Product Photography For Internet Sales

Let’s face it. We are in the technology age now. Everyone has full computer capacity in the palm of their hand. You can’t walk down the street or into a restaurant, any more, without seeing a vast majority of the crowd staring into a cell phone, pad or laptop. With the increasing habit of pretty much living on our electronic devices, the desire for businesses to cater to online shoppers is becoming not only increasingly popular but, dare I say, a necessity?

Yes, I dare. With online behemoths such as Amazon, eBay, WalMart, et al, driving the ease and convenience of getting anything and everything under the sun, delivered right to your doorstep without ever leaving home, businesses of all sizes must start becoming internet friendly to stay relative and compete in today’s market.

Now, what does that mean for the savvy entrepreneurs out there? It typically means revamping their entire website (or taking the leap into the 21st century by creating a website) or, at the very least, revamping the way their products are presented to John Q Public. Most online sellers, such as Home Depot, WalMart, Amazon, Target, etc, have strict parameters for product photos displayed on their website. This helps created a uniformity in their website and the perception of a clean, fair and balanced online marketplace that represents their own business. Typically, that requires a solid white background, sized by pixel dimensions. Enter, the professional photographer.

Yes, anyone and everyone, nowadays, can take a photo whenever they want, right from the palm of their hand. No need to invest in expensive studio equipment such as fancy lights and backdrops. However, it’s not that easy. Making the background perfectly white while preserving the details in the product you are trying to sell, is no easy task at all. That’s where I come in.

Product photography is not just taking a photo. A lot goes into it. You do need fancy lighting and lighting modifiers. Above that, you also need fancy computer programs for editing the photos, such as Photoshop (just to name one of a great many). You also need to know how to use the editing software. That, in itself, is a daunting task. If you took a two hour class, every day for a year, you probably still wouldn’t gain full knowledge of using a program as complex and versatile as Photoshop. However, online stores won’t budge on their requirement of having a pristine white background.

I have gained many clients due to their frustration of trying to get product photos that are accepted. Especially difficult is properly representing a white product on a white background. That happens to be one of the most difficult scenarios in photography, period (that and black product on black background are equally difficult). In my opinion, neither can be accomplished by “the average Joe”.

So, if you are in need of product photography to showcase your items in the best light possible (see what I did there), then give me a call or send an email through the contact form on this website. You don’t have to be local for me to help you. I am also fully capable and prepared to do more than just a white background, if you are selling on a on your own website or one that doesn’t care. Perhaps you need to show a lot of props or a particular background location for context or maybe even a live model.

You can also send me the photos that you took and I can try to fix them to meet your requirements. Let me show you what I can do to help your business grow. I offer prices and services for every budget. What do you have to lose by calling me to see how I can help…other than money, that is?

First session of the new year

WHEW! The holiday is over and 2018 is now behind us. The year 2019 is an open door to walk into the great unknown for the next 12 months. This is always an exciting prospect to me.

This is a young lady that I actually found on Instagram. I liked her “look” and was instantly inspired. Actually, that’s not a new thing. I am usually inspired by “how would I photograph you” when I meet anyone. Sometimes, however, like with this lovely local gal, the drive to photograph her was intense, as my artistic mind was flooded with ideas.

As usually happens, I just ran out of time. There are some people who I would just photograph all day and night because they are so easy to work with, are relaxed in front of the camera, can share my vision and bring it to life and also just photograph well. So it was with Savannah.

She walked in without showing much nervousness, though she said she was a little anxious, not knowing how it would be. She brought her boyfriend and the father of her unborn baby (I am equally excited to do maternity photos, not gonna lie). We looked through my model wardrobe and found a few outfits to start with.

Since she didn’t have very much time, we only got to focus on some vintage sets. About 15 years ago, I had purchased a box of antique hats but hadn’t even taken them out of the box. It was a perfect opportunity. We captured some traditional, classic portraits and then moved on to sentimental boudoir. The day was spent with low-key lighting scenarios, as we ran out of time to move to the high key ideas.

Two hours and many laughs later, we had some great images under out belt.

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My Experience in the White House Press Pool at a Trump Rally

A few days before the event, I was notified of an upcoming Presidential rally about 20 miles away. I intended to go and take photos of the president. I had it all planned out. I would bring my sturdy monopod, my Canon 1Dx professional camera two standard lenses at either my 600mm or my 800mm lens. I grew more and more excited to photograph our president but in researching the price of admission (free), I discovered that the only devices allowed within the arena were cell phones. That meant no professional cameras allowed, at all. YIKES!

I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a little bit of panic and desperation. However, as I continued my research (looking for a loophole, let’s be honest), I found that professional cameras would be allowed for the White House Press Pool and a link to apply. Since I am a feature photographer for CapeStyle Magazine (a great little magazine, in print and online, I might add…go check them out HERE), it was worth a try. I realized that there my chance of being approved was between little and none but figured I had nothing to lose by trying.

