Friday, January 30, 2009

special rate for USM students

Attention all USM Actors, Actresses, Musicians, and all other Performers looking to update their head shots for the spring!

I am offering a starting rate for USM students of $50 for a one hour studio sitting on the Gorham Campus.
This rate includes all retouching and a CD of all your favorite images from the shoot for your use on the web.
Photos are available in color, black & white, sepia, and any other color tones at no extra charge.
Professional quality prints are available at low prices.

Need something more? We can create a special package to suit your needs and make sure you get what you want.

Contact me today for more information or to book a sitting! To see more of my work visit me at

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A simple check-list to get you on your way to shooting models.

1. Practice with your camera on other things till you know it back to front.

2. Look at tons of photographs and figure out what you like and what you'd like to make. Talk to photographers whose work you admire, read tutorials, be a sponge and absorb as much as you can.

3. Find a simple model release - even if you're shooting your best friend in the whole world you'll need one and it can save you a lot of heartache in the end if you both agree IN WRITING as to what can be done with the photos. Be sure to show this release to your model before the shoot.

4. Shoot outdoors with a friend. Natural outdoor lighting is great to work in if you hit the golden hours (two hours before and right after sunrise, and two hours before sunset right up till sunset - or some approximation of those times, it depends on where you live, the time of year, and the weather).

5. Look up tutorials on how to retouch portraits, and try a bunch out to find a method that works best for you.

6. Develop a logical work flow and filing system, and always back-up your photos in two places.

7. Be timely about getting photographs back to your models. Nothing sucks more than collaborating on a project only to never get photos back. It's a bad habit to get into, and eventually it can ruin your reputation and make models not want to work with you.

8. Repeat steps 1-7 several times. My first seven shoots, which took place over the course of nearly a year, (not including all the times I took self-portraits) were of friends in a no-pressure situation. Four of them took place outside or indoors near windows to use natural light. Practice with friends till you feel good giving direction, experiment indoors with various lighting, and eventually you'll find your skill level, knowledge, and confidence photographing people will increase.

And don't forget the most important step of all... have fun! :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

new photos

I think I'm posting a bit out of order... I don't think I ever posted all the photos from my shoot with Hilary. These are from this past weekend in Biddeford.
I'll post Hilary's in the next entry!

model: Katie

model: Ben

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ten Commandments of Photography Websites

I encourage every photographer trying to market themselves to get their own web page. It's a great way to let prospective clients see your portfolio online without the distractions of advertisements and other people's work. It's also a good step towards "branding" yourself - for instance I've chosen to be known as "Stephanie Elizabeth" with my photography, so when I am online I am either that name or selizabeth, hence my website It's short, sweet, to the point, and most of all easy to remember and spell.

As much as a website can help you though, if done wrong it can hurt you just as much. Here are a few tips to keep you from straying into the path of cheesy, slow, annoying websites.

1) KISS - keep it simple, stupid. I could have had my website be but that is FAR too long for a web page name. I get tired of typing it halfway through. So keep your domain name short and easy to remember.

2) Music. If you set music to play on your web page you may as well send your clients to your Myspace to see if they'd like to book you. Music on web pages makes them slow and is annoying and distracting. The focus should be on your photos, not your musical taste. If you absolutely MUST have music on your page, do not make it play automatically. Opting in is always better than opting out.

3) Advertisements. I saw someone with advertisements on their website because they were too cheap to pay $5/month for Godaddy hosting, so they went with the free hosting that has advertisements. It looked cheap, tacky, and I didn't bother looking at any of their work.

4) Flash, animation, scripts, and other frills. There are lots of options out there for adding pretty bells and whistles to your page, but going back to #1, simple is best. Having a lot of animations means longer loads times, and for someone who is on a slow machine or connection they probably just won't bother. Again, the focus should be on your work, not what cool scripts you were able to find online.

5) Organization. When someone visits my page they go immediately to the "home" page and from there can go to any gallery they wish, along with my about me and copyright sections. I do not have any "nested" galleries - that is to say that when you click the Fashion and Glamor gallery, you'll be immediately brought to a gallery to view photos, not another screen to subdivide more. Try to categorize your work into a few broader groupings instead of tons of smaller nested galleries. The fewer clicks and loads a person has to go through the better chance they'll see and enjoy your work.

more website tips after the jump

6) Appropriate content. Be aware of what audience you are catering to and choose photos to showcase accordingly. I do a wide range of photography from nature to artistic nudes, however soon I plan on looking into school event, senior portrait, and wedding photography. To present myself the best I can I'll be replacing the "personal" gallery with my nudes with an "events" gallery instead. Domains are so cheap that you can always create another one to separate different types of artwork.

