Good morning everyone! Wow, this autumn has really flown by for me; please thank your photographers, we've all had about a million photoshoots this month and we're tired! Today I wanted to touch more on a topic I've already talked about before, because I feel it's an ongoing topic that's always relevant to clients seeking out a beautiful shoot – How do you get your session to turn out as great as the rest of your photographer's work, and is there any way you can influence the results?
The short answer is – abso-freaking-lutely! Generally speaking, when you hire a photographer you should be hiring them for the right reasons to begin with; it shouldn't be simply because they were cheap or convenient, but one would hope that you actually like their style as well.
Because before I can even delve into what you can do to help ensure you better photoshoot results, that really is the first integral step: Hiring a photographer who's portfolio you love! This fundamental tip is often overlooked by many, when it's actually one of the key players in how happy you'll be with the results. I know I sound like a broken record online when I say this, but photographers are never one-size-fits-all. This doesn't mean sending just any photographer a bunch of photos you found and asking them to edit like that – it means finding a photographer whose work already looks the way you want it to.
It may seem like we all use the same medium for our art, but we all produce widely different results in style. Some of us aim for the light and airy approach, some of us edit with more dark and moody tones, some really like to play with flash for more dramatic effects while others prefer strictly dreamy, natural sunset lighting, and all of us see through our lenses very differently! That's why, if a certain style of photography resonates with you a bit more, remember that the first step to achieving your ultimate photoshoot actually occurs before your session even begins; by choosing a photographer that's a good fit for you.
Now that you've found your dream photographer, does this mean that you can kick back and relax and your photographer will make the magic happen? Well, to a certain extent. But what if there was more you could do to turn your photoshoot up a notch?
From the title of this blog, you probably get where I'm going with this. When it comes to the customer and professional relationship in any industry, it really does take two to tango! Now, if you're hiring a photographer whose work is consistent and whose portfolio you love, the likelihood is that no matter what, you're going to get good results. But think of it this way – photographers usually get too many clients to ever be able to post all of them online, so of course this means they'll always choose to showcase their absolute favorite shots on their website and social media – the envy-worthy shots. So the question is, how can you help influence your photoshoot to be that level of gorgeous – so good that your results end up being some of your photographer's new prized works of art?
First and foremost, what you wear and the level of thought you put into it is going to have one of the biggest impacts on the success of your final photos. I can't emphasize this enough – casually sporting a college sweatshirt and sneakers is not going to yield the results you see in your photographer's work. We want to see you dressed like you're going to a special occasion – because you are!
Think of your photography session like an investment, because it definitely is. Often the prices we pay for a good photographer could buy us one, two, or even three ultra fancy dinners at a pricey restaurant. And if you went to a really high-class restaurant or dinner party, you'd definitely be mindful about what you wore! Some clients even buy outfits specifically for the photoshoot, which I generally encourage. While I'm not saying you need to go and spend a fortune, I do know that investing a little time and thoughtfulness into your outfits is always what takes these photoshoots to the next level and makes them stand out – making the investment you spent on the photoshoot itself even more worth it!
So let's touch on the specifics of how to decide what to wear. Depending on who you are and your personalities, there's definitely a variety of different looks you could aim for. When it comes to couples and engagement shoots, you could either go for the super dramatic and get a bold show-stopping dress, or maybe boho with a lacy sundress and indie jewelry, or you could go for casual but still ultra-fashionable with ripped jeans and boots or even a hat. For families, you may want to color-coordinate a little with accents of a specific color, or even just stick to a particular theme, like picnic-vibes with floral dresses and corduroy.
However, one thing to be careful of is to risk going from trendy to tacky. Dramatic isn't always better, and my general rule of thumb is, could you wear this to a banquet, restaurant, or party in the future and not feel a bit silly in it? Yes, I am talking about the weird trend of fluorescent spandex maternity dresses and yes, I will be brutally honest that I kind of hate them. While I love a bold dress, I want it to be authentically dramatic, without looking like a cheap costume that you could never wear again. For maternity, I would generally recommend maybe veering away from the frilly-neon-purple-spandex gowns and instead opting for something a little more wearable, like a flowy mustard yellow sundress or long-sleeved velvet sweater dress.
My biggest recommendation, always, is to do some research before your photoshoot. The absolute best way to find outfit inspiration is to look through your photographer's pre-existing portfolio style, google image searches, and apps like Pinterest or Instagram, and even Etsy! When you type in terms like "engagement photo outfits" or "styled family photoshoot", you're going to get a lot of results with trendy clothing ideas to help you find inspiration, some of which will be more casual and some that are more formal. But at the end of the day, putting some time and thought in your outfits is really going to help build that bridge with your photographer and help them achieve the results that you both want, the photographer included!
So now that we've seen how fashion can make a big difference in the results of our photos, is that all there is to it? Actually, when it comes to client coordination there's three things I find have the biggest impact on successful photos: Hiring a photographer you love, being thoughtful about your outfit planning, and finally, being willing to jump in and release all inhibitions.
Often a frustration for me as a photographer is receiving a client who has high expectations for their session, but is unwilling to fully engage. The grass is gross, the bugs are scary, the water is too wet. Often much of the breathtaking photography we covet involves being open-minded – laying down in a rolling field, standing on a windy cliffside, or even a romantic make-out session in the ocean. But to achieve those photos, those clients needed to be fearless for them. I am always one hundred percent ready to jump into nature for any of my sessions and I will voluntarily walk up to my knees in mud to capture a photo if I need to, but for a truly astounding session I need you to be willing to take that leap with me too!
And finally, while the first half of being fearless means physically diving into your shoot, the second half is about being willing to emotionally dive in. I've found that the main component of my most prized couples photos has been one thing: The couples from those sessions had no inhibitions about holding back their feelings for one another. If you're a couple who's very uncomfortable about PDA, this is where we need to be willing to break down those walls! As a photographer, I can give you all the posing ideas and prompts in the world, but if you want truly captivating photos, this is where "it takes two to tango" really comes into play. I need you to tango with me on this.
This means paying less attention to me and the camera, and far more attention to each other. This means flirting, goofing around, cuddling, spontaneous kisses, and altogether interacting like you would in private. As a photographer, I've seen it all and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Portrait photographers don't get uncomfortable, we'll be laughing right there with you and you'll hear that shutter click even faster the second that you smother your fiance in kisses!
