Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith: Blog https://www.soyourlife.com/blog en-us (C)Trish Alegre-Smith 2013 - 2021 (All Rights Reserved) (Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:53:00 GMT Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:53:00 GMT https://www.soyourlife.com/img/s/v-12/u857610982-o534615965-50.jpg Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith: Blog https://www.soyourlife.com/blog 96 120 Editing versus Retouching https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2020/11/editing-versus-retouching suggs_headshot_photographybytrishalegresmith_2020-5611suggs_headshot_photographybytrishalegresmith_2020-5611 Professional photographers are employed for many reasons. The most obvious reason being for their skill with a camera, but other common reasons include knowledge of lighting and angles, styles, color,  good background locations, and professional editing. So how does Trish approach editing and retouching? Editing is an important part of the photography process that brings the whole image together.

As an intern I wondered (along with some of our clients) why photos are edited in the first place. And what is the definition of editing? From my understanding, any change to an image taken straight-out-of-camera (SOOC) is editing--whether that be cropping, resizing, or changing the appearance of the picture. Clients require edited photos so that the final product can fit its intended uses. Editing brings out the best in a photo if the limitations of a shoot location prohibited apt lighting or backgrounds. Retouching is a more specific type of editing. Retouching involves the process of manipulating an image to achieve a certain look. Some common uses of this can be removing a temporary scar or acne breakout in "post" if a makeup artist was not available for the photoshoot.

Harrison (Me): What is the editing process like for you? In what order do you go about fixing up the images?

Trish: Before I do anything else, I back up every image—to both my hard drive and a secure offsite location (unless requested otherwise by a client). My initial culling starts with throwing out any photo where the face looks distorted, eyes are closed (and not for emotional effect), and where there are inappropriate photobombs in the background (and the foreground isn’t worth keeping). Sometimes I’ll keep a few “bloopers” to tell the full story of a session.

Then I pick the top 25%. I usually know which ones these are right away as I view a gallery of my images on the monitor. From these I start with my initial edits, correcting for color and adjusting to keep a consistent look--then cut this selection by half.

In my final selections, I go through each one, retouching as required and putting in artistic edits that bring out the subject. 

Me: This simple process can take a long time but it’s good to have a set process every time you edit to quickly narrow down the images. This minimizes the amount of pictures that require extra attention for editing or retouching if needed. Do you have a limit on how much retouching you will do?

Trish: I try to keep retouching on people as natural as possible. I retouch anything that is a temporary change/condition (i.e.blemishes, errant hairs, frizzing, small marks, speck on clothing, etc). I work to avoid the “photoshop fail” where you retouch so much that a face or body becomes unrecognizable or unbelievable. You are your brand and we see the beauty in everyone’s uniqueness. Hence our mantra: “So Your Life”.

Me: Everyone has bad days and one day of bad acne or a scab from a minor injury isn’t a permanent feature of you. This retouching helps show the real you and allows you to be proud of your look and what you represent. For a photo of yourself, how much, if any, editing and retouching would you do?

Trish: The same amount of editing and retouching that’s done for our clients. If  I had a bad makeup day (because I couldn’t get my makeup artist to retouch me), I fix any mistakes that I made. In summer, I retouch my mosquito bites--especially the ones that inevitably end up in the middle of my forehead.

Me: It’s good to see the same rules apply to you. The power of editing is shown less in the retouching ability, but is more seen in fixing the image to highlight the person of interest and their actions. How much time does it generally take to edit headshots and profile pictures?

Trish: 10-15 minutes per photo, including time to step away and come back to it so as to not overcorrect the image. If backgrounds need to be changed, it takes longer since there’s more to look at to make any changes look seamless. I make sure that private information (e.g. license plates or house numbers) or anything that would flag as inappropriate gets removed.

Me: What is your proudest editing work?

Trish: Retouching photos of loved ones used during memorials or funerals because it means so much to the loved ones who are grieving. Most of the time I’m taking candid photos originally shot on someone’s phone—often extracting only part of an image and replacing a background. None of these photos were ever intended to be enlarged.

Me: These kinds of photos are on display for everyone attending the funeral or memorial and it is the first image friends and families see when they walk in. Grieving for a loved one is a very tough time and it means so much to have a high quality picture of the deceased to be remembered by all. When hiring a third party to edit, how do you decide who to contract the work to?

Trish: I always want a personal referral and a portfolio of their work, so I pay to have them do a few sample images to check if they’re editing the way I edit. I normally use another editor for bulk editing the hundreds of photos we take of events.  I do select 25 “hero shots” that I do the final editing for the event.

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These additional editors aren’t used too often but they seem to be vetted carefully to match the style and produce similar final products that match the quality of images that Trish produces. 

When it comes to editing, we want to represent your personal brand as well as your personality in its own unique way. The final image conveys a connection to your work and demonstrates the look that you desire and it will be something you are proud of. Schedule a consult with us to learn how you can be the recipient of a final product that portrays the best you through our hard work and dedication to the perfect images.

 

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2020 editing headshots photo editing photography photography by trish alegre-smith portraits retouching https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2020/11/editing-versus-retouching Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:52:55 GMT
Behind the Scenes: Sgt Cleo's First Magazine Shoot https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2020/10/behind-the-scenes-sgt-cleos-first-magazine-shoot RNG_SEP-OCT 2020 ISSUE (1)RNG_SEP-OCT 2020 ISSUE (1)Featuring America's VetDog, Sgt Cleo, a Therapy Dog at the Air National Guard Center, Joint Base Andrews, MD.

