Photo Tips

DIY Portraits

You don't even have to shoot in manual to have control over your photos. It can be done, but you need to know how to use your camera.

After all, wardrobe and those cute props you  made from Pinterest won't matter if your picture is blurry and strangely orange.

That's why I offer photography workshops at your convenience. Gather some friends, get a fruit tray from the grocery store, and host a How to Use Your Camera Workshop in your home.


Flyin' High with Doug and Andy

Andy knows how to fly airplanes. And he has the license to do it. How cool is that?

So when they contacted me to shoot some photos of them flying over Dallas, I couldn't say yes fast enough.

However, shooting in a tiny, four-person plane has a unique set of challenges. First, it's tiny and a standard 50mm lens wouldn't cut it. In fact, even a 35mm wouldn't give me the width I'd need in order to fit both front-seat occupants in the photo. At least not in the way I wanted to.

So I picked the widest lens I could find that wasn't a fisheye. Nothing against fisheyes, it just wasn't part of my vision. That and getting my own body in the shot was already a concern, and with a fisheye, I was pretty much guaranteed to get my knees/feet in every shot.

So super wide angle it was. I still had to do some yoga-esque twisting in order to keep myself out of each shot, but the guys were cool with me taking over the back of the plane (which I did).

On the plus side, since we were in a tiny bubble, the light couldn't have been better. Thankfully! I can't even imagine trying to rig up lights for this. They'd have to be aimed in through the outside and this "easy" shoot would have gotten way to extreme and expensive way too quickly.

It was so windy, we ended up shooting on the ground. That worked out for the better, anyway, since I had to get out of my seatbelt to get angles.

Plus, Doug and Andy promised to give me a ride at a future date. I'm going to hold them to it!


How to Use Your Camera: Lenses

Wide Angle Versus Portrait Lens  

What does a wide angle lens do? It's easier to see for yourself.

I used one lens for these two photos, the Sony Zeiss 24-70 lens. The top photo was shot at 24 with me standing very close to the family, and the bottom was shot at 60 with me being further away from them.

Notice the difference? Look at the size of the dad's head, the width of the son's shoulders, and the distance the wide angle creates between the parents and their kids.

Many people will tell you never to use a wide angle lens for portraits. But I say, break the rules! Do what you want to do and create your own style. That's what photography is all about.


I get asked about retouching quite a bit. After all, we all want to look our very best in photos (especially after paying for them). Which is why I offer retouching services. But what exactly is retouching?

Most everyone knows it involves Adobe PhotoShop or some other fancy (and expensive) program. But not many people actually know how to use it.

Well, fortunately for my clients, I do know how to use it. Professionally, even.

Below is one example of photo retouching that I performed. I like to keep photos looking realistic by preserving some wrinkles and most freckles (I love freckles). Otherwise, it's obvious that a photo has been 'shopped (that's fancy talk for PhotoShopped). I also brightened the eyes and removed the hair which was obstructing the face.

Can I be more extreme, like shrink body parts and swap out eyes? Definitely. But I promised my other subjects that I would never in a million  years post their before photos.

So if you have an existing photo that you want retouched, or I've taken a photo of you and you would like something altered, ask me about my retouching services.

How to Use Your Camera - Online

This Sunday, I'm trying something new.

I'm hosting a free Q&A type of How to Use Your Camera workshop on Ustream.

I'll be teaching the basics of how a camera works and then answering specific questions from you!

If you've attended a How to Use Your Camera workshop in the past, or are interested in attending (or hosting!) one in the future, check out the stream.

Sunday, January 16th

2:30 p.m. Central time

Veronica's Camera on Ustream

Have your cameras charged and ready. See you then.

How to Use Your Camera Workshop - July 25

It's time for another How to Use Your Camera Workshop. This time we'll be in Grapevine, Texas. And we'll really cover the basics ... all of them.

-Using Auto Focus -Using White Balance -Using the Program Settings -When to Use the Flash -Indoor vs. Outdoor -and more

There will be fun (and educational) activities, a take-home guide, and one-on-one instruction. We need ten people to hold the workshop.

RSVP on Facebook. (The list is kept private.)

Ideas For Your Photo Sessions

Many photographers offer wedding packages. And most of these packages come with one or two separate photo sessions. Usually, these are for a bridal or engagement photos.

But what should you do if, say, you have a friend doing your bridals? Then you have this extra photography session laying around that you don't really want.

Well, trust me, you want it.

Try something different.

Get Spicy with Boudior Portraits

Ladies and gentleman, what better photo could you give your partner besides a sassy, sexy, playful photo of yourself (or several).

