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My Favorite Images 2016

Every year, as we close out our files for the year and prepare for the next, I like to look through the images I created and share of my favorites, along with a little story on each of them.

At the risk of sounding self indulgent, I do try to think of myself as an artist, and artists need to grow, or quit. Stagnation is just not an option. This exercise is helpful to me because it allows me to review how my work has grown, where I need to improve, and where I’ve had some success.

It is also interesting to me that at times my favorite images, and the ones that seem to win awards and recognition, are often not the same images my clients choose to own. This year that seems to be improving. So, either I am getting more in tune with what my clients are looking for, or more clients are seeking me out who appreciate what I do!

Anyway, here in no particular order, are some of my personal favorite images from 2016!  Please feel free to leave me some comments. I do read them all and they are important to me. Be nice. Spammy or inappropriate comments will be removed.

Capturing peak action is much more difficult than it seems. Often times I have to ask my subject to do something energetic and physically demanding over and over and over again. I was lucky this time to have a girl really up to the task. So naturally, I had to make it even more difficult by adding an avalanche of silk rose petals to the mix.

I remember ordering 5,000 silk rose petals online, only to have them show up in a small 6×9 envelope, all squished together like a stack of Pringels.  It took my wife and I three nights watching TV and pealing apart flower petals to get enough for this shot. And yes, I did fill in a couple empty spots here and there with flowers in Photoshop, but this image is pretty much how it was shot straight in camera.

Even though we do a lot of promotional headshots for actors and performers, this stunning image was actually created as part of this young lady’s senior portrait session. She is a gifted vocalist and wanted an image that would reflect that. I borrowed the vintage microphone from a friend who has a recording studio (yes, it’s real) and added strong backlighting to her hair to give it a theatrical look. Using my signature ringlight gives her eyes a magical sparkle and really made for an image that forces you to look, and look again.

Sometimes, the fleeting unguarded moments between shots when you are adjusting lights or camera settings can give you a glimpse into someone’s soul. There is a reason that the Old Master painters rarely portrayed their subjects with big smiles. I wish more people could appreciate that, because a quiet, introspective expression can say so much more. This was photographed in my studio with nothing more than window light, a pretty girl, and my camera.

I don’t always do portraits strictly for people to hang in their homes. Photography plays a vital part in helping businesses establish their brand and reach their clients as well.

This fun crew of young women run a fitness website that helps make fitness fun and enjoyable. I worked with them to create a series of images for their website that conveys exactly that message. These were shot on green screen, so the web designers could drop in any type of background that would work best for their design. But I love the energy of this shot. Almost makes me want to go to the gym! I said almost.

Scholar, athlete, musician. This kid has it all. He had been in the studio earlier in the day for more traditional shots and I convinced him to bring his cello with him to the football field that evening for something different. I actually had him playing something and still can hear the haunting melody when viewing this image. I love the way the halo flare from the field lights looks like a cloud shrouded moon in the upper right corner. Completely accidental, but I’ll gladly take credit for it!

Portraits are all about capturing emotion, and I don’t think there were many images I did in 2016 that do that better than this one.

We got lost on the way to this shoot at the stables where this girl boards her horse. By the time we found it, we had only about 15 minutes of sunlight left. I powered through a bunch of regular “poses” that I knew the clients would love, and then after doing the smiling at the camera shot, told the girl to give the horse a kiss almost as an afterthought. I added a slight texture overlay to give it a little more of a “painted” look. Beautiful!

My granddaughter turned 3 in 2016 and her favorite color is yellow.

I had stopped on the way to shoot her birthday portrait at the party store and bought a whole bundle of yellow balloons. My camera room has very high ceilings, so when I got inside I let the balloons go up to the ceiling until I was ready for them, not realizing that because heat rises, the temperature near the top was probably 20 degrees hotter than the rest of the room. The balloons quickly started bursting in rapid succession and by the time I realized what was happening, we were down to just 3 balloons. So now I pretend we intentionally choose just three because it was her 3rd birthday.

So I’m coming clean. It was purely an accident.

Because of how we choose to shoot many of our senior sessions, we get to go to a lot of cool locations.

This is the boathouse on Cooper River, and this girl is coxswain of her school’s crew team, and wanted portraits that showed that aspect of her life. The inside of the boathouse was big, and dark, and required a lot of additional lighting to capture. This image  took a total of 4 off camera speedlights to illuminate, but I think it was well worth the extra effort.

Speaking of lighting challenges, nothing is more difficult to light than a sexy sports car.

For this image, I used a technique called “light painting”. It involves actually moving all around, inside, and even under the vehicle with lights, making as many as 100 different exposures. I combine them later in Photoshop to create an image with details that simply could not be done in one shot.

This was shot in my studio parking lot, and I decided at the last minute to wet down the pavement with a garden hose to give it that super sexy look.

I sometimes work with models who are looking to add a particular look or style to their portfolios. This young woman, with her bright red hair and tattoos, was looking for something with a “Steampunk” vibe. If you don’t know what it is, Google it. It’s a whole subculture.

I used an area in my camera room often used for executive portraits. I found an old gas lantern in the basement (the previous owners where antique buffs and left us a lot of cool stuff). I lit it from inside by putting a small flash with a colored gel inside it.  Then I gave the whole image a kind of muted color, punched up detail look.

But the model’s attitude and pose is really what makes it work. I love starting with a picture in my head and then working to make it come to life. Its the closest we get to actual magic.

Speaking of redheads, this woman is an amazingly talented photographer herself, and a friend of mine. She has very striking features and stunning natural red hair and I’ve been trying to get her to model for me for several years. 2016 the stars aligned and this is from my first, and only session with her.

I added a texture overlay to the image to give it a more ethereal look than a conventional photographic print. After the shoot she told me that this was one of the only pictures of her that her mother actually fell in love with! So that should be my new tag line, “Making Mom’s Fall in Love Since 1981.”

This is my friend Annie, who survived breast cancer in 2015. Like me, she is a diver and we have shared many exciting underwater adventures.

Annie is being inducted into the Atlantic County Women’s Hall of Fame in 2017 for her many philanthropic works. She needed an updated portrait, but I knew that a typical grinning mugshot wouldn’t do her justice. Windowlight, two reflectors and eyes that tell a story of bravery and compassion.

This senior’s mom had a very specific request for his senior portraits.

Something that really spoke to the transition from boy to man, and to high school graduation as the beginning of the journey, and not the end of one. Oh, and she wanted pretty fall colors too.

No sweat.

Speaking of milestones, a child’s First Communion should certainly qualify.

I swear though, if I see one more picture of a kid standing next to white Grecian columns or holding their hands together pretending to pray with Jesus smiling down on them, I think I’m going to loose it. LOL

Portraits can be beautiful and timeless without a lot of “STUFF”. Simplicity.

