Wind-Blown Hair:  Blow it a Kiss Goodbye! (Senior Portraits Alabama Photographer, Huntsville, Alabama)

Wind-Blown Hair:  Blow it a Kiss Goodbye! (Senior Portraits Alabama Photographer, Huntsville, Alabama)

A gentle breeze can move hair beautifully for photographs, as we all know.  But if those gusts are more than 10-15 miles per hour, hair can look absolutely crazy and unflattering when blown.  So where is the "happily ever after" in this over-blown, topsy-turvy tale?

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Anna C. - Sparkman High - Couture Senior Model (Huntsville, AL, Senior Portraits Photographer)

This is a feature on one of my 2017 Couture Senior Models.  If you are a current Junior, class of 2018, and you want to explore the idea of being on the NEXT Couture Model Team, or if you know a Junior who would be amazing....CLICK HERE and fill out the very short form!


At Anna's Couture Senior Session, while she was changing outfits, I struggled to pay Anna a compliment to her mother, Lori.  Don't get me wrong--there are plenty of wonderful characteristics that are easily found when you meet Anna.  But I couldn't quite find the words to articulate the one distinct quality I had seen in her.

I fumbled over words like genuine, authentic, down-to-earth, and a handful of others.  And all of those words can certainly be used to describe this young lady, but it wasn't the one I wanted to say.  

Thankfully, the thought I couldn't quite find then has finally come to me--although I still haven't been able to find just one word for it.  Nonetheless, more than maybe anyone I've ever met at her age, this young lady is self-confident without being arrogant, strong-minded without coming across as stubborn, and graceful in the sense that nothing could possibly knock her off her feet.  Those are very good qualities to have as a high school senior on the doorstep of the next phase in her life.

They're also good qualities to have as a Couture Senior Model.

Anna took to being in front of the camera like she was a seasoned veteran.  From her very first photo sessions, she found it natural to deliver great depth from her eyes and in her expression that is hard to teach.  This shot was from only her second session with me (click to enlarge):

Clothing courtesy of TRU Identity in Madison, Hwy 72

Says Anna:  "I wanted to be a Couture Senior Model because it sounded fun and [like] a great experience. Modeling is something that has always sparked my interest so why not give it a try! Also [Couture Photo Art photographer] Shane's personality and humor really made it fun!" Modeling beyond her Couture Photo Art experience is still a consideration for Anna, and at 5'9", the sky is the limit for her. 

When asked about a favorite experience she has had as a Couture Senior Model, Anna said, "My favorite moment was the group shoot we did with all the other models. It was really fun to meet the other girls and just hang out!  My favorite part about being a senior model is the actual modeling part. I was surprised how much I really enjoyed it."

Class of 2017 Couture Senior Models

I asked Anna if she had any advice for future Couture Senior Models, and she had this to offer, "My advice...is to relax. Don't be nervous about the shoots. Shane is super funny, so it's not like it'll be awkward or anything. Enjoy the time and have fun because it will always be a great memory!"

And her absolute favorite shot from all of her sessions? "It was actually sort of an accident. [Shane] was test shooting [so the pictures he was taking weren't even supposed to be seen.]"  Anna was referring to the picture from THIS blog entry, which takes you behind the scenes of how this particular shot (seen below) was captured.  "I was wearing a red dress in downtown Huntsville [so Shane called that shot] 'Red Alert'." (Side note from Shane:  Because she was wearing red, I called this shot 'Red Alert' as an answer to Ben Stiller's "Blue Steel" facial expression in the Zoolander movies. 😋)

Anna's favorite:

Not only is this Anna's fave, but this image literally happens to be one of my favorite shots I've ever taken.  But we did get plenty of other amazing shots.  Here are just a handful, for your viewing pleasure!

 

Comment and like below to give Anna some love!