I waited until the day before with no news. I just knew, at that point, that I was denied. In fact, I assumed they were probably laughing that someone as “small time” as me would even try to be included to stand with greats like CBS, CNN, et al. I was away from home when I got the email stating I had been approved. I read that email and read it again, just to be sure that I was reading it right. Unbelievable! I was approved to be in the White House Press Pool for the Donald Trump Rally!

The email informed me that media would be allowed into the arena to set up at 10:00am. We arrived at 9:15 and found a line already a mile long (no exaggeration…we measured it) with people waiting to be granted admittance. Traffic was very backed up and moving at a crawl so people on the sides were yelling that there was no place left to park and we would have to go several miles from the arena to find parking. It was during one of those exchanges that my husband proudly exclaimed “Not for us. We are media”. I will have to admit that I, too, felt filled with pride at that moment.

We pulled up to the entrance, slinking our motorcycle through the crowd so as not to hurt ourselves or anyone else, and came upon a line of police officers and several police vehicles. After announcing we are press, they directed us to pull over to the side with our IDs and press credentials so they could verify our information. After taking our identification and CapeStyle Magazine press pass, the officer informed us “yes, you are on the list”. WOW! It feels good to be on “the list”. They pulled aside the barrier and directed us to the back of the arena for “press parking”.

We drive around the empty parking lot to the back. I say “drove around” because they had it cordoned off into segments and lines that eventually reached the entryway. Vehicles had to go all the way around the central area. At the entrance to the press lot, a volunteer directed us to find a spot wherever we could. The lot was already pretty full (with a warning that once full, media was on it’s own for finding wherever they could find, off site) but, having a motorcycle, we had an advantage that cars did not. We could pull up onto slim areas that a car wouldn’t fit. That’s just what we did. It was even under a tree for shade.

At that point, we grabbed all of our gear (you’d be surprised what you can fit on a motorcycle) and proceeded toward the entrance. There was already a line formed and we were about 6th in line. It was in the burning sun and everyone was sweaty and miserable but there was what I can only be described as “thick tension” in the air. Conversations were muted and short. Faces around us were stern and brows were furrowed. It was a crowd of “game faces”, if I ever saw one. I was definitely not like that, at all. The polar opposite, actually. I was proud as a peacock and looked around with wide-eyed wonder, like a young child watching the first lighting of a Christmas tree.

There were men with huge boxed and piles of expensive-looking gear. Media trucks with large appendages seemingly sprouting from the roofs, microphones and more. Seemingly everywhere we looked there were wheeled carts filled with mysterious cases and bags. It was honestly already quite a sight to behold.

About an hour later, a woman emerged from the interior of the building. She held a clipboard and announced the line should form in front of her. We all merged into a single file line and she started verifying credentials, again. She slowly scanned her 3 pages and finally announced “ok, you can go in”. Those words felt like notification of a paid holiday. I was hit with a wave of fear of the unknown but also felt giddy at the same time. Strange emotional bedfellows, I know. Those opened doors beckoned to us and we entered into the darkness from the bright sunlight.

Before our eyes even had time to adjust, someone asked for our ID’s and told us to put our belongings into the scanning area. It was like a TSA area at the airport. We had to individually step through a human-sized scanner that was surrounded (and I do mean surrounded) by stern-looking men in dark suits with curled cords emerging from their ears. I watched everyone in front of me pass through and pointed in the direction to proceed to but when I went through, I heard the dreaded beep. A sense of doom washed over me because I am very well familiar with that sound. I seem to get it every single time I fly. I set off the metal detector. Oh, no. I was not going to be allowed in. I just knew it!

A youngish-looking dark-suited man told me to step aside for a manual scan. He actually smiled. That and the kind tone of his voice put me immediately at ease. Honestly, TSA agents could take some lessons from the Secret Service. He calmly informed me that I was going to be scanned and how and he proceeded to pass a wand over me, as I stood with my arms up and legs apart. It lasted only a few seconds and I was then directed to go in and find a spot in the press box, wherever I wanted that wasn’t already occupied.

The press box was surrounded by a fence (and more dark-suited men with ear cords). It was a three-tiered raised floor that stood about 4’ from the ground, at its lowest point. There was only one set of stairs and it ended at the center section. I tried squeezing in on the lowest section, right next to the mark on the floor on tape saying CBS, between that and another named piece of tape but when we tried placing our tripod, realized we would not fit. Ok, plan B. We stepped back up onto the middle section and got right in the front center of that area. Straight ahead of me was a podium, decorated with the presidential seal.That’s right. I would be looking straight into the President’s face. Other than the CBS and CNN spots, I think ours was the best vantage point.

As more and more press came onto the platform, there was less and less space to move. People tried to move in on our spot, attempting to dislodge our equipment, encroaching our area with their gear to push us back but my assistant (best husband on Earth) would not allow our stuff to be moved. It was, after all, a “first come, first served” situation and we roasted in the direct sunlight for an hour before being allowed access to be sure that we were amongst the first to come and be served for this very reason. I felt like Gandalph the Great, slamming his rod down and proclaiming “You shall not pass”.

