Rinat Halon

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

Archive for 'Uncategorized'

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?

 

 

 

 

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years about how to maximize the opportunity to get great shots during a newborn portrait session

Tip#1 – DO NOT forget the pacifier!  If the baby takes a pacifier, we want it there during the session!

Tip#2 – If you are nursing, be careful with what you eat 24 hours before the session. Avoid spicy foods, or any foods the baby may have allergies to. Remember that any food that has the potential of making a baby’s stomach uncomfortable equals more tears and less pictures.

Tip #3 – Make sure your baby has a nice full tummy before you leave to come to the portrait session. That way your baby will fall asleep on the car ride over, and will arrive sleeping, which means I can start clicking away as soon as you arrive, and have a nice long stretch of 30 minutes to an hour to get great shots before your baby needs a feeding break.

Tip #4 – Keep your baby awake a couple of hours before the session. We want your baby sleeping during the newborn portrait session because that is how we get all these great newborn shots. And if your baby arrives awake and alert we lose all these sleepy cuddly precious moments. So do what you can a couple of hours before the session to keep your baby awake – talk to your baby, play with your baby – whatever it takes to have them arriving at my the studio ready for a long nap.

Tip #5 – Bring your baby to the portrait session in a onesie only! A budysuit is simple to remove and there is less of a chance for the newborn to wake up. Also ensure the onesie is loose fitting for easy removal.   

Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for your newborn session, and you are guaranteed a much better chance to get wonderful newborn portraits of your personal bundle of joy!

 

 

Cortassa0044re

For my newborn session information and pricing CLICK HERE 

Here is a good article I found online on The Bump about how to choose a maternity photographer, by Anisa Arsenault. Great advice!

Maternity portraits are typically taken between 28 and 32 weeks, so there’s not much room for error if you’re not happy with the results. These tips will help you get it right the first time.

Start early

Look into your options at the end of your first trimester, so you have plenty of time to research and compare different photographers, ask questions and address concerns. What’s the price point? What does the package include? Do you feel relaxed with this photographer? Will she be doing the editing? “This is a great time to get to know your photographer before the session so you can be comfortable at the shoot,” says Alicia Gines of California-based Alicia Gines Photography.

Find a Specialist

Browse the photographer’s website to get a feel for her past experience and areas of expertise. If she has a variety of examples from maternity sessions, that’s a good sign. “Experienced shooters will be familiar with the most flattering angles for your pregnant body, and know how to focus on your belly while deemphasizing other (also expanding!) body parts, like your hips, arms and legs,” says Jennifer Loomis of Jennifer Loomis Photography. “Similar or redundant images on the website can indicate a lack of creative artistry.”

Think About Style

As you consider a photographer, think about what you want your photos to look like. Are you hoping for something artistic and moody, or simple and realistic? Do you want to be in an interesting environment, or would you prefer more formal portraits with a simple backdrop? “Find someone whose work speaks to you and that you can see yourself in,” Gines says. Also ask whether she uses film or digital (or both). Images shot on film have a soft, organic look that can lend a nostalgic feel, while digital has a sharper quality, vibrant colors and an overall crispness.

Check Referrals

“If you weren’t personally referred by someone who already used the photographer and has a positive recommendation, ask them for several referrals to contact,” Loomis says. “These might be posted on the website.”

Think Long Term

Can this photographer also do your newborn portraits? You’re going to spend time screening a photographer, and presumably establishing a level of trust, so it makes sense to find someone you can use again. “New people bring uneasy feelings, which can disturb baby,” says Gines. “Trust within the group will make for a comfy newborn, which will lead to great photos.”

 

Moran_pregnancy-83

 

For Rinat’s Maternity Portrait Packages CLICK HERE

 

Like any other young girl growing up, I looked up to Marilyn Monroe as the idol of beauty. Her perfect hair, her perfect smile, her soft voice, that sense of mystery her eyes reflected. She was the essence of what being a woman meant, all bottled up into one perfect looking model of femininity.

