Lets talk about “Available Light Photographers”

We’ve come across many individuals who claim to be “available light photographers,” and we always advise our clients to be on the guard when they hear that. While this may be a bit controversial, I firmly believe there is no such thing.

If we break down the root meaning, photo literally means light. A “photograph” means to make a picture with light, or to paint with light. Therefore, a photographer literally must be the master of light and/or light painting.

If your photographer claims to only use natural light, you should immediately become cautionary. Since a photographer must be the master of light—all light, in all situations—a photographer must know how to manipulate light.

I love natural photography as much as the next—natural light is beautiful and often flattering—but the truth is, you will not have natural light in every situation. As any great photographer will tell you, 75% of photography is trouble-shooting.

Case and point:

We recently had a wedding shoot—we love weddings and were, as always, super excited to get to the venue and scope it out well before start-time. A point of pride for our team is being able to “find the light—“ we love taking amazing portraits and dynamic scenes with natural light shining through windows, skylights, stained glass, etc. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the venue, we were faced with a conundrum—NO WINDOWS—not a single one.

Literally, there were no windows in the entire venue, not even a single skylight in the bridal suite. To make matters worse, there were mirrors—wall to wall, ceiling to floor—everywhere.

We decided that we would shoot our portraits and our bride and groom outside. It was an overcast day in the beautiful Astoria, Queens area of New York and we were sure to get some cool shots with brick walls, or on the water with amazing views of the Triborough (RFK) Bridge in Astoria Park. When we came back upstairs to go outside, there was a downpour. Not your drizzle kind of rain, not the “we can just grab some umbrellas and it’ll still make a cute shot” kind of rain. Nope. Full on monsoon. Our bride made it VERY clear that she was not going out in that – who could blame her

We would have to make our own light.

With 2 cameras, 4 lenses, 4 flashes, and 5 soft boxes for our flashes, we got our game faces on. From bouncing the light off of the mirrored walls and ceilings, to strategically hiding behind our subjects in the mirrors, we were able to really capture some amazing shots. At the end of this work day, we both agreed that this was by far, the MOST challenging shoot EVER.

In the end, photographers must know LIGHT. Period. Available light, natural light, artificial light…. we MUST know it all and know how to work with it, how to manipulate it.

So stay cautionary when you hear “natural light photographer,” because without the knowledge of how to use light, it’s just another person with a really nice camera.

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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!

Capturing all of your personalities

First, let me say that being a gemini woman, being able to capture the multiple personalities of one woman, is very near and dear to my heart. I’ve heard my friends say “Its interesting with Carrie – you never know who you’re going to get – Elegant Carrie, Goth Carrie, Shy Carrie, Tough Carrie… Its a new mystery every day.” While some can’t even begin to deal with this, the ones that can are my closest, truest friends. We have all seen so many sides to the people that we love and care about; and Sharon walked in to our studio with this request – “I want to show who I am – all sides of me.” Sharon, elegant, artistic, not just out of high school, but not yet a junior in college, with a really unique personality that we knew we’d love to explore. Here are a few shots that came from Sharon’s session at Carrie Weston Studios in East Northport, New York; with make up by Betty Lynn Tims.

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To view the rest of the album, check out our Face Book Page.

My recommendation for other photographers (and something clients should look for in their photographers too!) – Get to know your client. Don’t just book a session and say “Great see you then!” For how can you truly capture the essence of who a person is without never taking the time to speak to them? Find out their likes, their dislikes. What is their favorite movie? Why? What kind of art are they attracted to? What kind of activities are they attracted to? Musician? Loves Cirque du Soleil? Loves France? Hates skirts? Loves rock climbing? Into Elizabethan style dress? Whatever it is, whoever your client is, know them. Take the time to sit them down in your studio over a cup of coffee or tea and really know them. Plan out your shoots. Give them the best experience of their lives and show them what it is you see when you look through your lens. Show them the beauty that is.

Why High School Seniors are Breaking Away from Tradition

The New Portrait: Why High School Seniors are Breaking Away from Tradition
By: Theresa Weston, Partner, Carrie Weston Studios

High School Senior PortraitToday’s seniors are looking for a fresh alternative to their senior portrait—a photograph that embodies who they are within this moment in their lives. After all, in a world driven by social media and the here and now, why would the senior of 2013 be interested in the boring, outdated pose?   You know the one with the gray backdrop that looks exactly like your grandparents, grandparents hanging on the wall.