An hour and a half later (on the dot), as warned, the Secret Service announced that all persons needed to vacate the building, immediately. It was time for the sweep. The man instructed us to leave our cameras on and proceed out. Others announced there is no guarantee of re-admittance so be sure to be back at precisely 3pm. Those not there when the media entrance shut would not be allowed back in until it was over. It was during our exodus that a Secret Service agent approached us to say he is the one who approved us. We thanked him, profusely, for giving us the chance.

I had learned a painful lesson that morning. Never forget comfortable shoes. I knew, going in, that the first stage would last only about two-and-a-half hours (from arrival on the scene to media exit). so I was dressed up, including a pair of 4” stiletto heels. My feet were on fire (I’m already in foot and leg pain, constantly, after suffering a badly broken lower leg, ankle and foot). I had every intention of bringing my “real shoes” for the main part of the event but I had forgotten them at home. So, during the break we were off to buy sensible shoes. Luckily, it was right next door to Miromar Outlets. I also picked up a C-shaped stool that fit perfectly around my tripod legs and allowed another 6” in height. That comes in handy when you are only 5’2 and surrounded by tall men.

We arrived soon enough to be the first ones in the line. I took that time to ask people questions as they passed. Some said they were there just because they believed President Trump really wanted (and could) the country to be great, as it once was. One person at the VIP line said they weren’t able to perform military service in their younger years so wanted to do something to help the country in this way (financial support). A young Hispanic woman said she was there because she supports the President’s stance on immigration, siting that her parents had come to this country, legally, and that illegal entry “is a spit in the face of my parents who worked so hard to come and fit in”. There were a myriad of reasons people faced the heat of the day, for hours and hours, but all of them had one thing in common. Pride for the USA. The air was palpable with it. There’s just no other way to describe it.

I know this is lengthy, and for anyone still here, I thank you for hanging in to the end (thanks, Ray). We got back in before anyone else (AP and CNN were told to get behind us…it pays to be nice to volunteers and to show up, first). Our spot was right where we left it. The VIP crowds started rolling in. So many were wearing red MAGA hats and shirts that it literally looked like a red wave as they moved to their seats. As time passed, the crowds got thicker and thicker and seats got fewer and fewer. Before the arrival of the president, even the walkways were packed with people.

They announced the arena was at capacity an no more would be allowed in. My editor asked if I could go see how many were left outside and maybe get a photograph but I couldn’t comply and keep my spot. In fact, the media members had more than quadrupled on that stand. You, quite literally, could not even see the floor, anymore. There were lights, cameras and people filling every square inch and we all stood with arm touching arm. IF I could get out of that pack, and that was a big if, there would be no way I’d be able to get back. At the end, as we left the arena, I did ask some officers outside and was told there were hundreds who didn’t get in.

The crowd was chanting USA, USA, USA… If you’ve never experienced a packed arena filled with people chanting USA, I highly recommend it. I heard several disparaging remarks from certain press members, stating they all wore black to signify mourning. I stood out, as I was draped head to toe in USA flag attire. Only one other press member proudly donned her pride in America, as she placed her red MAGA hat atop her equipment, for all to see. Every time CNN’s Jim Acosta tried to do video, a section of the crowd loudly chanted disparaging remarks about CNN, in unison. At three points in the evening, he even got into a loud and rowdy verbal confrontation with bystanders. I wasn’t drawn into that, as other reporters were, grabbing their cameras and running over to the area they were yelling in. I was still just looking around in utter awe that I was there. I was actually there, in the press box, wearing my new White House Press Pool badge. I simply could’t believe it.

Anyway, as the crowd enthusiasm built to a deafening crescendo and armed guards, dogs and their handlers, Secret Service and more took defensive positions all around the arena, vehemently scanning the masses for signs of trouble, President Donald Trump finally emerged from behind large black curtains. The crowd tripled it’s noise level in showing their excitement and support for him. It was deafening. More than that, as someone just looking on, it was a profound and impactful moment to behold.

If I learned one thing and one thing only, it was that a whole lot of people are proud of our country and it’s president. I was deeply honored and extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity of a lifetime. USA

Texas-Style Halloween Party

It was my distinct pleasure to be flown to Texas for a lovely visit and Halloween photo session with some lovely young ladies. The party was photo-centric, set up in a goat pasture and barn at a small local ranch. Part of me wishes the goats, pigs, ducks and more were running around but that would probably be asking for trouble.

Anyway, there were different halloween-themed photography sets around the three-acre property. I didn’t get to all of them (in fact, I pretty much just used the natural areas and not the actual sets) but did get some great pictures, met some wonderful people and had an awesome time!

Here are some of the highlights of the night.

Working with Twins Toddlers

It was my great pleasure to work with two of the most absolutely adorable twin boys that you could ever lay eyes on. The last time I had them in my studio was before Christmas, 6 months ago. It was fascinating to me, how much they had grown in such a short time and how very different they were from each other. Each one of these precious ones, has their own very distinct personality, even at only two and a half.

