A message from me here in Seattle on Nov 23, 2016:
Hope you enjoy all the fixings and celebrations with your family and/or friends! Cheers to an epic holiday season filled with fun, fest, and joy!
A message from me here in Seattle on Nov 23, 2016:
Hope you enjoy all the fixings and celebrations with your family and/or friends! Cheers to an epic holiday season filled with fun, fest, and joy!
Note to start this: So many times I’ve heard friends, family and colleagues tell me stories about hiring their friend, neighbor, ‘new guy’ or something to that effect to save money on their event or give someone with very little experience a ‘chance’ to capture their event. This isn’t exactly the best event photography you could find. Getting it wrong isn’t an option. Being very inexperienced is not a great excuse. Too many people I know have learned the hard way and we’re here to help!
1) Event Greeting Ambassadors/Team: Let’s say you’re a major annual event and everyone needs to be checked in properly, with diligence and special guests taken care of properly. Let’s say they need to dress accordingly and be able to handle any issues that may arise. Would you hire a couple ‘friends’ or someone who’s new to customer service and doesn’t know anything about this type of event or it’s caliber of guests? Doubtful.
2) Event or Wedding Catering: Next to the event space the catering is usually next in line for budget addressing. Likely you’re not going to hire your neighbor or buddy to save a few dollars who likely cannot produce the volume and quantity of your needs with amazing efficiency and taste such as an experienced Seattle, Bellevue or Tacoma-local catering company.
3) Event Security: Imagine a large event with inexperienced security protecting your guests and the integrity of your event. You’re likely not going to hire a first time company with little experience. You want event professionals who know will do a great job with years of experience behind them for your Seattle, Bellevue or Redmond event.
4) Event and/or Wedding Planning: For weddings many brides choose to cut corners on this element then wonder why everything didn’t go smoothly, they had twice the headaches and wound up having almost a second job for a few months trying to coordinate their vendors and event. Ugh! And for corporate parties and events they never go without having a highly experienced event planner as they value what they bring to the table. Events run smoothly, all the details are preset and ready to go, it’s easy.
And the list goes on…yet so many times businesses, committees and the public neglect hiring a the best event photography team for their events in Bellevue, Seattle and Tacoma areas.
Take the guesswork out of it and use this list as a guide to the best locations around the Seattle and Bellevue areas for taking business portraits and other types of portraits. There are so many fun places to take pictures, but when photographing professionals or using natural light you really want to use unique locations that provide the best chance of obtaining that great look you’re going for. So, without further a-due, here goes!
One of the more popular local tourist attractions and home to many-a-wedding-engagement portraits, this location puts you level with the top of the Space Needle from the NW side of the city. Early in the morning and later in the evening produce the best lighting unless you’re assisted by some friendly clouds that will serve as a nice natural diffuser. Usually we’ll use a very simple setup here, however what I would recommend for optimal results is to bring styling products with you as many times it’s quite windy atop this area regardless of time of year.
Who doesn’t like the Pike Place sign!? lol…it’s pretty much a signature to the city. Depending on the type of Seattle business headshots style we’re looking to capture, some commercial/lifestyle headshots look great with a local item as a background. Utilizing the rustic bricks/cobblestone walkway, passerby and signage really make this one of the most favorite locations! Best parking is a couple blocks away to avoid a steep tourist-rate parking or if you’re lucky enough to find a meter, but even those are $3.50/hr.
Home to runners, walkers and a great view! Many times I’ve worked with my clients to capture fun portraits using a variety of backgrounds depending on their wishes. The lighting is always great in this area regardless of time of year and there are many local coffee shops for easy meeting up.
Home to a half-mile jogging trail, a children’s play area, three parking areas, a giant tree at it’s epicenter, and a beautiful man-made large pond with waterfall, Bellevue Park ranks Number-One on my list. I’ve probably photographed over a hundred professionals and high school seniors at this location in my years as a Seattle Business Portrait photographer. There are several benches located around the park and some nice steps with a view of the entire park on the north end as well that are always popular.
Variety, artsy and eclectic come to mind in Fremont. The Fremont Bridge, Burke-Gilman trail or downtown Fremont make for rustic and energetic backgrounds with a story.
