Monday, December 6, 2010

Shooting a Bar Mitzvah

Recently I had the chance to shoot the celebration of a Bar Mitzvah of a very nice and energetic family.  I had a lot of fun and was exhausted at day's end.  Sometime during the course of the evening, when I had a chance to sit down and rest my feet for a few minutes, I looked around the room and thought to myself:  "What a fun way to make money!"

I have reflected on why I enjoyed this celebration so much more than the first wedding I shot two summers ago and here are a few reasons why:
1.  This family was very well organized, I had received a seating chart and course of events a week before the event.
2.  They communicated clearly with me about what the event would be like and what their expectations were.
3.  I knew exactly where and when I had to arrive at the synagogue and the venue for the party.  (I know that this sounds like something so ordinary to tell your photographer, but you would be surprised.)
4.  My questions about the event were answered almost before I had a chance to think of them.
5.  This family and their friends knew how to party and make the folks who worked the event feel welcome (i.e. the photographer and the DJ)  and part of the group, so shooting while working my way around the room was easy and comfortable.

That said, if you are planning an event such as a Wedding, a Bar Mitzvah, a QuinceaƱera, or a sweet sixteen party, please consider that the folks helping you succeed to make the party and the memories thereof great fun, are just people and need to be treated with consideration and courtesy.  Clear communication about what is expected from your photographer is key, the better prepared you are the clearer you can give directions before the event and help make it a success.

Look below for just a few images from that day.  For more, please visit my website:
 or visit my page on facebook:

reading the Tora

playing a game

more games

up high

dancing the night away

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Mummer's Parade in Hagerstown, MD

My hubby and I are not much for big crowds.  That said, we have been avoiding parades for years and have only gone when one of the kids was in one.  Luckily for us, our children were involved in sports that never marched in parades.  Many years ago our oldest attended a Montessori school during her Kindergarden year and they participated in the annual Rodeo Parade, we lived in Texas at the time.

This year, after five years in this town, we were invited by good friends of ours to hang out on their street and attend open houses in the neighborhood, all scheduled during the preparations for the Mummer's Parade.  We agreed to go because the big crowd thing was not a problem, we had, after all, a place to retreat to if it got to be too much, and good company and free food were helping with our decision.

That said, we were in a perfect spot.  Oak Hill in Hagerstown is the street that all the bands and other assorted organizations line up to march.  Neighbors had their houses open and the feeling of community was wonderful.  We had the option of walking down just a block or two to see the full parade, but decided to stay where we were, simply because it was fun to see the nervous energy generated by the participants.  I had taken my camera and got some good shots of the 'behind-the-scenes'.

We were also astonished to hear that Hagerstown, MD hosts the biggest night time parade on the entire East coast with this event.  It was fun to see bands from Baltimore, Ellicot City, Hancock, Virginia and the local surrounding areas as well as Hagerstown's own.  I will only post a few images here, you can see a few more on my facebook page.   I also added some photographs to my website under the outdoors impressions album.


shiny brass

State Flags

someone is not paying attention:)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Shooting with animals

I thought I would take a bit of a detour and talk about shooting animals and how best to go about it.
Contrary to what you might think, I find it easier to work with cats than with dogs.  In the beginning I thought this might be the case because we have cats and I know how to treat them, but I grew up with dogs, so I really don't think that that is the reason why.

The only 'animal only' shots I have done have been of my cats because I can pull the camera out when they do something cute.  I have worked with some owners and their pets and think that this is the only way to go when the animal is not your own.  Here is why:

The owner will help calm the pet, he/she knows the pet well and can interact with it, this makes great photos.
I will attach some photos I got out of a cat/owner session and a dog/owner session.  The cat was herself, she likes to hiss and I caught it on film, a great shot.  The dog had just come home from the groomer, since the owner wanted her to look her best.  This turned out to be a bad idea.  The dog was very excited about seeing her owner after several hours away and would not sit still.  We got some cute shots, but nothing as special as with the cat.
If you own a well trained, older, calmer dog, the shoot will go well, as long as the owner is in the room with the pet.  Let's face it, that pet does not know you, and though an animal is the best judge of character, they do not warm up to strangers as quickly as humans do.  Some pets don't want strangers in their house and are reserved when they are in a different location.
Cats, as well, have different personalities and many hide when a stranger appears in their territory.  Take our youngest cat, Rascal, you will meet him shortly, he runs and hides when the doorbell rings, whereas our older female cat, Diamond, whom you will also meet shortly, comes and greets everyone who walks through our door.  She is my guide to whom I can trust; if she does not come up to a stranger, I better watch out:)
Rascal would never sit for a photographer other than me.  I would have to interact with him and be in the shots, to get anything worthwhile.  That is how little Rosie is, whom you will meet as well.  Remember the hissing picture I mentioned, that was her:)

