All posts by Sarah

5 Things Photographers Need to Stop Being Proud Of

The world of photography is like any other world, where friendly discussion of techniques can turn into an outright brag-fest for the socially awkward. One of the greatest and most important things about the art world is that we all do things differently. Despite this simple (and happy) logic, many times we will find ourselves roped into a conversation or debate with one or more photographers and someone will decide that their way is the best. Now, granted there are many get-on-your-nerves things that fellow photographers can say, but these are my personal top five…


5. Never editing photos

Photo editing is a tool and has almost always accompanied photography as a way to enhance or alter a photo for various reasons.

We get it, you're in to realism

Despite this, many unique individuals hold themselves to a self imposed higher standard by refusing to even acknowledge editing as part of photography. Is editing essential? No. Nor is it essential for a photo to remain un-edited in order to maintain its meaning and soul. Bragging about never editing your photos will result in most people shrugging you off, assuming you just don’t know how to edit to begin with.


4.  Using Film

Most level headed artists view film and film photographers with respect. Using a more traditional medium often requires a different set of skills and film photography is no exception. When you’re with a group of mature individuals, the differences in medium are

(Picture added just to annoy film photographers)

acknowledged but soon bypassed in favor of examining the end results: the photos. Let me put it this way: You can paint with oil or water color but the painting will still either succeed or fail in appealing to the public, regardless of your chosen medium.  Scoffing at digital photographers doesn’t put them in their place.


3. Your studio space

This one is short and simple. It’s not how much space you have, it’s what you do with it. A hack photographer could have  warehouse amount of space and STILL produce absolute mediocrity.

2. Never accepting Trade Shoots

Bragging about never accepting trade shoots is one of the quickest ways to broadcast that you’ve lost your taste for the art of photography. Trade shoots are not just about everyone doing something for free, they are about artistic collaboration. When you proudly slam the door shut on the faces of those who could enhance your portfolio, you lose out on those important connections in favor of cold hard cash.

1.  How expensive your equipment is 

Compensating? For what?!
Compensating? For what?!

I don’t think I have ever asked what kind of camera someone uses, unless it’s in response to them asking me for help with their camera. Most people get it: It’s about results, not the equipment that got you there. I instantly tune out someone who starts bragging about how much their camera lens or lighting equipment costs. What photographer hasn’t been cornered by an overly aggressive fellow photo taker and interviewed about how much THEIR equipment is worth? It’s an embarrassing  conversation to be suckered in to, so don’t do it. It’s a tasteless way to behave!




It goes without saying that in the world of art, we, at our best, are eccentric individuals and so clashes of beliefs and attitude will not only be frequent, they will also often be irritating. I wanted to keep this list short and simple. It’s also a good reminder to myself to not fall into these traps of distracting myself from my goals in favor of posturing in front of others. If you’re going to push your way through the crowd, do it so you can slap your work down on the table and have people look at it,  not so you can hold your opinion or equipment up and demand that others acknowledge how amazing you are because of it.
Now that I’ve typed out my top five, what are yours? Have you experienced an attitude or argument that has just grated your nerves? Leave a comment and let me know!


I’ve been a patron of PayPal for years now. Processing print orders, booking fees and session fees through them. Call me a sucker for convenience; they were the first “free” merchant service I had come across when I was looking for one years ago and I’ve stuck with them since.
And by stuck with them, I mean, despite all the horrible things I consistently heard about them advising people to destroy antiquities before issuing refunds and freezing charity funds under the guise of security.
When you read the personal accounts of what many former users have experienced, a different image of PayPal emerges; one of greed and purposeful misdirection. They operate on a “no personal appeal” policy. If they decide to freeze your account, for any reason, they will and they WILL keep any money within that account.
It’s quite easy for them!

After a recent personal struggle with them I have decided that I refuse to delay services to my clients because of PayPal’s inept attitude towards customer service and their overwhelmingly apparent greed. Therefore I am closing my account and will no longer do business with them.

Yes, they can consider this their quarterly review.

Top 5 models to book – 2011

Since 2011 came to a close I have been mulling over in my mind the best experiences I’ve had with models and the shoot results from us working together. When I first came to Buffalo I really didn’t know who to work with. I like to think that I got really lucky and managed to get by with very few no-shows and worked with some amazing people who showed up and were ready to work with me. The following guide is simply a list of recommendations to photographers who are looking for models who are professional, look amazing on camera and have a lot of talent.

I wanted to whittle this list down to 5 individuals both as a challenge to myself and to keep it short and sweet. There is not a single photoshoot I have been part of that I have not learned from or look back upon fondly. I would like to make it a habit to write about my experiences with models as I work with them, especially for the first time. Consider this my big kick-off with that resolution!


I have worked with Anatomy twice now. My first thought upon seeing her in person was “model”. She fits the title of model through and through. She is tall, has amazing long limbs and a very unique face. It might sound weird but I was impressed with her down to her fingernails which she kept very nice and unpainted.  One thing that is important to pay attention to is Anatomy’s portfolio: She does not have “one look”. Beauty, industrial goth, artistic, fashion, pin-up, it’s all there and she looks amazing in each photo. (Find her on Facebook.)


Rachel Stephanie

Rachel’s code name at the studio is “Chameleon” and for good reason; she can transform into any character in an instant for the camera. She is also bafflingly gorgeous and I constantly point out that I have not been able to find a single “bad angle” to photograph her at. She makes anything work. I’m pretty sure I could dress her in a pillowcase and take photos of her while napping on the couch and it would look amazing. She is fun to work with and brings a lot of energy to our shoots. Did I mention that she’s fearless? (Find her on Facebook.)



