Great news! A new studio location!

Well, we've been keeping this up our sleeve for a little while now, but we are very, VERY excited to share the news that we now have a brand new, beautifully renovated studio location in Sacramento!

Since starting the studio in 2001, we have been an on-location only photography business, running our adminitrative offices from our home and photographing exclusively on location. This past year, I decided it was well past time to get the business out of the house.

In mid-December of last year, we signed a lease and moved into a space that looked like this ...

Initially, the goal in getting a location was simply to get the business out of the house. The space was to be a storage and working location for processing our orders and managing our event photography gear. However, it wasn't long before the, "Oh my goodness, this place cool be COOL!" bug bit me hard and we decided to make a game of just what kind of space we could create. We decided to create the space that I had always wanted - a beautiful studio location to have wedding consultations, proofing appointments and, of course, to create wonderful portraits! My ultimate goal in the space was to create a very warm, comfortable livingroom type space in which anyone could come in, sit down and instantly be at ease.

A very good friend of mine who photographs volleyball with us, happens to be a professional contractor. He was extremely (I can't stress that enough) generous with his time and expertise and did the majority of the work. (If you need some work done, his name is Allen Hodge, his business is called Prestige Builders and his phone number is 916.416.6114!)

Naturally, we moved in right at the beginning of our busy volleyball travel season so we didn't have much time to do work on the space. We got a bit done, laying out what would become our lobby and shooting room and getting walls up and putting in some flooring in the lobby. The previous occupants were an insurance company and they had pony walls up to create mini workspaces. We decided that the division of the space by the pony walls would work with what we wanted to do and extended them to the ceiling. We then built a back wall across the new lobby space with an offset section of the wall coming out, rather than a doorway. This created a unique entry-way and allowed us to hang a 55" LCD display for viewing images, slideshows, etc. With drywall work completed and flooring in the lobby, work was interrupted until May as we travelled for our very busy volleyball season.

In May, we got a bit of time and decided to put laminate flooring in the shooting space as well and planned to put the same style as in the lobby, but it turned out that it had since been discontinued and was not longer available. So we tore out what we had put in (I gave Allen the flooring and he was able to use it in his home office) and installed new flooring again. This time, we added travertine and black granite to the entry way to really make it shine. We also installed baseboard/baseshoe and crown molding.

With the volleyball season completed in early July, we finished processing the orders as quickly as we could and dove into completing the studio. This time it was painting all of that baseboard and molding, selecting furniture, printing and framing samples, painting the shooting room, installing drapes, installing background hanging equipment, hanging the 55" display in the lobby, running CAT 6 network cable throughout the studio and installing outlets, etc. It was a major push that consumed a great deal of time and no small bit of cash from the volleyball season, but we finished and it has proved to be completely worth the time, effort and money involved!

We are very excited to have the new photography space. We had our first practice session there recently to get used to how the light fills the room. We've got some new lighting tools on order and look forward to getting them in and putting them to use! There is a lot of potential in this room. Not only for flash lit portraits, but the big windows provide beautiful window light when we open the drapes.

So there you have it! Our new photography studio ... I hope you like it as much as we do and come to visit us soon. We have some wonderful celebratory pricing coming soon, so keep an eye on this space!

Oh! I almost forgot ... if you want to come visit us, our new address is:

Micheal Hall Photography
3101 Fulton Ave., Suite 103
Sacramento, CA 95821

We do operate on an appointment-only basis, so be sure to call before stopping by! We do not yet have our sign out front. We share the building with another photographer - Christopher Kight Photographers. If you see that, you've found us!

We'll get a sign up as soon as possible. :)

Reese Family Portraits.

OK, last night's entry was cut short as it was getting really late and I was exhausted and was having a hard time thinking straight, much less stringing words together into semi-sensible concepts.

So, just in case it wasn't clear, we spent another Sunday afternoon/evening with the Reese and Conant families yesterday. Earlier this year, we photographed Sydney and Juliet riding Jody and Leah during the Homecoming football game introductions and got some very nice images of them. However, there was a giant RV in the background of one of the frames that I didn't care for and I wanted another chance to photograph the gals running their horses.

Stacy and I scheduled a dual-purpose day - we would run the horses in the early afternoon and then do a family portrait for the Reeses in the evening.

