Just a post

Moonlight In Vermont

Every year for the past few years my wife and I have taken our vacations in Londonderry Vermont. My sister has a house that she rents out up here and we love to take advantage of the quiet. You can get off the grid if you choose to, you can stay connected too (barely) if that is what you want. I am here now and writing this post from the house. If you want to experience Vermont, or if you just love to ski or golf, this is the place. (You can see the house here: 641 Hells Peak)

I was asked by a client why we come to Vermont, “What is there to do there? After all it’s Vermont,” he said. For us that is the point, few people know about the mountains up here, the beautiful landscapes, the fact that every few miles there is another quaint little village, and just the names of these villages make us smile; Jamaica, Peru, Chester (special mean to those from Philly), to name only a few.

‘Highway’ or ‘State Road’ are terms that mean something completely different here. When you are driving on a major thoroughfare and you see a sign that says “Pavement Change” in Pennsylvania it means going from pavement to perhaps cement. In Vermont it would be more accurate to say “The pavement ends and it may be hard to determine where the road actually is.” For my wife and I this is fun stuff. It always leads to an adventure!

Being a photographer means that even when I am on vacation, I am not on vacation. My camera is always with me and I am always looking for ‘the shot.’ My wife has started her own series of Shooting the Shooter and uses my backup camera to photograph me photographing the world, or in this case, Vermont!  Take a look at the images below and you tell me, why not vacation in New England?

The Shooter got Shot! (Courtesy of Amy Holland)

The scene I was shooting when I got shot

Even though we had overcast skies and rain every day, eventually the clouds broke (today, our last day) just in time for me to get shots of the night sky.

I even caught a shooting star!

When the moon rose through the trees this evening I understood even more why Amy, my wife, never wants to leave the north country.

This is pure moonlight with just the warm glow of the dinning room lights on low. 10 second exposure at F2.8, ISO 3200, no Photoshop at all.

So you tell me, why would we ever want to leave the “Moonlight in Vermont?”

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Gabe, Kate and the Old Mill

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by a friend and fellow photographer Alix Passage (alixpassage.com) to assist her at a wedding. Alix is a fantastic wedding photographer and she and I often assist each other on photo shoots of all kinds. This wedding though was to be a bit different and Alix knew that I wouldn’t want to give up the chance to shoot this one.

These was at an old mill in south central Pennsylvania and not only were the bride and groom going to be barefoot, but the entire wedding party went without shoes. The idea of shooting a semi-formal wedding with barefoot wedding party, in the country, in an old stone building that used to be a mill, heaven! This location was beautiful! Only the bride herself was more awe-inspiring.

The mill at night

When you combine a location like that with a beautiful couple there is nothing that can get in the way of a wonderful, memory packed day. The friends and family were amazing and the bride and groom looked hopelessly in love. I am not big on weddings usually but this one tugged at my crusty old heart strings. Rather than me ramble on I will let the images tell the story.

By the creek

A moment alone

Looking at a future together

Togetherness

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Auctioning Off My Work

As you may or may not know I am involved with the Mt. Airy Art Garage in Philadelphia; it is one of my pet causes. The Mt. Airy Art Garage, or MAAG for short, is a community based artist space where artist can meet and collaborate. This fall I will be teaching a photography course there called People Places and Things and you can sign up for that on the MAAG website here: Fall Art Classes. But before that happens they are hosting their 3rd Annual Silent Auction to help raise funds for the build out of artist studios in the garage.

All the events and shows are jurried including the auction. I submitted a canvas wrap of the lead image on this site of the dancer Deneane Richburg at the Philadelphia Museum of Art titled “Leaping Van Gogh”. The MAAG silent auction is going to be the best place to purchase all types of art and very well may be your best opportunity to get this piece at a discount! Who doesn’t like to save money especially when it is for a good cause!

Leaping Van Gogh

This is the piece I submitted and was accepted into the auction.

If you’re not doing anything this weekend, come out to the silent auction and make a bid or two on some of the best and most original artwork in Philadelphia!  I’ll be there so swing by and say hello! If you can make it out you can get your tickets on the MAAG website by clicking Here.

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From Business to Personal

The other day I was shooting a Portrait Party for a local business and my last clients surprised me a bit. Although the portraits were for business the last two clients also wanted to have some personal portraits done too. Smart move to take advantage of the opportunity and get a bunch of shots done all at once!

The fact that these two are a great couple and really play off each other made my job easy too, so time wasn’t an issue. That and they purposefully scheduled themselves to be the last shoot of the day which gave us plenty of time to play a bit. The images came out fantastic and I just wanted to show you how just a little bit of lighting, a little bit of personality and two great people can change the look of images taken less than a half hour apart.

Here are a couple of the business portraits we did.

