Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Perfect Moments

I have never been a big fan of saying a word when taking pictures. Like "Say 'Pruning Sheers' Sally!" And don't even get me started on "cheese". Yes, the long "eeee" makes your lips stretch across your teeth, Henry Higgins, but in the most uninspired of manners possible. So getting a family to all look my way with an expression of pain and misery isn't my thing. The Cindy, Christopher, Chris and Claudia Family shows you why. The picture of the whole family at the tree is really nice, beautifully composed, beautiful light, beautiful family, but it's not like anyone has anything going on in their heads besides "let's just get this over with". It's a typical "cheese-er". But the shot of the family all sitting together...MAGIC! Look at the mommy looking at that sweet little baby, all in love with his chubby little self. Look at sweet little Claudia with her arm around her daddy, burrowing her little body as close to him as humanly possible. Look at Chris, leaning his head naturally towards his beautiful wife, showing how much he loves her and respects her. It's a magical moment, and (Gasp) one person isn't even looking directly at the camera. Ooh. Aah. Look at Claudia in the picture where she's running, and the "Ooh" face of baby Christopher in the shot on the tree with his mommy. Look at the proud look on the Daddy's face as he holds that baby. The one where they are both smiling at the camera is a great one, but the one after Daddy thought I was done where he's holding Christopher up in the air and they're both laughing...well, it's just very special. These guys had shot after shot like this. It made me feel really lucky to be able to do what I do.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I had a delightful session with the absolutely Shefali and her equally beautiful family at the Anthem Country Club, which is my favorite place to shoot late afternoons because of the fabulous light and tons of different terrain in just a very small area. The family was dressed in traditional Indian wear, but they were totally open to getting crazy, as you can see. I loved those guys! And the way her husband looked at her, I just swooned. He loves her so much!! What a great family.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

updates...You need updates!!

Oh my goodness...It has been a very long time since I have updated my site...please forgive me. I have really been at it. This is my favorite shot of a high school senior, Jill. We had such a fun time shooting at the JW Marriott! Jill was one of those perfect clients who just walk in and feel pretty and go for it hard. She was an absolute pleasure to shoot.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Giving Back

The wild and crazy holiday season is rapidly approaching, and I always take the season as an opportunity to see how I can give. Giving back is so important to me. I have been so very fortunate in my life, and sharing the abundance of my experience is the best. I don't have many talents...I'm a terrible committee person, for example. I go crazy in meetings, but I really want to help. Doing what I do, I get to help, without being on any committes! I meet the coolest people, too. I might not have even met The Raddocio Family, had they and I not been helping Team Wish. And they were such a fun shoot. They adopted their two beauties very recently, and I was very excited to be a part of their first family photo. Everyone had a lot of fun, and it was so beautiful for me to see how much love they all had for each other. Their parents had made a donation to team WISH, and recieved my gift of a free photo session and painted 8x10 as a thank you for their donation. I am helping Team WISH again this year, The Anthem Country Club's ClubCorp's Charity Classic, and ChildsPlay, a wonderful theatre company in Tempe, as well as Light the Night, a walk to benefit blood cancer research, in honor of Leukemia Survivor and my Zoe's close friend, Chloe. If you are interested in helping a great cause, and receiving some beautiful portraits of your family as a heartfelt thank you for your gift, please get in touch with me. Email me at photbarb@aol.com, or visit my website, barbstitzer.com, or leave a comment under this blog post, or call me at 480.861.4529, and we can talk. You won't believe how much fun it is to give!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Phoenix Photowalk--Mix it Up!