Nothing; trust me. Use one of your included sessions and take some boudior photos. They can be shot in the comfort of your own home. Or rent a fancy hotel suite for the day.

Take After-the-Wedding Portraits

Many brides feel a bit of post-wedding-partum depression in the weeks following the big day. Give yourself something to look forward to. Either the day after the wedding or even a few months after, use your photo session to take more in-dress portraits. Heck, both of you get gussied up again, only more casual.

Maybe wear some funkier shoes than you were comfortable with wearing on the big day. Or try something crazy with your hair. Let your imagination run wild ... in a wedding dress ... downtown, perhaps.

Get Family Portraits

From wedding to reception, it's usually a time crunch to get portraits of the entire family. An uncle ran off to sneak a taste of the cake. The children are no where to be seen. And extra people sneak into the photos.

While everyone is in town, get them all together the morning (or early afternoon) after the wedding and do some more organized and fancy family portraits. It works especially well for people with large families.

Plus, it lets each family have the chance to get some individual family portraits. Consider it a gift to everyone for helping out with your big day!

Have "Prom" Photos at Your Wedding

This is something that I wanted to do at my own wedding (but unfortunately didn't get the chance). Have a corner or separate room set up as a photo booth ... prom style! Your guests can get fun portraits done. You can have props, backgrounds, you name it!

It's also another great way to keep guests entertained during the cocktail hour. And kids LOVE it.

How do I use this thing?

I often hear, "That's a really nice camera. I would be lost using it."

That's partially true. You would only be lost for about two minutes--that's it. Cameras aren't difficult, but there is a bit of a learning curve.

In fact, those easy-to-use point-and-click cameras that everyone has can do some pretty cool things, too. The problem is that no one really knows how to use them (which is why they all now have face detection, etc., which isn't without it's flaws, as well).

I want to host a workshop where people can bring whatever camera they have and I'll show them how to work it. It'll be cheap, it'll be fun (organized activities!). I just don't know when it will be. I guess I have to get enough interest before I schedule something.

A Handy Trick for White Dresses

Being a bride myself, I've been a little concerned with things showing through my white dress (like undergarments). White stands out like a lamp. Nude shows. Something blue definitely shows. But red doesn't.

It sounds insane. It sounds really insane. But for some reason, red disappears under white. So if you're a bride, and you want to wear something under your dress that doesn't show, go for a pair of sassy red underwear. After all, who doesn't feel sexy in red?

Portrait Tip - Bring a Friend

It's weird staring in to the big, gaping maw of a huge camera. And unfortunately, that weirdness can appear in photos. This is where friends come in handy.

If you bring a friend with you, there's someone to relieve the pressure, make you laugh, and possibly distract you from the menacing click click click of the camera.

If you're a bride, bring your maid-of-honor. If you're a high school senior, bring your BFF. If you're a mommy to be, bring along daddy-to-be or a good girlfriend.

Whoever your buddy is for the day, make sure he/she is someone who can comfort you. Someone who doesn't make you nervous and self conscious. You'll thank them when you see your beaming face in pictures.

Photo Tip - Makeup

I ran across some foundation tips for you do-it-yourself kind of  makeup wearers out there.  

Wear a foundation that's a shade deeper than your actual skin tone.

I know what you're thinking, and I thought it too (at first). But think about it--have you ever noticed that in photos your face sometimes appears lighter than the rest of you? It has to do with reflection of light off of makeup (that's how it hides blemishes). So when you're having your portrait done, even though it might make you cringe in front of the mirror, go a bit darker. You'll be happy you did.


Keep powder off of pimples.

The problem with hiding blemishes is that you usually end up with a tiny cake of makeup that sticks out more than the pimple originally did. So keep your coverage simple. Apply a tinted moisturizer. Then--on the blemish--lightly blend concealer on top of it and out. That's it. And remember--whatever you do--resist the urge to powder.

If you have a blemish that's just too heinous, I can fix it in PhotoShop and no one will ever know.

Jordan - Act Naturally

If you try to pose, you're going to look posed. One thing I always tell a person is to be herself (or himself, depending on the person).

It's pretty easy since most of us act like ourselves for a good chunk of the day.

Take Jordan here. She's a young, angry teenager. But she's also a free-spirited hippy chick. She hates shoes, she has chipped nail polish, and she's currently not cutting her hair so she can donate it this summer.

Jordan didn't try to overdress or act like someone else during her shoot. She just acted like Jordan. And the pictures, just like Jordan, are really fun because of it.