I never thought much about the influence Marilyn Monroe had on my definition of femininity until I had a photography job at a Marilyn Monroe spa. I was there to photograph the opening of this new spa location, and between the guests, the food, the drinks and the music just like in Susan Vega’s song, Marilyn’s face watched us from the walls. I was drawn into her photographs, all beautiful, perfectly depicting this ideal symbol of femininity. As oppose to my childhood when I only saw her outer beauty, now the mystery in her eyes pulled me in. It was almost like she was asking me to come in behind the perfect façade and meet the real Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe Spa Oviedo

Click here for the Marilyn Monroe Spa web site

Just as I was thinking that, Marilyn in the flesh came walking out into the spa, working the crowds, her presence so strong everyone stopped what they were doing to follow her outside and watch her perform “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” to the delight of the audience.

Singing Diamonds are a girl's best friends

Kelley Thomas Singing Diamonds are a girl’s best friends as Marilyn, click on the photo to see Kelley’s FB artis page

I have seen a few Marilyn impersonators over my career, but nothing like the quality Kelley, this Marilyn, brought to the most famous sex symbol in the world. It was as if she was channeling the real Marilyn. Right then and there I knew I wanted to get her into my photography studio for a photo shoot.

Having no idea of what I was going to do or what I wanted to photograph, when Kelley agreed to come to the studio I started researching Marilyn Monroe.

Knowing that before she was Marilyn Monroe she was Norma Jean. I searched to see what Norma Jean looked like. Coming across one of her earlier photographs, there she was: young, happy – and with a head full of brown curls, a cute smile revealing teeth that are not so perfect and playfully holding a camera. She looked nothing like Marilyn Monroe. She looked like, well, many cute Jewish girls next door, and could easily be mistaken for one of them. In fact, she reminded me of someone. Me. She reminded me of myself when I was 15. Before my TV show at 16. Before I became known. It was unbelievable, and made me even more curious about the mystery behind those eyes of the iconic Marilyn – how did she go from Norma Jean to being the world’s most known sex symbol?

michaelmonroe-2009090314120-mm1134-original

Norma Jean as photographed by her friend and photographer Andre de Dienes

First thing I learned is that the name Marilyn Monroe was given to her by the studios. In fact, when she first took on the name she had to ask how to spell it when she had to sign autographs. That tidbit of knowledge made me smile. Amusing enough as it is, it’s even funnier as I cannot seem to be able to spell the name Marilyn Monroe either. Every time I type it into this blog article the red spell check lines appear. On the other hand the name Norma Jean comes out naturally.

While researching online I came across a series of black and white photographs that stood out from the rest of the glamorized Marilyn Monroe photos. It was a black and white series shot by Alfred Eisenstaedt – the legendary life magazine photographers. Captured in 1953 at Marilyn’s back yard. As only good photographers can do in these photographs Alfred created portraits of her soul. Marilyn, wearing a black turtle neck, seems comfortable in her own skin. These are the only photos I ever seen of her looking real. Vulnerable. And a little sad. These are the only photos I ever seen of Marilyn where I could see Norma Jean’s soul reflected through her eyes.

635859758198574675771577968_Marilyn-Monroe-01

Photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt

alfred-eisenstaedt-portrait-of-actress-marilyn-monroe-at-home

Photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt

01_011810542

Photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt

I knew that is what I wanted to capture in my studio. I called Kelley and asked her to bring nothing but a black turtle neck.

When Kelley sat in front of my camera, Marilyn wig on and the black turtle neck, we started talking about Marilyn.

