Maggie as Jackie O. | Denver Portrait Photographer

Bringing Jackie back to life

By now you must know that I nearly worship the ground Charlene (owner of Zepherra) sews on. I knew that nobody else would be better suited to construct a replica Bar Suit, but after hiring her for that special project I decided to throw another dress into her workload: the iconic orange dress worn by Jackie Kennedy.

Although I loved Maggie with her own blonde locks, I knew she could rock both a red and brunette wig, as well. So I had Carl Brown make both for our vintage portrait sessions. And obviously Maggie needed the brunette wig to channel her inner Jackie!

 
Blonde Jackie!

Blonde Jackie!

 

Like the rest of the wardrobe, we tried everything in Denver first. I loved the way the orange dress looked on Maggie and decided it would be a go! I didn’t know, though where I would choose to photograph her in it. As I’ve mentioned before, Paris location scouting was a bit overwhelming.

J’adore Dior

While Charlene was making the dresses, I suddenly got paranoid about copyright. By now you are all well aware that I take copyright seriously when it comes to photography. But what about fashion? I suddenly assumed the rules might be the exact same. I frantically reached out to several people in the fashion industry, as well as doing my own online research to find answers. And to my surprise, I found out the following:

It might be a fashion faux-pas to copy someone’s style, but it may be a surprise to learn that making a direct or substantially similar copy of clothing, in many circumstances is legal, because clothing designs are rarely protected by copyright law specifically.
— The Internet

I didn’t really mind a faux pas. to be honest. I just wanted to be sure I was obeying the law. My overactive mind took “fashion police” to a whole new level!!! I was told, though that as long as I wasn’t trying to pass the replica off as authentically Dior (or whichever designer) with the intent of selling it, I was fine.

Once we were in Paris, I felt a strong pull to photograph Maggie outside Dior. Christian Dior’s story…how he started his business later in life…the iconic Bar Suit…how he revolutionized fashion for women…it has all inspired me so much in my journey to Paris. So I knew that I had to take Maggie there. What I decided I would NOT do was photograph Maggie in the Bar Suit there. It just felt odd to do so. Instead, I chose Jackie O.

Earlier that day, if you recall, I had purchased two bouquets of flowers: roses and sunflowers. The sunflowers ended up in the portrait session recently posted, leaving the roses for Jackie O.

Back to life

 
Creating magic outside Dior

Creating magic outside Dior

 

The portrait session was pretty short. It was late in the day and we were all tired. But there was something truly magical about seeing Maggie as Jackie O. I really felt for a moment that she was actually standing in front of us. I hope that wherever she is, she smiles when she sees this.

 
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Jackie Kennedy Orange dress by Zepherra. Purcahse  here !

Jackie Kennedy Orange dress by Zepherra. Purcahse here!

Link of the day

When researching Jackie Kennedy one night, I fell down a Youtube rabbit hole and stumbled upon a really amazing interview by a man who knew her better than most. To watch it, please click here! It’s totally interesting and worth the watch, I promise!

Let’s talk copyright | Denver Portrait Photographer

This week has been an interesting one, but the biggest thing that sticks out is that one of my images was stolen!

Too fast?

Ok, sorry. Hi, my name is Mark. I’m a Gemini. I’m a Denver Portrait Photographer. I’m also a Denver Family Photographer. My favorite color is yellow. I’m a vegetarian. Somebody stole my work.

What my clients hire me for

I think there’s a lot of confusion around copyright and photography. Many people do not understand that when a photographer presses the shutter button of his or her camera, in that moment they are the legal owner of the image that was just created. The only way this changes is when the photographer does what is called a Transfer of Copyright, and few non-commercial portrait photographers will ever do that.

So if I own every image I take, what does that mean for my clients?

My clients all start by paying a session fee. This covers lots of things, but the most significant things it covers are my time with the client planning their session, hair and makeup on the big day, the actual portrait session, the editing and retouching of images, and the time I take with them during their sales session. What it does not include are actual images.

Once everything is edited and retouched, my clients come into their viewing/ordering session where they see a presentation of their finished images. They often cry and say that they cannot believe it’s really them! This part of the process…and seeing the confidence the clients have, afterwards…will never get old to me.

Guiding a portrait client during her viewing/ordering session. Image courtesy of Molly McCormick

Guiding a portrait client during her viewing/ordering session. Image courtesy of Molly McCormick

Whenever my clients cry, I start crying!!!

Whenever my clients cry, I start crying!!!

From there, they review my packages and begin the process of choosing which images they want to take home with them. In my portrait business, that means a luxury folio box of matted prints. This folio box includes a digital backup of every purchased image. And with those purchased images, they receive and sign a Print Release.

Please click on the above video to see the gorgeous heirloom product my portrait clients take home!

The Print Release allows them personal use of the images. By personal, I mean non-commercial. They can post the digital files to their Facebook and Instagram…even their website. IF they purchased a print resolution file, they can make a reprint. They just are not allowed to make a profit from the image(s). And while they obviously own the physical products that they purchase, they still do not own or have unlimited rights over the actual image that I created their artwork from. My clients are always fine with this…as long as they have their beautiful prints and a digital backup for social media display, they are happy! They have also signed a Model Release prior to hiring me, which protects my business and legally acknowledges that I may use the images freely in my marketing.

(I only take on clients who sign this. If I didn’t require it, Murphy’s Law I would take the best image of my career and not have a Model Release!)

Photography Marketing

One form of marketing for photographers is to provide…or really, gift images to vendors whose product/business may be featured in one or more of their images. Businesses normally have to pay a photographer to showcase whatever it is that they are selling, so they often jump the moment they hear free. I’m happy to do it for certain businesses (if the images already exist and my client has already compensated me), but at the end of the day I own the images and if I gift them to another business, I want it on my terms.

Earlier this week I posted an image from Paris on my Instagram. A vendor saw it, completely bypassed the very clear copyright disclaimer in the image’s caption and posted it on their own page without permission. The image on their page cropped out my watermark and half of Maggie’s forehead. I think you can guess that i was not amused. Especially since I had spent nearly $400 on their business.