I had found these beautiful antique mirrors in a thrift shop a few years ago, and I think I scored them for like $30 or $40! They were broken and had to be glued back together, but they are just sooooo beautiful and I knew that would be the perfect counterpoint to this stunning girl and her elegant dress. Yes, this is the same girl leaping with the flower petals in the first picture. Beautiful and talented!

I decided to add the single candle in the right corner just to break the darkness in that corner… but the beautiful expression is what makes this portrait one I will always be proud of.

I currently have this as a 36″ print above my fireplace in the studio lobby, where it kind of makes the whole room sing with beauty and elegance.

As a working pro, I don’t often get to shoot “just for me” and sometimes we tend to overlook the simple beauty that surrounds us.

I noticed this simple scene in my studio yard one day and decided to shoot it. Something I probably walked by 30 times without ever really “seeing” it. Stop and smell the roses. Or, whatever those blue flowers are. Smell that too. Its all good.

We will go on location almost anywhere to get “the shot”. This senior wanted to do some shots where he wrestles. This is actually the spot where his team practices, and it was literally about 100 degrees in there the day we went to shoot. No air conditioning, or at least it wasn’t turned on for us.

The sweat actually looked kind of good on him, so it wan’t a problem, but I’m sure I was a sight as a dripping sweaty disheveled mess. Not to mention, the camera lenses kept fogging up coming from the air conditioned car, and I had all kinds of problems getting my accent lights to fire consistently.

It all worked out, and I love the intensity of the shot and the splash of bright red on the mat.

Another “Peak Action” shot that is way harder than it looks.

We have to carefully light the subjects here with strobes that can “freeze” the action, while keeping the shutter speed set so that we keep the background subdued, but not completely black. Then time the shutter release just a fraction before you anticipate the peak moment will be, because it takes a fraction of a second for the focus to lock, the mirror to get out of the way, the shutter to open and fire the remote lights. Hundredths of a second maybe, but if you try to push the shutter button at the exact moment you see the shot, you will miss it every time.

This one worked. I always tell my kids when doing this type of shot… it’s a lot like hitting a baseball. If you can do it 3 times out of 10 you’re doing pretty damn good.

We were supposed to do an awesome fashion shoot with our Senior Model Team at this amazing junkyard last year. Actually it’s more like a museum than a junkyard.

On the way to the shoot a driver involved in a road rage incident with another car crossed the median and hit Bonnie’s car with her and 3 of our Model Team members in it. The car was totaled, and the girls were all taken to the hospital  to get checked out, so naturally, the shoot didn’t happen.

I did have these awesome images I had taken a few weeks prior when we went to scout the place. I’d love to get back there again soon.

My niece got married this summer in Florida. I don’t actually do weddings, but it was my niece, so….

Florida in July is, well lets just say it’s pretty hot. We had about 15 minutes outside before people starting wilting. And did I mention it rains every afternoon? It did give me a great appreciation for what wedding photographers do. In fact, I wrote a blog post about it. You can read about it here.

We do photograph a lot of dancers and this one wanted something totally different.

She suggest wrapping herself in Christmas lights. This was about a week after the car wreck on the way to our fashion shoot and with the way our luck was running I wasn’t too keen on wrapping a kid in 120 volt wires for a photoshoot. Luckily, I found these LED fairy lights that were 12 volts and much more safe.

I had to shoot using just the modeling lights from my studio lights in order to have the little led lamps register, which means my subject had to hold pretty still and couldn’t really “move” through the pose. Still I love the way it turned out… magical and dreamlike.

It is so sad to me that classical portraiture is becoming a lost art form. There is something so timeless and pure about an impeccably lit, well posed classic portrait.

Today all you see is people in parks, on railroad tracks, and standing by dilapidated buildings with bad lighting and sun flare. I love this image because it is timeless and elegant. Not to mention, there are not many photographers left who can do it.

I have often said that you could take away all of my fancy studio lights and just give me a window and a simple background and I’d be happy creating gorgeous portraits all day long.

I love the higher than normal angle of this which forces you to connect with her eyes, and the out of focus “bokeh” in the foreground (which is really just a glass vase held in front of the lens) gives this beautiful portrait a sense of mystical sparkle.

Cutting into the top of the head is a technique used a lot in fashion photography. It imparts a feeling of energy to the image and places the eyes and face in a part of the frame where it is hard not to look at them.

I love using contemporary techniques in photography so the image not only looks like it came right out of  a magazine, but it captures both the beauty and personality of my subject.

This one will finish off my collection for 2016. A pretty simple shot really, but the addition of the 3 dimensional lighting, plus exposing the background and ice to bring out a “grittier” tone, I thinks adds a lot to the edgier feel of an otherwise “typical” portrait of a hockey player.

We usually think of ice as smooth and glossy. But a hockey player sees it as a field of battle… ripped and torn.

So, there you have some of my favorites for 2016. There were many more, it was hard to choose, but I hope you enjoyed seeing them and reading a little about either the thought process, techniques, or back story behind them. Now, to get pumped for 2017…..

Also posted in Dennis Kelly Customers, Uncategorized Tagged |

I Shot a Wedding!

Last weekend I shot a wedding!

037KellyDean-9381-2Why is this news for a photographer?

Because I hadn’t shot a wedding since 1995.

I used to shoot lots and lots of weddings. In fact, I shot my very first professional wedding solo when I was just 17 years old. I had been assisting my first mentor in photography at weddings for over a year, but I had to wait until I got my driver’s license to shoot on my own. So, I think like 3 weeks after my 17th birthday… I was shooting solo.

002KellyDean-9270Back in those days we used to go to a wedding with 10 rolls of 120 film. That’s 12 exposures per roll, 120 pictures maximum. But, you were expected to bring 2 rolls back… they were for “emergencies”. So… 96 pictures is what you were expected to shoot. So you had to make each shot count. 96 pictures over a typical 10 hour day… do the math, there was a lot of waiting around for things to happen.

After the wedding, you would drop the film in a bag and wait for a professional lab to process it and make proofs. Then you stick the proofs in a little book, or tie them up with a nice ribbon and put them in a fancy box… and you were done until the bride and groom had time to make their selections. Those days are long gone.

After that, I shot weddings for a number of area studios, and later for my own studio, often shooting 2 or 3 weddings on a given weekend.

By the time I decided to retire from wedding photography, a typical wedding had expanded to around 200-250 shots.

Why did I quit?

A couple reasons… I had young children and I was tired of missing them growing up because I had to work every single weekend.

Also, I came to realize that even though I was one of the most expensive photographers in the area, when I factored in all the hours that go into the production of photographic wedding coverage, plus all the direct expenses involved, I wasn’t really making any money. In fact, unless I managed to get a significant additional sale in the way of extra parent albums, wall portraits, and additional print sales, I was barely making minimum wage.