What it comes down to is this – even the most talented and high-demand photographer isn't a complete magician. At the end of the day, a key player in the result of our most successful photos is our clients' cooperation, coordination, and willingness to take that extra leap with us. Let's dive right in and get the photos of (both) our dreams!
Morgan Ofsharick at MEO Photography specializes in proposal, engagement, wedding, maternity, newborn, family, and headshot portrait photography, servicing New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, Litchfield, and plenty of other regions around Connecticut!
Hello all! Wow, it's been quite a while since I've written a blog, and a lot has changed since then! I'm currently having myself a new website completely redesigned, I've opened my new Client Closet, I've got so many new photos (which I've been too lazy to upload), and so much more.
But today I wanted to touch on a topic that's come to light for me, or rather, a topic myself and other photographers have always been privy to, which is further spotlighted anytime we make adjustments to our prices – Is it okay to ask a photographer for a discount? Well buckle up and grab a snack, this is a long one!
The answers to this are broad, and of course, sensitive. From the standpoint of a customer, we all understand what it's like to be on a budget and to want to be sure we're getting the best price for a product or service. From the standpoint of a photographer, I think myself and others could agree that there's so much we wish our customers knew in regards to why our pricing is what it is, and why it's important and necessary for it to be what it is.
Before I joined this industry, I can easily admit that I viewed photography prices as seemingly insane too. How on earth do they get away with charging that much for taking some photos? They're getting paid three hundred dollars an hour, they must be millionaires with those wages!
But, let's look at this logically – if photography was really that simple, and we were actually earning hundreds of dollars per one hour of work, wouldn't all photographers be living in mansions? Wouldn't I own my dream Tesla right now? I think we can agree that everyone would quickly want to become a photographer if that were the case – Why get your PhD if you can just buy a camera!
Of course the truth is, the wages behind photography are not what they seem. So before we get into whether or not it's okay to ask for a discount, let's consider why photography prices are what they are to begin with.
First and foremost, it's easy to hire a photographer for two hours and think they are getting paid $500 for just those two hours, but there's a lot more that goes on behind the scenes that's easy to overlook. For one, there's the time that was spent communicating back and forth with you to plan and book your session. The time spent traveling to and from your venue, and there's the many hours that go into sorting and editing your photos.
And time is actually a secondary component compared to the expenses that go into our trade. A professional camera body alone will usually cost at least two thousand dollars, often more. And that's without the lenses, which will each cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands per lens. As you can imagine, these are also very expensive to repair, and replace! There's also the expense of our gas money, car repairs, our computers, editing software, subscription payments for our website and galleries, pretty props, and all the other bits and bobs that make our photography stand out among the rest!
So in short, while it may seem like they're up-selling and can afford to drop their prices for you, more often than not your photographer is actually only charging what they must in order to support the costs of their business, and to earn a livable wage. Unlike a car dealership for an international brand, photographers aren't up-charging for products. As a single-entity small business, the "extra" we charge is actually just the profit needed to pay our electric bills, buy groceries, and to, well, continue to be a photographer. Otherwise, we'd have to quit and get a safe desk job with benefits, and then there wouldn't be any photographers!
So finally, let's get down to the answer we've all been curious about: Is it rude to ask a photographer for a discount? The hard truth is, usually, yes.
But I don't want to leave off on that note, without offering a little more explanation as to why. We've obviously talked about the fact that photographers are typically never charging much more than what they actually need to survive, but let's also consider the implication of the question itself. When you ask a photographer for a discount, what you're essentially saying is, "I love your work so much, it stood out to me among the rest! But I don't think it, or you, or your time is worth the prices you're asking." It's a little bit of a slap in the face, right? What makes it sting even more is when there's not much of a reason behind needing the discount; you are asking simply because you are you.
With that being said, photographers may be able to negotiate with you with certain things, for example, wedding packages. We understand that sometimes your needs may not match up with the options we have listed. In this scenario, a polite thing to do might be to let your photographer know that "Hey, we really love your work and here's our budget. We want to make sure you still get paid your normal rates, so we wanted to see if there's any way that we could make a custom package with you. We don't need the included engagement session, and we're willing to eliminate things like the Getting Ready photos, or maybe only having you for three hours instead of your full six hour package. Do you have any flexibility with creating something custom with us?"
This approach tells us that you value our work and want to find a way to work with us that still pays us our wages. The logistics may or may not work out from situation to situation, but we truly appreciate the effort! But negotiating a wedding package and asking for a direct discount on a session are two different things. As mentioned, more often than not there isn't usually much for us to discount; we're often only charging what we need to and nothing more. Unfortunately what questions like this often lead to is awkwardness and a sour taste with your photographer.
Quite simply, we are so enthusiastic to work with customers who readily book us from the start, and we often go above and beyond! But that excitement is quashed if our first impression is that you don't value our work, and in that scenario you might find your photographer trying to simply get the job over and out as quickly as possible.
Again, we do understand that this seems like an innocent and harmless question and I know myself and most photographers try our best to look past it. But I do hope this blog has cleared up the true secrets of what really goes on behind the scenes for us in regards to costs and expenses. Like other growing photographers, my prices have and will likely continue to rise slightly in conjunction with demand and the quality of work I produce, and will eventually plateau at the average going rates. With that being said, I'm still a long, long way away from that Tesla!
Morgan Ofsharick at MEO Photography specializes in business headshots, proposal, engagement, wedding, maternity, newborn, and family portrait photography, servicing New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, Litchfield, and plenty of other regions around Connecticut!
That is quite possibly the worst blog title I have ever come up with, but it's also who I am as a person.
Today I want to talk a little bit more in-depth about different types of outdoor lighting, what makes them important, and how they can all influence the tone of your photo album.
For the sake of consistency, I'm not going to use any other photo examples from past client albums, instead I'm only going to use my tall, dark, and handsome boyfriend as my constant variable in this little "experiment". I have dragged him outside of the house three times for this on various days. (Thank you, honey.)
So first and foremost, let's talk about my, and many photographers', least favorite lighting scenario – harsh midday sunlight. I want to make a disclaimer that not all photographers are the same, and that there are certainly ways to make harsh sunlight work in beautiful ways. With that being said, many photographers might typically pray for clouds during a 12pm wedding ceremony rather than sun. So, why is this?