It was incredible to watch how our conversation was bringing Marilyn to life through Kelley right in front of my camera. Being the committed professional that she is, and such a sensitive soul, Kelley was able to follow my directions and at one point of the shoot I felt like it was Marilyn herself sitting in front of me, reminiscing on her days as Norma Jean.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

She told me that despite her world fame she was always very lonely. She told me about people she trusted manipulating and using her to their benefit. She told me how she had no idea she was going to become so famous, as no other actress before her ever got to be sp famous, and she felt she was not truly prepared for the pressures that came with the fame.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

That venerability, that sadness in her eyes that Alfred caught so many years ago – there it was in her eyes reflecting through my lens. We did it Kelley and me – we brought Norma Jean back to life.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

I was a little embarrassed, but share with Kelley that the night before the shoot I dreamed about Marilyn. I don’t remember my dreams often, but this one was clear and concise. Marilyn said to me: “You and I have more In common than you think”. In my dream I looked at her puzzled, “Really?” I asked. She just smiled her mysterious smile and shook her head yes. “You’ll find out” she said.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Kelley and I looked at each other shaking our heads; we didn’t know what it could be. We laughed it off and kept photographing. Only later, when we were almost done with the shoot Kelley said: “You know, she really just wanted to be a mother. She had to get abortions 6 times. All the other actresses did as well back then, because they were considered to be owned by the studios. When she was finally ready to get pregnant her body couldn’t hold the pregnancy.” I was tearing up behind the camera. There it was. The answer to my dream, Marilyn was right, I did find out what we had in common. I never imagined her wanting to be mother, as many people who meet me can’t imagine I never became a mother because I could not, not because I didn’t want to.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

 

As we were wrapping up Kelley told me how when Marilyn died she still owed money on her house. It seemed everyone was making money on the iconic Marilyn – except her. “But she was just starting to take control of her own life” said Kelley “right before she died she started making changes, she started planning her future and deciding what to do next that would benefit her first. And then she was found dead.”

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

I named this blog post “I Am Norma Jean” in honor of this strong, uncompromising woman. This woman who until recently, like the rest of the world, I could only see her outer beauty. Thinking forward, my wish is that every young woman who finds out about the iconic Marilyn Monroe – is also taught about Norma Jean. Norma Jean, the face behind the façade. The lonely soul that just wanted to be loved. The woman who came from nothing, took her destiny in her own hands and despite her fears – kept bettering herself. Learning from her mistakes and making changes as she was walking life’s path. Because without Norma Jean – who she was, her personality, and the actions she took – Marilyn Monroe would not exist.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

 

  • We are currently looking for a space to exhibit these portraits seen here and more from the photo project “I Am Norma Jean. If you are interested in sponsoring the exhibit please contact Rinat at rinat@rinathalon.com.

Every couple planning their wedding day dreams their beautiful vision will come to life perfectly – and dreads the possibility it will not.

How do you ensure your wedding day is perfect? Well, you really can’t. A wedding day is a very complex day, comprised of many moving parts and relay on many people’s involvement and efforts. If one thing doesn’t work in this chain – it can create the domino effect that may turn a beautiful wedding day vision into a frustrating mess.

The good news is, there are two things you can do to increase the odds of your wedding day success exponentially

The first one is PLAN. Plan as much as you can. Research, prepare, create vision boards. Ask recently married couples what they would have done differently on their wedding day if they could. As the saying goes – planning, really does – make perfect.

The second thing to do is HIRE PROFESSIONAL WEDDING VENDORS. Nothing – and I mean NOTHING will affect your day as much as your decision who you trust to execute this most important day of your life.

Professional wedding vendors understand it’s a team effort and will work together to carry your vision into reality. They are reliable, knowledgeable and accurate. Most importantly – they have seen it all, and they will know what to do when something doesn’t  go as planned – and if there is anything I can guarantee, it is that something will not go as planned on your wedding day.

These pictures are from behind the scenes of Noel & Cesar’s perfect wedding day at Paradise Cove. Yes, a couple of things did not go as planned. But the group of professional vendors were there to fix the issues and move on – without anyone noticing.