With photography and social media, there is only so much control you can have. The bottom line is, anybody can screenshot and repost my work. And often people don’t think of this as stealing. But remember: selling photographs is my actual living…not my hobby. The example I always give is how you would (hopefully) never walk into a Barnes and Noble, walk out with a book you didn’t pay for, and then proudly show your crime on social media. But that is essentially what people do when they take my images.

Picking my battles

Like everything in life, you need to pick your battles. I am not going to refrain from posting my work on the internet out of fear that people will take it. Hiding my work from the world will solve nothing, so having it taken is just a risk I take. So will I end up going after the vendor in question? Probably not. But by taking my work without permission, I now am far less likely to want to promote or support their business. It does suck, but I think a year ago this incident would have bothered me much more.

How you can share my work

Absolutely every photographer is different when it comes to their work being shared. This is my preference:

Facebook-if I’ve made a post, whether a blog post or an actual set of images, the “Share” button at the bottom of the post totally works for me :) That’s how most of us share on Facebook, anyway! It directs people right back to my business page and is always appreciated!

Instagram-IG is trickier because you pretty much either have to screenshot my images or use a repost app to replicate the same thing on your own page. The repost app often doesn’t work because it will save my work in a square crop, when often the image I posted, when clicked on, is not square. That is why the vendor who stole my work is displaying an image of Maggie without hair! The best thing on Instagram is to tag the person or people that you want to share the image with in the comment section.

If you find any of this confusing, you are always more than welcome to reach out to me privately and ask a question! I only get upset when people take my work behind my back. I promise that if you ask me, I’ll be very approachable :)

Vintage Blue

My Denver clients don’t need vintage wigs. Instead, we have Lauren Rennells!!!

My Denver clients don’t need vintage wigs. Instead, we have Lauren Rennells!!!

Being a huge Lucille Ball fan, I’m a sucker for red hair…especially when it comes to vintage-inspired looks! When we were still in the planning phase prior to Paris, I had Maggie come to my office and try out a 1940’s look with a red wig. I didn’t know if we would find an artist in Paris who was skilled at authentic vintage hairstyling. Here in Denver, we are spoiled with Lauren Rennells…vintage hair royalty! But I was not sure I could find somebody in Paris who could parallel Lauren’s amazing standard…so I did the next best thing and bought a gorgeous wig styled by Carl Brown!

 
Maggie during a fitting in Denver. This was obviously before the wig lace was cut!

Maggie during a fitting in Denver. This was obviously before the wig lace was cut!

 

Maggie said that she loved the idea of being a redhead for the day, so I happily added the wig to the list of endless things I was to take to Paris. At the end of it all, I took three Carl Brown wigs…on their styrofoam heads…to Paris. Don’t ask how it all fit in one suitcase. It’s a sore subject.

Once we were in Paris, we decided to do two looks back to back. Maggie would wear the red wig for both, and only needed to change the wardrobe. The following was the second look of that lovely morning in Paris. It wasn’t too insanely early, but it was a weekend and everyone was sleeping in. As we wandered the streets it was almost as if we had the city to ourselves.

The above image is a result of five hours of editing and retouching.

As you may recall, Martin became more than my assistant that morning; he graduated to ladder. Here is the image that I got sitting on top of his shoulders:

 
About two seconds before and after this, Maggie was lost in a fit of giggles.

About two seconds before and after this, Maggie was lost in a fit of giggles.

 

All in all, it was loads of fun seeing Maggie step back into time. And the only thing more gorgeous than seeing that red hair against a lovely shade of blue (courtesy of The Seamstress of Bloomsbury) was seeing it against the Bar Suit. Stay tuned ;)

 
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Link of the day

To purchase the gorgeous vintage-inspired outfit Maggie wore that lovely morning in Paris, please click here!



On the sunny side of life | Denver Portrait Photographer

Beginning to heal

Thank you to everyone who has been sending happy and healing thoughts to my back! It’s gradually getting better, and I’m also limiting the amount of time I sit and work in a single stretch. I’m the kind of person that finds it hard to stop once I’ve started focusing on something, but my body obviously isn’t going to allow that. Thank you again for all of your lovely comments…I hope to be better soon!

Location scouting

Location scouting in a city I’m new to isn’t my speciality. Especially with no car of my own to drive around in. But on the first day that Martin and I arrived in Paris, we went for a bit of a stroll in our new neighborhood and stumbled upon a little park. I’m careful about photographing in parks or gardens…unless it’s the Jardin du Luxembourg, it can look a bit cheesy. But sometimes it can work surprisingly well.

This image looks like it could have been taken outside Versailles, but it was actually in Cheesman Park, right here in Denver!!

This image looks like it could have been taken outside Versailles, but it was actually in Cheesman Park, right here in Denver!!

We put the nearby location in the back of our minds and didn’t revisit the idea until we needed a setting for one of the 1950’s-inspired portrait sessions. I had a sleek white and black dress made by Zepherra and a lovely vintage-inspired wig by Carl Brown for Maggie to wear, but had nowhere to photograph her. Yes, we were in Paris and there is no shortage of backdrop. But when you are shooting something vintage, you have to be mindful of the setting incorrectly dating the image. We already had locations for the four other vintage portrait looks, so it suddenly seemed like a good idea to revisit the park!

 
Martin teaches on Udemy. He also is my constant guinea Pig.

Martin teaches on Udemy. He also is my constant guinea Pig.

 

After doing a test shot on my iPhone, we decided on the exact location. The problem was, it was a bit shadowy. And the dress was a simple black and white. I started visualizing a bold pop of color. We returned back home and talked it over with Maggie. My vote was blue…she kept seeing sunflowers in her mind. We suggested she take a nap (we were all exhausted after a sunrise shoot that morning) and Martin and I started searching every flower shop in our neighborhood.

At the end, I think we saw three flower shops and none of them were particularly close to the other. I don’t know if it was the wrong time of year or what, but I just couldn’t find anything I was happy with. At the third and final florist, I saw some roses that I liked…and sunflowers. I bought both...not particularly confident with either choice…but I was too tired to argue with myself.