It was a coordinated effort to get these active little fellas to stay together in the studio set area. Their mom, a wonderful lady in her own right, sat down on the floor tossing the ball, playing peek-a-boo, singing, helping me make strange noises (and God help us if any aliens were listening to those sounds and thinking that was the language of Earth). My husband helped to run interference, fetching the stray balls that rolled or bounced off into the distance, fixing props that were knocked over, wrangling boys out of v-flats and reflectors. It was definitely a morning of laughter.

However, all of our efforts paid off, and we got some pretty nice images. The main point of today's session was to try out my new tee-pee prop from Little Dove Store on Amazon so I could do a review. After I got several photos of these toddlers, many of them were a blur of a boy's backside as he high-tailed it to another area of the studio or crying in anticipation the ball that was delayed a little too long in it's coming or a blurry arm as it was at the tail end of a ball being thrown, I decided that since they were being so awesome (and, lets be honest, look as cute as little buttons), I would attempt to get some chromakey action in, for a few composite images. I've included a few, below.

I hope that I get the chance to photograph them, again. It would be a great pleasure, watching them grow into fine young men.


To the Moon and Back

It has been a really busy couple of months with some huge developments for TS Gallant Photography. You can see several of our photos in the most recent few issues of Cape Style Magazine, I've been teaching other photographers how to hone their portrait skills, I sold my first Adobe Stock photo, successfully pulled off several personal photographic projects, agreed to become the official photographer for the Rebel Riders Charities and Events and have designed and had built a few custom sets for the studio.

As of June 9th, I am super excited to unveil our adorable new custom newborn moon and galaxy set for the studio! In conjunction with the launch of this new set, TS Gallant Photography is also running a special Facebook and Instagram contest promotion for one lucky winner to have their little one be the lucky one to break it in, being the 1st to be photographed in it, with no sitting fee (savings of $199); plus, the winner will receive a credit toward print purchase. Winner will be drawn at random on June 23 at 12:00pm, EST during a Facebook live video, then contacted via Facebook Messenger. More details available HERE.

A huge thanks goes out to my multi-talented friend and fellow local business owner, Anson E, for designing and creating the moon based on my feeble description. He's truly brilliant in all that he does and I'm lucky to call him my friend. Be on the lookout for the next set that's already in the adorable Little Red Riding Hood set! I do love photographing newborns, babies and children of all ages. I have a true passion for newborn photography and want to be as creative as space, time and money allow, to create beautiful, tender, innocent, magical, mystical and fantasy images for you to treasure for the next 100 years.


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A Cinderella Story...Er, Sort Of

I'm sure you are all familiar with the story of Cinderella. Well, this is sort of along that same line, just minus the prince, the fairy godmother, the castle, the step-sisters...ok, maybe it's not at all like the actual Cinderella story. However, the theme that is similar is the underdog, shy young girl who gets her day to feel like the star of the show.

There are two things that are near and dear to my heart; photographing children ages 0-18 and a cessation to bullying or, at the very least, the empowerment of those who are oppressed, afflicted and otherwise traumatized by the bully mentality. Having seen firsthand the often life-long effects that bullying can have on young victims, it's something that will light me up like a bottle rocket on the Fourth of July. So, at 9:30pm on a recent Saturday night, when I got the notification from a very special grandmother, I knew what I had to do.

I got a message from a referral service that a woman I'll call Monica was looking for a local photographer. There was a miscommunication in the original information I was given, so I was told she was seeking a certain type of photography session when, in fact, it was something completely different. When we finally clarified everything and I had all the correct info, I literally broke out with goosebumps from head to toe. When I recounted the tale to my husband (the greatest assistant to ever hold a reflector), I not only got goosebumps, again, but I also got a little misty-eyed. Just wait until you hear why!

This loving grandmother had one simple request. She wanted a photographer who would make her granddaughter feel very special for her 16th birthday. She went on to say that she wanted someone to take beautiful pictures that "show her being as beautiful as I see her through my eyes". She explained that her granddaughter (I'll call her Lily) didn't really feel very pretty and was shy, suffering with self-esteem issues. Before she even finished her tale, I already knew that I was taking this girl on and making her queen for a day.

We agreed to all the details and set the appointment for the next afternoon. Since this was her 16th birthday weekend and the photo session experience was to be part of her birthday celebration, we had no time to waste. As this was also to be a surprise for Lily, I asked Monica what formal dresses were in her closet that could be sneaked out for the session. Monica said she had none. I mentioned that it could be any kind of formal dress, like perhaps something from a homecoming dance or birthday party or wedding she attended. The answer was still none. She just didn't go to those things. I asked what size dress Lily wears, as I have a lot of prop clothing for my clients to use for their photo sessions,if desired. She said "well, she's kind of a big girl and that's the problem. She wears about a 16 or 18". My heart sank. The largest size I had was a 12 and I know from experience, nothing makes a person more depressed about their weight than trying on something pretty and finding out it doesn't fit. That was NOT gonna happen to Lily on my watch!

Determined to head to the mall, early the next morning, I discussed my plan with my husband. He suggested taking to social media. So, just after 9:30pm on a Saturday night, I put out a clothing SOS to all of my Facebook friends. I am so blessed to have such wonderful, kind, generous and helpful friends! The call was answered en mass.  By the time of her 3pm arrival, she had an entire rack of clothing to choose from. It really did look like a supermodel set. I had the wardrobe area set up, the props, background and lighting all setup, there were contracts laid out to sign, jewelry and accessories. I was determined to give her a super model experience and create some beautiful images.