Have you checked out our cover photo of America's Vet Dog, Sergeant Cleo? We just got his "pawtograph" of the cover in the mail! So what went on behind-the-scenes? Take a peek with out latest blog post from our summer intern, Harrison:

One hot summer day, I had the opportunity to tag along with Trish and be her assistant on a magazine cover photoshoot with an Air National Guard therapy dog. Between carrying her heavy bags and giving the dog belly rubs, I got to witness the behind-the-scenes of this kind of photoshoot. Before we even arrived some prep work was needed. This was just a little bit of research, figuring out how to obtain clearance to get me on Joint Base Andrews, and bringing the right equipment. We brought two bags in case a lens got dirty or scratched or if a long lens was needed. We also brought a cleaner in case the dog licked the camera and a flash in case more lighting was needed. When we arrived, Trish took some establishing shots from the outside of the Air National Guard Readiness Center (ANGRC) to give context on where the dog worked. We then walked up to the building and were immediately greeted by Sergeant Cleo and part of his team. 

Sergeant Cleo is a mix between black lab and golden retriever and was full of energy. He is a therapy dog that is used by the ANGRC’s mental health team. The Reserve and National Guard Magazine wanted to do a cover story featuring him and we were there to take his photos.

As soon as we arrived at the building Trish began taking photos. She took pictures of the building and of the dog right away. The two things we needed today were a cover shot and lots of feature shots for the magazine story. However, the story was not yet written so a wide range of shots would be needed. After taking photos with Sgt. Cleo and his team in the lobby, Trish decided to follow him around for a bit for a day in the life. Walking around the building, Trish found some great lighting spots in the hallways and took some pictures of Cleo with a social distancing sign. In the offices, she slowed the shutter speed on the camera and opened the aperture to allow more light to come in. For the last part of the shoot we went outside to the front of the building during Cleo’s playtime and Trish got a little bit dirty in the grass getting on his level to take shots of him playing with his toys in front of the former Air Force fighter jet out front. 

Since this shoot took place during a pandemic, we had a little more work to ensure the safety of everyone involved. We packed wipes and hand sanitizer in our own bags and of course everyone had masks on with the exception of Sgt Cleo. In the initial photo with the team of about ten people, they spaced out on the stairs all facing the same direction--seconds before the picture they removed their masks for a quick smile. When we walked around the building, one person carried a half-gallon hand sanitizer dispenser. Only two people were allowed in each elevator so we took the stairs everywhere.

However, even with masks, there was something distinctive about the change in a person's demeanor when Sgt Cleo came running up to them. His happy face and lolling tongue combined with an intense tail wag made most people’s eyes light up. And you could just tell they had the biggest grin on their face. Cleo’s job was to boost morale and from what we saw, it was working like a charm. Every single floor had cubicles and offices with Cleo "merch" and many airmen had treats or toys for the lucky dog. Toward the end of the day he ran down the chaplain hall and behind some wall we heard someone yell “CLEO!” in excitement--we found him lying down right next to the chaplain.

With the photoshoot done, Trish began her editing process and I learned exactly what goes into a cover shoot and the intricacies of taking pictures of animals. It was cool to see what goes on behind the camera and the steps taken to help take the best images possible. This behind the scenes is different for every type of photoshoot, and each person has their unique method. To get your own photoshoot with Trish, schedule a consult with us today. 

 

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2020 Ameriforce Media behind the scenes blog cover story dog blog dogs editorial photography magazine magazine cover media military photography reserve and national guard Reserve and National Guard Magazine working dogs https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2020/10/behind-the-scenes-sgt-cleos-first-magazine-shoot Fri, 16 Oct 2020 20:22:19 GMT
Falling for Fall Portraits! https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2020/10/falling-for-fall-portraits Fall is here and with it brings the hunt for the perfect family portraits. In the midst of COVID precautions, it's become the ideal season for being outdoors for sessions. Fall has the ideal mix of beautiful landscapes (bonus: without summer's heat and humidity here in the mid-Atlantic) to bring together an optimal time for photos. We enjoy the few weeks in the fall where the leaves are all turning vibrant colors,. Portraits of you, your family, your significant other, or your pets can all be done this season to put on holiday cards or to frame in your house.

Falling for Fall PortraitsFall foliage at Lake Accotink Trail in Springfield, VA.

Recently, our summer intern, Harrison, interviewed Trish with some of the most frequently asked questions for portrait sessions:

QHow do you choose locations and time of day? 

A: I prefer to choose locations that mean something to the clients that I’m photographing—a place that ties them to where they live or work. I tend to choose outdoor locations based on seasons. In the fall, I have local park areas that create this incredible cascade of fall leaves that are my signature for fall portraits. In the spring, there are a few places with cherry blossoms that I use for spring portraits unique to northern Virginia. 

Harrison: This area has a lot to offer in terms of unique and/or beautiful backgrounds that can provide the perfect place for a portrait. The season depends on location and now, since parks are extremely crowded during the pandemic, the time of day is important to get to places at their least busy hours.

QDo you allow pets to be in the photos? 

A: Yes! We love pets—for their spontaneity and what they bring to a portrait session. 

Harrison: Pets will always bring a level of cuteness to every shot and they are a prominent and dear member of many families and couples.

QWhat are the best poses for the family? 

A: The closer that family members can be to each other the better. We put the central subject(s) (whether it’s the parents, grandparents, or children, etc.) in the center and arrange other members around them. 

Harrison: The close proximity of the family members definitely exhibits the love for one another. As my mom always used to say, “Come close, act like you love each other.” But in general, Trish wants people to stand as they do naturally, whether that be folded arms, hands on hips, or anything else. Sometimes there will also be leaning poses and it’s important that these feel natural and comfortable because it makes the smiles more genuine. 

QHow do you get the family to look the most natural in portraits? 

A: I have a book of “dad jokes”—seriously—to help break the ice if I don’t know the family. If I know them, we usually catch up on what we’ve been up to recently having an “everyday” conversation. To show what I need a family to do in portraits, I’ll play a game of “Simon Says” so that each person can mimic or mirror how I’m posing. It makes it fun even when it’s unfamiliar for them. 

