POWDER BLUE PHOTOGRAPHY BLOG

Makeup for Portraits

Makeup is often an overlooked part of portrait session prep, but it is of crucial importance!  Everyday makeup can look washed out, shiny, or underdone in a portrait, so I have a few tips for you to look your best in a photo.

My first tip is to book a professional makeup artist if possible.  This is not a necessity, but if you want to look and feel your very best in your portrait, I highly encourage you to book an appointment at your favorite salon to get your hair and makeup done for your portrait.  I have a number of professional hair & makeup artists that work on location, so get in touch and I will send you a list of options.

If you are doing your own makeup, I can give you some guidance.  Your goal is to look like yourself with a few enhancements–this is not a time to try something drastically different than what you usually wear!  If you don’t want to hire a pro makeup artist, maybe take this opportunity to visit a makeup counter and update your look a couple weeks before your portrait.

  1. Start with a clean, exfoliated (avoid any intense skin treatments a week or two before your portrait), and moisturized face, and find a location with bright natural light to apply your makeup.
  2. Add your favorite primer to smooth lines and pores.  Can you tell I love MAC for portraits?  They know all about makeup for photography, and they have a counters at every mall in Pittsburgh.
  3. Foundation–please avoid mineral makeup for portraits because it can reflect light and be picked up by my camera in an odd way. Revlon Colorstay and MAC Studio Fix are good options for portraits, but you can use your favorite.  Be sure it is a good match for your skin tone–if you have been using the same color year-round for years, you might want to go to a makeup counter and get matched properly!  Uee a foundation brush or sponge to avoid streaks.
  4. Set with a translucent matte powder, and avoid shimmer and glitter–this is not a time you want to look dewy!  However, subtle highlighter looks great.
  5. Curl your eyelashes–this is a MUST!  Use two coats of black mascara (looks good on everyone) on top–best to buy a new tube right before your session so you won’t have clumps.  Eyeliner on top looks lovely in photos, but this is not necessary if you are not a huge eyeliner person.  Avoid too much on the lower/inner rims because this will make your eyes look smaller in your portrait.
  6. Don’t be afraid of blush and bronzer–sometimes portrait lighting can wash you out, so a little color is good.  Avoid excessive shimmer and NO sparkle.
  7. Wear a lipstick color that is only slightly darker than your natural color–dark or bright lips can look different in photos than in real life, so a natural tone is timeless and pretty.  The exception is if you are going for a more trendy look, it can work, especially if you wear a bright lip often.

Check YouTube for great makeup tutorials like this one. Check makeupalley for product reviews.

Make sure you bring your powder and lip color to your shoot to touch up.  Don’t fret if you have a surprise bump or spot the day of your session–do your best to camouflage, but don’t stress because it will be retouched out of your portraits.

Men–get a haircut the week before your session, and tidy up or shave facial hair (I’m talking about ALL facial hair!) the day of. If you have shiny skin, ask your lady for some translucent powder.  Easy peasy.

That’s it!

Pittsburgh Newborn Family Photographer | Artsy Couture Canvas Deconstruction & Review

There are a lot of choices when it comes to products for my clients.  I generally sell canvas or framed fine art wall portraits, as well as archival custom photo albums, and have shopped a number of products to find the very best in quality for my clients.

In a canvas printer I am looking for, above all, extremely high image quality–sharp image and accurate color tones.  I am very actively involved in assuring my colors and tones are accurate by using the X-rite “Passport” color checker when I am shooting and editing and a Spyder to calibrate my monitor.  I double-check compatibility with each of the vendors that I work with to make sure I will get consistent, accurate color in my products. For those of you unfamiliar with how this works, what I am talking about is making sure that the color and brightness settings on my monitor are set to look like what I will get from my print labs so that I don’t get skin tones that are too orange, green, dark, bright, etc.

Secondly I am looking for solid, archival construction.  I want my canvas wrapped around wood with quality hanging hardware and bumpers.  NO CARDBOARD.  Just no.

I was using a canvas printer that I liked very much for a few years when I suddenly started having color issues back in October 2013.  I had been hearing so much about Artsy Couture, and their prices were less than my printer at the time, so I tried them out.  What I received from them was what appeared to be a well constructed, solid canvas, but the colors were way off–super orange.  Their customer service was amazing–friendly & prompt–and they sent out a new canvas that was better but still not the color & sharpness I am seeing from the pro labs I usually work with. I ended up taking a loss on that order and paying to have my client’s order printed at another lab (the one I am currently using).

