How you can avoid letting your kid’s “cheesy” smile ruin the family photo




Say cheese….who in the world came up with this?


When meeting with moms during a design consult before a portrait session, one of their biggest concerns is can I get a natural smile without the cheese? I can!! And so can you. The cheese smile, and we all know what it looks like, is fake and unnatural. Its The one you often see in school pictures. The question is how can you get rid of it.


First never… EVER!!!   tell your child to say cheese for the camera unless you want to deal with this forever. Mothers of very young children can avoid this situation by never letting anyone tell them to “say cheese”. This is a learned reaction that you can stop!

If it’s to late and your children have already learned to react this way for the camera,  don’t worry. There are ways to deal with it.  Believe it or not it starts with you.

Learn to be sneaky when using your camera. The biggest give away is the flash. Try turning it off. More on this in a later discussion. You will be surprised how much better your pictures will look.

You may see your child sitting on the couch reading or paying attention to something else. They have that beautiful inquisitive expression that you love. This is what makes a great image…not say cheese! Quick take your shot before they see you.

You have seen me work with your children. Next time really watch what is happening. The best images are the camera unaware moments. Most parents are so concerned that their children are not giving me the reaction that I want, that they often go overboard during the session, trying to get their children to smile… Or worse, say cheese. This makes things harder for everyone. Most often the relaxed natural look will be the image you will fall in love with…this is really your childs best expression.

Watch how I communicate with your children. Many times I will just start talking, ask them them questions. Sometimes I will chat with you, but I am always watching them- just waiting for the moment they let their guard down. That’s the decisive moment you get your image.  Of course practice makes perfect. This is what I do everyday. And just so you know, my own nieces and nephews will work me just like your children will work you. They know when your upset. So relax, and keep in mind-They will always react differently to another adult that’s in charge. In the end natural is always best.

Follow theses simple tips…

 Never ever tell your child to say cheese

Try turning off your flash so your child is not aware of the camera

Learn to be sneaky

And last but not least… Give your kids a break. Don’t get upset because they won’t do what you want them to do. This will only make them hate having their picture taken and remember, There is always tomorrow to try again!

 Keep in mind there is a reason you get your hair cut by a professional and a reason don’t do your own taxes…even though you could!  When it’s important to capture that innocence that will disappear all to soon… Leave the job to a professional. This is what we are trained to do. 


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Flowers in Transitions





I have always loved the amazing and complex beauty of flowers.They speak to me! I can literally spend hours photographing a flower and not know where the time has gone. I especially love the transition a flower goes through during itʼs life. Daily I find myself dropping everything to photograph a flower when I see it change into an interesting
state because I know that ten minutes later it may look completely different.Recognizing that small window of opportunity and having the discipline to act on it, has been key to the success of the flower images.

I am very aware of the short life that flowers have, and have been very interested in photographing them as they transition through the stages of bud to full bloom and
death. As flowers transition through different stages colors change drastically and the textures become intense. Many of my favorite images are of blooms well past their

In the beginning of this project I was more interested in finding unique flowers to photograph, but very quickly I began to experiment with more common flowers and realized that every flower was an incredibly interesting subject to photograph. Some of my favorite images are of flowers I found along the roadside blooming wild, or in my studio garden.

When you look at a flower through the camera lens you see things that you may never have noticed when viewing them with the naked eye. I love the complex textures the intense colors and the unexpected shapes. Some are soft and gentle in their beauty,
some are bold, many are funny and some are just strange, proving that God has an intense sense of humor and a strong imagination.

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Going unplugged is the newest wedding trend!


There is a reason brides and grooms are asking their guest to UNPLUG

I happen to channel surf by Fox and Friends today and catch a few minutes. I stopped and watched because I saw they were talking about wedding photography. There was a photo of a number of guest blocking the bride as she came down the aisle and the professional photographer had taken to Facebook to complain about the guest getting in his way while he tried to do the job the couple hired him to do.