Sunny side up

We returned home again, this time with flowers in hand. The final vote was the sunflowers because I trusted in Maggie’s original flash of inspiration. She got ready and before we knew it, we looked like we were walking through a Parisian park being followed by a ghost!

Ghost.

Ghost.

The portrait session was fast. Like, really fast. Like, I took less than 100 images fast. And that is saying something. The light wasn’t really what I wanted…and I felt unsure about how the dress was photographing. I was also deliriously tired and we already had COUNTLESS images from other shoots. But looking back, I’m so glad that this look was included in our Paris adventure!

It was so dark. I can’t even.

It was so dark. I can’t even.

Excellent choice, Maggie.

Excellent choice, Maggie.

 
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Stay tuned! I’ll be revealing more images shortly!! And not to spoil any Jardin du Luxembourg surprises…but Maggie should basically just be a Vera Wang Model. Get ready ;)

 
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Link of the day

To purchase the beautiful pearls Maggie is wearing, please click here!

Injured Photographer | Denver Portrait Photographer

A pain in the back

This week has been full of endless editing marathons. And unfortunately, I’ve been paying for it. I spent all of my 20’s as a professional ballet dancer, so sitting at a desk in my 30’s is still quite new for my body to adjust to. And while I do move around a lot when I’m photographing a client, you might be surprised to find out that taking actual photographs is a very small part of a photographer’s job.

 
A very in-focus screenshot from my Instagram story. Do notice the foam roller. Do not notice my facial hair which needs to be trimmed.

A very in-focus screenshot from my Instagram story. Do notice the foam roller. Do not notice my facial hair which needs to be trimmed.

 

Just Like with everything I create, A great deal of planning is behind every finished image from Paris. Literally months of planning, and most often at the desk in my Denver office. Much of the planning was done on “what if” thinking: what if the weather is like this…what if this location isn’t crowded at sunrise, etc. But plan we did…and luckily, most of it worked out beautifully!

 
Last minute fitting in Denver!

Last minute fitting in Denver!

 

Maggie came to my office for endless fittings over the months leading up to Paris. And it was right near the end that I suggested a ballerina-inspired look. I sent away for a gorgeous layered tulle skirt from 2live2love and it arrived just in time. I wasn’t sure what would go with it, but just a couple of days before leaving I found a simple top from H&M that I thought would complete the look. I reached out to Maggie and said, “I need you to try on one more thing!!!”

Editing and Retouching

Obviously sandwiched in between the planning of a portrait session and the editing of one, is the actual portrait session. And for Maggie, that meant traveling to Paris! Her part of the creative process ended, though once we finished the final portrait session; my work really felt like it began at that point! Unlike on Instagram where many people paste a filter over their cell phone picture and call it a day, professionally editing and retouching a single image can take many, many hours. It depends on the image…how it was shot…how tight the crop is on the subject…lots of things, really. And in my case, it also comes down to me being a perfectionist. I do NOT photograph professional models for magazines (I cannot say this enough!), but I still want my clients to have that fashion magazine experience. And for me, that means a high and beautiful standard of editing.

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Above you see images from our first day in Paris. Or really, our first evening. If you remember from that blog, we were quickly running out of light. My first job for those set of images in post-processing was to bring more light into the image (and make sure it was a usable portrait session). From there, I start adjusting the colors of the image I’m working on. I have to be careful about this, as I’m colorblind…but more about that in another blog ;) And then the final step is retouching. I won’t get too much into that process right now, but I’m currently posting videos on my Instagram story showing my retouching from start to finish. Follow along here!

Looking like a movie star

Looking like a movie star

Worth getting up for

The second set of images I'd like to share is from the final full day in Paris. This was when we went to Sacré-Cœur at sunrise and if you remember, we didn’t stay long due to the smell of urine generously left for us. Luckily, though the images from that morning turned out beautifully and smell just great!!!

Martin is the wind beneath my wings. And Maggie’s Hair, apparently.

Martin is the wind beneath my wings. And Maggie’s Hair, apparently.

A “windy”, misty morning in Paris.

A “windy”, misty morning in Paris.

Bird: I owe you big time for flying into this shot! No, he or she was not photoshopped in. Yes, I am grateful when things like that happen on their own!

Bird: I owe you big time for flying into this shot! No, he or she was not photoshopped in. Yes, I am grateful when things like that happen on their own!

 
 

Please stay tuned as I reveal more finished images from Maggie’s portrait sessions in Paris! And if you’re reading this from Facebook or Instagram, please go back to the original post and let me know your favorite back pain remedies!!! MY sciatic nerve is not happy with me right now!

 
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Link of the day

To shop for the amazing earrings Maggie wore for the ballerina-inspired portraits, please click here!

Last night in Paris | Denver Portrait Photographer

Way too early

The last full day in Paris is a blur, mostly because I got through it on thirty minutes of sleep. Our days were filled with so many things that by the time I was finished blogging for the day, it would be the middle of the night. And on that last day of portrait sessions, I had the brilliant idea to do a sunrise shoot at Sacré Cœur.

As you may recall from a previous blog, we first visited Sacré Cœur during the late evening. Although incredibly crowded, it looked like it might just be an amazing spot at sunrise for portraits of Maggie. And while I knew that it was going to be an early morning call, I was worried that we’d regret it later on if we didn’t do it. That, and we were already well in the swing of getting up early on no sleep. I figured we could always sleep on the plane and once we were back home in Denver-but anytime you are in Paris it’s an opportunity of a lifetime to create beautiful art and see the sun rise over what would normally be a crowded location.

BUT Oh my God.

 
I slept for literally 30 minutes before this accidental screenshot occured.

I slept for literally 30 minutes before this accidental screenshot occured.

 
 

When my alarm went off………..there are just no words. I quite literally wanted to tell everyone, “just kidding guys!!!! Let’s all go back to bed!!!!”

Sunrise. And urine.