I went to the Artsy booth at Imaging USA earlier this week and was very impressed with the quality of their products, their cute booth, and their friendly staff.  I was told that they were having short-lived color issues at the time of my order and that I should try again.  I was also told that the canvases are stretched around wood, which really surprised me because I figured it was some sort of super rigid cardboard given they cost a small fraction of the pro lab canvas wraps. Upon returning home I decided to dig up that old canvas–the one I received with color issues, and deconstruct it!  Here is what I found…

ure canvas deconstruction frame review
Yes, you could say these are the “tightest corners in the industry.” How do they accomplish this?

 

ure canvas deconstruction frame review
Sawtooth hanging hardware–not bad but I like a picture wire better.

 

ure canvas deconstruction frame review
These are some serious staples. They are not going anywhere. In fact during the deconstruction process I stabbed a finger with one of these so if you see smudges on the canvas that’s my blood!

 

ure canvas deconstruction frame review
I cut a large in the backing, which is very thick black card stock… and what I saw was….

 

ure canvas deconstruction frame review
Masonite! These are not wrapped around wood, but Masonite panels

 

ure canvas deconstruction frame review
You can see how solid the corners are, these are seriously not going anywhere and took some effort to get apart.

 

ure canvas deconstruction frame review
Here is my helper demonstrating how they get those tight corners–the canvas is actually pinched in between the Masonite that makes up the corners of the frame.

 

ure canvas deconstruction frame review
Again it took some serious effort to get the sides off. The interior is made up of beveled Masonite pieces that are very tightly stapled together.

 

ure canvas deconstruction frame review
After I got the staples out, it basically lays flat because the masonite is glued on, probably with some sort of spray adhesive.

 

artsy couture canvas deconstruction frame review
I was able to peel off the canvas image from the Masonite panel but it was pretty well adhered, which means that these are not likely to warp over time.

 

artsy couure canvas deconstruction frame review
Here you can see the canvas peeled off and the Masonite pieces I removed from the sides.

 

ure canvas deconstruction frame review
And here is the front of the canvas. The colors here are drastically different from the image I sent in (in their defense they did reprint this order for me), but otherwise I would give the image quality a B+.

My overall recommendation is that Artsy “Couture Canvas” is a good option for budget photographers or for consumers who are not willing to pay literally 3x the price at a pro lab.  I do intend to give them another shot for some personal projects and studio samples, but I do not feel confident fulfilling client orders until I am seeing consistent color.

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Are you looking for a maternity, newborn, family, or baby photographer in Pittsburgh?  Powder Blue Photography offers in-home and studio portraits of newborn babies and maternity and on location family portraits in and around Pittsburgh, including the South Hills, McMurray, Peters Township, Canonsburg, Bridgeville, Upper St. Clair, South Fayette, Mt. Lebanon, Cecil Township, Squirrel Hill, Regent Square, and Shadyside areas.  Please contact Missy to schedule a maternity appointment and a tentative date for your newborn session.  Maternity sessions take place around 33-36 weeks, and newborn sessions take place in the first 10 days of life.  Family sessions take place anytime!

In Style With Children’s | Pittsburgh Family Photographer | Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation | Omni William Penn Hotel

Yesterday was the In Style with Children’s fashion show benefiting the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation.  This was such a stunning event, so well organized and beautiful!  I met some wonderful people, all with giving and loving hearts, helping the kids of Pittsburgh to be as healthy as can be!

All of the photos from this event, including vendors, runway photos, and all of the red carpet photos, can be found here: http://prints.powderbluephoto.com/instyle  Highlights are below!

We started with a red carpet photo shoot–I captured these photos as guests arrived to the event, I had so much fun with this!

in style with children's red carpet photos

in style with children's red carpet photos

in style with children's red carpet photos

Then there was a lovely presentation by event organizers, including some speeches by Children’s Hospital patients, describing their experiences.  These were the highlight of the event, with many audience members becoming emotional hearing about these young women’s struggles and their experiences going through treatment.

children's hospital pittsburgh foundation speakers

Following the presentation was the fashion show, featuring YoBro, Miss Priss Kids, J. Hilburn, and Kiya Tomlin dresses with Emy Mack shoes.

In style with children's runway fashion show photosIn style with children's runway fashion show photos

In style with children's runway fashion show photos

In style with children's runway fashion show photos

In style with children's runway fashion show photos

In style with children's runway fashion show photos

In style with children's runway fashion show photos

in style with children's model kiya tomlin dress pittsburgh

In style with children's runway fashion show photos

In style with children's runway fashion show photos

In style with children's runway fashion show photos

Check out these adorable and fun kiddo models!

In style with children's runway fashion show kids models backstage

I guess the adults are cute too 🙂

In style with children's runway fashion show models backstage

In style with children's runway fashion show kids models backstage

All of the photos from this event, including vendors, runway photos, and all of the red carpet photos, can be found here: http://prints.powderbluephoto.com/instyle

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Are you looking for a maternity, newborn, family, or baby photographer in Pittsburgh?  Powder Blue Photography offers in-home and studio portraits of newborn babies, children, and maternity, and on location family portraits in and around Pittsburgh, including the South Hills, McMurray, Peters Township, Canonsburg, Bridgeville, Upper St. Clair, South Fayette, Mt. Lebanon, Cecil Township, Squirrel Hill, Regent Square, and Shadyside areas.  Please contact Missy to schedule your session.