They arrived with Lily having just been told where they were going. I could tell that she was nervous but Ray and I went into full model mode. I called her my lovely little diva and pointed to the rack of clothing, telling her to just  pick whatever she wanted to try and we could do as many as she wanted. She was foofed off to wardrobe with an armful of dresses while Monica and I sat and talked. She filled me in, a little more, as to why this was so important and I again welled up and got goosebumps. I was so happy to be a part of making this little lady feel amazing.

When we started working with the actual camera, Lily was so nervous. We could all tell how tense she was. She had no confidence. She put great effort into not smiling, clamping her lips together so that her teeth wouldn't show. Her shoulders were hunched forward, she was holding herself and her hands were clenched. I instantly knew what her grandmother was saying and why it was so important and was bound and determined to reverse it all, even for just a day.

It actually didn't take too long before she was laughing and more at ease (it never does). She quickly started exuding confidence instead of being shut down. In that three hours of my reinforcing how great she was doing and how beautiful she looked, I got to watch her blossom from a tightly closed bud into a beautiful rose that brightened up the whole room.

When it came time to sit down together and look through the images, they were both shocked. After about the third photo and third time of Lily saying "oh my God, that's me", her grandmother explained to her why she had done it and that she is beautiful and is special and should always feel that way. At that, Lily got teary, as did Monica (and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't on the teary list). We continued through and it brought me such joy to see her face light up on image after image, then struggle to narrow it down to only the 10 that she would get (5 was the job but I was matching that, as a gift). She was so proud to see herself on the screen and that was wonderful for me, as an artist, to be a part of.

There was time, after all was said and done, for the three of us girls to sit down for some chit-chat and go through a few questions that I had. Here's what they had to say:

ME: Monica, how long have you been planning this day for Lily?

M: It was completely spur-of-the-moment but I'm so glad you said yes, with such short notice.

L: I was completely surprised. I really didn't know until we were almost here.

ME: Question for both of you. How did you feel , knowing this was going to happen?

M: I was excited. My granddaughter deserves to feel like this. She is so sweet and hard-working and special. She's suffered so much loss in the last year. She lost two people who were very close to her, her grandfather and her uncle. I wanted her to see herself as I see her, the real Lily. (this is where we all got a little wet in the eye area).

L: Don't make me cry. I was just so nervous. I don't take pictures. I don't take good pictures, anyway. I didn't even think that I could. I didn't think there could be a really good picture of me.

ME: Ok, another question to you both. How did I make you feel during your experience, today?

M: This was wonderful.

L: You made me feel comfortable and, yes. I felt very special with all this and how we worked.

ME: For both of you, how did you feel when you first saw the images, both on the back of the camera and especially on the bigger screen?

M: You captured her. You captured the true essence of my granddaughter.

L: Honestly, I just kept thinking "Wow! That's me! I actually look good"!

ME: Lily, do you feel this boosted your confidence at all? I see a change from the you that walked in to the you that is sitting here right now so do you think you could carry some of that out of here and into the rest of your life?

L: It definitely boosted my confidence. I still can't believe it. Yes, maybe I could. I don't know. It's hard.

ME: Ok, fair enough, but you should. Monica, would you feel confident in recommending TS Gallant Photography to a friend who might want to gift the same experience or have it for herself?

M: Most definitely. You gave her a chance to really shine and everyone should have that.

I did leave Lily with a final thought. See, I didn't actually do anything but take a picture with a tool. Those photos she saw that made her feel so proud and pretty and good about herself ARE photos of her. I can only photograph what's there. So, if she could feel good about herself and pretty and confident after looking at a few pictures on a screen, she can carry that with her at all times because that's all inside her. She should remember that, always, and never let anyone steal her shine. I wish Lily nothing but the best that life has to offer. The gift from her grandmother was as much mine as hers. It was such an honor to be a part of showing a young woman who she really is. Lily, the world is your oyster!

If you enjoyed this story, or would like to leave words of encouragement for Lily, please leave a comment below.

And the "Best Husband in the World" Award Goes To...

Yes, I do realize that there probably isn't really a "Best Husband in the World" award (there should be) but, if there was, the winner would be my husband.

Oh, sure, I realize that pretty much every wife would say that of their husband but I must insist, biased or not, I really think mine would win. Not only is he a great provider, a great dad, full of love and support, caring, thoughtful, hard-working and more, outside of being the "amazing guy behind the scenes" here at TS Gallant Photography but he will go so far above and beyond to help me out, including cheering me up (or cooling my jets) that it can't even be measured. Thankfully, it CAN be photographed. Read on to see how he win's the Best Husband in the World award.

