Decorate with Wall Portraits, not World Maps…

What is the fascination of hanging an old fashioned world map on your wall?  I have seen this several times over the years in homes, and it got me thinking about better options.  Canvas Wall Portraits are all the rage right now, and for good reason!  The popularity of canvas prints is exploding with examples of nature, city scenes and wildlife canvas prints being sold at a variety of retailers.

Have you had a family portrait taken lately?   Give  Picture Place  a call at 651-426-0232 to schedule a family portrait experience.  You’ve probably put it off too long, and you must admit, you’ll get a lot more enjoyment out of a large print of your loved ones, than that old world map.

We work with many clients that purchase 3-5 canvas prints to make wonderful wall groupings.  The canvas product can be hung on the wall, with or without a frame to fit a wide variety of decorating themes and color schemes.

I plan on reprinting some of our family portraits, wedding prints… in canvas to create a legacy grouping of images.  There is not a better way to show off your family, than to work with  Picture Place  to create a fun set of images ready for a new wall grouping!

As the temps drop, you may really enjoy doing your family portraits in our warm and comfortable studio.  Consider including some outdoor portraits in the snow, it’s all up to you.

So turn your decorating scheme upside down and call us at 651-426-0232 to schedule your fun family session today by Picture Place!



Be thankful for value, not price in your portraits.

The Groupon, Living Social buzz has created yet one more controversial thing for photographers to deal with.  For those of you that haven’t signed up for these daily deals, they are simply a highly discounted offer (goods or service) that get shot out to a massive audience, and customers have typically only one day to “grab the deal”.  Photographers are (to no surprise) one of the hottest vendors in this new craze.

Picture Place is looking into the options, and we may well do one some day as a way to try to expand our customer base, but it won’t change our approach to delivering great results, a great experience, and a great value for every client.  The campaign could be effective, if used right.  A close friend (photographer) had a client boast about a Groupon photography deal she grabbed, and when she posted the result on Facebook, well, sadly, she got what she paid for…

Too many photographers are making price the most important factor in marketing their photography.  Picture Place has been able to provide incredible value to our customers because of our willingness to aggressively discount certain items at certain times of the year.

With so many photographers giving away their time and talent, it makes it difficult to compete, and impossible to survive if all we want to talk about is price price price.

Anyone who thinks price is overrated though needs only look at the chaos that is Black Friday.  Yes, we all want a great deal, and that is worse than ever with a struggling economy, high gas prices, increasing taxes…

Photographers need to be able to be compensated for the incredible amount of time, and investment required to become truly great in this profession.  Picture Place has been balancing the price/value equation for 30 years which allows us to keep growing and improving what we do for our valued clients.

Every week I seem to hear another story or two from a customer sharing a really bad experience, at the hands of a photographer that seemed to know what they were doing, were a “great deal”, but ultimately came up short on the results.  We chat about this a great deal on hosted by my good friend Gavin Seim.  I participate regularly on a roundtable panel as a way to give back to the industry through this regular podcast.

To any  future and prospective Picture Place clients, I welcome the challenge to provide awesome portraits, a fun and rewarding experience, and a value you will be thrilled to get.  I recently worked with a family who brought 2 of the cutest kids you’ll ever see in for portraits. We had a blast, and the customer has purchased multiple canvas wall portraits for their home and the proud grandparents.  This customer had multiple bad experiences with cheap photographers.  I suspect I have a client for many years to come.

I have been a big fan of BOSE audio products for many years. Their products are not cheap. But they deliver incredible sound, are built well and last a long long time.  I once had a power adaptor that developed a bad connection. Fully expecting to have to purchase a new power supply, they amazed me by offering to just replace the entire unit, after I had owned it for 2 years!  Now that’s customer service!

So as we gather around the table on Thursday, I encourage us all to also be truly thankful for vendors we deal with who are willing to help us get what we really want, and are able to demonstrate that value beats price every day of the week.  Call me anytime at 651-426-0232 for more information on how I can help you decorate your home with portraits of the people in your life that make it all worthwhile.

From all of us at Picture Place, have a great Thanksgiving with your family!



Giving the client what they want, what a concept.

I just had a great conversation with a customer that enjoyed working with us on some senior portraits five years ago.  They have since moved over 8 hours away, and had horrible experiences with not one, but two local photographers.  We are setting up a session for her daughter here over the Christmas break.

Here’s what I’d like to share about the conversation that is very interesting.  While flattered that they are willing to drive into town just to have me do these portraits, I wanted to learn as much as I could about their bad experiences.

Simply put, there was an attitude from these photographers, that they knew what looked best, which was very frustrating for a mom that had an idea or two of her own on the subject.

As creative professionals it is important that we explore new looks, follow current color and fashion trends, but in the end, it’s always about what the customer wants.

