Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In the mood for skiing....

Taking the holidays off and spending time with family, skiing as much as possible and just enjoying beautiful mountains and snow.
Here are some flickr images for inspiration on ski photography. Check out individual links for more photos from the individual photographers.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Introducing Word Lens-Amazing new Iphone App

This is INCREDIBLE! $4.99 Iphone App....I need to purchase this immediately.
I wonder if it comes in other language translations than Eng/Spanish/Eng?


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Cards....part2

Here's the actual Tiny Prints card. I managed to get them sent out yesterday, whew!
Of course I ordered too few so now I've run out and I still have people on my list. Hopefully they won't notice our absence in the Christmas card pile this year. Oooops! You live and you learn:).
Printed by Tiny Prints
Design: Ornate Embroidery
I ordered the matte paper, and I liked the look with this card. As always, wish the paper was a little thicker but happy with end result. Highlights a little blown (which I don't mind so much with this pic) so I guess I need to correct my monitor a little for next order. The ease of ordering is great, speed of printing and shipping fantastic. All and all...RECOMMEND!!

Photojournalism Quote

"Reality offers us such wealth that we must cut some of it out on the spot, simplify.
The question is, do we always cut out what we should?
While we're working, we must be conscious of what we're doing. 
Sometimes we have the feeling that we've taken a great photo, and yet we continue to unfold.
We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole"
-Henri Cartier-Bresson-
on photojournalism, American Photo, Sept/Oct 1997.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Cards

When you're busy photographing other families' Christmas photos, often you procrastinate your own.
Always loving a tight deadline, I realized that I needed to photograph something today if I was going to get the cards ordered, printed and sent out in time.
Picked the girls up from school and had 45 minutes before their tennis class. 
I threw some sweaters in the back of the car and some props I've had laying around for this very thing. 
Stopped by a nice wall (hello backdrop!) on the way to the tennis center and voila'.....we pulled it off. 
(ok, so I bribed my kids with a treat:).
Just ordered the most adorable cards from Tiny Prints and rushed them to be here by Friday. 
With some luck, I'll have those babies sent out by Friday night and in friends mailboxes by Saturday or Monday. YES!! (As soon as they arrive, I'll post a pic of the finished product).
Here are three pics from our crazy little session. Thank goodness my girls are good sports:).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Stockings stuffers for photographers




Skiing in a cloud....

Went skiing this weekend and had an absolute fabulous time. Saturday I ran into my buddy Ian and we got some amazing runs at Snowbird. Lots of fluffy powder!
Sunday it was family ski day at Alta, and the day was perfect. Here's a photo I shot from the lift with Emma and Grace as we passed through a cloud. Love how moody it is. It was magical!
"We're skiing in a cloud", the girls exclaimed. 

Saint Lucia in Sweden

This has nothing to do with photography, but today is Lucia in Sweden, where we celebrate light during the darkest time of the year. Special for every Swede and I thought this was a lovely way to kick of the morning and get in the Christmas spirit. Enjoy:).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gallery opening

Thought it appropriate to post a hipstamatic pic from the hipstamatic show which opened at Phillips Gallery in Salt Lake City last Friday. The gallery was full of people checking out the photos and it was fun to see all the different ways people had used the Hipstamatic application for their photography.
Here's my daughter Grace checking out the wall of photos on display. 
The photos are on display at the gallery until January 14, 2011, so if you have a chance, stop by.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Quote of the day

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler"-Albert Einstein.

Cool Iphone Covers

Came across these lazerwood Iphone4 covers this morning. They're available in walnut, birch, cherry and black stained cherry, as well as some checker patterns.
It's a peel-and-stick backing, wood veneer, promising easy application and removal without damaging the phone. 
Check out this link if you like the look. They sell for $15.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Boys boys boys...

So the other day I photographed two nine-year-old boys and BOY...is it a difference from photographing girls:). I hate to feed into stereotyping genders, so perhaps it's just all about personalities, but these boys liked to MOVE.
The boys, Ben and Noah, are cousins, and every couple of years their parents like to get some photos of them together. The last one shows them sitting sweetly next to each other and they were tiny little boys. 
As I showed up at the house, the day after Thanksgiving, the boys were playing downstairs and I could tell they were about as excited to pose sweetly for photographs as a rootcanal.

