family photos by a barn

Best Weather for Fall Outdoor Portraits

outdoor fall portraitsClients love to be photographed in the outdoor fall colors and many ask ” What is the Best Weather for Fall Outdoor Portraits?”  The fall colors in Georgia usually start the 3rd week of October and can extend all the way through Thanksgiving weekend.  It is not unusual for me to photograph families outdoors on Thanksgiving weekend with just sweaters on. The Best Weather for Fall Outdoor Portraits though is when it is cloudy or overcast.  The colors of the leaves are more vivid in cloudy weather.  Also the overcast light is even light and the clouds act like a giant soft-box for lighting. I typically always use a little fill flash however, to bring out the eyes of the subjects.

Last weekend I photographed a family that I have been seeing every fall for years for their holiday portraits and holiday cards. The forecast was for 100% rain, however there was a 3 hour window in the morning where no rain was predicted. We hit the timing just right and had a fabulous outdoor portrait session.  I just love the background colors (which look like painting).  The family pose shows their love for each other and that was the icing on the cake.   For more information on Lightscapes Portrait Studio family portraits visit the website.


Affordable Fall Family Portraits

outdoor-family-photography-sims-lake-parkPortraits in the Leaves

Lightscapes Portrait Studio is scheduling Affordable Fall Family Portraits – Portraits in the Leaves – on Oct. 11 and Nov. 1 at Sims Lake Park in Suwanee GA.

If you are looking for unique and affordable family portraits, this event is one you will not want to miss. Limited appointments are available due to lighting. We photograph first thing in the morning and late afternoon to catch the best light.

Each session lasts for 30 minutes. There is no limit to the number of people in the group.  We can photograph the entire family or just the children. Bring your pet and we can also photograph your furry friend.

Family photos make great holiday gifts and cards. The fee includes 5 medium resolution images, so you can print your own photographs.  There are only 8 spaces available on each day, so registration and payment are required in advance. To register visit the website. In the comments section of the invoice, let us know the time you prefer.



Beautiful Outdoor Glamour Shots

The wonders of a simple new invention from Westcott Lighting – a new Shoot Through Reflector called the Omega. I saw an advertisement for this new reflector and thought I would give it a try.  It is so simple to use and creates amazing glamour shots both inside and outside. The reflector has a large opening in the middle, so the photographer can shoot through it to photograph a model.

The reflector has four reflective surfaces: white, gold, silver and black. Each one gives a slightly different look. The key is to use a natural or artificial source of light behind the subject to create a hair light and a light to bounce off the reflector. The result is a beautiful catch-light in the model’s eyes and beautiful outdoor glamour shots.

As you can see from the illustration on the left, the photographer is using the silver side. A simple off camera flash unit is behind the subject to create the hair light and the reflected light.

It took me a few days to get the hang of using this reflector. Lucky for me, I had a very patient model, Spencer, who is pictured below.

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The Classic Infant Pose

classic infant poseThe classic infant pose brings a smile to the parents’ faces every time. I have been photographing infants since 1999, and there is a pose for the 4 month session that I could not live without doing each time. At 3-4 months, an infant’s neck is usually strong enough so they can life their head for several seconds. I use a large beanbag pillow and place the infant’s torso on it facing the camera. Then I carefully position the hands and arms (holding hands or close to it is preferable). With the help of the parents who stand behind me and camera left, so the baby is looking into the light, I have them call the baby’s name and play peek-a-boo behind the main light softbox. This  always gets the sweetest smiles from the baby. I shoot quickly because I know that my time is limited.  I love this pose and do at every infant portrait session usually starting at the 4 month session.

For more information on infant photography please contact me, Mary Buck, Lightscapes Portrait Studio (770) 623-1040

Mature woman glamour photo

A Son’s Gift to his Mother

I’ve known Ron for several years.  We met in line at a Network Event in 2011 and hit it off right away. I love to meet with people and talk about their businesses and challenges. One day while chatting with Ron, I told him that I had just started a new line to my portrait business called “Bella Donna Glamour Portraits” for women of  all ages. He seemed interested in buying a package for his Mom.  One day several years later, he called my up and surprised me. He said he was ready to to buy his Mom a “Glamour Session” for Mother’s day from my photography studio.  He told me  so much about his Mom and I couldn’t wait to meet her.

