Here it is, my best images of 2013. I started picking my favorite images of the year last year and really loved looking back. I not only love looking back at what I shot during the current year, but also each past year to see how I have changed and progressed with the art of photography.
As in the past, I have picked out images this year that may not necessary be the most awe inspiring images, but images that may have some personal meaning behind them. That is why with each photo below I also have a little bit about what is behind the image so that you all know why these images made the cut as my personal favs of 2013. Enjoy.
1. “Vacancy” was not actually shot in 2013, but it was chosen to be on the cover of PPA’s Professional Photographer magazine in July of 2013. Being on the cover of Professional Photographer is a great honor. They also featured several of my images inside along with a great story about me and my style of photography. You can check out the full story here. This was one of my favorite images of all time and still is to this day. I love the vulnerable feel and emotion that Jaci is giving in the image.
2. For “Off The Wall” I had a more complicated idea of how I was going to shoot Twig and composite her into a scene for competition. I got a bunch of shots for my composite idea. Right at the end of the shoot I told her to just do something, she came up with this pose and I loved it. I grabbed a few shots and worked it up for competition the day it was due to send into PPA. With this image I ended up winning several awards at the WPPA state convention, including 2013 Wisconsin Photographer of the Year for the second year in a row. This image also went on to going Loan for the National Convention and earning me Sliver Photographer of the Year. Click here to see the other winning images.
3. This is an image I created for Bri, one of my senior models for 2013. Bri has a love for dance and she wanted me to create something for her that was artistic and showed her leaping ability. She came in with this really cool American flag scarf and I this image in my head. We only had a few minutes to get the shot before Bri had to leave. I think I took around 10 shots and I knew I had what I needed. I shot Bri on a green screen and composted the rest of the scene in photoshop. Both Bri and her mother loved the final image.
4. If you saw my best of 2012, this next image my look familiar. I created this image for one of my seniors Avital. She saw what I did last year with the red dress and wanted something of her with her purple dress. No problem since I created one similar last year, I know what things I needed to improve upon. I feel this one turned out even better then last year. Avital and her mother agreed, they ordered a 30×40 metal print that was super amazing!!
5. Here is another shot of my friend Twig. Not only is Twig a fabulous model, she also is a talented clothing designer and this is one of her killer steampunk inspired designs. It was a cold day in March for this shoot, but I love how this shot turned out. This image and others from that day were also published in Cloud Orchid magazine as well as Dark Beauty magazine. You can check them out here. This image was also featured in a several month exhibit at the Appleton History Museum.
6. I love photographing dancers for their beautiful grace and awesome leaping ability. With this shot of Brooke I asked her to do a leap with some fabric I had. She nailed the leap and I caught the fabric just right. I created this shot while teaching at a photography school called MAIPP in front of about 25 students. No pressure, lol.
7. “Hott Mess” was another image that helped me helped me win Wisconsin Photographer of the Year. I shot this image in an old boiler, over 100 years old. It was full of rusty love and after I enhanced the rust and color in Lightroom and Photoshop, I feel in love with all the contrasting designs and the color tones.
8. Dark and Creepy? Maybe, but I love this shot I created showing some fellow photographers my photography techinques while I visited them in Chicago. I started out pretty basic with posing and lighting, but then I saw this skull in the photographers prop area. I had to work it into my shot. I love mixing beauty with something strange or grungy to add interest and some storytelling to my images.
9. I created this image after spending a week as a student instead of a teacher. Since I spent so much time teaching other photographers in the past few years, I decided to take on some learning for myself. I had one clear person that I wanted to study with, my friend Richard Sturdevant. I created this image from several other images with techniques I learned from both Richard and some from things I had taught myself. It was the first major composite that I had created using several layers and other images to create the whole scene. I am loving this technique and can’t wait to create more of these complex composites in the future.
10. I don’t shoot many weddings anymore, but I loved this image from Ashley and Jon’s wedding. They were a dream to photograph and I love how this image turned out. The clouds were so dramatic and I just asked Jon to bend Ashley over for a kiss. I used my wide angle lens to to get as much of the sky as possible and shot using an Alien Bee to expose the couple and still capture the dramatic sky.
11. This image features another one of Twigs designs. I shot this at a Colour Law event called Not in Kansas. The event was a cross between Steampunk and The Wizard of Oz. The model Kari Jo was playing the part of the Wicked Witch. The antlers that Twig used in the creation of this outfit were supplied by my brother which made this shot even more personal. I gave up hunting several years ago, but when Twig was looking for some deer antlers for an idea she had I told her I could get some for her. I didn’t think my brother would give up his antlers so easy but to my surprise he did! Of course it’s not a ten pointer my any means.
12. This shot of Lauren turned out so amazing, it just sings to me. Lauren was a dream to photograph for her senior pictures. She is also a very talented dancer, so when I asked her just to twirl her dress it resulted in this beautiful image.
13. Another senior shot that I love from this year. This shot for Maria’s senior session I created in my studio and then added the several overlays of purple bokeh lights to develop a look that had the feel of her being on stage. I like to include a high school seniors interest into their shoots, something that really tells their story artistically instead of just the normal senior portrait.
14. Fields, fields and more fields this summer. Since I moved into my new studio last year, I have had the luxury of being surrounded by many fields within a short drive from my studio. I found this field of wild flowers just up the road from my studio and the owner was kind enough of allow my to shoot there. I love how this image of Jamie turned out with her red dress and the setting sun with her surrounded by wildflowers.