So I quit. Just like that.

But last weekend, my niece got married in Florida, and we agreed that the best wedding gift we could give her would be her wedding photos. So I packed up all my gear, stuffed it into a bulging carry-on and headed for Southwest Florida.

024KellyDean-9453I learned some stuff.

First, I learned that Southwest Florida in July in not the most comfortable environment to hold a wedding.

It was hot. Like 3 shirts hot. Like car air-conditioning can’t keep up hot.

Next, I learned that weddings themselves haven’t changed much. There is still the normal confusion, last minute changes, mis-communications and overall stress that there has always been. Photographers still need to be 1 part technician, 1 part psychologist, and 2 parts diplomat. And did I mention the heat?

I learned that it rains in SW Florida in the summer almost every afternoon. Not just a shower… violent thunder and lightning downpours. You can almost set your watch by them. 4:00, every day… deluge. Like build an Ark rainfall.

We had arranged to shoot formal pictures outdoors at a beautiful park on the way to the reception and hoped the rain would hold off. It did, but not for long.

049KellyDean-9452-2We arrived to the sound of thunder in the distance, and I barreled through a set of formal and family photos in about 20 minutes…. and ended up running to the car with rain starting to fall. Without my wonderful wife acting as people wrangler, we would never have gotten them done. So, don’t try this alone.

Time for another shirt.

051KellyDean-9475-2Next, I learned that wedding photographers today have no lives. Because, instead of 100-200 pictures, with digital it is very easy to shoot 10 times that much. You aren’t going to run out of film and it doesn’t cost you $2 in film and processing cost every time you drop the shutter.

So, you bang bang bang… but every one of those pictures has to be downloaded, culled, inspected, cropped, color corrected, exposure compensated, and processed. Nothing is insignificant enough not to be recorded.

All that work that used to be handled by the lab… processing, color correcting, cropping, is now back on the shoulders of the photographer. And, handling 200 exposures has now blossomed into handling 1000-2000 exposures on any given event.

Needless to say, the hours that I was unable to justify putting into a job 20 years ago have increased exponentially for today’s photographers. But, amazingly, it doesn’t seem like the average price charged by wedding photographer has kept pace. Makes me scratch my head when I see photographers offering full day wedding coverage for only a few hundred dollars! I guess that’s why so many burn out so fast. It’s insane.

If you are one of those folks that thinks wedding photographers are ridiculously overpriced… I have news for you. They earn every cent in ways about which you have no idea.

017KellyDean-9293I learned that equipment problems have no respect, even for experienced photographers.

Two (or more) of everything is mandatory. And the backup gear does you no good in the trunk… you have to carry it with you so it is at arms length at any given moment. I suffered through a corrupt memory card, a lens that decided to die 30 seconds before the bride and her dad walked down the isle, and a flash that decided to quit in the middle of formal pictures. Not to mention a lens that fogged up instantly going from the air conditioned reception to the outdoors for the newlywed’s sparkler sendoff.

I can’t remember the last time I had an equipment malfunction during a portrait shoot. The worst you ever seem to get is an occasional flash misfire. For some reason, the fact of a time limited un-repeatable event of magnanimous importance seems to throw Murphy’s Law in overdrive. I have no idea why.

And the newest headache in the lives of today’s wedding shooters that I never had to deal with… well meaning friends and relatives taking cell phone pictures and getting in …   every…   single…   shot.

So, I pulled it off, although I’m still editing the photos. My niece and her family have been thrilled with the sneak peeks so far.

I got all the important shots, as my first mentor taught me, “always bring home the bacon.” I kept the mood light and airy. I dealt with problems and situations without anyone really knowing… fix it or deal with it and move on. Because that’s what wedding photographs have to do.

I came away with a new found appreciation for those of our profession that do this week in and week out. Hats off to you, wedding professionals. You are under appreciated, and underpaid.

056KellyDean-9539Oh, and I learned that the gasps, giggles, oohs and ahhs of a young bride and her family when they see the work you have done for them makes it all worth while.

So, there’s that.



Also posted in Dennis Kelly Customers

My Favorite Images From 2015

DPKelly-2519sSo, another year has gone by. As part of the year end housekeeping of archiving old files and making room for new images, I like to review the work I’ve done in the recent past and remind myself of what I love about my job.

Shooting as a professional can be frustrating at times, especially when clients sometimes don’t “get it”. I once did a slide show of images to a class of professional photographers and received a standing ovation. Then I told them “All these images have one thing in common… the client did not purchase any of them.” So yeah, it can be frustrating.

Anyway… I thought it would be fun to share some of MY favorite images from last year. Some of these I may have shared on social media already, some may never have been seen before… but they all resonated with me for one reason or another. Maybe a special technique, maybe an emotional backstory, maybe just something that is out of the ordinary. Some are not even client jobs, but personal photos that have meaning for me.

In no particular order, here are just some of my personal favorites from last year. I’d love to hear your comments, so feel free to add them below.

I visited the 9-11 memorial in NYC this year. It was very emotional for me.


A remembrance, I assume, of a loved one lost. Maybe it was his birthday, anniversary, or maybe someone came every day. There are thousands of stories here.


They call this “The Survivor’s Staircase” many people made their way out of the towers on this very section of staircase, which was somehow spared destruction when the towers fell, now preserved as a monument to the will to survive.


This is the remnants of Ladder 3. Her entire crew perished that day.


This is a section of the last steel column that was removed from ground zero. The firefighters and other first responders posted tributes to fallen comrades as it was unearthed.

My friend Annie was diagnosed, treated, and recovered from breast cancer last year. I helped document her journey. Thankfully it had a happy ending.


Getting fitted for a wig with Dawn Gorman from Friends Are By Your Side.


I love this shot. Despite the smile, if you look close you can see tears in her eyes.


Post treatment, Annie decided to share the story of her fight to give hope to other women facing the same fight. She asked me to shoot some images and I was glad she did.



Here is Annie all recovered. She helped us photograph a Night of Wigs and Wishes this year, the same foundation that provided her wig when she started chemo.

This was one of my favorite families from this year. These guys are crazy fun, and you can feel the love they have for one another. It had been a while since their last portrait, and their dog was ill and not doing well. So we went to the beach and photographed the family with their puppy.  As of the time we delivered the portrait a couple months after it was taken, the dog was still doing well… let’s hope he still is, but I’m not sure.



I LOVE creating portraits that tell a story about my subjects, like this one I did of a little girl and her horse. I can picture people 100 years from now looking at this image and getting a sense of pride this young girl feels in learning to ride, and the love she has for her horse. It’s all about legacies, right?


