Category Archives: Sourcelight Buzz

JUMP(ing) for Joy in the Outdoor Portrait

Back in late June this year we had the kind of enjoyable experience that photography has become lately–working with great collaborators to create photographic images for our own satisfaction. This time the partners-in-artiness were a couple visiting from Las Vegas, Cassee and Keith Olson.

With the children mostly raised and career well established, Cassee has recently started a new adventure in modeling, and Keith, a photography fan himself, has taken on the challenge of supporting her and helping to expand her marketing reach. In an unusual bit of good fortune, they both work for Southwest Airlines, and are able to fly standby for free to anywhere SW has a presence, including Boise.

Cassee and I had met on One Model Place, one of several model/photographer networking sites I subscribe to and where we found each other’s contact profiles. She needed professional-quality photos for her own portfolio, and since most of my portrait business in these days of cell-phone selfies is in the glamour-and-boudoir genre with clients who are typically between the ages of 30 and 50, I’m always looking for attractive models who don’t fit the standard 18-20 year-old demographic. Cassee said she wanted something different than Las Vegas’s “desert brown” background, a “different venue, mountains with green trees perhaps?” Since Les Bois translates, literally, to “the woods” and we sit comfortably ensconced in a lush, river-divided valley between a local mountain range on the north edge of town and the Owyhee Mountains to the south, we decided we were a perfect fit. She and Keith arrived on the evening of the 19th, and we started early the next morning with some basics.

Outdoor portraiture, however, is anything but “basic.” Getting it right, particularly the lighting, is such a complex process that we actually offer a complete workshop in our Mastery Series called “Mastering Outdoor Portrait Lighting” (catchy title, eh?). The primary issue is trying to balance the extreme contrast ratio between blindingly bright, sunlit backgrounds, including bright blue skies, and subjects who, unless you want that ever-so-glamorous squinting look of facing them into the sun, are in relative shadow. Put simply, you can expose for the bright background and keep your skies blue but reduce your subject to a shadowed silhouette… 


…or, you can expose for the subject and blow your backgrounds out, turning your beautiful blue skies completely, unnaturally, white.

The trick, quite simple in concept but not so much in execution, is to basically take two photos at once. Which means, if you’re one of those lazy ‘togs who like to boast about being a “natural light photographer” who would, as a matter of misguided principle, “never use artificial light,” you’re out of luck; you simply can’t do this without bringing in… yep, you guessed it, artificial light.

In practice, first you find a correct exposure for your background, and then lock it into the camera’s settings. That’s the first photo. Now you pose your subject away from that brightness and find just the right amount of fill-flash to correctly illuminate your portrait subject–the second photo. Now when you snap the shutter, you’ve effectively balanced both exposures, i.e., one locked-in setting to optimize the sky and some fill-flash to optimize your subject.

Model: Elena Lapteva

Futzing with the gear and getting the right balance takes a bit of skill, but the basic procedure is pretty straight-forward. Why outdoor portrait photographers are so resistant to fixing this problem will be the subject of Sourcelight’s probably-never-to-be-developed workshop, “Mastering the Psychology of Not Being So Doctrinaire in Your Approach to Photography.” Heh.

That lighting gear, by the way, doesn’t have to be elaborate. For quick run-and-gun shoots like this one, I prefer to keep it simple, using a basic speedlight shooting through a collapsible 12-sided light box, which, being kinda round-ish, gives nice catch-lights in the eyes. The new Chinese-built Godox line of portable lights (sold through Adorama as Flashpoint) is powerful, surprisingly affordable, and all of the units come with a built-in radio receiver for remote triggering. 

For Cassee’s initial model-portfolio session, we wanted to explore the newly-opened JUMP center in downtown Boise. An acronym for “Jack’s (J.R. Simplot) Urban Meeting Place, JUMP is a gorgeous community activities facility with a number of outdoor locations that are perfect for cityscape portraiture. The second-story rooftop lounging area right above the JUMP sign is where we decided to start.