What an evolution this hyper industrial area has undergone since the late 1990’s! SODO is home to the most rustic backgrounds you’ll find outside the Pioneer Square area except with a little more breathing room. Capturing personality-focused Seattle business portraits is paramount in this area or for any other type of photography such as modeling or commercial portraiture. Best thing to do is spend 30-45min driving around the area to scope out your favorite backgrounds then complete your session with a good frame of mind for the uniqueness of the area.
Let’s get beachy! For our 5-6 months of warmer weather this is one of the city’s hotspots for cruising, playing beach volleyball and enjoying a stroll along the boardwalk with good eats and local flavor. Capturing the beach-like feel with driftlogs, huge water-laden rocks and the best dynamite view of the Seattle skyline, this is THE SPOT in warmer weather! More so for family portraits, however this spot is very popular with some of my business portrait clientele. Just make sure you ‘rap’ with Fish n’Chips!
Here you’ll find a wide variety of settings including many colors and styles of brick, some industrial with a mixture of trees for a unique setting only found in this area of town. From traditional awnings by local businesses to the heart of this area’s brick walkways or perhaps rustic signage on buildings from the early to mid 1900’s, this area is one of favorite locations and was home to a former photography studio co-op I used to belong to. Graffiti optional!
‘Home away from home’ is how I like to think about this area. It’s just one of those hidden little treasures in the city that most don’t know about unless they’re local…and even then…it’s surprising how many locals have never been down. Madison Park is like stepping into a tiny town with one stoplight, there’s a quaintness and coziness about this area that’s rare in King County. There’s a small beach area as well so bring your towel for after your session! Great spot for variety and that small town feel for your Seattle business portraits.
Go Huskies! (tough to say because I’m a Washington State University grad) but this area is just so full of energy and excitement half the time it’s difficult to ignore. For grandiose, stature, and plushness this campus has it all! You’ll be mesmerized by the apple trees, their ‘Red Square’ central campus and circular waterfall. Don’t forget about all their sports cathedrals and signage. If you’re looking for a wide variety of settings in just a short walk, consider utilizing all the UW offers!
Article by Julian Michael of JM Photography, based in Seattle/Bellevue area since 2007
Most people have a funny relationships with their digital cameras. Whether it’s the camera on your mobile device, the new point-and-shoot you bought or the fancier digital SLR you purchased at Costco or a camera shop. Most people never fully utilize what their cameras are capable of, mostly because technology scares most and having to do much work frightens even more people.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out and about in Seattle or Bellevue and see people with digital SLR cameras using them like I would my Samsung S5 or Apple iPhone…it’s just sad! There’s been many blogs posts I’ve made using a camera phone when many can’t get their much more expensive cameras to output the same quality of digital portrait photography or overall look (see ‘lighting and composition’). Here are some facts about most people and their fancier digital portrait photography cameras and overall usage:
Not the other way around. It’s silly but many people think the camera is going to do all the work. Play, play and play some more. Getting it wrong often is a good thing in photography so you can learn to get it right and learn what you’re doing wrong to achieve the look you’re hoping to.
So many time people share with me that they don’t want to look ‘too posed’, but in fact creating quality digital portrait photography requires a ‘masters degree’ of sorts in posing people naturally so images will come off looking authentic and ‘not so posed’. lol
Although learning is fun, most of the functions on your camera you won’t need unless you’re purposely trying to get a Gold medal in ‘best overuser ever’. Focus on the types of settings you will use most often (sports shutter speeds or macro settings, for example) and learn to be sharp at these! You’ll surprise yourself when you focus on a few things instead of trying to learn the whole camera.
Before even thinking about the camera itself you should really spend some time looking and comparing your images with great images you might see online for digital portrait photography. There are such an abundance of images to look at that you could likely find anything you’re looking for and use these as great examples to base future projects or shooting styles on.
In professional photography it’s taboo using overhead flashes unless at an event that has poor lighting or perhaps a wedding. And even then we have some fancy attachments or higher end ‘overhead’ flashes we use to make sure the lighting is incredible and doesn’t come off looking like a ‘party pic’ (see also paparazzi). Learn to use natural light and shadowing styles (look at examples online). There are also other fancier overhead flashes that can be synced, rotated, etc for a better look in your digital portrait photography.
There are so many resources available online including ‘how-to’s’, videos and lots of other sources on what you should know to take a better image. Digital portrait photography takes time to learn and develop and having the basic knowledge of what your device can do is a huge advantage.
