Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith: Blog en-us (C)Trish Alegre-Smith 2013 - 2018 (All Rights Reserved) (Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) Mon, 05 Mar 2018 12:49:00 GMT Mon, 05 Mar 2018 12:49:00 GMT Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith: Blog 96 120 Your Professional Story in Pictures Blog Post_ Your Professional StoryBlog Post_ Your Professional StoryWhat do you need to share your visual story? So You’re in Business: What Do You Need For Your Visual Story?

It can be a time-consuming process working on your website, social media accounts, and preparing your marketing materials. You may be so busy that choosing photos which keep your visual story consistent across platforms is low on your priority list. So where do you start? Here's what I recommend:

1. Get your Headshot(s). You are the face behind your business so make sure that it is featured. If you have top team members who back you up make sure that they are featured too. Keep the background, lighting, and posing for the headshots consistent for your team. Use the same headshots for: profile photos; on your “About” and “Meet Our Team” descriptions; and in your marketing (e.g. business cards).

2. Plan ahead to Photograph your Events. From professional conferences to local community engagement or meetings that you host there are opportunities to take photos of you and your team in action. The ideal situation is a public event or well-publicized conference so that you can tie into other publicity for these events (e.g. posting your photos on social media with event hashtags) where photos and posting are actively encouraged. You can use these photos as "action" shots in your blog posts describing your experience or involvement in an event. Also think about using these in your "About" description on your website (sharing what you do well or as an example of your client base). Like your headshots make sure that these photos feature you and your team. If your photos include others make sure that you have their express permission to use them. (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and I do not offer legal advice on how to have correct permissions for photo use. Consult with your legal resources for appropriate guidance).

3. If plans in Step 2 fall through, put together a Photo Session Where You Work. This is a great option that lets you have the most control over how your photos look and allows you to take your time. The photo above is of me (sans the glam) that shows you exactly how I look when I'm working in my studio or on location. I'm posed in front of one of my portable headshot backdrops using natural lighting to demonstrate one of my many techniques and poses. Your setup can be as simple as this and still be effective at conveying your message. Planned sessions like these can give you photos that are ideal for your website and social media account banners and headers as well as your printed marketing materials.

4. Use your images in short marketing videos. There are many options (some even free) to put together your still images (i.e. photos) into a marketing video that's under a minute long. You can upload this video on your website and post it in your social media. This is one thing that can help you stand out from the crowd and really weave together a consistent story or message in a succinct way.

All of these are options to get you started if you're looking to stand apart from others in your industry. It would give you more images to choose from (other than stock photos) and personalize your online presence and marketing to feature you and your brand.

(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2018 business goals images photography professional professional images so your life images story visual story Mon, 05 Mar 2018 12:48:48 GMT
Show Yourself Some LOVE show yourself some loveshow yourself some love Many of us have spent the first month or so of 2018 setting the foundation (and pace) for meeting our annual goals. For some this meant prioritizing our professional goals and losing focus on ourselves. With Valentines Day coming up this week as we show extra care for those we love let’s take time to show a little extra care for ourselves with LOVE.

L is for “letting go.” For one day we can give ourself a “pass” in criticizing all of the little mistakes we make as experience teaches us what we need to learn to be better—in our profession or business. We can stop looking at all the flaws in photos of ourselves and look at the features that make us unique and embrace them.

O is for "opportunities." Instead of tackling a challenge this week it’s time to look for any new opportunities to grow personally this week. Whether it’s reading a book, taking a class, visiting a new place, or trying a new exercise there’s one opportunity out there to give you a fresh perspective.

V is for “value your time.” How many of us work late or get up early to fit one more hour to get work done. Make time for yourself this week (aim for one hour) to do something that you “want” to do and not “have” to do. Bonus points if it has nothing to do with meeting a goal.

E is for “enjoyment.” The most important part of showing ourself extra care is finding the joy that we forget to look for day-to-day. Our mind should find rest or elation for a small period of time so that we can recharge ourselves.

So what's one way to see if you have been showing yourself some LOVE this week? Take random photos throughout the day as you go through your activities. At the end of the week take a peek at your camera roll and see what you've been up to. What story do those pictures tell? Do they tell you that you took some time for yourself this week?


(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) love self care so your life images valentines day Mon, 12 Feb 2018 13:58:31 GMT
Work is Work and Schnapps is Schnapps work is work & Schnapps is SCHNAPPSwork is work & Schnapps is SCHNAPPSWhat makes photos you post for your professional brand different than your personal photos?

What makes photos you post for your business or your professional brand different than your personal photos?

Those that have followed my work over the past few years know that I’ve spent much of that time living in Germany—and picked up a few things. One cultural difference you learn working there is that even though you may not enjoy every aspect of work—even when you’re doing what you love—you put your head down and get through it. Then you give yourself time to relax or celebrate afterward. Generally you talk about and do only work while at the office—saving what we as Americans would consider “watercooler chat” for after work hours.

So how does this saying apply to photos for your professional branding? This comes down to the story that you want to tell. Your profession or business may have started with you and have a big part of yourself in the brand. However, this isn’t necessarily the same “side” (warts and all) that your closest family and friends get to see. You want your clients to get to know you but you may want them to see you in a certain way.

So how do you make this happen?

