Why I Hate Summer Sunsets

I’m a full time marketer, a full time writer, and Carrie would call me a most-of-the-time critic. I love things that are beautiful, but I really hate cliché, which leads me to this article…sunsets during summer.

Well…I love sunsets and warm weather, especially with a drink on the beach at dusk surrounded by friends and camera in hand. But it’s so cliché! It falls into the category of “everyone is a photographer” because they added a sepia filter to their sunset picture and posted it on Instagram. So to all instagramers—think of something more original! Yes, it’s beautiful, but seriously, google “summer sunset,” is your work really better?

Okay, so you’re capturing your moment. What differentiates that sunset from others? What makes that day stand out? I bet a year from now, you’ll know where you were but not who you were with, what made that day rock or insufferable, and you can’t even remember the date.

To that end, remember that truly great photography doesn’t rest within HDR and editing, it derives from the photographer. Some tips and tricks to help differentiate your landscape shots:

  1. Solid ND filters and polarizing filters still have their place in landscape shots.
  2. Solid neutral density filters reduce the amount of light entering the lens, which extends shutter speeds for long-exposure shots.
  3. Polarizer filters remove reflections from the surface of water and shiny leaves.
  4. Polarizer filters also help boost the contrast between blue skies and white cloud

– T.

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Valentines Day

Valentines Day is an anticipated and hated holiday. I myself have gone through many phases:
Child Theresa:
Yayyy, I get to hand out cards in class and mommy is going to bake cakes!
Teenage Theresa:
If I have a Valentine, that’s cool, but I totally don’t believe in this holiday. And if I don’t, I’m dressing black and bringing in black roses for my girlfriends.
College Theresa:
I’m broke. This holiday was created by American capitalists trying to make more money. Let’s get a bottle of wine (to anyone willing to partake with me) and call it a night.
Adult Theresa:
We should get off for this holiday. But since we don’t, how should I celebrate it?
Valentine’s Day after all doesn’t necessarily mean COUPLES, ROMANCE, CANDLES, etc. Over the years, I’ve learned that one of the most important forms love can take is love for oneself. I now believe in the ritual of pampering…I’ve had Carrie do boudoir shoots for me and have found that to be the greatest Valentine’s Day gift of all. I had a blast being on camera, getting my makeup done and playing dress up for the day. What did I do with the images? I made a book and eventually decided to let my boyfriend see. But the book is still mine—a strong reminder of my confidence and beauty.
Before I sound too egotistical, Valentine’s Day can also be about family. Since my mom has always baked and decorated and celebrated the holiday, this year I had some photos printed on canvas of me and my siblings. Now we’re grown, at different locations throughout the US…I thought it was a nice way to tell her I love her (and it was…. I couldn’t hold out until Valentine’s Day to give it to her!)
And to be honest, yes, I do have a boyfriend. We typically don’t celebrate (with the exception of the standard Pinot Noir of course) but the last year marked our five year anniversary…and I’ve got something up my sleeve. To be honest, I’m hoping he does too and the ideal gift for someone like me who loves the power of memories, photographs and of course him…would be a shoot. It’s a great day out and encourages you to spend time together.
So whether you’re single, dating, married or happily divorced, remember that this is a day  or love, and love takes on many faces.

Five Great Gift Ideas (For Any Season)

Finding the perfect gift can make the holidays a stressful time of year. Whether you’re trying to buy for the person who has it all, or you’re on a tight budget….coming up with the perfect gift for someone can be daunting.

Over the years, I’ve done it all, from sewing pillows to making scrapbooks…Carrie has given away her artwork and we’ve both made some pretty amazing dollar store gift baskets. Over the years however, we’ve decided that the almighty photograph somehow makes its way to the top 5 gift item list.

So, if you’re on a budget and in need of some creative (and perhaps last minute) gift ideas, here are our top 5 favorites:

1457549_735574039790324_2090134288_nThe canvas print. It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s art. We have found that this is not only great for when you’re on a tight budget, but great for when you just don’t have the time to get crafting.

