Bangor, Maine | Magazine-Style Portrait Session: Casey

The goal of getting your portrait taken is to virtually freeze a moment in time. As poetic as that sounds, many times photographs do not just freeze the moment, they also preserve the era in which it happened for eternity. Your Grandmother's 1940's portrait has a certain style - as does your high school yearbook photo (mine features two braids, awful bangs, and a plastic choker necklace; can you picture it?) 

The idea behind the type of portraiture I create is to stick to the timeless basics: beautiful hair and makeup, simple outfits, clean editing style. I want your light to shine through, unobstructed. I want your kids and grandkids to have a beautiful portrait of you that shows your beauty and your personality without showing the signs of the time period in which it was. We keep it simple. We keep it stunning. We keep it truly timeless. 

bangor maine portrait photographer
bangor maine portrait photographer
bangor maine portrait photographer

Blast from the Past: Kara

Photographing Kara was a huge step for me. I had just started dabbling in family and child photography earlier in 2012, yet I knew my ultimate goal was magazine-style portraiture. However, I was shy and I had no idea how to direct clients. At all. My process was basic: I picked the place and helped choose an outfit, but when it came to actually photographing someone, I could not direct beyond some basic suggestions ("stand over here and look this way").

Kara is obviously beautiful and actually has great natural movement, which was the only reason I could get some nice shots of her back then. She was such a good sport, too! We drove to a battlefield near Fredericksburg, VA and parked near a field. In retrospect, I did a terrible job using all the great colors and spaces that were available nearby - but, again, live and learn. What I did learn that day was that trying new things is important in life and that fear is a terrible reason not to follow your dreams. Since then, I have photographed many women and my ability to direct them has gotten much better but had I not taken the first step that day, I would probably still be just as non-assertive as I was back then. 

Bangor, ME | The Dream Dress Shoot

I have an admission to make: I used to be a clothes hoarder. And not just any clothes horder - I used to have a closet full of fancy dresses and shoes that I never got to wear because I just do not lead a fancy lifestyle. It has always been difficult for me to pass up the opportunity to buy clothes which the "Dream Dana" would wear. You know, if I were rich and famous, those would be the clothes I would wear to events and photoshoots. 

While I have gotten a little better about buying for who I am and not for who I wish I could be, the dreams of being photographed as my ideal self remain. At first, I tried to disentangle my obsession and figure out what was broken in me that made me want to own beautiful clothes, but over the years I have come to believe that it is only natural to have those dreams of princess dresses captured in beautiful images. The amazing thing about living in today's world is that I can use services such as Rent the Runway to rent gorgeous gowns while continue to work towards my minimalist home dreams (yay!), and I no longer have to feel bad about owning too much. 

bangor maine portrait photographer

One of the best parts of my job is that I get to help women live out their dreams. Many women  have some sort of a fantasy attire. Some have one, some have many, but generally there is at least one dress that makes their heart sing, one that would make them feel like a million dollars.

I get to help them figure it out and live the dream. Together, we design a photoshoot (indoor, outdoor, in the mountains or in Paris!) that lets their innermost dreams become reality. There is so much beauty in watching women blossom and realize their true self after years of being held back by the busyness of life, low self-esteem, or simply fear. Fear of what their friends would think. Fear of what their family would say. Fear of being who they want to be.

If you have been waiting for a sign to live out your dreams to look and feel amazing, this is it. I am here to tell you that it's not only possible, but that it's easier than you think. Let's make 2017 the year you let your inner self shine. I would love to help you make your dreams into reality.   

bangor maine portrait photographer

How to Smile Naturally in Photos | Bangor, ME Senior Photographer

"I hate my smile in pictures!" Believe it or not, this one of the biggest concerns my clients have when they come in for a photoshoot.

And I totally get it, because I have so been there. In fact, when I get nervous, my lips and cheeks start twitching to such an extent that a careful observer might ask me if I am having a stroke. And once it starts, it's really difficult to relax and give what I like to call a "natural smile". While it is perfectly normal to feel a little self-conscious when the camera is turned to you, I have some tips for smiling more beautifully that my clients find helpful and I would love to share them with you!

bangor maine senior photographer
  • It all starts with a relaxed face. Many people (particularly women) tend to carry tension in their shoulders and mouth, so before you do anything else, focus on releasing that tension: drop your shoulders, look down with your eyes (or close them if you have to), and relax your face.
  • Now that you think you have relaxed your face, really relax it. That means drop the eyebrows, unclench that jaw, and relax those lips. You don't have to part them, but make sure they are not tense or tight. (This can be really tough when you're nervous and a photographer who is good at posing clients will know how to help you be less anxious during your shoot.)
  • Next, without tightening your lips, try smiling with your eyes. Look up (into the camera or in the mirror, if you're practicing) and, with soft eyes, lightly tighten the muscles around your temples, ears, and upper cheeks. This is probably the toughest movement to explain but once you get the hang of it, it's easy to do over and over again. You can try looking someone you like in the eye, and really trying to get a sense of what muscles you use to give a kind, attentive, and friendly look. Practice, and you will be able to engage the same muscles to look equally present and relaxed in your photos. 
  • Now, try gently adding a little smile on your lips. This is the second expression I guide my clients into. Everything is the same as before (soft eyes, relaxed face) but you add a little smirk in the mouth. This expression is great if you want to actually "be smiling" in your photos and is an excellent way to look friendly and approachable (one of my favorite expressions for senior photos and casual headshots). 
  • The key to achieving a seemingly spontaneous smile is to work through the previous progression all the way to a full smile. Start with a relaxed face, smile with your eyes, slowly add a lip smile, then break into a full-on smile (show some teeth!) without tilting your head back or closing your eyes. Try to have the photographer (whether it's a selfie or a friend snapping a photo with their phone) take the photo as soon as you smile - or, try to wait until the last second to smile - because the longer you hold your expression, the less casual it looks. 

I hope you find these tips helpful! In my studio, I carefully guide my clients through their expressions in order to get the most beautiful ones and while it might be harder to do this in a selfie or a casual photograph, with a little practice anyone can look relaxed and natural in a photograph!