Did you get my good side?

I've been doing a lot of portrait work in the last couple months and I've been noticing a common thread that runs through almost every session. This is certainly not new, but I've just been paying closer attention. And I've found that almost every shoot seems to contain a conversation that goes something like this:

Subject: Okay, make sure to get my good side.

Me: Okay, no problem...which one is your good side?


Subject: Okay, just don't get my scar in this.

Me: Yeah, of course not...so, where exactly is your scar?


Subject: You can photo-shop this, right?

Me: Sure...but what would you like me to change?

And let me follow that up by saying that I haven't been out documenting a herd of Ug-o's. It's been normal, attractive, real people. To my eyes none of them have had anything to be embarrassed about. It's all an issue of confidence.

As a photographer, it's also interesting that everyone has entrusted to me, a relative stranger, their insecurity; the part of themselves about which they feel the most self conscious. They obviously feel the need to bring it up, as if I have clearly seen their hideous deformity, but am too polite to mention it. To them it's the elephant in the room. I take this as a compliment; that my subjects feel comfortable enough to divulge these nagging self doubts. But I am often left wondering why they feel this way in the first place. In almost all of these situations, I have not noticed what they perceive to be their biggest flaw until they point it out. And even then, it has never stood out to me as an issue. It's not as if anyone has come in and said "Okay, let's do these photos, just don't get this third hairy, ear growing out of the middle of my forehead."

Ultimately, I feel a little bad for everyone, knowing that they have this thing about themselves that is always hanging around in the background, undercutting their confidence. And the great irony is that, for the most part, it doesn't even register for the other people around them.

All cards on the table, I will admit to not being fond of having my own photo taken. I have a weird tendency to let my left eye lid sag, and I often adopt an awkward grin that makes me look slightly creepy and dim-witted. It's hard to describe, but let's just say that it's not all together flattering. It is my great and sincere hope that I only make this face for photos, because if I'm walking around like that all the time...I don't even want to think about it. I am also not impressed by images that in anyway capture the back of my head, where apparently the ratio of hair coverage to vacant scalp is rapidly becoming 1:1. I do not like this. So to my subjects, let me say this: I'm with you. You're not alone. I get it.

But I would like to propose that we start to change the way we think about ourselves, taking comfort in the fact that, for the most part, others don't even see the flaws that we each obsess over. What if we started to see ourselves as others do? What if our scars and wrinkles could be marks of a life well lived instead of blemishes to hide from the world? What if we flaunted what we were most proud of or rather than trying to conceal our insecurities? What if we loved ourselves?

Let's do that instead.


Senior Portraits? Book Now.

Listen up people: if you're interested in booking a senior portrait session (or any portrait session for that matter) with Hired Lens Photography, contact us soon because the calendar is getting pretty darn full. July has been packed, August is almost all booked (I only have two openings left towards the end of the month), and September is already filling up fast. And for anyone interested in doing something really different, I've got a couple new locations in the old bag of tricks for this season. Where are they? I'm not going to ruin the surprise, but trust me when I say that they're cool. Call 262.305.9187 or go to the contact page to book your shoot.

P.S. Last year, we had a couple people who went for the underwater senior portrait challenge but due to some bad weather, some bad luck, and some super cloudy water, we had to scrap the idea. So it goes. But I haven't given up. I'm reissuing the challenge and offering a 15% discount again for anyone that uses one of their portrait settings to do an underwater photo. If we have to abandon the plan because of bad conditions, you still get the discount. Any takers?

Senior Portraits-Kylie

Had a great senior portrait shoot this past Wednesday in Ashland with Kylie. It was a fairly chilly out, but we still got some really nice things outside and Kylie did an awesome job looking warm and happy on a cold day. Then, after we lost the sun, we headed indoors for some more formal portraits. This was probably my last senior session of the season, and it was a great way to wrap up a busy year. It seems like everyone's images are due into the yearbook in the next week or two, so if you had a session with me earlier in the season and still need to choose an image to touched up for submission, let me know ASAP.

Senior Portraits-Jackson.

Hey everyone, meet Jackson. Jackson is a fairly eclectic guy. He's a bow-hunter, a fisherman, a runner, a snow board racer, a scuba diver, a fire fighter, etcetera etcetera. The list goes on. I feel like a total bum talking to this kid. Anyway, someone like Jackson deserves some unique senior portraits, so we put together a shoot that was a little different than most. From the start, it seemed that the universe was against us. There were cloudy skies and boat motors that wouldn't start and lost arrows. But we persevered and, after defaulting to a second day of shooting, we got some really great images. For me that's the fun part.


Senior Portraits-Adam.


One of my favorites from a senior portrait shoot last week with Adam in Washburn. Headed to Michigan again at the end of this week, then I'm back for more shoots in the Chequamegon Bay Area. Lots more of these to come during the end of this month and the beginning of September. If you still need to book a senior portrait session for this season give me a call soon, the calendar is getting pretty full. Enjoy the last couple weeks of summer, it's going fast.

Back Home.

Wow. It's been a busy couple weeks. But I'm home again from shoots in Georgia and then Michigan. Here's a random sampling of images from the last couple weeks. Some catalogue photos, some portraits sessions, and finally some dive photos on a couple of shipwrecks in Lake Huron. All in all a pretty random assortment of shoots, but what is it that they say about variety being spicy? Or is it life that's spicy. I always forget. You get the idea. Either way, I love this job. Stay tuned for more.