  1. First, figure out what you want your ideal clients to see about you and/or your business. If you work from a home office do you ever bring clients there? Do you exclusively work at your clients’ locations? Are you casual or more formal when meeting a potential client for the first time? Everything from what you wear to where you work (and what it looks like) should match what your ideal client expects to work with. Check out others in your industry (and their marketing) who you admire to use as a benchmark for your own images.
  2. Second, look at your budget—in both time and money—for having professional photos taken. There are photos that are best taken by a professional (e.g. banner photos for your website, headshots, and print marketing) and others that you can take on your own for immediate posting on social media (e.g. day-to-day operations). Look at what you need to get done and when you need the photos. If you’re working with a professional photographer you can look at breaking up what you need into a series of sessions over a period of time—spreading your costs—and also discuss taking photos that will be relevant to your brand for a year or even longer.
  3. Third, prepare for your photo shoot(s). Put together a list of shots that you need—posed shots of yourself and any team members, action shots working in your office or at a client location, shots of your products, etc. Plan out what you want to wear, where you want to shoot, and ask your photographer for suggestions to convey the message and feeling you’re trying to share with your ideal client.

Photos that define your professional brand require more research and a lot more planning than your personal and family photos. You’re also sharing your story with a different audience and need to craft your images to match that story. We all work on this over time and make changes as our service or product evolves—including me. So take a look at what you have now and make a plan to improve what you have. 

(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2018 blog business goals photography professional professional photos so your life images Mon, 29 Jan 2018 13:50:39 GMT
FAQ: What Do I Wear In My Headshot? What to Wear (Headshot Blog Jan 22)What to Wear (Headshot Blog Jan 22, 2018)Header for Blog Post on What to Wear in Your Headshot

"What should I wear?" This is the first and most frequently asked question from our clients when we schedule and plan their headshots. For many their go-to ensemble is their “power suit”—the dark blue, black, or grey suit paired with a crisp, white, collared dress shirt and tipped off with a tie or scarf. Sound familiar? It’s a safe choice—and as long as it fits well this look works for most. However, you don’t need to tie yourself down into thinking this is the only way to go.

  1. Wear clothes that you would wear at your interview or meeting a new client for the first time—and make sure that they fit. There’s “too tight”, “too loose”, and “just right” when it comes to the fit of your clothes. The only way to figure it out is to try them on. Do a full turn in front of the mirror or have someone else take a quick photo for you. Your clothes should look tailored for you (and you may have one piece or outfit tailored professionally to achieve this). When in doubt seek help from someone you know that always seems to have a professional “put-together” look and ask for their opinion. The worst thing you could do is put together an ensemble at the last-minute and take your first real look at it during your shoot.
  2. Less is more when figuring out what to wear. This applies to the number of accessories that you wear as well as how many layers you put on. Anyone who sees your headshot should be focused on your face and not get distracted by what you’re wearing. Remember that headshots include only the top third of your entire profile (from head down to mid-chest) at the most. One well-tailored shirt, blouse, tunic, sweater or dress, etc. in a color that complements your hair, eyes, and skin color paired with one accessory (e.g. necktie, necklace, pair of earrings, etc.) may do more for you—and may already be in your wardrobe—than an expensive designer outfit.
  3. Reach out to the photographer ahead of time and consider bringing a few clothing choices with you to your photo session. You should ask what your choices for background are so you can make sure that the colors you choose complement and neither completely blend or clash with what’s behind you. Your photographer can also recommend options for you and put your mind at ease.

Take a look at your closet and start putting together work ensembles that coordinate and you think would make you look your best. Not only would you need these for your next headshot but also is a great way to organize your work wardrobe for important interviews, meetings, and networking events.

(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2018 clothes headshot photography professional so your life images styling Tue, 23 Jan 2018 21:50:17 GMT
Best Baby Moments Start with the Shower Baby ShowerBest of a Baby ShowerBringing out the best moments of a baby shower.

There are quite a few "firsts" that as event photographers we get to document for our clients. One of these events is a shower for a couple's first baby. This wasn't our first baby shower that we've shot but it reminds us that common elements can be found across each event.

1. Mom-to-Be or Parents-to-Be (for a coed shower) are the feature of the event--and most of the photos should include them with either their guests, their gifts, or the games. It's tempting to take wide-angle photos that take in the entire scene of the party. Of course you want to remember how everything in a scene looked to share with their child when they're older (or with family members who can't be there). However, the reason for the celebration can get lost when you try to put too many things into one picture.

  • Most of the photos should have the mom-to-be/parents-to-be with a focus on their face(s). It's their reactions to the activity around them and well wishes received that most family and friends really want to see.

  • When a wider shot is taken, place the mom-to-be/parents-to-be in the center of the scene or in a place where it's clear to the observer that they are interacting with their guests.

2. The "Not-To-Miss" shots are the opening of the baby gifts. We're always amazed at the originality behind gifts from guests at baby showers. From how a gift is wrapped to what guests find that isn't on the registry, there's no limit to the level of "cuteness" during these moments. Baby gifts are actually our favorite time to have the camera out during the shower.

  • The shot of a newborn "onesie" on top of mom-to-be's stomach is a classic that most moms like to have.

  • Capture the look on a parent-to-be's face as he or she is reading a card from a guest. A smile, laugh, or tear is usually guaranteed.