Despite the (yet again) early call, We all managed to be awake and before I knew it, we were in an Uber headed to Sacré Cœur. I asked Maggie to do her own hair and makeup that morning and wear her own clothes, as I wanted the images to truly feel like her. We had a hair and makeup artist arriving later, as well as two very fancy dresses in a luxurious location…but I wanted these sunrise images to just speak to who she authentically is on a daily basis…a laid back California girl, visiting Paris and marveling at its exquisite beauty.

I forgot to get behind-the-scenes images at majestic Sacré Cœur. Instead, do enjoy this lovely snap of the garbage truck that almost made us miss sunrise over Paris. Also, I need these lights in my car.

I forgot to get behind-the-scenes images at majestic Sacré Cœur. Instead, do enjoy this lovely snap of the garbage truck that almost made us miss sunrise over Paris. Also, I need these lights in my car.

 

The view from Sacré Cœur at sunrise? Amazing beyond belief. The smell? Just, no.

The stairs leading up to the church are often filled with people, many who are enjoying the view of the city while a bit intoxicated. And as we had previously seen, it’s not very well lit at night. So I suppose it’s also very hard for any security to control people peeing and OH MY GOD, it reeked worse than Manhattan. So much so, that I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay very long.

It was quite cloudy that particular morning. Normally I would be insanely happy because it makes for lovely, soft and diffused lighting. But I truly wanted to capture a ball of fire rising over Paris. It wasn’t meant to be…but the view was still incredible and absolutely worth getting up for.

Within just a few minutes I felt good about the portraits I had taken, including one with a bird flying into frame. I was having a hard time focusing due to the smell of urine, so I recommended we call for an Uber and return home. The Uber came, and just as we were driving off I saw an AMAZING spot near where we had been minutes earlier. Suddenly a whole separate portrait session flashed before my creative eyes. Not finding that spot earlier in the trip is maybe the one regret I have about Paris…well…and not finding the cheesecake sooner.

But there’s always next time ;)

Glam Squad

We arrived back home and shortly after, the hair/makeup artist of the day arrived. As she walked in and saw our location for the day, her eyes lit up. Later on between looks she would stare up at the chandelier and enthusiastically say, “I…LOVE…LUXURY.”

Girl, moi aussi (paints fingernails)

As Maggie got glammed up, I attempted to steam the first outfit. Thanks to the help of Facebook followers, I chose a gorgeous strapless ball gown in burgundy…the only problem was, it was wrinkled like crazy. And no amount of steaming was working. I finally decided to let it go and prayed that the Photoshop gods would be able to help me in post-processing.

When Maggie slipped the gown on and walked out of her bedroom, I gasped. She truly looked like she was stepping out of a fashion magazine, which is what I want for all of my clients. The portrait session began…eventually the second gown was hand-delivered from the company I rented it from…and the final portraits of the day ended with me hanging outside a small balcony. Yes, I probably could have died. And yes, it was worth it.

 
Hey! Remember that time I could have died in Paris?! Because I do.

Hey! Remember that time I could have died in Paris?! Because I do.

 
 

Last night in Paris

Just like that, all of Maggie’s portrait sessions were over. I couldn’t believe it. In some ways, it was a relief. We were all tired of being so tired. And yet at the same time, finishing everything meant going back to reality. Walking around Paris every day truly felt like a dream that I didn't want to end. So before we had to say goodbye, we walked over to the Trocadero one last time and gazed at the Eiffel Tower as it lit up the evening sky.

As Martin and Maggie grabbed crepes nearby, I started walking by myself to have a moment of reflection and bask in complete gratitude. Our first portrait session had been at the Trocadero in order to capture Maggie in front of the Eiffel Tower without anybody there. It had been a shot I was really anxious for weeks prior to capture and suddenly in that moment, I realized it was a thing of the past. It was incredible walking around that night, surrounded by endless tourists, thinking of the magic we had successfully created just days before at sunrise. I felt sad to say goodbye, but I knew that the real magic would occur once I got home and was able to begin the editing process.

 
Merci Paris.

Merci Paris.

 

With that. I took one last look at the Eiffel Tower…gave her a wink…and said “see you soon, Chérie.”

The Windy City

After we got back to our AirBnb, I immediately focused on packing. Luckily, I was already 95% packed because I had left everything in my suitcases after transferring locations that week. Once completely packed I saw the opportunity to blog about that last full day in Paris…but instead I did the sensible thing: I lit every candle in the luxurious home we were staying in and watched Downton Abbey in my bathrobe. Yes, I am aware that that takes place in England. No, I do not care. I figured it could be a long time before I’d be in a home like that again, and I wanted to soak up every second.

The next morning Maggie and I headed for the airport as Martin headed towards the train station. He had two more stops to make (London and Dublin) before he would return to Denver. Maggie and I were taken by chauffeur (that came with booking the fancy AirBnb!) to the airport and before we knew it, we were flying over Paris and on our way to Denver. But not without a stop in Chicago first!

 
On the Chicago Metro

On the Chicago Metro

 

The cheapest flights from Paris to Denver included a rather lengthy layover in Chicago. But we saw it as an opportunity to see Chicago, a city that Maggie loved and one that I had never seen before! I had no problem being a typical tourist, so I asked Maggie to take me to the “mirror thing” and I wanted real Chicago deep-dish pizza. Maggie is great navigating around a city (I am NOT), so during our layover we were able to see Millennium Park, eat deep-dish pizza and even swing by the new Nutella Cafe for dessert!

Ok, Maggie…I feel like I am doing all the work in this photo. Also, turnout Jody.

Ok, Maggie…I feel like I am doing all the work in this photo. Also, turnout Jody.

 
Bae.

Bae.

 
Hello Gawjus.

Hello Gawjus.

Finally saw the “mirror thing”. Check!

Finally saw the “mirror thing”. Check!

 
This is literally making my mouth water all over again.

This is literally making my mouth water all over again.

 
I actually enjoyed this more than the one crepe I ate in Paris. But do not tell Paris that. I’m not trying to start WWIII.

I actually enjoyed this more than the one crepe I ate in Paris. But do not tell Paris that. I’m not trying to start WWIII.

