Few investments appreciate in value over time. A portrait of someone you love is one of those rare possessions that increases in value the longer you own it. This portrait of my father has done just that.
Today is the anniversary of my father’s passing. Dr. James R. Juhl, better know as Bob, died four years ago today, on November 20, 2010. I still miss his always encouraging attitude, his wisdom, his love for people and animals and the companionship we shared.
Dad and I had grown closer since mom died almost three years earlier. I stopped by his home and made lunch for the two of us, accompanied him to his many doctor’s appointments and joined him watching Twins games now and again. As his health declined, I came to value this image more and more.
I did this portrait of dad at the urging of friend and photographer Todd Buckstead. Todd didn’t have a portrait of his father and it really bothered him. He demanded that I get both my parents into the studio as soon as possible. I’m so glad he did.
Dad’s loosing battle with an infection landed him in Luverne’s Hospice Cottage. Knowing we wouldn’t have much time left, I found myself rummaging through my computer looking for photos of him. The last image I captured of Dad was from just a few months earlier. The Minnesota Governor and his wife were in town. They had invited the local World War II veterans to the Herried Military Museum for coffee. I stopped by with my camera, not knowing that these would be the last images I would take of my father.
So today I thank my Heavenly Father for gift of my earthly father. I am thankful for the pictures and the memories they bring back.
It was a beautiful September afternoon with a light breeze and lots of sunshine; perfect to create outdoor maternity portraits of expectant mother Jewell and her family.
I’m thankful when clients come to me with portrait ideas. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s even better to get photos of exactly the style they want. Jewell described “a Bohemian look with flowers in my hair” and sent a couple of photos from Pinterest. She also wanted to do the session in Sioux Falls. After looking at her example images, I immediately thought of Sertoma Park.
Outdoor Maternity Portraits – a Unique Beauty
Pregnant woman are uniquely beautiful. Having lived with my wife Brenda through three pregnancies, I assume it has something to do with a change in body chemistry. The same change that makes expectant mothers burst into tears and causes them to rearrange furniture is the same thing that makes them radiate their unique beauty.
Radiating beauty is a good start, but to come up with a truly great maternity portrait, you need to have a great location, dynamic lighting and clothing that matches the look and flatters the mom. In the image above, Jewell is in a classic maternity pose. The sun is behind her adding a rim light that really shows off her flowing blonde hair. Then I added some light to the right of the camera. The low camera angle gives the subject a bigger than life feeling and expands the blue sky to fill much of the background.
The family portrait is a “looking at the viewer” style pose. The camera angle is at eye-level which puts the horizon line above the subjects. Using a larger aperture (smaller f-stop number) renders the background out of focus. Again, the sun is behind the subjects and I’m adding light from the right of the camera.
Patience is the key when photographing young children and this session was no exception. Both young girls are full of life and energy. They have no time to stand still or be held when there’s lots of exploring to do. This pose has a certain “motion” to it with the older girl leaning into mom’s tummy and the impish look on the younger girls face. I suppose you could call this a “drive by” portrait. The girls were running into and out of the pose, jumping around, hiding, falling down and generally just being kids. Patience and humor go a long way to creating a beautiful family portrait with young children.
I have been adding edges and textures to my portraits. I like the depth and interest it adds to an image. Of course the hardest part of working on an image in this way is knowing when to stop. I created this image for our booth at the Etc. for Women Expo so I had a deadline, which is a good thing!
Location Portraits at Sertoma Park
Sertoma Park is a great location for family portraits. It’s a short walk from the parking lot to the field of prairie grass. The hiking path along the field of prairie grass is bordered on the south by a canopy of mature trees. The shade from the trees does a great job of filtering the sunlight. In the third image, I again used an off-camera flash. This time the light was to the left of the camera. At this point in the photo session, the young girl was done posing for pictures. This image is one of those scenes that only lasts for a moment. Capturing it is really a matter of being ready when the opportunity arises.
Creativity in senior pictures comes in many forms but the most important tip to be yourself. You yourself are creative, so just be yourself. And for guys being yourself often includes your gear. That gear can include vehicles, sports gear, hunting gear and maybe even that special someone in your life.
In this, the second installment of tips for creative senior picture ideas for guys, I cover sports gear, girlfriends and hunting gear.