Because on your wedding day, after you did all the planning and hired the professional vendors – you want to relax, have fun – and your only job should be to say “I Do”.

NCW-14

Professional make up team arrive on time, do beautiful work, and have the wedding party ready for their pictures on time. In this picture Kristy Alonzo and her team prepping Noel & Cesar for their close up. Kristy Alonzo Design Team

RHtest-73

My wonderful assistant Shelby Gavin allows me to be creative and not have to worry about the small stuff by ensuring we follow our timeline – and that I drink plenty of water.

 

RHtest-626

Kayli from Paradise Cove, phone on hand, coordinating all the moving pieces of this complex wedding day Paradise Cove

RHtest-662

Rich the wonderful seaplane pilot took the grooms special entrance to a whole new level – and with such a smooth landing! Florida Seaplanes

RHtest-706

And ensured no one’s feet got wet getting off the seaplane

RHtest-955

See the guy in the black shirt behind the grooms and the drag queen? (Yes, I will have a whole other blog post about the wedding itself) He is one of the Paradise Cove employees who was always around if help is needed – and at the same time he made sure to stay behind me so he is not “photo bumbling” any of my pics.

RHtest-1077

Tam N Ho, one of my second shooters, did a great job capturing the day from another angle.

RHtest-1109

The video team from Castaldo Studios ensuring they are capturing the moment and staying our of my photographs. Castaldo Studuis

RHtest-1096 RHtest-607

Kayli giving the grooms last minute directions as the guests are being prepped for the ceremony.

RHtest-1462NCW-476

Kristin Wilson from Our DJ Rocks working the fog machine so the grooms can dance on cloud 9 Our DJ Rocks

RHtest-2501 RHtest-2089

While Gaby from Our DJ Rocks MC’s and teaches the guests some new dance moves

RHtest-2099

End of the day I am going over my wedding day shot list ensuring I captured every treasured moment.

I absolutely loved working with Meagan and David from the moment we met. Since this sweet down to earth happy couple was such a joy during the engagement session, I was very much looking forward for their wedding day.

After our pre-wedding phone meeting I knew this was going to be a beautiful wedding to capture. And since we will be in the quaint Park Avenue area, I was getting very excited about the photo possibilities.

The next day after our conversation I realized what was THE shot I wanted to get. I called Meagan and David and asked them if they remembered what the Beatles album cover “Abby Road” looked like, and proceeded to explain my vision of an Abby Road style wedding picture.

Abbey-Road

To my delight, the cherry on top of my vision coming to life was that the beautiful Maid Of Honor was very much pregnant. Since the Man Of Honor had to walk barefoot (thankfully he didn’t have to think twice when I asked him to take his shoes and socks off for this photo…) I got to capture let alone an Abby Road style wedding, but a “barefoot and pregnant” at that.

MDWD-2138-Edit-2

 

Here are some more wonderful moments from Meagan & David’s wedding day:

MDWD-370

 

When seeing his daughter for the first time as a bride Megan’s father could not hold back his tears – and neither could Meagan.

MDWD-223

The dress awaits – in a moment Meagan will become a bride

WDMD-11

The frog turned into a prince in this love story

WDMD-207

The ring barer boys were so cute, I asked them to talk to their sleeve and pretend they are secret service – they pulled it off no problem! 

WDMD-516

Surrounded by love after the ceremony

WDMD-659

The bridal party at the beautiful Alfond inn

WDMD-664

WDMD-704

Happy Ever-After!

Vendor list:

Photography: halonwp.com

Second shooter: Chris Gillyard

Photography Assistant: Shelby Gavin

Venue: The Alfond Inn

Coordinator: Pixies and Petals 

Yona5T
  “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” Said Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the God Father’s of photography. Every photography student knows this saying because it is the truth. When you first start photographing, just like anything else you attempt – you have no idea what you are doing. That is why it baffles me that people can pick up a camera and decide they are now professional photographers.