Basically, learn to shoot different types of people and subjects. Locations should be photographed from different angles, at different times of day, and in macro and micro (wide and close-up details) to most accurately tell stories. Same thing goes for people…wide (full body with scenery), closer up to show the eyes, always a little more about personality, etc. Maximize every experience when possible to get the best portraits you’ve seen from yourself.
Some of us are simply only going to see things from one angle or perception. It’s always ok to work with someone else or ask for ‘constructive’ feedback on how you can improve. MANY MANY people have a very difficult time with this sort of feedback, despite the fact that they’ll say they don’t. I think the best thing is to take the feedback, always ask ‘why’, then take a couple days to think about why someone had a different point of view (versus the typical ‘shutting them down’ philosophy that is so popular with artists and people that aren’t great with feedback). So ‘Cheers’ to getting great feedback and running with it!
Article by Julian Michael
It’s amazing how many people forget how big of a deal the styling element of professional headshots is. We’re talking about something that most business people do once every two to three years and only take a few minutes.
Everyone needs a stylist or at least an opinion on their attire from a qualified professional…whether they admit to this or not! From the newbie in real estate or mortgage to the VP’s and C-level execs I photograph, they all ask my opinion on attire. From hair and makeup, to jewelry and accessories, to shirts, ties and blazers, and ESPECIALLY ‘COLOR’, it’s super important to pay attention to these details.
Your image = Your ‘Personal Brand’.
However simple this may sound, many people don’t give enough thought to this concept. If your target audience/clientele is very conservative, then you should show this in your professional headshots styling. If your audience is more casual then maybe there’s no tie, we use natural light and the style is a little more modern.
Color is SUPER important. Sometimes that favorite jacket you have might not match your skin tones. Or perhaps that necklace you love to wear doesn’t go with your outfit you’re selected for your headshot. Usually we’re thinking about ‘hair’ and ‘accessories’ for the most part since usually we have some ‘go-to’ power outfits if you’re considering a headshots session. Always look for simplicity and accessories that highlight your personality as a reference.
Trim that beard, make sure you get your tie straight, and surely wear a shirt that’s pressed and looks great for your headshots session! Keep it simple and clean unless your personal style is busier, jazzier or whatever is the latest craze in your industry or scene (see also ‘Tech, startups and marketing). Today the trend is towards a polished look with a little scruff, even in the conservative sectors (outside of accounting and legal or course). Wear that best suit jacket, your power ties and simple shirt colors that do not distract from your face for your headshots.
You like to look good! In fact, you probably like to look ‘great’!! The first step is deciding what is the best style for your professional headshots session then making it happen!
It’s important to be certain your personality and wardrobe match, both in style and color. It’s even more important that the portrait looks like ‘you’ and not some perceived person that isn’t you so that when your clients meet you they actually meet the ‘real’ you. It’s amazing how many professionals I meet and know that use a professional headshot that barely looks like them and/or is from 8-12 years old!! Be current and real.
Clean, crisp, professional. Trustworthy, respectful, confident. These are the most common words business professionals of all backgrounds ask of their appearance and image. Here are three tips to make this happen:
Tip #1 – Show up ‘ready’ and prepared for your headshots session. Select your best outfit(s), make sure your hair is looking great by getting a fresh haircut within two weeks of your session and mentally prepare to be relaxed.
Tip #2 – Look the part. If your wardrobe is too traditional and you’re going for a more modern headshot look, think about doing a little shopping for a new shirt, tie, and/or blazer with a little color like an orange, kelly green or red. Likewise, if your wardrobe is too modern for your clientele, look for more basic colors like navy, grey and black tones.
Tip #3 – Color tells a lot, so own it! Think about if you’re a more aggressive or passive person and what the color you wear will say about your image. Here’s a great link to color perception.
Professional, younger, beautiful. Confident, trustworthy, stylish. These are the top words I hear from female business professionals about their appearance goals. To make this happen you’ll need to be prepared, relaxed and confident in yourself. Two great tips for your portrait session:
Tip #1 – Get your hair styled and cut within a few days of your session. Most women really love their hair freshly cut and styled, some even have their hair done the same day as their session and come directly from their stylist to their appointment.