Home Sweet Home

After an eight hour layover, we flew back to Denver…got a Lyft back to our respective homes…and that was it…it was over, Just like a dream. I had no trouble getting to sleep that night…and knew that as I woke up the next morning, the real work would begin: sorting through thousands of unedited images and turning them, one by one, into pieces of heirloom art for Maggie to gasp at and treasure for the rest of her life.

 
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To see the images, stay tuned. I cannot wait to share them on this blog. And to everyone who loyally followed along on this amazing journey, I say thank you. Whoever you are, I hope to photograph you one day, too.

 
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Link of the day

If you have time, please watch this beautiful video. It is what made me fall in love with Paris in the first place. I am grateful to have impacted Maggie’s life by photographing her in Paris, but even more grateful that she has so many years ahead of her to live.

When you wish upon a star... | Denver Portrait Photographer

Wishful thinking

On January 5, 2018 Martin and I visited the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris for the first time. I never knew anything about it until I saw a Vera Wang photoshoot take place there. The moment I saw it in photographs, I knew that I had to visit. And the moment I visited, I knew that I had to do a portrait session there.

I'm a huge believer in goal setting and manifestation. If you want to talk about the Law of Attraction with me, pull up a chair...we will be there a WHILE. I stood between the iconic trees that crisp January afternoon and set my intention, in writing. I posted the intention on my Instagram to hold myself accountable, although I doubt that anybody has kept track. I really did it for me...to put a dream that felt uncomfortably big in writing.

Why did it seem too big? To French people, it's probably "just another park". So I'm not sure why. The fact that I was even IN Paris this past January seemed like a miracle. But to return to photograph a client in the same year??? It seemed like a stretch. It seemed like wishful, childish thinking. It seemed like I needed to get my head out of the clouds and back to reality. 

Believe.

Believe.

On September 3, 2018...241 days later...my intention became my reality.

Getting ready for the ball

Every Portrait session outfit that Maggie has worn in Paris was purchased by me (with the exception of her clothes on the day we went to Chinatown), always with the intention to build my wardrobe for future clients. Every outfit has been handled carefully, as it will be dry cleaned (organic only!) and stored safely for future portrait sessions upon my return to Denver. So when I chose the outfits, I chose very carefully.

I thought that I had every outfit that I wanted...then one day I stumbled upon a beautiful blue tulle dress. I considered it...went back and forth...and by the time I saw Maggie that particular week for a fitting, I was still undecided. I showed her a photograph and she said, "Oh nice! Very Cinderella."

Um. That was enough for this Disney boy.

I ordered the dress just in time. It was custom made and arrived about two days before I boarded the plane to Paris. And while it came with lots of sparkles, I obviously added some Swarovski crystals ;) 

Obviously Cinderella needs glass slippers, too. I have NEVER been so tempted to take the tissue paper out of my Jimmy Choo Cinderella shoes that I have on display, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. That's right...NOT EVEN FOR PARIS. But I needed an alternative. My go to for photography wardrobe and accessories is Etsy. Etsy has essentially changed my life. If I knew how to make something that could be sold on Etsy, I swear that I would have a store there. But I digress.

The shoes that I found on Etsy were obviously not Jimmy Choo, but they WERE covered in Swarovski crystals. That is, they would be once they were made. The shoes are made to order and I had to pay extra to get them rushed. They also arrived JUST in time! And luckily, both the dress and the shoes made it safely to Paris.

That morning as Maggie stepped into the dress, and as I laced the back of the dress up...I don't know...I was just in awe. Not just because she looked out of this world stunning...but because my dream was minutes away from coming true.

Playing by the rules

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I had debated about taking a chance and just arriving to the Jardin du Luxembourg, then taking photographs until somebody stopped us. That is what many photographers did when I asked them how they went about things for their Jardin photoshoot. One photographer told me that she would rather ask for forgiveness than permission.

I guess that would work for some people. Just not for me. I didn't want to put a tremendous amount of planning and money into a portrait session...and to raise my client's hopes...only to be kicked out and have my relationship with the Jardin tarnished. It just didn't feel right. So as you probably know by now, we successfully obtained a permit! It was 65 Euro for the day...and as we were about to find out, worth every penny. Or...well, you know what I mean.

We walked through the entrance of the Jardin and started looking for the office that I was instructed to report to before the portrait session began. I don't think we had been on the property more than three minutes when a very official looking man started approaching us. The closer he got, the more I could see his eyes darting back and forth between Maggie's long dress, my camera and Martin's bag of things I potentially needed during the shoot. 

 

"Hello. Do you have an authorization to be doing zis?"

Time slowed down. And I felt so incredibly, wonderfully grateful for being paranoid and playing by the rules.

"Yes!"

"Please show me."

 

I pulled out my phone...showed him my official email...and then his tone completely changed. He led us to his office and as we followed closely behind, I was able to exhale. And smile.

 
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Magical Trees

I don't know what it is about the trees at the Luxembourg Gardens, but they are just pure magic. I believe that they are Cypress trees, but I really don't know. They are planted in perfect rows and trimmed in a squarish shape. It's a very similar magical feeling to standing at the end of the Cypress Tree Tunnel in California, where I did a portrait session this past April.

The Cypress Tree tunnel earlier this year...also magical.

The Cypress Tree tunnel earlier this year...also magical.

I started doing test shots of the trees to see what the light was like. Then I asked Maggie to step in the middle of the trees. I took the first frame...and in that very moment, my intention was no longer just an intention. It was happening.

Jardin of dreams

The portrait session that day was magical. Like, I still cannot believe that it happened magical. At one point, a jogger ran by...stopped...and in French excitedly said, "Oh my! It's Cinderella!". Yes, yes it was.

Maggie honestly looked like she could have been part of the Vera Wang photoshoot that inspired me to be standing there that day in the first place. And that's my goal. That is the brand I've created. I want women...all women...to have access to the mysterious and glamorous world they see in fashion magazines. I want women who don't know how beautiful or powerful they are to finally be "that girl" in the magazine. I want that for every client. And on Monday, Maggie was just as stunning as a Vera Wang model. even more so.

 
Living my best life/Farting.

Living my best life/Farting.