I've gone ahead and posted all four of these types of lighting side by side above, so that we can compare the ambience directly. For me, the image with the harsh direct sunlight in Figure A is the one I find the least flattering. The reason for this is because midday sun acts almost like a giant flashlight that is being held directly over the client's head, which causes cutting shadow edges and also washed out, flattened highlights. Not to mention, lots of squinting!
Now as I said, there are ways that a photographer can combat harsh sunlight. Typically, we might try to lead our client to a more shaded area, or rotate them away from the sunlight, if at all possible. However, a wedding ceremony is a bit trickier – interrupting and telling the whole wedding party "Hey guys, this is all very touching, but how about we just scoot on over to those trees and pick up where we left off!" is obviously not going to go over well.
So let's move over to Figure B. These photos were actually taken at the same exact time around 12:30pm, we just moved over to some shaded trees. We're still getting all the happy energy of a bright sunny day, we're just using the foliage to diffuse that light and give his face (and the camera) a bit of a break. Now we still get our cheerful vibes from the beautiful weather, but we can rescue our shadows and highlights. This is a great way to have that bright sunny wedding you've been dreaming of, without sacrificing your photos.
Now, for Figure C. These photos were also taken on the same sunny day, but we waited to go back out a second time at about 7pm to the same location (did I mention Mehran is such a patient man?) Now that the sun is at a much lower angle in the sky, we're getting more of a glowing, romantic ambience; I've used a couple different color palettes to experiment. This is personally my favorite type of lighting, and for good reason. This time of day is lovingly named "Golden Hour" by photographers around the globe, because it creates the most ethereal light. Golden Hour is the hour (or two or even sometimes three) before sunset, and yes, it works the same way with the first couple of hours after sunrise! Ultimately, you'll find that this is the time that many photographers might suggest when it comes to things like an engagement session.
And finally, let's touch on the fourth photo. The Figure D photos were taken on a different day when it was cloudy, though its still taken at the same midday time of around noon. Compare them to Figure A – isn't it crazy what a difference those clouds make? Even though we're still standing in the same open field, where previously the harsh sun was beating down on us, now the same lighting has been extremely softened; the clouds are now acting as our filter. One of my favorite things about overcast days – and I think they're very underrated – is that you really do have more flexibility about the time of day for photos. Almost any time looks beautiful!
Now I know, it's everyone's hope to have warmer, sunny tones in their photos, but to be perfectly honest I've always been in love with the moody tones that overcast days can offer us. It's definitely a soft type of lighting worth creating a whole Pinterest board for. You might even change your mind too!
Now, what can we do with this information? I think there are definitely uses for direct midday sun, depending on the photoshoot and the purpose its serving. In fact, I think there's opportunity for very creative uses for it (so if you're a photographer reading this, please don't kill the messenger!) I'm strictly speaking from the standpoint of wanting to inform and educate my clients on how to achieve the type of ambience they're looking for, especially during an event as important as their wedding.
I'm going to be the last person to tell you what to do with your wedding day, but I think lighting is something to take into consideration, and it really depends on where photography lies on your hierarchy of priorities. If photography is lower on your list and you simply want your day to be documented, then by all means, have your wedding whenever and however you want it. If that happens to be smack in the middle of a meadow or a sunny beach at 12pm, do it. You get to interpret what your dream wedding means to you.
However, let's say that photography is actually really high in your priorities; you really want to capture a romantic ambience or cinematic vibes. In that case, I think it would really benefit you to weigh your options when it comes to the time of day. This is where I would recommend, first and foremost, to have at least part of your wedding day in the late afternoon or evening. If you needed some of your wedding to take place during midday, you might consider where you could have it without being interrupted by too much direct sunlight. Maybe that's under a forested canopy in the woods. Maybe that's with the aid of an outdoor pavilion, or a barn that has inlets for natural light. Or maybe you might even consider a very moody, overcast part of the world. Ireland or Iceland would be beautiful destinations for gloomy cinematic photos, or even somewhere like Seattle!
What it comes down to is this – I don't think anyone should tell you what you should do with your wedding. God knows I am going to be the most particular bride when it comes to my own! But as a photographer, my job is to get you the best photos I possibly can for the price that you're paying. I'm writing about this topic because I think you deserve all the tools and knowledge you can get in order to weigh your options properly, so then you get to make the most educated decisions about what defines your wedding day. Because depending on your vision for the photos, lighting will have an impact! And I want you to have your ultimate wedding, in its finest and most complete version that it can be, photography and all.
Morgan Ofsharick specializes in business headshots, proposal, engagement, wedding, maternity, newborn, and family portrait photography, servicing New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, Litchfield, and plenty of other regions around Connecticut! –MEO Photography
Hello everyone. While I'm sure the last thing most of us want to read at the moment is yet another article about COVID-19, I wanted to briefly take this in a different direction and speak from the perspective of a photographer. This morning my state governor announced that we will be closing all movie theaters, gyms, restaurants, and other public events. While I think this inevitably the right call to slow the spread of the virus, this is a big kick in the teeth for small businesses who have families to feed and bills to pay, but no stipends to support them during this uncertain amount of time.
The ugly truth is, some of these businesses may go under depending on how long this lockdown lasts. These could be some of your favorite restaurants, or even your neighborhood photographer down the street. But, there are a few things that you can do to help, and not all of them require money – some of them are almost effortless, and free.
From a photographer's standpoint, one thing I can say confidently is that photography sessions don't need to stop as long as they're outdoors. While it's very important that we restrict our contact with others in enclosed spaces and only go to the store when necessary, it's also extremely healthy for us to be using our time off to get some sunshine and fresh air. This is a great way to continue supporting your local photographer, just as if nothing's happened.
Most photographers today love doing on-location, outdoor shoots, so whether it's family photos, maternity, engagement, or baby's first birthday, the weather is warming up and it's never been a better time to go walk through a field and fly a kite! As long as neither you or your photographer are showing any signs of illness and you follow the no-contact rule, there's absolutely no reason photoshoots need to come to a halt. Not to mention, there are some things corona virus can't prevent; babies will be born and proposals will be made. Those memories should still be documented (safely), virus or not!