Harrison: These kinds of jokes and light-hearted conversations must make the experience far more casual so they feel relaxed and don’t get tired or distracted as easily during the photoshoots. The natural poses really make you feel like the smile isn’t super forced.

QWhat kind of outfits are best for fall shoots? 

A: Clothing and accessories in muted and neutral colors are my recommendations so the client stands out amidst the burst of color of fall leaves that I tend to photograph in the fall. We have a stylist that can assist with final outfit selections as well. 

Harrison: So the dull color is brought forth despite the vibrant colors all around? And does this mean that clients should wear the same colors or should each family/group member wear slightly different shades?

QHow many clients do you usually get around this time of year? 

A: For portrait sessions, this is my busiest time of year. In previous seasons, I’ve taken over 100 portraits between October through December. 

Harrison: Wow. That’s a lot of shoots and thousands of images to go through. Schedules and workload overall must be packed for you. I guess lots of people want their portraits done for their cards before the holidays.

QDo clients ever use props or other creative things to put in their pictures? 

A: Yes—and they are highly encouraged if an item means something to them or represents their brand (for branding sessions). 

Harrison: Props can definitely be used for humor purposes or to make the photo fit in with the backdrop better if there’s some sort of scene going on. 

QWhat has been some of your best work with family portraits?

A: When we lived in Germany, there were so many incredible vistas and historic buildings to use as a backdrop for portraits. It was inspiring for both myself and the families that I photographed—and it showed in every photograph. 

Harrison: I can imagine all the great locations that Germany has to offer. Holiday cards from over there must outdo most people’s here.

QHow do you get young children to behave for photos? 

A: I don’t. I incorporate their natural reactions in the photos and actually work with the parents to get comfortable with more candid portraits to get the best results. 

Harrison: Natural poses definitely allow children to not feel forced and therefore they won’t throw a fit about having to take lots of photos. I know I never liked doing fake poses for thirty minutes waiting for the perfect shot but something normal would give more freedom.

QWhat equipment do you use?

A: I have at least one Canon full-frame camera and a backup in the bag, an 85mm lens and 24-105mm lens, and a flash to use on-camera or off-camera if needed. 

QHow long does it take to edit and send back the photos?

A: Portraits require the most editing in my workflow. To include retouching, it takes us about a week to cull through the photos, edit and retouch as required for the final selections. 

Harrison: Wow, that’s a lengthy process. I guess portraits require more background editing as well since there can be distractions or photobombs and the like. 

(Additional note from Harrison:When I assisted in a family portrait, I noticed a couple things Trish did. She was constantly engaging with the family and made sure everyone was in a comfortable position. For every location she adjusted the ISO on her camera due to changes in lighting and shifted the subjects over to make sure the setting sun was falling perfectly on their faces. We checked out each photo spot prior to the portrait session to find out exactly where she wanted the family to be positioned. This preparation helped make the whole process far faster.) 

There are a lot of aspects to a good portrait. Location, lighting, outfits, and poses all play into creating the right shot. We can be your professional photographer that makes this process simple because we help plan out exactly what you need to build that perfect shot. To plan your portrait session, contact us today.

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2020 DMV fall family lake accotink northern virginia NOVA photography photography by trish alegre-smith portrait photography portraits springfield virginia https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2020/10/falling-for-fall-portraits Fri, 09 Oct 2020 17:42:03 GMT
Memorial Day 2020--We Remember and Honor Together, Though Apart https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2020/5/memorial-day-2020--we-remember-and-honor-together-though-apart aubee_inurnment_arlingtonnationalcemetery_photographybytrishalegresmith_2020-1987aubee_inurnment_arlingtonnationalcemetery_photographybytrishalegresmith_2020-1987

 

This Memorial Day was unlike any other that I've experienced--and even more so as a photographer here in the D.C. area. At the same time last year, I was photographing the last Rolling Thunder in Washington, D.C. for Ameriforce Media and for my friends who were participating in the event. I thought then that it was a bittersweet Memorial Day weekend as we celebrated the last gathering of its kind that had become a tradition here. Little did I know how different this year would be.

 

My weekend would normally consist of early days arriving at the war memorials in D.C. before sunrise each day--documenting all of the activities that happen as we remember the fallen. I would greet the National Park Service personnel and volunteers who cleaned the memorial areas of trash (and abandoned scooters) from the daily visitors each morning before the next rush of tourists arrived. I would photograph the different groups who set up temporary exhibits all along the National Mall. I would walk through each one as I read the stories of fallen service members as told by those who knew them best. And I would find camaraderie with my fellow veterans and military families who balanced both celebration and remembrance of those we had lost.

 

This year was more muted in our remembrance as we didn't have the large public events that mark this weekend in our nation's Capital. We watched the annual National Memorial Day Concert on PBS from our living room as part of "watch parties" on Facebook. Weekend barbecues with our neighbors consisted of bringing out our grills to our driveways and our patio sets to our front yards so that we could see each other from a distance--celebrating "together but apart." We checked in on our friends who recently lost a loved one but couldn't visit the veterans cemetery this weekend and put together remembrance cards to share. And we took the time to remind our kids again what makes Memorial Day both special and important.

 

What hasn't changed is the time that we've spent together as a family and the time that I've taken to remember this weekend. I once again look back in my archives of the memorials and funerals for veterans that I've been privileged to photograph. And we are still grateful for the sacrifice of our fallen service members, whether killed in action or later in life as a result of their service, as well as the loved ones that they left behind.