Shooting in bright, open sunlight is usually a recipe for disaster. You can see the overexposed skin tones from the direct sun behind Cassee’s left, which also then casts a harsh shadow over the parts facing away. Time for some fill light, visible here growing out of the photographer’s head (establishing photos courtesy of session documenter, Sharon Johnson).

And the two-shots-in-one result:

Moving to a standing shot, we’re still dealing with the same extreme contrasts. This is, by the way, what your smart-phone or expensive DSLR sees when you leave it in Auto mode. Welcome to Facebook.

But lower the exposure, add some flash, et voilà!

Now lower the photographer for an up-shot perspective to create that heroic look, and reposition just slightly to clean up and simplify the background a bit — same shot but different effect:

One of the truly unique locations in the bountiful JUMP environment is this self-contained “leafy cocoon” that offers a simple bluetooth connection for listening to your own smart phone music through the cocoon’s sound system. It truly is a peaceful oasis. Oh, and it’s also pretty dark inside. You know what happens next.

When the light stand won’t fit, it’s time for Gaffer Keith to step up. Minimum gaffer requirement: 6-feet tall.

Ah, the digital era, when we can review our shots in seconds rather than waiting a week for the negatives to come back. That device on top of the camera, by the way, is the radio transmitter that talks to and remotely triggers the speedlight. The PocketWizard I used back in the day cost $280; the Godox/Flashpoint version? $69. There’s really no good excuse for not using flash anymore. Seriously.

Because here’s what we see.

Up one more floor to an outdoor food prep pavilion. Again, lots of bright skies and dark interiors.

And the usual answer–hey, mountains and trees, just as Cassee requested:

Next, Cassee and Sourcelight tour a few of Boise’s parks for some conceptual work. That one’s coming soon.

The Faerie Queen

As a few friends and family know, Sourcelight- and wife/life-partner, Sharon Johnson and I have been collaborating for the past several months on developing our own fantasy series of themed art photography. Sharon’s diverse background – a BFA in sculpture, decades working in fashion retail, and designing and producing jewelry for her own business, Angel Creek Designs – leads her to create unique items that are sometimes hard to categorize. Wearable art, maybe? Or just art that looks like it could be worn (but usually isn’t)? Either way, her jewelry designs always tended to be one-off, one-of-a-kind works that could just as easily have been sold as displayable art as wearable jewelry. Unfortunately, the usual grind of daily life has tended to put designing for Angel Creek on hold too often over the past few years, so recently, Sharon has begun creating full fantasy costume looks for portraiture. In the beginning, it was assumed that my contribution would be simply documenting the final result in a photograph. As the process developed, however, we began to create visual stories that would require full production resources, including make-up, wardrobe, and set design.

It should also be noted that at this later stage of my photography career, I seem to be drifting inexorably away from “photo-realistic” quality and more toward a consciously pictorial style, more painterly and less representational. Having swapped my top-end Nikon-pro gear over the past two years for Fujifilm’s exquisite new digital X-series with all of Fuji’s old film stocks built in electronically has certainly helped with the transition. The gear is smaller, but just as powerful, and with its built-in film heritage, it feels like shooting film back in the day. Suddenly, photography is fun again and not just another job. We were more than ready for a new project that reflected our current personal (and technological) place in life and career.

Truth to tell, we’ve actually been edging toward this for awhile. Marcie Ganier, one of the first locals to model for us here at Sourcelight all the way back in 2009, was a trouper and became one of our favorite models, eventually doing five different sessions with us. The “Imagine” photo was actually based on her idea when she approached us about doing an “angel-wing” shot. Wanting to avoid what often becomes a predictable stereotype, we suggested doing it as a fantasy concept in which the subject isn’t actually an angel, but rather just imagines herself to be one. Marcie was immediately on-board, so we designed a costume and set, called in a MUA and produced these shots from that session. We were just getting started, but the path was set and we were hooked.

Not long after, good friend, fellow photographer, and occasional model himself, Patrick Lee, collaborated with us on a fantasy take of Atlas holding up the world.

Even the family got drafted into service resulting in the “Four Seasons” portrait taken at the Johnson family Thanksgiving get-together in 2011.