Couture Senior Model Bridgett N. (Senior Portrait Photographer, Huntsville, Alabama)

As we move forward in our search for the best and brightest high school juniors of North Alabama and Central Tennessee for the next Couture Senior Model team, I thought it would be cool to touch base with a current senior model, Bridgett N. from Muscle Shoals High School.  I asked Bridgett a few questions and here's what she had to say!

Bridgett N.

Bridgett N.

Couture:  What made you want to become a Couture Senior Model in the first place?

Bridgett: I really like to take pictures and it's always fun making new connections.

Couture:  What have been your favorite aspects of being on the model team?

Bridgett:  Definitely taking pictures, Shane can always make you laugh! Also, some of the girls you meet on the team are from your area that you don't even know! So you make new friends all over the area!

Couture:  Last year before Christmas, you took me to a place with TONS of Christmas lights and we did a night shoot.  It was SO COLD!  Thinking about the different adventures you've had on your sessions, what advice would you give someone who is about to join the '18 Couture Senior Model Team?

Bridgett:  Even though it's cold [for some shoots], suck it up--it makes cute pictures! And water pictures look awesome, just watch for snakes! [laughing]

Couture:  You just referenced the shot from your Couture Senior Session where you got IN THE WATER.  You must LOVE being cold! :)  So what has been your favorite shot that we ever captured from any of our sessions??

Bridgett: That is a super hard question!  I honestly haven't gotten a picture back that I didn't like. But my favorite would have to be in front of the barn with my sweet Boxer, "Sox."

Thanks Bridgett for sharing!  And hey, if there are any current high school juniors out there that would like to apply to be on the NEXT Couture Senior Model Team, class of 2018, click HERE!

Dance Portraits with Miss Elise! (Rome Georgia Dance Photographer, out of Huntsville, Alabama)

I was so honored to be scheduled for a private session to shoot dance portraits of this beautiful, sweet dancer.  Elise was just delightful to be around, had a carefree playfulness about her, and really followed my direction well for these portraits.  Our session was at the incomparable, breathtaking campus of Berry College, in Rome, GA.  

Elise is a dancer at the extraordinary "The Dance Centre" in Rome, GA, under the instruction of Mary Beth Cauthen, Amie Sabourin, and all of the amazing and talented instructors there.

Below you'll find Elise and her mom's favorite selections from the session.

*Wanna schedule your own private dance portrait session?  Head on over to our all new dance portraits website by clicking HERE!

Sha's Senior Portrait Session (A.K.A. - Crisis Averted!)

I tried to talk her out of it.  The weather was looking bad.  No, scratch that--Bad (...with a capital B that time, you'll notice.)

It was about noon on the day of Sha's senior portraits session (pronounced "Shay," but she's too cool for the "Y"), and a friend pointed out to me that storms were expected.  Just the day before I had checked, and there was a small chance of rain, but that usually meant we'd have a few clouds, or maybe even lots of clouds.  But 20% rain usually loses out to the other 80% that's designated for no rain.

But now--90% chance of heavy rain??

I tried to talk her out of it.  Sha was having none of it.  Via text, I urged her to reschedule.  I warned her that if we went forward and it rained on us, and that she risked losing the session that she had paid for with her own hard earned money.  I tried to talk her out of going forward with the session THREE TIMES!  This young lady was unrelenting, much as the imminent threat of heavy rain and thunderstorms bearing down on us!

She had already gotten her hair done in Muscle Shoals for her session.  She was ready to make the drive to Huntsville to meet the makeup artist I had lined up for her (the absolutely fab hair and makeup artist, Brittianna J, who you should definitely use for your senior session with Couture Photo Art!).  Her outfits were in the car.  She was sittin' on "G", waitin' on "O"...ready to GO!

So we forged ahead.  She made it to Brittianna's salon, and I scrambled to make changes to our shooting schedule and location.  I found a place that had plenty of covered places to shoot and we were on!

