Rinat Halon

Photography ideas and information you need to give you results you desire.

Due to an address mistake my CPP certification was late to arrive in the mail from the PPA. And when it arrived I realized that the frame I was going to use for it – was too small. I was going to buy a frame the right size, and then I saw a framed photograph sitting on the floor of my home office. It was a photograph I took when I was a photography student at the Ohio State University – one of my favorite shots to this day. It was a self portrait of my relationship with food at the time. I’ve wanted to hang this photo but couldn’t really find a good spot for it yet. And then it hit me – this self portrait needs to be behind the Certified Professional Photographer certification! It symbolizes perfectly where I came from – where I am today – and the journey that brought me here.

As I opened the back of the frame I saw how I put this frame together 20 years ago, and memories of that time came rushing back. I could feel the “me” I was 22 years ago, a young woman with a deep love to photography but with no idea how to make a future as a professional photographer. I could see me putting together this cheep plastic frame I must have found at the dollar store. The frame didn’t fit the size of the self portrait photograph perfectly, and I saw how back then I used the white paper that came with the frame – on its back side – to fill the space behind the photograph in the frame, using double sided tape to keep it all together. Then the memories of creating this photograph came back, from concept, to photographing using my first camera, the Canon AE-1 film camera. My college best friend Debra throwing the food at me and enjoying it a little too much (it’s ok, it was all part of the photo concept) in my small studio apartment’s living room. Developing this photograph in my college’s darkroom, seeing the blacks fill in on the pearl photo paper and bringing this self portrait to life.




When I placed the CPP certification over this self portrait, dusting off the worn out plastic “glass” of this old frame, I was in tears. Tears of joy. I could feel young Rinat in my heart, framing this self portrait as she was getting ready to take it to present at her college Photography 101 class, with no idea of where this road she chose will take her. “It’s ok”, I said to young Rinat in my heart, “You cannot even imagine where you will be in 22 years from now. Let me tell you: you will be standing in your beautiful home office. Your home where you live a joyful life with your husband who rocks Mike. Remember how you didn’t know how you will graduate with a photography degree because you were not accepted into the art school? Well, you graduated with a personalized honors degree in photography and visual merchandising. In the past 22 years you have been making a living as a professional photographer photographing internationally. And now you are also a certified professional photographer by the Professional Photographers of America – and you speak at their guilds.

So honey, rest your worry heart.

Everything will work out just perfectly.

And by the way – this self portrait you are framing? The whole series of these self portraits you created was chosen by your photography professor to be hung and displayed on the walls of the OSU Photography department. You did good my dear J

Remember this today when you don’t know what the future will bring. Remember where you came from. See where you are today. And as Rascal Flatts sings: “This much I know is true – that God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you”.

I always loved elephants. My ongoing joke was that I wanted an elephant in my backyard. Considering I did not have a backyard, I gave up that notion. But in all honesty, this joke had some truth to it. A lot of truth, to be exact.

I love elephants. They are wicked smart enormous joyful creatures. And I just cannot believe they may be extinct in a few years. Can you imagine a world without elephants? I cannot. It would be a sad world indeed.

Lucky for me, I live driving distance from Two Tails Ranch, – which is, in my opinion, an elephant haven.

I first made it out to Two Tails Ranch a few years back for my birthday. Needless to say this was an incredible experience. To see these huge creatures up close is humbling. Their sheer size alone helps anyone accept the reality of dinosaurs roaming the earth millions of years ago. Then Patricia, the ranch’s owner and elephant – Alpha -mother (as Patricia explains:” You have to be the alpha leader – or the elephant will be”) answered the visitor’s questions about elephants. To top it off, Luke, the poster child elephant  – painted a painting using a paintbrush he held in his trunk to the delight of the audience (you can purchase Luke’s original paintings in the ranch’s store). Then if you wanted you could get a ride on one of the elephants, and if you wanted more elephant quality time  – you could stay and alongside the ranch’s team give one of the elephants a bath.

It was a magical day. At the end of the day I offered Patricia that I come back and photograph the elephants so we can create a calendar,   but neither of us ever pursued it. We both are small business owners with our hands full, and between caring for 7 elephants (Patricia) and building my business (me) – it fell by the wayside.