Still pretty haphazard though, so in 2018 we finally decided to get serious about having fun, bring in some genuinely committed models, and get a new concept done every month.

If only…

Best-laid plans…

You know…

On two occasions, models scheduled for projects simply failed to show up. Sharon and I lost most of March (for the second year in a row, yikes!) with some kind of violent bronchial pneumonia. And, well… of course… Obama… (Why? Why not? According to red-hued Congressmen, he’s the all-purpose cause of everything else that’s gone wrong in the 21st Century).

So finally–in JUNE–with new buddy and always-reliable model Yao Yin in place, we made the do-it-or-die pledge to finally get the first project completed. We were looking to create the suggestion of a fairy queen, at one with the outdoors, clad in foliage and literally sprouting it from her person. As part of the ongoing effort to landscape the Sourcelight grounds as photography backdrops, we had carved a notch out of the sycamore berm two years ago to install a stone bench slab on poured concrete pillars.

We thought with a little help it could serve as a fairy queen’s private chamber.

Sharon and Yao spent an hour working on character make-up.

And the final results of Conceptual Event #1 (or 2 or 3 or? depending on how you count): The Faerie Queen



“Model, Actress, Singer, Public Speaker” Yao Yin and Sourcelight

Busy year, and it’s been a while since we wrote about it, but a very enjoyable part of that activity has been our introduction to a unique new model in the Treasure Valley area—Yao Yin. We’ve now worked with her four times, and they’ve all been enjoyable experiences worth sharing.

An immigrant from China, Yao finally had clocked enough time in the U.S. to have just recently earned her U.S. citizenship. A graduate of Oregon State University, she’s currently working as an analyst for the public utilities commission here in Boise. I met her when a former workshop student, Arjun Ramesh, rented the Sourcelight studio for a Japanese/Geisha-themed concept shoot featuring Yao and another local model, Jin Zhu. Yao’s effervescent personality and desire to pursue a modeling career prompted us to invite her in for a portfolio-building session, and we haven’t looked back since. It’s all too rare these days to meet a person who so openly embraces new experiences and new perspectives, and Yao has become one of those occasional joys in the photography business—a client/professional colleague who becomes a friend.

Modeling, of course, is only one of the activities this bon vivant embraces (check out her Facebook Activities page – – for a first-hand look at the “Model, Singer, Actress, Public Speaker”’s busy schedule). As for us, we just shoot photos, so here are a couple of standard modeling portfolio shots grabbed during our first, get-acquainted session.

Two weeks later, I had Yao back in for a bit of a personal project in the studio. The overly bright, illustration-style, “pin-up” genre isn’t something we do very often here, but Yao’s perpetually enthusiastic outlook seemed perfect for a day of staged silliness, and 40 years in the photo business means that retro is just, well… history for me. I like history.

We then went outside for the first chance we’ve had to shoot a session in the backyard set we’ve been building for the past year. By now, of course, the wine that had been a stage prop in the studio set was a functional libation for all involved. Yep, we were all very relaxed by then.

At the end of May, we took Yao down to the 9th Street Parking garage for our monthly tryst with the full moon. It can be a patience-trying experience as you wait for the moon to rise over the cityscape and hope the clouds stay away. Yao, as always, was happily up to the challenge. This is one of my favorites from this series we’ve been working on for over a year.

And the fourth Yao Yin session? That one’s a bit more elaborate, so we’ll save it for a dedicated post of its own. Coming soon…

Landscape Photography–The Three P’s

The three P’s of landscape photography

When I am running photographic workshops or giving talks I often refer to the three P’s of landscape photography:

Planning – to work out the right time of day and year to be at a specific location (with reference to sun/moon position, the presence or absence of foliage on the trees, tide times etc) as well as keeping an eye on weather forecasts to increase the chance of getting a successful photograph;
Patience – as all landscape photographers know, rarely are we able to just turn up at a location, get out the camera and take a wonderful image. The old adage, ‘if you’ve seen it, you’ve missed it’ normally applies. My usual approach is to set up the camera, fine- tune the composition and then wait for the light, weather conditions, cloud formations and so on to come together in a way that supports what I want to say about the location (based most importantly on what I feel about the location, not just what I see). This requires a lot of patience – I frequently spend hours standing around waiting for all the elements to coincide to give me what I’m after. And of course success is far from guaranteed – going home empty handed is not uncommon.
Persistence – which brings me to the final ‘P’. Revisiting locations is part of the job – sometimes I’ll keep returning to a location over a period of years before I get a photograph that I’m completely happy with.