As you'll see, the session went tremendously well--crisis averted!!  Oh no, don't get me wrong--it rained.  It rained hard!  Torrential sheets of water pounded the pavement just feet from where we were shooting, but we didn't feel much of it, staying dry despite the storms.  

And yes, I made a point to tell Sha that not only was she right and I wrong, but I was so glad it worked out that way.  It was one of the most fun senior portrait sessions I have had in a long time.

The real crisis would have been missing out on these gorgeous pictures of this beautiful and very determined senior!

The Guy Behind the Guy, Behind the Girl in the Shot

I have to brag on my editor here. Dude. Has. Game. And yeah, I’m also bragging on my senior model, Anna from Sparkman High School. She is a natural!

 

I’m not, however, bragging on myself.

Read on...

 

THE SHOT

This isn't a typical "out of the camera" shot from me. That should please my clients and surprise my photographer friends (who think this probably IS my typical OOC result! :) ). This shot wasn't intended to be edited, posted, or even LOOKED at--by anyone.  Even myself!

This was supposed to be a "test shot." I was balancing the exposure at this tricky time of the evening--dusk--when the light is rapidly decreasing and camera and studio strobe settings are constantly having to be tweaked.  It's a negotiation between making sure the strobes are lighting Anna nicely and making sure the camera has the ambient light covered.  Obviously, there isn't enough of Anna's face being lit on the left-hand shot below.  Usually these shots are sure throw-aways, because I know the exposure isn't correct yet.  And also because I know that the subject isn't paying much attention, since I told them that "these shots don't count, so you can just relax."

THE GIRL

So yeah, Anna knew these were test shots. But she didn't relax.  I don't know if she was just trying some new expressions, new poses, or what.  I really wasn't paying much attention to her at the time, but whatever it was she was trying....worked! I just happened to be scrolling through my test shots--likely to check some random setting--when this shot caught my eye.  

After I regained consciousness and got up off the ground, I told her...."Keep doing whatever you were doing in this shot!" ...as I showed her and her mom the screen on the back of my camera.  But by then, we already had this shot--the shot that didn't count.  The shot that no one was supposed to see.  But thanks to my friend on the other side of the country, it would be the shot I couldn't wait to share.  

By the way, this wasn't Anna's senior portrait session.  It was just a typical "warm up shoot" that I like to do with my Couture Senior Models to get them comfortable in front of the camera.  Regardless of the kind of shoot it is though, I don't normally send my editor photos to edit until I have gone through them, culled out the best ones, and sifted through those to get to the 'cream of the crop.'  But this picture had grabbed my attention at the actual shoot when I just happened to notice Anna's amazing pose and even more amazing facial expression.  And despite the fact that the lighting on her was very under-exposed, I knew that this shot was going to be a special one.  I didn't hesitate that night after this shoot to go straight to this singular, underexposed photo, single it out, and export it to a shared folder on Dropbox where all of those 'cream of the crop' shots will later go.  

And on the other side of this shared folder is......

 

".....THE GUY BEHIND THE GUY, BEHIND THE GUY"

 ($1 to whoever guesses this obscure movie reference).

Yes, he's amazing. And no, my dear photographer friends, I'm not going to tell you who he is! :p But yes, my dear current and future clients, I use a professional retoucher. I'm not talking about using Photoshop. That's a professional photo retouching application. I use a human being, who is an amazing, talented artist. And, dear client, he is the one responsible for making your pictures, or your son's or daughter's pictures, absolutely gorgeous. Sure, I had a hand in it too, but let's just say that I bake the cake, and my editor puts the icing on it.  I used to do my own editing, color correcting, and retouching.  Then I realized that, hey, I'm a photographer.  Let's let someone else more capable than I be the editor.  