I did something that I never do last night, which is join a group on a walk, the Phoenix Photowalk, organized by the NAPP, (National Association of Photoshop Professionals.) I must admit, after I got over my initial shyness, I had a great time. I shot some models, met some very funny and interesting photographers, including one very cool woman who sat by me at dinner, who had so much in common with me, it was scary...including saying one thing that I always say, which is that I roll around on the floor all day with the kids I shoot, so that made me laugh... and made me realize that I really don't get out enough. The amount of guys who have been at it for 20 years, just for the love of photography, never imagining that they could make enough to get paid floored me. I thought it was so cool, to shoot whatever I wanted, so I did, which was very freeing for me and just kind of re-engineered my feeling of how much I love what I do. I broke free from the models and started shooting a little boy who was in the waterpark running around with such joy and abandon that it just made my heart happy, and then I waited until after the sun set and shot the Tempe bridge. The people behind me were all like, "Why is she shooting now, she lost the light?" I just wanted to turn around and tell them, but I didn't because I didn't want to make them felel funny, so I'll tell you--the best light to shoot landscapes is after the sun sets--try it. You'll be so surprised.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Baby Alyssa and Mom Jen

I shot the beautiful Jen and beautiful baby Alyssa yesterday. Alyssa lasted sooo long, and crashed soooo hard after the shoot! She did a great job, holding her little sweet head up and smiling away, having a little bit of tummy time before turning into a baby Marilyn Monroe and having rose petals poured all over her. She loved the rose petals! Then they laid down and the girls snuggled a little, which made me want to have a baby all over again. It was such a beautiful moment, the way Jen looked at that baby was breathtaking. I felt very privileged to be a part of it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Arizona's Working Parent of the Year-- Me?

I was recently informed that I am a top ten finalist for Arizona's Working Parent of the Year. How cool is that? It makes me feel really great that people think that I'm a good parent, because my baby girls are the most important things in my life. I don't even feel like I work...I just laugh and have fun hanging out with super nice people and then the next time I see them, they cry and hug me and bring me baked goods. I'll find out next Saturday if I win. Wish me luck! Both of these images of myself with the girls were taken while we were shooting in Jamaica this past May, by my sweet little husband, Buzz, who denies any responsibility whatsoever. I think he did a great job!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

How to Pose for your Headshot--get the Tension out.

I was asked by the Great Donna Kublin, President of the Arts Council of the North Valley, to take this headshot of the new Chair, Doug Clark, who is a realtor, and is also a Republican member of the House of Representatives. He was so handsome and nice and self effacing, and he brought his ridiculously polite and interesting son with him. The whole thing took less than 20 minutes, including powder, shirt change and test shots. He was a great subject. This man has this picture thing down! Doug was very relaxed, and didn't have any tension showing the whole time we shot, which was really cool. One thing that I noticed about him is that he was totally up for anything that I asked of him, which is rare...it shouldn't be, because you as a photographic subject should be totally willing throw yourself into your photographer's hands, without being pummeled into submission, but as you know, having your pictures taken feels awkward sometimes, so people stiffen up. Doug didn't. Most people hold tension in their mouths, or shoulders, or, strange as it may seem, their hands, and when in stressful situations, like going to the dentist, getting assulted by a burgular, having your picture taken (!), the stress starts there. If you wake up in the morning and your jaw hurts, you hold tension in your mouth. Take special care not to clench when you are having your pictures taken. Open your mouth...just a little. Let your lips come apart a little. You can't clench your teeth with your mouth open, now can you? Likewise with your hands. If you're in a scary movie and have to take the person next to you to the hospital for severe brusing, you are a squeezer. There's nothing that turns a tender, endearing shot of a mother and child into a claw handed nightmare than someone who holds tension in their hands. Practice relaxing your hand by holding sand, or an egg during stressful situations before your photo shoot. A huge tension gatherer is in your shoulders. Stand sideways and look in the mirror. If your shoulders are covering your ears and you're not auditioning for a J.K. Rowling film, you have a problem. The best way to get the tension is to let a friend, one of those friends who is usually too pushy for every day hanging around with, in on your secret. Ask him or her to push your shoulders down every time they see them riding up. If your friend isn't around, keep pushing your shoulders down for two weeks. You'll be so surprised at how often your shoulders are up and how high they are. The biggest place that people hold their tension is their foreheads. Take a big piece of tape, stick it on your forehead, and go about your day. You should probably do this while you're at home, preferably alone, but I have witnessed some of my queen bee models walking through the mall with tape on their foreheads, probably being copied by whe wannabees of the world
the next day at school in an attempt to be cool. You will not believe how many times that tapes pulls at your forehead throughout the day. Keep the tape on for a couple of weeks and your eyebrows will stop having a mind of their own. As an extra added bonus, you won't need Botox nearly as often.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Dennis Family