When Luke met Rinat – My mom took this photo a couple of years ago when I first visited the ranch. Unfortunately this photo opp is not available any longer because people were taking advantage of it and would not stop photographing, never giving a chance for another guest to have their photo taken with Luke.


Lucky for me a couple of years later I got married. Well, the fact that I am lucky for marrying my husband who rocks Mike is not necessarily to do with the elephants – it’s something I am grateful for every day. But it did also re-connect me with Patricia and the elephants of Two Tails Ranch. That’s because my loving husband decided to surprise me with a visit to Two Tails Ranch. This time Patricia and I decided we are turning the calendar vision into reality.

This time I got to take an elephant ride!

For the calendarI wanted to capture the images visitors don’t see when they come to Two Tails Ranch. The “behind the scenes” of operating the Ranch. I wanted to capture the everyday life  images that tell the story of what it means to be an elephant caretaker. I wanted to show the deep bond and connection between Patricia’s family and the elephants. And mostly, I wanted to show that elephants, like human beings, are all very different from one another and each have their own personality. And so Patricia and I scheduled the calendar photoshoot.

I came back to the ranch on a very early October morning  – got up at 4am to be there at 7am. “It just had to be cold today” Patricia said when I arrived,explaining the elephants do not like the cold weather and may not want to come out. But in true Florida style the weather heated up quickly and I got to spend an unforgettable morning with seven elephants, Patricia, her son, daughter in law and three year old grandson Bjorn. I got to see the Two Tails Ranch daily routine. And let me tell you – it is not easy work. From haystacks to poop stacks – no matter the age, every family member and ranch team member picks up a shovel and helps scoop it up. It is quite a task to keep these elephants fed and bathed.

I’m photographing Patricia’s grandson 3 year old Bjorn as he is helping his parents give Patty a bath

I also got to witness Bunny the elephant playing around. “She always gets in trouble” Patricia said with a loving smile. It was amazing to witness these huge creatures respect Patricia who was looking so small next to the towering seven elephants standing beside her. I mean, if they wanted to, they could crush her. But you could just feel the love connection and respect between the elephants and Patricia.

And when I stood too close to Shell the elephant and she sent a curious trunk my way and gently squeezed my shoe with it, it took one “Back off Shell!” order from Patricia for Shell and she immediately folded back her curious trunk.

I got to witness gorgeous Luke enjoying his morning nature stroll, tusks still covered in paint from creating his last painting.

Luke and I – during the calendar photoshoot

It was a nearly “mission impossible” to narrow the calendar photoshoot captures to only 13 calendar photos – Patricia and I agonized over the decision – but we did it (side note: some of the other photos that did not make it to the calendar will be available for wall prints). We chose 13 photos, and next created text to go with each photo. I wanted the text to convey what I experienced during the calender photoshoot, and after a few revisions we came up with text that  complements the photo it was written about. Then my talented graphic and web site designer Jim Miller created the calendar cover page, and the text was proofread by my husband who rocks Mike (who told me he was tearing up the first time he saw the 13 calendar photos and text together – it was so touching) – and the calendar went to print.

the calendars should be printed and available for purchase by the second week of December.

I gifted this calendar to be 100% donation, all proceeds go to the upkeep of the elephants. I am only one person, and I know realistically I cannot prevent a whole elephant species from being extinct. But I can do SOMETHING and this something is using my photographic talent to capture the story of Two Tails Ranch for everyone to see. And you can do something too – by purchasing the calendar know you’re supporting Patricia and her elephants and helping keep Two Tails Ranch open. Patricia once told me that she opened up her ranch to the public because she wanted to give people the rare opportunity to learn up close and personal about elephants. “If you build it, they will come” Patricia quoted from the movie  “Field of Dreams”. “We are all the way out here in the middle of nowhere” she said ” but I was inspired by this movie and decided to build it. And sure enough – they came”. And they are still coming. You can visit Two Tails Ranch too – go on their website AllAboutElephants.com   to schedule your visit. I promise you, it will be a life changing experience.

For now, here is a sneak peek of the calendar’s cover page:

Two Tails Ranch 2019 Calendar cover page

We are now waiting on copies to come back from print so if you are interested in a calendar let me know in the comments and I will get your info to Two Tails Ranch.

