Celebrate that which has meaning with prints

The print versus digital debate is talked about CONSTANTLY amongst photographers. It's a huge issue that divides the industry. Many, if not most, photographers who run successful businesses decide pretty early on to ditch the digital only option and provide full service to their clients, meaning prints and products. Here's why:

If a photographer offers you a USB or CD of images, that photographer is setting you up to fail. Not intentionally, but those storage devices are each now obsolete. Most new computers don't even have CD drives anymore and that trend will only continue. Additionally, CDs and USBs are designed to break down after about 4 years, if you're lucky. You'll lose all the images on them never to be retrieved. USBs in particular are prone to getting lost due to size, so there's a chance they'll disappear in a move or while spring cleaning. Plus you may already have a desk drawer full of random USBs that have images on them but you'd have to spend hours scouring each one to find the images you want. The only way to avoid these scenarios is to print selected images. With consumer printers everywhere from Costco to online services, it's easy peasy, right?


What about sizing for print? That alone can make your hair catch fire, it's so aggravating. And then there's the quality of the inks and paper used. Professional photographic print labs use the best methods and products to render images onto paper, canvas, metals, etc, but you have to have a photography business to use them. So, in many non pro labs, color is often off, in some cases, quite radically. Meh, you might say. Who's gonna notice?

Well, if you've spent hours laying out an album from a consumer lab only to get it in the mail looking less than vibrant, with washed out skin tones,or worse, green skin tones, I guarantee, you WILL notice that. Quality does matter when it comes to photographic prints and products and you really do get what you pay for.

Then there's the time issue. Many people don't care to learn how to use online ordering software because they're busy and it's easy to put a project like that onto the back burner. So WHEN will those images get moved from the USB to your hard drive or uploaded to a print site? Before or after the USB or CD becomes corrupted?

The trend to provide all session images for a nominal fee is waning as more and more photographers realize that they're letting their clients down by not providing a full service experience. Yes, it's faster and more convenient for everyone to simply meet for the session then hand over a thumb drive. But, what's the point of working with a professional photographer if your photographs will sit on your hard drive or in your drawer?

Because my focus is on tangibles FIRST, I provide a corresponding digital file with every purchased, printed image. Even my headshot clients get a print of their selected images. Some clients opt out of digitals altogether because they understand that they have no real use for them, as they don't have access to professional labs to create the best quality products that their images deserve.

My commitment to fully serving my clients is a guarantee that they'll have heirloom print collections and wall art for generations. I can't promise that if the products or prints are not the very best I can source, like this magnificent portfolio box from Graphi Studio. Designed to fit 10, 15 or 25 matted prints, the boxes measure 11x14 inches and are custom crafted per order in Italy. I offer them in cream suede or black leather. The box lid is either canvas, like the one below, or a fine art print. The lid is also magnetized, the idea being that the box is a free standing piece of art on its own when the lid is on it. Prints lift out easily, thanks to a satin ribbon underneath them.

They're made to absolute perfection and I am THRILLED to offer them to my clients. I also offer canvases, large format prints as well as several other specialty products, like this 8x10 tri-fold suede folio: which has stunning craftsmanship with the images inside printed onto canvas. They're available in vertical or horizontal orientations and make terrific grandparent gifts from senior portrait sessions.

Cream suede folio trifold

No digital image alone will ever be able to compete with high quality prints and products that you can surround yourself with every day. No small view screen or social media post could ever compare to large format framed images in your hallway, bedroom, family room or dining area. Or with these folios on a mantle.

Horizontal orientation here

More than anything, I BELIEVE in printed images as tribute to your love, experiences and life. Not printing to me is a bit like Neil Armstrong landing on the moon and not planting the flag. As Artifact Uprising so eloquently states: "Honor that which is meaningful... and make these moments tangible." Yes! And work with a professional to choose the right products for your family and home. Because everything in life is art. Especially you.

If you'd like to experience a full service portrait studio and see the difference in heirloom prints and products from just digitals, I'd love to hear from you! (206) 779-4284

For mood, drama and beautiful texture.

Connor's senior portrait session with graffiti and smoke bombs.

If you're looking for a great way to add that extra something to your photo shoots, smoke bombs might just be your jam. Yes, they must be handled with care and common sense, but they add so much in the drama department, that the few extra minutes you need to ensure proper safety are TOTALLY worth the effort. At least for me. But then my alter ego is a rock star a la 80's hair band, so I tend to enjoy things that would look good in a music video from that era. And for effects for today's clients, smoke bombs just can't be beat.

I use smoke bombs from Enola Gaye, a company which manufactures them for photo and video use. A box of 10 in assorted colors costs around $60 bucks plus shipping. Each bomb, or grenade, has a "payload" of smoke of about 90 seconds, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it's actually more than enough time to get great images. Here's the link: https://store.enolagaye.com/us

As for safety, you MUST use some basic guidelines: DO NOT use them in any hyper dry (think August dry) wooded or grassy area. ALWAYS have a water source nearby to extinguish any loose sparks. I carry water jugs to outdoor shoots or use the bombs near ponds, etc. HAVE AN ASSISTANT ready at all times to keep an eye on the bombs and get the smoke moving. AVOID waving them in someone's face or eyes. They get hot once the pins are pulled and the smoke starts going, but hold them at the opposite end from the smoke or wear gloves. You might bring along a pair of safety goggles for your assistant, as they produce a lot of smoke very quickly. Here are two YOU TUBE videos on best practices you might find helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMOc3yhHuw8 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f064pZ41Fz4

You might also check with your local fire department about any ordinances in your area and just to let them know what you have in mind. And finally, NEVER use them indoors.

