How does a epic Hawaii Photo Workshop/Retreat sound?

Gahhh!  Today is the day! 

I am all fired up like Mauna Loa on Hawaii Island right now,  that I am announcing the official launch of our 2023 Hawaiian Workshop - “Build your Brand through Storytelling and Styling”! 

As dear friends, Virginia Chavez Smith, and Kim Winey will be co-hosting this one-of-a-kind photography workshop/retreat in Hilo, Hawaii, April 17 - 22, 2023.  This is an all-inclusive workshop- food, lodging, learning, & more.  It’s going to be epic!

I don’t want to reveal to much, the page has lots of details but if you want to create amazing portfolio images and understand how you can plan and create them yourselves, understanding the lighting both natural and off camera/studio lights, if you wonder what the profitable luxury alternative is to mini sessions and would like to come home with branding headshots and images that represent you for your website and social media then this workshop is for you.

Visit our workshop page to read all about this unique opportunity. We also have a workshop group on Facebook and you can find that on the workshop page.  There we’ll post about our plan details… workshop progress… vendor collaborations… etc… we’ll chat about our backgrounds, plus current projects, and we’ll give you some pre-workshop photo tips now and then, too! This private group will also be used to connect with you, hear your workshop dreams, and start forming friendships.  We encourage anyone who’s interested in this workshop to join us there!

7 tips for a better do-it-yourself Headshot

I was recently asked to coordinate headshots for a weeklong zoom class. The students were from 3 Hawaiian islands so there was no way to coordinate a headshot session. So I created these tips to help the students use their phones to take the best possible headshot. These are the tips I use in my professional headshot sessions. The students found it hard to remember all the tips so we had mixed results but everyone agreed that they were head and shoulders above what they would have taken on their own. So I am posting these same tips for anyone who has no time for a professional headshot (which is always preferable for the best results and a variety to choose from).
1. A headshot is just about the head and shoulders. So stand straight and RELAX! Breathe and shake off tension if you hate your picture taken. Keep your chin up but not to high or you look haughty. . People tend to tuck their chins in photos, creating an unflattering plethora of chins. The easiest way to fix it is to bring your forehead toward the camera.  From the side, it looks like they are doing a turtle stretch or E.T.imitation, but from the front it cleans up the neck and jawline. The trick is to get comfortable with the unnatural posture. But test it out and you’ll see it looks good if you get your camera at eye level.
2. The best place to take your headshot is under a porch or lanai in front of a plain wall in a neutral color. Don’t stand right against the wall, move forward about a foot or two in front of the wall. There should be even light on your face without any dark shadows or bright highlights. There will be light reflected in your eyes. This gives your headshot life!
3. RELAX and ease into getting your forehead forward and your chin up and out. If getting silly helps you to smile naturally, then go for it!
4. Take a few shots because you might blink. Don’t talk, just smile away thinking you are the biggest goober ever for the best shot. Someone you love is taking your picture! How easy is that?
5. If you have no plain background, stand under shade on the edge of shadow and light and make sure your background is farther away at least 10 feet. Make sure there are no tree trunks or branches growing out of your head. Look for light in your eyes, even on your face.
6. It’s so easy, a baby can do it! (see above) You can also face a large bright window with a plain wall behind you. Don’t forget, light in the eyes, even light on the skin, no dark shadows or bright highlights, RELAX! Focus on the person behind the camera.
7. The secret is a SIMPLE painted or blurred outdoor background that compliments your skin tone, EVEN LIGHT on the face, a forward-facing pose, a relaxed slight smile.
You’ve got this! But call me when you’re ready to go pro. It will make all the difference in the world. 

A Big Aloha to Better Headshots!


P.S. Branding images can be created with the same tips, you are just including a little more of yourself doing what you love, showing what you offer, demonstrating your services simply at your best!  But be sure and call me when you need a library of images that represent your business and tell the story of what you do, what you offer.  I also train you on how you can refresh your images on your website, in your social media and marketing.

Going back to the memories and moving forward.

Have you ever had a strong memory of a place and go back realizing that it’s sad to see things change?  When my daughter was 4 she only ate about 10 things and none of them was fruit or vegetables.  One day my daughter and I  tagged along for a visit to  the simple home of an orchard manager.  They were poor but the home was clean and the warm earthy smell of a pot of beans welcomed us.  The woman of the house invited us to sit at her table in the tiny kitchen and she peeled my daughter a freshly picked perfectly ripe  orange, cutting it into flower shaped slices.  I was worried that my daughter would refuse it with a grimace, not wanting to offend the kind offer.  I could hardly believe my eyes to see my daughter eating it with joy and asked for more!  Her happiness was infectious as was the sweet smell of oranges. 

 It was a wonderful memory and my daughter never forgot the little house where she discovered the wonders of freshly picked fruit.  When my daughter became a photographer, we went by and found the little house that was once filled with love and laughter had become an abandoned shack.  The screen door rattled and slammed open then shut in the wind.  There were shredded curtains, broken windows and old cabinets falling apart in the kitchen.  It made us sad but it was a lesson on memories and the reminder that you can’t always go back to what was.  

I have left this place and this town behind along with my previous business, Modern Vintage Photography.  As I create a new life on the Big Island of Hawaii, I am reminded that there are wonderful stories behind the best memories, this is why I am a photographer.  The stories behind the people and things I photograph will bring the best memories of who we are and where we have been.

Grateful for the memories,


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