Senior Picture Ideas for Guys – Hockey Gear
One of the best ways to show off what’s important in your life is to include your sports gear in your photos. Hockey is one of those sports that has lots of gear. The rink at the Blue Mound Ice Arena still had ice in June so we took the opportunity to photograph Luverne High school senior Joe on location and on the ice. Joe has been playing hockey since he was four years old and so having this as a part of his senior pictures is going to be a great memory.
The hockey stop image was a lot of fun to create. It takes good timing, trust in your skater and a willingness to get sprayed with ice. The camera was right on the ice and the wide angle lens gives the flying ice a dramatic feel.
Senior Picture Ideas for Guys – Girlfriend
Bringing your girlfriend to your senior pictures is a great idea for a variety of reasons.
- Your girlfriend will bring out your genuine smile. Face it, a forced smile looks like a forced smile. And as a photographer I have some pretty good jokes but to get a totally natural expression, few things work better than your girlfriend. Sometimes all it takes is a glance from that special someone to get a perfect expression.
- Your girlfriend can help carry your stuff. Bringing all your gear into the studio can be a two or three trip undertaking. Your girlfriend probably loves pictures so she will be happy to carry an armload of clothes for you.
- Your girlfriend can help you pick out your clothes. Face it, girls know more about fashion than guys. Why not get some advice on which outfits make you look your best.
- As long as she’s along, have her be in a few poses. It will be a great memory of this time in your life.
Senior Picture Ideas for Guys – Hunting Gear
Hunting gear is another great way to show what’s important in your senior pictures. Sioux Falls Roosevelt Senior Laine Deery is an avid hunter as is his father and older brother. Laine brought two shotguns, a rifle, goose decoys and a lay down hunting blind to his senior picture session.
When photographing seniors and their guns, I prefer to be on private property so we went on location to my farm just outside of town. I chose a high camera angle to show Laine with his shotgun, goose decoys and blind. It took a lot of fine tuning to get the decoys arranged in a natural composition without competing with the guy and his gun.
The second image shows Laine with his deer rifle. The mature trees of the farm adds interest and depth to this image while showing the detail of the gun.
There’s still time to schedule your senior portrait session before schools starts but you have to hurry. Schedule your session online now or if you still have questions, schedule a consultation online now.
How low can you go?
No, we’re not doing the limbo. We’re working on composition.
One rut that’s easy to get into when taking photos with your iPhone is to always compose at eye level. Sure, it’s easy to just whip out your phone and take a quick snap without thinking but when you slow down and spend some time on composition, you’ll be rewarded with all kinds of surprises.
Slow down for better composition
One way to slow down and look differently at you subject is to lower your camera angle. This technique, sometimes called “shooting up at your subject” makes whatever you’re photographing look larger and more powerful than if viewed from eye-level. It can really add drama to a otherwise plain photo.
Lowering the camera angle is easy to do with an iPhone. In the old days, when you had to look through your camera’s viewfinder to compose an image, you literally had to stand on your head to get this angle. Now that you have a big beautiful screen on which to compose your image, you may need to get close to the ground but you won’t need to do any acrobatics.
iPhone Photography Tips – Prairie Smoke
The first two images of Prairie Smoke were captured at the Blue Mounds State Park in June. The first image of this unusual flower is interesting but there’s really not much contrast between the pink petals and the green stalks of grass. The colors and tones just sort of blend together.
Lowering the camera angle and positioning the pink flowers against the blue sky completely changes the mood of the image. The light passing through the flowers shows their detail. The low angle gives the small plants a majestic feel and the texture of the clouds adds even more interest.
iPhone Photography Tips – Wedding Couple
The next image is from a wedding at the Historic Palace Theater in downtown Luverne. The iPhone was positioned right on the sidewalk as the couple walked out of the theater after the wedding. This camera angle isolates the newlyweds away from the other competing subjects. It also shows off the detail of the theater and, just like the flower image, gives the subject a “bigger than life” feel.
My challenge for you is to slow down and see how low you can go, with your camera. Put that iPhone right on the ground and shoot up at your subject. You will begin to see things in a whole new way.
If you want more tips, sign up for the Myhre Studio newsletter and never miss one of my iPhone Photography Tips again!
The best advice in coming up with creative senior picture ideas for guys is simple: be yourself. Show what you’re all about by bringing along your gear. A guy’s gear is his way of illustrating what’s important in his life. So bring along gear that reflects your personality.