Yak Babies
When Jason and I got to the Reese's place about 12:15 or so, Morgan introduced us to the new additions to the family - Stacy's yaks, Wyatt and Amos (great names!). When we did our first shoot at the Reese home, Stacy shared with us her affection for yak babies which I gathered is regarded by her husband, Tom, as something of an amusing eccentricity. After hearing about yaks and how cute they are, I had to look them up. OK. Cute? This is not really a word I would apply to these animals. Puppies? Cute. Kittens? Cute. Yaks ... hmmm ... cute? Not so much.

However, I was pleasantly surprised on meeting Wyatt and Amos - they are indeed quite cute! At five months old, they already have small curling horns and a thick, shaggy coat. They were very calm overall (though I hear that they do NOT like dogs or cats - much to the surprise of the family dog, Amber, who was bowled over by one of them!) and didn't mind us coming over to say hello. They were even included in some family pictures later in the day!

Running the Horses
After visiting Wyatt and Amos and chatting with Stacy, Morgan and Sydney (who was in the process of saddling Jody when we got there and teasing her about how fat she had gotten) Juliet and her mom arrived with Leah.

With the full cast now in attendance, we loaded Jody into the trailer, hopped in the car and drove about a mile down the road to a property owned by friends of the family that had a long, hard packed dirt road that would be great for running the horses.

When we arrived, the horses needed to be warmed up, so Sydney and Juliet to them out for a bit. In the meantime, I had a bit of fun looking for some nice images ...

I really enjoy looking for portraits when they aren't expected. With these Reese gals, you have to be quick. They lack any sort of ability to ignore the camera ... As soon as they sense a camera pointing their way, they can't help but grin ...

I managed to get a great portrait of Morgan as well - she caught me right after I took this picture and gave me a great smile, but I liked this one most ...

I got a couple more of Sydney prior to us starting the run. This time, I managed to catch her unaware.

As I mentioned, the day was fairly windy. It was also cloudless. Beautiful rich blue skies ... I would have loved some fluffy white cumulous clouds to add spice to the background, but you can't just place an order for those!

I photographed from the bed of Stacy's Ford F350 pickup. I figured that, this way, we could drive about 50 yards ahead of the pair cruising down the road. Keeping this distance ahead of them would give us the maximum opporunity for images. Jason and Morgan sat against the cab with Morgan hollering directions to like "Ready ... Set ... Lope!" and "Smile!" and, "Look up!" to Sydney and Juliet. She's a great director, I might have to drag her to all of our shoots in the future. :)

We initially tried running the horses into the wind. This had the benefit of ensuring that the flags would blow straight out behind Juliet and Sydney. It also put the sun behind the flags, which gave them a great glow. Unfortunately, shooting into the sun puts the person you are photographing into the shadows and the sky generally brightens to white.

During this first run, I was photographing with our highest resolution camera, the Canon 1Ds mkIII. This is a full frame, 21 megapixel camera which produces absolutely stunning files. However, with files that big, things generally slow down. I found that it was taking too long to clear the files from memory to the card which was slowing me down, resulting in me missing pictures I wanted.

For the second run, I switched to the Canon 1D mkIII. This camera has a slightly smaller sensor and shoots at 10.1 megapixels ... but at 10 frames per second and - because the files are half the size of the other camera - the files clear the buffer much more quickly, so I can photograph more freely. Though I would have loved to continue with the 21MP files, I didn't know how many runs we were going to be able to make with the horses (Jody had gotten fat, remember? :) so I wanted to make sure I walked away from each run with as many images as possible to choose from.

This time we decided to run into the sun, rather than into the wind. This had the benefit of giving us a beautiful blue sky behind the girls.

After each run, Sydney and Juliet would lope the horses back to the starting point, keeping station off of the right rear fender of the truck. I switched to a wide angle and would photograph them from there to get a different view.

By this time we'd done a few different runs up and back and both Jody and Leah had run out their early enthusiasm. Jody had lathered up a good sweat (her coat looked pretty neat in those shiny whorls) and we decided to cool them down and call it an afternoon ... But not before I snuck a couple of portraits of Juliet. Leah had lost a shoe and a Juliet her hat on the last run and the girls did a circuit to locate the shoe. Juliet came back reins in one hand, shoe in the other and hat in her mouth ... I couldn't resist!

Reese Family Portraits
After running the horses, we returned to the Reese house and I setup my laptop to download the images so that the family could see them. Morgan had called ahead and asked her dad to put some pizzas in the oven, so we had some fresh baked DiGiorno (I can't believe it's not delivery!) waiting for us.