Recently, we had a photo shoot scheduled with a local model for bright and early on a Sunday morning. It was to be a fashion style session featuring an antique love seat placed in the middle of a tennis court. The model would be showcasing a pair of Jimmy Choo sandals while wearing a cocktail dress. That means my husband and already the best assistant, ever, had to arrange for a truck (a huge thank you goes out to two of the best friends a person could have, for letting us borrow yours so we didn't have to rent a Uhaul), get up really early on this Sunday, before the sun was even up, then load the lighting equipment, camera gear and couch, all before 7:30am. He then drives the truck to the park, unloads it all and carries all of it halfway across the park into the tennis court and sets up. ALL OF THIS he did on his own, without help from me, including carrying and placing the antique love seat. Now, before you start throwing "And the Worst Wife of the Year Award Goes To Me" verbiage, be aware of the fact that I'm still recovering from recent surgeries on both a broken leg and beat up shoulder. I'm still wearing the plastic cast, unable to put weight on it yet, and barely out of the shoulder sling so using crutches was both awkward and painful and even walking was unsteady.

Anyway, you are probably thinking that is where this award-deserving story ends but, no, there's more. As I said, the shoot was scheduled for 8am. It had been scheduled for several weeks. The model was chosen mostly because she stated she had a lot of experience and was very professional (which, by the way, is ALWAYS more important than being the most beautiful face on the list of possibilities). The model was immediately given the name and address of the park and directions to get there, via message and she responded in writing that she knew right where it was. I touched base with her, several times over the next weeks, including the day before when I specifically asked if there were any questions about the location or time and wanted to verify that we were still on for in the morning. Her response was that all was well, she didn't need more directions and that she would be tired from a long shift but would absolutely be there, ready to go.

When she was 15 minutes late, I called but got no answer. I then texted asking for an update. She replied, a few minutes later, that she had no idea the park was in Cape Coral and that "I swear the GPS said it was only 25 min from my house when I looked it up, then this morning said it's over an hour" (never mind the "if you are saying you didn't know it was in Cape and didn't have the address, how did you look it up" question, which is it's own blog suject). Anyway, moving on, she was just leaving her house and would be at least an hour late.

That left us in a heck of a bind because, here were are, blocking a tennis court on a Sunday morning. Do you know who wants to play tennis on an early Sunday morning? Evidently a heck of a lot of people, that's who! So, here we are, blocking one of the two tennis courts with a bunch of lighting equipment and a couch, getting all kinds of looks from people playing on the other court, walking their dogs on the path around the tennis area or jogging around the park. One elderly couple actually stopped dead in their tracks, laughing and pointing at us for several minutes. That was fun.

The later it became and the more looks we got and the more I worried that we would be asked to leave, the more upset I got. Here's where that "Best Husband" award comes in. Without missing a beat, my big, bad, biker husband says "let's at least test the lighting" and starts posing. I don't mean the usual tough-guy pose you'd expect, I mean the "♪♫♬I'm too sexy for my shirt...on the catwalk, yeah, on the catwalk...♪♫♬" type of posing. In the middle of it, he picks up the dress and the shoes and really plays it up for me and for the camera. I could end it right there, of course, as he's already proven to be the best husband, up to this point, but he also agreed to let me post the photos, on the condition that "it will make you cheer up and smile" (sadly, he did put his foot down on a video recording for YouTube, though).

Anyway, it was really tough to narrow it down to only 7 photos but, to me, these images of him were the win for the day! I hope you agree.

Top 5 Tips For Getting Great Photos of Your dog

We've all seen those adorable dog photos. They are on billboards, in magazine ads, on store products, in funny internet memes? Let's face it. Who doesn't love pet photos? Of course, many people are inspired by their own little fur baby and want to get great photo for themselves. However, what they often get are pictures of butts and tails because their dog turned around at the last second, or stopped doing that cute pose as soon as the camera was up and ready. Sometimes the photo just plain falls flat of expectation. Getting great photos of our four-legged, tail-wagging family members has been a problem plaguing mankind, pretty much since the invention of the camera. Below are a few helpful hints to help you get better results with your own dog.

1. Get help and don't do it, alone. I have to say, this is probably legitimately the number one helpful hint to successful pet photography. Yes, of course many people can and do get great photos while working alone (like all of my examples below) but I have done it both ways and speak from years of experience when I say it is definitely better for the photographer and the dog, if there is help. The best way for a second person to help is to stand directly behind the camera, placing their face on an even plane with the camera lens and talking with the pup or making noises. This generally keeps the dog's eyes looking close to the lens and creates an illusion of the eyes looking at the camera and making a connection with the viewer.

2. Pick a time when the animal is sleepy, especially young ones. Most types of puppies do one thing more than anything else...sleep. After they wake up from a nap, they are usually feeling frisky and wanting to play. That's a tough time to try and keep them in one spot long enough to get even one photo, much less a few options. However, after running around and burning off some of that energy, they start to wind down. They get more and more calm as time goes on and they move toward needing another nap. This is generally a great time to try to get a few shots. They are less likely to try to run off and more likely to sit or lay in one spot.

3. Get down on their level. I think the single biggest mistake that people make is standing above animals to get a photo. This isn't a complimentary angle for humans and it's the same for dogs. Sometimes, you just have to lay down in the grass to get the best presentation.