My approach was to join them in play instead and make the photosession into a big game. 
So, we proceeded to jump, to crawl, make faces, photograph wrestling, legos, etc. And in between, for a few microseconds at a time (after all....all you need for a photograph is a moment), I managed to capture them together without hairpulling or punches. Whew:)!

 We all emerged on the other side and I actually think all three of us had a great time. They were able to steer the session without being bulldozed and I was able to get some nice pics without stiffness or frustration. Win-win I hope:).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Free Christmas Card Templates

Check out these free templates. All you have to do is like it on facebook to download the PDF files.
Here's a link to the blog.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Upgrade

So...I sucked it up and upgraded my Photoshop and Lightroom today and got a bundle price from Amazon for $239. Not too painful and I'm looking forward to using the new and improved programs.  If you're a student, you can get SCREAMING deals on Adobe products. www.adobe.com

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quote of the day

You don't get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.
-Jim Rohn

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Flickr is my favorite photo website. You can search for anything, and loads of photos come up from all corners of the world. It's a great way to share your own photos, get feedback, make connections with other photographers, give feedback, get ideas, share ideas, BE INSPIRED.
Here is my photostream if you'd like to visit or follow. http://www.flickr.com/photos/johannakirk/

Here is a mosaic of some of my favorites from other flickr photographers. Click on their links to see their work.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Phillips Gallery-Hipstamatic wall

  Phillips Gallery http://www.phillips-gallery.com/ is having a community exhitbit of about 75 Hipstamatic images displayed on one wall in their gallery during their holiday group show, opening December 3 and running until December 24th. 
Each artist was invited to enter up to three Hipstamatic images for the display and a jury selected the final images.
I will have three images in the display so come check out the gallery when the show is up in December. 
All the hipstamatic images will be printed, matted and up for sale at the gallery for $80 each.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pic of the day

Girls girls girls....photographed three sisters this afternoon. Working through the edit but here's a few pics. I'm always amazed when my subjects are so comfortable in front of the camera. These girls were awesome. When I get in front of the camera I always freeze... I guess that's why I try to stay behind it:). 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Adobe Photoshop CS5 - My Top 5 Favorite Features

To my fellow photoshop fans. Here are some great new features in the CS5 version.
I really need to upgrade! Any sponsors?:)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Inspiration-Landscapes by Ella Morton

Came across some beautiful Icelandic landscapes by Ella Morton http://www.behance.net/Ella629/frame
Simple, moody, hauting. I love them. Thought I'd share a few with you. Click on her portfolio link if you want to see more of her beautiful work.

Friday, November 5, 2010

How to photograph children-10 step tutorial

Many who have a passion for photography started their obsession right about the same time they had children. Suddenly, you don't just want to take photos, you need to. You have this little person in your life, who is constantly changing...the moments, the laughs, the milestones...and with photography, you have an opportunity to freeze time. I hope I can give you some tips to help you capture those moments.

When photographing kids, it's important it is in a place that makes them comfortable. Their own bedroom, backyard, a park where they can play, the zoo. Try to chose a place where they can relax and be themselves. You're looking for honest photos that show who they are, that bring out their playful sides, where they can let their guard down, be themselves and show you different sides to their personality.

2) Before I photograph anyone, my own children or others, I make a point of getting comfortable with my subjects. Pulling out a giant camera and lens and sticking it in someone's face is never a good idea. Play around a little bit, get close, interact and once you've established a little bit of rapport, take out your camera. Take a few frames, show the kids the photographs...maybe even let them take a few with your camera. They'll be thrilled to see the results and excited about participating in the process.

3) I love candid photographs. Where children are just being themselves and I'm a fly on the wall who gets a small peek into their lives. A longer lens is perfect for this. I usually use my 70-200 mm and let things unfold. If you're at a park, be patient and let the kids play and just follow what unfolds through your lens. You'll be sure to get some genuine, unstaged moments. Sure, you can help things along by coming up with fun games, bring a ball, set up a game to facilitate interaction, but don't be too intrusive. Some of my favorite photographs of my children were taken when they were just playing and had no idea that I was photographing them at all.