My friend Martino is known as a “celebrity stylist”. I think of him more as a larger than life persona. I was really flattered when he asked me to do  portraits of him in conjunction with the launch of his new product line, and I wanted images that were as intense as he is.


That jacket had to weigh 30 pounds! Must be a workout just walking around in it.


Don’t know how appropriate the use of flames is in a photo used to sell hairspray, but I liked it. We’ll call it artistic license.

Speaking of Martino, his charity, Friends are By Your Side, does an amazing fundraising gala each year to raise money to provide free wigs to women battling cancer and to grant wishes to sick children. Here is an iconic image from the event. A tribute to Kiki, who receive the first “wish” from the foundation when Martino took her to meet Justin Beiber. She passed away a few days later.


Also got to photograph Paula Abdul, who is as kind and gracious as she is beautiful.


I had a really fun project to do last year for the Washington Township High School Football team. They wanted to do something different for their game schedule this year, so I proposed photographing the senior members of the team to use on the poster, but with a “Dennis Kelly” twist. So we talked to the kids, decided on a theme, and photographed the seniors in groups of 4 at a time on green screen and came up with this.

Poster rev 02

They were so thrilled with it the booster club ended up ordering several huge outdoor banners to hang at the athletic fields, which was kind of cool.


For the last few years I had been itching to do a shoot in the snow, but was never able to make it work. Last year the stars aligned and I was able to shoot some incredible images of model Ashley. Here is one of my favorites.


I first photographed Brianna as a member of our senior model team several years ago. I remember asking quite innocently about some scars I noticed on her neck and if she wanted them removed. She told me I better not dare remove them as she was proud of the fight they represented. Brianna has quite an amazing story, you can read about it HERE.  When she was older, I asked her if she would let me photograph her scars, and she graciously complied. They were some of the most powerful images I have ever done. Recently she told me she had gotten a tattoo which read “These scars remind me of how strong I am… ” So that prompted a reshoot…



Brianna is in college now and doing very well. I often ask her Mom to please make her stop growing up.

I had the opportunity to shoot at Eastern State Penitentiary this past year. It is only open to photographers to work with models a few times a year… what an amazing location. I went with my friend Tina, and while it is really hard to pick just one favorite shot… there must be 20… I think this one is representative and one of the stronger images.


Speaking of Tina, she is an amazing and versatile model, and generally up for any crazy idea I might throw at her. I had the opportunity to shoot some outdoor fashion style images. I was particularly pleased with how they turned out. Even more notable is that these were shot the week before Christmas, and it was still shirt sleeve weather down at the waterfront, even at sunset.


I worked a lot this year on perfecting and refining a lighting technique called “light painting”. It involves, well, “painting” a still life subject with light using different exposures and combining the different elements into one image which basically could not be done in one exposure. It is particularly suited for architecture…. and hot cars!

Viit 01c_1

I actually devoted an entire blog post to this shoot with the ’72 Vette that shows how I did it. You can find it here.

And, speaking of light painting, I used the same techniques to create these stunning images of the remodel of Martino Cartier’s beautiful Washington Township Salon.


Martino called me on a Sunday morning and he needed the pictures by the next day. He is about the only person in the world I wouldn’t hang up on… LOL. The images were use in a feature story in South Jersey Magazine.


Sometimes the simplest portraits have the most impact. I love this mother and daughter portrait I did for Mother’s Day.


I work at the beach a lot over the summer months, so sometimes I get a little jaded by the natural beauty that we tend to take for granted. Once in a while though, conditions are just magical and we get really breathtaking images, like these.



Washington Township’s Fire Chief of 17 years, E. John Hoffman, was retiring, and I got a call to do his official portrait which will hang at Fire Department headquarters. I thought it has a quiet dignity and sense of power. There aren’t a lot of photographers who are good at photographing men these days. That’s a shame.


One of my favorite lighting techniques for beauty portraits is something called a ring light, which has an almost shadowless look and makes eyes look amazing. Here are two of my favorite from last year using this lighting technique. I’ll admit to being a bit of a lighting weenie. Shoot me.



One of the things I especially enjoy is capturing the power and energy of athletes. Luckily I get the opportunity to do it often in our senior portraits, where we see all kinds of athletes.  I don’t really get photographers that photograph athletes in the studio, lovingly cradling a football next to their face while smiling at the camera.  I like my way better!


Martino-1384 (1)


And I’ll end this up with a picture of my granddaughter, just because she’s so damn cute.






Also posted in Charities, Dennis Kelly Customers, Uncategorized

Behind the Scenes – Classic Car Shoot

This was a fun shoot I did recently. If you know a car enthusiast, wouldn’t one of these look great in their office or garage?


I thought it would make an interesting post to explain how I go about creating one of these. I use a technique called “Light Painting” which is the only way to really properly bring out all the details, curves, and reflections that make a car guy (or girl) swoon!

Let me start by saying that these take a LOT of work and skill to put together. But for anyone who may be interested in learning how it’s done, here goes.

First, here is a “before” shot… which is how the scene actually looked. Found a nice, but simple location and started the shoot about 15 minutes before sunset and established a “base” shot. Using a moderately wide angle lens allows us to accentuate the lines of the car, in this case a classic ’72 Corvette, AND make it stand out from the background.


Not a bad picture… but we want that bad boy to jump off the page, so with the camera on a sturdy, rock solid tripod so that it does not move even a millimeter during multiple exposures, we start to take individual photos lighting each of the cars features:

Here, I’m lighting the front wheel:


Here, I’m illuminating under the wheel well and grill.


Next, the back wheel and side pipes.


Here, I’m lighting the car’s far profile and edge of the right fender and windshield.


Adding some reflections to highlight the hood.


And the top part of the hood and roof.


Can’t forget the interior, which would be black without some illumination.


And then, the grass under the car to help separate it.


And, of course, the grill.


Then, we begin the painstaking task of layering the individual highlighted parts over the base image. Then, using a technique called “masking”, we hide the parts of each individual image that we do not want to show. So, we end up with a picture where all the individual elements are combined into one image that we could never actually create in one shot. Enhance the sky behind the car, and done!

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Viit 01a

Here’s a before and after to see the transformation you can do with light painting:

Viit 01e

If you know someone who has a hot or classic car that they love, this makes an absolutely awesome gift!!  Call me at 856-228-4399 and I can create a one of a kind look for you too!

Also posted in Dennis Kelly Customers, Tips

Introducing “Room Views”

Our clients usually display their beautiful Dennis Kelly Portraits in their homes and proudly make them a feature point of their home’s decor. We are told over and over again how an exquisite portrait of family or loved ones, when handsomely framed and displayed in an adequate size, quickly becomes the most talked about item in the home.