 

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2020 arlington national cemetery dc fallen memorial day military veterans washington dc https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2020/5/memorial-day-2020--we-remember-and-honor-together-though-apart Mon, 25 May 2020 20:11:02 GMT
Embracing School Picture Day https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2018/11/embracing-school-picture-day School Portraits: Photography by Trish Alegre-SmithPosing for School PhotosPracticing Setup for a School Photo Session: Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith

I’m a photographer—and I support other photographers by purchasing their work, attending workshops, and hiring other professionals for our own family portraits at least once a year. But school photos are often images that I either skip buying or find the smallest package that I can get away with.

With our first kid, we bought every photo package that was taken (including the digitals on a CD). We even loved the less than perfect pictures. We ended up having so many prints we didn’t even have enough family and close friends to give all of them to. Then we noticed a difference when our eldest went from daycare and preschool to “big kid” school. The photographers had to take shots of soooooo many more kids in a limited amount of time. Depending on when our kid had her photo taken, her hair and outfit either looked the same as it did at drop-off or she looked like she ran through a windstorm on her way to the photographer. How many of you can relate to this?

I could also tell when she was rushed for her photos and into the poses. Growing up with a photographer at home, she’s used to “modeling” for me when I’m trying new concepts or setting up lighting. She doesn’t need much direction on what to do. So when we get a less-than-flattering photo back we’re not thrilled. Even worse, when we volunteer as parent-helpers on photo days we get to see some of the bad habits of photographers that are trying to get through the volume but have lost touch with (or never learned) the elements of a good portrait. We have seen and connected with some really great photographers at our kids’ schools (and have purchased their photos) but we’ve unfortunately had our share of those who are not.

So then it was our turn to take on a school picture day after another photographer canceled and couldn’t reschedule. Most of our experience with high-volume photography is with corporate headshots. On the other hand, most of our experience with children’s portraits are during our family portrait sessions. So we had to merge both types of experiences to come up with school picture days that both parents and kids would like.

We set up three days with a 3-4 hour photo window each day and one makeup day the following week to cover 80+ preschool students. It gave us just enough time that we didn’t feel a need to rush a child through any of the poses.

  • Speaking of poses, we had a standard list of of seated and standing poses we would attempt for each child but we planned to make changes on the spot based on the kid’s reaction and comfort level.
  • We also shot against a green screen. All of the kids were 18 months to 5 years old. There was a good chance that for some of the kids would give us one great photo. A green screen gave us options for multiple backgrounds with the “hero shot” that parents could choose from.
  • Continuous lighting and not strobes were used to light the set. We wanted to keep the kids as comfortable as possible and keep them from anticipating the “flash."
  • From lighting to composition, we worked to get every shot we could right in camera to reduce editing on the back end.

We did have our share of challenges:

  • We had a couple kids show up with a bump or bruise prominently on their faces which we offered to remove in post-processing.
  • A few kids had outfits with stains from breakfast that wasn’t noticed until the child showed up for the shoot (and of course there wasn’t a nice change of clothes available).
  • There was one kid who showed up dressed in green that would make him disappear in post-processing for green-screen photos (luckily we found a change of clothes in time for his session).
  • We had two tear-down our set in the afternoon and setup again the next morning for two of our scheduled days.

Despite all of the challenges, our reward came from the sweet smiles and heartwarming photos we coaxed out of our shyest little clients. It made all of our work worth it and showed me that school photos can be as great as our private portrait sessions. Whenever we could we adjusted hair, outfits, and poses to get the best possible photos. we enlisted the help of teachers and volunteers to get the best reactions out of the kids and to make them feel more comfortable in front of the camera and the lights (which can be incredibly bright). We wanted to treat these kids with the same care we give our corporate clients—even literally holding their little hands when they needed reassurance.

If you could plan the ideal school picture day for your child, wouldn’t you want it to be like this too?

 

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2018 child children kid kids photography Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith school school photos what's your story https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2018/11/embracing-school-picture-day Thu, 15 Nov 2018 21:26:42 GMT
It’s Not Perfect—But It’s Perfectly Your Family’s Life in Every Way https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2018/11/it-s-not-perfect-but-it-s-perfectly-your-family-s-life-in-every-way Family Fall Portrait Mini-SessionsOuttake from Family Portrait Session at Lake Accotink Park, VA© Trish Alegre-Smith 2018, All Rights Reserved

     I realized that in the past five years since we offered seasonal family portrait sessions for our clients, I’ve never written about our experience here in our blog. Surprisingly, we encounter some of our most stressed and worried clients when booking our family portrait sessions. Between the unpredictability of the weather (for our outdoor sessions) and the same level of unpredictability from my littlest subjects, parents can be a bit frazzled trying to get ready for the shoot.

     Family photo sessions push me creatively and keep me on my toes throughout each session. My first priority is to relieve as much stress as I can from the beginning and show our families how fun family photos can be. Most of our family sessions are under 30 minutes and we usually get our best shots within the first 15 minutes (when everyone is fresh). It’s enough time so a family doesn’t seem rushed but short enough that I can keep everyone’s attention and enthusiasm going.

     So how does an “imperfect” photo end up as “the shot” you use on your holiday cards or share with family and friends?

  • We “go with the flow”: I’ve practiced group poses but I don’t get hung up on every member of the family being in an exact position. I’ll have a few poses and spots in mind at a location—fully expecting that certain combinations work better for some but not others. I also have my camera ready to capture candid moments that tell the story of the session (aside from the formal portraits). I throw the candids in as a bonus “freebie” in client galleries for fun.
  • It’s okay not to be the picture-perfect matching family: Each person in a family has his or her own unique personality—this includes sense of style. I may recommend sticking to a particular color palette that complements a background (especially for strong fall colors). However, I don’t expect (or encourage) completely matching outfits.
  • Parents need a photo for themselves: When I photograph a family, it amazes me how long it’s been since parents have had a professional portrait on their own. Even if it’s only one or two photos it’s important to capture them by themselves as well.
  • We work around the weather: In the Washington, D.C. metro area, fall leaves and cherry blossoms are our most popular offerings—and yes, they’re best done when outside. However, the peak colors for each season depend so much on temperature and weather that we limit the number of families that we schedule and advise them on being flexible on dates (we lock in final dates and times about 2 weeks out) to capture the background we’re expecting. We have a very popular “last-minute” list that families sign up for so that if we’re out on another photo shoot in a desired location that day, we can fit in an extra mini-session.