 

The entire morning is a blur because I couldn't believe it was actually happening. It felt like I was dreaming. And I will let you in on a little secret. It will be between you, me and the entire internet. But nobody else, ok?

I edited one image from the Jardin. It hasn't been fully retouched and will not be posted until it is complete. But...it is jaw-dropping. 

I know that that sounds arrogant. I'm fine if you think so. But really, the art I create just comes through me. I feel like I am a vessel between the creative force in the Universe and my client. When I look at the partially edited image, I kind of cannot believe that I got to be a part of its creation...that I was even able to be there in person to experience such beauty. Of course the way it usually works is that my all of my follower's favorite image is usually different than mine, but I already know that I will print this particular image...mat it...and frame it. I will always gaze at it and remember to dream much bigger than I feel I deserve...because sometimes even the biggest, craziest dreams actually come true.

I know that mine did that day. And I hope that yours will, too.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
— Wayne Gretzky

Beehave yourself

I did not want the portrait session at the jardin to end. In a very weird way, it can be devastating when your dreams actually come true because in a blink of an eye, it's over. You can spend YEARS waiting for something to manifest...finally have the moment you've always dreamed of...and in seconds it is a thing of the past.

I believe that that's why it's important...vital...to balance dreaming about things and setting intentions, with complete gratitude for what you already have. Because the truth is, even the most amazing dream in your life coming true will be one day out of your life. It will come...then it will go...and you will need to keep moving forward. If you put way too much focus on that one thing, when you finally get it you will celebrate...a little time will pass...and then you'll be left saying, "so....now what???"

What I've learned from this and so many other experiences is that goal setting really isn't about the end goal in the big picture; it's about who you have to grow into to manifest your dreams into reality. If you want to shoot high, do it! Please do it! But be ready to grow a lot. Be ready to push yourself and to be scared and to fight off wanting to give up. Be ready to be more uncomfortable than you've ever been and tested harder than you've ever been tested. Be ready for everything...but especially be ready to grow. That is the real gift...the prize...you will get once you achieve your dreams. 

And speaking of dreams, At the completion of the long-awaited portrait session, I had a new dream: Food.

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We went back to the American-owned restaurant near the Jardin and decided to sit outside. We usually opt to sit inside because french restaurants/cafes are usually a cloud of smoke if you sit outside. But this particular restaurant seemed to have no smoking allowed, so we thought it would be a delight to celebrate our hard work with some fresh air as we dined.

Mistake.

Before the bees came.

Before the bees came.

I don't know what it was about just our table, but the Parisian bees would NOT leave us alone!!!! IT started off as a joke, but by the end I was actually losing my mind. We quickly finished our meal and asked for the check so that we could escape the bees. Our server was nearly shocked when we said we were leaving without cake (think back to the blog involving cake...no...no...keep going...yes, the one where we had three cakes. There you go.), so she brought us some on the house. Classy!!!! :)

Louvre

I was convinced by Maggie to only schedule the JArdin portrait session for Monday and absolutely nothing else, since it was so important to me. And I'm grateful that she talked me into it! With more portrait sessions ahead of us, it was nice to finally take a breath and ask everyone what they'd like to do around Paris. Maggie said that she wanted to visit the Louvre, so that's where we decided to go.

Tip: Buy your Louvre tickets online and you skip the line!

I do not consider myself a museum person. Or at least, I haven't for most of my life, so far. But visiting the V&A Museum in London changed that for me...and so did the Louvre.

 
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To be honest, I pretty much just wanted to see the Mona Lisa and move on with my life. But as we searched for Mona, we saw painting after painting after painting...and I just became transfixed. The art displayed at the Louvre is just too beautiful to describe in words. Please check it out.

Our new bed

Our new bed

Apple Store at the louvre?!!

Apple Store at the louvre?!!

With Bae

With Bae

We wandered and wandered and couldn't find old Mona. At one point we came across a window with a plain gray wall. Although I'm a portrait photographer, not a headshot photographer (don't get me started on why they are different) I do often throw in a few headshots when somebody hires me to take their portraits. Many people don't want them because they'd rather fill their Folio Box with matted images of themselves looking like a Vogue model. But I will do them...and I knew that Maggie wanted an updated headshot. As I saw the window, I summoned Maggie over and said, "welcome to my studio." 

 
"This window will do!"

"This window will do!"

 

Mona Lisa

After we did Maggie's headshots and wandered a bit more, time started getting away from us. I finally went up to a museum employee for help. She told us that we were in the wrong building (great) and showed us on a map where to go. The moment she brought out the map, I think I astral projected. Luckily Martin and Maggie listened and we started briskly walking to the other building. 

What I was told to expect about the mona Lisa was this: it will be way, way smaller than you've imagined your whole life...and there will be a million people crowding around it taking photos. So yeah...I was expecting it to be the size of a deck of cards.

EH. WRONG. 

It is a normal sized painting...whatever the hell that means. But it's really not that small. The painting is on a wall by itself, so perhaps it looks small because of that. The most common size of wall art I sell in my business is 16x24. It seems huge to people who think an 8x10 is large, but when you put a 16x24 on a wall by itself, it can actually look small. I think that's why people say it's smaller than you would imagine, although I don't know how big it is. 

There were, however a million people. Being a good photographer, I pushed my way through the crowd to the front and took a few selfies with Ms. Lisa. Did I take a photograph with my professional equipment after waiting 35 years to travel to Paris to see her in person? Ha! Don't be ridiculous...that would make too much sense. Instead, here is an iphone picture.

 
In all her glory. And Mona Lisa.

In all her glory. And Mona Lisa.

 

Just as I was about to walk out of the room, I took a moment to just gaze at her. I wanted to be present...to take the moment in. It's so odd to see and hear about a piece of artwork your whole life, but never visit it in person. I inhaled deeply, felt my heart fill with gratitude, then exhaled as I said farewell for now.

Cheesecake

This blog is getting long, so I'm going to cut to the chase: We left the Louvre...ate dinner...and I have now officially found the best cheesecake, not in Paris, but the world. No, no...it's not in NYC...it is here. Just go here and you will thank me. You are so welcome.