After a bit, Jason and I left the family looking at the pictures from the afternoon to scout a location for the evening family pictures and get setup for them. It was expected that one family member wouldn't be able to arrive until about 4pm, which wasn't going to leave us a lot of time prior to sunset for pictures, so I wanted to be ready for them. We found a nice location just alongside the house. This is where some evening clouds would have come in handy!

As we didn't have a lot of time until the sun set and there were several young children, we kept posing very simple and straight forward.

It was discovered, during the course of the family pictures, that Tom and Jeff know only two possible poses when being photographed and that this is a running joke in the family ... so we had to photograph it as well!

And of course we couldn't end the evening without photographing Tom, Stacy, Sydney and Morgan together. I know I'm supposed to say this, as I photographed them, but I think they look great together!

We also got a great couple of portraits of just Tom and Stacy ...

Finally, we once again found ourselves photographing in the dark. Juliet had left for a bit, but scrubbed up and came back in a nice jacket - we wanted to do a multiple image composite of her like we did of Morgan and Sydney. The dark made it distinctly more challenging (see the results in the post below). We also took some images of the ladies together. Most of the frames just didn't turn out (it was nearly pitch dark and we were focusing and composing by flashlight while I lay on the lawn), but this one I really liked ...

So there you go, another Sunday session - I hope you enjoyed it!

More of the Reese family? Sure ... why not!?

This is part one of what is going to have to be a two part entry.

I promised Morgan I would put some pictures up from today's session - but it's 1 am already (this picture editing stuff takes time!) and I've been exhausted since 7pm this evening, so I need some sleep before I can put more than these couple of pictures up.

As you may have guessed, we spent another day with Sydney, Morgan and Juliet. Why? Because it's fun, that's why!

We had a plan - Sydney and Juliet would run Jody and Leah and then we would take family portraits of the Reeses. We did both. Images from those I will share later, when I have had time to go through the hundreds of pictures!

However, I will share this fun little construct we came up with while getting ready for the family pictures. We discovered a little known super power of the girls while photographing. They have so much energy and are so fast, they can actually be in more location than one location at once! OK, that's obviously exaggeration, but it can sure seem like it sometimes, so we made a picture to illustrate the feeling ...

We think they turned out rather nicely.

While Morgan and Sydney were photographed before sunset, Juliet wasn't photographed until after the family portraits were done ... which meant it was quite a bit darker. As in, so dark I couldn't really see anything without a flashlight! Still, all in all, I think it turned out pretty well. I know we can do better, so we'll do another when I come out for your Senior portraits Juliet!

Maternity Portraits - Mandy & Dave

I really had a great time the other night. Not only did I have fun doing the class portrait images of Ryan, Sierra, Sydney and Danielle, but we (Allen and I) tore down the gear, dragged it to Dave and Mandy's and set it up again to do a maternity portrait of the two of them.

Dave is a member of the family - he's uncle to the four young ladies posted below (one of whom is my daughter). I've known him since he was a skinny little 12 year old, so it was particularly impressive to photograph him now 14 years later. He's very big into spending time at the gym, working on his physique ... and the results are imposing.

Dave's also big into Superman (what boy isn't? :) and has a tatoo of the Superman symbol on his back. For some time, I've had this idea of a portrait that I would like to do with him and Mandy. Then I found out that Mandy was expecting and I had another idea. I wanted to do a classic maternity portrait of mother and father, both nude from the waist up, Dave's arms around Mandy, showing off the growing tummy.

He and Mandy are expecting a daughter early next year and Mandy has got a beautiful baby tummy on her, so this was the perfect time. We called Mandy last week and told her about the idea for the pictures.

When I arrived and after we had setup, Mandy and I chatted about some further ideas for pictures that night and what we wanted to do. It was then that she told, smiling, me she hadn't told Dave about the idea for the picture!

A few minutes later Dave and I are talking and he asks, "So what are we going to do?". For the fun of it, I decide to drop it on him - "We want to get her - " gesturing to Mandy, " - to take her top off."

He looked at me nonplussed for a moment - "Okaaay."

Queue giggle from the bathroom where Mandy is doing her makeup.

I couldn't help but laugh, and then I describe the picture and how I would go about it.

They had the exact tool I needed - a full length mirror that was about 2 1/2 feet wide. We would workout their pose in advance, clothed and then use the mirror to allow them to pose themselves after disrobing. Allen, who was assisting would hold the mirror and stand behind it. I would stand out of the room. In this way, they could have complete privacy and in the end there would be less exposure than a day on the beach in a bikini, but we would have a beautiful, intimate portrait of two expecting parents.