“My favorite portrait for any given client is the one they love”.

Those words resonated well with a past, and now future client.  I enjoy working closely with all my clients to give them what they want.  I’m not shy about suggesting a few ideas, and concepts, but being a good listener is a huge key to a successful portrait experience.

Give me a call at 651-426-0232 to schedule any kind of portrait session, wedding or event.  As it turns out, I’m a pretty good listener.

Why I love competition

Do you play to win?  Why settle for bronze when you can go for gold?  No, this is not a Charlie Sheen “winning” post.  The only “win” I care about with my business is the one my customers allow me to achieve.

It’s easy to get discouraged with almost everyone in the world now calling themselves a photographer.  I’ve written several posts about this topic and here is how I use it to my advantage.  I am excited that so many people enjoy photography, but there’s so much more to learn from the history of the trade to the ever changing technology of the day.

It is a shame how much bad photography is being provided under the umbrella of “professional photography”.  I can’t change that, but what I can do is continue to raise the bar in my own work, and how our business is run.  It is encouraging to hear so many positive comments from customers who have had some experience with not so professional, professional photographers.  The more I research the market, the better I feel about the consistency, and creativity we deliver to our customers every day.

Here’s a fun website dedicated to the embarrassing end of the market which is quite entertaining.  I spend most of my time however finding and following the best of the best.  If you want to see creative photography, done “insanely great” check out my friends Scott and Adina Haynes.  They are relatively new in the industry, and are creating some amazing images with a strong fashion feel.

I have commented before that many (not all) of the newb photographers are so caught up in trying to be fresh, new and creative, that they reject many of the time tested laws and principles of the art and science of photography. Personally, I pay close attention to the style, work and innovations of as many photographers as I can find. There is a current trend to shoot images straight into the sun which results in massive lens flare.  It is a trendy look that is used in many marketing and store signage campaigns.  Take a stroll through any mall and you are sure to find several examples of this look.  It’s no surprise that some clients want such a look (they see it everywhere), but that doesn’t make it the best option, all the time.

So how is it that the segment of photographers that claim to be so creative and fresh, are largely just copying the visual trends which are better suited for marketing than what the clients might actually want?  I pay very close attention to these trends, and sprinkle some of these trends and styles into my work, but only at a minimum, if it seems to fit the moment. “Natural light” photographers for example can produce great results when conditions are good, but often panic when the lighting is poor, or they are forced to use flashes.

It’s not about how much gear you have, it’s about knowing when and how to use it.

So to all my competitors I say keep up the work (both good and bad) which helps me refine what I do for my clients.  It does not appear I have to worry about a lack of awful portrait photography in the market, and it makes the consistent, high quality work we do all the more satisfying. I choose to appreciate and spend time with the photographic artists that inspire me, and am committed to absorbing it all to make me a stronger competitor every day.

For a portrait experience that just might be different than you think, call Picture Place 651-426-0232.

Is photography an art, a science, a profession or just a hobby?

The answer class is, all of them. Sorry for the trick question, but it is more important than ever to take a moment and consider each category. Interest in photography, or should I say “Picture Taking” is at an all time high. Wow, that must be great for people in the profession right? Well, not exactly, allow me to explain

Photography has been, and always will be an art form. Art is subjective, so it is not up to any one of us to decide what is and isn’t deemed art worthy. The long established tradition of photographic artists include pictoralists like Ansel Adams who with great care and planning, photographed scenes that to this day are breathtaking pieces of art, as close to technical perfection as there is. Modern day photographer Rodney Lough Jr. is following a similar path shooting spectacular landscapes and nature with an 8×10 view camera, with no digital manipulation.

The science of photography is lost to a large degree in the new breed of photographers. The simplicity and ease of use of modern DSLR cameras do not require the photographer to really know anything to be able to take a good picture. This saddens many of us that have taken the time (or a lifetime) to study, learn and use the science of photography in everything we do. That blurs into photography as a profession.

Professional photographers are still around, and are being forced to adapt to a very different market. It’s not entirely bad as many of us are finding exciting new ways to apply our skills and knowledge to truly take photography farther for our clients. It is more critical than ever that potential clients carefully assess what any given photographer can or can’t do for them. Give me a call anytime and I’d be happy to discuss this point in more detail (Barry-Picture Place Photography 651-426-0232).

That leads us into photography as a hobby. After concluding a big shoot last night, I was discussing this topic with a close friend who has been in the business both professionally, and as a college educator in photography for as long as I’ve been in the profession. He made a great point that there is a growing number of hobby level shooters buying different cameras, lenses, flashes and accessories in a chase for the holy grail of that one thing that will transform their work so they can magically become professional.