Have I mentioned I love elephants?





One of the things that often gets overlooked when planning a wedding is transportation. Unfortunately many times it gets cut from the wedding day budget. I recommend to all my couples to get professional transportation, because there is just nothing quite so frustrating as getting stuck in traffic on one of the most important days of your lives…


Today we have some wedding day transportation expert advice shared by Alan from Party Bus Orlando. Following is what Alan wanted to share with us – thank you Alan!

If you had insider secrets for all of your wedding planning tasks, it would admittedly be a much easier process for everybody! With the internet at your fingertips and a community specifically geared toward brides to be, it’s easier than ever to organize your planning. Orlando is an especially fitting city to have a wedding in when you consider the location, weather, and access to high quality vendors for the celebration. When it comes to your transportation specifically, there are some things to keep in mind to ensure you get the most out of your rental on your wedding day.


Uninterrupted memories

Inviting your photographer and/or videographer on board for the ride is the only way to get completely uninterrupted footage of your wedding day from start to finish. Plus, a lot of fun happens on board with the wedding party, so it’s always worth it to make sure that those memories are captured by those you have hired.


Take a look before

Viewing the vehicle beforehand will give you a good idea of how much space you’re going to have to work with, and you’ll be able to ask any questions that might pop up as you tour the bus or limo first hand. Seating sizes are set by state transportation departments, and they can run a lot smaller than expected. This is another reason why you’ll want to ask about viewing your vehicle before putting down any deposit!


Speaking of deposits, finalizing your reservation should only be done after reviewing the contract carefully as possible. This means taking special care to understand what constitutes as damage as well as specifics on if they’ll be charging you for mileage, tip to the driver, tax, and fuel. If there’s any language you’re unsure of, consult with the customer service representative so that you’re on the same page. When you’ve done this, you’re ready to finalize your reservation and cross off this task from your wedding planning list. Congratulations, you’ve come a long way from the initial engagement! With your wedding transportation taken care of in a Tampa FL Party bus, the rest of the plans will fall together beautifully.




I started photographing destination weddings 20 years ago – and I still enjoy capturing these fun, intimate wedding celebrations!

Hayley and Calum along with their family and close friends came all the way from Scotland to Orlando to make their love official. Here are some of my favorite shots from this wonderful wedding!

“I couldn’t have asked for a friendlier and more professional photographer for my wedding. We were delighted with our photographs! Thank you Rinat”

  • Hayley McMinn

Hayley and Calum destination wedding was in the beautiful Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando
Planner: Plan It Event Design & Management
Flowers: Cloud 9 Wedding Flowers
Officiant: Sensational Ceremonies, LLC
Harpist: Christine MacPhail
Hair & Makeup: Brie & Brie

I hate labels. They irritate my skin and make me itch all day. First thing I do when I buy a new piece of clothing is cut the label off. Here is a question for you: when is the last time you actually read what a label said? I can tell you for me I think it was the first time I learned how to do laundry – about 30 years ago.

Seeing this is March, which is my birthday month, I was going to write about being an Aries woman. Until I read what an Aries woman IS – according to astrology. The labels were less than flattering, and included words like “dominant”, “pushy”, impatient” and “trouble”. Wow. That sent me into a deep meditation about the subject, and when I was done meditating – I remembered.

I remembered how much I dislike labels. In clothing, as well as in life. Let me tell you what it means to be an “Alpha female” (another Aries women label). To me it does not mean being dominant and pushy, it means leading by positive example, being proactive and assertive.

“Pushy” is another label I have heard many times before. Who defines what is the right amount of time something is suppose to take until it happens? I believe there are people who are change makers, people who help create the new and the better in this world. And no, these people don’t wait.  I mean – why wait? When you know something can happen, why wait and not just make it happen? Can you imagine Ford got the idea about creating this new thing called “A car” – and said to himself: “Na, I’m gonna sit on it, I’m not going to do it right now. I mean – who really needs it?”


Another label Aries women, including me – hear – is that we are impatient. Well, we may be because the rest of the world is moving SO SLOOOWWWW.

But all joking aside, again, who is to say what is the right amount of time something should happen? And who is to say it is wrong to want something to happen faster – rather than wait for it to maybe happen one day. Time, after all – is an illusion.

