birthday

Cute Little 2-Year-Old Twins

I had the joy of photographing these cute little 2-year old twins for their birthday portraits. They were so fun and expressive, that they had me laughing the entire time.

Before shooting outside, we started off in the studio on a clean white, to show off their fun, colorful, number-2 shirts. I have things that I do to get little kids to relax and open up with me, giving me great expressions. Right from the beginning, this little boy opened up and saw me as his buddy. But the little girl was a bit more apprehensive. She brought her favorite monkey, and held on to him for the first part of the shoot and started off with some cute scowls.

Before long though, they were both doing great and we got some wonderful smiles from both of them.

One of the games I play is to “get their toes.” In this photo, she’s poking her feet out to show me her toes because she wants me to get them again. It’s a good sign and shows she’s happy, open, and having a good time.

Then a change of clothes and a wonderful, somber expression from both of them. I love these outfits, and love how each one is standing. Their body language is perfect.

But then their moods swapped. She was happy and open, but he started to crash and cry. For comfort, he’s holding a toy car in one hand, and food in the other. And this little girl is calm with her monkey.

And then back to some fun expressions out of both of them again.

But when he started to lose it again, calling his aunt on the phone helped him settle down. And I love her expression, watching her brother.

Sitting down in the chair, she comforts him with an arm around him.

Using these favorites from the studio white, I designed up this 9-up portrait collage, ready for the wall in their home. It’ll be finished and framed, setting these images off.

Then stepping outside into my studio gardens for a change of scenery, we got this wonderful little kiss! They’re each turned perfectly so you can see both of them, neither one covering up the other. And I love their bare feet.

We also did some individual portraits of each of them. Here, she poses against a tree with her head cocked as the wind blows her dress.

And he stands in a nice, squared-off masculine pose, watching what I’m doing, a little worried and ready to be done.

These three images worked really well in this wall trio design.

Little kids grow so fast, and memories seem to be as fleeting as time. I love being able to create wonderful heirloom portraits like these, and I hope their family loves these, and that these adorable children will love them too when their older and can look back on their 2nd birthday together.

I love how these turned out and had a wonderful time with these two beautiful kids.

Summer is leaving us and the window for outdoor portraits is closing. Now is a great time to bring your family or children in for some family portraits. Right here I can do indoor studio and outdoor portraits in the same place, or I can travel to special locations too. Give me a call at 801-728-3317, and let’s create something beautiful for you and your home.

And until next time, America.

The Story Behind My Birthday Portrait, And Our Love/Hate Relationship With Photos

I just had a birthday and like all of us, it reminds me that I’m getting older, I look different – and that’s usually reason enough for people to not get new portraits. In fact photographers don’t like being in front of the camera any more than anyone else. Everyone has the same excuses to put off professional photos: it feels vain, I’ll do it later, I’m getting older, I don’t have time…

No One Likes Being In Front of the Camera

Being a photographer for so many years, I’ve found that actually no one likes being in front of the camera. My clients constantly tell me how much they worry about their upcoming shoots, moms put off family shoots because they worry about how they look, high school seniors fear their shyness or other weaknesses might show, beautiful models are more critical of themselves that you can even imagine, and even famous VIP clients confide in me about their various concerns.

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My biggest job as a photographer is to help my clients feel comfortable and to bring out their real emotion in a portrait. I don’t want fake looks, I want real expression that I can light in an exquisite way. That’s why I say my specialty is exquisite lighting and emotion – you need both for a fantastic portrait. And because I believe that my clients should get regular portraits, I too try to create regular professional portraits of myself. I personally use these for my website, for magazine articles I write, and for when I go speak at conventions to train photographers. Sure I could do what a lot of people do and send a 10-year-old photo, but I really dislike when I see others do that. It looks unprofessional and is says that you’re embarrassed with yourself now and that you deep down really wished that you looked like you did back then.

That’s unhealthy. We should be happy with ourselves right now. But we’re bombarded with ads, creams, and magic serums telling us that we shouldn’t be happy with ourselves. The old hippie mantra was, “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” as if to say that our elders are stupid, life experience made you wrong, and that youth was the answer. And decades later the media is full of pop musicians, models, tv shows, and movies all staking a claim on “youth.”

