All posts by Sarah

Zombie Shoot, Behind the Scenes

This was an amazing shoot. It really progressed more like a short film than a regular photoshoot. I got to build zombie wounds from scratch and the props were custom made too. I admit that this video is mostly outtakes and a look into how we interact during shoots, it’s fun to share, but I realize that people might be looking for more tutorials or how-to videos so I am going to work on that as well. This shoot was done on a very very low budget so it’s really something anyone can do!

Model: Vena Kayta

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!