Tip #2 – Think carefully about your accessories and jewelry. Simple is must different than busy. Tasteful is must different than drab. Sometimes when in a hurry women will arrive with jewelry or accessories they just ‘grabbed’ but doesn’t match the style of their outfit or isn’t the style they’re looking to personify. Just make sure to take an extra moment.
Tip #3 – Have confidence!…that your portrait will turn out amazing! You won’t look like you did at 25 or 35 years old if you’re 55, but you can look like you’re genuinely having a great time and authentic. This can be achieved by enjoying your session with you photographer and being confident in yourself.
So enjoy your session and be stylish, confident and enjoy your experience! See you soon for your session!
Welcome to senior year! It’s exciting to be so close to the end of your high school career! When you’ve gotten this far, you’ve probably carved out your personal style pretty well. This is good, because the first step this year is senior pictures—these personalized portraits will be the lingering impression you leave on people who you fall out of touch with after high school. Be sure to look your best and look like yourself!
Below are three broad categories on the best senior picture outfits you can try, and how to pull them off!
Are you a trendsetter who’s goal is to look like today’s music inspirations? Think about this style as a canvas for whatever your artistic self thinks looks good..because almost ANYthing goes here!
The past few years have seen ‘hipsterdom’ turn mainstream, always leaving room for interpretation and loads of room for improvisation. Mix, match, bend, twist (and shout) to create your own style and defy the norm!
Guys are pulling out all the goods! From suspenders, bow ties and thick glasses to jorts, straw trilbies and more crazy combinations of these. Think about this style as your canvas where tighter jeans are cool, tight everything is pretty much cool, and the wilder the hat and accessories the better! If you have tats you’re definitely in the norm as well…parental approved of course!
Girls tend to lean towards more eclectic accessories, preferably made of wood and string in some circles, and all the better if you make them yourself!! Wearing babydoll dresses, anything sporting a high-waist like a hotpant style, and draped denim shirts are leading the way also. And of course, plaid flannels, beanies and scarves are staples for the fellas and the ladies. Feel free to think 80’s with your hairstyle and jewelry. Colorful and artistic leads the way for sure!
Clean, fit and sporty!? Prepsters and Ivy Leaguers to-be have an easy time putting together the best senior picture outfits as this style is easy to shop for since the fashion is already established.
Guys: Toss a navy blazer over pretty much anything and a rep tie with school colors or something classic, go for a more clean jeans style and maybe rock your favorite color pants. Polos, button-ups and loafers of any style welcomed!
Ladies: Rock those bright cardigans over your favorite patterned dress, go ultra preppy with a scarf and polo with capris and Vans, or keep it clean in all white and clean lines. See also: polka dots, houndstooth, and nautical stripes. Keep your jewelry simple and clean, maybe think faux pearls, colorful but subtle jewelry and very simple hair.
Hip and hop! Streetwear is, and always has been just plain cool. Definitely ‘keep it real’.
Wear your favorite style of high top Jordans with neon laces, big flashy logos, and straight bill hats— all done in a casual and loose fit with room to spare. Bonus points available if you rep your local ‘hood or town (on your T-shirt, hat or jewelry for example). Hoodies and rain jackets can get a lot of play with this style and introduce some pops of color to your wardrobe. Make sure you’ve got the hair to match, unless you really want to try out a faux hawk with a basketball jersey.
Fellas: All about the vibe here! Simple items with a matching color theme will look the best. If you’re a Seahawks fan maybe it’s a jersey with a navy hat, dark denim and bright kicks. In colder weather throw on that hoodie and maybe add a parka of that might be just a little too big.
Ladies: Make baggy and tight work as a team! Be sure to think your colors need to match better than with a more hipster look (where anything goes). If you’re into blue and white, make it all blue and white (or close). Big kicks, hats, beenies, big bracelets and bangals and crazy color jeans and jeggs work well here. Go fun with your hair or pull it back for a hot look!
Be real with who you are, and remember that your best senior portrait outfit is just the wrapping on the streetwear attitude you need to show off in your photo! Stand out among your peers with your best senior picture outfit—something truly original and memorable.
There are many ways of dressing in our day-to-day lives, but we only get one time to have your senior portraits taken. Choose the look that fits you the best and make it as good as it can possibly be. Once the outfit is chosen, make sure you have a photographer who can really make it pop!