By the way, in the dictionary the opposite for impatience is – apathy. For all the very patient people out there – how would you like to be labeled that? I am guessing not so much…

Here is my new definition for an Aries woman:

An Aries woman is a strong, brave, independent woman. She is willing to make mistakes because she knows that is the only way to grow, and so she takes chances and tries new things. She is also the first one to admit her mistake and will be the first one to apologize if she hurt you.  She cares and she is smart and fun and optimistic, and she accepts different people because she understands there is more than one way to have a human experience in this world.

She creates changes in a swift movement that seems effortless but truly has a lot of hard work behind it. And she moves so fast it catches most of the world by surprise. So she needs people around her who inspire her, communicate clearly and can handle movement forward through fear without backing down. “If you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen” describes life with her best. Then again, a heated kitchen means there is cooking involved – and yes, she enjoys cooking good, healthy, delicious food she loves to share with family and friends.

Even though she can do pretty much anything a man can do – she can be a very feminine woman. She knows what she wants and she goes out to get it, and she is always honest, bringing her truth in a humble, loving way. She is passionate and funny. And she defines the word Optimism. 

FYI here are some of my fellow Aries awesome women, recognize any of them?

Aretha Franklin (Respect!)

Billy Holiday (Apparently we Aries women love to sing Jazz)

Robin Wright (“As you wish!”)

Reese Witherspoon

Kate Hudson

Maya Angelou

This month of March I ask to throw out the labels and instead look at them from another perspective. What are some labels you were labeled before? Instead of accepting them, how can you look at them differently?

Here is my birthday gift to you if you choose to accept it: write to me in the comments for this blog post one label you were given you do not like – I will write you back a different perspective of that label – and email  you a birthday present “The Gift Of Portrait” $50 gift card to go along with it.


Happy No Label March!

 To see more of Rinat’s work go to rinathalon.com 




Recently I went on a beach getaway. I was walking on the beach, enjoying the beautiful view,  breathing in the smells of the fresh, clean Florida air, and enjoying the moment.

I was listening to the sound of the waves and the sea goals circling over my head when I realized I was hearing different languages spoken around me. I snapped out of my bubble and smiled as I recognized I was walking passed families speaking Russian, Japanese, Spanish and a few other languages I did not recognize. And then it hit me: everyone had a camera in their hands. They were all either taking pictures, or talking about the camera. I could tell some were frustrated; their photos were not turning out the way they envisioned. One couple I walked passed was speaking in English, and I heard the woman complain to the man “the camera is just not good enough”, she said as she sighed in sorrow. I looked the other way, wondering what they were all photographing. There was nothing there except the big blue ocean. The beautiful, living, breathing big blue ocean. The  ocean all these people came to enjoy, and relax, and re-charge by. But they were not doing that. They were all keeping very busy clicking away, and were getting frustrated when they could not seem to be able to capture the essence of the moment.

One of the things I talk about when I teach is when NOT to photograph. In this day and age with the camera equipment is accessible to anyone and everyone, it seems no one is living in the moment any longer. We are either capturing photos to be able to see them in the FUTURE, or looking through photos we captured as we reflect on the PAST. And then we wonder why the NOW, this moment in time, just seems to flee us so quickly.

That morning on the beach, me – the professional photographer – was the only person without a camera in her hands. Of course I brought a camera with me to the beach. But with years of experience and technical knowledge I know when it’s worth it to actually pull out the camera. The camera does not control my life, it’s a tool I control to capture a few special moments that are worthy of my time, energy and thought put into capturing them for prosperity sake.

The rest of the time, I choose to live NOW. And this seems to become a fleeting concept in the past few years since the photography equipment has become affordable and available to all. When we don’t realize is how much this affordable, available, easy to use equipment is costing us in time and energy. Because it’s only a piece of equipment. Think about how an airplane can safely take off and land when it’s in the hands of an experienced pilot in what seems to be a smooth, effortless motion (but we all know very well it is not). A camera follows the same concept. You can whiteness a professional photographer capture a beautiful photograph in what seems to be an effortless motion. But the same camera can become a time and energy sucker, frustrating experience when it’s in your hands if you do not know how to use this tool.