Sourcelight is the BOM at WaTrust

Sourcelight Photography is WaTrust’s “Business of the Month” for February ’14

WaTrust's Business of the Month: Sourcelight Photography

For the fourth time in the past two years, Sourcelight is Washington Trust Bank’s “Business of the Month.” To celebrate the occasion, we’re on display all month and handing out some terrific promotional discounts on training and portrait sessions.  If you’re a WaTrust customer (or even if you’re not), stop in to the 7802 W. Overland Road location and pick up a discount coupon or two.

We’ve worked with a lot of banks in our 30+ years in business and WaTrust has been the best by far, and the people at this location have always been a particular delight to interact with.  If you’re looking for a reliable financial institution, either for personal or business use, we can recommend Washington Trust without any reservations.  Ask for Sandra, and tell her we sent you.








Correct Exposure: There’s an App for That…


If you’ve been to any of our Mastery Series workshops, you know we consider managing light to be the photographer’s first and most important consideration for getting a quality image.  It’s not just a matter of getting a “correct” exposure; it’s also a matter of using the light to direct attention to what’s important in the composition and to help create the impression of depth—that all-important 3rd dimension—in a flat, 2-dimensional medium.

Still, the most skilled composition won’t mean a thing if the image is severely under- or over-exposed, and while the built-in exposure meter in a modern camera is amazingly sophisticated, there are routine, every-day circumstances that simply overwhelm the camera’s metering technology.  In images with an extended dynamic range (think, e.g., a landscape bisected by a horizon with bright blue skies above and a dark forest below), your camera will likely return an unsatisfactory reading and exposure setting.

The reason is that your camera’s meter measures the light that is reflected from your subject.  That won’t tell much about the amount of light falling on your subject, however, since a bright, highly reflective subject will send more light back to the camera than a dark subject will.  If you took one of our workshops, you know that your camera’s meter is programmed to set its exposure for a value that’s known as middle—or 18%—grey, or, in other words, a medium level of brightness.  Unfortunately, when a reflected-light meter encounters something that actually is white, like, say, a bride’s dress, its interpretation is that it’s seeing a grey dress that’s severely over-exposed, so its response is to stomp on the exposure until it’s dark enough to make the white dress look like the camera’s preferred brightness value of middle grey.  Similarly, if it’s looking at the groom’s black tuxedo, instead of recognizing black, the camera’s meter assumes it’s seeing a grey suit that’s severely under-exposed and cranks up the exposure until the black suit washes out to grey.  The camera is now happy; your bride probably won’t be when she sees the photos.

An example of 18% grey exposure calculation

The image on the right is correctly exposed, revealing details in the bride’s white dress. The image on the left is what the camera’s meter prefers, since the brightness level of the dress is now closer to 18% grey.

Sekonic L-358 incident light meter

In contrast, a dedicated light meter is usually programmed to read “incident” light, that is, the amount of light that is falling on the scene, not reflected from it.  Obviously if we’re measuring the source of the light directly rather than its reflected value, our exposure can be set more reliably because it isn’t based on the relative brightness of our subject.  Whether the bride’s dress is white, grey, or black, the amount of light falling on it is constant, and that’s what we want to measure (and set our camera’s exposure to). Good light meters are precise, reliable, and consistent. Unfortunately, they also tend to be expensive. The Sekonic L-358 at left that we’ve used for years is a mid-range unit that currently costs around $400.  Its new, digital replacement, the L-478DR goes for about $420, and you can spend more on other meters with extra features.

Sekonic's L-478DR incident light meterMake no mistake here: these photographic tools are as fundamental to professional photography as a hammer is to a carpenter, and they’re worth every penny if you’re getting paid to take properly exposed photographs.  I’ve been at this for 30 years, and I still wouldn’t take a studio shot without a meter reading.  If I have time outdoors, the meter comes out of the gear bag and goes to work, giving me correctly exposed images on which I can reliably stake my business’s reputation.