4. Use a clutter-free background. This can usually be accomplished with a very shallow depth of field, using a wide open aperture on a good lens, and/or moving in very close to your subject but it can also be as simple as moving to a de-cluttered area. Distracting backgrounds can be things inside a house, like furniture, toys or people. Outside it can be cars and trucks, telephone poles, signs and more. Like with people, there's nothing flattering about a picture of Spot where it looks like there is a telephone pole growing out of the top of his head. Just move off to the side, a few feet, and try again.

5. The most important thing is to be patient. When you present yourself in a calm, relaxed, patient manner, that translates to the animal you are working with. Dogs, especially, are very sensitive to human emotion. That's why they are used for companion animals (and earned the title "man's best friend"). All your dog wants to do is please you and make you happy. If you are trying to get a photo and are getting upset, frustrated or angry because things aren't going smoothly (and they usually don't), your dog will immediately pick up on that and will become uncomfortable because he won't understand why you're upset with him. It's better to walk away and try at another time, than to find yourself in that situation. Dogs also have a great memory and if that "big, dark eye" coming out of your head causes you to get upset, your dog will quickly learn to avoid it.

I hope that you found these tips to be helpful to you. Feel free to post your own pet photos on our Facebook page or tag us on Instagram @TSGallantPhotography.

Family Fun in the Sun

It was a beautiful day on Saturday. The sun was out, it wasn't windy, no rain in sight. Those are the perfect ingredients for wonderful outdoor family portraits.

I actually met Bill and Kim, several years ago, through our mutual love of motorcycles. We run into each other from time to time, at various events once or twice per year, but are separated by hundreds of miles and several hours in travel.

Imagine my surprise when I got a call saying they wanted to do family pictures...with me! I was doubly blessed when they said it would be the first time they have ever had formal family portraits of any kind. We made an appointment for 12:30pm but in their excitement, they arrived almost two hours early (which, of course, gave us plenty of time to sit down and catch up over coffee).

After a relaxing early morning, we got the ball rolling. The session started in the studio, then moved outdoors. Afterward, we drove to the beach to finish the family session and get a few impromptu engagement photos, as well. After all was said and done, I got the opportunity to ask them a few questions about their experience.

ME: So, first things first. Why would you choose me for your first family photos when you have so many to choose from, close to where you are?

B&K: A big part is because we consider you a friend. Aside from that, we both really like your style. Your photos are different than any other photos we see from other photographers. Very original.

ME: Now that we are done, what was your favorite part of our session?

Kim: My favorite part was seeing the photos and seeing that you got pictures of who we are, naturally. Sebastian loved the balloon photo and Augustus' favorite was the "Help" image on the beach. Our least favorite part was seeing the pain you were going through, walking around on your broken leg (I had surgery on an open frature, 9 weeks ago, so was still in a boot and a knee scooter but used crutches for the beach...which wasn't easy since I also had major shoulder surgery 9 weeks ago, too). Bill says he doesn't have a favorite part. He liked everything (except maybe for being asked if he was ok with sitting down on the ground, which he found amusing).

ME: What was it that you loved so much about working with me?

B&K:  A lot. You are fun. I love the way you made us laugh and got us in a happy mood to take great pictures. I also love the poses you came up with. I loved your attitude during the whole thing. You weren't grumpy and didn't get mad at the boys when they didn't do exactly what you asked them. I love that you went with the flow, adapting when things didn't go exactly as planned.

ME: Would you come back for photos with me in the future?

B&K: Definitely! I want you do photograph our wedding! We will always be repeat customers!

Interview with Sommer

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview my young model and client, Sommer. I'm sure you love the images of her as much as I do. She is not only the epitome of beauty on the outside but she's also got such a warm and beautiful soul, as well. Her personality is amazing and I just love working with her (we all laugh, a LOT). I had the pleasure of sitting down with her, recently, for some conversation so I asked her a few questions. Here's what she had to say.

ME: What were your expectations, at the beginning of our first photo session (which was her first-ever photoshoot with a professional photographer)?

SOMMER: Well, I was definitely curious as to whether or not the photos would even turn out and what they would look like. I was also wondering how well we would work together and what it would be like.

ME: What did you think when you first came in and saw my camera and all the studio equipment we had set up for you?

SOMMER: My first thought was "cool". I was very impressed. In instantly knew you took this seriously and weren't an amateur. It all looked so professional.

ME: On a scale of 1-10, how nervous were you before we got started?

SOMMER: Definitely at least an 8!

ME: In my opinion, that nervous didn't last very long. Would you agree?

SOMMER: Yes. Like not even 5 minutes.

ME: What helped you overcome your nervousness?

SOMMER: Mostly that you didn't act all serious with me. You guys were comfortable and that made me comfortable. You're so easy-going so that definitely made me relax.

ME: What is the best part of the experience of being photographed by TS Gallant Photography?

SOMMER: Definitely the fun. The way you guys banter with each other makes me laugh and that comforts and relaxes me.

ME: How did seeing the photos make you feel?