Dave and Mandy had a great time and loved how the pictures turned out, which is all that matters to me.

All in all, it was a very fun evening. It was my first time doing a portrait of this style. I love kids and parents and families, and I really enjoy parents that love each other and are excited about their new family member, so I hope to be able to do more portraits like this - regardless, I will certainly be back to photograph their little girl when she arrives early next year!

Class Portraits

One of the projects were are working on here is getting into better communication with schools in our area. We hear from quite a few parents we photograph for that they are not happy with the photography they get through their school and we are commonly asked if we do that sort of work.

As our busiest season is currently January - June for our travelling volleyball season, this leaves us a full six months of the year to schedule other work. Class photography is often done in the months of August, September or October which fits perfectly in our schedule and the remainder of the year - team pictures, dances, club pictures, sporting events, etc. can all be scheduled on our calendar even during our busier season.

So, in the interest of having some recent class pictures to share with schools, I grabbed a few young ladies who are home-schooled and don't usually have the opportunity for class pictures. For those of you who have visited our site before, you may recognize these young ladies - they've been featured here in the past! One happens to be my daughter, Ryan.

This was a very simple setup - a main light in an octobox and an accent light. Background was the painted canvas I have been playing with quite a bit lately. The shoot went very simply - we were done in almost no time at all.

So, there you go. Some very simple, very attractive class picture style portraits. Minimal retouching - mostly attention to detail during the shoot saves you from having to spend lots of time 'fixing' things!

East Nicolaus Cheer Pictures - 2009

OK, well it had to happen. I photographed at East Nicolaus again. Apparently I haven't been out there enough this year. In fact, Chris, the varsity volleyball coach, saw us and suggested we just setup an office there on campus. If anyone knows how to make that happen, I'm all ears. Sounds like fun! We definitely enjoy coming out that way and will continue to do so as much as possible. In fact, I want to handle all of the school's photography - from class pictures and senior portraits to all club and team pictures. So if anyone knows who to talk to at the school to make this happen and likes our work, let me know and I will get in touch.

This time we weren't photographing Volleyball, or FFA or Football. It was cheer! Of course, because East Nicolaus is not a large school, it turned out that - having photographed FFA and the homecoming dance - we had already met and photographed most of the cheer squad!

It was a great shoot. With daylight savings having gone into effect recently (or out of effect, I forget which - anyway we set the clocks back!) that means it's dark very early. So, we barely had any time to photograph before the sun set. ESPECIALLY because one of the cheerleaders had detention until 4:30!

However, we got a great team picture with just sunset light and had time for one cheerleader in the same light before the sun hit haze in the sky and we needed to setup a light.

We had a really great time working with the ladies - they were all very sweet and fun to photograph.

By the end of the shoot, I actually had been reduced to composing and focusing the camera by flashlight! It was so dark, I couldn't see to focus. I was shooting down around 1/4 of a second exposures to try and let any little bit of ambient light in. For some of the final few buddy pictures, I put a flash in the background to throw light on some trees so they would not just be a huge patch of black. Definitely a different experience for a team shoot, but a great challenge and a lot of fun.

How to select your pictures ...
We did this shoot a bit differently than usual. You gals were persuasive and convinced me to take several different pictures of you and then allow you to choose which picture you wanted. For those of you that did not choose your picture at the shoot itself with one of those fun Voice Notes on the camera, please have a look at this gallery of images and let me know which one you would like for your order. Remember that these images have not been finished for printing - there is still work to be done on them to make them look their absolute best like the samples above.

A Special Collage ...
Additionally, because we did take several pictures of most of you, I came up with a collage design for you that can incorporate each of the three (or even only two) images across the bottom with a team picture above. I made a couple of samples of this using Ali and Riley as a examples ...



If you would like, you can choose the fun team picture for the collage as well. If you would like us to make a collage for you, let us know and we will get you a price list.

Morgan Reese: Sample worthy.
Another fun thing that happened at the shoot is that we ran into our friends the Reese's - Stacy and Morgan. They came over during the shoot and we put Morgan to work making sure our lights didn't fall over in any breeze. She's a little work horse and - when the lights needed raising or lowering - she was right on it and didn't want us to do it - she could take care of it! (She did it so well that I think I'll offer her a job in a couple of years.)