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You're Welcome.

You're Welcome.

Moving out

Monday into Tuesday involved lots of laundry and packing. We took Maggie to see the Eiffel Tower light up at night...went to bed...slept late...then finished packing. We were sad to leave our AirBnb. It truly became our home during our week in Paris. I would stay there again in a heartbeat. 

I ended up throwing out the wig heads that had taken up a huge amount of space in my suitcase on the way here. Instead, I put the wigs that I brought carefully into their hair nets to protect the carefully sculpted styles and placed them gently into my suitcase. I also washed every outfit that wouldn't need to be dry cleaned and promised myself that I'd unpack as little as possible in the new place.

 
Two cheeky individuals gloating that their Uber driver didn't smell. Hilarious.

Two cheeky individuals gloating that their Uber driver didn't smell. Hilarious.

 

It took two Ubers to collect all of our bags (and us!), and before we knew it we were on our way to what is basically Versailles.

Palace in Paris

The reason we moved for the last part of our trip was that I needed an indoor location that basically would look like a modern day Versailles. And the moment we stepped inside, my eyes blissfully turned into Swarovski crystal pinwheels. And I now officially need a bigger chandelier for my office. No, I am not joking. 

Just down the street from us.

Just down the street from us.

We checked in, then literally walked just down the street to the Trocadero! Seeing the same location at night where Maggie's first portrait session took place at sunrise was a bit surreal. For starters, it's a million times more crowded at night. But it was also surreal to have that portrait session...and so many others...officially behind us. It really started to sink in that our journey was coming to an end. 

The sun will come out tomorrow

Now you have that stuck in your head and you are so very welcome. Anyway...

We are hoping that the sun will actually shine tomorrow. We are doing a sunrise shoot at the old Sock Lay Blur, then returning here in time for the hair and makeup artist's arrival. We are then doing Maggie's final portrait session, taken indoors. Fingers crossed that the overcast sky actually shines enough light through the windows because I have no studio lights with me.

I also may be getting no sleep. So please send coffee. And Panera.

 
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Link of the day

Today I've decided to post TWO links! The first is right here on the blog and is a Youtube video showing the Vera Wang photoshoot that inspired me to dream bigger in 2018.

The second...well...it's just to make you laugh. Click here ;)

 

 

Stepping back in time | Denver Portrait Photographer

Bar Suit

For those who have followed my blog since the beginning of this Paris journey, you KNOW that I'm in love with the Dior Bar Suit. To have a Dior-inspired Bar Suit for Maggie to wear while actually IN PARIS is just mind-blowing to me!!! We did a very quick test shoot in Denver before leaving for Paris and Maggie wore the beautiful Bar Suit. It was then that I photographed her for the very first time and I could tell in my gut that we would make incredible magic once arriving in Paris.

On Sunday morning, I pulled the Bar Jacket out once again and started steaming it. But here's the fun twist: on less than TWO HOURS of sleep!!! Our days have been long and exhausting and when I finally tucked myself in after composing my previous blog, the sun was already knocking loudly on Sunday's door. Yet somehow, the excitement of paying homage to Christian Dior while in his beautiful Paris just yanked me out of bed. The adrenaline made me temporarily feel like I had been asleep for eight full hours!

I handed Maggie the Bar Suit (which will officially be available for any future clients to wear for their portrait session once it's dry cleaned in Denver! I know...exciting!!) and then hopped in the shower. When I finished getting dressed, Maggie emerged from her bedroom truly looking like she had stepped out of another time. We decided to put a gorgeous red wig on her, just for variety...and who doesn't love changing up their look just for the day?! The red hair...the ivory silk Bar Jacket...oh my God, it was just too much!!!

Perfect timing

Although I felt a huge adrenaline rush upon waking, I was in reality really dragging my feet when it came to getting ready. The Bar Suit took a long time to steam, particularly the silk jacket. And we were doing another vintage look that morning, so that outfit also had to be steamed. I had originally planned for the portrait session to begin at sunrise, but it became quickly apparent that that wouldn't be happening. If you want to see just how fast the sun rises, try doing a sunrise photoshoot. Every ten minutes it's like the light is completely different...and it is! It can go from warm and golden to bright and obnoxious in just minutes. So I had no idea what to expect at our chosen location at the now moved time of our portrait session.

We arrived, set our things down and I immediately started taking test shots of Maggie. I wasn't totally thrilled with the light...it was too dappled. Martin was assisting me and pulled out a translucent reflector, which helps diffuse and even out light. It was helping, but I just wasn't crazy about the results. I started beating myself up for dragging my feet with getting a move on that morning...and that's when I decided to turn Maggie around and shoot into the sun.

And oh my God. Magic. When you see the images, you will lose your mind.

I shoot into the sun all the time. Some photographers are scared to do this and I don't know why. But the sun was high enough at this point that I thought it would overpower Maggie, so it hadn't even occurred to me to try it. As I saw the images on the back of my camera appear, it felt like I was being winked at by the Universe. I remembered in that moment that everything happens with pinpoint precision...never a moment sooner or later than it's supposed to. I felt like I was running late...but if we had arrived to the location at sunrise, we wouldn't have received the gift of the light that helped create the images that morning. 

Quick change

We finished up images of Maggie in the Bar Suit, including one pose replicating the iconic image from 1955/57 (there are different opinions of when it was taken) and then it was time for a wardrobe change. Maggie was a sport and agreed to do it outside. It sounds sort of nuts, I know...but in reality, Maggie was able to keep the Bar Suit on as she stepped into the 1940's pants for the second look. Then she quickly changed the top under a blanket and voila!! New outfit.

Quick wardrobe change in the great outdoors, as one does.

Quick wardrobe change in the great outdoors, as one does.

I've got your back

As a Denver Portrait Photographer, I'm usually able to location scout quite easily because I have my car. In Paris, it's obviously a bit different. I had two or three locations in mind...but after that, I've had to improvise a lot. And Sunday morning was no different. It was actually Maggie that suggested we photograph her second outfit where we ended up going; I love when clients get creative!! We quickly found the perfect light and pose, but there was one problem: I needed a ladder and didn't have one. Because even I'm not nuts enough to bring a large step ladder in my carry-on.