As far as the food industry, I can't help but feel terribly for restaurant owners at a time like this. Opening your own restaurant isn't easy even during a booming economy, and many of these businesses may suffer during this pandemic. Here's a few ways you can help.
First, it seems like most eateries are being left open for take out and delivery, so when you are able to place an order, every little bit will help them. Of course, take precautions if you go to pick up your food or when you receive a delivery. Always wipe down anything you needed to touch when interacting with others – your credit card and wallet, door handles, keys, phone, and wash your hands thoroughly before eating. You can also buy gift cards for yourself from restaurants that offer them. That way you'll be able to prepay for meals now and help keep them in business, so that you can go out to eat once it's safe to return.
And though it's not a requirement and some people are vehemently against it – if you can, when you can, please tip. Now more than ever, your wait staff, delivery workers, and all manner of small businesses are reliant on every dollar they can make.
This is also a fantastic time to work on your own business! If you're stuck at home and are feeling a little anxious about your lack of productivity (like me), this might be a great time to reflect on your professional image. Sometimes there are business needs that we mean to take care of, but never quite find the time due to our busy schedules. This could be getting new professional headshots taken, or hiring a designer to make you updated business cards. It's actually a perfect time to support web marketing agents and recruit them to freshen up your website and online presence – benefitting both them and you!
And finally, a fantastic way to help small businesses that doesn't cost a single penny – reviews. Now is the time to leave kind words for all those businesses that we meant to leave a review for months ago and forgot about. Because even if you currently don't have the need for a photographer, that review that you forgot to leave could help boost their rankings and traffic online, so that they appear more in search results and new clients may reach them.
Every restaurant, photographer, florist, salon, or caterer – they need us now more than ever! I urge anyone who's purchased from a small business lately to use this time in lockdown and take a moment to leave some kind words to support our local neighbors; leave five star reviews, follow their instagrams, like their Facebook pages. It will help them now, and also help them to a quicker recovery when the clouds have lifted.
Please stay safe, but don't panic; do not stockpile more than what you need. Lend to those who do. Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly. Call your elderly family to keep them company. Diligently wipe door knobs, steering wheels, light switches and phones after coming back from an errand. Try not to touch things that other people have touched, like door handles and shopping carts – if you must, clean your hands afterward. Do not touch your face, especially while out and about. Wash your hands at every opportunity. Play outside. Breathe fresh air. Be kind.
Morgan Ofsharick specializes in business headshots, proposal, engagement, wedding, maternity, newborn, and family portrait photography, servicing New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, Litchfield, and plenty of other regions around Connecticut! –MEO Photography
Hello and welcome to What Should I Wear Wednesday! Though I've already made a blog several months ago giving general advice on how to pick your outfit (which you can read first here), I wanted to go a little bit further in depth about how color plays a big role in creating stylish photos. So, I'm going to take you back to my days in a fine arts academy and talk about color theory!
The best way to understand color is to start with the basics – the primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. These are colors that cannot be mixed or created by any other colors, but you can use them to create new colors. The three secondary colors are orange, green, and purple. These are the immediate colors that can easily be created using combinations of the three primaries; red and yellow make orange, yellow and blue make green, and red and blue will make purple.
We want to think of color as a circle – red flows into orange, to yellow, to green, blue, purple – and then back into red. Infinitely and seamlessly. Now, you can pick any point in this circle; the color directly opposite of it is known as its complimentary color. Directly across from red is green (blue+yellow), yellow is across from purple (red+blue), and blue is across from orange (red+yellow). This would also apply to tertiary colors – reddish-orange versus greenish-blue – and so on, but you get the idea.
So, how can all of this help us choose an outfit color if we want something to make our Instagram pop? Below, I'm going to list all of my personal favorite colors that I'm always excited to see my clients wearing.
First and foremost, I'm going to start right off the bat by saying I've never been upset to see my clients wearing red. It's my favorite color! Whether it's a bright, bold red or a dark, wine red, you can never go wrong with it. Red makes a statement; it's striking, and stands out in essentially any environment. Why is this? Because red doesn't occur in nature very often, save for flowers, so in comparison to greens, browns, and grays that we easily find in nature, red is going to call attention to the subject.
Whether it's a salmon red in a field, a bold red dress on the beach, or a festive red sweater during the holiday season, it always shows up beautifully through the lens. Red is just so bold and romantic, and I'll love you if you wear it!
2. Royal Blue
Now here's a color that I absolutely love in the colder seasons – bold blue. Here in Connecticut, our winters on the shoreline are often on the damp side; needless to say we don't often see white Christmases, but quite a few chilly brown ones. While some may feel dead February foliage isn't very appealing, I feel quite the opposite. I have a soft spot for bare branches and sleeping grass, and that's mainly because I love the muted, golden backgrounds it provides. So when this family rolled up all decked out in royal blue, I couldn't have been more ecstatic. Remember, the opposite of blue is orange, so this brown scenery with a bit of golden sunset light filtering through the trees was the perfect match. Oh, and not to mention blue looks stunning on darker skin tones for the same exact reason!
3. Golden Yellow
Now here's a color I think can be a little underrated – a golden, sunflower yellow. Normally I would consider red to be the most romantic color, but during the boudoir shoot in this mansion above, my client proved me wrong. Yellow can absolutely be a statement color in the right setting! In this situation, the yellow was harmonizing with the wood, and also complimenting the blue trim.
According to the color wheel, the opposite of yellow is technically purple. While we may have a hard time finding much purple naturally occurring in nature, blue and grey are a close second. An ideal photoshoot I've always wanted to do would be a moody, grey day on a rocky shoreline (which Connecticut has no shortage of) with a yellow dress or skirt; even someone with bright blonde hair alone would be stunning. I hope someone takes me up on it one day!
4. Black and White
When it comes to timeless-looking black and white photos, my color preferences are simple – wear black or white! Even though you can obviously wear color for black and white photography as well, there's something extra compelling about actually wearing stark black or white. The couple above was one of my very first photoshoots and to this day, these are some of the most striking photos I've taken.
As for the family on the right, I loved the way the white linens contrasted with their skin tone! White and denim is always a classic look for the summer and very hard to mess up; not to mention, who doesn't own something white or denim?
