Sealed with a Kiss

Engagement sessions are a blast!  The groom to be from this session brought his dog along.  It was comical trying to work with them above the zeal of the barking dog who was none too please to be tied up around tree after tree.

After getting a few adorable pictures with the dog, I asked that they kiss, and that one of them make some kind of noise to get the dogs attention.  I got exactly what I was looking for!  The dog giving a wet kiss to his master (I wonder if that dog is just a little jealous these days…).

I really enjoy spending time with couples long before their wedding day. Building a good relationship with my clients is an essential part of our success.

Pets are great.  We encourage folks to include them.  Give us a call anytime to schedule your senior portrait, family or engagement session at 651-426-0232.


“You must have a good camera Barry”

Why yes I do thank you very much.  I actually have a few of them.  But allow me to let you in on a little secret – the camera can’t do a thing without a photographer behind the lens that knows how to use it.

I took a picture recently at a college recital, from the back of the room, with my iPhone that was met with rave reviews.  I adjusted the exposure, framed the shot creatively, and knew just how to do some image editing to make the image really nice, and it was just a camera phone.

A few weeks ago I was photographing one of the Easter services at Eagle Brook church.  I was chatting with a “new photographer” who spotted me walk in with my case.  As we were visiting, I opened my case to get setup with the camera bodies and lenses I was going to be using.  As my case opened, this new photographer was shocked by the array of lenses, flashes and accessories I had neatly packed in my very efficiently designed case.  The question that got to me was this “wow, do you really need all this gear?”

The answer is yes, and no.  For any given exposure, I only need one camera, one lens.  The mark of a true professional is to be armed with the experience, and knowledge to know when and how to the gear on hand.

I enjoyed watching the Masters Golf tournament this year.  I could buy the same driver that Masters Champion Bubba Watson used to win in a playoff, but no one would expect my results to be the same as what Bubba can do with the same exact tool.

Cameras are no different.  While a horrible golfer, can get lucky a bounce a shot off a tree into the hole for a hole in one,  anyone can get lucky and get a great shot, with a variety of cameras, but the key is to be able to create great images in all situations.  I observe photographers out and about that clearly have no idea what their “really nice camera” is doing, and sadly, their results speak for themselves.

The many years I spent using Hasselblad Medium Format cameras, clearly separated me as a professional, and most people noticed not only how different the camera looked from theirs, but also how much better the images were I created.

While the lines have blurred with a rapid increase in the number of DSLR models and features, one this will never change.  The camera is just a tool.

Call me at 651-426-0232 to discuss just how you CAN Experience, Experience!

Thanks for stopping by the blog, time to pack up and go photograph a wedding.


Photography costs too much

Or does it?  In 30 years of business, if there’s one constant, it’s that most photographers know what they are worth, and charge accordingly.  A recent conversation led me to write this post.  While on a commercial shoot this past week, I visited with a bride who saved $1000 by hiring a Facebook friend who is a photographer, instead of hiring me.

We had a great conversation, and oh how she wishes she would have spent the extra money.  As the planning was unfolding, the groom, and her mother were convinced most photographers just charged too much. As a result, she has pictures that she just doesn’t love, and that makes her sad. As it turns out, her photographer had only done a few weddings, and was not able to handle the timing, lighting and logistics of the day.

I won’t dwell on the value that experience, training, skills, awards and professionalism add to a fantastic wedding photography experience.  I know what that is worth.

Cheap just isn’t always the best decision.  Sure, I’ll fill up my tank at whichever station posts the lowest price, but we’ve all gone the cheap route on something only to regret the decision at some point. A friend recently bought a knock off, lame excuse for an mp3 player for his daughter, instead of the iPod she was hoping for.  He saved $50, and felt horrible when he saw the look on her face when she unwrapped the gift.  He made her keep it, but after 3 months, you guessed it, they were off to the Apple store to buy the real deal.

He got a do-over, not all photography is so easy to replace.  Buyer beware is the one thing commonly overlooked today when choosing photographers.  Everyone seems nice, everyone’s pictures look amazing.  You owe it to yourself to make certain you are hiring the right photographer, it’s just that simple.

I have the opportunity to mentor several photographers who are working hard on figuring it out, and that’s great.  It’s the growing number of photographers, that “don’t know, that they don’t really know” what they are doing that is troubling.

Call me anytime to discuss,  Barry, 651-426-0232


Photoshop is a tool, not the answer.