While cruising through one of the photography forums I participate in, I recently became aware of something I probably should have known about a long time ago—there’s a smart-phone app for that.  In fact, there are lots of them.  No, they’re not a dedicated, hardware-based light meter, but the best ones are surprisingly functional, and come with extremely useful features enabled by their mini-computer capabilities.  They’re also generally free, or at most, a few dollars, as is the usual case with phone apps.  Unfortunately, with a few notable exceptions, they’re also all reflected-light meters, not incident meters.

So why would anybody use one of these apps instead of the camera’s meter?  Frankly, you probably wouldn’t.  Up to now their primary use has been as a meter for older film cameras that don’t have built-in meters.  If you’re still shooting film, one of these apps can be very helpful, and you’re probably already carrying its phone host anyway.  And, did I mention, they’re free(ish)? At the very least, if you’re still having problems visualizing the innerworkings of the “Triangle of Exposure” (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO), playing with the “dials” on any of these apps will give you a graphic interactive tutorial. Switch any of the three inputs, and see what the app does automatically with the others.

Full disclosure here: although I use a Mac in the studio, my phone is Android-based, and although I’ve used all of the Android apps mentioned below, my experience with iPhone-based apps is by hearsay only.  If you’re using an iPhone and want to try the two listed below, check back in and let us know how it goes.

Android OS

You have to sympathize with the plight of Android phone app developers.  Unlike the iPhone universe, there are numerous hardware platforms running the Android operating system, so the performance of any particular app can vary considerably depending on which phone it’s operating on.  My current phone is a Samsung Galaxy Blaze, and even within the Samsung Galaxy phone universe, app performance can vary — buyer beware (fortunately, all of these apps are free).  With that caveat in mind, there are three Android apps that I like and can cautiously recommend.


Android BeeCam appThe BeeCam app uses the brightness reading from your phone’s camera sensor to perform like a true incident light meter.  As you can see in the image to the left, you can set ISO, F-stop, or shutter speed (T, for time) by tapping one of the “buttons” and selecting or entering a value. Select two of those “Triangle of Exposure” values, aim the camera at the light source, and the BeeCam will calculate the third.  Simple, straight-forward, and seems to consistently return accurate readings.  Like all of these apps, it won’t help you calibrate flash exposures, but if you’re trying to figure out accurate settings for ambient light, particularly in high-contrast situations that might fool your camera’s reflected-light meter, the BeeCam can be a big help.  Click here for the Android Play Store link.  Note that there is also a paid ($1.50) version without ads, but the free version is so functional and relatively free of advertising clutter that I haven’t felt the need to upgrade.



Android OS SmartLight appThere’s nothing in this app’s description that indicates it might be an incident light meter, and after initially getting wildly inaccurate readings because I’d assumed it was a reflected light device, I finally realized I’d just been aiming it in the wrong direction.  When I pointed it at the light source, it suddenly started working.  So, yes, it is apparently an incident-meter app, and a pretty accurate one at that.  Instead of pushing virtual buttons, you “roll” the ISO, F, and T “wheels” up and down to make a selection.  Set two, and the app calculates the third.  Hey, if nothing else, it’s fun to watch the wheels spin as the app does its business.  Like most, it has both a free and a paid ($1.50) version, which removes ads.  Click here for the Play Store link.




Photo Tools

Android OS Photo Tools appThis one is clearly a reflected-light meter that simply reads data from a picture you’ve already taken and reports the exposure values — not very useful and much less convenient than just using your camera’s built-in meter.  It also has the ugliest and most cluttered interface of any of these apps.  So why recommend it?  Because it also comes bundled with a treasure chest of other helpful tools.