The change is in that all senior portraits don’t have to look the same, in fact they

High School Senior Portrait shouldn’t.  A senior portrait should catch the essence of who this young adult really is at this moment in their life. Whether they are a runner;  a musician; gothic; preppy; an artist; a reader; a writer; a fashionista… whatever their style, whatever their personality, the bottom line is that everyone is DIFFERENT and their portrait should be too.

My sister, currently a freshman in college, refused to let my parents purchase the traditional photograph. Instead, she sought out a photographer and ensured she had a shoot that showcased her personality: an artist, a singer, a performer…she went up on the stage with a microphone and her instrument and hanging on the wall at my mother’s is just that…Catherine Weston, holding the microphone for all eternity. So what should you look for when booking your photo shoot?

  1. Meet with the photographer. Make sure that the photographer has experience with senior portraiture—there is an art behind posing, lighting and selecting the right scenery, make sure they’re credible.
  2. Have a conversation. Let the photographer know exactly what you’re looking for…are you looking for a shoot on the beach, with family, in the City? Having an idea about what you’re looking for before meeting with the photographer can help eliminate hidden fees and ensure that you’re shoot is moving in the direction you want it to.
  3. Ask about make-up and styling (this goes for the men too!). In specific lighting with a strong flash, you want to make sure your eyes pop and your teeth shine…ask if the photographer will be providing you with a licensed stylist—understand that the images online and in their marketing material more than likely had an artist in the room.
  4. Social Sharing. How easy will it be to see and post your pictures?
  5. Printing and packaging. Always ask about what type of printing and packaging is offered—with a true studio, you will not be forced into the traditional packages of wallets and 8×10 prints—you’ll have the freedom to print on canvas, posters and receive custom framing.

High School Senior Portrai Long Island New YorkConsidering the shoots I’ve had the privilege of going on, it makes me jealous that I don’t have a picture of myself at 18 on the track to show my kids. I hated dresses, I hated make-up and straightening my hair, and that’s exactly what’s hanging on the wall in my living room—someone else, which will be the monumental image for generations in my family to gawk at.

Gone are the days of the traditional…these young men and women are about to embark upon the world—it’s time their images resonated just that.

Theresa Weston is a national award winning marketer who is  a partner at Carrie Weston Studios. With years of marketing experience, Theresa is adept at understanding client needs, working within budgets and turning a creative idea into a reality. She co-founded Pandora Marketing Consultants and Carrie Weston Studios with her partner, Carrie-Anne in 2011, and has since then won numerous awards and has been featured in several local publications. As a second-shooter and adept at thinking on her feet and multi-tasking, Theresa is responsible for ensuring all shoots run smoothly and those candid, memorable moments are caught on film. For more information, visit www.carriewestonstudios.com.

The New High School Senior Portrait – Part 2

Truly a once in a lifetime experience. Today’s High School Seniors want to be seen for who they are; from jocks to preps, from band, to goths, to hippies… today’s senior just want to BE SEEN. They are not like everyone else, they are unique in their own right.  Why not record your senior as they truly are in this moment of their lives? Book your senior portrait session today…you won’t be disappointed.

View the full album of our a recent on location shoot with 18 year old Andrew here.

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Sisters

The painted backdrops and reflectors worked amazingly. We were able to bounce around the natural light in order to achieve the look we were going for. It was such a pleasure photographing these sisters in the studio. With make up by Betty Lynn Tims and custom jewlery by Callie Contopoulos Viegas, these sisters got the girls day out they were looking for.

To view the full album, check out our facebook page here.

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Salvation Army

Found this gem at the Salvation Army for 50% off. Just steam cleaned it and put it in place! For those if you who don’t know, it’s also Theresa’s favorite colour – Emerald Green.

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V Flats & Backdrops part Deux

One would think that something so easy to build would be… well EASY. After I was defeated at Home Depot by the parking lot employee who “helped” me get the polystyrene in the car – I gave up my venture for a few days. (In short, he broke all 4 pieces before we could even attempt to get them into the SUV, which, by the way, they wouldn’t have fit anyhow.) About a week later, after our photo shoot, we got a hold of Theresa’s van (Thank you Dad Weston!) and headed out to Lowes. They had EXACTLY what we needed. 2 inches thick, 8 feet high AMAZING!

Still burned and slightly discouraged from my Home Depot incident, I avoided the task of painting them. It’s 7:45pm – Tomorrow afternoon we have a scheduled shoot in the studio. Sisters. The three clients are expected to arrive at 12 noon and are headed straight in to make up with Betty Lynn. Tonight, painting at least 2 polystyrene boards.