My suggestion? Get busy living life, and not capturing it. When you get somewhere decide to capture only a couple of shots, and then put the camera away. As the pilot says when the airplane takes off: “Sit back – and enjoy the ride!”.

Because that’s what life is about. Here is to a 2017 filled with beautiful, happy, relaxing and energizing NOW moments!



To find out more about the Photo Coaching for photographers I offer, including the “8 Weeks to Photo Goal! ” program CLICK HERE


If you are an amateur photographer who just wants to learn how to get better pictures CONTACT ME for more information about the photography classes I offer


For your office staff Photo Team Building activities   CLICK HERE


For more information about the best, most fun and thoroughly educational Photo Tours coming up   CLICK HERE


To book one of my original, one of a kind entertaining, heart warming Photo Talks   CLICK HERE


To see some of the shots I took on Cocoa Beach, and more of my Travel Photography  CLICK HERE




Truth be told, I don’t always feel like smiling. Just like anyone else, when I’m upset, it’s the last thing I want to do. Yet you wouldn’t know it from my Facebook feed. So why smile when I don’t want to?

In my world there are three kinds of therapy: Beach therapy, which involves meditating by the ocean. Music therapy in which I surround myself with the loving hug of notes and cords and beats that heal my soul. And then there is photo therapy.

Recently I was met with a part of my personality I had no idea existed. And I was horrified, and ashamed to realize that it is a part of me. What’s worst is, I hurt someone I really care about with this personality trade I carry in me. That broke my heart, and had me in tears for days. If this was not enough, as I reflected back, I realized more and more times in my past this personality trade hurt me and others around me. I was crushed. First thing I did was to ask for forgiveness.

Next thing, now that I am aware of this trade I do not like – I decided to change. The thing is, change takes time (for me anyway) and it’s a process.

Meanwhile, as I am going through this emotional wave – life keeps going. I still need to post photos of me photographing my clients and networking on Facebook. I still need to get my own holiday photo done. How do I do it without tears in my eyes?

The power of Therapeutic Photography is that in these types of pictures I can be anyone I want to be. Even the woman I am currently working on becoming. I can create a reality that does not exist yet – and insert my current self there, to see myself as I want to be.

This is exactly what I do for my Therapeutic Photography clients when they come to my studio. Because the camera reflects things you can’t see with the naked eye. Because the camera can function as a time machine to take you into the future you want for yourself. Because the camera can capture your happy moment even when you are sad in the present, and give you a glimpse into the wonderful new life you wish for yourself. A glimpse that will make you happy, feel better, and inspire you to keep going through the rough times until you make it to this new reality you are creating for yourself. And if you forget, or the change you are making becomes hard, you can look back at these photos and be reminded by your own happy smile why you are making this change.

So when I was lucky enough to get Santa to come to the studio for my own holiday portrait, I knew this was my opportunity to give me some love through this difficult time using Therapeutic Photography.

This was me in the morning before the shoot, all teary eyed and everything:



As I was creating the scene for this shoot, I realized I was feeling a little better already. Using the hot glue gun to glue the dreidels and chocolate coins to the plate (for some reason using a glue gun always makes me happy) got a little smile out of me. It’s a start.



Then Shelby, my wonderful assistant, came to help me with this shoot. She was feeling down as well. A close family friend just passed away, and Shelby was full of sadness.

But as we completed setting up the first scene, Shelby was starting to feel better, and when Santa showed up she was starting to get excited about this shoot as well.


First scene went great, here is the final shot (Shelby clicking the camera – thank you!!!) from this “Dear Santa, I can explain” Jewish girl’s interpretation to a Christmas greeting card



Second scene I wanted to capture was a fantasy one. I always thought Jessica Rabbit is the most feminine thing I’ve ever seen. This past Halloween I bought a wig, and never used it. Now was the perfect time to use it, as I channeled my inner Jessica Rabbit for these shots (Isn’t Santa’s expressions just perfect? Dennis is SO GOOD as Santa!!)