By Julian Michael > Contact him for your senior portraits today!
We all know there are some things you buy on quality, not price. We skip over the discounted stale bread in favor of the fresh baked loaf. We avoid the cracked and laggy phone and find one with the features we need working quickly. We know a lumpy mattress will cause long-term back pain, so we invest in a well-made one.
Photography is no different.
Simply, you should always shop for quality first instead of price on your child’s senior pictures. A well-shot, well-planned, high quality senior photo will be worth viewing and remembering for a lifetime—your senior has a lot of exciting life ahead of them! Capturing them in a 90-minute to 2-hour session is a challenge.
Senior portraits represent your student at their finest, with their whole future ahead of them. In a few years these portraits will have a nostagic effect having been a special time in their young lives. After more time has passed senior portraits are always up for comparison to the next generation and so goes time.
To create truly amazing Senior Pictures is a special type of photography similar to working with modeling and talent agencies…there are few and far between that can deliver a spectacular final product people are in awe of. They deserve an investment in quality.
An amateur will merely take your order, do what you tell them and then dust their hands off. They don’t spend time helping you get the most out of your session, and your child deserves much more!!
With a professional they will make their expertise available to you in every aspect. Before the shoot a pro can offer personal styling advice to help your student express the side of their self they want to display in their portraits. From clothing to hair, makeup and accessories, an expert proves his quality and ensures better results with this guidance.
A high quality photographer will also help you scout locations around the area, whether you leave it completely up to them or have an idea but not specifics in mind. Finding the setting that captures your senior’s personality and lifestyle and makes them pop is something only a local photographer with many years of experience can offer.
Another reason you should shop quality instead of price for your senior pictures in Redmond, is that a quality photographer will make sure you’re satisfied and then some. After all, what service are you really paying for? Someone to press a button on a camera? Hopefully not!
What’s really being captured? You’re getting a symbol of your student’s accomplishments and life up to this point, brimming with memories and to be viewed over and over again and we want this to look tip top! This requires a certain type of personality to work with students to have fun and get them to relax combined with an expert level of digital post-production. Everyone’s skin is not perfect and we all have stray hairs and blemishes–both simple fixes in Photoshop.
There are many cool Photoshop tricks and filters than can be applied. Some people favor a rustic black & white effect, others might like something more modern with high contrast. And of course, many traditional methods are used as well.
If you shop for quality instead of price for senior pictures in Redmond, you ensure better portraits, plain and simple. Better lit, better shot, better planned, and better on your wall at home and to share with your family and friends. Similar to high school prom and many of the other important experiences awaiting your student, it is a once in a lifetime experience! You’ve just got one shot, so better it’s taken by someone who knows what they’re doing and cares how it turns out!
By Julian Michael > Contact him for your child’s senior portraits today!
One of the questions Julian and the team get asked most often is “what are the best locations for Seattle business photography?” As you might expect, the answer is simple—there’s no one size fits all in business! Different companies require different locations with different identities. Below are seven of the best places you can take corporate pictures and headshots to capture you and your staff in the best light!
Nothing conveys modern hustle and bustle like the city center of Seattle. With a clean and commercial vibe, and architectural variety ranging from old to new, there are countless places to take your business photos. Try various plazas, the steps of the courthouse, and near the monorail, just for starters. Maybe you can get in some teambuilding at Gameworks!
With its brickwork streets and countless landmarks, Pioneer Square has an old school charm like that of New England. Seattle business photography there benefits from the rich foliage, the vast sidewalks, standing room, and the park at the center of it all. The muted green and red hues are perfect for that down-to-earth feeling that many businesses want!
Only a handful of cities in the world have a skyline as unique as Seattle’s—trust us we’ve looked! You can get a clear view of the entire city and the Space Needle from Kerry Park, which is wide enough for great group shots. This location will instill your team and customers with more local, home-grown pride than drinking a Rainier at a Sounders game dressed in Northface!
These neighborhoods are custom-made for businesses that want to convey a hip attitude combined with an antique aesthetic. This creative aura and architecture is the reason they host their inspiring Art Walk every year. You can also find interesting ways to use big landmarks like the Ballard Locks—it could illustrate the different stages of a work process, or climbing the steps to success. Take advantage of the shipyards and wide terraces for your business photos!