So what’s wrong with being the age we are? What’s wrong with lines and wrinkles that we earned? What’s with Hollywood actors always pretending to be characters 15 years younger than they are, like 40 year olds saying they’re 25, or 30 year olds pretending to be high school teens with silly haircuts?

The truth is that in a few years we’ll look back to how we look now and think how great we looked, meaning we should enjoy how we look now.

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Our Ancestors Valued Portraits

It wasn’t too long ago when our ancestors would scrimp and save to get one or two great professional portraits in a lifetime. These would be professionally printed physical heirlooms that would be passed down through generations and people would fight over who got to inherit great-grandpa’s portrait. Even today we run into burning buildings to save important photos and family archives.

But lately we’ve moved into an era of digital-snapshot-proliferation, where every device is a camera, no image is very good, few images are printed well if even printed at all, and we’re overwhelmed online with bad, egocentric selfies – often from the exact same angle and with the same annoying cocked-head and unattractive pouty duck-face. All this makes people worry that a professional portrait means that “we’re in love with ourselves,” which isn’t true at all.

Plus add all the new untrained photographers flooding our feeds with sub-par, over-retouched, washed out, puffy-eyed, “natural-light” photos that are to some young people becoming the new norm – just like the awful sound of Auto-Tune in trendy pop music which is indicative of bad signing.

I care about this industry. And despite the devaluation of photos is some areas, I still believe in the actual importance of a good, well-made professional portrait, and that it’s good for the soul.

A Good Professional Portrait IS Good for the Soul

What Are We Passing on to Our Children? How many times do we wish we had a better portrait of someone that we loved but lost? Maybe it was a relative that passed away or maybe it was someone we cared about that is no longer in our lives. When we get portraits done, it’s often for our closest loved ones.

But a great portrait isn’t just valuable later and to other people, it’s good for us right now. A good portrait that is well lit and masterfully retouched and void of all the artificial rubbery-skin looks, is good for the soul. It’s good for your own self-worth.

Testimonials From Mothers and Single Women

I could share countless stories from mothers who’ve told me that the portraits I did for their high school senior child changed how they felt about themselves. Girls walked taller and boys found more confidence because I portrayed them in ways they couldn’t see before in themselves. I can tell you stories of older women that have gotten married and thanked me for the attention they got on Facebook and dating sites.

I’ve photographed children in foster care who avoided eye contact and smiling, kids sometimes with severe issues of self-worth that have never had a good portrait of themselves, that later get soggy eyes when they see their finished, framed image on display. You can see the gears turning in their head as they come to terms with the fact that they are perceived differently than they see themselves internally, and they’ll say, “That’s me?! …….That’s Me!!”

And moms have given me big hugs after I hung their family wall portraits in their home, because they are so stunned at how great they look surrounded by their closest loved ones. It’s a big change from before the shoot when they are stressed about their hips, their clothes and countless other things.

A well-made portrait is good for the soul. Why? Think of the all-to-common alternative. How do you feel about yourself when your so-called “professional” picture is only deemed viewable by the public after your “photographer” has over-retouched you until you have a plastic, pore-less, rubber face? Or when they whiten your eyes so that you look like a weird alien that is going to shoot lasers out of your eyes and start fires, or when they “liquify” and bend your body to change your boobs or arm shape? What does that say about you? How do you feel when you look at it, knowing that it isn’t you at all?

Come in to my studio and get a real professional portrait that you absolutely love. I’m a Master Photographer and use specific lighting techniques that will accentuate the right things and hide the things you worry about. You’ll be amazed at how great you look before I do any retouching. I want you to have regular portraits from throughout your life that you love, and that your future children and grandchildren will fight over when we’re all dead and gone.

My 2015 Birthday Portrait

And because I believe so strongly in portraits, I make myself get portraits regularly. It’s not always fun at first, but I’m always grateful afterwards.

So this last week I set up my studio for the lighting I envisioned. Being an older guy I wanted an aggressive angle that would accentuate wrinkles and skin texture, not hide it. And being fall outside, I shot myself in the clothes I happen to be wearing, including my Black Rapid snow cap (a gift from the owner of Black Rapid from earlier in the year). I was wearing the cap just prior and opted to just leave it on because I thought it was different than my past photos, and I was also being lazy, knowing that I didn’t want to comb my hair or overthink the shoot too much.