Okay, I lied. One more senior portrait.


 I thought the portrait season was all over, but I ended up having one more senior portrait session Monday evening with Brooke. Again we got really lucky with weather. We started with a few shots in Prentice Park and then went down to the lake front right before sunset and got some great shots with a little bit of color in the sky. It was a beautiful evening; warm with just a whisper of breeze. Honestly, I think this was the last senior portrait of the season. It looks like I'll be on the road for most of the rest of the month, one round of shoots in California and another in the Pacific Northwest. Should be a fun, stay tuned. (If there's anyone else out there who still needs portraits, give me a call. If we're really sneaky we might still be able to fit you in.)


Winding Down the Portrait Season.


It's been a great year for senior portraits, and with the photo deadline in the local schools fast approaching, I suspect my fall is starting to wind down a little bit. Although, for all you procrastinator's out there, I still have some slots open before the cutoff. Give me a call to set somthing up if your still thinking about it. That blatant sales pitch aside, I had another great portrait session yesterday afternoon with Taylor. We did a few studio shots on white and then headed outside for some photos by the lake and another little spot downtown. I watched the weather all weekend and called Taylor monday night to talk about possibly cancelling our Tuesday shoot because it was supposed to rain. We decided to play it by ear, but mentally I was clearing time later in the week, expecting a rainy afternoon. Despite some gloomy weather in the morning, yesterday afternoon turned out to be beautiful: clear skys and 70. There was a bit of a breeze, but even that worked in our favor a little bit. Hell, some studios spend hundreds of dollars on wind machines to get that "tossled" look, and we got it for free. Not bad. If no one else books senior portraits this season, this was a great shoot to wind down the season with. Now I'm ramping up for more commercial work during the fall, a completely different kind of shooting. Should be fun. Watch for some of that coming down the pipe in the next few weeks.

More Portraits and Even More Mosquitoes.


Here are a few of my favorites from Tatiana's senior portrait shoot on Sunday. We started out inside for some shots on white seamless, and then moved outside as the afternoon light got nicer. Another day with great weather, but the mosquitoes were absolutley epic. Seriously, I need to get an industrial fogger for these shoots or something. Tatiana got eaten alive. In a couple of the photos you can actually see mosquitoes hovering around her. It was ridiculous, but she managed to keep smiling through all of it.

Day Two.


A few more photos from day two of the senior portrait shoot with Andrea and Allison. This time we hit some locations in Ashland, and then headed up to a section of the Souix River near Washburn. It was another beautiful afternoon for photos and not nearly as buggy. These two were supposed to be my guinea pigs for the underwater portrait experiment, but we had to bail out on that plan because the bay is too full of silt from all the rain we've been getting. Not to mention, really freakin' cold. Such is life. We may give it a shot on another warm afternoon in early fall if mother nature cooperates. Plan B was using the local pool, but I just found out that it's closed until mid-October for repairs. That leaves us with Plan C...and once I figure out what Plan C actually is, I'll let you know...In the mean time, more shoots this weekend. Busy busy.

Bright Sunshiny Day.


We had beautiful weather yesterday evening for a senior portrait shoot with Allison and Andrea. Instead of booking each of their sessions separately, these two decided to do their shoots together split over two days, so we have more photos tonight too. Yesterday, we drove down to Mason, Wisconsin, to find some locations out in the country. It was a bit of a haul, but we found some great spots and the sunlight was perfect. Aside from a new hatch of mosquitoes it was a great shoot. Keep your eyes peeled for more in the next few days.


Senior Portraits and Travel.

Had a great senior portrait shoot this weekend with Amy. Above are two of my favorites from the afternoon. Haven't had much of a chance to process the other images yet and I probably won't until the end of the week. I'm in Vermont today for a photo shoot, another in Maine tonight, and then flying out of New Hampshire tomorrow afternoon. Kind of cool to check out the East Coast a little, never really been here before. Everything is so close together. Watch for more photos in the next couple days.

The Underwater Senior Portrait Challenge.

I had some time this weekend to experiment more with an underwater camera housing I got a while back. The photo above is one of many lovely self portraits that I made while playing with it. Obviously, the subject leaves a lot to be desired, but all in all I think the picture is pretty cool: interesting background, good color, nice light, and most importantly, a rockin' perspective that you don't get to see every day. That of course got me to thinking (always a dangerous thing), how can I use this to do something cooler than just taking pictures of me holding my breath. So here it is folks, Hired Lens Photography announces the The Underwater Senior Portrait Challenge.

You think I'm kidding. I'm not. I'm looking for some brave high school student (or two) in the Chequamegon Bay Area that wants to take their senior portrait underwater. I'm offering a 15% discount to anyone that will use one of the poses from their portrait package to do an underwater shoot. The rest of the session can be normal terrestrial-based photography. Why do I want to do this so bad? Because its different, because it's a fun challenge for me as a photographer, and because I think it will look really cool when it's all done. And  that's always the goal: great photographs. So who's with me? Worst-case scenario, you choose one of the other, more standard photos from our shoot for the year book and you still have a good story to tell. Think about it, and contact me if you're the bold aquatic subject I'm looking for. This is the chance to do something really different.