  • If a guest is willing, have them sit next to the parent-to-be as his or her gift is being opened so that parents can remember who gave the gift for "thank you" notes later (and include the photo with the note).

3. We can't forget about centerpieces. Friends and family who host baby showers put a lot of effort into the small touches like centerpieces, cakes, table setup, games, etc. Especially for handmade items make sure to take detailed shots of each item to include in the shower's photos. It shows appreciation for the creators of these unique pieces and allows parents-to-be to revisit the care and effort that went into making their celebration special.

4. Plan group shots of guests with Mom-to-Be or Parents-to-Be. Friends and family--most of the time--like having a shot with the mom-to-be or parents-to-be as a souvenir. We like taking these shots on our cameras and also offering to take a quick shot on a guest's camera. Most guests are not comfortable having candid photos of themselves posted on social media but they don't mind posed and composed photos (that they approve of) being used to celebrate the event.

Most importantly, if you're hosting the shower try to get someone else to take the photos. A professional event photographer (like us) is perfect for making sure that every moment is captured as the guest(s) of honor would like it.

(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2016 So Your Life Images baby baby shower event photography family mom-to-be parents-to-be photography Tue, 16 Aug 2016 09:44:08 GMT
Catching the Tulips at Keukenhof Visiting Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands at "tulip peak" (between late March and early May) has been on our bucket list since we first arrived in Europe. We made our recent trip just before the peak blooming period in April--and it was as beautiful as the website (and friends who had gone before) had promised.
The area where Keukenhof is located is dotted by Dutch country villages so we weren’t expecting the traffic jam that we sat in—a rookie move. We also made the mistake of trusting our GPS a little too much. It gave us a more direct route but didn’t account for the detours (in Dutch, Omleiding) due to ongoing road work. We ended up driving through the quaint Dutch villages we just mentioned—on one-lane roads that ran right along the canals. As we ducked into pull-off areas next to the roads to allow oncoming traffic to pass we were grateful for a friend’s advice against bringing our SUV.
Aside from our inability to read many of the signs (luckily signs follow the same rules for color and shape throughout most of Europe), we learned very quickly that cyclists and pedestrians generally have right-of-way on most local roads. Those tourist guides weren’t kidding—bicycles were everywhere. An ounce of patience and a pound of careful attention was required on our detour through much of the Dutch countryside. With the canals there weren't a lot of cross-streets to choose from once we got lost. So, we ended up driving through entire villages trying to get back to a major road.
Our "windshield tour" of local village life was something we would not have experienced on a tour bus. The most interesting sights included locals fishing in their canals with their long carbon-fiber poles, fields of tulips outside of Keukenhof Gardens, and spotting a garden nursery in each village.
After all of the detours added an hour onto our drive we finally made it to Keukenhof Gardens! Even though it wasn't peak bloom yet the tourists were still there in large numbers--and even larger tour buses. We ended up in the overflow parking area. It was a surprisingly short walk to the Gardens and a reasonable entry fee. We spent most of the day throughout the gardens (and it took us that long to make sure that we didn't miss anything). Since we had kids with us we were so happy to see a large kids' play area and a petting zoo next door to give them breaks. Kudos to the staff on their planning with food areas co-located there as well.
The hardest part of photographing the tulips at Keukenhof were the crowds. Sometimes they couldn't be avoided--so we just used them in the shot (as part of our memories) as you see in the photo above. We kept to one lens (50mm or the "Nifty Fifty") for our entire time shooting which kept equipment light and at the ready for a quick shot. The weather varied from cloudy to partly sunny throughout the day making for an interesting portfolio of landscape and portrait (our family photos) pictures for our collection.
If you're already out this way or planning to be in the area soon, the gardens will be open through May 16 this year. This is a perfect place to practice and challenge yourself whether taking landscape shots or taking portraits in crowded areas. Get all of the information here.
(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2016 Europe Keukenhof Keukenhof Gardens Netherlands So Your Life Images bucket list living abroad peak bloom photography tulips Fri, 29 Apr 2016 07:28:03 GMT
A Man and His Roush Muscle Car chadandhisnewride_roushmustang_april_soyourlifeimages_2016-5416Chad and His New RidePicking up his new Roush Warrior SC Mustang was a dream come true. Giving my friend, Chad, a ride to pick up his 2015 Limited Edition Roush Warrior SC (for “super-charged”) Mustang is near the top of my list for most memorable things that I've done to help out a friend. Being who I am and given what I do, I naturally brought along my Canon 6D with me--and stuck with my 50mm prime lens. I am not an auto photographer by trade but I couldn’t resist taking photos of this beautiful vehicle. I also never thought of modern Ford Mustangs as distinctive as their classic counterparts--until I saw this one. My "hats off" to the team at Top Gear—my images don’t come close to the work that they do.
It took just over an hour to get to the dealership. Unlike the car that Chad was picking up, my 2003 Toyota Landcruiser was more comfortable cruising the Autobahn at around 80mph. Even with its V-8 engine it starts giving me feedback over this speed that it doesn't enjoy fast-driving very much. However, the time flew by with a good convo catching up and the excitement he had finally getting to see his car. It was located at a dealer halfway across the world after the initial sale fell through. This would be the first time he had seen it in person. After a couple stops to locate the pick-up place for this Mustang (I incorrectly assumed that a dealership that brokers the sale of one of only 15 Roush Warrior SC Mustangs produced a year would be easy to find), we found the showroom with the car prominently parked facing the main street.
chadandhisnewride_roushmustang_april_soyourlifeimages_2016-5390Chad inspects his Roush Warrior SC Mustang