So, do you want a great professional photograph of your pet?  If so, ask your photographer to stay in the room with your pet or if you may interact with your pet during the shoot.  You will get great photographs and your pet will act well for you.
Meet Rascal, the shy little loverboy:)
Here is Diamond, who loves boxes of all sizes...
Feeding her treats finally calmed our little poodle down
Here is the great little hissing moment
and shortly after a cuddle with mommy.  I would not have gotten any of those shots without the owner's interaction with her cat.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Photo shoots with little ones

Photo Shoots with little ones, i.e. pre-schoolers can be a lot of fun if both you the client, and your photographer are prepared.
From the perspective of the photographer:  When I meet with my clients I explain about how long the shoot will last and what the process will be.  The last time I had a shoot with little ones, it was a set of siblings, one 2 years old, one 4 years old.   They were precious.  Before I booked the appointment I asked the mom when nap-time was for both of them and we scheduled right after they would usually wake up.  This guaranteed rested children who would be more patient and had a smaller chance of being grumpy.
It is also important to have well fed children in your studio.

The above mentioned are little things that can have a big impact on how well the session will go.  In my last shoot I also explained that I would be using dress-up props and the mom prepared the children for that particular 'fun' aspect.  They came over excited and ready to play.  The session proofed to be a success.

As a photographer of little ones, it is also important to be ready for anything.  Tempers can flare, good moods can swing very quickly even if all of the above mentioned has been done; the key is to be patient.  I am also ready to end the session as soon as the children involved are tired.  I start as soon as the little ones are settled in and get the best shots in the time I have.  Sometimes I get a lot of them, sometimes there are fewer.   Some children, as some adults, do better in front of a camera, and those are the easy ones, but I never know how it will go.  Photographing children is rewarding, but a lot more stressful than photographing adults.
This little one reminded me a bit of Shirley Temple, it's the cherubic cheeks, I think:)

Little Tinkerbell, this was toward the end of the shoot.

Shot at the little one's home, always a good idea!

Monday, October 11, 2010

communicating with your photographer

It's been a couple of weeks since the last installment.  So here I go:
This week I will discuss the importance of communication with your photographer as far as clothing and colors you will be wearing to your shoot.
Many studios, especially the very commercially oriented ones, use grey, white, or blue-marbled backdrops for most of their shoots.  Given that these colors are neutrals, your choice of color that you will be wearing does not make a big difference.  If you book an appointment with a smaller, more detail oriented, and personalized studio, you should communicate with your photographer about the color choices you will be making in your wardrobe, so he or she can select the appropriate backdrop for your session.

Lighting is also heavily influenced by your color choices.  If you decide to wear black in particular, light will be absorbed and it would be a good idea to inform your photographer that you will be wearing it.  He/she will light you in a way that still shows your body against the backdrop.  Personally I love black clothing for dramatic effect, especially when I decide to go black and white.  Black satin shoots better than black cotton, velvet and fur in black is gorgeous when lit correctly.  White is also quite stunning, but as it reflects light, especially in satin, it is lit a bit more indirectly to show well.

If your session is to be held outside, choose solids rather than prints, as the natural background will lend the patterns in your pictures.  Since these discussions are related to personal portrait sessions, not editorials, large patterns should be avoided in any setting, as the photograph should be about you, not your clothing.

Here are a couple of samples to illustrate my point:
The model in this image is wearing a simple satin blouse, it enhances her skin tone without distracting from her lovely features.
As you see, the blouse has a slight pattern, but still works well with the natural setting behind the model.
In this image, the model is wearing a pattern, but since the setting is naturally simple and the pattern on the dress looks earthy, it works well for the mood that was created here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pre-Photo shoot Consultation

During the booking of a glamor shoot, your photographer will set up a time for a pre-shoot consultation.  This consultation has several purposes, but the main objective for you should be to explain what you want to see when you receive the proofs of your pictures.  You need to communicate your expectations very clearly, this will ensure that your photographer understands what it is you wish to accomplish and that the shoot will run smoothly for both of you.

For example:  You want to surprise your significant other with a glamorous photograph for your anniversary.  You should write a few things down and take them with you to the consultation.  Your photographer may have a check list as well, but it never hurts to be prepared.

a.  How sexy do you want to be?
b.  Lingerie or evening wear?
c.  All pictures in color or some in black and white?
d.  Is there a style you would like to copy or appropriate?
e.  Full body or head shots?
f.  Do you have certain poses in mind?