15. Creating Artistic Montages for seniors are one of my favorite things to do. This montage had a little added pressure since it was of Leah, a photographers daughter who came to me from the western side of WI. She drove over three hours just for me to do her senior pictures, what an honor! I love how this one turned out. Her mother and father loved it as well, they said that I truly captured their daughter from her soft and beautiful side, to her fierce competitive spirit as an athlete. They ordered a 20×30 metallic canvas and it looks like a painting!
16. Sometimes you just get lucky with the sky like I did here while shooting Jaida’s senior pictures. While the sky is stunning, the real reason I choose this image is because Jaida wanted me to include one of her vintage cameras for her session. She is also wearing a dress that her grandmother, who passed away, gave her when Jaida was only 11. Of course the dress didn’t fit Jaida when she was 11, but she wanted to incorporate the dress into her senior session as a tribute to her late grandmother. I love when seniors trust me to incorporate special, meaningful things into their sessions.
17. I photographed Mckenzie years ago for her senior pictures. I also sort of got her interested in modeling after she came back and modeled for a workshop I was doing for the WPPA. Since then she has been doing modeling and also appeared in a few local commercials and ads since signing with First Choice Talent agency. She wanted to do something sort of crazy to add to her portfolio. I had this vintage dress that I thought would be cool for an idea I had. We ventured out to one of my favorite spots and I found this tree with red berries that worked perfect to frame her face for this shot. I also found some little white flowers, so I made her a headdress to go along with the look I was after.
18. All of my senior models get a free mini session where we just go and play with any type of idea. They are usually not related to a senior type of session, we do the normal senior session in the summer. We were lucky to have nice weather for Carli’s mini session and she wanted to incorporate her Dad’s 1957 Chevy. Of course I game for that! After knowing the concept I suggested to Carli to go all out and dress sort of 50’s retro to match the era of her Dad’s vintage car. She picked out the perfect dress, shoes and necklace. My hair and makeup artist gave her a retro look and I added a flower that I picked up on a trip to Hawaii for the final touches.
19. Here is another one of my senior models, Emily. I found this really beautiful field of flowers just off the highway and I decided that with Emily’s outfit she would look perfect there. We drove to the location and started to walk into the flowers to get to the area with the best light. About halfway there I noticed my legs were sort of tingling. I stopped and asked my assistant and Emily if they were experiencing the same thing since we all were wearing shorts. They both said yes, so I pulled out my iPhone and did a search. The first thing that popped up with a photo of stinging nettle. Sure enough we were surrounded by the stuff. I went on to read what the effects were and while they sting and burn a bit, stinging nettle is really sort of harmless. I said, heck we are here do you still want to shoot? Emily said sure, no problem. So we got a few shots and this was one of my favs. BTW if you look in the lover left hand corner of the shot you will see what stinging nettle looks like. Now that I know, I am trying to avoid it when I can.
20. This year I really wanted to create some cool posters for area teams featuring the seniors only as a cool way to highlight their final year in a sport. This image was my first attempt at creating a themed style image from several images. We decided to go with a rock theme since one of the De Pere Dance Team’s routines was to a Metallica song. I borrowed various instruments and had each girl to a leap with them. I then composted them into a rock stage I created using about 6-7 images. It was a lot of fun to work with the girls and create something like this for them. I plan on doing more of this type of art in the future.
21. I was hired by Scotty Smith of House of Speed and Synergy Fields of Green Bay to create some marketing images for his faculties. He called in one of his training clients, Olympic Bronze Medalist Lauren Sesselmann for the shoot. Lauren was great to work with and I love how this shot turned out. I shot all of the images right in Synergy Fields and all of the fog was also done right in camera.
22. After I released my image of the DePere Dance Team, I had several other teams contact me for a shoot with their team. I love how this image for the Preble Girls Basketball Team turned out. They game me the phrase they wanted to use for the year and from that I came up with having them all on a aircraft carrier. I shot the girls in groups of 3-4 and then composted them together into the aircraft carrier image that I created using a few different images to get the look and feel I wanted.
23. This “Walking Dead” inspired shot was taken during a live class that I taught with fellow photographers Jon Allyn, Dan Rowe and Richard Sturdevant at After Dark Education. After Dark (AD) was a great learning environment and I was honored to be a mentor for them for 12 shows. I helped with the zombie makeup which was also a ton of fun! For this shoot we had several fog machines and dry ice rolling for the shot. We also had our cameras hooked up to a large projector so that the attendees of about 150 could see our images live as we were shooting them. Richard was up first and took a few shots. I was pretty nervous as I wasn’t sure what type of composition I was going to do. Before I knew it, Richard handed me his camera and said shoot. I sort of freaked as he gave me his Nikon and I am a Canon shooter. He really didn’t give me time to get my camera. So I asked if he had a wide angle lens. I put it on and got close to the zombie and fired off two shots. As they appeared on the large screen the audience applauded, so I figured I was good to go and here is that image.
Well that is it, I hope you enjoyed the images and the stories behind the images that you don’t always know. I enjoyed working with many new clients this year and especially appreciate the past clients who have been loyal to me. I have a ton of new ideas for the future and I look forward to shooting and creating in 2014.