4) Posing a few photographs can be really nice once the child is comfortable of being in front of the camera and you. RESIST the temptation of asking the child to smile. Children learn early on to put on their "cheese" and it's rarely their natural smile. Be playful, ask questions, make jokes, have someone else make jokes, or avoid trying to get certain expressions all together and let it naturally unfold. If a smile comes, great, but a relaxed face is a treat from children who always feel they have to smile for the camera. Remember, you're trying to capture their personality, and children don't always smile, they can also be contemplative, serious, and full of thought and that is just as beautiful as a smile.

5) Eyes are the windows to the soul. That's where your focus should be. I like to photograph portraits at an open aperture so the background is blurry. But the eyes NEED to be in focus, even if the rest of the face and background are not.

6) Simple background is key to good portraits. Avoid messy, distracting surroundings. Clean backgrounds puts the focus on the subject, draws you in into looking at them and only them and not the tree in the background, the pink shirt of the kid running behind them, etc. Harder to accomplish with candids but remember that you can always move and get a better angle.

7) Get down to eye level, or lower. Kids are short and always photographing them from above puts a distance in your photographs. When you get on eye level, you create a more intimate situation.
Once down there....get close!

8) Details. 
Since kids change so quickly, it's fun to show some details of where they're at right now in life. A small hand, a toy, shoes, feet. It's the photography version of a plaster handprint and it's the details that puts the subject in a context.

9) Clothes
Most people want their portraits to reflect their nicest looking selves and often we deck out the family in our Sunday best for a photograph. Problem with this is that if your kids are never in a shirt and tie, they'll feel stiff and uncomfortable and the photographs will reflect this. Pick something nice but comfortable. Go for layers, textures, colors that fit their personality and adds to it rather than stifle it. Solid colors work better than patterns, bold colors can really add to a photograph as long as it doesn't compete too much with the subject(s).

10) Be patient, have fun and remember to let the moments unfold. The more you try to force a photograph the more it will evade you. Sometimes the best strategy is to put down your camera and play.
Interact and let others interact. Often kids relax when they are just interacting with their siblings and parents. Capture that!

Friday, October 29, 2010


Driving home through the tree-lined neighborhoods, kids running down sidewalks in their Halloween costumes, heading for their schools.
I love the colors of fall, the musty smell of damp leaves in the air.
Can't wait for this weekend, dressing up, trick or treating with the girls, eating comfort food and kids ringing the doorbell in search of loot. 
Here is a Halloween collage from a few years back. 
Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Speaking of Americana...

Does it get any more "wild west" than this?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I love all things "Americana". Stuff I grew up seeing in movies and never thought existed until I moved to the states are realized they're actually real. Like cheerleaders, small ma-and-pa joints with barstools and ladies pouring coffee calling you "honey", cowboys, trucks....it's all fantastically American and I try to photograph it when I see it. This is a small hamburger/milkshake "joint" in Moab where I took the kids for shakes and fries last weekend. 
Only wish I had a wider lens so I could have really captured "the whole" of this tiny little place.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Get closer

The legendary photojournalist Robert Capa once said : "If you're pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough".
One of the most common mistakes of photographers is not getting close to their subject. To photograph at a "safe distance" often means you're too far away, not getting enough details, or your image has too much going on that distracts from the subject.
Sure, it's nice to get some establishing shots, but after that...move in, (or zoom in).
Portraits, for example, are really fascinating when we are closer than normal to the subject.  There's an intimacy of being close and you'll have to establish a rapport with your subject in order to get there. Photographing people you know makes this easier to practice. Stick to keeping it simple....and close.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pay it forward

I've been asked why I do this blog. After all...it takes time to think of things to write about and I don't get paid doing it. Well, there is something to be said about paying it forward. To have knowledge about something and to pass it on, to share it, openly and freely.
So many people hold on to their knowledge tightly and are afraid that sharing it will somehow lessen their value, their individuality, that something that gives them an edge.
Living in the age of where everything, it seems, is copyrighted, trademarked and protected, it's almost tabu to share something for free. I guess this is my way of rebelling. Because I believe, really believe, that sharing information, sharing ideas, not only helps you, but it helps me, helps all of us be more than we could have been alone.
In the vacuum of ourselves, it's difficult to grow, to see differently, to evolve. For me, creativity is a conversation, and who wants to converse alone?
With this blog, when I think of things I want to share, I get passionate, which in turn makes me want to photograph, and photography in the end, is all about communicating with someone, you, hoping my image will make you feel something. Similarly, my hope is that the words, my tips, my small tidbits of knowledge will inspire you, to see, to photograph, to communicate back. Share your images, your knowledge, with me or with others, invite knowledge by sharing it, pay it forward.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Quote of the day