These are a few examples to draw from.  It would not hurt to ask some of these questions when booking a family session.  It is always better to go in prepared for the best possible pictures.

One of my clients who wanted a special picture for her husband for Christmas.
We discussed details and she was very happy with the outcome.
This shoot with a local rapper was set in an old industrial building, shot with just one light.  
We discussed the rugged setting and what he wanted to portray to his audience.  

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Clothing and colors

Whether you book a glamor or a business shoot, it is always best to choose jewel tones and expensive looking fabrics for your clothing.  Jewel tones need to compliment your skin tone and enhance your natural features.  Most people fall into two categories: cool and warm.  What does that mean?

*A person with cool undertones in their skin generally looks good in royal blue, apple red, deep purple, hunter green and pastels of the same category.  
*A person with warm undertones in their skin will look wonderful in bright yellow, orange, peach, turquoise and pastels in the same range.

Most brunettes have cool tones in their skin and many, but not all blond and black haired people have warm undertones.  If in doubt, drape yourself with a color you think will look good and observe what happens in the mirror.  If it is your color, your skin will look vibrant, if it is not, you will fade out.
A rule of thumb generally is, that if you feel good in a color, and I mean really good, then it is the right color for you.  Follow your instincts, listen to your inner voice.

You may ask: "what does she mean by expensive looking fabrics?"  This is rather simple.  It could be a simple cotton shirt, but make sure it's ironed, and of the thicker quality.  Linens, while not always inexpensive, will look slept in after just a short while on your body, so avoid linen for a shoot.  Never wear jersey, t-shirt, and sweatshirt fabrics, even the most slender person does not look good wearing these materials in a photograph of any sort.  In short, go for fabrics with body and garments tailored to have some structure.  The more put together and confident you  feel, the better the photograph will reflect who you are.

For glamor shoots, black often works really well, unless you look fantastic in white.  One might argue that neither black nor white are jewel tones, but one could also argue that they are.  Isn't onyx a jewel?  How about pearls?  In terms of clothing they both fall into the category of good choices and will work for most skin tones.
Below are a couple of examples to illustrate my point.

This hunter green gown and black background does wonders for the models skin.  
She does have blue undertones and brunette hair.

In this shot you can see how well the blue jacket works with the black hair of the model and how the white of the shirt enhances the skin tone.  The structure of the jacket enhances the models figure.

Neither one of these models would look good in yellows or oranges as both have cool undertones in their skin, even though one of them has a much lighter complexion.  This said, whether skin is tanned or not, it retains it's tonality.   The only color influenced by a tan is white since it needs a contrast to look good next to skin in a photograph.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Light and Make-up, how do they relate in a shoot?

Let's talk light and make-up:
In order to get a well lit shot in a portrait, lighting is important. Photography lighting is as powerful as stage lighting because even with the new cameras, we want to keep the ISO (film speed) as low as possible to get nice crisp images. No matter how a portrait is lit, whether the result will be dramatic or romantic and soft, lighting needs to be powerful. As a rule, light bounces off light surfaces and skin falls into that category when strong light is directed at it.

It is best to wear a heavier base, no matter how dark your skin tone is. Powder matts the skin and helps absorb some of the light, lending the skin a natural appearance on the photograph. it is said that eyes are the window to the soul and this is doubly true in a photograph. Never apply eye-makeup you would wear during the day. The smokey eye works best for glamor shots and for business shots go just a little less smokey. Cheeks should be accented to lend the face some angular planes. If the face in question has natural angularity, a little will go a long way. with a round or heart-shape face, it is important to accent the cheekbones.

The camera sees angles, light plays off them and creates a beautiful image. Accent your strong points in your face for the best shots. If in doubt about what to do, have your make-up done for the shoot and tell your make-up artist what you are after. This is something you should discuss with your photographer prior to the shoot so you are on the same page.

Below are two examples of good make-up for a glamor shot, both for color and black and white.

look at the eyes, they are expressive and the skin looks luminous, without make-up appropriate for lighting , she would look washed out.

the same holds true in this color photograph, her cheekbones are accentuated and her eyes sparkle.  both models have a smokey eye for best results.