I’ve seen lots of interesting gear this senior season, all the way from goalie pads to duck decoys. I thought this would be a good time to go over some of the creative senior picture ideas for guys; specifically offroad vehicles and soccer goals.
Senior Picture Ideas for Guys – Snowmobiles and Trucks
Summer may seem like an unusual time of year to do senior portraits with snowmobiles but not for Luverne senior Colton Arends. It gave him an excuse to get his sleds fired up and out of the trailer during this long snowless summer that we’re having. Colton and his family are avid snowmobilers and make a trip or two to the Black Hills to ride through the deep powder during the winter. Colton also has a sled tricked out for ice racing and runs it at the Rock Rapids Speedway.
Senior pictures are also a great excuse for a guy to get some long overdue work done on his truck. Colton spent most of the day before his session washing and polishing his red Chevy Silverado Duramax pickup to make sure it was perfect for the photo shoot. This image shows off the after market headlights that Colton just finished installing the day before pictures.
We did all the vehicle images on location at Colton’s farm. The canopy of the mature trees provided the perfect shady spot. Don’t worry if you don’t have a farm available for your vehicle photos. There are lots of great locations nearby that make perfect backgrounds for your car or truck.
Senior Picture Ideas for Guys – Soccer
Soccer is a way of life for Sioux Falls Washington high school senior Trent Hunking. So it was only natural to do a location photo shoot on the soccer fields at the Yankton Trail Park in Sioux Falls. Trent plays soccer virtually year around and is on both the Sioux Falls Washington soccer team and the Dakota Alliance team. We started with some traditional “guy with soccer ball” poses and then some action shots of Trent. This image, titled “Flying Header”, really shows Trent’s athletic ability. It took multiple attempts to get this setup just right and Trent looked like he had been playing soccer all afternoon by the time we got done.
I hope this has your creativity stimulated to come up with some creative picture ideas for guys of your own. In my next article I’ll be covering why it’s such a good idea to bring your girlfriend along to your senior portrait session.
West Central Senior Brandon brought his 2004 40th anniversary Ford Mustang for his senior pictures. He takes great care of his red pony car and it sounds as good as it looks. Since we had a beautiful June morning for outdoor senior portraits, we started on location with Brandon and his car.
Ideal Location for Car Senior Portraits
When looking for the ideal spot to take car photos, it’s important that there’s no traffic, that the background is well groomed and there are mature trees to shade the car. Then we use off camera lighting to fill in the shadows on our subjects so they look natural.
With the recent flooding in Luverne, my usual location for car photos was underwater. So after a little quick searching we found this wonderful background. The surprising part about this great location is that it’s a cemetery just outside of Luverne. It has a mix of mature trees and new trees. The grass is well kept and the traffic is nonexistent. This image was composed so that the trees didn’t break the lines of the car yet created a natural frame for the subject.
Since Brandon was on the 2013 Class A Champion West Central Trojans football team, his mother wanted his jersey in some of the car photos. The combination of his jersey and his car is going to be a great memory of this time in his life, his senior year at West Central High School.
Natural Looking Location Senior Portraits with Off Camera Flash
I just started using a new light modifier for my outdoor off-camera flash. This Wescott Rapid Box 26″ Octa Softbox is lightweight and well made. It has a bracket that fits on a light stand and holds a standard speedlight flash. It does a great job of softening the light and filling in the shadows so it looks natural without the fake look of an on-camera flash. The wind in the Midwest can quickly turn a softbox into a sail. One gust of wind can send your whole rig crashing to the ground. I’m thankful for my assistant Stephanie who helps with the lights and also makes sure that our senior’s clothing and hair are in place.
I’m thankful that Brandon was able to squeeze me into his busy schedule this summer. He just got back from a week long mission trip to Alabama and has plans to not only attend Camp Judson in the Black Hills but also be a camp councilor. This is his second year as councilor and by the sound of it, his fourth through sixth grade campers are excited to have him back.
We had a wonderful morning senior portrait session with West Lyon Senior Jed. He was a member of the 2013 West Lyon Wildcats Class A state championship football team. Jed brought along his football jersey, helmet and pads so it was only natural to do a few dramatic images wearing his sports gear. He also brought along his well-worn football adding to the authentic look.
The first image was lit with two strip lights from either side of the subject. This lighting technique coupled with a lower camera angle illustrates the intensity and power Jed brings to the game of football. Adding some post processing effects to increase the contrast and soften the color gives it an even more intense look. Jed’s mother, Lisa, is the one who had the idea to photograph him with hair wet. She said that’s how he looks after practices and games. She seemed to take great joy in dumping water on her son’s head.