Knowing how much he was looking forward to this moment, I pulled up to the showroom door so he could get out and head straight for his car while I found a parking space. Once I parked I grabbed my camera so that I could capture the moments of when he "met" his car for the first time. From the pop of color to the low profile of the front hood scoop the graceful lines of this vehicle stood out. The black leather interior looked as comfortable as it was elegant (and it felt that way too). Even looking "under the hood" was like looking at a well-crafted modern art piece. There were other luxury vehicles in the same showroom--Mercedes, BMW, Audi--but they paled in comparison.
chadandhisnewride_roushmustang_april_soyourlifeimages_2016-5392-2Under the Hood
While the visual inspection and familiarization with the Roush Mustang was taking place I snapped away trying to compose shots that would remind Chad of the first time he saw the car. This experience at the showroom was capped off with the key being turned in the ignition for the first time. I later learned that the initial sound of the engine starting at the dealership--which I would describe as a refined rumbling "roar"--was the quiet mode. If that was "quiet" I'm not sure if I'm ready to hear the engine in other modes.
chadandhisnewride_roushmustang_april_soyourlifeimages_2016-5419Chad Getting Ready to Hit the Autobahn
I made sure to catch him getting behind the wheel and pulling out of the dealership lot. Considering we would be driving on the Autobahn back to our home villages there was now way that my SUV was going to keep up with his Mustang. Chad later told me at one point he let it out and was going 160mph. Quickly his sense of mortality kicked in and he backed off of the accelerator. The only thing my SUV and this racing car had in common was their mutual lack of fuel economy--especially at high speeds. I'm looking forward to having a session photographing the car in an open lot with open countryside in the background and driving on a track.
Chad even made my husband's day by bringing this well-crafted auto to his office for a closer look. For more complete information on the 2015 Roush Warrior SC Mustang and why so many gear heads--including my husband--covet this vehicle click here.
(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Mustang Roush Roush Warrior SC Mustang gear head living abroad muscle car performance car Tue, 12 Apr 2016 16:20:06 GMT
Top 5 Reasons We Love German Easter Markets Marktplatz at Sankt Wendeler OstermarktCenterpiece at entrance of Sankt Wendell Ostermarkt
We're back in the studio post-Easter Monday (Ostermontag) closing out the 40-day season leading up to Easter. The highlight of that time was the return of the outdoor markets that we missed so much when the Christmas season ended. If there's a reason to have a festival or market around here there seems to be a village, town or city more than willing to host one. Whether it's a chance to find that one-of-a-kind or "funky" item or get out and enjoy the elusive "sun" that struggles to come out from behind the clouds every spring, there's no shortage of reasons for heading out to the Ostermarkt on the weekend.
Sankt Wendeler Ostermarkt Street Stalls Here’s the "Top 5" reasons we love German Easter markets:
1. The Decorations: Words that come to mind when we think of the decorations that market organizers and stall owners assemble and put up: simple, uncluttered, tasteful, intentional, whimsical, artistic, appealing, and detailed. We spent time looking at the strands of hand-painted Easter Egg ornaments hung in the middle of a plaza on a frame of green boughs. We spied the dioramas of Easter Bunny village life that mirrored life in the surrounding country villages. We even loved the multiple colors of ribbons tied to bare branches as they fluttered in the wind. And we couldn't resist taking home souvenirs to hang on our own willow branches and doors. Unfortunately, our first post-Easter project after writing this blog involves figuring out a way to safely store hollowed-out hand-painted eggs so they don't get crushed in the attic.
2. The Food: Admittedly, we were hungry when we arrived at each market (which always opened just before lunchtime or Mittagessen) so the aroma of every food stall--especially those baking bread or making meat--made our tummies rumble. Our hands-down favorite street food is flammkuchen (served with white wine, half-dry or halbtrocken). Think of pizza made on the grill but without being tied down to traditional sauces or toppings. Our favorite flammkuchen are made with fresh local cheese, onions, garlic, mushrooms, ham and a white sauce. We'll leave it to your imagination as to what would go well on your "grilled pizza":)
3. The People: It was crowded but it never felt uncomfortable or out of control. Not sure if it’s because everyone knew the expected behavior—not uncommon around here. Everyone seemed to just be gathering together for a nice family day out and no one seemed to be in any particular hurry. Another reason may be that the weather is finally getting a little milder here and if it's a Sunday the markets are one of the only places open to enjoy. For families with kids there seems to always be an activity or play area just for them and most people don't mind having kids around--and actually enjoy seeing them just be kids.
4. The Market Stalls: The first stalls we look for feature handpainted real eggs, porcelain eggs, ceramic eggs, wood eggs, etc. And then we start looking for stalls selling embroidered table runners and table cloths. We're pretty sure we now have linens for every season of the year. There are even more stalls every other type of holiday décor you can think of as well as fresh flowers and plants. It's really easy to get carried away with everything you can find here and end up getting more than you can figure out how to carry back to the car.
5. The Location: The church is the center of most places here as towns and villages built up around them. It also makes a striking backdrop for outdoor markets and an easy-to-spot rallying point when traveling in a group. Markets radiate from the church into adjoining streets, walkplatz, marktplatz, and sometimes a neighbor's garage, barn, or driveway. Once we're able to grab a parking spot we can walk for hours through a market without having to leave any of the action or cross traffic.
Sankt Wendeler Ostermarkt 2016Easter Decorations Above as Well as Below
If you haven't been out to one of these Easter markets yet, it's time to add it to your bucket list or on your itinerary when visiting Europe. If you have been to a market here, which one is your favorite?
(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2016 Easter Easter Market Europe Frohe Ostern Germany Ostermarkt Ostern Sankt Wendeler Ostermarkt So Your Life Images family living abroad photography Tue, 29 Mar 2016 11:43:47 GMT
Behind-the-Scenes of a Marketing Shoot with Caitlin Hoffman Show Me the MoneySpring 31 Product Shoot with Caitlin Hoffman, Senior Consultant