Fort Frederick

Last weekend my hubby and I went to Fort Frederick in Big Pool MD. This is a fort that was built shortly before the French/Indian war and was used during that time. Later it became a prison camp during the revolution. Last weekend the fort welcomed re-enacters of the french/Indian war time period. A French officer camp, a canadian camp and vendors were set up and were very friendly. They told us about how they had hunted and cooked a wild turkey the night before and what projects they were working on. It was very hot that day, at least for Maryland, with temperatures in the upper 90's which made us grateful that we did not have to wear wool as the re-enacters did. It seemed that they were hot even if they were lucky enough to wear linen shirts.
The pictures I am adding to this blog are of the two encampments and the interior of the fort. I also shot a mock battle, but will post those images later with another blog. I have not edited them yet:) for additional photographs go to my website as I can not add them all here:)

Since my hubby and I had been to Gettysburg last, this was a nice shift in time and made you realize that some things really did not change that much in about 120 years:) The women's clothing was the most obvious change and the military garb of the day was more primitive in the day of the french/indian war as well. Camping and cooking, however did not seem to have made progress:)

Please peruse the photographs and let me know what you think:)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

selling photos

It is always interesting what people are drawn to and what sells. Recently I had a show in downtown Hagerstown and I also hung some work in an office space and as a result of the show and the display in the office space I sold some work. All three are still lives in some form as you can see below. They are quite different in character and the most abstract of the three actually attracted quite a bit of interest at the show. People see what they relate to. And as an artist I love to hear what it is you see, especially in my abstract work. Check these out and let me know what you think of either. I always love to hear opinions.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Event shooting tonight

I am shooting a fashion show tonight. The location is in a local Jazz club, so lighting will be nice and moody. I will take the tripod as the lights will probably be low. Thank God for the D700, It shoots great in a high ISO with little or no grain as long as I don't go over 3200 ISO. I am really curious about what I will get tonight and will share some of it in the next week or so. I don't do much event photography as I am not in control of lighting in that situation, but this is for the modeling agency I work with, so it's a nice extension of what I usually do for them.

On a side note: My show is up for 4 more days. I had a good mix of work in it and will post some of it soon to share in case you did not make it down to the show.
That's it for now, I am off to shoot the event. More later, including some pictures.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

new album on facebook

I played with old Hollywood style photography today. All the shots are black and white and have that George Hurrell flair.
I will add a couple of them here, but please check them out on my website:

and on Facebook:

I would love some feedback as I need to pick three out of them to add to my upcoming show.
Here are a few:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

model shoot

I recently worked on a model shoot and found it very inspiring. It is nice to work with models because they have a goal in mind that most consumers don't. They want to be hired. It creates a different atmosphere and is a lot of fun. Individuals come to me for personal or business shots and while that is fun as well, I don't have a make-up artist to help make the person look their best. In most cases that is fine, because most women know how to do their make-up and are happy with the outcome.

Working with the models was different. I had a make-up artist and they looked picture ready. He also fixed their hair and when something did not work for the shots, he rearranged until it worked. Nice experience! I get to work with the agency again this next Friday. I am curious to see who I have this time.

at the moment I am working on creating the comp card designs. Fun Stuff. I am attaching some shots from the last shoot.
the agency I am working with is Maia modeling and talent agency in hagerstown, MD. They also run a finishing school, including business manners and general finishing behavior for younger people. Very nice group to work with. If you are interested in the services they offer, give them a call at 443-865-3068.

That's all for today.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Winning Image

today I won best color in show with my photograph titled: "Check Mate"
It, along with 32 other photos, including 2 more of mine, will be on display until April 1, 2010 at the contemporary school of art on Franklin street in Downtown Hagerstown, MD.
Below are the photos. Check Mate, reflection, spiders and trees

Thursday, March 18, 2010

the Learning Curve

Since last summer when I started my business after graduating from Frostburg state, I have learned many things.

a. getting a business off the ground is harder and more involved than it seems.
b. traditional advertising does not work very well and is expensive.
c. social media is the way to go when advertising. (free and very effective)
d. For a photographer, nothing is better than word of mouth referrals.
e. Maryland is a demanding state to do business in.
f. living in city limits and doing business increases former demands.
g. being part of a networking group is great for business. (BNI is my choice, also the Chamber)

Currently I am developing a brochure to attract soon to be high school seniors to my studio.
Portraiture is fun and always will be, as long as I get to approach it my way:)

To see that style, go to

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Local Photography show

I have three photos in this show, the opening is Saturday , March 20 at the contemporary school of the Arts on Franklin street in hagerstown, MD, come join us.
here is the link to the event on facebook.

General Information

Hi All:
Wertman Photography here. You can find me on facebook, same name, twitter, wertmanphoto, and on my website:
I am new to blogging but will attempt to create an interesting forum about projects and my journey as a photographer.