Many times during my photography sessions, anything from a studio portrait shoot, a corporate headshot or a wedding, my clients remark that they are surprised about how FEW photos I am taking. I explain that professional photographers with years of experience and knowledge do not like wasting their and their client’s time. They know how to get THE shot, and they KNOW when they got it. Once we get what we need – anything beyond that is a waste of time for us and for our clients.

ADLF-323

 

 

In the quantity driven society of today this approach can be frowned upon. Considering the fact that according to a recent study we, the human race, have created 90% of the content that has ever been created in the past 4 years alone – is shocking. We all take pictures all day. But do these pictures actually matter? Do they have value? This reflects the attitude of an armature photographer – keep clicking and hopefully something will turn out. A professional photographer on the other hand is looking to capture that one shot that tells the story and connects the viewer emotionally – and a professional photographer has the training and the experience to know how to get this shot.

Recently I lost a photography job. Considering that never happen to me before I was very concerned, and wanted to understand why. This was for a couple’s wedding. I photographed this couple’s engagement session a few weeks ago. That engagement session took place outdoors. It was another hot day in Florida, and we were all sweating. 35 minutes into the shoot I told them I got what I needed and as far as I am concerned we are good, unless there is another photo they want me to take I did not think about. They were happy with what we did and we all went home. When they said that they LOVE how their engagement photos turned out I was really baffled. What is the problem then? I asked. Turns out they understood the engagement session was going to be an hour long. I was done in 35 minutes…

Trio-360

 

Moral of the story is, value is in quality not in quality – as it was always the case.

Honestly, the quantity approach baffles me. Just as much as it baffles me that armature photographers have clients. Yes, people ac
tually decide to trust them with capturing their most precious memories! Of course, they live to regret it when the pictures come back and they see their 90 year old aunt Margaret could have taken better pictures. And that is when I receive the desperate phone call: “My wedding photographs look terrible, can you fix them?” Well, can you fix a burned pot roast? Just the same, unfortunately, nothing can be done after the fact. And yes there is Photoshop, but first of all – with all the respect to this incredible program – it cannot create miracles. Secondly – these Photoshop fixing attempts will cost you a pretty penny. You know, that money you saved by hiring the armature photographer? You will be spending it on the back end. And that is the good news – because that means your photographs are actually salvageable.

If the photographer you are considering hiring promises you thousands of image files – you have just met an armature photographer. One who has no idea how to get “THE shot” and therefore keeps clicking away until something may look good. Think about your time – do you really want to have to look through all these image files for the few shots you may actually care about? Shots that actually convey and reflect your special moment in life? All I can say is that I hope you like a scavenger hunt, and believe in miracles. Pull out your pixie dust; you’re going to need it!

HorseNdog-21

Fay051

 

“I’m walking in sunshine, woah

I’m walking on sunshine, aooah

I’m walking on sunshine, woooah
And don’t it feel good!!”

(Katrina and the waves, as well as any Bride-To-Be that ever lived)

You just got engaged and you feel like you’re floating on air. Everything is perfect. Life is beautiful. You are lovingly planning your perfect wedding. You know you want tasty food, a great party, and beautiful photos. You’re on Pinterest all day creating your wedding day vision board, adding more and more reference photos of how you envision you will be photographed.

Then the budget reality hits. You realize how much this party is gonna cost you… You and your fiancé start thinking about where you can cut some costs. Venue and food – you know they have to be perfect. Same thing when it comes to your dress (hello?!?!?!?!? You’ve been dreaming about this wedding dress since your Barbie was wearing one).

You and your sweetheart seem to hit a cost cutting wall. But then, as your Facebook friend posts photos from her wedding and you go on bridal blogs and read what other brides are sharing, you know you hit the jackpot of cost cutting:

The Photographer!  You turn to your honey and excitingly announce: “Eureka! We can cut cost with the photographer we hire to photograph our wedding!”