There is a growing notion among consumers, and to a degree photographers, that anything can be done in photoshop.  As time and technology advance, the tools at the avail of professional photographers is both exciting, and at times numbing.

Picture Place Photography has developed a significant market shooting, designing and selling Panoramic Sports Posters.  Clearly, Photoshop is the tool of choice to stitch multiple clumps of athletes into a grouping that appears normal when viewed.  If you’re interested in more technical info, or if your group or organization needs a quote, give me a call.

There is a common misconception however that with Photoshop, any picture can be made to look good.  If only it was that simple, and many inexperienced photographers quickly learn that Photoshop is a lot harder to use, and the results, far more challenging to achieve.

Photoshop is a great piece of software, and I use it daily.  The challenge lies in knowing when to use the capabilities of such software to enhance an image, as opposed to fix it.

The debate will rage forever over what is, or isn’t appropriate to manipulate in a photograph. Photographic evidence (once one of the most reliable forms of evidence) is non-existent today.

We use Photoshop to enhance, retouch, crop and finesse every image we sell.  Everything from correcting acne in a high school senior portrait, to softening wrinkles and age lines on adult clients allow us to create stunning final prints for our clients.  Our exclusive Velvet Touch enhancing uses additional tools that allow us to take retouching to a whole new level.

Rather than looking for someone who is good in Photoshop with a camera, give Picture Place a call at 651-426-0232 to experience the difference.  We just happen to be great photographers, that are also highly skilled in Photoshop–and that sets us apart from many.

30 Year Anniversaries all around.

30 years ago today, I married up and starting a lifelong journey with my college sweetheart.  This is also the year Picture Place is celebrating 30 years in business!

These 30 years have been plenty interesting, and I recall one wedding that really was memorable on the anniversary front.

I photographed a wedding on a VERY snowy December day in the early nineties at a very cozy church in the Roseville area.  The wedding day chosen by the couple was in honor of 3 other family weddings, all on the same date! The bride’s parents, grandparents and older sister all were married on the same date.  Talk about a family that loves making traditions!

It strikes me that this kind of appreciation to legacy and heritage is not getting the attention it once did.  I encourage every bride I meet with to embrace and appreciate the richness of family relationships and traditions.  I am saddened by the number of brides (and grooms) I have met with that care only about themselves.   Statistically, the average age of brides has gone from just under 22 in 1981 when I was married, to just over 26 in 2010, and is expected to hit almost 28 in the 2011 reports.

Why is this important?  30 years ago parents had significantly more input (probably too much in hindsight), and today, the advanced age of the couples has them calling all the shots, and spending the money their way, on what they want.

I recently was asked to critique a wedding shot by a very new (and very young) wedding photographer.  There were some lovely images, but the daunting quantity of shots of the couple was hard to comprehend.  I was surprised that there were only a handful of group shots (poorly thrown together) and no shots of parents or grandparents alone.  When I asked the photographer about that, I was told “no one cares about those boring shots anymore”.

As I celebrate my 30 years, I encourage all my photographer friends to resist the trendy urge to tilt too far to the creative side.  I equally challenge future brides and grooms to take stock of what really matters.  As I looked this morning at my wedding album, I realized my dad was only about a year older than I am now, and boy does that change your perspective.

Photography is the one constant we all have access to as we record our lives, and celebrate the joy only our families can provide in our life journey.  Enjoy this shot from my wedding!   Photographed by Adrian Halvorson.

Merry Christmas to all!


Picture Place Photography

Has anyone seen the Priest yet?

30 years of photographing weddings, families, high school seniors and more have created some memorable moments as a photographer.  Sure, you want your photographer for your wedding to be experienced, skilled, creative, fun… But you might be surprised how important a photographer with good diplomatic skills can be for you.

It was a lovely summer Friday night wedding at one of the oldest churches in Minnesota.  The brides day got off to a bad start when she was informed that she WAS NOT allowed to use one of the rooms in the air conditioned part of the church/office as a brides room.  It was a sticky day, and the thought of the girls changing in a very hot room was not met with grace on behalf of this particular group, and I can’t say I blamed them.   After some colorful screaming exchanges between the bridesmaids, the bride and the church secretary, I intervened and asked if I could speak with the church representative.