I was happy with the photos and thought we were done, but then Dennis suggested I do some without the wig, and I remembered I had a Santa hat I wanted to wear. At this point of the shoot the three of us were having such a good time, I forgot I was sad. Here are a few proofs from this part of the shoot:





And then we captured THE shot. There she was. My future self. Happy, glowing. Funny. Soft and feminine. The inspiration I was looking for. I call this shot: “Santa, this is my wish”:


No, I am not going to tell you what I asked Santa for. But I will tell you that after the shoot was over, Santa started talking about the things people ask him for. I had to pick up the camera and click away as he was telling us about children asking that dad stops beating up mom. Mothers that ask for one more year of life before cancer takes them because their children need them. And grown men that ask just to be happy. Yes, all we all want is to be loved.



At the end of the shoot we took a couple of selfies. Here is one with Dennis Underwood the best Santa EVER!



And with my girl Shelby Gevin who clicked away my portraits with Santa so perfectly – I am SO proud of her.



Happy Holidays. And a quote from my favorite song “My Wish”:

“If its cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile”

To hear the song “My Wish” CLICK HERE

To book Dennis Underwood as Santa CLICK HERE


 RH Holiday Card




Marilyn Monroe said it best, we ladies do love our diamonds! Here are 8 tips on how to take better pics of your new and shiny engagement and wedding rings for the world to see:



Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

 TIP #1: Let your fiance and his groomsmen have the rings as they are getting ready for the wedding ceremony. They will start goofing off I can  guarantee it, and you will get fun shots like this one!



TIP #2: The classic “hands over flowers” pose always looks great thanks to the contrast the beautiful flowers add functioning as a backdrop to the rings, and the dress and tux pull it all together perfectly



TIP #3: Have your man hold the ring, that way you get the intention and the action in one shot. Its one of those shots that make people tilt their heads to the side and go “OOOOOHHHHHHH!!!”…(and its a Facebook “Like” machine)




TIP #4: Let a child hold the rings. Something about a child’s little hand holding a ring…well, it’s not for nothing we have a ring bearer in a wedding, right?




TIP #5: Before you put on your bling shoes – use them from a different point of view





TIP #6: Sometime you have to kiss a few frogs to find your prince. But when you are done kissing frogs, how about having the frog pose with your rings?




TIP #7: Keep it simple. Have your sister or best friend hold the rings in her loving hands, that way you capture a great memory of the rings, held by the person you love so much, who held your hand through the good, the bad, and the ugly cry




 TIP #8: Using the rings in a different way, something fun and unexpected, always creates a memorable shot!




To see out wedding proposal photography packages CLICK HERE

For more information and to contact Kelley Thomas as Marylin Monroe CLICK HERE




When I start working with a new Photo Coaching client, as we sit down to talk about their photography business dreams and goals, they are always surprised to find themselves crying.

Last week when a new Photo Coaching client came in and we were sitting in my meeting room to chat, he could not hold back his tears. First thing he did was to apologize, and try to hide the tears. “What are you apologizing for?” I asked. He looked at me, confused.

In this day and age, and in our society, crying is considered s sign of weakness.  It is considered shameful to cry, especially in front of other people.

I believe tears are the healers of the soul.  The reason I believe that is because every single one of your body’s functions has a purpose. So how could it be that tears do not?

When we touch our deeply buried and neglected wants and dreams, they come up to our conciseness. And they hurt, because we are not allowing them to be, we are not allowing ourselves to be what and whom we want to be.

Tears are the first step in changing that. In allowing ourselves to be the person we truly want to be. First we cry to heal our soul. Then we are ready to face our fears doubts and worries that stop us from being the person we want to be. Then we make room to grow into being that person.

I named it fondly “growing pains”. And yes, fully grown adults have them too.

I handed my client a box of tissues and asked him to allow himself to cry. When the relief after the tears came he relaxed and spoke clearly about his vision for his photography business. Now, we can make a step by step plan on how to make this successful & profitable photography business vision of his – into a reality. Every day I am thankful for my photography career, but photo coaching is by far one of the most humbling experiences it offers me. I am grateful for it.



For more information about Rinat’s Photo Coaching CLICK HERE

It was a lovely intimate affair at the Magic Village  on Thanksgiving morning. Chloee and Ricky were married poolside surrounded by an intimate crowd of family and friends. The reception was beautifully organized inside the pool house, and the front entrance provided a great backdrop for this fun loving couple. Happy Ever After Chloee & Ricky!














To see Rinat’s wedding photography package and prices CLICK HERE

Wedding Planner: Jessica Narduli Aloha Of America