Monday, August 22, 2011

Christmas in. . . .um, August?!!

I know it may seem early to think about Christmas, but we'll all be saying how quickly this year has gone by before we know it! This is the perfect time to start thinking about getting your family portraits taken and getting those cards printed up to send out to all your loved ones! I've been working diligently this past week or so to design some awesome and unique cards for you this year. I've got 15 new designs all together and they are beautiful! These are press-printed, folded, 5x7 cards. And, they come complete with envelopes! You can choose from the following paper types:

  • Premium Bamboo. A warm base, matte finish paper with a unique watercolor texture.

  • 100 % Recycled Paper. Manufactured from 100% post consumer waste with a bright white matte finish. 

  • Smooth paper. Coated and offers an excellent white allowing for vibrant color rendition.

  • Linen paper. Has a subtle, yet luxurious linen pattern. It presents exceptional print clarity and accepts delicate type well.

  • Pearl Paper. Offers a subtle shimmer to any design. This rich, luminous effect is achieved by combining natural minerals with organic pigments. It is not recommended for printing delicate type and fine details.

Here are a few examples of this year's designs:
     (note: the watermark "M" is not part of the final design--just there to protect the images!)









Can you already see YOUR family's portraits in one of these gorgeous designs? Give me a call and let's make it happen! Be sure to "like" Merrill Design & Photography on Facebook to see our awesome deals that we're running on these cards and your next Family Session!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Maternity Portraits

So, as you may or may not know, I am an expectant Grandmother! My daughter is due in about 8 weeks and so I've been a bit preoccupied with maternity portraits as of late. I have looked at a whole bunch of other photographer's work (some which is so incredible---some which I'm kind of like "really?!"), and I feel like I've been inspired and motivated to not only capture some wonderful images of my own daughter, but for any other expectant mother that may give me the privilege to record this most wonderful time in her life. I've decided to share some of what I've learned both through reading and through photographing. Since I haven't obtained model releases from others, I will showcase here some recent shots of my daughter. We will be doing another session in a couple of weeks.

*Please note that this list is certainly not an all inclusive list! It's just a few thoughts that I've had as I've been studying and practicing maternity photography.


I think one of the most important things the photographer can do for the pregnant client is to put them at ease and help them to feel as beautiful as they are. It's been said (a lot) that pregnant women have a special glow. Showcase that glow, highlight the natural beauty that comes through at this time in her life. Having been pregnant a few times, I know that I often did not feel like I was looking my best with my tummy in the lead everywhere I went! But being able to draw out and capture the inner, natural beauty is truly a skill that I consider a must have for anyone photographing a maternity session. Talk to her. Tell her how beautiful she is. Let her know as you take the pictures that they are looking great. Of course, if you're a male photographer you will want to be careful so as to not offend or say anything that might get you in trouble! And as you pose, watch where your light is coming from. Highlight the roundness of her bump. Be sure not to accentuate any other roundness that she might not be so anxious to show off!


Although I often take maternity portraits in a studio environment, my favorite images are always those that are done outside or in the client's home. There's something about taking portraits at this time in a woman's life and mixing it with nature that just seems to make it all come together really nicely. Get out into nature. Up to mountains, down to the beach . . . somewhere that let's her feel free--not cooped up! Match the backgrounds with the colors in her clothes. White clothing on the beach with the water just looks good! Darker colors surrounded by the greens and browns of the trees and shrubbery. Beauty surrounded by beauty! Take the natural beauty that emanates from this woman who is preparing a tiny little body to come into this world and surround her with Mother Nature. It just seems to be right.



Keep it simple. Watch your background. Keep any distractions under control. The whole experience of bringing a baby into this world is a miracle. It should be allowed to speak for itself and in doing so, allow the viewer to feel the reverence of the miracle. No matter where you're shooting, pay attention to what else you are allowing to tell this story. Keep it simple!


Don't forget to include other people. Not only the Daddy-to-be, but others in the family. The photo that follows show two of the Aunts-to-be. Show the emotions. The excitement. The happy-ness! At the time of this session, the husband was not available. I will be doing another session soon that will include him. Of especial importance to capture the love that is shared between the mother and the others in her life that will be a part of the baby's nurturing. Also, don't forget to include the baby's siblings. If this is the first baby, consider including the couple's pets! After all, they're part of the family too!


Be original. Although there are definitely poses that every mom may want, don't be shy about creating something that is unique and original. No two mothers are the same! Don't make any two sessions the same. Allow yourself to get to know the mother's personality and tailor your session to her. The portraits should speak more to who she is rather than who you are!  I try to create something new and different for every session that I photograph. While there are great poses that are tried and true and work great every time, it is important to help each mom feel special and unique. While babies are born every day and have been being born for many, many, many years. . .this experience is special and unique for the mom that is standing in front of your lens. She deserves to be treated in a special and unique way!

I hope something here helps as you in your next maternity session! Please feel free to leave comments/suggestions of your own. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Circle of Life

March 9, 2011 would've been my Dad's 90 birthday! He's been gone for just over 3 years now and I have missed him. I have often thought of advice that he would give me if he could as I have tried to make decisions using the wisdom that he helped me obtain over the years. My Dad was a good man, although at times, a little misdirected. He always gave good advice. He was definitely not without his flaws--but none of us are! My Dad taught me to be true to what I professed to believe. He taught me that anything is possible with a lot of determination, hard work and faith in God. I miss my Dad and hope that the things I do will make him feel proud.

I believe that I am a photographer because of my Dad. Not that I ever wanted to be like him when I was living at home! But as I came to discover on my own my love of photography, I then became very open to his teachings and guidance and tutoring. So much of what I see and appreciate as a photographer is because of his guidance. Sometimes his critiques were pretty brutal. Ok, pretty much always they were brutal! But his unrelenting pushing somehow brought me to the point where I believed in myself as an artist. Never before did I consider myself an "artist". But he always did. He always believed in me. He taught me to see light, shadows, beauty, depth. He taught me to look to the horizon and at the same time not ignore what is right at my feet. These lessons in photography also help me in my daily life.

In our life we have light and shadows and together they create a whole. A beauty that could not exist if one were missing. Blessings and trials work together to develop us and eventually exalt us. We must look deeper than what the surface reveals in all circumstances to find the lessons that God would want us to learn. We must look out to the future, the horizons of our life, and plan accordingly how to get to where we want to be. At the same time, we should not forget to enjoy the very moment that we are in.

I am so grateful for the lessons in art and life that I have learned, and continue to learn, from my Father. Both my earthly father and my Father in Heaven.

March 9th is also a day that one of my friends had her baby. It was a good day to have a baby! I was so happy when she told me that I could come to the hospital and take pictures for her. There is just something about a newborn baby that seems to put this crazy, chaotic world at peace--even if just for a moment. I created a slideshow with the images that I took, but for the life of me, cannot get it to load up here! If you're on Facebook and are my friend (or a fan of Merrill Design & Photography) you can see it there. Here are a few samples from the session. I hope that as you look at these, you will feel the peace that I felt as I worked with this new addition to our earth!

It seems appropriate to post these images here--in honor of my father. I am the photographer that I am because of him!