But, until now, deciding on the proper sizing and arrangement of  the portraits in your room has been somewhat of a guessing game. This is why at Dennis Kelly Photography, we have always made a point of offering our expertise and help in selecting the proper size and framing for your portraits.

Like any piece of art or furniture for your home, you don’t want to make the wrong choice and end up with a piece that doesn’t look quite right in your living space. Fine photography can be an investment, and certainly will be something that will hang in your home for many years. You don’t want to make the mistake of investing in something that is either too small or too big for the space. Naturally, you want it to be… perfect! So do we!

We now have the perfect answer!

Introducing “Room Views” an amazing new service at Dennis Kelly Photography that allows you to preview your portraits… at actual size… right in your own room! No more guessing about how your framed pieces will “fit” into your decor. You will have the chance to see it… in your own room!

And the best part is, we offer this service to our clients at absolutely no charge.

The process is easy and painless. After your portrait session with Dennis, but before your scheduled time to preview them, simply take a photo with your cell phone or digital camera of the room where you are thinking of hanging your portraits and email it to us! That’s IT! That’s all you need to do. We’ll take it from there…

The only thing we need is for you to include a ruler (we’ll even give you one to take home), yardstick, or really anything of a known length, somewhere in the picture (for instance, you could simply tell us that the mantle is 72″ long). This allows us to calibrate the viewing software so it will properly display the various sizes in perfect scale… exactly how it will look in YOUR room! How cool is that?

Then, when you come in to view your previews, we can show your portraits, at actual size, right where they will hang in your own home. You can even get an idea of how it will look with different framing options.

Here, you can see this portrait is a little “lost” in it’s place of honor over the mantle. This would have been a poor choice that the client no doubt would have regretted.

Here you can see a more suitable size that fits the space and allows the client to enjoy the portrait to the fullest extent.

But that’s not all we can do with this incredible new service!

Suppose you are considering a collection of images to display together in a grouping? With Room View, you can experiment with various arrangements, sizes and framing options…. all while seeing them right on your own wall.

Pick the arrangement that looks best, swap the pictures around, experiment with different frame styles, change the sizes…

We are very excited to be able to offer this amazing ability to our clients. Just one more way Dennis Kelly Photography is working to provide outstanding customer service and 100% satisfaction to our valued friends and clients.

By the way… when was the last time YOU had your family portrait taken? Portraits make GREAT Holiday Gifts! Call us today at 856-228-4399 to find out how to make YOUR home even more beautiful by decorating it with a Dennis Kelly Portrait of your family!




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Get to Know What “Good” Is


This is the time of year when we start to get lots of calls from parents of seniors who just received the proofs from their school senior pictures, or who went to another studio, and were disappointed with the results. Happens every year, like clockwork.

I remember there used to be an ad campaign (although I have to admit I don’t recall what company it was) that’s theme was “Get to Know What Good is…”

This struck home for me recently when an out-of-state friend asked my opinion on some “professional” photos he had a photographer take of his kids. They weren’t very good, at all… but of course, as a fellow professional, I hesitate to knock another photographer’s work. But a friend was asking, so I gave him my honest opinion.

“I thought so.” he said.  “I knew something was bad about them, I just didn’t know what….”

“I just didn’t know what…” That statement kind of resonated with me.  With Facebook and Twitter and all the rest, I’m seeing a lot of really poor quality work getting passed off these days as professional photography. It occurred to me that many people simply don’t know what a professional image should be.

I mean, if you hire a contractor or carpenter that doesn’t do a good job, it’s usually obvious. Things aren’t level, corners don’t meet, the job looks shoddy.

A fancy camera doesn’t make you a photographer.

But other things often aren’t so obvious. If your accountant does a poor job, you might pay more in taxes than you owe, but you may not know it unless you had some clues as to what to look for. These days, with almost anyone who buys a digital SLR camera calling themselves a pro photographer, it may be hard to know the difference without a little education.

Remember the local clothing store that’s motto was, “An educated consumer is our BEST customer.”? Having customers who understand the difference between good and bad photography is good for my studio, so I decided to write this blog article about it.

Now, I understand that beauty is ultimately in the eye of the beholder. And when it comes to something as personal as a photograph of your loved one, all that really matters is that they are appreciated by YOU. But still, if you are trusting someone to do a job that you are paying them to do, you really should have some idea of what you are paying for.

So, here is a short list of things I see as “problems” that get passed off as professional photography frequently today. This is by no means a complete list, but may give you some idea of things to look for before you spend your hard earned money with someone simply masquerading as a professional photographer.

Correct color is always noticeable in skin tones, and in neutral areas, like grays, blacks, and whites.

#1. Poor Color.

This is a tricky one to uncover, especially if your only exposure is on the internet. Did you ever go into an electronics store where they have all the TV sets on display playing the same program?

The color and picture quality varies tremendously (actually, this is a sales technique to steer you into the sets they want you to buy!) But, the same holds true for your computer monitor. The color and quality of the image you are viewing has a LOT to do with how your monitor is adjusted. But, there are “standards” for monitor calibration that  pro’s should use to make sure the color is good. (Hint: If in doubt… look at the image on an ipad or smartphone. Most of those displays are pretty darn close to “correct” right out of the box.)

Professional photographers use high end graphics monitors and hardware devices called colorimeters to calibrate and profile their monitors so they display “correct” color.  These cost some bucks, but there is no substitute.

Professional graphics monitor with colorimeter.

Without proper color management, a photographer has no chance of matching his or her display to the prints they will get back from the lab.

Cyan, or blue green skin is never a good idea!

So, the proof is in the print, and the easiest way to decide if the photographer has a clue about color is to look at the prints.

If your skin color looks like a cheap spray tan… that’s NOT GOOD!

Skin tones should look like… well, skin. If the face looks like a really bad spray-tan (orange or yellow) or even worse, blue or green… it’s a sure bet the photographer doesn’t know how to correctly set and adjust color. Neutral areas (grays, whites and blacks) should be free from color casts. If your black shirt looks kind of red, or your white sweater is pink or blue, or your brown haired teen looks like a redhead, that means the photographer didn’t do a good job.


Most amateurs (and sadly, many professionals too) set their camera’s color setting on “auto” and think that’s all they need to do. Seasoned professionals know that the “A” on the white balance setting stands for “awful” and never, ever, use it!

Now, sometimes a photographer will use a special technique or style, like a candle-light look, or an intentional off-color effect to accent a mood or style. That’s intentional and different from someone who’s entire portfolio is filled with funny, weird skin colors.

  #2 Bad Lighting

Most people tend to think of “lighting” as simply whether a picture is too light or too dark, but in reality, lighting is way, way more than that.