From December through March we get a lot of cold, grey, and wet weather in our part of the world. It makes for less than desirable conditions for our portrait clients. This season we ramped up our in-studio shooting and just wrapped a spring product marketing shoot for one of our favorite clients--Caitlin Hoffman, Senior Consultant at Thirty-One Gifts.

Caitlin is a military spouse who moved her business for a second time over a year ago (and first time overseas like us). We’ve watched her business grow since the first time we took her headshots here. In this session we wanted to capture the confidence and passion that she had for her products and give her images that she could use in her marketing materials.

choffman_thirtyonegifts_soyourlifeimages_spring_2016-4636Featuring Caitlin's Favorite Spring 31 ProductsHer favorite shot setup from our marketing shoot.
She first came to know about Thirty-One Gifts when her husband brought home a cooler bag from one of his co-workers and she asked to see a catalog of more items. She found that she liked at least one product from every page—so her first party in 2011 as a hostess turned into her launch party as a consultant. As most consultants that she knew also started as hostesses, Caitlin envisioned taking shots that evoked the same excited feeling she had when she discovered Thirty-One products.
We also wanted to include action shots that reflected her personality as well as how her products, just like her business, fit around her lifestyle and philosophy. Caitlin sets her own hours and often around her young family's needs. Coming overseas meant operating by an unfamiliar set of rules and an initially limited customer base. She had to work hard to stand out from other consultants and make those personal connections that lead to good customer relationships.
choffman_thirtyonegifts_soyourlifeimages_2016-4664Caitlin's Business is Ridiculously Good

Like most of our small business clients she overcame numerous challenges to succeed. We’re happy that we can be a small part of that journey and document that success visually for her.

(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2016 31 Europe Germany So Your Life Images Thirty-One Thirty-One Gifts commercial photography goals living abroad marketing marketing shoot photography product shoot small biz small business solopreneur Wed, 09 Mar 2016 12:15:00 GMT
Photo Booth Fun Fun Couple at Valentine's Photo Booth
This month was the first time that I collaborated with an event organizer to set up a photo booth for attendees. Instead of constructing an actual booth we recreated the look and feel in the final photos.
We used a simple white cloth backdrop and cardboard hearts painted with gold glitter (taped onto the backdrop). For lighting, I used one continuous light (diffused with a white umbrella) to the subject(s)’s right and an off-camera flash (modified with a Lastolite Ezybox Hotshot Softbox) to the subject(s)’s left. I didn’t use any fill lighting and left the shadows in during post-processing.
Triple the Fun with Friends in a Photo Booth
Having guests use fun, colorful props (provided by the hosts) made it easier to relax in front of the camera and lights—we were just having fun:) I kept the shots tight with the idea of a square crop in mind so that these could be used on Instagram or Facebook profiles.
Have you ever thought of adding a photo booth like this to your event? What would you have done differently and what would you keep? Please comment below with your answers.
(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2016 So Your Life Images Valentine's Day Valentines couples event photography friends photo booth photography Tue, 23 Feb 2016 07:15:00 GMT
Sweet As Can Be: Our Favorite Couples' Portraits With Valentine's Day just around the corner we're featuring some of our favorite couples' portraits from this year.

A fun couple willing to work with their photographer.

This couple were up for anything--and had fun with their portraits even though it was chilly and windy outside.

Deployment Homecoming--Tears from both the Subject and the Photographer. There were happy tears all around as this couple reconnected for the first time after a long deployment.

Couples' First Portrait Together Since Their Kids Were Born. Parents don't often get a chance to have pictures as a couple. This photo was the first formal photo for this couple together since their kids were born.

Sneaking Away for a Couples' Portrait. You can't tell from this portrait that their kids were playing and running around with boundless energy behind the photographer. These two only had eyes for each other--and the look on their faces tell you everything you need to know.

(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) Couples' Portraits Europe Germany So Your Life Images Valentine's Day couple couples family living abroad photography portraits valentine Wed, 10 Feb 2016 13:30:00 GMT
Seeing Yourself as Your Photographer Sees You keilani_sweetsixteen_soyourlifeimages_2015_blog_wm_webSweet SixteenSeeing Yourself as Your Photographer Sees You.