And the classic Business Portrait too…

Of course I had to play with lighting a little and in this one I used the classic “clam-shell lighting”. This technique creates a great, soft light and definitely has a different feel to it than the business portraits. With those wonderful features how could I not take this shot?

J-J-003

We didn’t stop there. He came into the frame and with a quick shift of the softbox, a twist of the umbrella and POP! Lovers!

After the shoot they were off to the baseball game to cheer on the Philadelphia Phillies and I had to get a few more. It’s how I roll.

Is it time for you to take advantage of me at your Portrait Party?

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Haboob in Arizona

At the end of my meetin

A wall of dust…

And a big wall at that!

Time to go back to Philly!

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Tempe Tunes

I am traveling for business this week but of course I have my camera with me. When I finished my meetings today I got back to my hotel room and had a message on my room phone. I had no idea who could be messaging me. It turns out that the hotel was announcing that a musician would be playing in the restaurant this evening. That seemed like an opportunity for a shot to me!

The guests of the hotel were treated to a lovely blues singer, Nina Curri. This woman doesn’t look like your average blues singer but boy, does she sound like one!

She sang some traditional covers from Muddy Waters and Bonnie Raitt but she sang some of her own tunes too and man can she put it out there. You can follow her on Facebook, or check her out on her own site, www.NinaCurri.com. If you get to the Phoenix area, take I10 east a ways and check out this young lady; it will be worth the ride!

The woman can sing!

And with Josephine Baker on her guitar, how can she miss?

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Super Hero Senior!

A little over a week ago in “They Grow Up Fast” I mentioned that the images there were just the beginning of the senior portrait series I would be doing with Eilis. True to my word we shot a few more in, “Senior Portraits Part II – Teenage Super Hero!” Smarter than your average parent, brighter than a star in the night sky, and bolder than a Wall Street Banker, I bring you Eilis – Super Senior!

Actually Eilis is very smart. A senior taking AP courses in her last year of high school Eilis is looking at collages all over the US and some in Canada. This young lady also knew what she wanted from the moment I met with her and her parents. Of course she wanted the traditional portraits that you saw in the previous post a couple of weeks ago. At that shoot she also knew that she wanted to include her childhood sweetheart Share Bear. Although she is a confident young woman she is also secure in herself. She knows even though grown women rarely have their picture taken with a teddy bear, she could use this time as a chance to show her as the person she is, one that is transitioning from a girl into a grown woman.

In our last shoot we were able to get “all the looks that are Eilis” according to her mother Aine. Aine is no slouch in the confidence department either and it shows when you meet her. Aine was raised in Belfast and Eilis’s father, an American who spent much of his youth in Ireland, is not one to take any gruff either. It is only natural that Eilis be a confident person as well; who can be more confident than a superhero?

Even at our planning session Eilis knew that her alter-ego is one of the superhero. From there it was only a matter of deciding which of her capes she was going to wear (yes, she has more than one). With those wonderful blue eyes and that those wonderful ginger locks it was an easy decision to go with the green cape.

Although her t-shirt said “God Save the Teenagers of America” I am pretty sure that Eilis is doing a good job already in that department. When this one graduates for high school she will move on to study law, she has already had an impressive internship with a well known defense lawyer in Philadelphia.

What can stop our superhero? What is her kryptonite; her weakness? Only Share Bear knows for sure.

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Back to School Time!

It’s not just the kids that are heading back to the classroom, I will be too. In fact the class I have wanted to teach for some time just got approved! The Mt. Airy Art Garage in NW Philadelphia has accepted my proposal for me to teach “Photography – How to shoot People Places and Things” this October. It will be three classes, two hours in length covering how to improve your portraits, how to photograph architecture or places in general, and things such as still life, you know, things! In the class you will learn how to improve your final images and you will have the opportunity to make your own table top light box.

The scheduling was literally just approved in the last day or so and you can’t even sign up yet but I wanted all my readers to be the first to know about the classes. I am keeping it super affordable too. More details to come in the next days and weeks ahead. For now, keep a few hours available on October 25th, 27th and November 1st. If you want more information, just shoot me an email at michael@michaelalbany.com and I will get you the details as they come.

That isn’t all the back to school news I have though. I am offering special Senior Portrait packages this year too! Most seniors have to have their portraits ready by December or January so they can be in the yearbook. It’s time to schedule your senior’s portrait-whether you want to catch the last days of summer or be ready when the tress start to change, now is the time to get ready.

I know that in many households the younger (and older) siblings can be bothered by all the attention that the senior is getting when portraits are being done for their last yearbook. You can get some great images of them too. Just let me know what you want or need.

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They Grow Up Fast – Senior Portrait Time!