Want to know when the sun will rise or set in Glacier National Park — or anywhere else — on any particular date in the future?  Just select the date, enter the GPS coordinates (or type in an address), and the app will tell you, both actual sunrise and -set, as well as twilight times for those beautiful, red-horizon landscapes.  There’s a moon-phase calendar and an exposure calculator to help you set correct exposures for photographing la lune, and the app will even track down a weather forecast for the location.  There are calculators for finding the minimal hand-held shutter speed for a particular lens for a particular camera and for estimating depth-of-field, hyperfocal distance, and field-of-view for any particular lens at any particular f-stop.  You can calculate flash exposures based on guide number, aperture, and distance; or how much you need to under-expose each snap if you’re making multiple-exposure images.  The app even includes a time-lapse calculator, a timer, and a stopwatch. Frankly, I’ve never seen such an extensive collection of photo tools in one place, and I find myself using this app, especially for exterior locations quite often.  Here’s the link.

iPhone OS

Unfortunately, if you have an iPhone, the choices are less functional, since all of them at the moment appear to be reflected-light meters.  (There is one app called, well… “Incident Light Meter,” which, well… isn’t; when someone develops an app to execute a function he clearly doesn’t understand, I’d have to question the app’s utility.)   There do appear to be two apps that work, more or less, reliably as reflected light meters, and there is a development afoot with some exciting potential for converting any of these iPhone apps into an actual incident-light meter.

Pocket Light Meter

Pocket LightMeter app for iPhone


Here’s its iTunes preview link:

And here’s the developer’s web site:

This is the app I mentioned above that was being used by a member of a professional photographers’ forum, primarily in his landscape work with medium-format film.  It appears to be both well regarded and well supported by its developer.  I’m not aware of any additional features beyond the metering capability, but it does seem to perform that job reliably.




iLightMeter iPhone app


Here’s the developer’s link: .  You can follow his featured link to find the app on the iTunes App Store.   Interestingly, this app also claims to work on the iPod Touch 4G, so if you’re carrying your tunes but not your phone, this might be the one for you.  Again, no additional features, but it’s well-reviewed by users, and appears to be functional and stable.






iPhone Luxi globeHere’s that potential new accessory mentioned above that could turn your iPhone into an actual incident-light meter. It’s a translucent globe, similar to what you see on the dedicated Sekonic light meters shown above.  Although it’s not available at the moment, it has reached its Kickstarter crowd-sourced funding goal and appears to have entered the final manufacturing stage.  Here’s a link to the announcement:, and here’s a link to their Kickstarter investor page: (be sure to watch the video; it’s a good explanation of what an incident light meter does).

Luxi globe With iPhoneThis certainly could be an interesting product to keep an eye on, especially given that its projected price is under $25.  You’ll note in the gizmag link above that its first projected customization will likely be for the Pocket Light Meter app. Alas, since this is a dedicated hardware accessory, there appears to be no projected coordination with Android-based phones, undoubtedly because their numerous physical form factors are too diverse to profitably design for.









Thara Fashion Photo Session

Thara Fashion est merveilleux!

Rita Thara Yenga of Thara FashionRecently, we were contacted by a commercial client wanting us to shoot a fashion layout for a new Treasure Valley business: Thara Fashion.  Rita Thara Yenga is a beautiful young woman recently immigrated from Kinshasa in the Republic of Congo, who, with her mother, has created  a clothing and accessories business featuring “bags, clothes, earrings and bracelets with African fabric” (and style, I might add–they’re not just producing the apparel themselves, they’re also creating the designs).

To make matters even more interesting, the official language of RoC is French; Rita’s English is limited and my French is worse, consisting of the usual stand-bys, like “Bonjour,” “Au revoir,” “C’est magnifique,” and, of course, the always-necessary “Où se trouvent les toilettes.” Even scheduling the session required translation services from Rita’s friend, Richard Kitambo, who also attended the session.  Although we shoot a lot of basic commercial work involving models, I hadn’t done a full fashion catalog session in years, and I’d certainly never worked through a translator to direct the model, so it was shaping up to be a novel experience in a variety of ways.