4. Rustic colors and Neutrals
Now that we've gone over all of the primaries, let's touch on some more interesting colors! Other shades that I LOVE for photography are burnt orange, dusty rose, teal, fawn brown, olive green, mustard yellow, and other rich earthy tones. I think shades like these are beautiful for more artistic, indie photography. I also feel that because they're muted tones, they're pretty flexible for most seasons and look stunning around both golden sunset lighting or cool misty days – think rocky shorelines, dune grass, rugged mountain tops, overgrown meadows, or even the desert.
In the photo above, I'm loving how that burn orange looks against the green ferns! And in the photo below, wow; who knew black, white, and fawn brown could look so fashionable. Such simple outfit coordination for adorable results!
5. Colors I don't recommend.
And finally, I wanted to leave off with colors that are my least favorite. Take this with a grain of salt of course, because all of this is based on my personal taste and style of photography; my absolute least favorite colors are generally anything flamboyant, particularly pinks and purples and aquas. I'm also not always a fan of pastels besides denim or nudes (though you might be able to prove me wrong on this!). While I think bright colors can sometimes look good in summer weather, tropical locations, or in urban street photography, most of the time they just don't fit in with the style of photography I do.
I don't know what it is about flamingo pink or fuchsia purple in particular, but they are my least favorite colors on the planet and I try to avoid them like the plague in my work. My goal is always to deliver my clients the best representation of my style, and I just find these shades a bit too loud and abrasive.
So there you have it! These are all of my favorite (and least favorite) colors to work with in photography – primaries, rich indie tones, and black and white are all colors I feel I could give you the most success with. Another thing worth mentioning is that style and presentation matters too – this means that overly casual clothing may not get you the results you're looking for, even if they're the right colors. For example, I don't advise anything with logos, writing, graphics, leggings with crazy designs, hoodies, windbreaker jackets, or most sneakers.
For stylish portraits, you generally want to be dressing presentably for a job interview or a fancy restaurant. Nice sweaters, classy shoes, and if it's cold, a more formal coat. If you're going for more indie and rugged portraits, ripped jeans, flannels, and boots look great when dressed up with accessories. Always aim for dressy casual at minimum – we want to look like we're going to a photoshoot, not your nephew's little league game!
And as I mentioned in my previous clothing post, you always want to match or coordinate outfits for portraits of multiple people. This could mean a family of ten all wearing flannels and denim, or maternity portraits with the mother dressed in red and the father dressed in neutrals with a red accent. My favorite trend of weddings has been seeing bridesmaids all wearing different shades of the same color – sage green, forest green, olive green, teal green – coordinated, yet artsy!
Again, my biggest recommendation has been and will always be, take this new knowledge about colors and do some quick searches on sites like Pinterest. Try terms like "engagement photography", "autumn family portraits", "indie maternity photography", and take note of their clothing, accessories, and setting. When you find ideas you like, you can find similar tones in your wardrobe and seek out areas near you where you might be able to replicate the foliage and background.
Now just find a photographer whose editing style is close to what you're looking for, and then wow them when you show up dressed like a pro!
Morgan Ofsharick specializes in business headshots, proposal, engagement, wedding, maternity, newborn, and family portrait photography, servicing New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, Litchfield, and plenty of other regions around Connecticut! –MEO Photography
Hello dears! For the past week I've been a little on the restless and tired side, and although I've wanted to write a blog, I haven't had any new topics come to mind. Some of you know this, but a couple weeks ago I was actually on a vacation to Puerto Rico, so if there's any interest I may write a small travel blog on that!
For the time being, I wanted to give a couple little fun facts about me. Because I'm an artist, and we're cripplingly narcissistic.
1. Harry Potter and Tolkien
This is probably the most obvious fact for those who already know me, but I've been a huge fan of the Tolkien world and Harry Potter series my entire life. My earliest memory of Tolkien was when I was around three and my father had decided a great movie for us to watch while my mother was at choir practice was the animated 1977 version of The Hobbit. Now I just want to ask, if you've seen the animated 1977 version of The Hobbit – does this seem like an appropriate film for a 3-year-old? If you said no, my mother would have agreed with you, as she walked in to find her small child in a dark living room staring wide-eyed at a beautifully-animated bloody battle scene. And it wasn't the gore that got me – I spent the next seven years being absolutely convinced that Smeagol was under my bed.
Likewise, my first memory of Harry Potter was around the same year, when the Sorcerer's Stone had just been published and my mother was apparently listening to the cassette tapes in the car stereo. She said as soon as the part about the troll in the girl's bathroom came up, she heard a small voice from the backseat chime in, "I don't think I should be listening to this." Despite both accounts, neither series could have caused me too much trauma, because I've gone on to read and watch them more times than I can count.
In case you're concerned, like most artists and animal-hoarders I'm a Hufflepuff.
2. Of Frogs and Fish
Aside from art and photography, one hobby I will never be able to put down is keeping terrariums and aquariums. I'm not sure why, but even as cute as animals like hamsters and guinea pigs are, as a child I only ever had eyes for reptiles and aquatics. My parents got me my first fish tank when I was in kindergarten, and I fell in love with aquarium shops; the sound and smell of the aisles of fish tanks is so peaceful to me and yes, I know that's weird.
My first fish was a betta and they have never stopped being my favorite ever since. As I entered college and gained the independence to start choosing my own pets, I spent many hours scouring fish forums and learning so much about proper betta care, and since have become a passionate advocate for spreading knowledge about fish tanks, and pet care in general. I currently have a planted and heated tank with one betta, three otocinculus catfish, and a very chubby mystery snail.
As far as frogs, for the past several years I've been keeping a White's Tree Frog tank, as well as a small Horned Fantasy frog tank. Both terrariums are fully bioactive (meaning they're planted and have their own armies of microorganisms and isopods that live in the substrate and break down debris) and I'm so excited to continue learning and someday collect more! If you weren't aware, I've also self-published a whole children's book and yes, it's about frogs. As I said, I'm a pretty on-brand Hufflepuff.