Light is what gives the appearance of depth and dimension in a photo, it focuses attention where you want it to go, (and away from areas you don’t want it to go), it makes the eyes sparkle with life, and it makes the photo “pop off the page”.
Poor lighting can result in things like the eyes being in dark shadows (raccoon eyes), overhead light hitting the nose (clown nose) and even making the overall color, contrast, and look of the image appear flat and “muddy”.

Pro location lighting can be complex

Lighting on location can be especially tricky. If a “photographer” shows up at the shoot with just a camera and proclaims he or she is a “natural light shooter”, that’s usually an indication that they aren’t well versed in light control.

Good lighting makes the eyes look alive and the subject look great!

Experienced photographers have the ability to bring back professional quality images in ANY lighting situation… and that usually means equipment… lots of it. Reflectors, lighting equipment, flashes, scrims, gobos, shades… all are things a true professional spends years learning how to use to best advantage. Look at the photographer’s pictures… if the images seem flat (lacking a 3 dimensional look), if the colors and contrast and weak and muddy, or if the images have flare (a kind of ghostly, halo effect around the edges of the subject) chances are that photographer doesn’t understand lighting. Yes, a very skilled and experienced photographer can frequently “find” good lighting without the use of a lot of extra equipment, but these rare talents are few and far between. If you are shooting with one, the quality of their images will leave absolutely no doubt in your mind that they know what they are doing.

#3 Overused or poorly executed “gimmicks.”

When a trendsetter photographer starts showing a new style or technique, the copycats are usually quick to try and capitalize on it, but often do the technique poorly, or use it in situations where it just looks silly. For example, several years ago, I started incorporating the use of a fan in the studio with senior girls to gently lift and blow their hair. I “borrowed” this idea from the fashion photography industry, where it is a common technique, but we were the first studio around here to use it in senior portrait photography. The idea, of course, is to very gently lift and fluff the hair to give it that “fashion model” look.



Other area photographers soon took my idea, and now everywhere I see pictures of senior girls that look like they’re standing in a wind tunnel or are facing an approaching tornado! Sorry, it just looks dumb.


We also pioneered an “edgy” look to sports pictures in our senior sessions, giving them a gritty, “Sports Illustrated” type look in the style of Joel Grimes or Joey Lawrence.


Now the competition is copying our poses, but without the extreme lighting, gritty feel, and dramatic power we do. Well, they look kind of… lame.


When famous photographer Anne Geddes started photographing babies in flower pots, photographers everywhere started sticking babies in flowerpot with silly hats.



While Geddes’ work was breathtaking, the knock offs were hideous.

So, when looking at a pro’s work, ask if their style seems to be their own, or a lame attempt at copying a style without a real feeling for what works, and what even makes sense. Sitting on a fancy couch on railroad tracks?  Fire coming out of a saxophone? Seriously?


#4 Bad Posing.

The way a photographer directs the pose can make a picture look great… or ridiculous.

“Posing” is a dirty word with consumers. Everyone wants their photos to look “un-posed” and “natural”. What they really mean is they don’t want their pictures looking stiff and un-natural.

When you see a photographer shooting a supermodel on TV… the model is hitting all these incredible poses, and the photographer is shooting away, saying “yes! Yes! YES!!!”. Well, those supermodels get paid BIG bucks because they KNOW how to do that. Most people, like Uncle Rico here, don’t. And a quick look through your family photo albums will show you that completely unposed photos are often completely unflattering!

“Natural” posing mimics good body language in a flattering way.

The key is being able to direct people into “poses” that not only look comfortable and natural, but make them look good at the same time.

Learning “good posing” takes a long time. It involves not only learning about anatomy and facial structure, it involves understanding body language, angles, and a ton of other “tricks” to make sure people look their best. Is clothing properly adjusted, or are there wrinkles and bulges that are making the person look heavier? Do the arms, hands, or legs look “awkward”? Does the body position make the person look uncomfortable? Is the weight distribution on the correct foot for the subject and angle? Does the pose work with the light? Does the pose “make sense”? Is it believable?

Posing also has a lot to do with “body language”. Humans are very adept at interpreting body language, but inexperienced photographers often don’t “get it”. For example, there is a distinct difference between “masculine” and “feminine” body language. How men and women tilt their heads, use their hands, walk, lean… everything. Directing a male into a feminine body position is a mistake that most males will recognize immediately, yet I see boys and men with feminine head tilts and eye positions on photographer’s pages all the time. It’s a rookie mistake, and I’m sorry… it looks awful!

#5 Over Retouching

Today’s cameras and lenses are way too sharp for portrait photography. Let’s face it, no one looks good when you can see every pore, wrinkle, blemish and blotch. That’s why pro photographer judiciously retouch their images. When you meet a person in real life, you don’t stand there scrutinizing every pore and zit… but when looking at a photo, you are forced to do just that.

Retouching is an art, and must be done with skill and restraint, so the person still looks real. But many studios take a short cut and use some automated photoshop filters that result in what I call the “Barbie and Ken Plastic Skin Syndrome”.

No Retouching – Good Retouching – Overdone Retouching
Too much retouching makes your skin look fake and plastic… like a Barbie.

Over-retouching is a sign of a photographer who hasn’t learned good technique.

#6 The Ghost Syndrome

Looking a little pale???

This last pet peeve I have is actually a “style” that a lot of newbie photographers are imitating. I suspect because it is easy to do in photoshop and hides a multitude of mistakes. It involves tweaking the density and color saturation, using very flat, blah lighting, and making the subject look “ghostly”… although the photographers prefer to call it “porcelain”. I suppose for a very specialized look, it’s ok once in a while, but so many “faux-tographers” make EVERYTHING they shoot look like this.

Don’t have to worry about not getting the color right… it’s hardly there anyway. I know a lot of newbie children’s photographer use this style, but lets call it what it is, a fad, and not a good one!

Well, I hope that gives you some insight into things to look for. This is hardly a complete list, but hopefully, it will give you some things to consider when deciding to hire a professional photographer. There are many fine photographers around who have spent years learning and perfecting their craft, and who work hard to produce beautiful, timeless images for their clients. Once you start to “Get to Know What Good Is”, it will be easier to recognize them so YOU don’t have to say, “I knew something was bad about them, I just didn’t know what….”






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Do You Know Your “Why”?

I have to admit. I’m a skeptic. I’m not really much into new age self-help gurus. Not impressed by psycho-babble. Don’t buy into the trend of the week. Not an Oprah fan, sorry.

But, a while ago someone sent me a TED video by Simon Sinek, a writer and sort of  modern day philosopher. It really struck a chord. In the video, Sinek speaks about why some people or companies are always the artists, the trendsetters, the innovators, that command unbelievable loyalty. One of the examples he used was Apple. Apple has an unbelievably loyal customer base. But why?