From senior portraits to professionals' headshots the two biggest hurdles that I face with my clients are:

  • Establishing trust with my subject.
  • Building a client's confidence so that s/he feels as good as s/he looks.
The tighter that a person's shot is on their body or face the more critical s/he seems of his or her appearance--and more than likely it's brought up in conversation before I've even fired my first shot.
Some ways I overcome those hurdles:
  1. I like to show clients sneak peeks of their shots on my camera's LCD screen and take quick snaps on my iPhone throughout a session. I also let them know that no edits were made. What you see on the screen doesn't look the same as what you would see in your bathroom or full-length mirror at home. The photographer literally has a different view than you do--we compose shots to capture you at your best postures, facial expressions, and angles as you face the camera.
  2. The makeup artist that I work with accentuates a person's best features without making my client unrecognizable. She explains and shows our clients how only subtle enhancements (around the eyes, lips or cheeks) can emphasize the assets they naturally have. I usually shoot this process so clients can see this subtle transformation for themselves.
  3. I start with either "warm-ups" or insert "breaks" into our portrait sessions. From making silly faces to exaggerated poses we work together to "loosen up" and get more comfortable with the camera.
What I do for each client during a session can also apply to what you can do to feel more confident in your look before you head out the door. A new outfit or newly coordinated look, updated hairstyle, or a new accessory (new tie, scarf, piece of jewelry) is enough to make you take a look at yourself a little bit differently. It doesn't change who you are on the inside; it makes you take another look at yourself in a more positive way. Just as a photographer works on bringing out your best features, you should resolve to find those best features in your mirror each day.
(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2016 So Your Life Images building self-confidence goals photography self confidence self-image Wed, 20 Jan 2016 07:17:02 GMT
Looking Back So We Can Move Forward With Our Goals blogpost_lookingbackto2015_soyourlifeimages_2015_wm_webSpring Takes a Peek in Winter
We took a real break through Christmas and New Year's for the first time since we opened as a business. You may have seen a "closed" sign before but we always managed to sneak in a few days of work through the holidays.
Back in the studio for the first week we have started taking the steps to meet our goals for this year. As we step forward we can find motivation in everything that we accomplished in 2015.
This past year was a breakthrough for us creatively as we found our “groove” and produced our best and most recognized work to date.
Some of our highlights from 2015:
  • Unveiled our new website that allowed clients on either side of the Atlantic to order prints
  • Grew our Facebook following by 50%
  • Doubled our client base thanks to referrals from our loyal clients
  • Published work in Europe for the first time
  • Made our debut on Instagram
Seeing what we achieved in 2015—even when we fell short of our “stretch” goal metrics—gives us the confidence to go after this year’s goals and set our sights higher.
Take a look at what you’ve accomplished in the past instead of the resolutions that you didn’t meet. Can you come up with at least three items on your list?
(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 So Your Life Images accomplishments goals metrics Tue, 12 Jan 2016 12:19:25 GMT
The #gogoldforleighton Photo Project for Child Cancer Awareness For those who follow us on Facebook or Twitter you may have seen peeks at the #gogoldforleighton photo project that we've been working on. The idea was posted in a Facebook group supporting my friend, Leighton--a young teen currently battling Ewing's Sarcoma. I've known him and his family for almost nine years; we were shocked when we found out that he had cancer. All we could think: "he's too young for this."

#gogoldforleighton Day 1Releasing Yellow Balloons With Messages of Hope and How To Help Fight Pediatric Cancer #gogoldforleighton

Ewing's Sarcoma is a cancerous bone tumor that occurs most commonly during puberty, when bones are growing rapidly (Source: Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, John Hopkins Medicine).

A few more facts that I recently learned:

  • Pediatric cancers are not linked to genetics or family history.

  • It is the number one cause of death by disease in children.

  • 60% of children who survive will suffer effects later in life to include infertility, heart failure and secondary cancers.

(Source: CureSearch for Children's Cancer.)

The Dom in Trier, Germany lit in GoldTime is Now to Find a Cure for Pediatric Cancer #gogoldforleighton

Despite the intensive treatment (to include chemotherapy and upcoming tumor removal), Leighton has managed to keep his family's spirits up as well as his own through this challenging time. He's fortunate to have health insurance that covers the cost of his care. So in celebration of his birthday month--which coincides with Child Cancer Awareness Month--he wants his family and friends to help raise awareness for Ewing Sarcoma and childhood cancers. One of the ways was through the #gogoldforleighton photo project.

Sunflowers Radiate Gold in September (Childhood Cancer Awareness Month)#gogoldforleighton Photo Project

Of course the photographers in our group--both hobbyists and pros--jumped on this. Our images are posted in the private Facebook group for Leighton. Those of us with public social media profiles have also shared the images created. We'll curate the entire portfolio of images on our website's gallery at the end of the month. The purpose of this project is to inspire and raise awareness for Childhood Cancer through the month of September.

If just one more person becomes motivated to learn more about Childhood Cancer and do something to help spread the facts or find a cure then we would have given Leighton the only gift he wanted from us this year. If you would like to make a donation towards pediatric cancer treatment for other in Leighton's name you can go to his page in Birthday's for St. Jude.