3. Foods I love and hate
Speaking of Hufflepuffs, I am extremely food-motivated. It's only by the grace of my gym membership that I am in any sort of shape, because my love of snacking exceeds most things. I will eat almost anything, though Asian food tops my lists; I firmly believe I could spend the rest of my life eating sushi, curry, pad thai, and Chinese buffets and not get bored. My absolute favorite treats are bubble tea, gummies, caramel, and any lemon-flavored desserts. Despite that, I would also argue that I prefer butter and salt to sweets, and I could easily eat an entire bag of Hot Fries or extra large popcorn if no one stopped me. There are very few foods I dislike, though I have strong feelings towards coffee, matcha, and anything peppermint. I'll pass on the Shamrock shakes – have fun with your toothpaste smoothie.
4. Things I listen to
If you've made it this far, great. If you're freaked out by white people who enjoy listening to serial killer documentaries, here's your cue to leave! I'm an avid listener of the MFM podcast, and I'm very fortunate that my boyfriend allows me to blast Karen and Georgia day and night. As far as music, I occasionally listen to playlists with Bryce Vine, Ariana Grande, and Sabrina Carpenter, though my heart will always lie with Counting Crows and other 90s alternative – Incubus, Gin Blossoms, Bush, and dozens more. Once in a while (between reading Harry Potter, again) I'll have to scour Audible in search of some good historical fictions. Generally anything circa World War II or earlier is my jam.
This is a little bit on the obscure side, but one of my favorite pastimes is sitting on ancestry websites and following family trees and recording them – even all the way up to Renaissance times and beyond. Now of course, I do realize that at a certain point you have to just have a little faith that everything was recorded correctly, and you'll never really know if someone was adopted or maybe somebody had a secret love child, but it's truly interesting to follow the lines back and occasionally even discover you're descended from someone famous.
The biggest dilemma of our genealogy path has been tracing the history of my own surname, Ofsharick. Apparently the Slovaks weren't notorious for their record-keeping skills, because tracking down the history of my great-grandparents has been nearly impossible. We might even have to visit the country someday ourselves!
6. Favorite TV Shows
My boyfriend has the attention span of a goldfish when it comes to watching a whole series, but unfortunately for him I live and breathe for TV shows. Because of my love for historical fiction, I'm a huge fan of series like Frontier, The Last Kingdom, Peaky Blinders, and I'm sure many others that I'm forgetting. Generally speaking I love Netflix originals, The OA being one of my absolute favorites (even my boyfriend was addicted to it) and we're both devastated that it's discontinued. At the moment, I've been introducing him to Battlestar Galactica, which is possibly one of the most underrated and unknown shows I've ever watched. Don't be turned off because you're not a Star Wars or Star Trek fan, because I'm not either. But if you liked Lost, it's worth giving a shot.
And finally, the two sitcoms nearest and dearest to my heart are That 70s Show and MASH. I've watched both several times over, and my absolute dream is to attend a lecture by Alan Alda. If only I were born fifty years earlier, I would have tracked that man down.
7. Early life
Despite the fact I've almost become somewhat of a Connecticut native, I actually was born and raised in northeastern PA, in what I can best describe as "a bit above Scranton and a bit below Binghamton, NY". I am an only child and lived in an old Victorian farm house my great-great-grandfather built, outside of a very small town known for hunting, high school football, and chicken speidies. I grew up with the same 50-60 classmates until I graduated in 2012, after which I moved to Old Lyme, CT to attend Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts.
8. Cat Lady
Again, this is a widely-known fact about me, but I'm a total cat lady. I was born into a house with three cats, followed by many more thereafter, and I truly can't imagine my life without them. Whenever I have the time, I like to work on portraits of my current living cats; so far I've finished two, have one halfway completed, and then will have two more to go. I like to use them to experiment with colors and patterns in my work, and to use for advertising my pet portrait business.
Now, none of this is to say that I don't like dogs. I do still excitedly baby talk any dog I meet on the sidewalk, and I also had my own beloved yellow labrador growing up. The best way I can put it is I love other people's dogs. It's kind of like someone who loves kids, but doesn't want to have any; you love playing with them, but you also love giving them back to their parents to take care of. That's how I am with dogs – my cat-level energy can only handle small increments of dog-level energy.
9. Alternate universe jobs
Despite the fact my career took me down a path of art and photography, there were many other pathways I definitely considered first. For a good part of my childhood I was very determined I was going to be a veterinarian, and I do still have an avid interest in promoting the well-being of pets. I also spent several years in high school considering marine biology, zookeeping, and entomology, which again, still translate into my life today with my passions for keeping terrariums and aquariums. I even had a very small spurt of wanting to be a fashion designer, and though it was a very fleeting interest, I've never stopped using clothing and jewelry as an art form in itself.
10. I have zero photography experience
Although I spent four years getting my fine arts degree, one thing that usually surprises my clients is that I have no photography experience whatsoever. My courses at Lyme Academy were very foundational, and trained me to use light and color to create composition. Even though I was utilizing paint and charcoal to depict my subject at the time, photography and editing ended up being just another medium. I did have a learning curve when it came to things like understanding how to actually operate the camera, photography vocabulary, and digital filtering and retouching, but as I've slowly been learning all of this new information, I've been fortunate to at least have my fine art instincts to support me along the way.
I think my biggest piece of advice to anyone looking to pursue photography is to pursue fine arts in conjunction. It's one thing to know all the technical ins and outs of a camera, but understanding light and color and composition is what will give you a boost. I know without a doubt that my knowledge from the art world is what allowed me to accelerate my photography business rather quickly (as I've only been in business since June 2019) and without it, I would have struggled both with learning to operate my camera and with taking and editing attractive photos that people would actually want to pay me for. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to fully understanding how to achieve the final style I'm looking for, but I'm glad that my degree has been useful in helping me find it.
Hello! If you're here, you're probably thinking about commissioning a pet portrait and might be looking for some tips and tricks for giving me or another artist some good reference photos of your pet. Reference photos are so important to us to help create not only a painted likeness of your pet, but also an elaboration of who your pet really is. Occasionally I'll have clients who happen to have some good images laying around already, but I'm also happy to help if you're not sure where to start!
What's most important to note is that the reason a portrait artist may get nit-picky about photo references is because our job is to give you a painting that is reflective of what you see in our current portfolios – if we're given a poorly lit photo or a low resolution image, that won't be possible to do. Also, this is not to say that you need the photos to be done professionally, or with a high-end camera (though if you have a camera, go for it!) Usually any typical smart phone today is capable enough of getting an acceptable photo, but there are a couple key things to keep in mind.