     The most important thing for us is that each and every family member leave one of our sessions feeling great about our time together—and the results that they see in the final photos. Their photos should remind them of happy moments from that day and not the stress of getting their photos taken. Think about when you grab candid family photos on your phone—do you focus most on what you were wearing that day or what you were feeling and doing?

 

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2018 burke burke virginia dc fall family lake accotink northern virginia nova portraits va virginia washington dc https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2018/11/it-s-not-perfect-but-it-s-perfectly-your-family-s-life-in-every-way Wed, 07 Nov 2018 18:15:10 GMT
Behind-the-Scenes at a Visual Branding Session https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2018/8/behind-the-scenes-at-a-visual-branding-session Branding Basics (NMSN 2018)Branding Basics (NMSN 2018) For those of you who follow So Your Life Images on Facebook, you watched our live video feed last week where I talked about how we work with our clients to create their visual brand. Over this past summer we’ve helped our clients re-brand their business and launch new ventures. We’ve also helped individual clients define their personal brand as they assume a new role in their career or pursue new opportunities. Whether it’s a business, non-profit organization, or individual that we’re working with we go through the same steps to tell the story of their business, product, service or professional aspirations. So what are those steps?

Step 1. The First Date: Also known as the moment that I first meet the potential client(s), this first contact can happen: at a professional networking event; at a scheduled consult following a referral from a current client or finding us online; bumping into me while I’ve taken my office mobile (I’m writing this at my local public library in between appointments); or meeting me at one of our on-location events. Photography is an art form and artists produce our best work when we connect with our subject. The client also has to find out if I’m the photographer that understands and can ultimately visualize their story and its message. This step may take more than one meeting and involve many messages back and forth. If it turns out that I’m not the right fit I offer names of other photographers that may be a better choice for a client’s needs.

Step 2. The Storyboard: For me this is where the fun part of the process begins. With our client we take a closer look at the story and figure out what it should look like in a series of visual images. One of the most popular ways to do this is to use Pinterest boards to pull examples from across different websites. I also use an actual board in my office to “pin” ideas from industry and local magazines where clients may extend their marketing or look to be featured. This step can easily take a couple weeks if not a couple months depending on how many final images and looks the client needs.

Step 3. The Plan: Anyone who really knows me can tell you that I always operate with a plan and a schedule—and it's the hardest thing for me to let go of planning while on vacation. Visual branding sessions can be as simple as being shot in-studio with just the client and myself. Most sessions involve hair styling, makeup, several clothing changes, lighting, props and multiple locations. Planning keeps both the client and myself on schedule and helps the client budget for what their business needs today versus what it can afford in the future. We do plan multiple sessions over time for most of our clients to ensure fresh visual content and to spread cost.

Step 4. The Session(s): The time finally arrives to execute all of the plans and see for ourselves how our preparation has paid off. There should be very few surprises (if any) during the session helping clients feel more comfortable in front of the camera when it’s their time to shine. We’ve used the first three steps to build trust in each other—when I make adjustments during the session the client trusts that it’s in keeping with the overall look and vision. Personally this is my favorite step in the entire process because it’s the first time that I get to see how everything we have envisioned comes together in my viewfinder.

Step 5. The Polish: We narrow down all of the photos taken to the top selections from the sessions. We then edit the photos so that they reflect the overall look, feel, and style that the client is looking for in online presence and marketing materials. I’ll also suggest photos for a particular use that fit the storyline and templates provided for websites or print. This step can take anywhere from a week through a month depending on the volume of photos taken and customization required for the final images.

Step 6. The Delivery: For our clients, this is when all of the hard work comes together and is actualized. They get to see and use the final products and we get to celebrate with them when we see our work published.

Do you have a visual brand or images that convey who you are? Does your business have a visual story that shows what it does and what makes it unique from others in the same industry? It’s never too late (or too early) to start putting a visual brand together. Take the first step of thinking about what your ideal visual brand and photos would look like if you started in a new position or launched a new service/product today.

 

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) Alegre-Smith branding by goals photography professional So Your Life Images Trish visual branding https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2018/8/behind-the-scenes-at-a-visual-branding-session Wed, 22 Aug 2018 17:16:00 GMT
Your Professional Story in Pictures https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2018/3/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.

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2018 business goals images photography professional professional images so your life images story visual story https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2018/3/your-professional-story-in-pictures Mon, 05 Mar 2018 12:48:48 GMT
Show Yourself Some LOVE https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2018/2/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?

 

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) love self care so your life images valentines day https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2018/2/show-yourself-some-love Mon, 12 Feb 2018 13:58:31 GMT
Work is Work and Schnapps is Schnapps https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2018/1/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. 

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2018 blog business goals photography professional professional photos so your life images https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2018/1/work-is-work-and-schnapps-is-schnapps Mon, 29 Jan 2018 13:50:39 GMT
FAQ: What Do I Wear In My Headshot? https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2018/1/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.

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2018 clothes headshot photography professional so your life images styling https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2018/1/faq-what-do-i-wear-in-my-headshot Tue, 23 Jan 2018 21:50:17 GMT
Best Baby Moments Start with the Shower https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/8/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.