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I shot about a dozen images because I can’t see exactly how the light is working when I’m not behind the camera, I have to imagine it. So I shot a few more than I thought I’d need and from those I narrowed it down to these two as my favorites. I think they’ll work well with my new website that I’m working on, but more than that I’m really happy with the photos and am excited to use them, as we all should be with professional photos.

So if you’re in need of some great new portraits (and I know you are) either of yourself or your family, let’s get them done now for Christmas, and beat the Christmas rush. Call me at 801-728-3317.

And until next time, America.

Official Birthday Photo

Today’s my birthday, and I’m spending the day with friends cramming in the fun, including shooting guns in the canyon and eating out.

As I was making my party invite on Facebook, I realized I needed an awesome photo. I had the thought of making a satirical cover image typical of 80’s style action novels and movie posters. I thought about it in my mind and quickly whipped up this image and had it posted on the invite.

And because I want more people to see it than those few friends on the invite, I’m posting it to my blog today. I hope you get as much of a kick out of it as I had making it.

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And because the resolution of the web is low, here’s a vertical crop so you can see more detail.Cox_BCox41Bday-135b-composite-2-900b

Well, I hope you all are having a great day today too. And until next time, America.

The Value of a Portrait, My Birthday Self Portrait

I just had a birthday and because it was a big monumental birthday, I thought it was a good time to create a new updated portrait.

As a photographer I believe strongly in portraits, particularly of the value they give us in years to come. Of everything we can spend money on, very few things have as much value in the future as well-made professional portraits.

I have made a living my entire life, creating and selling portraits to people, which is kind of an odd way to make a living considering that no one likes getting their picture taken, including me.

However I feel strongly that everyone should have a great portrait of themselves that they like, and it shouldn’t be one from 10 years ago either. But sometimes we as photographers put off getting our own portraits done for the same reasons our clients put it off: it feels vain, I’ll do it later, I’m getting older, I don’t have time, etc.

It wasn’t too long ago when our relatives would scrimp and save to get one or two great portraits in a lifetime. These would be heirlooms that would be passed down through generations. Now we live in an age of digital snapshot proliferation, where every device is a camera, and no image is very good – but at least we have a lot of them. Add to that the fact that everyone and their neighbor decided they too are a photographer because it’s seemingly the easiest job in the world, flooding us with tons of sub-par images shined up with plastic effects. And social media has led to the constant posting of iPhone selfless at the gym, in the mirror, duck-faced-driving selfless, and on and on. All of this devaluing the actual importance of a good, well-made professional portrait. What are we passing on to our children?

How many times do we wish we had a better portrait of someone that we loved but lost? Maybe it was a relative that passed away or maybe it was someone we cared about that is no longer in our lives.

But aside from the value of a portrait that comes later, what about the value right now to us? I think a good portrait, that is well taken and doesn’t have all the artificial retouching, is good for the soul. Why? Think of the all-to-common alternative. How do you feel about yourself when your so-called “professional” photograph is only deemed okay by the photographer after they have over-retouched everyone until they have plastic, rubber faces? What does that say about you? How do you feel when you look at it, knowing that in real life, you don’t look like that?

What’s wrong with being the age we are? What’s wrong with wrinkles that we earned through life experiences? What’s the obsession with youth, where every TV show and movie has 30 and 40 year old actors playing 20-something characters, and 20 and 30 year old actors playing teens?

Why not get a real photograph, that uses Master lighting techniques so that you look great and feel great about yourself right now, as you are, without the amateur, rubber-skin retouching? In 5, 10, and 20 years into the future, what images of yourself are you going to look back on and still love? What images are your children and grandchildren going to want copies of?

This is why, even though I too don’t like getting my picture taken, I set up my studio for a portrait. For my 40th birthday, I wanted a new portrait that said I was happy to be 40, that I own these lines and wrinkles. So I set up my studio for a black & white self portrait, fired with a remote, and used a specific and aggressive lighting style that would create the gritty look that I wanted.

I finished it with some toning and an edge, and here is the result.

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Until next time, America.