For me, my absolute biggest requirement is lighting. I highly advise taking photo references of your pet using natural light as opposed to artificial. The problem with incandescent lighting in our homes is it often dulls color and details, and casts a yellowish glow, even sometimes with bright white lighting. Taking your photos outside will allow for the most optimal color and detail – it even helps improve the resolution in your photo as it reduces graininess! Have an indoor-only kitty? No problem – if you have any nice windows around the house, that works perfectly fine as well. We're just looking to get some fresh sparkles in their eyes! The only thing to be careful of with natural lighting is direct sunlight, which can sometimes be too harsh. Check out the photos below!
The other extremely important factor is photo resolution. As I mentioned above, this can sometimes go hand-in-hand with lighting, as you'll be getting more grain in photos taken in dim lighting indoors – this is because your camera is trying to compensate for the lack of light, so it's filling it with noise. Taking your photos using natural light will already improve your quality! Most smartphones today usually have cameras capable of decent resolutions, though if your phone has a low quality camera, you may need to borrow a friend or family member's instead. Something else that's a big factor with resolution is taking a photo from far away, and then cropping it in. In most cases this will highly deplete the resolution and make your photo pixelated, which is not ideal. I only do facial portraits (no full body) and pixelation prevents me from seeing details!
Filters and Harnesses.
So now that we've talked about the most important two factors, there's just a few more things to touch on. First, try to stay away from photo filters as well. In some cases, I like to filter the image a little bit myself to manipulate the lighting and colors, so letting me start from the most original, fresh version of the photo is a plus!
I also try to stay away from heavy accessories and clothing on animals, as I find them distracting for my style of portraiture. If you can even avoid dog collars, I would! I like to allow the background colors and patterns to do the work of expressing personality, and you get to help me choose those – daisies, pizza, galaxy, you name it!
Angle and Perspective.
And finally, I also require head and shoulder portraits only, rather than full body paintings. This means that ideally, I like to get photos from you that focus on the face, especially in an upright position. I try to avoid photos of pets shot from directly above, or while the pet is laying down.
This is especially important when you're looking to have 2 or 3 pets in the same painting. We just need to make sure both photos were taken in the same lighting, so preferably same place and same time, and that both were taken from the same perspective of sitting upright and facing forward – we can't have one laying on its side and one taken from straight above! This way, I can juxtapose both faces together to make it look like they're next to each other in the painting.
And that's all there is too it! Fresh daylighting, full resolution, shot at close range at about your pet's eye level. You should have no issues doing this with most modern smartphones (though use your camera if you have one!), so now your only challenge is your pet's cooperation. This part can be tricky, but with a little patience and maybe some treats, you should have no problem! Remember, your pet doesn't necessarily have to be looking straight at the viewer either. As long as it's roughly at their eye level, a portrait of your cat staring off into the distance is just as pretty, so no need to get frustrated if they don't feel like looking at you. If your pet is intently staring at something, that may actually be the perfect opportunity to snap some shots while they're sitting still!
And lastly and most importantly, my biggest piece of advice of all. Even if you're not looking to get a portrait any time soon, or maybe it's not something that's in your thoughts at all, take photos anyway. I cannot stress this enough! All of us know the horrible truth of being a pet owner is that someday your beloved pet won't be with you anymore. Sometimes it may be due to old age, and sometimes tragedy strikes. And when that day comes, you will never regret having a phone filled with a million photos. Maybe a point will come where you wish you had taken more photos, so that you could get a memorial portrait painted, or photos just to look back on in general. Regardless, take a million photos of your pets, always. You will never have too many!
Great customer image examples!
Happy New Year everyone! How many times so far have you been bombarded with January meal plan advertisements and fitness recruiters trying to get you to join the gym (which by the way, you should!) Well, I have one more thing to add to your new year's resolutions – new business headshots!
I was initially fearing the dead of January (as a photographer, this time of year can be a little slow) but instead, I've been pleasantly surprised with the large turnout of business photoshoots I've been receiving. And it makes sense; not only is it a new year, but it's an entirely new decade. Just looking at the date "2020"– doesn't that feel a bit futuristic and surreal?
And in this new era, where the vast majority of all businesses require an online presence to gain traffic, visual first impressions are more important than ever. Once upon a time, you used a giant telephone book to schedule an appointment and walked into a law firm without having any idea who you were meeting. Now, you search for law firms online. Who has the best and most reviews? Whose website is the easiest to navigate? And, who has the most welcoming headshots?
During simpler times, it was a little bit easier to gain clients strictly through word of mouth; your cousin knew a guy who lived a couple towns away and did a decent job fixing his porch steps. And while this is still a small way to gain leads here and there, your online presence can dictate even further how widespread your audience will reach. When someone clicks on your website, they're looking for great ratings, visually pleasing design, and a personal touch from the owner and staff. This means a few words about yourself, and a friendly, professional headshot.
Also, headshots go far beyond websites and business cards! Have you ever applied for a scholarship? Do you have a profile on LinkedIn? Have you ever needed to send out applications while on the job hunt? If you've done any of these things in recent years, you'll know that more often than not, many applications and resumes these days require a photo. And this is a little bit of a test of your professionalism – they're looking to see if you attach a selfie from your Instagram, or if you use a professional headshot.
Because the reality is, they want to see how competent and detail-oriented you are. If your photo is a selfie or candid from social media and/or you're dressed casually, you may risk it hindering your application, rather than helping. But even more so, a professional image does more than simply help you look qualified – it will also make you stand out! Subconsciously, we humans love looking at beautiful things, so the more eye-catching and visually appealing your photo is, the more likely it is that it may grab the attention of your future employer. So when they receive several resumes, but only one of them has a professional headshot, whose do you think is sticking out among the rest? The one who is already showing they made an effort!
And possibly most importantly, your photo tells a little bit of a story about you, and who you are in this world. If you're sending out applications, you may want to show off a bit of your style and personality. Maybe you sell life insurance, but you want to wear a quirky tie and show your clients your goofy side. If you sell jewelry on Etsy, it would look great to model a couple of your own pieces. Whatever it is, you get to put a piece of yourself into these photos and in the business world, a headshot is worth a thousand words. Whether you're a physician, a teacher, a pastor, a chef, or a carpenter – it's 2020, and it's never been a better time to update your professional image!