Dramatic Chroma Key Senior Portraits
For the second image, it seemed only fitting to put our subject into an even more dramatic background. Chroma key or sometimes referred to as green screen, was first developed in the 1930s for motion pictures. Television weather forecasters use chroma key to make it look like they are pointing to a map behind them but it’s all done with a green screen. If you’ve ever seen a behind the scenes for any recent action/adventure movie, you’ve probably seen them filming on a set with a green background. The process of removing the subject from the background is called a knock out or an extraction. The chroma key background we have at Myhre Studio is a giant roll of green foam. With the correct lighting it makes knock outs very accurate.
Chroma Key Post Processing
After making the extraction in Photoshop, the next step was to find just the right background. I have a large library of dramatic images for sports shots. Choosing the best one is often the hardest part of the process. After some deliberation, this end zone image seemed perfect. Using Nik Color Efex Pro’s Bleach Bypass filter and a texture overlay finished off the artwork on this image.
Jed’s senior portraits a family affair
Jed’s sister Lauren came along to help her “little” brother with his senior pictures. Lauren was a Myhre Studio Senior Model in 2010. Along with being a clothing consultant and modeling coach for her brother, Lauren pitched in and held the grey reference card for a test shot in the ballroom. The Ballroom, as we call it, is a big empty room above the studio that has beautiful natural light along with peeling plaster and ancient wall paper. The crappy old couch Jed is sitting on fits the decor of the room perfectly.
Outdoor Senior Portraits With Jed
We spent some time hiking around the neighborhood on this beautiful June morning. June is the best month to do outdoor senior portraits. The temperature is pleasant, the humidity is low and the grass is green. Within two blocks of Myhre Studio there are lots of outdoor senior portrait backgrounds. This grassy location is just behind the Carnagie Cultural Center, Luverne’s public art gallery.
Thanks to Jed, Lisa and Lauren for a wonderful morning senior shoot! Best wishes on your senior year and a winning football season.
It was another beautiful June morning to be creating senior portraits of the beautiful Hannah. I’ve had the privilege of doing senior shoots with Hannah’s older Sister Sarah in 2007 and her brothers Andrew and Aaron in 2009 and 2012. They all have very different personalities but have been some of my favorite sessions over the years and Hannah’s session was no exception. Hannah is a driven young woman who has attended Baltic High School part-time and has taken college classes so she can start SDSU next fall with almost enough credits to be a sophomore. Her sights are set on law school and I have no doubt that she can accomplish whatever she sets her mind to.
High waisted jeans make a comeback for senior picture outfits
Hannah’s senior portrait wardrobe had a variety of looks but the one that really caught my attention was the outfit with high-waisted jeans. It’s a look that was last popular in the 1980s. Since the look is retro, I decided the perfect background would be both our retro apartment with green trim and a rustic set we call the ballroom. The ballroom a big room on the second floor of the studio with windows facing the north and west. The space was used for storage for many years and we finally took the boards off of the windows and hauled out several loads of garbage. When we were done cleaning, we uncovered a real gem of a set for senior pictures. It has authentic peeling plaster, an old steam radiator, and wall paper that has to be over 50 years old.
Extreme back lighting for halo effect
I decided to use the windows as a background and let the bright light from the north create a sort of halo effect that’s really popular lately. I only use natural light in the ballroom so to get enough light on Hannah, I had my assistant Danielle hold a plexiglass mirror and reflect window light back at our subject. The flexible mirror works great in this situation for several reasons.
- The mirrored surface is more reflective than a traditional reflector. In this situation, we need all the light we can come up with.
- Because it’s made out of plexiglass, it’s flexible, unbreakable very safe. If you drop this mirror, you won’t have to worry about picking up the pieces. It doesn’t break.
- Since it’s flexible, it’s actually possible to bend the mirror and focus the light even more to put the reflection right where you want it.
- It’s just like a fun house mirror and can keep younger children entertained. Depending on how the mirror is bent, it can make you look really tall or really short.
Stop by and see our studio
If you’re thinking about senior pictures you owe it to yourself to stop by the studio for a tour of all the fun areas we have to create unique and original portraits. It’s as simple as filling out the info on our request a consultation page. One of us would be thrilled to show you around and answer all your questions. Schedule a time today!