The day finally came for the glamour session.  I hired Kelly Belin of Mary Kay Cosmetics for her make-up. She is not only good at what she does, she makes everyone feel relaxed and comfortable. After 45 minutes of make-up we were ready for the shoot.

I started indoors with a plain white background. My client brought in a gorgeous white, ruffly top and I wanted to accentuate the femininity of  white on white.  Around mid-way through the session, there was a blooper and my large white umbrella, fell backwards. Embarrassing myself, I kept telling my client “that this never happens.”  She even offered to help me. Ugh, not sure why I was having this problem, but I tried to not let it bother me. The session continued outdoors, this time she wore a long sleeved teal top which was a perfect jewel-toned accompaniment to the dark green foliage. Again, I had some equipment problems as the wind kept blowing the soft box over.  At this point, we just laughed about it. Lastly, we finished up inside with some soft window light.  The photo with the dark background is one of the last pictures I took and one of her favorites.

During the session my client remarked on how much she appreciated the gift from her son. “Ron is the best son ever” she said several times. I thoroughly enjoyed the session, and got the feeling she did too!

glamour portrait mature woman

The white on white background

Kelly Belin Mary Kay

Kelly Belin of Mary Kay cosmetics doing her magic.


Boudoir Photography

It is crazy how many women in Atlanta are requesting Boudoir Photography. I wanted to write this blog so I could explain what Boudoir Photography is, and who it is for. Boudoir – pronounced bŏo dwăawr comes from late 18th century French word and is translated as – a woman’s bedroom or a private sitting room. Basically it can be done is an private or intimate setting where the woman wants to be photographed looking sexy, naughty or classy in her lingerie. Sessions are held in our locked and private studio in Duluth, GA and photographed by me, Mary Buck, a professional photographer and owner of Lightscapes Portrait Studio. Here are some of the reasons women are having boudoir photography done:

  • A surprise for their significant other whether as a wedding gift, an anniversary gift or someone who has been married a long time and wants to put more spark in their marriage.
  • A woman who wants to have a baby so she remembers what her body once looked like.
  • To build confidence. All women have something about themselves that they don’t like and a photo session where you will be pampered with luxurious poses will have everyone drooling.
  • A woman who wants to have fun and look sexy.

Do you have to be a perfect size 6 for Boudoir Photography? No of course you don’t. Every woman is beautiful. Shakespeare once said “You are beautiful, you are a woman”.  Every woman is a candidate and I hope to see you soon.

Please note that Boudoir Photography is priced differently than portraits. For more information call (770) 623-1040 or contact me.

boudoir Photography

silhouette photography

Father’s Day Gifts

silhouette portraitThe perfect Father’s Day gift – a silhouette portrait of their child(ren). It is a wonderful way to remember that time in the live of their child(ren). Best of all, the silhouette portrait is printed on metal so dad can display it in his office, workshop or even the back porch. Metal prints are striking and vivid and can be a focal point wherever it is displayed.
Sessions are limited for silhouette portraits for Father’s Day because I can only do one a day at sunset. I have only 15 minutes of shooting time during the sunset. I do the photography at the Duluth Town Green at around 8:45pm during the the month June. Gift certificates are also available for a Father’s Day Gift.  Father’s Day is June 21, 2015. Call (770) 623-1040 for more information.

To view my portrait photography site visit Lightscapes Portrait Studio.

If you would like to learn more about DSLR photography visit Studio 2.8

To view my fine art photography site visit Message in a Petal.

model headshot

Model and Actor Headshots

Atlanta is booming with the new movie studios. I have noticed there is a huge demand for model and actor headshots in Atlanta. Although I have been a portrait photographer for twenty years, I discovered model headshots are quite a bit different than portraits.  I am very interested in pursing a specialization in model and actor headshots, so I have begun to retrofit my camera room with new lighting to accommodate this growing field. I started this weekend with two beautiful women who want to pursue a career in modeling. I used a variety of new lighting methods including clamshell lighting and using a mirror as a reflector.  I am very pleased with the results and will be posting a new page soon with pricing on model and actor headshots at Lightscapes Portrait Studio in Duluth, GA


Why Does Custom Photography Cost More?