After all, everyone is a photographer nowadays. The market is saturated with photographers, and really anyone can do it. And with that in mind you lower your wedding photography budget to an open bid of whomever offers you the lowest price to shoot you wedding. And you are very happy that you found a way to cut your wedding day cost!

Of course, you just turned your wedding day memories for beheading at the nearest guillotine, where the unmerciful blade chopped off what was to be the only thing left from your magical wedding day – your beautiful photos that is. Because unlike common believe NOT everyone is a photographer. The fact that everyone owns the tool – a camera – does not mean they are qualified to capture your once in a lifetime precious wedding day memories. Think about it this way– anyone can buy a stethoscope on line. Does that make them a doctor you would trust with your medical diagnostics & treatment?

With that in mind, here are my top 5 tips on how to determine what qualifies a camera owner to be your wedding day photographer:

Tip #1 – Is this how the photographer makes a living?   – “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst” said Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the fathers of photography. My question for you is – do you really want your wedding pictures to be within someone’s first 10,000 photographs? There are many photographers who are dipping their toe in the professional photography pool.  They want to make sure the water feels good before they jump in. Of course, sometimes the water is cold…and they decide they don’t want to jump in – and back to their day job they go! If you hired one of them to be your wedding day photographer one of the following may happen to you: A week before your wedding the photographer calls to let you know they cannot make it to your wedding day leaving you shocked and, well, ditched / If they do show up it takes over a year to get you wedding day photos back from them / you get your wedding day photos only to realize many key moments were never captured, and the photos that were captured are just not what you were hoping for.

I tell my students photographing a wedding is like being a war photographer – the difference is the only shots on a wedding day are done using a camera not actual weapons (let’s hope). Just like photographing during a war, you have to be on your toes, alert at all times in order to get THE shot. Because once the moment is over – it is never coming back. And that, my friends, takes practice. Lots and lots of practice. It also takes jumping into the cold dark water of the professional photography pool, cannon ball style, “nothing’s holding me back, I’m all in and can handle anything this wedding throws at me” attitude – which is a badge of honor only experienced professional photographers can proudly wear.

HCDW-42

Tip #2 – How long has the photographer been in business full time?  So let’s talk about the business of professional photography. Just like any other small business owner the professional full time photographer actually WORKS in their business. They have a business license. They have contracts. They have liability insurance. They pay sales tax and income tax on their profits. Many times they have a couple of employees. They are aware of the latest copyright laws and know how to protect you and them from image theft. If you hire a photographer to photograph your wedding day that is not a full time photography business owner you may encounter one of the following: No contract to refer to when the photographer decides to leave your wedding since they feel they got enough shots / When your aunt trips on the photographer’s tripod and breaks her ankle you get the hospital bill/ Yelp and the Better Business Bauru never heard of your photographer, so the bad reviews you post after the wedding day about the photographer walking in on you naked while you were getting ready, demanding to photograph you – are absolutely useless.

תמונה9

 

Tip #3 – Are they a member of a professional organization?  Doctors have the Hippocratic Oath, where they vow to be ethical. I wish photographers had the Nie’pce Oath, or the Dagnuerre Oath (both are considered fathers of photography). Well currently there isn’t a professional photographer oat. And the closet thing you can find to such an ethical oath is if a photographer is a member of a professional photography association such as the Professional Photographers of America (PPA). Members of these organizations are at the very least passionate about their craft, and most likely are professional photographers, not enthused photography wannabe’s.

תמונה15

Tip #4 – Do you like the photographer?  One of the first tips I ever got from a professional photographer was to get a personality. No he wasn’t talking to me specifically, but to a room full of photographers, telling us why clients like working with him. “You have to have a good personality” he said, “and if you don’t have one – buy one”. What he said resonated with me, and felt applicable over the years especially when it came to wedding photography. Here is why: On your wedding day the one person you will spend the most time with – is your wedding photographer. That’s right. More than with your bridal party. More than with your parents. More than with your honey. Your wedding photographer will be glued to your hip all day long. What can I say? You better like them!