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2016 So Your Life Images baby baby shower event photography family mom-to-be parents-to-be photography https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/8/best-baby-moments-start-with-the-shower Tue, 16 Aug 2016 09:44:08 GMT
Catching the Tulips at Keukenhof https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/4/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.
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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2016 Europe Keukenhof Keukenhof Gardens Netherlands So Your Life Images bucket list living abroad peak bloom photography tulips https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/4/catching-the-tulips-at-keukenhof Fri, 29 Apr 2016 07:28:03 GMT
A Man and His Roush Muscle Car https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/4/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.
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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Mustang Roush Roush Warrior SC Mustang gear head living abroad muscle car performance car https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/4/a-man-and-his-roush-muscle-car Tue, 12 Apr 2016 16:20:06 GMT
Top 5 Reasons We Love German Easter Markets https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/3/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?
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(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 https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/3/top-5-reasons-we-love-german-easter-markets Tue, 29 Mar 2016 11:43:47 GMT
Behind-the-Scenes of a Marketing Shoot with Caitlin Hoffman https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/3/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.

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(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 https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/3/behind-the-scenes-of-a-marketing-shoot-with-caitlin-hoffman Wed, 09 Mar 2016 12:15:00 GMT
Photo Booth Fun https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/2/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.
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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2016 So Your Life Images Valentine's Day Valentines couples event photography friends photo booth photography https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/2/photo-booth-fun Tue, 23 Feb 2016 07:15:00 GMT
Sweet As Can Be: Our Favorite Couples' Portraits https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/1/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.

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) Couples' Portraits Europe Germany So Your Life Images Valentine's Day couple couples family living abroad photography portraits valentine https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/1/sweet-as-can-be-our-favorite-couples-portraits Wed, 10 Feb 2016 13:30:00 GMT
Seeing Yourself as Your Photographer Sees You https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/1/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.
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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2016 So Your Life Images building self-confidence goals photography self confidence self-image https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/1/seeing-yourself-as-your-photographer-sees-you Wed, 20 Jan 2016 07:17:02 GMT
Looking Back So We Can Move Forward With Our Goals https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/1/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?
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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 So Your Life Images accomplishments goals metrics https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2016/1/looking-back-so-we-can-move-forward-with-our-goals Tue, 12 Jan 2016 12:19:25 GMT
The #gogoldforleighton Photo Project for Child Cancer Awareness https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/9/gogoldforleightonphotoproject 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.

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(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 https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/9/gogoldforleightonphotoproject Tue, 22 Sep 2015 10:58:35 GMT
Don't Stress Back To School Photos https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/8/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.
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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Europe Germany So Your Life Images back to school family home kids photography https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/8/back-to-school-photos Tue, 01 Sep 2015 06:00:00 GMT
Living Abroad (Part 2 of 3): Travel Tales (Through Photos) https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/8/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.
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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Europe Germany So Your Life Images castles family living abroad photography travel travel photography https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/8/living-abroad-part-2-of-3-travel-tales-through-photos Tue, 11 Aug 2015 13:21:32 GMT
Food That Looks As Good As It Tastes https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/7/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.

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Germany So Your Life Images chef food food photography living abroad photography https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/7/food-that-looks-as-good-as-it-tastes Mon, 20 Jul 2015 13:17:55 GMT
Living Abroad (Part 1 of 3): Photographing Your Home https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/6/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.

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Germany So Your Life Images family home living abroad photography travel travel photography https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/6/living-abroad-part-1-of-3-photographing-your-home Mon, 22 Jun 2015 10:01:42 GMT
What My International Workday Looks Like https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/6/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.

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Germany So Your Life Images business home-based business photography https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/6/what-my-international-workday-looks-like Fri, 05 Jun 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Getting That Group Shot https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/5/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.

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Germany So Your Life Images family group group portrait photography team https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/5/getting-that-group-shot Thu, 21 May 2015 11:45:00 GMT
Why Do I Need a Profile Photo? https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/5/why-do-i-need-a-profile-photo                      20141121-NMSN_mag_janetfarley_headshot_left_soyourlifeimages_1046Profile Shot of Janet FarleyAuthor and Expert on Civilian Employment as a Military Spouse--This Headshot recently featured in National Military Spouse Magazine    RosyeCloud Headshot1 (May 2014)Profile Shot of Rosye Cloud

This is a question I get asked at least once a week from potential clients who view my headshot portfolio.

Some questions that I may ask them back:
- Are you reconnecting with work or school colleagues and others on LinkedIn? This helps verify on some level who you are.
- Are you applying for a job in the civilian or government sector? Or both?
- Will your position involve face-to-face interaction or customer service?
- Are you exploring management and leadership options?
- Do you think that you have a look that really distinguishes you from others?
 
A profile photo, especially when used on social media, is often public. If you're in the market for a new position or you're actively networking your face should be public. 
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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 So Your Life Images headshot photography profile https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/5/why-do-i-need-a-profile-photo Wed, 13 May 2015 14:17:09 GMT
Macro Shots with My iPhone (Flowers in Focus) https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/4/macro-shots-with-my-iphone-flowers-in-focus Apple Blossoms in GermanyTaken with an iPhone 6.

I have posted a couple shots from my iPhone of the spring flowers blooming in my portrait garden (otherwise known as my backyard). One of my Facebook fans asked how I could get that look where the flower in front (foreground or center) is completely in focus while the rest of the scene (background) is slightly out of focus (effect also known as bokeh).

The photos in this post were taken with my iPhone 6 (for some truly incredible photos from around the world also see this iPhone 6 gallery). I don't use any digital zoom. I also used the Camera app that is installed when purchased and made no additional edits to these photos.

Yellow Flowers Budding in GermanyTaken with an iPhone 6.

I moved my iPhone very close to the flower that I wanted featured. I then tapped on the screen for the specific area that I wanted in focus. Most times I had to move the iPhone forward and back until I was at the right focal length to get the camera to focus on the flower that I wanted. During this entire time I'm checking my screen for composition--does it look like the picture that I want to take?

This type of shot takes regular practice to consistently shoot well. It also adds proof that it isn't the equipment that makes a photographer as much as our skill at using our equipment to create memorable images.