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else". -Judy Garland


First of all, let me explain quickly how camera exposure works.
Engineers building cameras found that the majority of scenes we point our camera at have x amount of white and y amount of black that equals out to about 18 percent gray on average (this made more sense back before digital when everyone shot a lot of black and white).
Let's stay away from the exceptions to this and talk about the majority of scenes....the 18 percent gray ones. Your kid on a swing, in normal lighting, no crazy back light, no huge white or black objects in the frame. In this regular situation, chances are, your camera's metering of the scene is pretty accurate.

So let's start there. You're in manual mode, you're looking through your camera's viewfinder and with it's little lines at the bottom...it will tell you whether you're in the middle (that's the neutral 18 percent gray)...which is the camera's recommendation to you. Or you can go minus or plus of that.
Minus meaning less light=darker image
plus meaning more light=lighter image.
So you move either your shutter speed or aperture until that line is neutral in the middle of the line. That's your camera's recommended exposure.

The thing about exposure though, is that there are many variables you can choose to get to that same correctly exposed frame.
I like to think of exposure like filling a bathtub with water. You can fill it fast though a huge, wide open faucet. You can fill it slow, with a smaller stream coming out of your faucet. In the end, you have the same full tub of water.

So we're outside, it's bright sunlight, the camera's recommended exposure is f16 at 1/125th of a second. These numbers are tied to one another, so if you move one up, the other moves down.
f16 at 1/125th 
f11 at 1/250th 
f8 at 1/500th
f5.6 at 1/1000th 
The above exposures all let in EQUAL amount of light to expose your frame. As you either open or close the aperture, you have to "correct" by adjusting the shutter speed to half or double.
Exactly the same, filling that tub with water to the same height. Difference is how fast the water is flowing in and how big the faucets are, but the tub in the end is equally full.
The amount of light is the same in all these, but how you choose to let that light in, will determine how that frame looks in the end.

Small aperture (small "faucet") means you narrow the opening that let's in the light, thus you have to keep it open longer to fill your frame with light. Small apertures will have larger depth of field.
This means that more things in your photo will be in focus and not blurry.  This is really great for things like landscapes, when you want the flowers in the foreground to be in focus, as well as the mountains far in the distance. So in this instance...choose something like f16 at 1/125th of a second and you will get that.
Weird thing is that small aperture, actually have the larger numbers. So small apertures are f11, f16, f22 and so on.
Large apertures are the small numbers  f2.8, f4, f5.6 (just to be confusing, I know). 
These let in a lot of light quickly and the result is a narrow depth of field, with only a few select things in focus and the rest of the frame, blurry.

This works really well for sports or portraits, where the main subject is in focus but you don't want the eye wandering around the frame to other things, so you want backgrounds blurry. So if I'm photographing a portrait of my child, I may choose f5.6 at 1/1000th (or f4 at 1/2000th for even more blurry background).

I would recommend taking your camera out of program modes (sports, portraits, landscape, etc), because it's basically doing these calculations for you. Convenient? Yes! Helpful? No!
In order to fully understand exposure and have control over exactly how you want your images to look, you have to start shooting in manual mode more often and experiment with exposure.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quote of the day

"...And that desire--the strong desire to take pictures--is important.
It borders on a need, based on a habit: the habit of seeing.
Whether working or not, photographers are looking, seeing, and thinking about what they see, a habit that is both a pleasure and a problem, for we seldom capture in a single photograph the full expression of what we see and feel.
It is the hope that we might express ourselves fully--and the evidence that other photographers have done so--that keep us taking pictures." -Sam Abell

Monday, October 18, 2010

Merge photos into a panorama

With many of the newer compact digital cameras, you can now merge several photos into a panorama in camera. If your camera doesn't do this, there is a fairly easy way to do this in photoshop. Photograph a series of photographs....in a panorama-like motion. As you pull each photo up as a layer in photoshop, select layers, align the layers and then merge into a panorama. Blend the layers and voila....PANORAMA!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bear Lake Farm

Last weekend, we attended a wedding at Bear Lake, Utah.Chris' cousin was getting married and we were fortunate enough to spend time on their family farm up there. Here's Emma with one of their horses.

