Recent Favorites

2014 Favorites

At the end of every year, I like to reflect on the pictures I have produced and set goals to improve on my skills and knowledge.  I did not take as many pictures this year as in past years, only about 20,000 frames.  Also, I did more corporate work and generally I am not able to show those pictures publically.  While I did not take as many, I feel that my quality is better than in past years.  Below I discuss a few of them so you can understand my thinking about pictures.  I have also tried to have a few examples of different kinds of activity.  If you want to see the full selection, go here!

This is a simple headshot done in the studio.   


I like this picture because of its simplicity and the great smile of the client.  Beyond knowing how to make a camera and lighting work, my most important task is to help the client feel comfortable with me taking their picture.  Many people are nervous when they come and that is natural.


 I like this picture because the lighting is more dramatic,  Again it is very simply lit with a couple of lights, but the colors work well and the client has a nice relaxed smile.


I like this picture mostly for the great moment, one can feel the couple’s joy.  But also the details of the wedding dress are well preserved (important detail for memories) and the sunlight differently catching the soap bubbles yielding an array of colors.  


This picture is my collection of favorites because it is a ‘ family’ portrait with the bridal party done at a wedding in an unconventional way.  There are multiple layers  and despite the broad range of light, I was able to avoid losing detail in either the high lights or shadows.  The bride and groom are gazing into each others eyes and the family members are focused on them.  In some ways, I think this picture will become more important to the couple than a ‘first kiss’ picture over the years, as they remember some of the people who honored them on their wedding day.  


 This bride was a lot of fun and she had decided she wanted some formal bridal shots in the studio.  I have included this picture because I wish more brides would choose to have formal studio pictures done.  I did this a few days before the wedding and it adds a very classy feel to their wedding set.  In reality, once this moment has passed, it is gone forever so why not spend just a bit of time to capture the memory for future enjoyment.


I like the bride and groom exchanging looks as she climbs the stairs to be with him.  The full glory of her dress is shown and the curved railings create a converging line feel wrapping them together as a married couple.



In most of my portrait sessions, I attempt to get a variety of looks.  The top picture was for a senior picture for submission to his college, but did the bottom as well to create a sense of the power of our youth.  I cropped it tight to provide a sense of tension.


I always try to get a picture of the rings with the wedding invitation.  I have grown weary of laying the rings on the invitation to take a picture.  For this one, I decided to try to stand them up on the invitation.  I don’t think this will be feasible all the time, but I liked the symbolism:

1. The tension about what will happen to those rings, will they stay up, is symbolic of the natural pre-wedding jitters

2. The rings leaning and supporting each other is an important essence of the role people play in a good marriage

3. And finally the standing imagery is strong and forceful as if saying ‘we will be strong together; apart, fallen and weak.'


When I arrived at this location for the wedding, the phrase ‘Field of Dreams’ kept running around in my head.  I like the spacing of the individuals highlighting their individuality, but their walking out of the corn field together amplifies that they all have dreams.  Compositionally, I have followed the rule of 1/3’ and I love the combination of colors: white, blue, yellow, green and black.


A private moment shared by the bride and groom on their very busy wedding day.  I like the framing of them with the window and shutters as it enhances a sense of privacy.  Away from the bustle of the day, I wonder what they are saying to each other during this wonderful moment in time. 


Consistent with my comments about ring shots, I wanted to shoot some bridal party pictures that were different than from standard fare.  This garden provided some different and unique opportunities and my desire for this picture was to create a casual, ‘we're just hanging out feeling, but in great dresses and tuxes!'  The wind proved helpful as it blew the veil out just as I took the picture.  For me, this is a picture one can study for a while, looking at the expressions, how people are standing, pondering why some crazy photographer did not arrange them in a more tidy fashion, and finally what is behind that door.


 I like this picture for a number of reasons, but the most important is the sense of spontaneity, the imperfect placement of the subjects, the holding of hands as they walk along the path.  I think you can also see the different personalities of each child in their expressions.  Compositionally, the path forms nice leading lines pulling you into the picture and the subjects' faces are placed along the upper 1/3 line.


This family portrait picture was one of several in the session that included some with them all huddled together.  I choose to select this one as one of my 2014 favorites because it highlights the concept of coming together while each person still retains much of their individualism.  Also, you might ask how I got the youngest child to give me such a nice bold pose which in my mind visually binds all of the characters together.  That is a secret sauce recipe that may be revealed at some time in the future.