In conclusion, photography is only as magical as we equip ourselves to enjoy. If a simple snapshot on your cell phone makes you happy, and brings pleasure to the picture you just shot, fantastic! If you want to find and appreciate photography as art, or learn the science, or explore what professionals are doing these day, head to google and have at it.

If you want to discuss hiring me to photograph your family for Christmas, or for senior portraits, or a wedding, or your kids sports association or dance school, give me a call. I have been around photography since grade school and still love every minute of it. Picture Place is celebrating 30 years in business, we must know something.

In a dog eat dog world, just say woof.

Dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, snakes, fish, pot bellied pigs and more find ways to become cherised family members.

We love animals, and find fun and clever ways to work with, and photograph your pet.

Call Picture Place today at 651-426-0232 to find a time to have these important family members professionally photographed.  We are running a great special for only $49 between now and Christmas.  Let us make your pet look like a million bucks, for a lot less than a million bucks.

Pictures of pets, with or without any of their human companions make fantastic Christmas gifts!   Hunters and guns are always welcome at Picture Place!

So bring us your pets, large and small and though it all, we’ll have a ball!

Photographer vs. Picture Taker, you make the call.

There was a day when people like me, began “taking pictures” (in my case with the slickest little 126 camera you’ve ever seen–that I still have) and eventually, followed my passion into a full time career as a professional photographer.

The journey was similar for many photographers in every genre of the profession. One of my lifelong friends (Lawrence Sawyer) and I both followed our love of photography by working in a camera store, building darkrooms, and shooting pictures together like crazy.  Find him on facebook to see some great images and posts from a page dedicated to a book he recently published on stock photography:

Technology as made it very easy to “take a good picture”.  I am very grateful that I learned it “the hard way”. Allow me to explain.  The entire process of going out to take pictures, then returning to the darkroom to process the film, and make some prints was truly magical.  Larry and I spent many a day doing just that.  It was exhilarating to go out to lovely Lake Valentine near our homes, and shoot pictures of birds, or a sunrise or a sunset, or whatever, and run to the darkroom to “see what we got”.  Though this process, we both affirmed what we were learning, and discovered what we still had to learn.

Simply put, we were the generation of photographers that “knew, that we didn’t know as much as we needed to” if we truly wanted to master the art and craft of photography.

From this base, we studied, read, learned, attended classes, workshops and constantly absorbed ourselves in the masterful work of everyone from Ansel Adams to Monte Zucker and more. If you don’t know who they are, google them.

Fast forward to present day.  Interest in photography is at an all time high.  With fantastic cameras built right into our cell phones, there’s never an excuse not to capture every little moment of life.  Who doesn’t love to post pictures on facebook, or email certain fun shots to our family and friends?  So Barry you ask, what’s the problem?  Everyone loves photography?

The answer is both simple, and very complex.  It’s great that pictures are such a vibrant part of our lives.  I love seeing all the pictures that are shared that help tell everyone’s story day to day.  But, professionally, the lines have blurred.  Customers desiring to hire a “professional photographer” are now faced with an onslaught of photographers all jumping up and down wanting to “take their pictures”.   This is America, and I’m all about capitalism and a free market economy.  But seriously folks, quality matters, and knowledge and experience gives a true professional photographer a huge advantage over an ever growing group of newb photographers.  Some of the new breed are creating fantastic work, that is inspiring many. That’s great, welcome to the party, now keep learning.

Just because someone likes taking pictures, doesn’t grant them license to pass themselves off as a professional photographer.  I love this quote I ran across years ago from a well known artist who worked with several mediums, including photography:

“A photographer is not simply one who makes photographs- but one who thinks and works with photographs.”  Robert Rauschenberg, 

I contend that a photographer doesn’t just “take pictures”.  I work with my clients to plan the best possible experience for them, and to deliver with confidence, images that capture the moment.  I recently had the mother of a senior I was photographing who complimented me on how well our time together was spent, and that in 2 hours, I captured more amazing images than she could imagine.  Just 2 years ago, her older daughter had senior pictures taken by a college friend (whose pictures looked nice on facebook).  It was a dreadful experience as they spent an entire day, shot almost 1000 pictures and had very few that inspired them in any way. A classic case of someone who loved taking pictures, but that isn’t always enough.

I photograph hundreds of seniors every year, along with a wide variety of client work, weddings and events.  I am respectful of the time my clients afford me to create images that they love, and look forward to every session as an exciting new challenge.  My goal is to make every portrait and event I shoot, just a little magical.

 “I don’t photograph the world as it is. I photograph the world as I would like it to be.” — Monte Zucker.

In conclusion, keep taking pictures and love every minute of it!  When hiring a photographer, exercise some discernment and choose well.  Want some help?  Just ask, you might be surprised how willing most seasoned pros are to share what we know.