7) Text. Any worded areas of the site should be checked for grammar, spelling and punctuation. txt spk or tYpInG lYkE dIs is just flat out stupid and makes you look like a 5th grader. I also prefer to take a neutral tone when writing my bio (which you should include to let people know more about you); instead of saying "stephanie elizabeth is the best upcoming fashion and nature photographer in new england" my bio is more along the lines of "Stephanie is an up and coming photographer working out of the Southern and Mid-Coast Maine areas. She works in nature, fashion, and portraiture photography." It is positive while still staying modest and factual.

8) Optimize your photos. I upload my photos at a height of 440px saved as high quality jpegs. The size of your photos depends on how large they need to be to be effective, while keeping in mind how much space they take up on the page and how long they'll need to load. My galleries are small and are running on horizontal tables right now, but since they are growing I am now converting to flash galleries made in Adobe Lightroom 2.

9) Consistency. Pick a color scheme and style and stick with it throughout the entire website. The galleries should all be the same in coloring and how they work, so that viewers don't get confused trying to figure out a new gallery each time they look at a different section.

10) Viewable. Choosing limegreen text on top of a white background sucks. Try not to use absolute whites or absolute blacks over large areas. This tends to hurt eyes and can look bland and boring. My website is white but not a pure white - if you check out the color it's actually #f1f1f1 instead of a pure #ffffff. It makes the black/gray text stand out well without being overly harsh.

Hopefully the tips above can save your website from a crummy demise and help you build a great online portfolio. If you have any questions about anything on my site (the coding, why something is the way it is) feel free to comment here or email me.

Friday, January 2, 2009

scam watch

Since putting myself out there as a photographer and as a model I've been running into increasing numbers of scams and just general shady people. There's one in particular that I want to bring to light, so I'm writing this in hopes that in the future when people google search the "company" this entry will come up.

A month or so ago someone I know tipped me off to a listing on craigs list looking for fashion photographers in the portland area. I responded saying I was interested, and heard back from someone with the email telling me they liked my work and asking if I would be availbe that tuesday or wednesday. I emailed back say I should be, just need to know the location and time of the shoot. I googled the company "fpi4models" (fashion photography international 4 models) and got one hit back from a model wondering if they were for real, as well as their website.
So I went on their website... they're "efolio" is full of work that I'm quite sure is stolen. It's poorly laid out, the copyright notices on the images are partially cut-off, they have no contact info. To top it off the address at the bottom of the website says they're based in New York, but when I did a look-up for their domain it's registered to someone in North Carolina. WTF? domain information for
created: 26-Aug-2008
last-changed: 26-Aug-2008
registration-expiration: 26-Aug-2009



registrant-firstname: Clifton
registrant-lastname: Roberts
registrant-organization: Fashion Photography International
registrant-street1: 534 William Hooper Cir
registrant-pcode: 27278
registrant-state: NC
registrant-city: Hillsborough
registrant-ccode: US
registrant-phone: +1.9192593935

Basically this what I think happens. They find hotographers to "hire"... then they put out castings for models. The models reply to the castings and are told "we like your look but you need a better portfolio, here is a list of photographers to contact. Get a quote from them and we'll pay for half"
So the models are given a list of photographers to contact. Model pays anywhere from $100 to $1300 to "build their portfolio". Now, fpi4models is paying half this bill, but I think in reality they're just having that money funneled back into their pocket through the photographers that they rope into this. Then the model ends up with a shitty portfolio, and never hears from this place again.

I never heard back from them, but just tonight got an email from about some FABULOUS new way to make money with your photos. I googled and to my complete unsuprise their website has the same content as domain information for
Domain Name..........
Creation Date........ 2008-12-18
Registration Date.... 2008-12-18
Expiry Date.......... 2009-12-18
Organisation Name.... Lycos, Inc.
Organisation Address. 2421 Clay St SPC 23
Organisation Address.
Organisation Address. Sacramento
Organisation Address. 95815
Organisation Address. CA
Organisation Address. UNITED STATES

Admin Name........... Clifton Roberts
Admin Address........ 2421 Clay St SPC 23
Admin Address........
Admin Address........ Sacramento
Admin Address........ 95815
Admin Address........ CA
Admin Address........ UNITED STATES
Admin Email..........
Admin Phone.......... 347-767-3302
Admin Fax............ +1.7814667060

You'll notice that both websites are owned by a man named Clifton Roberts. He also appears to be connected to, a website which also produces hits on google of models wondering if it's a scam agency. Whois look-up of that website shows it's registered by someone named Murvin Headen, but is also located out of North Carolina.

So, if you're contacted by any of these agencies or see them listing castings, my advice would be to stay away! From the shadiness of this whole mess I'd say it's not worth your time.