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Germany So Your Life Images flower iPhone iPhone 6 macro photography spring https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/4/macro-shots-with-my-iphone-flowers-in-focus Thu, 23 Apr 2015 09:31:38 GMT
How to Tell a Story About Your Home With Your Real Estate Photos https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/3/how-to-tell-a-story-about-your-home-with-your-real-estate-photos
 
You have an average of 20 photos to pull a potential buyer through your front door. You can use a slide show or just stills that potential buyers can click through for more details.
 
However, just like you want to put your best foot forward in a job interview, your best photos should be right up front. The flow of these photos should also be a "pitch" that tells a buyer what makes your house different from the rest. Your selection of photos should answer most, if not all, of these questions.
 
1. What are the best rooms or spaces in your house?
 
2. Where is your front entrance? What does your house look like when driving up to it?
 
3. From when you enter the house, what do your guests see first? What draws their attention?
 
4. Where would you entertain guests? Main room, prep area (kitchen), powder room.
 
5. How do you get to the family area (bedrooms and bathrooms)? How many bedrooms and bathrooms and what do they look like?
 
6. What are your best storage areas? Bonus rooms?
 
7. Do you have yard space? Any features--patio, garden, shed, etc.
 
8. What are the local amenities? You can do a collage photo for this.
 
9. What are areas you don't like?
 
Thinking of how you should stage and photograph your house with this in mind will keep your time and money more efficiently used.
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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Germany So Your Life Images home home selling photography real estate real estate photography https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/3/how-to-tell-a-story-about-your-home-with-your-real-estate-photos Thu, 26 Mar 2015 12:14:12 GMT
From My First Fasching. . . https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/3/from-my-first-fasching

 
Otherwise known as Karneval (Carnival), this "5th Season" here in the Eifel region of Germany was slightly muted from my times celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans. If you ever find yourself in this part of Europe around the middle of February the Fasching parades are a "must-see."
 
Here are my top 5 Memories:
5. Getting pelted in the head by candy is not fun. Getting soothed by a shot of Schnapps afterward--I can handle that.
4. This is the one time that my German neighbors don't seem at all fazed with candy wrappers, broken glass and plastic cups littering their streets. Clean up did commence the day after however.
3. "Hellau" and "Alaaf" are the only words you really need to know. Although "Enschuldigung" and "Tut Mir Leid" are great for clearing up any misunderstandings.
2. Just when I thought the German love of Baywatch and the "Hoff" were old stereotypes they made their appearance on a float.
1.They may not celebrate Halloween here but Fasching fans love their costumes.
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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Germany So Your Life Images carnival fasting karneval https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/3/from-my-first-fasching Wed, 04 Mar 2015 08:15:00 GMT
Love by Three https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/2/love-done-three-ways Valentines Day is coming up in the United States and it has me thinking of all things lovey-dovey and mushy-gushy. Even though it started as an advertising ploy to sell more greeting cards it's still gives us a chance to reflect on a feeling defined by one word but that may mean different things to different people. What type of love will you be celebrating this Valentine's Day--unrequited, familial, filial or romantic?

 

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 Germany So Your Life Images love photography valentine https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/2/love-done-three-ways Tue, 10 Feb 2015 08:37:38 GMT
My Home-Based Business Away From Home https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/1/my-home-based-business-away-from-home Like many photographers and small business owners I work from home. This choice keeps my overhead small and requires little investment--a plus since we're still at that point in our lives where we spend only two years in any one location.

This choice has not been an easy one while being assigned with my husband in Europe. The agreement with our host nation that allows me to live and continue to operate my business over here has a number of unique requirements (see the attached graphic).

I have always preferred (as well as most of my clients) shooting on-location. My current restrictions just make this a non-negotiable requirement for operating my business. I've also pursued a lot more freelance work than I expected.

Despite the challenges and restrictions I still think of myself as fortunate that I'm still working. The ability of a military spouse to run a business overseas is determined by both the host nation and the local installation. It took almost 12 weeks but I jumped for joy when I finally got my letter from our base that my license to operate as a Home Based Business was approved. There are locations overseas where this isn't an option at all.

So I have no excuses for keeping on track with my second main goal for 2015--bookings!

Are you also an American operating a home-based business overseas? What are some of your unique challenges that you've had? Please post in the comments below.

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) Germany So Your Life Images home based business milspouse photography requirements https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/1/my-home-based-business-away-from-home Mon, 26 Jan 2015 12:28:40 GMT
Starting the New Year with the ABC's https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/1/starting-the-new-year-with-the-abcs
 
I used to start out a new year with life-changing resolutions. After enough years where results either didn't come within the year or didn't come at all I changed my projections to goals that I could complete within a year. To keep it at the top of my mind and easy to recall I put my 2015 goals into an easy "ABC" pneumonic.
 
"A" for Applying to More Competitions and Peer Reviews: As I spent much of 2014 moving my business I entered only two competitions this year. No awards at either but it left me with the feeling that I was falling behind in developing my personal portfolio. Putting my work out there for potential criticism as well as constructive feedback helps push me forward and makes sure that I'm always challenged. And the boost of confidence that comes with recognition or praise doesn't hurt either.
 
"B" for Bookings: I'm in my second year of business and I've lived the seasonal ups and downs that come in the photography industry. Instead of just going with the flow I'm laying out a plan to even out my bookings and assignments. The predictability would give me a little more peace of mind and help me plan the time I need to enter competitions and shows.
 
"C" for Conferences and Contacts: I have three big conferences planned for this year and a few monthly meet ups scheduled. There's nothing interacting with other professionals face-to-face. I can link up with those I met via social media and connect with new faces. For me so much networking gets done in a short period of time and I always get a boost of energy from the positive support that I usually find. It's also a great way to benchmark my business when I network with other small businesses.
 