The portrait session.  Portrait sessions can be as inexpensive or over the top as you want them to be. They can include makeup, hair styling, one or a dozen outfit changes, be in the studio or at any location. If you cant decide or if you have a picky friend, just getting them the most basic package is an incentive to start. Helping your friend or loved one feel beautiful and glamorous is a great gift, not to mention it’s fun! Book a double session and do a photoshoot together, turn your gift into a fun day out—the experience and your time spent with them is always the greatest gift of all.
The infamous family photo. Perhaps the last time you received a picture from Aunt Sue 644345_730897133591348_1066737187_nwas from 1998. Whether the kids or adorable or fully grown, get the family together by buying them a family portrait package. Not only will it be a great day out for the entire family, but they’ll be able to update the artwork on their walls and be able to turn the gift received into gifts for others! It’s a win-win for you and the entire family.
Photo memorabilia. This is always a winner…if you’re looking for something unique and completely personalized, photo memorabilia is the way to go. Prior to starting our own studio, I lived for the CVS photo lab, I’ve made calendars, puzzles, etc. What’s better about going to a studio is knowing that you’re going to receive high-resolution images and not run the risk of you not being able to tell if it’s Aunt Barbara or Uncle Mike for the July family photo. In addition, you can get really creative…make a story book, make a bookmark, make a newspaper wanted sign, make a video, make a huge poster, or put your face on a magnet. Regardless, the possibilities are endless and the best part is, you can send the file, send the idea, and let the magic happen, on your budget, and without slaving for hours trying to crop the image into a template.
Couples therapy. Perhaps they’ve been married for 50 years, perhaps they just got engaged, or you know he or she is going to pop the question this New Years…regardless, a couples session can be intimate, reinvigorating and fun. You can get them an engagement session, a portrait session, a canvas print, or an anniversary photo book. My friends recently got engaged and I had photographs from the early 90s when we were kids. I restored them and digitized them, creating a beautiful and long-lasting album for them to have and show their children…yes it was inexpensive and yes…it brought tears to my soon to be bride’s eyes.

Overall, these gifts are great for: the new mom, the mom to be, the family, your best friend who just lost a ton of weight, your friend who wants to feel sexy, YOURSELF, your girlfriend (no girl complains about her hair and makeup getting done and being the center of a photoshoot), your boyfriend (make it fun and sexy!), your husband, your wife, your anniversary, the newly wed, the sweet sixteen package, the pretty princess package for a five year old…the list goes on.

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If you’re out of ideas, get creative…I just made my brother a calendar filled with hilarious photographs. He’s 23. He’s in the Navy, and he’s going to love it, laugh at it, hang it on his wall, and keep it forever.yfriend (make it fun and sexy!), your husband, your wife, your anniversary, the newly wed, the sweet sixteen package, the pretty princess package for a five year old…the list goes on.

The moral of the story? Photography prints and/or sessions make the ideal gift and can conform to anyone’s schedule and anyone’s budget. Just ask us about it!

Two Toddlers & a Family Portrait

When Theresa asked me to write this blog post, I had no idea what I would say. I have to admit – most of the time when she asks me to write a blog post I totally avoid it and ignore it until she hopefully forgets. Sometimes she does… sometimes she doesn’t. We recently scheduled a family photo session over at the Northport Marina. When she asked me to write about the experience, I had no idea what I would say. Until, that is, I began to edit the photos from that day.

I was nervous about the shoot. Kristin and I had spoken weeks before and even in the days leading up to the shoot. Her and her husband wanted a family photo session with their toddler twins. I have to admit, my throat closed a bit as this as I said “Great! What days are good for you?” In as much excitement as I could muster. It wasn;t doing the shoot persay – It was that I had never had to photograph TWO toddlers at once – even more so photographing 2 toddlers and a set of parents where everyone will be looking at me??!

Impossible!! I had to take a breather and was grateful for the few weeks before our session to have time to sit on it and gather my thoughts. In the days before the shoot, I reminded Kristin that I was not “Sears,” that if she was looking for that type of posed thing, that it wasn’t me. She was great and laughed at my concerns – I think my reminding her of my shooting style was actually my reminding me. “I capture the moments.” I said “the interactions between family members. The smiles, the faces, the concerns, the questions… I capture memories. Artwork, that I hope you will hang on your walls for years to come.”