I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really, really, really understand the difference between watercolor and acrylic paintings so I can make a clear and educated decision about which medium fits my style.
Hello all! Today's topic is actually not photography related, but I wanted to take a little break to talk about my other business – pet portraits. While my site may give the appearance that I'm more experienced as a photographer, I've actually been in business as an artist for much longer; my degree is in fine arts! My number one subject is pet portraiture, and one of the top questions I get asked is what the difference is between watercolor and acrylic paintings, and which one should you choose?
First and foremost, neither of these mediums are better than the other. Both are equally beautiful, but they're quite different from each other in terms of how they're applied and their end result of style.
Let's start with watercolor. This is a great option for those who are looking for something on the smaller end; all of my watercolors come in sizes 5x7, 8x10, and 10x14 at the largest. This is also a better option for those looking for a more affordable option, due to their size. Watercolor can be a finicky and difficult medium to control, which is why it's fairly common that watercolorists tend to work small. It's also done on paper as opposed to paints like acrylic and oils, which are done on canvas.
So here's how watercolor works, and what it looks like. It needs to be done on paper, because the paint itself is activated by a high ratio of water – meaning, it won't stick to a canvas surface, unlike thick-bodied paints like acrylic and oil, which are being layered on top of canvas. You can think of watercolor more like a stain; we are mixing pigments with water, which is then staining the paper (paper is absorbent and accepts the staining, unlike a canvas which repels it). Acrylics and oils are much more thick/sticky paints, and watercolor is extremely liquid.
Here's where watercolor can become tricky – unlike acrylics and oils, which are opaque paints and allow you to fix and layer over mistakes, watercolor is much less forgiving. Because of watercolor being more like a stain, this means that it is transparent. You can't paint over a mistake in watercolor, or erase it; you can make things darker, but you can't really get them lighter again! This is because there isn't really such a thing as white in watercolor, so you can't layer lighter colors onto darker ones. Once it's dark – it's dark.
Take a look at the paintings above; wherever you see white in the painting – that's actually the blank paper itself, with no paint at all! The lighter areas are sheer, minimal layers of pigment over the white paper, and the darker the painting gets, the more layers were added and higher ratio of pigment was in the water mixture.
As you can probably guess, this means watercolor requires very careful planning and thought while working. If you make a mistake, you essentially need to make it work for you, or start over! However, you can also see all the beautiful jewel tones and fun textures this medium makes; this is from the pigments separating as the water evaporates, leaving just the pigments behind where they settled. Overall, watercolor (based on my style) is a great option if you're looking for something small and subtle, yet detailed, elegant, and luminous.
So now that we know the science behind watercolor, let's talk about acrylics. Acrylics are done on canvas, and in my portfolio I currently offer 16x20s. Something that's different already about a canvas painting is that you don't need to frame it – I paint my edges, which means you can easily hang it on the wall as it is for a more modern look!
Acrylics also give opportunity for a bit more of a pop-art feel. In my work, I offer two different types of backgrounds – classic or illustrated. My classic backgrounds are the slightly cheaper option, which can include a solid color, a few blended colors, stripes, spots, or basic pattern. My illustrated price tier allows for more detailed patterns, like florals and botanicals, mandalas, donuts, pizza, or pretty much any cute pattern you can think of! In this tier I can also do realistic marble or even galaxy backgrounds.
So here's how acrylic works, and it's a bit more straightforward than watercolor. While watercolor is about careful planning and translucent layering, acrylic is opaque and allows you to cover mistakes and redo old areas. It also provides a starker contrast for jet blacks, and you can really make colors pop. I also love acrylics because they're great for creamy fur texture, but only if you're quick! The biggest challenge of acrylic painting is that the paint dries extremely quickly, so you need to mix a big puddle of each color, so you can quickly blend while the colors are still active. Unlike watercolor though, you don't need to carefully plan out your highlights, and instead can add in glimmers of white on top to create glossy tongues and glassy eyes. If you're seeking something that's more of a statement piece you can view from across a room, I'd definitely recommend an acrylic canvas.
The other neat secret about acrylic is, it's essentially waterproof! If you spill a cup of coffee on a watercolor, it's done for and even after you blot it dry, that coffee stain is on that paper forever. A canvas with acrylic paint though is water repellent (as long as the paint is dry), so you can swiftly take a damp paper towel and wipe the spill up. The paint won't budge! You can think of acrylic paint almost like a plastic, because that's basically what it becomes once it's dry.
Now that we've talked about what makes these two mediums different from each other, I hope this might help you gain a better perspective on which one might fit your style. In short, my watercolors are a bit smaller and a little more on the subtle, elegant side; they almost have a bit of a glowy, luminous quality, and you'll see a lot of texture left from the watercolor "bleeding".
My acrylics are a bit larger and also have a bit of a pop-art style to them. This is where we can really make a statement with colors and fun designs, and also make fur very creamy and soft, and noses wet and glossy. And my personal opinion? I generally find I enjoy longer-haired pets more in acrylic, and extremely short-haired pets (think doberman, pitbull) more in watercolor, but I also feel short-haired can go either way. I'm not quite sure why this is – I think it's because I find acrylic allows me to make longer fur look more silky and creamy than what watercolor allows for, but I digress.
I hope you've learned some new cool facts, and you can test out your new knowledge in my gallery to see if you can notice these subtle differences in all these portraits!
Morgan Ofsharick specializes in proposal, engagement, wedding, maternity, newborn, and family portrait photography, servicing New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, Litchfield, and plenty of other regions around Connecticut. She is also an artist and specializes in custom pet portrait paintings in watercolor and acrylic! –MEO Photography
I just created a new F.A.Q. and quick links page! I'm hoping this might be helpful to those looking to book me, but who might have a couple easy questions first. This new page has quick access links to all of my individual blog topics, as well as fast answers to my most commonly asked questions, such as how many photos will you receive, do I have a studio, what is my availability, and much more!
Click here to view my new F.A.Q. page!
Morgan Ofsharick specializes in proposal, engagement, wedding, maternity, newborn, and family portrait photography, servicing New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, Litchfield, and plenty of other regions around Connecticut! –MEO Photography