Archive for April, 2009




I love taking headshots. I try to capture something of the person’s personality, hopefully a flattering image that still looks like her and is natural and unposed. Here’s a recent image from a shoot with Alia, a model. This was part of a series of images we took to help her build some strong pictures for her portfolio.

Here’s what like about the image-

  • slight tilt of the head – makes her appear friendly, approachable
  • an enigmatic expression – not quite a smile and not quite a serious look
  • her beautiful hair is not perfectly coiffed – adds to the natural feeling
  • simple composition
  • background color that compliments her eyes
  • eyes that are looking right into the lens – connection with the viewer
  • classic “beauty” lighting that comes down from above at a 45 degree angle -see catch lights in her eyes – almost always a flattering look
  • closeness to the camera (see more about that below)

Study the picture closely and think about what you like and dislike – some of this is a matter of taste. Alia is a lovely person – inside and out. She is also happens to be very photogenic, like an actor that connects viscerally with the audience.

I shot the picture from a distance of about 4 feet.  I like this distance for portraits. The viewer has an unconscious sense of closeness and intimacy with the subject.  If I had shot from, for example,  12 feet, with a telephoto lens, the look and feel would have been very different. And, closer that 4 feet begins to distort facial features – noses can look huge, for example.

One might think that, with a beautiful model, very little work is needed on Photoshop. In reality, I spent about an hour on the image. Mostly very subtle changes, the work involved:

  • adjustments to exposure, color balance, saturation
  • removal of some small blemishes
  • removing some “hotspots” of light
  • removing slightly dark lines under the eyes – every over 9 years old has them!
  • cropping
  • sharpening the eyes, lips and hair
  • whitening the whites of the eyes
  • slightly softening the skin

One last thing I like about the image. Did you notice she was wearing earrings? You can see the hooks but not the main part of the earrings – What do they look like? What is Alia’s personal style?  When these questions are unanswered, our imagination can make some leaps – often leading to more engagement with the photograph.

Photo Tip: Try shooting portraits from a distance of about 4 feet, for an intimate connection between viewer and subject.


Group Photos


Shooting groups is hard. This is a picture I took of 22 guys from my church who went on retreat last weekend to a monastery on the banks of the Hudson River. (I’m the one on the left in the top row.)

Getting 22 guys together is hard. Getting them all to look at the camera and smile is hard, especially when you shoot on a time delay and run to get into the picture yourself.  Keeping everyone’s attention can be hard – I had about 3 minutes to get this image. And controlling the weather can be a challenge. It had been sunny all day, but became overcast and dull just minutes before I set up this shot.  Able to warm it up a bit and brighten the colors and add contrast in Photoshop. I’m pleased with the picture, although I wish I had asked the guys in the bottom row to sit down cross-legged, so the second row would be a bit more visible.  Something I’ll remember for next year’s retreat.

Photo tip: Look at your images critically –  and think about what you would do differently the next time.


Blake’s Web Site, Also How to Subscribe to This Blog

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Thanks for visiting my blog. be sure to check out my web site as well:

Blake’s Web site

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telephone: 203-536-2463


local web advertizing

As a way to promote my photography business, I’m doing a bit of local advertizing. SusySaid is a site mostly for young women. check out the ad:  SusySaid ad.


Getting Started

My first blog post.

Why have I started a blog? Isn’t life hectic enough already? Three reasons.

First, the blog is for me – a tool of reflection and discernment about my work, things I’ve learned on my own or from mentors, workshops, readings, etc. My goal is to write 2 or 3 times a month. A big commitment – we’ll see how I do.

Second, I hope to share some ideas and tips about photography with others. Many people have helped me along on my journey and I sincerely want to “pay it forward” as the movie of that title suggests we do.

Lastly – maybe least important – the blog may bring some business my way.

I’ll welcome any comments and suggestions from anyone who happens to find her or his way here.

A big thank you to my by friend Debbie Roberts, who inspired me to start a blog. Check out her terrific blog, on gardening, Debbie’s blog.