Carrie-Anne Gonzalez

We were to meet at Northport Park at 4pm – after nap and snack time, before dinner time. I solicited my 12 year old niece to be my assistant for the day. Not only does she have a really good eye, but I needed someone to hold reflectors and such, just in case. When we arrived we cased out the park looking for not the perfect “scenery,” but the perfect light. To my dismay the sun was still very high in the sky which meant harsh shadows everywhere. Still, that is the photographers plight – find the light, manipulate the light, know the light. The blessing was it WAS a beautiful warm day. As we walked around casing different areas of the park, taking into consideration both scenery AND light, I made mental notes of things I wanted to try – “kid sandwich here, tell me a secret pose, parents hold children’s hands and swing… etc”

All of my planning went out the window as soon as these two adorable, energetic, rambunctious children stepped out of their stroller. I know Kristin really wanted to get all 4 of them in a shot and for a while it was a struggle. One parent, one toddler, or Two parents, one toddler – no problem… but all 4? Finally, I reminded myself – capture the moments… let them play. And that is exactly what we did. I attempted some shots where the parents were behind the children a few feet, but these toddlers were exited to run about in the openness and so… we let them. It was an amazing experience. I have to admit I was not only exhausted, but nervous as to how this was going to come out. All the while Theresa’s voice in my head saying “What are you nervous about? You are a national award winning photographer.” Yes, yes I am…. Everything will be fine.

Carrie-Anne GonzalezAnd everything was. To experience a play date with this couple and their children, To capture the two very different personalities of these twins, was truly an amazing experience. The laughs, the running, the learning… seeing how children look to their parents and how parents adoringly and lovingly see their children. The ending result – art work for their walls.
Carrie-Anne Gonzalez

Fall Madness

It’s been a while since we blogged…and this entry is coming from the mind of Theresa, which is atypical since most of the time it’s Carrie posting. We’ve been incredibly busy since our last post at the end of July…we’ve discovered that while we love wedding photography, corporate headshots, etc…our true passion lies within portraiture.

What’s really been a joy is watching Carrie work. While I have taken photographs my entire life, my passion has always been writing–so when it comes to photography, I always am looking for the story behind the shot. I feel we’ve really learned how to take art and transform it into a story over the last few months. Image

Bridal portraiture has certainly always been something we’ve excelled at…but more recently, we’ve had some real success with different types of shoots. Our recent favorite, and the biggest sensation at the most recent East Northport Chamber of Commerce Fair, was the session we had with a “mommy-to-be.”

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If you haven’t been to the studio or our Facebook page in a while, we recommend you do so. The studio is finally complete, with a full door installed and a welcoming, warm feeling full of lots of natural lighting.  We’ve been busy creating our promotional material for the fall, which will be focusing on portraiture, engagement sessions and of course, the holiday season.

Over the few years, the summer has always been a blank slate for creativity for Carrie and I. We still like to create and daydream….but that’s pretty much where it stopped. It seems that once you find your passion, it’s easy to keep the momentum going. We’re sad to say goodbye to summer, but happy to step into the final chapter of the year 2013.I can only say we’ve had a blast meeting new clients, making new friends and really fine-tuning our skills.

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Check us out on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, and if you haven’t visited our new site: www.carriewestonstudios.com, you should see what we’ve been up to. Come meet us and get creative with the fall season.

We look forward to meeting you!

 

Top 10 Questions to Ask Before your Engagement Session

Many of our clients know that they “should” have an engagement session, but don’t really know what to expect or what to look for. We always recommend starting with a creative brainstorm—and a great place to start is Pinterest. Look at various boards for inspiration and ideas, and don’t be afraid to ask your friends that have gotten married about their experience.

Ultimately, the key to a successful engagement shoot is to be yourself—be comfortable, have fun and don’t be afraid to show your love on camera! Below are the top ten questions our clients ask prior to an engagement shoot:

1.      Where should we take our pictures? Choose one or a few locations that are meaningful to you. We recently had a couple select the high school where they first met, and the movie theater where they had their first date.  This always effects the session in a positive way, not only were they excited to be reliving these meaningful moments, but their energy and passion was caught on camera.