I was seriously bummed when Zaftigg announced that she was leaving the Buffalo and I know I’m not the only photographer who keeps one ear cocked for an announcement that she’s coming back to visit. Z is tall, curvy, imposing, graceful, feminine, and fight all rolled into one. It is so much fun working with this woman because her energy is fantastic and the resulting images are a testament to her drive to put everything in to what she is doing. Being uniquely gorgeous and so much fun to work with apparently isn’t enough for Zaftigg because she makes every photo incredible. (Find her on Facebook.)

Katie Oh

The first time I worked with Katie she told me she wanted to do something different, something darker. Our first shoot was a faux bridal shoot theme with dark undertones. Coming from a background of mostly beauty shots, Katie pulled it off perfectly and I knew I had to work with her again.  She has an amazing figure for any type of photography and is so sweet to work with. Really. I’ve felt bad about all the things we put her through for some shoots but she’s always cheerful and dedicated to getting the look and feeling right. She’s definitely one of those “actress” models. I know that if I need a model who will deliver a difficult but sincere performance for the camera, Katie is the one I will call.  (Find her on ModelMayhem.)

Vena Kayta

I was instantly struck by the girlish doll like aspect of Kayta the first time I worked with her. So often she looks almost unreal on camera, as if whatever character she is portraying was painted from imagination alone. Kayta has a natural beauty that is anything but “safe” or simply pretty. Her look is perfect for daring photographers or makeup artists who want to try something new and wild. I always love working with her as we always joke around and laugh a lot but in an instant she is focusing and posing for another photo and looking fantastic. (find her on facebook.)


Again, I have been fortunate to work with many models and I’m always willing to recommend those I’ve had the experience of shooting with to any photographer looking for someone to be part of their projects. The above models are all women I have worked with more than once. I invite anyone looking for experienced models who can really carry a shoot to a new level to contact them and ask for their rates. You will not regret it!

The fight against bullying

Who hasn’t seen an extreme case of bullying and the devastating results that are often highly publicized with a massive outcry of rage from the public? It’s everywhere.

Know your place Bobby, next time just stay down.

Bullies have been around since the beginning of man. Child bullies are no secret, hell even back in the day the popular opinion was that it was necessary for children to establish a pecking order. That’s right, the same actions that would get an adult arrested were deemed healthy and necessary for children.

Now people are launching a full out war against bullying and are taking the most typical lazy American route as an attempt to staunch an ever growing problem: Making it illegal to do. Oh no, that will stop children from bullying because all kids are born with an inherit understanding that their actions dictate consequences. Oh no wait, don’t we spend 18 years trying to teach children that before unleashing them on the world?

So some people have sat back, satisfied in the knowledge that children will be arrested for crimes they don’t even have the psychological capacity to fully understand. As long as someone is punished, justice has been served.

Punishment is a big aspect of our American social scale and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many private organizations have a special interest in keeping our jails full. For them, this is a win/win situation, it doesn’t stop something from happening, and it just makes it a crime.

What are we as a society lacking? America keeps fighting battles from one angle alone. Let’s punish the bullies and ignore the victims. It is absolutely heartbreaking when a child decides to take his or her own life because of bullying and what’s even worse for me is: No one sees it coming.

No this isn’t a critical bashing of parents for not psychically knowing when their children are upset, this is a broad accusation of our cold and uncommunicative society. The first and really last introduction to socializing for children is kindergarten, where they are taught to play nicely together. From there we put so much emphasis on books, grades, math, and writing cursive that no one even considers that social interaction and psychology might be even more important.

Children are regularly sent to heavily condensed areas of population called schools and are thrust into social situations they haven’t even prepared for. As adults, we are already so used to social interaction we barely consider that children are struggling to comprehend it. Instead of guiding and teaching, we push them through it because homework is more important.

When bullying occurs, it is usually met with a “No, stop it.” response and left at that. Anyone who has raised a child should know the basic problem here: You don’t just tell a child to not touch a stove, you tell them not to touch it because it will burn them. Teachers are not psychiatrists, they can’t be expected to schedule children for counseling sessions so they can explain the intricate workings of the human mind and social interaction. The concepts of why or why not are often left in the dust.

How many times have you told a child “Use your words.”? It’s not just a request that they stop speaking in gibberish; it’s a request for them to gather their thoughts and feelings and communicate with us on an equal level. It seems like once a child grasps the language they are expected to speak, we forget what communication is. They know how to ask for things, they know to report a boo-boo, but why do we stop teaching them to examine their own emotions and communicate it to us?

It seems like children to reach a certain age and find themselves alone with the assurance that if they even want to talk, we’re here for them… Yet American society doesn’t seem to remember that we just barely scratched the surface of teaching children how to communicate their feelings. Now they are expected to not only self reflect and figure out what’s bothering them, they’re supposed to translate it into words and initiate a very vulnerable and sometimes embarrassing conversation? I don’t think so.

This is the equivalent of showing an inexperienced teenager how to start a car and then leaving them without any further directions, but telling them that if they need help figuring out how to drive, they can drive to your house and you’ll answer their questions.

I think everyone is getting the basic idea of what I’m saying here. American society has turned communication into a one way road and expects the victims to just come forward, yet we tend to view being a victim of something as being humiliating. How many child molestation charges come as a complete shock and how many children come forward to report the abuse they faced only after someone ELSE does first?

My point is that fighting bullying and abuse needs to be done from more than one angle. We cannot seek greater and greater punishment for crimes being committed while we ignore those who are victims of abuse and leave others ill equipped to both understand what is happening to them and how to communicate to those they can trust.

Propose two new mentalities: It is NOT okay to bully and it is OKAY to ask for help.