(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month So Your Life Images childhood cancer childhood cancer awareness children family go gold go gold for Leighton photo project photography Tue, 22 Sep 2015 10:58:35 GMT
Don't Stress Back To School Photos The one thing that we've learned as we've helped other parents with back-to-school photos is that it can be more stressful than it needs to be. Parents may be rushing to get their children out the door in the morning, worried about getting good shots to post on social media, or wondering why their kids just aren't as excited as they are to take photos. We also see parents overwhelmed with ideas from Pinterest--from props to outfits it can be a bit much and take some of the fun out of the first day back.
Boy Riding His Balance Bike to School in German VillageChanging the angle of a shot and zooming in a little closer can make an otherwise mundane back-to-school photo pop.
Stay sane with these three tips:
1. If you want to take staged photos (with props, etc.) we recommend doing it before school starts for the year or even in the late afternoon light. There's less traffic in the background if you choose to take photos on school grounds and kids are less likely to be tired or feel like they are being rushed.
2. Look for these three key shots (in this order if you're doing it before leaving for school):
   - Kids getting ready to leave the front door of your house.
   - If your kids take the bus, a shot at the bust stop (bonus if you can get the bus in the background). If they ride to school on a bike or in a car, getting a quick couple of shots on their way out.
   - A photo of your kids at their school (this can be done after school at pickup) or when they get home after their first day.
3. Ask your kids what they're looking forward to at school, what they are scared of, etc. This short interview helps you capture genuine expressions as they're answering questions.
(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Europe Germany So Your Life Images back to school family home kids photography Tue, 01 Sep 2015 06:00:00 GMT
Living Abroad (Part 2 of 3): Travel Tales (Through Photos) You have hit the jackpot! You are living in a place that has been on your "dream list"--using your free time to visit all of the local attractions. As you head out the door for your next trip remember that the best souvenirs you can give yourself are the memories of a lifetime. And photos are the perfect way to revisit these memories in the future.
vianden_alegrevisit_soyourlifeimages_June2015-1769Our Family Visiting Vianden in LuxembourgAlong with the diaper bag comes the camera bag with every family trip for us.
Unlike the experience of being on a whirlwind tour through Europe you can do each stop at your own pace--perfect for a family. You can even go back to an attraction at different times of the year as it changes with the season.
vianden_alegrevisit_soyourlifeimages_June2015-1808View of Vianden from the Top of the Castle.The higher you go the better the panoramas of the local area.
  • Amusement Parks: In Germany our family favorite parks are Europa Park, Legoland and Phantasialand. In the summer there are water rides and splash grounds. From late November through December Europa Park and Phantasialand are decorated for the Christmas season.
  • Outdoor Trails and Nature Parks: Here we are a quick walk or short drive away from a trail or park--one actually starts right behind our backyard. Plants and wildlife unique to the area and season show up when you least expect it. So always keep your camera at the ready.
  • Castles: You don't have to go very far to find a castle. There are three general categories of castles: preserved and passed down through a family (Burg Eltz comes to mind); restored (Vianden in Luxembourg); and remaining ruins. Preserved and restored castles give you the best opportunity for interior photos and vistas of surrounding villages and countryside from the towers--if you can take your camera inside. Ruins can give you the most liberal access for exterior shots.
  • Festivals: Every season in every part of Germany there is a festival to be found on the weekend. In the past year I only found a month or so between January and February where there was no celebration to be found. You’ll be tempted to take photos of everything you see in as wide a shot as possible. Just make sure to close in on those small details, performers, or vendors that catch your eye.

burgeltz_alegrevisit_soyourlifeimages_June2015-1680Being Silly at Burg EltzPhotos--especially with family--don't have to be staged to be perfect. Just have to convey the moment you want to remember.

These attractions are just some of what you can stumble upon here and may help inspire you to find what makes your own local or far-off travels special to you.
(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Europe Germany So Your Life Images castles family living abroad photography travel travel photography Tue, 11 Aug 2015 13:21:32 GMT
Food That Looks As Good As It Tastes This weekend I was asked to photograph a private dinner (al fresco) prepared by local chef, Crystal Hart. Paired with wine from the regional Mosel winery, Mary and Alfred, it consisted of three courses that looked as good as it tasted.

First Course: Tortellini in Broth with Parmesan Tuiles.

crystalhart_wineanddine_hupperath_soyourlifeimages_July2015-6873First Course: Tortellini with Parmesan TuilesTortelliniin a clear broth with a parmesan tuile and fresh parsley. This was the first time that I ever had tortellini in a clear broth. For a summer meal it was the perfect first course--light with plenty to bite into. The tuiles were the perfect complement--delicate in structure but strong in flavor.

As I was setting up this shot I started getting tips from experienced commercial and food photographer turned traveling chef, Rosie Goodman. She was sitting across from me at the table and was watching me composing the photo. She had me come in very tight to the dish (not concentrating on shooting the entire thing) and focus on just one element that caught my eye. In the case of the first course it was the parsley. The effect was textbook perfect for a food photo.

Second Course: Chicken Paillard and Fresh Salad

crystalhart_wineanddine_hupperath_soyourlifeimages_July2015-6881Second Course: Chicken Paillard with Fresh SaladChicken Paillard served with fresh spinach, tomatoes, mozzarella and a light creme dressing garnished with lemon. Simple but good. Can you guess what I focused on for this shot?

Dessert Course: Semi-Fredo Citrus and Limoncello Dessert (Custard Base)

crystalhart_wineanddine_hupperath_soyourlifeimages_July2015-6911Dessert Course: Citrus and Limoncello DessertSemi-Fredo custard made with citrus and limoncello as the final course. Timing was everything for this course. It had to be plated and served quickly (not quite ice cream but needed to be served cold to keep its texture) so I didn't have a lot of time to set up and take this shot. I focused on the Amaretto cookies sprinkled across the top for this dessert. The simplicity of this plating is deceiving since it takes a lot of care in preparation to make the perfect custard.