What are your goals or resolutions for this year? Write them down and put them in a place where you can always get back to look at them. It's amazing how just one goal that stays on top of your mind and that can be accomplished within a year changes your perspective on success. 
 
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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) 2015 New Year's So Your Life Images goals photography https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2015/1/starting-the-new-year-with-the-abcs Mon, 05 Jan 2015 10:27:31 GMT
12 Top Things Being a Photog in Germany Has Done For Me https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2014/12/12-top-things-being-a-photog-in-germany-has-done-for-me

As I get ready for another Christmas Pageant this year with my eldest I have sound bytes from Christmas songs dancing in my head. Instead of trying to block them out I found it easier to just go with it for this week's blog post.

With the "Twelve Days of Christmas" in mind and the end of 2014 looming I looked back on the top twelve takeaways from getting my start as a photographer here in Germany:

12 Months of Festivals: If there's a reason to celebrate there's a festival that makes it happen. This time of year the Weinachtmarkts or Christmas Markets can be found in many cities and villages through the beginning of January. Day or night there are local vendors, food, music and decorations that easily fill my camera's frame. There's no shortage of subject material, just a shortage of time to get to it all.

11 Digits For My Phone Number: And this doesn't include the country code. And it isn't necessarily the same for anyone else's phone number here. I did a little dance when I finally memorized my own phone number. I completely depend on my contact list for everyone else's number.

10 Wineries Within a Short Driving Distance: These are just the ones that I've discovered so far. I've captured stunning landscapes that have changed with the season with a short detour up a local or country road.

9 Months of Overcast Skies: There are some days that I wish this were an exaggeration. Despite the temperate climate in south Germany the rain that makes the forests and fields so green can cast a sense of gloom all around. I'm grateful for all of the windows and overhead lighting in my house--keeps my energy up throughout the day. And I've learned from the landscape photographers here the importance of filters when you can't wait for the skies to clear on a shoot.

8 Hours a Night to Recharge: I have many days that I push late into the night and get up before dawn just to get caught up with work. But eventually the exhaustion sets in and my productivity and creativity slow down. I now try to get off of all electronic devices just after my grade-schooler goes to bed and I don't check them again until an hour before my first kid wakes up in the morning.

7 Hours of Winter Daylight to Work With: This is balanced out in the summer with an almost sixteen hour window of light daily. It's forced me to rework my shooting schedule and work more on my lighting techniques.

6 Months to Settle In: This is the amount of time it took for me to feel like most of the pieces in this new stage of my life have finally come together. It's the first time that I feel like I have a firm footing as to what I'm doing and where I'm going in 2015.

5 Hours of Internet a Day: One of the only drawbacks in living in a quaint German village in the southern countryside is a slow internet connection for most of the day. I get about five reliable hours a day--with a longer window on the weekends. My office hours tend to revolve around these window.

4 Types of Batteries: This is what I carry around on average in my camera bag--especially on a shoot. Just glad that most of my equipment was dual voltage before moving here. Everything else I've moved to being powered on rechargeable batteries (dual voltage chargers) which has made it easier to bring my equipment wherever I want to shoot.

3 Different Currencies: What you'll find in my wallet at any given time with the amount of travel I've done and the upcoming travel that I've planned for this year. Being here it's just a short drive, plane or train ride to another country.

2 Continents to Work From: I've continued to see the clients that have supported me all through this move on my trips back to the U.S. And I've slowly started building my client base here in Europe with both Americans living abroad and locals.

1 Experience of a Lifetime: The challenges here are trivial in comparison to the opportunities of being in a new place and out of my "comfort zone". I wouldn't wish for my life to be any other way--I just take each day as it comes and put the rewards ahead of the disappointments.

This is a good time to take a look back on what you've done but don't take too long to dwell on them. Just find the lessons you need to take with you and chart your path for the coming year. Read my next blog post for what I have in store for 2015:)

 
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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) Germany photography twelve top things https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2014/12/12-top-things-being-a-photog-in-germany-has-done-for-me Tue, 16 Dec 2014 09:22:03 GMT
Thankful to Be a Small Business Abroad https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2014/11/thankful-to-be-a-small-business-abroad I end this month with a business license in hand, a brand new website thanks to Zenfolio, and a plan to offer more services and available dates for my clients in Europe. With Thanksgiving and Small Business Saturday (in the United States) this week I reflect on the top three things that I am thankful for as a business owner going international for the first time.

1. I'm thankful for the support of my American clients back home. My past clients have been my "cheering squad" and built the network that has kept my business going through my move. Their support on FacebookTwitter, and via personal referrals has been a gift that I never expected but I'm happy to have received. What really surprised me was how many of my clients had connections here in Germany even though their businesses operated solely in the U.S.

2. I'm thankful for the time that local photographers, artists, and business owners have spent getting to know me and welcoming me into their community. I'm the "new kid on the block" and I'm not expected to spend more than a couple years on this side of the Atlantic. I was hopeful yet unsure of how I was going to be received. It's taken some time just to be good acquaintances (an adjustment from the speed of American networking events) but it has been well worth the relationships being created.

3. Finally, I'm thankful for my family and friends who have supported me as I build my business in another country. This move has required more flexibility from ourselves and our family's support network than any other single event so far in our lives. Something as simple as a kind message or as difficult as some tough love have kept me on track despite all of the worries, self-doubt, and unexpected challenges that I've encountered.

Thank you for reading my blog and following me on my latest adventure! I hope you're spending this weekend with your own friends and family. And if you're heading out for holiday shopping remember to support your local or online small businesses:)

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(Photography by Trish Alegre-Smith) https://www.soyourlife.com/blog/2014/11/thankful-to-be-a-small-business-abroad Sat, 29 Nov 2014 09:06:35 GMT