I have been shooting the Dennis family since Natalie Dennis was born. I put her tiny little self into a basket, ans she just slept away while we shot her in all of her beautiful baby glory. Now she's nine and a half, which makes me older than dirt. Still glorious, but piercing blue eyes wide open, along with her parents whom I adore, and her grandparents who I wish would adopt me, but more about them later, strong silent type brother Michael and sister, "wild woman of the west", Michelle, we had a lot of fun!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Senior Picture Time!

There are Senior Pictures and then there are SENIOR PICTURES. Last week I shot a SENIOR PICTURE. By all rights, it should have been a tough shoot...115 degrees, a dog was involved, boys notoriously hate Senior Pictures, but this Zach was so incredibly cool. He is quite possibly the best swimmer in the state, recruited by EVERY school in the Big Ten, plus Navy, super smart, interesting, funny, has a great look, yet was completely self effacing and modest about his accomplishments, with the nicest mom and sweetest girlfriend to boot. Even the dog was the coolest dog ever. I love it when a plan comes together. It's days like these that make me just love my job. These pictures, by the way, except for the painting, are completely untouched.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I shot the coolest little boys this weekend, Luke, Ty, and Jack,sitting on a rock in Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe, at sunset. They were all boy, just scampering around on the rocks. I just loved being a part of it. I never get to shoot boys, so this was a great time for me. Afterward, I stood in the lake and they all jumped in and splashed around. It was so cold! I got the towel shots afterwards when they were all warm and cozy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The California Earthquake had Nothing on this. Knowing When to Cut Your Losses.

So you're at a shoot, feeling good, and all of a sudden the baby you're shooting freaks out and starts crying in your direction. What do you do? In my experience, a baby can recover twice from crying, but the third time, pack up, it's over. But what if the baby you're shooting doesn't stop crying, and in fact, is crying AT you?

I had the privilege of shooting a four generation picture of a lovely baby this past week,, with her beautiful mother, ridiculously personable, cool grandmother, who definitely doesn't look like a grandmother, and amazing great grandmother, who was a tremendously good sport hanging around outside in 90 degree plus weather, along with adorable big brothers and an aunt who truly doesn't look like she just had a baby two months ago, and the sweetest little girl cousins. All went really great, until the shoot was pretty much over and I was just taking my last few grab shots, which are usually the best shots of the group, because everyone feels like the shoot is over and finally relax. It's usually the best part of the day...I get amazing shots, everyone feels great...but my sweet little baby started screaming and wouldn't stop unless I was out of sight! Golly, I was totally embarrassed. It felt like the house was shaking. I started sweating. I don't sweat. My husband reveres my sweatless self, because I never sweat, never. But Secret, you failed me that day, because I had rivulets of ice cold sweat dripping down my back as I watched that baby scream. Not to say that people don't scream at the sight of me, but usually it's ummmm...joy? short-lived? Not vehement enough to cause glass to break? I secretly wanted to take the picture, and indeed, I have done it with my own kids, but, not knowing this client, didn't want to offend further. I tried humor,I tried to sing to the baby. I tried the fail proof peek a boo...nothing. Having nothing but time, I started to think about it. I mean, really, a person comes into your home, does a little itsy bitsy spider and a hokey pokey or two and hides their eyes behind a big black thing, and a child is supposed to look at the black thing and smile? Barbaric. Why would a child smile at a big black thing where a face should be? That kind of thing is a social grace, like using the serving spoon to put the potato salad on your own plate instead scooping from the community bowl with fingers of questionable origin. I get it. I wanted to scream myself. The decibel level increased. The baby was screaming on the exhale AND the inhale. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to ask for my check, but I had to be paid, and who wants to pay a person for making their child cry? So I did the only thing I could do. I looked at my film, and, gratified to see that I had a enough major winners that the mom will love me later, made a lame joke about how horrid it is to pay a person for making their kid cry, grabbed my check, and made my exit. As soon as I left, the baby stopped crying. I stopped sweating. And bless her heart, the mom made the check out for more than my sitting fee. After I made her baby cry! I don't think I would have been that generous. Good golly I love my job.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Portrait of a Diver...or How to Express Joy Without Even Trying...(but with a Lot of Photoshop!)