And my last, but not least, favorite picture of 2014 is this one.  I took this with my Sony alpha 7R (I will be writing a blog about this camera in the next few weeks) and it was a totally spontaneous moment between two people enjoying very important pastimes: snuggling, comforting and tasting wonderful freshly cooked chocolate chip cookies.  This image reminds me to be thankful for my lucky life and the wonderful people are fortunate to be safe and secure.  The serenity and quiet stands in such stark contrast to much of what is happening around us in the world.  

There are more pictures that are in my 2014 collection.  You can see them by going to my 2014 Favorites gallery.

Family Portrait Sessions-Part 2

Here is another recent example of a family portrait session.  Again, my goal to give the client a diverse set of pictures, some classical and some unique and different.  As I am shooting, I try to keep in my mind a simple idea:  Not only do I want people to enjoy the pictures today, but also I want the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, looking back in time, at these very same pictures to treasure them as they bring back to life a part of their history.


This picture was taken by my father about 1955-56 time frame at my grandmother’s farm home.  My three brothers, plus me, my mom, my grandmother, my uncle and his dog are in the picture.  As a classical portrait by today’s standards, it woud be judged as not very good.  BUT, the picture for me, looking back in time gives me a great deal of enjoyment.  

So to restate my simple concept.  When I take pictures today, I try to imagine how future generations might feel about the picture(s), while at the same time trying to create pictures that people will enjoy today.  They may or may not be the same thing.  I try to accomplish this idea in all family portrait sessions and the pictures below are an example of this effort. 

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So this is a nice classically posed family portrait, well balanced, nice triangles formed by the people, even spacing, and great smiles.


This picture is a non-classical kind of pose, a bit less than perfect (ideally the baby should have been over to the right about 2-3 feet), but despite the imperfection, one can study it for some time, wondering about the story of these people.  It has also been converted to black and white to provide for a more timeless feeling to the image. 

Also within the concept of my family portrait sessions, I like to capture more than just pictures of the group of people.  Below are individual pictures of each of the children so by the end of the session, the client will receive a very rich set of pictures, some more classical in nature and some that are unique and different.

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I find that my most successful sessions have the following features:

1. The client(s) is relaxed and wanting to enjoy the photography session experience.

2. The client(s) are willing to participate in the creative process and make their interests and desires clear. 

3. The session develops into a spontaneous interaction between myself and the client(s), sometimes using unique assets, like the phone playing music in the above picture.

4. Good weather and lighting also helps!

Family Portrait Sessions-Part 1

During family portrait sessions, I like to provide a collection of pictures that span the range from classic kinds of family portraits to something unique and different.  Many times the unique and different adds a lot of character to the set of pictures the client receives.  


This is a classically posed family portrait.  There is a clustering together, a nice triangular positioning of faces and convergence lines in the path/bushes behind them.  


This is a non-classical kind of family portrait and it clearly provides for a different feel to the picture above.  I like it because the people in the picture are free to express their individuality and my eye needs to study the picture to appreciate it.  It is imperfect and that makes it interesting.


This image is more of a classical kind of portrait, but with a fun twist of a bit of old fashion black and white.  

I find that my most successful sessions have the following features:

1. The client(s) is relaxed and wanting to enjoy the photography session experience.

2. The client(s) are willing to participate in the creative process and make their interests and desires clear. 

3. The session develops into a spontaneous interaction between myself and the client(s).

4. Good weather and lighting also helps!

A couple of recent favorites

The best camera in the world is the one you have with you when you want to take a picture.  

In this posting I will show a couple of pictures that are my recent favorites.  The first is three brothers who got together for a lunch at a local restaurant. They don’t get together very often so this was a unique opportunity to get a nice picture of them.  


The lighting was terrible, but fortunately I happened to have my D800/24-70 f 2.8 lens with a SB900 strobe with me.  I set my camera to about 1/2 stop below ideal exposure at an ISO of 1600, f3.5, 1/100 seconds and bounced my strobe at 0EV over my left shoulder using TTL.   The picture was processed through Aperture, Photoshop C6 and Perfect Photo Suite 8.