This was my first time working on food photography. I couldn't have asked to have a better experience--working with a friend and then with direction with a photographer with over three decades of international experience in the commercial field (working with an agency out of New York). It was an impromptu photography workshop and dinner out all rolled into one.

You never know what chance meeting may bring you. Sometimes you don't need to look for opportunities--sometimes they find you.

(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Germany So Your Life Images chef food food photography living abroad photography Mon, 20 Jul 2015 13:17:55 GMT
Living Abroad (Part 1 of 3): Photographing Your Home It wasn't until I moved to Germany with my family that I realized the difference between "visiting" and "living" in Europe. Even a summer studying abroad in England didn't really do it for me. Those tourist sites now become places you take visiting family. You're not buying souvenirs, you're now buying practical local items that make sense for where you live. You're also learning the unspoken social rules that maintain harmony with your neighbors. We learn to work around "quiet hours" and local holidays.
What we still have to remember is that we live in a place that many of our family and friends back home have on their "bucket list" to see. We sometimes forget that those homes that look like they came out of a “Christmas Village” are the homes that we actually live in. In our daily routines we often forget to take those pictures that fill up our memory cards or phones when we’re tourists.
So, what should we shoot?

20150216-Hupperath_Fasching_litter_wm_webFasching Goodies on SidewalkAs the parade floats passed by the crews tossed candy and snacks to all of the village residents lining the parade route.

  • Your doorstep or front yard when a local event is happening right outside in your town or village.

20141123-home_fatheranddaughter_sunset_nap_soyourlifeimages_wm_webFather and Daughter in Late Afternoon NapCapturing a quick moment on our back patio with our home in the background.

  • Those quiet, everyday moments with your home as a backdrop.

20150501-hupperath_village_school_soyourlifeimages_germany_wm_blogOur Local Village SchoolOur kids attend an American school nearby but they love playing on the grounds here and making new German friends.

  • The places in your local area where your daily memories are made--whether that's the local school, a storefront, a park, etc.

These tips don't just apply to those of us who are living away from our home country or hometown. My neighbors like hearing about and seeing photos of our life in the States. You should take the time to photograph those everyday moments with your home, your neighborhood, and your hometown as the backdrop. It's as simple as grabbing whatever camera you have and just committing to taking a few snaps a day.

(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Germany So Your Life Images family home living abroad photography travel travel photography Mon, 22 Jun 2015 10:01:42 GMT
What My International Workday Looks Like whatmyinternationaldaylookslike_june2015_soyourlifeimages_wm_blogBrought My Camera on a Wine and Dine on the Mosel RiverI bring my camera everywhere with me--even when I'm not working and even if it's a formal occasion.
  • When you're like me and work a home-based business it can often appear like you don't work that many hours. Most of the time my schedule is flexible. I can be the parent that can show up to volunteer at the kids' schools or stay home when one of them gets sick. You'll see me at local community events as a private organization board member or volunteering my services.
  • What many don't see is that during my community outreach I may be meeting potential clients for the first time or getting informal feedback from locals on what type of photography services are missing in the area.
  • Others also don't see the work that I squeeze in between my appointments and while the kids are in school. My smartphone, laptop, and camera are always with me. I can easily turn my car into an office or duck into a local library, coffee shop, or community center with wifi access to work.
  • My day starts early and ends late with occasional middle of the night wake ups for conference calls or Tweet Chats. While I'm building my network and team here in Europe I still work to maintain and grow mine in the U.S.--which means working around time differences.
  • I do take one day off a week to spend with family--a habit here in Germany I've wholeheartedly embraced. This is one important thing that has preserved my sanity and reminded of why I work so hard.

Do you own a home-based business? Please share below in the comments on what your workday looks like.

(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Germany So Your Life Images business home-based business photography Fri, 05 Jun 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Getting That Group Shot Whether it's a group photo at a corporate event, a kids' sports team or a family portrait there are many creative ways to show your "team spirit."

nymets_tball_teamcircle_soyourlifeimages_2015_wm_blogNY Mets TBall Team Circle (May 2015)NY Mets TBall Team Huddle.

Different ways of lining up a group for a portrait are one way to make you stand out from the crowd.

pirates_tball_teamphoto_soyourlifeimages_wm_blogPirates TBall Team Photo (May 2015)Go Pirates!

How about yelling a cheer instead of a standard smile?

mcdfam_bruchcastle_planter_soyourlifeimages_wm_blogMcD Family in the Main Courtyard of Berg Bruch (May 2015)Playing hide and seek behind the planters.

What about including the scene or background as an equal part of the portrait?

A few other things to think about when eating up a group portrait:

  • When is a good time to take the portrait? Pick a time that your group is either already going to be together and not rushing off to go anywhere else.
  • Do you have signature colors, a theme or a mascot that you want to include in the photo?
  • What feeling or message are you trying to share with others?

There are general rules of thumb that you can follow for taking a group photo but don't let that keep you from making your group show why it's more than just a collection of faces.

(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Germany So Your Life Images family group group portrait photography team Thu, 21 May 2015 11:45:00 GMT