I calmly explained how important a non-sweaty bride was for a set of pre-wedding portraits I had planned, and asked if it were possible if the girls could change in an air conditioned room, if we promised to collect all their belongings to be moved into the designated (non a/c) brides room as soon as they were changed and ready for pictures.  The suggestion was met with a smile, and I was glad I was able to settle down a very heated moment and looked forward to a happier bride for pictures (than what I would be had if she fumed her way thru preparations in a 90 degree changing room).

Great story, right?  Oh it got worse.  I finished the pre-ceremony pictures about 45 minutes before the ceremony, a typical 15 minutes ahead of my normal schedule.  With about 30 minutes counting down to the start of the wedding, the bride, and her mother realized no one had seen the Priest yet.  I suggested someone call him right away.  A call was made and to the callers surprise, the Priest answered the phone!  He thought the wedding was the following week, but said not to worry, he’d be there in 5 minutes.   The bride went crazy (very bridezilla) and had some choice words about her Priest.  I again, intervened with two suggestions.  1) The guy will feel bad enough the way it is, you won’t help anything ripping his head off when he arrives.  2) His parish is a good 45 minutes from this church, so why doesn’t someone make an announcement that the start of the wedding will be delayed by 15 minutes to allow guests to step outside for a few minutes if the heat in the church is uncomfortable.

I ended up delivering the announcement (another good reason to dress appropriately for the day).  I made sure to be there when the Priest arrived and delivered a clever, diffusing welcome that got everyone (except the bride) laughing to soften the blow of the whole mess.

The Priest, felt horrible, got through the wedding and I hope my efforts to help everyone through the conflicts of the day were appreciated.   My pictures are always great, but there is so much more to being a great wedding photographer! Give me a call anytime to chat about your wedding dreams, fears and ideas!  Barry 651-426-0232

Time for a good laugh!

Every once in a while, something comes along that is just too good not to share.  If you’ve read this blog, you know how I feel about the state of professional photography.  You know that I have been at this for over three decades, and somehow still am passionate about the profession.

I recently stumbled on a satirical website that brilliantly exposes many of the sentiments that I have blogged about in recent months about the newb photographers that are popping up everywhere.

You can view these short videos at:

Yes, the sidelines of photography are getting pretty crowded these days with so many photographers, but at the end of the day, I know that quality, experience and professionalism will survive.

New photographers aren’t the problem, it’s new photographers that refuse to learn (because they don’t think they need to know anything more than how to turn on their camera).

The journey to become an accomplished photographer is time consuming, and a journey with no final destination.  I am a string player, and a pretty good one at that.  I don’t pretend to be as good as the professionals on stage with the Minnesota Orchestra, and I’m totally fine with that.  Why is it so hard for so many photographers to appreciate the skills and talents of experienced pros?  It is obvious that newb photographers love just heaping on the praise of each other, instead of applying more time and energy to learn how to improve their photography.  You could buy a 5 million dollar Stradivarious violin, but that won’t make you an accomplished violinist.  Cameras are getting better all the time, and I feel saddened that so many newb shooters just don’t seem to realize how much value there is in knowing everything there is to know about how photographs are made, not just snapped.  Even the best camera made just doesn’t make you a better photographer without a better understanding of how it works.

Sure, every photographer looks great on Facebook.  I had the opportunity recently to attend a screening of “The lost Steve Jobs Interview”.  It was really cool (shot in 1995 about a year before he returned to Apple).  One comment he made (talking about the “net”) was that “The smallest company in the world, will be able to look like the biggest company in the world”.

Think about that as you surf countless photographer websites and Facebook pages.

In closing, I’d like to remind everyone that we are photographers.  We are not solving the economic crisis, developing alternative fuels or curing diseases.  We take pictures and need to embrace the role we play capturing the “Milestones and Memories” of lives of our clients.  I can’t prevent the number of folks picking up a camera who are trying to steal business from me every day. What I can do, is continue to do what I do, better than most and have confidence that my customers will figure that out for themselves.

We are proud of the work we produce in every category, and have loved the comments we’ve been getting about our new Velvet Touch retouching we introduced this year for our portrait and wedding clients.

We are finishing celebrating 30 years in business at Picture Place.  It has been quite a run for sure.  I invite you to join us in our continued journey as we try and do our part to make everyone’s lives a little richer through some really great portraits and event photography.  As always, give us a call at 651-426-0232 or visit our website at

I’ll be writing another blog soon (with images) about weddings.

Until next time,

Barry – Picture Place Photography

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.

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.