2.      What should we wear? First of all, bring multiple outfits. Depending on the lighting and the creative mood you’re in, you may want to change halfway through the shoot or when you arrive at a different location. Dress to your personality, be fun and creative! If you’re sporty, wear your favorite team shirt, if you have a favorite blouse that just cant stay on the hangar, wear it! Remember to try and color-coordinate, keeping it in the same color family. Some additional tips are:

·         For the ladies:   Wear bright colors for one of your looks, the bright colors will enhance the photo and landscape. Changing into a darker or more neutral color will help bring the focus and attention to your faces.

·          For the gents:  Bring a few different shirts to change into to match your partner. A button down shirt will help to frame your face rather than a t-shirt, and also provides more flexibility with your look (sleeves, buttoned up, tucked in, etc.)

3.      What shouldn’t we wear? Well…most of our clients don’t ask us this…but we sometimes wish we would! Do not wear baggy or loose shirts or pants. The baggy and loose clothing will make you look wider in photos and hide your figure. Do not over tan or start tanning the week of your engagement session—you will look orange in the photos. And finally, do not wear stripes and plaid patterns, they never look good in the final shots.

4.      How long is an engagement session? Depending on travel time to your various locations, an engagement session is typically anywhere between 1-3 hours.

 5.       What is the best time of day to shoot? We will typically schedule an engagement session in the early morning or about 2-3 hours before sunset. The lighting truly makes all the difference in the quality of the photographs, so it’s imperative to BE ON TIME.

6.       Should we use a theme? While you do not have to select a specific “theme,” themes can be fun. We’ve had couples set up scenarios for their engagement sessions that fit their hobbies and interests and were really excited about the unique outcome. Some ideas are: camping, baking, picnic, sailing, staying at home, ice skating, etc.

 7.      Should we bring accessories or props? Absolutely! Your favorite hats, ties, sunglasses or scarf can really help to compliment/accent your outfit. Don’t be afraid to bring “out of the ordinary” props with you also—we’ve used old furniture, instruments, pets, toys, balloons and even masks and not only was it fun to shoot, but the couples had a great time and laughed the most, using the props they brought. Finally, as seen on most of our social media, we’re big fans of chalkboards or poster-boards that we can Photoshop text onto…which is always a good idea for your thank you or save the date cards!

 8.      When will we see our photos? Always ask your photographer how long it will take to see the photos. If you saved your shoot for the last minute and need the images for the save the date, make sure you tell your photographer. Depending on the time of year and how booked they are, it typically takes 2-4 weeks for the final photos to be posted to the gallery. We typically get excited and will post our top 10 within a week to our blog or Instagram so that you can share with your family and friends!

 9.       Should we get our hair/make-up done? The engagement session is a great opportunity to test out your makeup/hair styling by using this as a trial. We typically recommend that the ladies get their makeup done and a manicure—regardless of anything, we will be photographing your ring and the last thing you want is chipped nail polish. For the gents, we recommend getting a haircut prior to the shoot and also making sure their nails are manicured.

10.  How do we make the most of our session? Rely on your photographer’s creative input and don’t be afraid to take risks. This may involve some out of the ordinary concepts—but if you want those unique photos that no one else has, trust in your artist. While the photographer is trying to capture the essence of your relationship, remember to act natural, don’t be afraid to play up your relationship by kissing and embracing for the camera.

 Engagement sessions are a great way to create long-lasting memories to share with your friends, family and future generations.  Do some research before deciding on location and don’t be afraid to ask to meet or Skype with your photographer to come up with some creative ideas! We always enjoy sending our favorite photos from Pinterest and magazines to help spark the creative juices!

Please visit our facebook to view our engagement photos or our website for more information! http://www.carriewestonstudios.com

Studio Walkway

Working on the walkway for the studio entrance. Next project – opening the door with the help of JEG Construction!

New Studio Walkway

New Studio Walkway

Cat – Senior Portraits

Cat was back for the summer from her first year at college. Wanting to document this moment in her life, she called up Carrie Weston Studios to book a shoot, to include make up by Art by Betty Lynn. Here are some shots from that day.

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To view the rest of the album please visit our facebook page, and remember to “like” 🙂