The answer is actually the question. It’s the Why? Apple is always the innovator because they do not focus on the “what” (computers and electronic gadgets) or on the “how” (cool designs and innovative products) even though they do both of those exceedingly well. But Sintek observes that people embrace not the how, or even the what, but the WHY.  In Apple’s case, the “Why?” is that Apple, at its core, believes that technology should enrich and make our lives easier, not more complicated. (Ironically perhaps, I’m typing this on an iPad… so there you go.)

It made me think about the “Why” for my studio. Everyone knows “what” we do. We sell photography. Some people even understand the “how” of what we do. That we create beautiful portraits that not only flatter our subjects, but that capture personality and spirit. That we provide unparalleled service so that our clients can fully appreciate and enjoy the images we create, usually by displaying them proudly as something beautiful for their homes.

But, is that it? That’s the “what and how”, but WHY are we in business? The obvious answer for any business, it may seem at first, is to make money. But let me tell you honestly… there are far easier ways to make a living than photography, and I’m not rich, that’s for certain.

Yet, I wouldn’t want to do anything else… Why?

It seems many studios I see focus only on the “how” and “what” of photography. How many sheets of paper you get for $xx dollars. How many different poses or outfits you can fit in a session. I have  always been known as the innovator and trend setter in portrait photography in my market. I have always been the studio that the others try to emulate. Perhaps the reason for this is not the “how and what”. Perhaps the reason is actually the “WHY”.

The “WHY” is the reason I do what I do, and is the reason we are in business:

•    I believe everyone is beautiful, and everyone’s beauty and inner spirit should be captured and recorded, because every life is precious.
•    I believe our children and our families are our greatest achievements.
•    I believe that the art of photography has the unique ability to give us joy and happiness in celebrating LIFE.
•    I believe portraits of our loved ones should be family heirlooms to be treasured for generations, not disposable pieces of paper sold by the square inch.
•    I believe strongly in the value of professional photography to “Celebrate the Story of Life”.

We had a tragedy in our community a few years ago. A young girl whom I had photographed, was tragically killed in a car wreck, just weeks before her high school graduation. Being in business for 30 years, this sadly wasn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened. It’s always difficult, but this time it hit me particularly hard.

I don’t know if it was because we had worked more closely with this young woman and her wonderful family than a “typical” client (she was a member of our “Senior Model Team”… seniors that act as ambassadors for our studio to their class). Or maybe it was because I’m just getting older and starting to appreciate just how short life actually is. Whatever the reason, this time, it was different.

Kellenyi-2402When we went to her viewing, her family had many photographs of her on display. Many of them I had taken. Her too short life on display for everyone to share, and remember. My heart broke for that family.

When we stopped to pay our respects to her parents, they hugged me and thanked me for the beautiful images of their daughter that they would have forever. I gotta tell you… I wasn’t expecting that, and it  really kind of knocked the wind out of me. I’m not typically at a loss for words, but I was speechless and couldn’t really do anything but try (uselessly) to fight back the tears.

But, in a sad way it made my choice of career, and the years I have devoted to my art, all seem worth it. Worth it for that moment anyway. Worth it for whatever small comfort my work could offer that family at the worst time of their lives.

My “why”, I think, is maybe a pretty good one.

I celebrate life.

Do you know what your “why” is?  If not, I hope you find it.

Please feel free to leave a comment, and tell me about your “why”.





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Will You Be Sorry?

The Importance of the Print…

A big issue facing our children’s future is the lack of the printed image as a family legacy and heirloom. Years from now, your grandchildren will be going through the history of their parent’s (your children’s) past. Will they find neat looking round silver disks containing all the image of their parent’s childhood, only to find they no longer have the technology to open and view them? Think about how hard it is even now to view or convert old movie film from your parent’s past. Or, will all the photos from your child’s past be lost on discarded or non-functioning cell phones and computer drives?

Fortunately for us, our parents made prints from our childhood. These prints last longer and are the easiest media to view. They are the best way to preserve our history and heritage. The will not become instantly un-viewable if a few disk sectors become corrupt. Even if they begin to fade or age, you will have years to have them them restored and reprinted. They will not become lost to history in the blink of an eye.

Recently a friend told me he and his wife had all of the pictures of their child growing up on their laptop. The unthinkable happened, The laptop was stolen, and along with it, went all their baby photos and many other priceless memories. All they had left were the few prints they had made. Another family member told me about having all his children’s photos stored “safely” on an external hard drive. Well, one day when he went to add some more photos he found the drive had failed, and all the photos were, well, just gone.

Framed portraitWith photography playing a larger part in our lives today, some people may think that the immediacy of Facebook somehow will take the place of an album of family photos, or the family portrait on the wall. What they fail to realize is that it is highly unlikely Facebook will even be around 20 years from now. We will have moved onto something else, and all those images and memories stored in the cyber world of Facebook will be long gone. As we progress in our lives, our photos and other memories of our past play a more significant role than we realized in our youth. It’s important that you help your children to understand this, and encourage them to “make those memories” or they will be lost forever.

Don’t let a “photographer” convince you that you want a disc of your images from your family or child’s portrait session. Insist on high quality prints, from a reputable studio, with a guarantee! Otherwise, your family’s heritage may consist of some pretty silver disks hanging over your sofa.

Also posted in Dennis Kelly Customers, Tips

Semi-Pro or Do It Yourself?

There is an explosion of “new” photographers entering the profession these days. I see their work often on Facebook and social media. Many of these newer professional photographers have little more than a digital camera and a very basic understanding of photography. Many of them offer a low cost session and “all the files” on a disk for a very low price so you can “print them out yourself.”

We can understand the appeal to many consumers who are attracted to the low prices these “new professionals” can offer. After all, they aren’t burdened with the overhead of a studio, insurance, education etc.  And the appeal of having “all the files” on a disk to print out yourself or share online sounds better than paying for individual prints from a studio, doesn’t it?

But, what are you really getting for your money? A fancy digital camera does not make you a good photographer any more than a stethoscope makes you a doctor. But, the sad thing is, many people do not understand or appreciate what a professional, with years of training and experience, really brings to the table. If you went to a fine restaurant and ordered a meal and they brought you out a bag full of ingredients for you to prepare yourself, do you think it would taste the same as if a 5 star chef cooked it for you?

Here is an image of a lovely young lady I had the honor of photographing lately. I thought it would be interesting to talk about some of the steps that go into making a professional portrait, and perhaps why you would want to hire someone skilled to create it, rather than just a friend with a nice camera.

Shot one is typical of what I see on Facebook and other social media sites more and more. This is an outdoor portrait in a lovely location, and is what you would get out of a modern digital camera set on “A” for automatic or “P” for program mode. It is sharp and well exposed. Today’s cameras are really a marvel of engineering. Even someone who knows nothing about photography could pick up a camera and get an image this good.

