always make myself familiar with the location and the subject matter that it has the potential to provide; also, the potential sources of light, both natural and artificial, and the angles that it would provide.  On-site locations give us the opportunity to have many shots to choose from and capture the essence that is you and your family.

When making your decision, truly decide what is important to you.  I offer high-quality photos that bring out the best in everyone that I am photographing.  I may charge more than the mall, but I guarantee my work. I take my time to ensure that you are happy with your one-of-a-kind piece of art when we are done.