Costs of running a business + experience and knowledge

The digital revolution has brought amazing flexibility and ability to control various factors during the image taking and making process.  Photographers, the hobbyist, the professional, the amateur all benefit from this ability to manipulate pixels.  However, with flexibility comes a price.  Digital camera equipment is still considerably more expensive when you factor in its’ lifespan, the need for additional resources for processing those images, the time it takes to get a usable image and the effort that goes into creating a work of photographic art. We all know that you can go to the local Walgreen’s and pay a $1.99 for a print – as a client you may wonder why you may pay upwards of $50, $70, $90 for a custom photography print.   Photographers hear this statement every once in awhile:

“How in the world can you charge $60 for an 8×10 if it costs me less than $2 to print at x store?”

The truth of the matter is the answer to this question is multifaceted.  Much of the cost of a photographic print produced by a professional photographer has a lot to do with the time,  equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer not to mention expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate business. The cost of TIME Approaching it from a time standpoint, let’s imagine that you have hired a photographer who has work that you love.  This photographer is traveling an hour to your destination to photograph your session.  Here is an example of a time break down:

  • booking time: 30 minutes to one hour (client contact time + paperwork)
  • pre-session prep time (30 mins – 1 hour, includes equipment and back up equipment checks + vehicle checks)
  • one hour travel time TO session
  • 15-30 minutes prep time at client’s home
  • 30 minutes-2 hours with client photographing subject
  • 30 min to  hour travel time FROM session
  • 30-45 minutes uploading time from digital cards from camera to computer
  • 30-45 minutes time spent backing up the original images
  • 1-2 hours editing time to present you with a diverse gallery of edited images
  • 1 hour prep time getting ready for ordering
  • 2-3 hours time with client for ordering images
  • 1 hour sorting through and checking order
  • 30 minutes-1 hour prep time for delivery
  • 30 minutes-1 hour getting order shipped
  • any additional phone time or time needed for add on ordering, shipment issues, quality issues

In this example, the time spent per client can range from just under 10 hours to 19 hours – dependent on the photographer’s level of service.  This is time dedicated only to ONE session.  When the photographer charges $150-$300 for the photo shoot (aka SESSION FEE) you are not just paying for the two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 12-19 hours complete time for your session.

The COSTS of Maintaining a Custom Photography Business:

Regarding equipment costs, a good quality professional camera with a selection of good optical quality lenses and digital storage mediums and computer set up can run from $10,000-$30,000 costs dependent on the photographer.  Even though you can purchase a really good quality digital SLR for about $2100 there are still other costs related to photography.  A good lens for portrait photography can run from $900 to $2500.  A dependable computer system with software loaded for business and creative usage can run $2500 to $8000 dependent on the photographer. Then come lab costs for specialty products.  A good photographer knows their professional lab is an integral part of their success.  These labs often cost more and offer a range of products that allows the custom photographer to continually offer new, innovative products for the discerning client.

Discussion on other costs of running a photography business could take awhile so we’ll skip many of the intricate details.  An overview:  the costs of running the business, taxes, studio rental/mortgage if the photographer has ownership of a dedicated studio, vehicular costs, costs of advertising/marketing, costs of sample pieces that the photographer will likely bring to your session, etc.

APPLES to ORANGES to BANANAS: Often times clients will mention to their photographer that X studio in the mall/department store only charges $19.99 for an 8×10 “sheet” or they may mention other things related to discount photography chains.  The fact is those discount chains make their money on volume, not on customized 1:1 service.  In February 2007 a company who has leased photography retail space in a rather well known discount retailer closed down 500 of their portrait studios across the nation.  The reason it happened is simple, you cannot make money on 99¢ “professional” prints if you do not sell enough of them.  Interestingly enough – those same studios that offer the loss leader packages often charge much much more for their a la carte pricing vs. many custom photographers (as high as $40-50 for an 8×10).

A little history – the whole reason the big department stores began offering portrait services in the first place was to get you, the savvy consumer, in through their door so that you could spend more money with them in other departments.  Your “PORTRAITS” are considered the “loss leader”.  Your portraits that are meant to symbolize a once-in-a-lifetime stage in your child’s life are part of what a store considers a way to get you in there door to spend more money on goods that you might not really want or need but because you’re there “anyway” you buy.