I didn't have a ladder. But I had a Martin.

Martin bent down, had me (and my heavy camera) get on his shoulders, then stood up. I was able to get the perfect shot because of this and the only thing we regret is not having a photograph of me taking the photograph. It was truly ridiculous and in the very best way!

Hitting a wall

We completed the first two portrait sessions of the morning and upon arriving back to the Paris apartment we've been staying in all week, I still felt energized enough to keep going. I wanted flowers, however so I told Maggie to get some rest while Martin and I ventured out to find flowers to act as a bit of a prop for the next portrait session.

I don't know if it's the wrong season...if we looked in the wrong places...or if I'm just too picky...but I didn't feel that any of the flowers in any of the shops were right for Maggie. After three shops (and lots of walking) I settled on two options: pink roses and bright yellow sunflowers. We arrived home with the flowers and the exhaustion finally took over. 

And my bed had never felt so amazing.

Photographing against walls

I woke up about two hours later, ready to go. The three of us walked over to a nearby park that Martin and I agreed had some really interesting walls. The portrait session was almost lightening fast and then it was time for the final wardrobe change of the day.

Photographing Jackie O.

Photographing Jackie O.

Taking behind-the-scenes video.

Taking behind-the-scenes video.

Maggie switched into her peach dress, inspired by the iconic First Lady, Jackie Kennedy. Wearing a gorgeous brunette wig, we hopped into an Uber and headed for Dior. Once there, I photographed her just outside of the Dior store, which was closed. People took all kinds of double takes when they saw Maggie and I truly wanted her to chase after them yelling, "YOU CAN SEE ME??????!!!!!!!!"

The Jackie O portrait session went great and was done before we knew it. We hesitantly asked Maggie if she would be comfortable taking the metro in what she was wearing. Being a laid back California girl, she said "Eh. It's fine." And so we did!

 
Ghost.

Ghost.

 

We had a lovely dinner that night...but I could barely focus on my meal. My mind was racing a million miles a minute thinking about the portrait session coming up the next morning: the Jardin du Luxembourg.

To see if the permit was a waste of money and to see how it all went, please visit my blog tomorrow ;)

 
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link of the day

For an amazing and custom vintage-style wig as seen in this blog, please visit the link here!

Midas Touch | Denver Portrait Photographer

Living her life like it's golden

 
The lovely detail on Maggie's gown.

The lovely detail on Maggie's gown.

 

Saturday morning's sunrise portrait session more than made up for missing the Golden Hour the previous night. Maggie wore a stunning gold dress and earrings (thank you Facebook friends for voting!), shiny gold shoes and was absolutely bathed in golden light goodness at the famous Pont Alexandre III (a gorgeous bridge adorned in...you guessed it...gold). The architecture in Paris just absolutely blows my mind and if you wake up early enough, you can enjoy it with almost nobody else around! 

Saturday's office didn't suck!

Saturday's office didn't suck!

Naptime

We have slowly recognized a pattern: Wake up on little sleep, sunrise portrait session, breakfast, sleep a little more, wake up and early evening portrait session, dinner, sleep, and repeat. For me, I add to that steaming the wardrobe (often with Martin's help...otherwise it takes forever) in the morning and blogging before bed. I'm sure that when we return home to Denver, it will feel odd being away from the routine we've created!

Scenic View?

After Maggie's golden portrait session, right on schedule, we all went to sleep. When we woke we got ready for another portrait session, this time in a location none of us were even slightly familiar with. Prior to leaving for Paris, I purchased a gorgeously illustrated and informative guide book. In it, it describes a very scenic (and rather unknown) view of the Eiffel Tower. We decided to give it a go on completely blind faith.

 
On our way to the very scenic view of the Eiffel Tower.

On our way to the very scenic view of the Eiffel Tower.

 

A joke that we have is that pretty much everywhere our portrait sessions are taking place can be reached within 30 minutes. No matter what direction it is, our destination is always 30 minutes away...and our scenic view portrait session was no different. Once we got off the metro, we started walking to the address listed in the book. I had no idea how scenic it was going to be...and upon arrival, my first response was, "eh."

Don't get me wrong. I understand why the author included that location in her book. From the address given, you stand on the top of a hilly street and off in the distance you see the Eiffel Tower smack center, as if the road leads directly to it. But it looks small. And as I started photographing Maggie I realized that the tower wasn't even showing up. Oh well.

 
Martin and the very amazing view of the Eiffel Tower.

Martin and the very amazing view of the Eiffel Tower.

 

American Graffiti 

Despite the underwhelming scenic view, we found some great...rather gritty...locations nearby to photograph Maggie. This included a well-lit alley way covered in graffiti, with some very...um...choice English words sprayed on the wall. Stay tuned for when I start posting finished images ;) While photographing Maggie in front of the graffiti, I was approached by a very large group of people who wanted me to take their photograph using a cell phone in front of the colorful walls. As long as they weren't using a God awful selfie stick, I was more than happy to oblige!

 
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We stayed for quite a while in the area, which seemed to be Chinatown...but the area was a tad bit sketchier than I was comfortable with, so once I got images that I was happy with, I suggested we promptly relocate.

Sleepless in Paris

After leaving Chinatown we found a lovely Italian restaurant not far from Monday's location, the Jardin du Luxembourg. The food was amazing and I did NOT get stuck in the bathroom this time! So exciting!!!

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I cannot remember what time we got back home, but I remember that it was late...and I remember that after I finished blogging I looked at the clock and realized that my alarm for the next day's portrait session was going off in less than TWO HOURS. Although I'm used to staying up all night creating back home (I've always been nocturnal), I usually can get a great stretch of sleep, afterwards. When it was all said and done, I believe I slept 90 minutes total that night. 

To find out if I was able to function enough to get everything done on the next day's schedule, check out tomorrow's blog!!!

 
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link of the day

To find the gorgeous Paris Guide Book mentioned in this blog, please click here!