The original...10 layers in photoshop

...and two views of different little tweaks of the layers...bringing some layers forward and changing opacity on others...I'm not sure which one I like best...what do you think?

I was feeling pretty low today after I heard that the man I photographed had passed away, and I wasn't able to sleep at all, so I wanted to make something really alive of someone filled with joy. My daughter's diving teacher, Jeff Kunselman, has so much joy when he dives that for the past couple of summers I have been photographing him and making him a gift as a thank you for passing that kind of joy to Zoe, and this is what I came up with tonight. A couple of weeks ago, I shot him diving off the high dive, which he does all the time during class, just for the fun of it, (remember, when you shoot action, make sure to put your shutter speed at above 250 or else your picture will be mush) and then tonight I put down layers, ten of them, of him in his various stages of dive. I removed all of the opacity of nine of the layers, then worked on removing the environment around him with the eraser tool and the magnetic lasso tool, which I absolutely adore...it makes everything so much easier all the way around...and played with the hue and saturation of each layer. Then I duplicated the shot and made each different shot a different color and duplicated and flattened the whole thing and put those layers on top of the whole thing, and I started playing with moving the layers slightly up , down and to the side, and working with different opacities and moving layers around to see which layers should go closer to the top. I made an additional layer of just him standing on the board and enlarged it with the transform tool, then adjusted hue and saturation of him so that it looked right. You can tell that he just loves to dive, and it made me feel a lot better just working on it. I am really going to work on feeling the joy every day from now on.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tell Them How Much You Love Them. A Lesson I Learned.

Today was a day like every other day. I catered to my children's whims. They fought anyway. I planted flowers. I did some laundry. And a man that I photographed last month died.

It was a casual thing. I was there, he was there. Someone said something funny. He laughed. I took his picture. I posted it with the rest of the pictures I took that day. No one bought it. No big deal. It wasn't his big day. He just happened to be there with a great big deep laugh coming out of his robust frame, his blue eyes crinkling at the corners; a kindly giant kneeling among a bevy of flitting butterfly princesses. I sent it as a gift anyway. And then he died. I took the last picture that was taken of him. They thanked me. I sobbed. And I hugged my family tight.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Proof that it's Not the Size of the Wand, It's the Magic the Wand Possesses

before painter

after painter

We just got home from our Watercolor junket, and I had to do a quickie painting of the spectacular WaterSound, Florida dunes and St. Helen Park in Inlet Beach, Florida. I need to mention that these shots were taken with a point and shoot camera (!) (because everyone in myu class only had point and shoots, so I wanted to shoot with them to show them how to make the most out of their cameras) which was pretty cool for me...I had never used one before, and I was impressed with the quality of the pictures, as well as the video and underwater features of the Olympus Stylus. Very much fun. I'm shooting in Reno and Lake Tahoe next week, as well as hanging out with our goos friends, the Dennis's and the the Skowroneks. Let me know if you want me to hang out and point and shoot with you. Even if you own a DSLR.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Light, Shadow, and Sand Castles with the Olympus Stylus