Also keep in mind that when you go to a chain studio, as a consumer, you don’t have the benefit of 1:1 attention for 2 hours at your home where your child is allowed to explore, play and be comfortable in their home environment, nor do you get the experience that many custom photographers are known for as well as the lovely captures of natural expressions.  You simply get a bare bones, “SAY CHEESE” experience.

REPUTATION/EXPERTISE of the PHOTOGRAPHER:  There is an old story about a ship that cost a company millions of dollars.  Something went wrong in the engine room and the ship was stuck in dock.  They called various “experts” who spent weeks trying to fix the issue to no avail and at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars.  Finally a older gentleman was called in who simply brought in his small tool bag and a hammer.  He set about pinging on various parts of the vast engine with his hammer, finally settling on one area.  He spent a few minutes pinging in that area, took out a few tools and fixed whatever what was wrong.  After a few moments the man straightened up, looked at the captain and instructed him to “start her up.”  The captain disbelievingly went to get the engines started while the man sat in the engine room listening as the engine roared to life.  The man tipped his hat as he exited the ship to the staff who sat dumbfounded because they had seen all the experts come on board for days with their expensive equipment only to have the ship not fixed.  This man did it in a few minutes with a few pings of his hammer!

A few days passed and the man sent the shipping company a bill for $10,000.  The accounting department contacted him immediately.  Why all the rumors mentioned that this man had only spent “a few minutes” fixing the ship “with his hammer and a few other random tools”.  When questioned about why his bill was for $10,000 – did he accidentally leave an extra zero on the bill?  The man confidently responded: “In fact the time was worth the $1,000.  The other $9,000 was for the years of experience and the ability to discern the issue as quickly as possible for the company.”

Now I’m not saying that photographers fix large ships but being in demand, being well known for quality work, having a good reputation often costs time on the photographer’s part (years of practice, study, experience, etc).  A photographer’s expertise comes at a cost, their time learning their craft and learning the intricacies of lighting and the commitment put forth on their end to create a persona about their business that oozes professionalism.  A great number of photographers go a very long time from the time that they purchase their first good camera to making money at the business of photography.  Many photographers, when first starting out, rush in thinking that the business will be easily profitable in no time, how expensive could it be to get a camera and use it to create their dream?  These photographers often undervalue what they do because they have the realization that they do not have experience or expertise but are very adept at pushing the shutter on the camera.  Many times these casual “professionals” neglect to factor in the cost of business, the cost of equipment, software, back ups, etc..  When you hire a photographer of sound reputation, you are hiring an expert, one that knows that they must always reinvest in their business to create the reputation of being top notch.  To create good work a photographer possesses not only sound knowledge in the technical and creative aspects of photography but also good, reliable equipment and back up equipment.

The photographer who desires to be known as better/best/unparalelled reputation-wise knows that the most important thing they can do for their business is reliability and dependability.  This is how reputations get built.  Good work often is a wonderful side product of building that good reputation.

I hope this (lengthy) article helps shed some light on WHY a custom photographer is a better choice for your family’s memories.  The photographs that are produced as a result of the professionalism and dedication that your photographer has will be cherished for a lifetime (or more) and great thought and consideration should be placed into hiring who is right for your family’s most precious investment.

This article was written by Marianne Drenthe of Marmalade Photography and can be found at the Professional Child Photography site at



Outdoor Spring Portraits for Babies

May is my favorite time of the year for Outdoor Spring Portraits for Babies This little boy was easily amused by his siblings and was a pleasure to photograph on a warm and beautiful spring day. The photograph was taken in the side yard of Lightscapes Portrait Studio in Duluth. The rose garden is a perfect spot for outdoor photography. The image really struck me as so organic with the red and green background and the baby’s gorgeous skin tones. His sparkling blue eyes are the icing on the cake. For more information on children’s photography Atlanta contact me at Lightscapes Portrait Studio. (770) 623-1040.

To view my portrait photography site visit Lightscapes Portrait Studio.

If you would like to learn more about DSLR photography visit Studio 2.8

To view my fine are photography site visit Message in a Petal.

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