Thara Fashion

When Rita and Richard arrived at the studio, I still didn’t know exactly what to expect.  What rolled in the door was a virtual trunk-load of wonderfully coordinated outfits, 12 dresses or tops in all, complete with matching head-dresses, earrings, bracelets, and handbags—an impressive display of design, outfit coordination, and workmanship.  Even more surprising—modeling her own designs, first-timer Rita proved to be wonderfully coachable and downright adorable.  Lots of pointing, miming, and photographer demonstrations, but Rita was a champ and a delight to work with.


Wardrobe preparation for Thara Fashions photo shoot



In spite of Rita’s modeling inexperience, we managed to get a variety of quality poses in all of the outfits plus catalog close-ups of the handbags in just a little over 4 hours—an impressive pace even for a professional model, and especially so given that Rita was restyling her own hair for almost every outfit in between wardrobe changes.  By the time we’d finished, I was almost ready to hire her as a production stylist for all my commercial work.

RitaYenga013_Handbag10 Thara Fashion session at Sourcelight Photography


The Thara Fashion website is currently under development, but until it’s ready, here are a few more designs from the shoot (October 2013, edited to add new web address.)

Thara Fashion photo shoot with Sourcelight PhotographyThara Fashion photo shoot by Sourcelight Photography Thara Fashion photo shoot by Sourcelight Photography Thara Fashion photo shoot by Sourcelight Photography Thara Fashion photo shoot by Sourcelight Photography Thara Fashion photo shoot by Sourcelight Photography Thara Fashion photo shoot by Sourcelight Photography

The Fashionable Senior Portrait


The Fashion Flip

As a commercial photographer and television producer, I shot fashion and product advertising for decades, so it’s only natural here at Sourcelight that we have a tendency to approach our portrait clients as if they were models in a magazine or catalog layout.  That means careful attention to details like wardrobe and make-up, carefully selected and composed backgrounds (including seamless white paper), and impeccable lighting.  It takes time and a full production crew, but the images you get exhibit a professional quality and style that you just don’t see in the run-and-gun photojournalistic trend of the last few years.


Sourcelight Photography's "Fashion-Forward" style of senior portraiture



We kept getting calls from teenagers wanting senior pictures that didn’t “look like a senior portrait,” meaning the typical formal pose in front of a studio backdrop.   These days, most urban photographers respond to that request by hitting the streets to capture informal shots with natural lighting, casual clothing, and deliberately unfocused posing.  When we decided last summer to revisit the Sourcelight approach to senior portraiture,  it just made sense to focus on our unique skill set and offer something different from the usual Treasure Valley senior portrait: the fashion-photography experience.


Senior portraiture by Sourcelight Photography--Tedi O

Senior photography with a Fashion Flair

Jackie spoofin' in the studio

We’ve been shooting models for years (we literally “wrote the book” on modeling), so transforming the senior portrait into a fashion session didn’t require much of a shift for us, and it’s been well received by our young clients.

Teenagers have always had their own sense of style, but today’s generation is particularly fashion-smart.  They’ve been exposed to more media and pop culture than any group in history, and the old Sears catalog that defined teen fashion for earlier generations has given way to names like Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, Urban Outfitters, American Eagle, Billabong, and Beatrice Holloway—all brands marketed specifically to the teen consumer.


Nike sportswear does well with this group as a fashion statement, as does Victoria’s Secret Pink.

This makes our concept pretty easy to pitch to our teen clients: “Imagine you’ve been asked to model the clothes (or make-up or jewelry) for the catalog of the company you bought them from.”  That immediately suggests wardrobe and accessories, backdrops, and poses and expressions.  Our teens get the opportunity to travel with a production crew and star in their own fashion shoot.  Instant glamour and tons of fun!

For more information about Sourcelight’s fashion-forward senior portraiture, visit our seniors page.  To visit the Teens gallery, click here.

Jackie in a hatSwimming champ Cara

Sourcelight Photography's "Fashion





Elliott’s Small Steps

Elliott Livingston completes his Small Steps odyssey.


Elliott Livingston's Small Steps Finish

This little guy has a BIG story, but it’s only one of the reasons why he’s on our list of all-time favorite Small Steppers.

The opportunity to be intimately involved with new families for the whole first year of their miracle Small Steps experience has always been a great privilege for us, but this family has been even more special than most.