Gongage0275

 

Tip #5 – Will their past clients recommend them?  So here is the thing: what you really, truly want to do before you hire your wedding photographer is connect with their previous clients. I mean, the photographer can show you beautiful photos they took, but what you really want to know is what happened behind the lens on their wedding day. Was the photographer on time? Were they pleasant to be around? Were they creative with the wedding photos? Did they deliver everything they promised? And the Million Dollar question (drum roll please)… If they could go back in time – would they hire that photographer again?…

RitzelWed458

As you can see, none of the tips is about cost. I will say this – if its sounds too good to be true… you know the rest of this sentence, right?

Choose your wedding day photographer for the 5 reasons above. Then see what they charge for their services. Chances are if they want to photograph your wedding day they will work with your budget (as long as it’s realistic compared to what they ask for). They may help you with a payment plan, or give you the option of purchasing your album after the wedding day instead of upfront. Here is an example of something I offer that surprises my clients:  Gift registration with my studio. That way, their wedding guests can purchase from my studio gift cards that will apply towards any prints, enlargements and albums the couple will want to order.

And if all else fails and you find out that the photographer you had your heart set on is out of your budget – simply look for another photographer. Lucky for you there are many, very talented business owner professional photographers out there. Since they are professionals they charge what they know their talent and services are worth – and these prices vary from professional photographer to professional photographer – one of those could fit in your budget.

Do your research. You will not regret it. Many years from now when your granddaughter climbs up to cuddle in your lap with a treasure she just found – your wedding album – and she turns the pages asking you if it’s really you in these photos, and telling you how beautiful you looked, you will feel the joy. The joy of your memories coming back to life. The joy of being able to share these memories with a mesmerized child you love so dearly. The joy of knowing your beautiful wedding day is treasured forever.

You may not remember you read this article. But in your heart you will thank the universe for making the right decision and choosing a qualified professional to capture your wedding day memories. And these memories lived happily ever after…

 

  • Rinat Halon, previously Walt Disney Imagineers In House Photographer, started researching the power of a photograph while working on her personalized honors degree from The Ohio State University in Photography & Visual Merchandising ,where she wrote the thesis “The Influence of photographic Images on Brochure Appeal for the Family Financial Management Program” (May 2001). For the past 17 years she has been photographing internationally portraits, weddings and magazine lifestyle & fashion spreads. To see Rinat’s wedding online gallery and contact her to check availability for your wedding day CLICK HERE

KletzelWedding-827

SBPIB-116-Edit

Remember when we were children and wanted to buy something? We had to physically GO TO the store. It seems almost surreal in today’s Amazonic reality, but that was reality not too long ago.

Let’s say you wanted to buy a cool Tshirt. One that all the other cool kids would want. So you went from store to store, WALKING, in search of the perfect Tshirt. You checked out window displays before deciding to go into a store. You walked into all the known chain stores, but couldn’t find what you were looking for. Then you saw a small store across the street, one you never entered before. It had a window display that attracted you to walk over, and you were welcomed by the store owner, asking you what you were looking for. After listening to you carefully he told you he had just the right Tshirt for you. He then proceeded to walk over to a hidden shelf and pull out the most awesomest perfect Tshirt you have ever seen.

What are the chances that you would have gone back to this store? Most likely, you would have made this YOUR store. This was back in the day when small business owner’s visual brand was visible.

Today the small business owner’s brand gets lost in the online shopping world. Window displays were replaced by web sites, and today online is the FIRST PLACE where a potential client meets a small business. IT REPLACED THE STORE FRONT. That is the place where the small business owner can intrigue (creative window display), connect on a personal level (ask what are you looking for?) and create a call to action (“I have the perfect Tshirt for you!”).