But let’s take a closer look… is it really good? There are deep shadows in her eyes, and the light, coming mostly from overhead, is making the pockets under her eyes and cheeks look very dark and strong. “Seeing” light is one of the most difficult things an aspiring photographer needs to learn. Some never learn to do it. Once I discovered how to “see” the light, my world changed. I now am constantly “aware” of light… all the time, everywhere I go, everything I look at, I am conscious of the direction, character, and quality of light all around me. It’s who I am.

So, the first thing I did here was to modify the poor light. The key to this is to make the light flattering, without looking artificial. In this particular case, I added some flash, off camera, to mimic what would have been ideal “natural” light, had it been there. I carefully adjusted the flash output to closely match the ambient lighting so as to keep the image looking balanced and natural. In other instances I may have chosen to use reflectors, scrims (to block the overhead light) or perhaps a combination of all 3. The key here for the photographer is 1st, to realize the light needs to be modified, and 2nd, to be able to control it accurately and quickly.

So, much better. Let’s zoom in and see how modifying the lighting on the subject has opened the deep shadows in her eyes and let us see her beautiful facial features.

But, we still have some problems. The color, while accurate, (she is standing under a tree that is filtering greenish light down from the sky) is hardly flattering. We don’t think of healthy people having bluish-green skin. The camera, on auto setting, will only record what is there. But by carefully adjusting the color settings, we can compensate for the unflattering color cast and produce a beautiful, warm appealing skin tone.

Much, much better… right? Hold on, we’re just getting started. Let’s take a closer look at our new and improved portrait.

Our addition of quality lighting to the subject has had some unintended consequences. Notice the somewhat unflattering shadow from her nose onto her cheek and from her hair onto her neck? Just because these are “natural” doesn’t mean they are good! There are also some messy looking fly away hairs around her head. And, while our subject in this case has a flawless completion, this would now be the time to fix any blemishes and perhaps soften the slight lines under her eyes.

Ok, now we’re getting somewhere!! Are you beginning to see that there should be a LOT more going into a professional photograph than just taking a sharp, clear picture?

Here’s what we’ve got now. Beautiful, right? But we’re still not done.

Our client really wanted to have her outdoor portraits done with some beautiful fall colors. Unfortunately, the area we had to work in hadn’t really started to show the brilliant oranges and yellows we typically think of when we think “Fall”. So, into Adobe Photoshop we go, where with some advanced masking and color manipulations, we can selectively change the green foliage to a more suitable color palette, without altering the skin tone or other colors. Also, our subject here is not in the least bit heavy or overweight. But notice how the loose fitting shirt is blooming out around her waistline and adding some pounds that aren’t there? That won’t do! A little bit of “tucking” of her shirt will give her back her truthful waistline.

Next, I used a technique photographers and painters have been using for centuries, called a “vignette.” Simply put, we often will selectively darken the edges or certain areas of the image in order to focus the viewer’s attention on the subject. Notice how, by slightly darkening the edges of this image, the feeling of depth and dimension is increased and your eye is drawn into the subject? It’s subtle, but important.

Lastly, there are a few distracting elements that were kind of bugging me a little. Minor things, but why not take care of them and make the image “picture perfect”?

So, here we go. Before and after. Most people will see a pretty obvious difference when shown side by side. But most people also would not see much wrong with the “before” image without the “after” image to compare. This is the level of technique and attention to detail that should be the mark of a true professional.

I hope you found this article informative and helpful.

Dennis Kelly

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Maternity and Newborn Portraits

From time to time I like to review our website and blog stats to see what people are looking for that brings them to our site. I was surprised to see that among search phrases that people typed that brought them to our website and blog, “Maternity Portraits” and variations thereof, were number one… by far! So, lots of people are interested in them!

This was kind of surprising to me, because frankly, while we do several of these every year, they are not really a mainstay of our business, as senior portraits and families are. What this is telling me, is that there is a LOT of interest in maternity and newborn portrait studies, but, for some reason, many people seem somewhat reluctant to actually call and book a session.

This is kind of sad, because if there is ONE special time in a woman’s life that is deserving of a special, sensitive portrait done by a professional, THIS is it. I mean, you may graduate more than once… you may even get married more than once! But you will only be pregnant with THIS child one time in your life!

Colin-1702-2So, I thought I would write a little blurb here and maybe clear up some of the questions and doubts people may have about maternity portraits in the hope that it may encourage more women to have them done.

So, here’s my list of Frequently Asked (or thought about) Questions about Maternity Portraits at Dennis Kelly Photography.

How much does it cost?

A typical maternity session is $129. This can be of you alone, with daddy, or even with other siblings, depending on what you are interested in. Portraits prints themselves can really run anywhere from about $100 to several hundred, depending on the size you prefer. We have clients that spend less than $300, and clients that spend over $1000, and pretty much anything in between.  One thing is sure, there is something for almost any budget.

Do I have to be naked?

Of course not! The goal of a maternity portrait is to show the “baby bump”, so most women opt to at least have the belly exposed. But attire is completely up to you and your comfort level. Some women are photographed (discretely) nude, others wear a robe or nightgown, others maternity clothing. The choice is entirely yours.

What about those “progression” portraits? How do they work?

We can do a maternity progression series that involves coming in 4 to 6 times over the course of your pregnancy to document the “baby bump” as it grows. The final session is 2-4 weeks after the baby is born and will include individual portraits of the newborn s well. This service costs $350, and most people will invest in a larger wall size display print for the nursery.

What is the best time to have a maternity portrait made?

Progression portraits need to start almost as soon as you know you are expecting, so we can document the entire progress of your pregnancy. If you are only interested in a single session, 7 to 8 months is ideal. That’s when the belly is fullest, but before the baby has “dropped” prior to the onset of labor.

What about stretch marks and stuff?

We’ll retouch anything that is unsightly or you find objectionable. No problem.

What will I actually do with these portraits?

Most people will choose to display a wall portrait in the nursery or bedroom. It’s a wonder way to remember this wonderful time of your life. You’ll want to document all the changes and developments in your baby’s first year of life, and a maternity portrait is also the perfect way to start your “baby’s first year” photo album. They also make wonderful thank you cards for shower gifts and such, and can even be included, along with your baby’s first portrait, on birth announcements.

Can Dad be Included?

Of course! You can include daddy in your maternity session, and newborn study too. The important thing, no matter what style or look you’re after, is to have it done before this special, important time in your life is over!


KellyD_The_GuardianIf someone you know, is expecting… send them a link to this article! It may help to answer some questions they have about this important and beautiful style of photography! Of course, you can always call us at the studio with any questions or concerns you may have. We’re always glad to help!

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