Regardless, the important take-away here is this:  Sometimes the expected throwaways end up being unexpected keepers, so make sure you take nothing for granted.  It could be a seemingly meaningless moment with a loved one that you will later cherish as one of your favorite memories.  It could be someone at school or at church that is nothing like the rest of your friends, and later becomes one of the most important people in your life.  And certainly, it could be a photograph that starts out as a snapshot swimming in a sea of cell phone pics and snapchats, but ends up telling your story--that "throwaway" that turned into your treasure.

Myranda Brings It! (Couture Photo Art, Huntsville, AL, Senior Portrait Photographer)

Well, Myranda ALWAYS brings it...just ask her! :)  But on Sunday, I took the short drive to Guntersville, AL, to see Myranda, one of my 2015 Couture Senior Models, and she also brought THEM!  We invited four of her friends along to experience a Couture Photo Art shoot for themselves.  Zena, Hope, Madison, and Brittany--along with Myranda--seemed to enjoy themselves!

Pictured from Left to Right: Zena, Hope, Myranda, Madison, and Brittany.

Pictured from Left to Right: Zena, Hope, Myranda, Madison, and Brittany.

We spent about 2 hours at Civitan Park in Guntersville getting mostly group shots like these:

The ladies show their intense "supermodel side" in this photo, which uses a mixture of natural light and studio lighting to feature a very beautiful and dramatic sky behind them.

The ladies show their intense "supermodel side" in this photo, which uses a mixture of natural light and studio lighting to feature a very beautiful and dramatic sky behind them.

These girls had SO much fun...I know this because they were laughing and joking around with me and each other the whole time.  That's pretty much the norm at Couture shoots, too.  We joke, we cut up, have fun, and even between shots while we are shooting, it's a very light, easy-going atmosphere.  And as you can see, we also produce absolutely gorgeous results!  

Besides Myranda, who knows all of these girls, no one else really knew each other.  This was the second "look" we did, and as you can see, the girls are already comfortable and getting along great.  This photo was taken with 100% natural light on the gorgeous Lake Guntersville.

Besides Myranda, who knows all of these girls, no one else really knew each other.  This was the second "look" we did, and as you can see, the girls are already comfortable and getting along great.  This photo was taken with 100% natural light on the gorgeous Lake Guntersville.

But it wasn't all group shots.  Each young lady had her own unique look at this shoot, but they ALL had the prettiest eyes!  All blues and greens, the only color I had going on was green...as in "green with envy!"  My brown eyes couldn't compete with these.  You'll see for yourself when you click on each photo below:

Needless to say, we had a GREAT time and had a very successful group shoot.  A couple of these girls are candidates to become Couture Senior Models and a couple might be booking their Couture Senior Session soon.  I would be thrilled to have any of these girls on my set in the future!

MUCH THANKS to Myranda for organizing this shoot.  You are ALWAYS amazing to be around and you are such a wonderful Couture Senior Model, girl!

Please LIKE and COMMENT below! :)

Why "Couture?"

cou·ture    ko͞oˈto͝or,-ˈtYr/   noun   

the design and manufacture of fashionable clothes to a client's specific requirements and measurements.

  • fashionable made-to-measure clothes.

 

If you were to look up the definition of "Couture" on Google, the above description is what you would find.  Couture means customized; specified by the client; a one-of-a-kind piece.

Why did I name my Senior Portrait company "Couture Photo Art?"  I want to provide photographs of the very highest quality for my clients, and in a fashion that is truly made to specifications, ordered by the client herself or himself.

I love meeting with my clients for the pre-shoot Discovery Session.  I get to find out what the Senior is all about.  I love seeing her eyes light up as she tells me about her fashion sense, her vision for her senior portraits, and all of the ideas that she has, that we will choose from!  It's an amazing experience to be talking about it at the Discovery Session, then in the days ahead it's even MORE amazing to be making it happen!

It is gratifying to present to my clients the photographs they envisioned.  Many times, my clients are in awe of what is given to them, because it has surpassed their own vision for the product.  Lauren had no idea any of her photographs would turn out like THIS:

We didn't plan on a sunset shot at Lauren's session.  But once I saw how the sky was developing, we were able to switch gears and give Lauren a photograph that she found absolutely breath-taking.