Last week I had the pleasure of starting the Senior Portrait season that will run through December (in most cases). Seniors typically have their senior portraits done in the fall for the following spring’s yearbook but some seniors want more of a spring or summer feel to the portrait that defines them to their classmates. This is the image that many will see for the next 20, 30 or 40 years when they look back to this time in their lives, remembering the accomplishments of high school.

That is what it is about too, memories. The images remind us of the almost ecstatic feelings we have when school is almost over! Sure there is college for some but in college you get to be your own person, or at least you hope so. School, sure, but on your terms and your schedule. Well that is the plan anyway. Reality? Well, only time will tell. For now, you are a senior!

What a better way to start the last school year than knowing that when you graduate in spring the images that will be how your friends recognize you are not only done but done the way you want them. On top of that you have until January to decide which is going to be the one for the yearbook!

The images I did of Eilis below are just the beginning for her senior portrait series. We have at least two more photo shoots to do before we can even think of being finished. We have a couple of very special shoots planned that we know will make not just the experience of the shoot memorable but her entire last year in school. You will have to come back and read a future post to learn about those shots. I promised to keep it a secret, for now anyway.

But if you are the parent of a senior it is a time of mixed emotions. Your baby is growing up and soon will be leaving the nest but at the same time they are good smart young adults and you are proud of all they have accomplished so far. They do grow up fast don’t they?

Now you are looking at photographers deciding what styles you like, and what styles your senior likes too. You want to find a photographer that is going to get the images that they want but also the images that you want too. You want to memorialize this time in their lives. Add all that up and then you want to get the most bang for your buck.

Click on the image to enlarge

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I am trying something a little new for me this year that is going to make these special images that much better, at least for the parents. For every senior portrait session that is booked by October 31st, 2012 I am going to shoot a family portrait for free. Yep, free.

This is how it works: you schedule your senior’s portrait session by October 31st and then when we are done shooting we will bring the whole family into the picture and do a few family portraits too. This will help you not only remember this special time in their lives but this special time in your life too.

 

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Vacation Photography

You just got back from vacation and you finally get to upload all the images you took while you were away. Excitedly you wait for each image to appear on the monitor, anticipating that one shot that you know is just perfect, the one you are planning on putting up on the wall or in a frame on your or your spouse’s desk; that one that just shows how much fun you had and how relaxed you were.  It’s coming… It should be the next one! Anticipation…. Excitement!!! And… and…

Drat. The image is blurry/fuzzy/dark/your head is cut off or that special sunset just doesn’t look like it did when you were there. AARRGGHHH!!! Alas it becomes just a memory and not a special moment to be shared.

There is a way to solve that problem; hire a photographer while you are on vacation. “Too expensive” you say? Well, not really. In the last few years digital photography has brought a ton of people into the business of photography, many of which should go back to their day jobs, which has driven down the market in price for those of us who remember the smell of hours spent in the darkroom.  Our prices have not really gone down so to speak but they haven’t gone up either.

Inflation means that prices rise but in the current economy most of our paychecks have not kept pace with that increase. That means what was once too far out of reach is actually quite affordable now. For the price of a nice meal you can spend an hour or two with a professional photographer; one that has a portfolio to back up that talent.

In the past hiring a photographer to shadow you and your family while on vacation was out of the question unless you were in the income bracket reserved for those who require champagne for breakfast to wash down their caviar. Times have changed and having a personal photographer for a day, or even the whole week, is more affordable than it has ever been. It’s not just reserved for those times on the islands or on the Florida or Southern California beaches either. People are using photographers in places like New York, Philadelphia, South Carolina, Portland (Maine and Oregon), Seattle, San Francisco and any other place you may go on vacation.

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Perhaps you don’t take the average vacation; maybe you like climbing mountains or searching out old ruins or maybe finding interesting old buildings. If it exists there is a photographer that is willing to photograph it and most likely one who wants a subject like you in the picture too. We photographers are always looking for reasons to go out and shoot those things we love and capturing you in those locations gives us a reason to get away from a computer and get out there shooting! Sure it is our profession but it is also our passion, and that is why we are good at it.

An example of a totally diverse area is Philadelphia. Here you can investigate the thousands of shops and specialty stores, learn about history, go to world class museums, and hike on a nature trail in Wissahickon Park all in the same day. If you still have energy you can even run the Art Museum steps just as Stallone did in the original Rocky. No trip to Philly is complete without a stroll through the Italian Market or a leisurely walk in Old City. The chances are that your photographer is going to know special places in the city that no vacation guide knows! Did I mention how close Valley Forge it is or how beautiful  Chadds Ford and Lancaster County are?

Imagine enjoying all that the Philadelphia area (or any vacation spot) has to offer and not having to remember your camera, not have to remember to use it, and never miss that one shot that is perfect for your desk or wall. Wouldn’t that be relaxing and isn’t relaxing what vacation is all about?