The night before new parents-to-be Briana and Paul were scheduled to come in for the pregnancy photo session, we got a scary notification telling us that Mom was in serious distress and would have to postpone.

The distress continued, and a few days later Baby Elliott had made his appearance into the world a month early, and was about to start his infancy in an incubator, where he would spend the next several weeks.


So, although he’d already been born for over a month when he came in for his new-born session (usually done 10-14 days after the birth), Elliott was, nevertheless, even smaller than the usual newby.  And even though Mom and Dad had already been through more trauma than most, we were impressed by how they were handling everything.

Elliott Livingston's Newborn gallery

Paul and his new son, Elliott  Briana and her new son, Elliott

Mother and child Livingston

Over the course of the next year, their sturdy can-do attitude continually impressed us, particularly given that Paul was a soldier, and would have to experience fatherhood between deployments in a war zone.


Elliott and Mama at 5 months


At five months (or 4 months, depending on your perspective about that premature birth complication thing…), Elliott and Briana were back in for a session, but this time Dad would have to keep tabs on his boy from Iraq.  Being able to provide him with new images of his son’s progress through their private on-line gallery was an unexpected bonus for the Small Steps program.

Hey, check out the hat and suspenders!




Elliott Livingston hams it up

What else can you say?

Terminally cute!











The eight-month session was particularly enjoyable because Paul was given temporary leave to return Stateside for a visit.

Family Reunion at 8 months


An 8-month birthday party AND a reunion!  Kewl!


Elliott and Paul at 8 months











Like father, like son. Check out that matching hair!









By the end of the first year, the baby boy was walking, Dad was back home for good, and the leaves were on the ground.

Elliott is 1-year old!







So after a quick formal in the studio…












Elliott in the fall leaves



…we stepped out for some chilly fall fun.

















The Livingston Family moves on into Mr. Elliott's second year

It’s always bittersweet for us to see our Small Steps families complete the program.  When they walk out for the last time, they always leave with a standing invitation to come visit us again at any time.


Taquari’s Small Steps

Taquari Reyes puts the final stamp on his Small Steps adventure.


Sourcelight's Small Steps Program_Taquari Reyes at 9 monthsTaquari and his mother, Jasmine, were one of the first participants in Sourcelight Photography’s Small Steps Baby Program, a complete package of five photography sessions distributed over a baby’s first year, including mom’s pregnancy.







Sourcelight's pregnancy portraiture_Jasmine ReyesOur goal with the program is to commemorate the entire first year of a baby’s life in images that are deliberately intended for gallery-quality display.  Jasmine and Taquari have been a perfect first client for the program–a beautiful, happy mother and child who’ve both been willing (although Taquari hasn’t had much to say about it) to let us push the envelope w-a-y beyond the usual family album.




The Newborn Session_10 days old!

Sourcelight's newborn infant photography_Taquari Reyes at 10 days


When Jasmine first saw her online proofs from the newborn session, she wrote to us, “Okay, so I just stopped crying over how beautiful those pictures are!!!  I have never seen anything more perfect.  Thank you so much.  I just can’t wait ’til the next ones we are going to do.”

And frankly, neither could we.  (BTW, he was born with ALL that hair.  And have you ever seen a cuter, more inquisitive face on a newborn?!?)


Four Months

Sourcelight's infant photography_Taquari Reyes's big feet at 4 monthsBy four months, like most babies, Taquari was mostly interested in sleeping, as expected, so we took the photos available to us, and waited for Mr. Bigfoot to wake up.






Sourcelight's infant photography_Taquari Reyes with a peacock feather



He still wasn’t much interested in posing for the camera until he snagged a peacock feather Mom was trying to tickle him with and proceeded to destroy it.  Okay, he’s a boy…





Nine Months

Sourcelight's infant photography_Jasmine and Taquari Reyes at 9 MonthsBy nine months, Mom had a new look, and Taquari, as usual had an eye for everything.  Easily the most open and fearless baby we’ve ever worked with.


Big Grin for the tot-sized ATV












So, go ahead… try to resist those eyes and that million-dollar smile, we dare you.