We didn't plan on a sunset shot at Lauren's session.  But once I saw how the sky was developing, we were able to switch gears and give Lauren a photograph that she found absolutely breath-taking.

But it did, because we were able to take advantage of what our environment had to offer at that specific time.  That ability to be flexible at the same time as we were being diligent to carry out a plan gave Lauren a truly one-of-a-kind photograph:  A Couture piece by every definition of the word!

"Couture Photo Art" is the perfect name for what I have determined to deliver to my clients.  It means "Customized photographs worthy of fine wall art."  

That is "Couture."  It is what Seniors of this Generation want.  It is what YOU want.

And you are worth it!

Why I Love Shooting Senior Portraits

It's true.  I absolutely LOVE shooting seniors.  Oh sure, I enjoy shooting weddings, I love shooting families, and some of the most fun sessions I've had were engagement shoots!  Who doesn't love to have a front row seat to capture intense and immense passion and love?

But for me, nothing compares to senior portraits.

As photographers, we have learned that it's important to "declare" our niche, our specialty.  For some, newborn and baby photography is natural.  Others live for the weekend grind of shooting weddings.  All of us do family sessions; some even specialize in them!

When I became a photographer, I was eager to shoot with anyone who would stand in front of my camera.  I just needed to learn, and what was more, I was hungry to learn!  I found a network of photographers, models/aspiring models, makeup artists, stylists, retouchers, etc, that I could be a part of.  I was able to begin learning my craft as a photographer by shooting young ladies and men who were learning their way into becoming models.  

And none of us knew what we were doing!

This is Ashley, the first person I ever photographed.  This is from my first ever photo shoot, where I wielded an entry level camera and ZERO knowledge of actual photography!  (Ashley and I remain dear friends even after all these years.)

This is Ashley, the first person I ever photographed.  This is from my first ever photo shoot, where I wielded an entry level camera and ZERO knowledge of actual photography!  (Ashley and I remain dear friends even after all these years.)

But we were learning.  Back in those early days, I figured out how to use my camera to capture the look and style I envisioned for each particular shoot and each portion of the session.  I also incorporated the use of artificial lighting mixed in with the natural light that was available, and eventually found my own voice.

What I didn't realize I was learning, though, was that these aspiring models were teaching me about fashion, about trends, and even more importantly, teaching me that I loved shooting this style!  Fashion magazines were the inspiration for locations, poses, and stylistic choices.  I dreamed of shooting for Vogue, Elle, Cosmo, or Glamour.  I began analyzing lighting schemes used in fashion photography and incorporated those schemes into my own work.

Then I learned that it would be wise to choose a specialty.  What would I choose?

Back in the mid to late 90s, I was a youth pastor.  In the early 2000's, I was a recruiter for a college admissions office, working with high school students from Virginia to Hawaii on how they could apply and be accepted to the college for which I worked.  Later, I was in charge of a crew of teens that would go door to door selling newspapers for college scholarships.  Working with teens has been a constant thread in my life.

Now I am integrating the fashion/editorial style I learned from my early "self-training" days with the seniors I absolutely love to work with.  We are creating amazing and highly dramatic images by putting a "couture" flavor into these photos.  See for yourself:

I love shooting senior portraits.  It's not a job to me.  It truly is an expression of who I am.  Every photographer will promise you a great experience at their photo session.  I'm no different.  But what I can further promise goes beyond all of the fun that we will have.  What I can offer you beyond just a day you'll never forget is a day you never thought you would have.  A day of being pampered like a celebrity leading up to the shoot.  A shoot that is centered around capturing who you truly are and incorporating all of the passions that you have in your life.  I will deliver to you photographs that capture not only your face and style, but the heart and soul and the essence of who you are.

 

I hope I get to shoot your senior portraits.