It's important to get yourself set up where you'd like to shoot ahead of pulling the pins on the bombs. Get your camera settings dialed in, etc. Then give your assistant the thumb's up. The bombs will sputter immediately after the pins are pulled, but after several seconds, they should start to billow. I have my assistant run around the subject to get the smoke moving and keep it somewhat evenly distributed. If there's wind, of course, the smoke will move on its own, so plan accordingly. Also, smoke sort of has its own personality so it's good to have a practice bomb in a color you're not so fond of.

Generally, once the smoke is pouring out, I'm shooting like a maniac, because I almost always end up compositing these images. I like billows of smoke for best effect, so I take tons of images specifically for that purpose.

Emily, her fave t-shirt and smoke bombs for her senior portraits.

Most of the time, I use smoke bombs with senior portraits or for creative shoots. The smoke bombs give me a chance to get edgier images that are a departure from more traditional shots, which I also make a point of taking early in the session. If I have a teen, like Connor above, the smoke bombs highlight a side of his personality that's about black leather and bold statements. For Emily, the smoke bombs were reinforcement of her fun, quirky side that matched the pumpkin t-shirt perfectly. The below image was meant as a creative piece to showcase the dramatic side of Renee, a young actress and model.

This image won a 2017 Bronze Award from the Portrait Masters international competition.

Whatever effect you'd like to achieve, a smoke bomb might be a great way to create something different for your portfolio and your clients. Just remember to be safe and most of all, have FUN!

If you'd like to try a session with smoke bombs, let's talk! (206) 779-4284

It began with a green prom dress I'd seen her in. "Wow," I'd thought. "I would LOVE to photograph that girl. And so I did.

Kate Eckert has a lovely, gentle and sunny light that comes out through blue eyes the color of cornflowers. I'd photographed her sister, Karaline, and wanted to work with Kate before she headed off to her final year in college. She was game for just about anything (Oh, happy day!) and she'd donated her green prom dress to my studio last year, which meant I owed her a session. What could I do to bring out a side of herself she'd not yet seen AND have a little playtime via a creative shoot?

The original pretty, but somewhat plain, forest green prom dress.

Never one to keep things simple, I decided to take as inspiration for this session the Pre-Raphaelite period, an artistic movement that painted women (mostly) in an overtly feminine, romantic style against glorious landscapes full of passion and color. Read about it here, if it interests you: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Raphaelite_Brotherhood

The first step was to modify the dress.

This is what six yards of dove grey chiffon will get you. I also ordered a very inexpensive statement necklace from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013D8PF46/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It photographs beautifully, as it turned out. But, we ended up using it as a headpiece.

Next, hair. The Pre-Raphaelites generally painted women with long, flowing hair or hair that was caught up in loose, wavy knots or braids. Kate has a shoulder length blonde bob.

So I ordered some hair extensions from REECHO off Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DLN61YG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 I was frankly amazed by the quality of the product. Looks, moves and feels like real hair and I'm going to get them in other colors and lengths just to have in the studio as part of the Client Closet.

We split the session into two parts: one part in the studio for more magazine style images, then moved outside for the critical landscape shots so necessary for the PR period. But what sort of backdrop should I use in the studio?

I chose to paint a canvas the same color green as the dress. The color is spectacular and I'd wanted to paint a green backdrop for some time, so this was the perfect excuse to do so. Green is not a universal color, meaning not every client will respond well to it or be flattered by it in portraits. But for redheads and clients with green eyes, it's delicious. Kate has blue eyes, but I was going for a dress match here. And although I loved how it turned out, it was just too much green once Kate was in front of it. My genius friend, Kara, who was at the session wrangling wardrobe, suggested we flip it around and use the backside. It worked like a charm. Here's a little behind the scenes video clip:

For the outdoor portion of the session, I'd discovered a tucked away pond on Bainbridge Island that was enclosed, private and easy to get to. So off we went, Kate, my assistant Jillian and I. Jillian and Kate both had to stand on a tiny, mucky little island while I shot from the shore. Jillian also was tasked with handling the reflector AND the smoke bombs. And boy did she do a great job!

So how did we do? I wanted to capture that dreamy romanticism that's a hallmark of the Pre-Raphaelite period. Here's several examples of that work from the http://www.pre-raphaelite-brotherhood.org/:

And mine:

Kate as muse for my homage to the Pre-Raphaelites

And there you have it! I'm pretty happy with the results and plan to try more of these types of images. To me, this is exactly what a portrait is supposed to be: YOU in the art on your walls, which is why creative sessions are a mainstay of my studio. If you'd like to talk about a session like this for yourself, I'd love to hear from you! (206) 779-4284

Deanna Dusbabek Photography

Bainbridge Island/Olympic Peninsula/Seattle/PNW 

(206) 779-4284


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