I found it interesting that the Fox host took the opportunity to talk about how staged professional photography was, how long it took to get your images after the wedding and other disparaging remarks. They went on to say that at least now, the wedding couple could see their wedding images posted on FB right away. I guess that could be true! But, if the images are terrible, as most are, the couple could be very embarrassed by how bad they look. Sadly this is often the case. Recently, a bride told me how she thought the FB pictures her friends had posted made her look fat, and how it had runined her wedding day for her.

The value of having a Professional Photograher at your Wedding

Nobody at Fox seemed to recognizing the value of having a professional photographer at the wedding. Guest with cell phones can ruin the very moments they were talking about. There is no way to stage a bride coming down the aisle with her father towards the groom! That’s a completely candid moment, and when guests get between a professional photographer and the bride they can ruin that moment for the groom, and the couples parents, as thier veiw is often blocked by the standing guest. Not to mention the lost opportunity of a professional image of what is surly one of the most important moments of a wedding service. It would seem, that everyone thinks they are a photographer now days just because they have a camera in their cell phones.

Should wedding photographers be afraid they will lose jobs to guest with cell phones? 

The broadcasters even went so far as to say the professional photographer was just afraid that he was going to lose a job because of cell phones! What a ridiculous statement! While trying to capture a moment of your friends wedding with your cell phone is understood, it should be said that you’re not going be expected to bake cupcakes and bring them instead of a wedding cake nor are you expected to help the bride design and sew her wedding gown! Let’s certainly hope you are not expected to help cook dinner or serve it even though I expect most guest know how to cook! Can you imagine walking into the kitchen during a wedding and whipping up a few of your fave dishes for the other guest? Of course not! Why then, would you expect to help take the pictures?

Ok maybe this is a bit of a rant … But come on! As a professional wedding photographer, I know the value that these images bring to my clients after their wedding, and while I certainly don’t mind people using their cell phones occasionally during a wedding, there is a reason the biggest trend in weddings these days is going “unplugged.” This is when guest are asked to put down their cell Phones and enjoy the event!

Rant of a worried photographer, or just plain common sense, you decide! The host on Fox and Friends apparently have no idea what the true value of a professional wedding photographer is. The truth is most cell phone photos look about as good as the Betty Crocker cake a guest could provide would taste! To insinuate that a guest with a cell phone can possibly do the job of a professional photographer is just plain… well silly!

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Arbus Art and Business magazine of North Florida


It is really exciting to be the featured artist on the Cover of this months Arbus magazine
in association with Unity Plaza and the opening of my “Flowers in Transition” show, October 29th at the Trasher Horne Center at St.Johns State College. The show is the official introduction of my Fine Art flower photography to North Florida.

The show will be exhibited in the beautiful Jack Mitchell Gallery located in the Thrasher Horne Center. The show is open to the public during Box office hours. The public meet the artist reception will be October 29th from 7:30 PM until 9PM

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Dancer in the Utah Salt flats


I have always wanted to visit the Salt Flats in Utah. I recently spoke at the Inner Mountain Professional Photographers Convention and got a chance to visit the Bonnyville Salt Flats. I was fortunate to be able to have a beautiful dancer make the two hour drive out to the flats with me.

Even though Utah was technically in a drought situation the flats were not completely dry. Have you ever walked on wet salt? It’s an interesting feeling. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the very first available Canon Mark 5s camera’s with it’s amazing 50MB file. What a great way to break in a new camera! Wet salt and a dancer! My good friend Drake Busath helped me out with one of his photographers and another dancer went along to help with ideas and posing.

The light can be very harsh on the Salt Flats, much like photographing on the beach, and this day was no exception. We ended up photographing until 10:45 at night. The later it got the more romantic and beautiful the light got. I think it is important for photographers to get outside of their box and try new things. The flats were defiantly a challenge, But we ended up getting some amazing images.

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