Exposure Triangle Infographic | Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO explained | Pittsburgh Family Photographer

I made this infographic for a short workshop I am teaching today for moms & dads who want to learn to take better photos of their kids.  The most important lesson is about exposure (how much light enters your camera when you take a picture), which is controlled by shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.

aperture shutter speed f-stop ISO explained in an info graphic

 

Are you interested in a workshop like this?   I taught high school art and photography for 12 years before I started my photography business full time, so I have a passion for teaching & learning and a long history of training in this area. Sign up on my email list or contact me if you are interested.

Spring Flowers at Trax Farms | Canon F/2.8L 100mm macro lens | Pittsburgh Photographer

This is not my usual subject matter, but I thought it too beautiful not to share!  Jeremy, Jonah, Amelia, and I went to Trax this morning just to get out of the house on this beautiful spring day, and I tested out the macro capabilities on my Canon 2.8 100mm macro lens.  I had just gotten this lens not long before we moved to Pittsburgh, so I haven’t had many opportunities to use it yet.  I am sooooo in love with it now.  Check out these beauties:

Gorgeous!

 

Are you looking for a maternity or newborn baby photographer?  Powder Blue Photography offers in-home and in-studio portraits of newborn babies and on-location or in-home maternity portraits in and around the Pittsburgh South Hills and Mt. Lebanon.  Please contact Missy to schedule a maternity appointment and a tentative date for your newborn session.  Maternity sessions take place around 35 weeks (depending on mama’s stature), and newborn sessions take place in the first 10 days of life.

Radlab is seriously RAD | Pittsburgh Photographer Lightroom Photoshop Workflow

I prefer a clean, crisp style to my portraits, and that is why I invest in the finest L-series lenses, a professional camera body, and shoot RAW.  I carefully calibrate white balance and have master strategies for focusing.  That is all very important, but also important is editing.  Some photographers add colorful filters and “deep fry” their photos, but I like to add more subtle changes and enhance what I did in camera rather than covering up my custom style produced by my lenses and lighting.

My #1 all-time favorite editing tool is is Radlab.  This was originally a series of Lightroom filters that I used, but I didn’t love them then because you couldn’t adjust the strength of the filters, and it always felt like it was too much going on for my clean style.  Then it was a Photoshop plugin, which was GREAT, but it required transferring photos from Lightroom to Photoshop, which is just one more step in the editing process.  Now they have made it so that you can open up Radlab right from Lightroom, which is excellent in the most extreme way!!!  You can adjust photos slightly or a lot, and it gives them a really custom look, which I love!  They keep it updated with new effects, and it just always works–no crashing or other problems.

I also recently put 16 GB of ram on my iMac, and it is THE BEST.  I can’t believe I didn’t do this a long time ago.  It cost around $100 and saves me at least 10-15 minutes of editing time (waiting for my hundreds of 25 mb photos to transfer, etc) from each session.  YES.

Here is an example of what Radlab looks like editing a casual photo I took of my little precious Mimi girl:

rad lab before and after screenshot

I adjusted for exposure and temperature in Lightroom and then opened it in Radlab.  I have a bunch of saved recipes from prior shoots that I tried out first, picked one, and just adjusted it slightly.  This only took a few minutes because, let’s be honest, Meemers is gonna look amazing and adorable no matter what I do to this photo, heehee 🙂  Anyway, Radlab then transferred it back to Lightroom for me in a matter of seconds!  I removed the applesauce spill on her onesie, aaaaaaand we’re done!

Before/After:

rad lab before and after photography

It’s just enough, am I right?? Try not to be distracted by those adorable dimples and sassy leopard pants.

I still use Photoshop a lot, but I save it for more involved projects like removing stretch marks from mamas-to-be (this is an almost-universal problem btw!) and removing people or cars from a busy background, or of course design projects like my new logo that I am now using!  Questions about Radlab and how I use it?  Leave a comment, I love to share!

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Are you looking for a maternity or newborn baby photographer?  Powder Blue Photography offers in-home and in-studio portraits of newborn babies and on-location or in-home maternity portraits in and around the Pittsburgh South Hills and Mt. Lebanon.  Please contact Missy to schedule a maternity appointment and a tentative date for your newborn session.  Maternity sessions take place around 35 weeks (depending on mama’s stature), and newborn sessions take place in the first 10 days of life.