Today the beginning photography class I'm teaching in Watercolor, Florida moved east on Highway 30A to Rosemary Beach to shoot light and shadow at a sand castle building class. As I mentioned earlier, no one has SLR's, just point and shoots, so I punted, bought a point and shoot, and am teaching the class with that. Although mine is a cool one...it goes underwater for up to 30 minutes, (and got shrieks and gasps at the pool when my youngest, TT, ran over to my beach bag, grabbed it, and jumped with it onto her little crab float into the pool last night with a giant splash, )everyone knows that if you backlight with a point and shoot, you usually get a perfectly exposed background with totally dark, non-detailed faces. Well, it seems that this bad boy Olympus Stylus has the ability to meter on shadow and then transfer its findings to the big picture, so I, of course, didn't have a care in the world. But what about everyone else in the point and shoot world? The answer, my friends, is fill flash. While using a flash in the day time sounds counter intuitive, fill flash will fill in those harsh shadows like nobody's business, and You will be a photography hero in no time when your family sees their bright, shiny faces in pictures, while while still maintaining a nice shadow balance, which means that while your shot will still allow the highlights and shadow to shine through, it won't look all boring and blown out. Everyone's sand castles looked outstanding from our 9 a.m. till 11 a.m. shoot...I'm proud of my class! I can't wait to upload the pictures to show you! By the way, if you have any photos that look a certain way and you can't understand why, email them to me at photobarb@aol.com with a description of what you did, if possible, and I will try to let you know how to change it out the next time. Remember, taking pictures is supposed to be fun!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

It's Not the Size of the Wand. It's the Magic the Wand Posesses.

It's not the size of the wand. It's the magic the Wand posesses that counts. Today was the first day of my photography seminar in Watercolor, Florida. It is a beginning photography class, but one thing I didn't think of was to tell everyone to bring SLR type cameras, I just figured that if they were interested in photography, they would own a camera that you can put in manual mode...that means you, dear reader. If you are interested in photography and you aren't putting your new fancy new DSLR camera in manual mode, you might as well have a point and shoot, because the camera will be in charge of you, and not the other way around.

Well, today, every single person brought a point and shoot! I am here to tell you, as a person who has never had close personal contact with a point and shoot before, I pretty much freaked out, because everyone had questions that I wasn't sure I could answer. I went into instant freak out, panic, shove down a dozen donuts and panic some more mode, and then, just as I was set to embark on the next dozen, something inside me snapped and I just let go.

I don't know if it was the rain, the sweet faces of my absolutely cool students, Brian, Margo, Elliot, Jeffrey, Sarah from Alabama, Sarah from Tennessee, Jennifer, Julia, Jason, and Karen, or just a sugar high, but all of a sudden I just started giggling. If you can't beat them, join them, I always say. I called my trusty hubby and he ran out and got me a very cute little pink Olympus Stylus that seems to be indestructible...you can take it underwater to ten feet for a very long time, drop it from ten feet, change the ISO, adjust for macro, super macro, movement, blur, adjust the lighting for daylight, backlight, tungsten, and a couple of different flourescents, shoot in the rule of thirds insteadof those center weighted guys. I was impressed...It pretty much does everything except the laundry for you...gosh darn it...well, I guess that's why I have my hubby, now isn't it? So, in typical Barbara Stitzer fashion, I am learning as I go, and am for the duration of this whole course am going to become one with my mega macho pink camera, (whom I've named Pookie, of course, ) and then I'll show you what I did with it...and I am willing to bet that it's going to be pretty gosh darn cool. I'll be back after I snarf another donut.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Upcoming Workshops and Shoots

I just shipped my equipment to Florida for my upcoming photo workshop and photo shoots in the amazing Watercolor, Florida. I have rented a cool Victorian House, and will be doing a day on window light, a day on studio light, and a day and an evening on sunset shoots, even if the weather isn't holding up, because in life, light is crazy, even is Arizona, where there are 300 days of sunshine a year, and especially in somewhere like Florida, where it's almost guaranteed to rain every day. When I lived on Kaua'i, it rained every day, and, let me tell you, I should have bought stock in the Glad company, because the Ziplock baggie was my best friend.

Watercolor has special characteristics, and with these characteristics, challenges...the sand is super white, which can throw your meter off majorly, and the water clear and reflective; you can see your feet even when you're 30 yards off shore, and the light bouncing off the water can work a number on the old meter, as well. Also, there are a million, billion people out there...so I'm going to cover how to keep your cool when someone walks through your shot, and how to keep your clients focused, which is a biggie...people love to look around when there are spectators around, even when they're paying you good money to make them look your way. ;) They also love to talk to each other...it's like photographing people who are eating--don't do it! You have to make them ignore the crowds...a surefire way? It's covered in my seminar!