Window_dolls-77-Edit

Unfortunately so many small business owners are unaware of their visual branding power. They spend so much money on SEO to bring traffic to their web sites. But once the potential client lands on the web site – those 15 seconds a potential client dedicates to decide if to stay or click away – they have nothing to connect to. Nothing makes them want to stick around. There is nothing there to intrigue them to know more, see more – and ultimately shop. What’s worst is, many times the thoughtless “let me just stick this photo on my web site, it didn’t cost me anything and looks kind of pretty” visual branding can literally turn potential clients away.

It’s because these photos don’t really show who you are.  Nobody really knows what you do, or understand the magnitude of gifts that you offer, the services that you provide, and the miracles that you make happen for your clients every day. But it is easy to fix. Here are my top 5 tips on creating relevant, intriguing, emotionally moving photographs that will help your business succeed:

Tip #1 – Listen to your heart – Paul Tillich said that “the first duty of love is to listen”. If you want to send a clear message to your clients, clarify first with yourself some key facts such as what are you selling? Why are you selling it? Who are you selling it to? Once you are clear about your “business being”, it much easier to figure out photographs that represent it well.

Tomer-246

Tip #2 – Google your business – Now that you understand which photograph you want to represent your business see which image comes up in a relevant Google search. These are the pictures potential clients see first when they Google your business. Are these images you want to be associated with?

KAT-267-Edit

Tip #3 – From scratch or re-birth? From your newly acquired perspective check out the images you currently have on your web site. Do your images do you justice? Decide if you want to keep a few, and just revamp your site with more relevant, intriguing, action creating photographs. Or would you like to drop all the photos on your site and start from scratch? Either way, you should have a solid reason why you are keeping a photograph. Explain to yourself how this photograph is helping promote your business. If you convinced yourself – the photo stays.

DWM-352-Edit-Edit

Tip #4 – Which photographs WILL work for your business? Now that you figured out which photographs don’t work for you, it is time to decide on the photographs that will create a call to action for potential customers brought to your site by SEO. Which photographs will make them want to connect with you? In the Personalized Image Bank process I break down the image bank to three defined photographic areas. These three areas together create a complete visual of your business story. They are the professional portrait, the atmosphere shots and the scene captures. The atmosphere shots for example depict the environment you work from, where your business is located. What this does is create a visual connection for the client, so when they walk into your business they feel comfortable, like they were there before. This familiarity raises the trust a new customer feels towards the business, which in turn encourages moving forward to do business together.

DRkline-350-Edit

 

Tip #5 – Be relevant –Today your web site is your store front’s window display. Make sure you stay current by updating your web site every time there is a change in your business. If an employee leaves, or a new employee is hired. If your business moved location, or if you painted your office walls purple. If you started selling a whole new product line – any of these changes need to appear on your web site. And a personal request from me – please ensure your portrait is current. You want clients to recognize you as soon as they walk into your business. If the portrait on your web site does not look like you any longer, it is time to replace it, as this can create trust issues for a customer who may wonder what else you may be hiding…

liad-214-Edit

 

 

  • Rinat Halon, previously Walt Disney Imagineers In House Photographer, started researching the power of a photograph while working on her personalized honors degree from The Ohio State University in Photography & Visual Merchandising ,where she wrote the thesis “The Influence of photographic Images on Brochure Appeal for the Family Financial Management Program” (May 2001). For the past 17 years she has been photographing internationally portraits, weddings and magazine lifestyle. She started working on creating Personalized Image Bank™ for small businesses 6 years ago, creating proof of sustainability for this service. Recently she was accepted into the We Venture entrepreneurship program, where she is working on scaling the PIB service and product. Her goal is to create a new, personalized, affordable, visual branding option for small business owners worldwide. For more about the Personalized Image Bank CLICK HERE. To apply to qualify for the FREE Personal Styling Session for your small business visual branding CLICK HERE.