Quote of the day

What the human eye observes causally and incuriously, the eye of the camera notes with relentless fidelity.
-Berenice Abbott

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Slow shutterspeed to show motion-Tutorial

To follow up on my previous post on photographing sports and freezing action, an opposite but equallyinteresting technique is to use shutter speed to show motion. 
To freeze something moving quickly requires a fast shutter speed.
To "unfreeze" it, and to show it's motion, requires a slow shutter speed.
Granted, a slow shutter speed 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/4th of a second a so on, will blur motion in your photograph. 
Realize that if you slow your shutter speed down, handholding your camera can be difficult. Usually, most have difficulty handholding a camera any slower than 1/60th of a second and getting the subjects you want in focus. There will start being a blur simply from your hands shaking the camera slightly. You can get better at having a steady hand, but use that as a general guide. Anything really slow, use a tripod.
For example, if you want to photograph water running and want to get the water to that "whispy", "creamy" look....set your camera on a tripod and shoot the photo at a slow shutter speed.
This is where you need to experiment. Start at 1/30 and move your way slower to see the effects. 
One of the reasons digital is great is the ability to immediately see the results of what you're playing with. 

If you want to show motion in your photograph but to hand hold it, you can also try "panning". 
This is where you follow the moving subject (and try to focus as you do this) but do so at a slow shutter speed.
The result is the subject in focus but the background blurring with motion from your panning motion.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Playing around with textures.
Here are some flowers on my table. 
Is the "texture" distracting from the photo? What do you think?

In the neighborhood...

Returning from dropping the kids off at school, I came across this car crash on my block. Glad to say the people in the car were ok, but man....SLOW DOWN. When are we going to get some stop signs in this neighborhood? 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Quote of the day

"Try to go out empty and let your images fill you up."
-Jay Maisel

Moooost post this

A gorgeous bull moose wandering around at Bear Lake, Utah, this weekend. Thought I'd share:).

Friday, October 8, 2010

Photographing Sports Tutorial

People ask me all the time how to photograph sports. Granted, most will not be photographing Olympic skiing or NBA games, but still, it's important to understand how to freeze action and photograph things that move...and move quickly.
First step is to understand how your camera works.
Without getting too technical, basically your camera lets light in through it's aperture, and the f-stops on your camera determines how large or small the aperture (hole that lets in light) is.
The shutter speed is what determines how fast that shutter opens and closes, (to let in light) and thus is instrumental in photographing sports.
On your camera there will be settings for your shutter speed. 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000th and so on.
As a general rule, in order to freeze action you need to photograph at a minimum of 1/500. This means your aperture will open and close at 1/500th of a second. For most moving subjects this will be adequate. Granted, if you're photographing something like car racing, you will have to double or triple that speed to 1/1000, or 1/2000, etc
You will notice that when you set your camera at such high speeds, in order to let get enough light to correctly expose your photo, you will need to open your aperture (fstop) to f5.6, f4, or f2.8. This will mean that your depth of field (the area that is in focus) will narrow. So you have to be extra careful to keep your subjects in focus since only a very small area is in that range at a wide open aperture.
Once you get better at this, you'll realize that a narrow depth of field is the look you often want since only the subject will be in focus and everything else....blurry. Perfect for sports.
This is also why many who photograph sports buy very expensive lenses. Because the wider your aperture (f2.8 for example), you are able to photograph sports in darker situations. If you're looking for a minimum of 1/500th of a second, you'll notice that you need a lot of light or a very open aperture, and if your lens only opens to an f5.6, you'll run out of light and be forced to slow your shutterspeed not to underexpose your images and thus...things will begin to get blurry. Frustrating, I know! And one of the many reasons photographers LOVE lenses with  f2.8 and pay dearly for them. On top of that, when photographing sports you'll also need longer glass. Something that gets you close to your subject since you most likely can't be closer than the sidelines of a game. A minimum of a 200 mm lens, but more often than not, a 300mm or 400 mm is the standard. For some sports, even bigger glass is required.