Working with Toddlers | Mt. Lebanon Pittsburgh Child Photographer

Toddlers are fun, aren’t they?  They are learning to talk to us, learning to relate to others, and learning how to be a person in this big world.  Sometimes that learning process presents them with stumbling blocks and frustrations, and they don’t always handle it the way we would like them to.  I hear from moms sometimes that they have been putting off professional photos because they have a child who is “uncooperative” or “difficult.”  I have a few things to say to that…

Aren’t all toddlers difficult on some level?  My son Jonah is 2 1/2, and though he is generally very sweet, he is still two and he has ideas about the way things should be!  He really vents his frustrations when it’s just the two of us because I think he is testing boundaries and seeing how I will react to his behavior.  I think a lot of toddlers save the biggest meltdowns for mom and are usually more intrigued and focused when around someone they don’t know as well.

Next, your own difficulty getting good photos is precisely the reason you hire a professional to do your child’s portraits.  I have photographed children many, many times and have strategies for avoiding the blurry, back-of head shots that you may have grown accustomed to seeing of your child.  My main strategy is to connect with your child and engage him or her in play, and that way we can get some genuine expressive portraits, and your child will feel relaxed.  I have also found that by designing our shoot around your children’s happiest time of the day, when they are well-rested and fed, we can usually avoid any potential problems.

Lastly, if it REALLY is not a great day for your child, and despite my best efforts, he or she refuses to come out from under a table (this happened to me one time!), we will pick another day and reshoot.  I stand behind and guarantee my work!

How do you keep your toddler happy?  Share your strategies with me in the comments!

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Are you looking for a family, maternity, or newborn baby photographer?  Powder Blue Photography offers in-home and in-studio portraits of newborn babies and on-location or in-home maternity and family portraits in and around the Pittsburgh South Hills and Mt. Lebanon.  Please contact Missy to schedule a maternity appointment and a tentative date for your newborn session.  Maternity sessions take place around 35 weeks (depending on mama’s stature), and newborn sessions take place in the first 10 days of life.  Family sessions take place anytime!

Update from the Keystone State | Mt. Lebanon Baby Photographer

Finally an update on all of the changes in my life!  I can now say we have settled into the land known as the South Hills, which is about 20 minutes south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  We have made lots of new friends here and are currently house-hunting.  This is exciting and sometimes frustrating.  Jeremy and I have such terrible luck with real estate–seems we bought in Portland at a peak in 2008, sold at a low (recently), and we find ourselves in a seller’s market in Mt. Lebanon.  Right now it is a waiting game, and we hope some more houses will come on the market as the weather warms up in the coming weeks.  The good news is that it is a little more affordable here in Pennsylvania, so we should be able to live in a large house in a great neighborhood for a lot less than we were paying to live in a so-so neighborhood in Portland.

Now that my “babies” are both sleeping all night, I can get back to work!  It’s been such a joy welcoming a daughter and watching my son grow into toddler-hood.  Jonah knows the whole alphabet and all the letter sounds, and he seems to be starting to understand how reading works.  Amelia is so beautiful and sweet, I just can’t get enough of her.  The first few months of having two kids was a little hectic (and by that I mean I laughed, I cried, and I drank a lot of wine).  Things have REALLY settled down now and we are doing great.  Mimi is five months old today and SO close to sitting on her own, so I will soon be doing some updated portraits of her and Jonah.

So as far as Powder Blue Photography goes, I am chomping at the bit to get back in action.  There is a real need for beautiful high-end portraits here (unlike in Portland, which was totally saturated with  photographers), and I am finding there may be a particular niche for me in Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair, which are the two neighborhoods in which we are house-hunting. I am not maintaining a studio here yet, so I will be working on-location and in-home as I get to know neighborhoods and clients.  I will likely open a studio some time next year, when the kids will be a little older and I will be able to take on more clients.

I have re-structured my rates, and you can find details on that on my website.  I found that at most sales appointments people wanted ALL of the pictures and they really struggled with picking and choosing favorites.  Because of that, I have decided to charge a flat rate and include printable digital files with every session.  I think this may simplify ordering and make my clients happier. I will still be offering wall portraits as well and will occasionally run specials on press products and custom design work.  We will see how it works out and what people like here in PA.  I am charging a 20% off “portfolio rate” for the first six months as I get to know the area.  Take advantage of it because I don’t typically discount my session fees!

Check out my new promo card, what do you think?

 

 

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Are you looking for a family, maternity, or newborn baby photographer?  Powder Blue Photography offers in-home and in-studio portraits of newborn babies and on-location or in-home maternity and family portraits in and around the Pittsburgh South Hills and Mt. Lebanon.  Please contact Missy to schedule a maternity appointment and a tentative date for your newborn session.  Maternity sessions take place around 35 weeks (depending on mama’s stature), and newborn sessions take place in the first 10 days of life.  Family sessions take place anytime!

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