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On Location, Knoxville, TN

Monday, August 20, 2007
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Last weekend, Marcus and I both picked up ticks while shooting in the mountains. I specifically want to mention this for anyone planning an outdoor photo session, but this advice is relevant to everyone. I picked up a tick while walking around my yard last month.

Ticks are definitely gross and can be dangerous, but the danger is much less if you find and remove them quickly. Dog ticks are the most common and are large enough to be seen if you just look for them. It helps to have someone else looking as they are often behind ears or on your back or neck. If you find one, use tweezers to grab it as close to your skin as possible and pull it off. You don't want to shock it with alcohol or a hot match or any of the other "tricks" often suggested to make it detach as it may regurgitate into the bite wound and spread more germs. Once it's off, check to be sure that it didn't leave behind any mouth parts and clean the wound with alcohol. Keep the tick in a ziploc in the freezer in case you become sick and need to identify it.

You may also want to check again for ticks the next day. Marcus and I both found ours the day after actually being outside even though we had checked once we got home. It's possible they may be in your shoes, car etc. before finding their way onto your body.

First and foremost when you get home, take a thorough shower ASAP with soap and a washcloth. Chigger larvae can take a few hours to travel around your body before they actually settle down to feed. Until then, you can wash them off easily and will never even know that they were on you. If you don't get them off, it's only a matter of time until you have a rash of blister-like bumps that are very itchy. Similarly, if you scrub poison ivy toxins off of your skin within a couple hours of exposure then you will probably not develop a rash.

Place all of your clothing directly into the washer and use hot water if possible. You don't want to spread chiggers or ticks around your house.
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On Location, Knoxville, TN

Wednesday, May 30, 2007
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While many of the individual tips would work here as well, here are a few tips more specific to working with groups...

Unless you just absolutely love the idea of having everyone in the same outfit, I don’t recommend it for families. Avoid anything too formal (ties, dress shoes etc) so that everyone’s comfortable and be sure that no individual outfit stands out more than the rest. 

As a general rule for adults and older children, keep all the clothing solid (no patterns) in one color family (earth tones work well as do schemes such as blues and orange or pinks and reds) but limit the number of different colors. We want the focus to be on the people and not the clothing. An exception to this rule would be to have only the mother wearing a print but nothing too very bold.

The best advice for dressing children is to let them be themselves and look like kids. Anything too formal will only make the child uncomfortable. Hats & scarves, boots, bright colors, hoodies, layers, sundresses, pigtails, rolled jeans, bare feet, and even tutus work well. Jeans and overalls do not work well on babies.

Avoid dressing anyone in white if possible (off white and light pastels are better).

 

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On Location, Knoxville, TN

Wednesday, May 30, 2007
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A little list of tips for portrait sessions (especially highschool seniors)...

Do:

• Bring along several outfits ranging from formal to dressy to casual with a variety of colors and styles. It’s better to be over prepared so we have lots to choose from than to be left wishing you had something that’s hanging at home in your closet.

• Keep in mind that most outdoor sessions have limited options for clothing changes. If you’re not comfortable changing in your car then you may want to wear a layered outfit so you can just subtract pieces for a different look. If you plan on changing, arrive wearing the outfit that is most difficult to put on.

• Choose outfits that are simple and comfortable. Nice jeans or khakis and a simple button up shirt are classic choices.

• Plan whole outfits including shoes since some shots are closeup and some are full length. Old sneakers don’t look good with dressier outfits.

• Bring clothes on hangars to avoid wrinkles.

• A little sexy is OK if that’s your style, but be sure to include appropriate outfits that grandma will like as well.

• Wear clothes that fit rather than clothing that is too small and tight or too large and baggy.

• Bring along accessories (sunglasses, hats, jackets, scarves, class ring, umbrella etc).

• Consider bringing along a formal outfit such as a prom dress or suit.

• If you have longer hair, consider putting it up for some of the photos and down for some. Just be sure you can make the change quickly.

• Replace your mascara if it is old and clumpy or just leave it off alltogether. Avoid makeup or lotions with sparkle or SPF in it (many mineral makeups). Try the MAC counter if you need help with application. Use powder to reduce shine.

• Select undergarments that will not show with your chosen outfits.

• Pay attention to your nails. Fingernails and toenails probably will be visible in your photos. Natural or basic (not dramatic) nail colors work best.

Don’t:

• Don’t go shopping for all new clothes. Just choose some of your favorite outfits that make you feel like yourself or borrow from friends and family.

• Don’t show too much skin. Avoid low cut shirts, short skirts, spaghetti straps, and tube tops (this rule can be broken if you are one of the lucky few with a perfect body).

• Don’t wear clothing with patterns, plaid, stripes, text, or logos. Solids photograph best. Absolutely avoid pinstripes. (Kids actually can and should break this rule. They can mix solids, polka dots, stripes etc.)

• Don’t wear a lot of white or light pastels if we may be shooting in the sun. A white tee under a jean jacket looks good. A bright white, long-sleeved shirt doesn’t. Black can also be problematic, but bright colors work great.

• Don’t choose clothes that are so trendy as to look dated in a couple of years. (this is a good rule to break if trendy is your style and you know that you won't regret your choices later)

• Don’t wear a lot more makeup than usual. You want to look young and fresh.