SOMMER: Weird, honestly. Your pictures looked so nice compared to the cell phone pictures I'm used to. I just looked so different than what I normally see.

ME: Do you feel the photos we took boosted your confidence or self-esteem?

SOMMER: Yes, because they looked way better than I expected them to. I looked like I was in a magazine or should be in a magazine. They were just so picture perfect.

ME: Overall, what do you think about TS Gallant Photography?

SOMMER: I think you're really creative and a lot of fun. Not at all overwhelming like I thought it would be. Now, when I know you'll be photographing me, I'm very excited and start getting ready really early because I know I'm about to have fun and get excited to see the pictures. It's very interesting to see what all you can do, creatively.

(we just love working with this girl)


Things to look for in a professional photographer

Ok, so you have decided that you want some photos taken. You've made the decision that you want a professional photographer instead of just using your cell phone camera. Both are great decisions but now what? Well, I'd like to offer some advice to anyone wanting to hire a professional photographer. The information in this blog are only my opinion but I do believe I have enough education to stand by the contents. Here are some tips.

First and foremost, does the photographer have a website? Not just a Facebook page or a free website that reads something like www.ImAGreatPhotographer/freewebs/getyourownsite/ or something along those lines. A professional photographer takes him-or-herself and photography as a craft very seriously and will do whatever it takes to present a professional face, and that includes making an investment in a legitimate website. Along these lines is their email. Is it ""? If so, they don't take their business seriously and neither should you! You want to look for someone with a real website, that has something like their business and an or Same principle applies to their business cards.

Does the photographer you are considering have professional gear? If he has a little Canon Rebel or other inexpensive, entry-level crop sensor camera, it might be a good idea to go elsewhere. Part of being a professional is having professional gear. This is at least, if not more important, than having a professional website. Another thing about professional gear is that it (generally) takes professional photos. Why, you may ask? Well, usually, by the time someone is confident enough to make the kind of financial investment that pro gear entails (often several thousand dollars just for the camera body with no lenses), they have mastered their craft and understand what they are doing and need to do to consistently capture great images. Now, is that to say that a person HAS to spend $6,000 on a camera body to take great photos? No, not at all. I am saying, however, that someone who is truly a professional, dedicated to his craft, will likely invest in top-of-the-line equipment.

Yes, there is a difference between professional and non-professional photos. You as consumers need to educate yourselves, as well. Pick up any magazine. Do you see the cover? The advertisements? The photos for the main stories? Those are professional photos. Photographers who can produce images like that, images with "WOW factor", images that you want to hang on your walls don't charge $50 for a session. If you want the best, as I'm sure you do, it will cost a little more. It's the same as in all other areas of life. Do you shop for your daughter's prom dress at Target? Do you buy furniture from WalMart? Do you get your hair done at the salon where you buy your groceries or do you go to the mall salon? Do you buy your makeup at the dollar store or at a Sephora counter? When shopping for a bra, do you go to a thrift store or Victoria's Secret? When you look for a new car, do you drive down Fowler St or do you go to a huge dealership? Same principal. Quality costs but with that price one can be fairly confident in the assumption that there is the assurance you will get quality and that's definitely what you want! Looking for a professional photographer is no different than searching for any other professional. You wouldn't choose your mechanic, tattoo artist, family doctor or veterinarian solely because they are the cheapest and advertised on Craigslist, would you? No, of course not.

Does the photographer you are considering have an up-to-date portfolio that changes, frequently. If your potential photographer has the same old images, month after month and year after year, or only has photos of one or two people in their portfolio, what does that say? You want to hire a photographer who updates images. You also want one that has a Facebook Page (in addition to their real website) and Instagram. This shows they like to stay current and up-to-date. You also want to find one who engages with you. If you send any sort of comment or question, do they respond quickly or does it take a few days? It's important to find a professional who values you, as much as they want you to value them. Compare local websites, too. It will help you see different styles and what stands out to you as great images versus "meh".

We already briefly touched base on professional photos, a few paragraphs above, but how can you compare? Aside from the magazine analogy that I provided, there are some things to look for. First, is everything in their portfolio in total focus where it should be. For example, if it's a head shot, are the eyes in focus like they should be or are the eyebrows or cheeks in crisp focus, instead? If it's a portrait of your son and daughter, are both in focus or just one and are the trees in the background where the focus is instead of them (or in equal focus with them)? In a photo, is the background free of distraction and softly focused or are the bushes clearly visible and in as much focus as the subject? Do they offer physical prints, albums, and other tangible items or do they just offer digital files on a disk that you will stick in a drawer and forget about?

Here are some questions to ask any photographer you interview (and then look up their answers, to educate yourself):

  1. What camera do you use?
  2. What is your go-to portrait lens (if they say they only have a lens that is attached to the camera, it's not a professional camera at all)?
  3. Can your photos print a quality 30x40?
  4. How much ongoing training do you invest in, per year?
  5. What is your website (if you don't already know it)?
  6. Can you provide references?

These are just a few tidbits that will get you headed down the road to satisfaction. I included  few examples, below, for comparison. As always, we wish you happiness and great photos! Start your search by clicking here.