I like this picture for many reasons, but the two most important is the image quality is very clear and there is a lot of story telling in the picture.  The emblem above the middle person is a Q standing for Q’s restraurant and the sign just to the left says Hillside Rocks and you can see autumn baskets and pumpkin on the shelves so this suggests the pictures was taken in the fall.  Also the emblem on two of the shirts says “First Marine Div, Chicago Chapter, U.S.M.C

The next two pictures are from a recent fun wedding on a farm.  I like these two pictures because they highlight the requirement on the photographer to capture not only the broad/expansive pictures but also the exquisite detail that has gone into the planning of a wedding.  


Nothing like shooting 15 guys walking up a country road to the wedding to drive home the importance of knowing your camera and getting the shot.  This opportunity probably lasted less than 10 seconds or so.  Had to get it right the first time!


I have talked about the advantage of a second photographer for weddings, mostly within the context of getting two different perspectives of events simultaneously.  In the picture above and below are examples of the advantage of a second photographer to simply enrich the photographic record of your day.  In the picture above, I took advantage of the flower decorations on the fence to highlight the beauty of their rings.  The lighting for this was created by using my SB900 on my camera as a master with a slave SB900 immediately above the rings, giving a nice sparkle.  One advantage of a good second photographer is they can devote a couple of minutes on getting these kinds of pictures while the first photographer can focus on the bride and groom. 


This is another recent favorite picture.   The bridal party was waiting for the first photographer to set up when I turned to take this picture.  I like it because of the very relaxed feel of the subjects and the dimensionality.  This was a very brief opportunity created by a brief break in the shooting by the first photographer.  


‘The Doctor’- Accepted into the General Collection at International Photographic Competition - 2014

The Doctor

I am very excited.  This was my first time to submit images to the Professional Photographer Association International Photographic Competition and one was accepted to the General Collection.  Judging is very rigorous and based on the 12 Elements of a Merit Image.

Formal Bridal Sessions

Last year, I had a wedding client request a formal studio bridal portrait session.  This was a very unique request, but the outcome was quite successful.

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I decided that I would offer bridal sessions to clients this year and my clients are very happy with the opportunity.  In reality, it is a once in a life time opportunity to get great classic pictures of the bride in her dress without the intense stress of the wedding day.   Below are a couple of pictures from a recent bridal session.

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International Photographic Open Competition

These are my four planned submissions for the 2014 Professional Photographic Open Competition.  Tell me what you think.  See them larger here

Best Friends

Best Friends



The Doctor

The Doctor

Mother Earth Blessing

Mother Earth Blessing

Model Headshots

Nothing very fancy, but pretty pictures of a fun client.  Just a couple of nice headshots of sisters who want to submit to a modeling agency.  If you want to see more model pictures, click here



On Location Family Portraits

On site family portraits are a fun challenge.  Sometimes I scout a location out prior to the session (recommended), but many times that is not possible.  To help you plan better for a location portrait, there are three general areas I start examining as soon as I arrive: light, backgrounds, and posing areas.  Backgrounds and posing areas are perhaps the most critical.  I want the backgrounds to tell something about who I am photographing and be structured in such a way as to not have distracting elements.  I want the posing area to allow me to create an interesting flow in the picture so as to avoid the 'soldiers lined up in a straight line look'.  In someways lighting is the least important, because with good strobes, I can modify the existing light fairly easily. 

Here are a couple of pictures from a recent session on location.  During the session, I am always looking for a few spontaneous shots as well to enrich the collection of pictures the client receives, such as the last picture in this series.

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Professional Business Portraits

It is very important that when you post a picture of yourself on the internet as part of your business activities, the picture needs to be the best possible.  This forms a very important link to your future clients/customers.  A bad picture will turn off customers, a good picture will bring them in.  So when it comes to those business portraits, hire a professional.

We do either studio or location based sessions.  For location based sessions, we can bring a backdrop or do a portrait in your natural environment (environmetal portraits).   Our portraits sessions include the following:

1. Photography time

2. An online password protected gallery for you to review the pictures and if the session is shot in the studio, then you can see the pictures as they are taken.

3. Between 5-10 retouched pictures.  This includes blemish removal, errand hair removal and etc)

4. You get all the pictures from the session on disk and a license to use the pictures for all personal/business purposes.

Typically turn around time for digital proofs of retouched pictures is 24-48 hours.  These can be used immediately.

Pricing begins at $250.  Visit our business portrait gallery to see examples of both studio and location based pictures.

Below you can see two recent studio portraits.

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A© 2011-2018 by Steven Seelig, Chicago Photographer                          630-561-6581