Madison Park provides some of the best locations for Seattle business photography, like its large golf club, arboretum, and expanses of private beaches. It’s great to give your employees a little fun on their photo field-trip! The buildings give a quaint, small town look, with a classy finish that’s sure to rub off on your corporate portraits!
Spanning the industrial district and including Safeco and CenturyLink Fields, SoDo is to Seattle what SoHo is to New York—a vibrant, retro neighborhood. With many big warehouses converted into artists’ lofts and studios, it’s perfect for manufacturing and creative groups alike! Use SoDo for old town backgrounds and local sports fandom.
West Seattle is ideal for outdoor business photography. With the boardwalk around Alki Beach, a startup can capture a laid-back, young sensibility. The stunning, open views of the Puget Sound show the vast possibilities on the horizon for your company. Also, the lack of big chains in the area means you can get a really distinct look for your team in front of all the mom-and-pop shops. Everyone likes rooting for the little guy, right?
While there’s nothing wrong with a controlled, studio environment for business headshots, there are many elements that studios can’t provide.
By Julian Michael > Contact him for your on-location business photo shoot today!
When you purchase items does quality outweight price for you? Or do you make decisions almost solely on price? From the brand of yogurt and cereal we purchase to our cars and household items, to services such as housecleaning, repairs and photography, we all have our trends.
Knowing an Amateur vs. a Professional: How to Know What to Look For
There’s 100 amateur ‘photographers’ (also know as ‘camera owners or beginners’) for every 2 or 3 professionals in our area and it’s difficult to know the difference at first until you take a really close look at quality, posing, angles, lighting, reviews and customer service. When I’m looking through portfolios and other photography websites I can quickly see who I would trust to take my portrait and who I can tell needs to learn more.
Imagine using a highly experienced attorney or doctor who’s seen hundreds or thousands of cases versus a new doctor or attorney who barely has experienced anything. If your goal was to win the case or diagnose and properly treat your child’s condition you’d be a little concerned. In photography you should approach your next session with this sort of mentality. It takes years of doing quality work, experience working with top photographers and art directors or editors to possess expert level knowledge of the industry. Add in the variable of being great with high schoolers and we’re talking some serious knowledge to capture a variety of amazing portraits you’ll be proud of.
Compare the following:
1) Does the ‘photographer’ sound knowledgeable? When speaking with any professional you should feel like the person is knowledgeable about any question you would or could ask them. Think about if their answers to your questions sound flaky or made up, or are based on a foundation and experience…I know I can tell.
2) Does their website have a variety of examples? And I’m not talking about just a couple good portraits or 1000 so-so images claiming to have been around forever. Some people can get lucky with a few good portraits, but a true pro can repeat any style of portrait on demand and create looks with ease. Whenever I’m looking through other photographers work I’m looking for several elements, many times related to the variety I see overall in terms of the style of portrait, light, composition, framing, etc…which is more rare to find quality than you may know! And don’t be fooled by cool looking websites with fancy slideshows when the work doesn’t back that up.
3) Are they upfront about pricing for sessions and how their packaging works? Basically, are they willing to share with you how their structure works, or does it sound shady? Working professionals have very set rates that work well for their clientele and there’s a good reason they’ve chosen those packages and pricing after years of trial and effort. An amateur will have no idea how to price his/herself and many times will sound unknowledgeable about rates. How ever nice this might sound for your pocketbook it will likely overflow into many aspects of their work. Most notably is their ability to create variety, to create amazing products and their skill level in Photoshop. And let’s not forget they’ve just recently (within 2yrs) purchased their first awesome camera, they’re ‘learning’ new techniques and Photoshop, and they have no process they’ve established to make it easy for clients and their self following the shoot.
4) Are they willing to accept any price offer you make them, or are they confident in their rates? A true sign of an amateur is that they are not doing photography as a ‘living’ or for their ‘work’, it’s merely a hobby and they don’t mind making a few bucks for it. However, when it comes to top customer service, knowledge of working with students, posing the right angles and creating lasting memories they’re likely not a good choice unless your budget is peanuts.
Anyone can beat a price and you’ll always find a bigger deal, but at what point are you sacrificing quality for your son or daughter’s senior pictures in Redmond. With photography, and especially senior pictures photography you’re likely sacrificing a great deal of quality right away when you steer away from trained professionals into amateurville.