• Don’t wear extra jewelry. The only sessions that need jewelry are engagement sessions, which only need a ring, and senior sessions if you have a class ring. Big earrings, bracelets, watches etc  are distracting. Necklaces tend to get twisted, off center, or fall sideways and look wrong with different poses.

• Don’t become too much of a perfectionist when changing outfits. If you’re quick then you’ll have more time in front of the camera. If you spend too much time getting ready (hair, makeup etc) then you won’t have as many photos or as much variety.

 

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On Location, Knoxville, TN

Thursday, May 17, 2007
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In an effort to help everyone get the most from their photo prints, I want to post a little explanation on print ratios and crops.

The uncropped, full-frame files from my cameras are in a 4x6 ratio which is a very popular print size. To retain the entire composition in a photo, you would want to choose an equivalent ratio such as 20x30 for enlargements.

Unfortunately, the rest of the standard frame sizes in America don't share the same ratio. 8x10", for example, has a much more square shape. This means that cropping a 4x6 photo into an 8x10 will cut off a significant portion of the image. Depending on the image, this may or may not be a problem, but it's an important consideration when ordering enlargements.

To demonstrate the issue, I have created an example with lines showing where the photo would be cropped for the different print sizes. Due to the composition, this particular photo would still work in the various sizes, but you can see how much of the image will be lost.
Demystifying the print crop

Try to keep this in mind when choosing print sizes, and you can evaluate which images will look best when cropped. If a particular photo is going to present a problem, there are a few solutions:

1. You can order an odd sized print such as 8x12 and have it custom framed.

2. I can maintain the 4x6 ratio and just add a white or black border around the image so that it can be printed on the desired paper size without being cropped This would result in a quasi mat.

3. You can order a smaller size and add a real mat so that the image fits a standard frame.

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On Location, Knoxville, TN

Sunday, March 4, 2007
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I ran into an interesting report online today about how much people are spending on weddings. It sounds a little unbelievable, but anyone planning a wedding can attest to how fast everything adds up. I thought that those of you planning a wedding might want to see how your budget compares to that of the average American wedding couple.

The average American wedding in 2006 cost almost $27,000 with the average for weddings around Knoxville closer to $23,000. The following numbers are a general breakdown and should be adjusted for inflation since 2006.

Wedding attire (dress, tux, hair, makeup, veil, accessories) = $1,800-1,900
Wedding Ceremony (location, decorations, officiate, rehearsal dinner) = $1,800-2,300
Favors & Gifts (for parents, attendants, and guests) = $800-1,100
Flowers (bouquets, decorations/centerpieces, bouts, corsages) = $1,400-1,700
Jewelry (his & her rings) = $1,500-1,700
Music (ceremony & reception) = $700-900
Photography = $2,700-4,000
Reception (wedding night hotel, beverages, food, venue, rentals, cake) = $10,000-13,000
Stationery = $600-800
Transportation = $300-500
Engagement ring = $3,100
Honeymoon = $2,600

It all sounds very expensive, but it is possible to have the wedding you want and still stick to a budget if you prioritize. My husband and I paid for our wedding ourselves and had to find creative ways to keep the price down. By finding ways to cut back in some areas, we were able to spend our money on the things that were most important to us.

I booked the venue I wanted - Whitestone Country Inn. I picked the rings I wanted (after all, I do plan on wearing them every day). My husband Marcus wanted a sit-down dinner so that is what we had.

So which areas did I save money on? Luckily, I had a wonderful friend to do the photography. I found Hallmark invitations on sale, and we printed the inserts and STD magnets ourselves. I bought flowers and did the bouquets myself. We ordered his wedding band online. I made my own veil, tiara, and jewelry. The centerpieces were bought on sale at Target after Easter. We had a sit-down dinner but did not serve alcohol (would have been a bad idea since our guests had to drive home in the dark). We kept the guestlist small. We had live music for the ceremony but used CDs for the reception. We did not have a rehearsal dinner (our rehearsal was the morning of the wedding). We did not give out favors to the guests (from experience, I know that they aren't missed). The ceremony and reception were in one location so there were no transportation costs and no rental fees. Happily, Marcus's parents gave us some money as a gift to use toward the honeymoon, and I had enough frequent flyer miles to cover the plane tickets so we were able to go to Italy like I wanted.

Also, we did not hire a videographer. We did, however, have a friend shoot some video throughout the day and put together a little video montage for us. The first time I watched it, I cried, but now we can't help but laugh at ourselves when we see it.

We had an amazing, beautiful wedding. By deciding what's most important to you and what areas you can cut back on, you too can have the wedding you dream of.

Edited 2008: This thread has received some renewed interest lately. Unfortunately, I don't have up-to-date numbers so keep in mind that these figures are a couple years old now. My current clients usually spend between $3,500 and $5,000 on their total photography coverage. My clients appreciate good photography and consider it an important part of their budget so they are willing to pay for the time and skill necessary to create beautiful imagery. However, I am not in a high-end market. Those living in large cities or different parts of the country can expect to pay considerably more for comparable work.

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Welcome to the Nancy Hellsten Photography blog! This is the place to be if you’re looking for wedding ideas and photography promotions or if you just want to view some great photos and see what I’ve been up to. If you or someone you know are getting married, having a baby, or just want some relaxed portraits with the family, please visit my website or contact me for more information. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for visiting and check back often to see what’s new.
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