Anyway, after the sun sets, there is always a period of time when the sky is a really deep, rich, beautiful blue. I love that time period and color, so - when we were done with cheer - I twisted Morgan's arm to let her me take some pictures. Well, maybe 'twisted Morgan's arm' is a bit of an exaggeration - once I mentioned it she hopped right over!

It was so dark at this point, that to get any light or color in the sky, I need a 2 1/2 second exposure. I was lying on my back on the ground shooting upwards. The flash fired at the beginning of the exposure and then the shutter stayed open to let the light from the sky in. Because I was holding the camera in my hands for that time, there is shake - you just can't avoid it. The neat thing about this technique is that it doesn't ruin the image. The flash gives Morgan all of her light in something like 1/2000th of a second, then she is just a black silhouette. The blue of the sky fills in after the flash during the rest of the 2 1/2 seconds of exposure. During that time, with the camera moving, bits of the sky start to creep in around her. This creates an image with a different type of look to it.

It turned out that Morgan and Katie had worn their Sample Worthy shirts to school that day, so we had Morgan whip off her sweatshirt and throw some sample worthy attitude our way for the final two images of the day.

Of course, she pulled it off beautifully - the images turned out great!

CHSRA Rodeo - October 23-25

OK, well it had to happen. I photographed at East Nicolaus again. Apparently I haven't been out there enough this year. In fact, Chris, the varsity volleyball coach, saw us and suggested we just setup an office there on campus. If anyone knows how to make that happen, I'm all ears. Sounds like fun! We definitely enjoy coming out that way and will continue to do so as much as possible. In fact, I want to handle all of the school's photography - from class pictures and senior portraits to all club and team pictures. So if anyone knows who to talk to at the school to make this happen and likes our work, let me know and I will get in touch.

This time we weren't photographing Volleyball, or FFA or Football. It was cheer! Of course, because East Nicolaus is not a large school, it turned out that - having photographed FFA and the homecoming dance - we had already met and photographed most of the cheer squad!

It was a great shoot. With daylight savings having gone into effect recently (or out of effect, I forget which - anyway we set the clocks back!) that means it's dark very early. So, we barely had any time to photograph before the sun set. ESPECIALLY because one of the cheerleaders had detention until 4:30!

However, we got a great team picture with just sunset light and had time for one cheerleader in the same light before the sun hit haze in the sky and we needed to setup a light.

We had a really great time working with the ladies - they were all very sweet and fun to photograph.

By the end of the shoot, I actually had been reduced to composing and focusing the camera by flashlight! It was so dark, I couldn't see to focus. I was shooting down around 1/4 of a second exposures to try and let any little bit of ambient light in. For some of the final few buddy pictures, I put a flash in the background to throw light on some trees so they would not just be a huge patch of black. Definitely a different experience for a team shoot, but a great challenge and a lot of fun.

How to select your pictures ...
We did this shoot a bit differently than usual. You gals were persuasive and convinced me to take several different pictures of you and then allow you to choose which picture you wanted. For those of you that did not choose your picture at the shoot itself with one of those fun Voice Notes on the camera, please have a look at this gallery of images and let me know which one you would like for your order. Remember that these images have not been finished for printing - there is still work to be done on them to make them look their absolute best like the samples above.

A Special Collage ...
Additionally, because we did take several pictures of most of you, I came up with a collage design for you that can incorporate each of the three (or even only two) images across the bottom with a team picture above. I made a couple of samples of this using Ali and Riley as a examples ...



If you would like, you can choose the fun team picture for the collage as well. If you would like us to make a collage for you, let us know and we will get you a price list.

Morgan Reese: Sample worthy.
Another fun thing that happened at the shoot is that we ran into our friends the Reese's - Stacy and Morgan. They came over during the shoot and we put Morgan to work making sure our lights didn't fall over in any breeze. She's a little work horse and - when the lights needed raising or lowering - she was right on it and didn't want us to do it - she could take care of it! (She did it so well that I think I'll offer her a job in a couple of years.)

Anyway, after the sun sets, there is always a period of time when the sky is a really deep, rich, beautiful blue. I love that time period and color, so - when we were done with cheer - I twisted Morgan's arm to let her me take some pictures. Well, maybe 'twisted Morgan's arm' is a bit of an exaggeration - once I mentioned it she hopped right over!

It was so dark at this point, that to get any light or color in the sky, I need a 2 1/2 second exposure. I was lying on my back on the ground shooting upwards. The flash fired at the beginning of the exposure and then the shutter stayed open to let the light from the sky in. Because I was holding the camera in my hands for that time, there is shake - you just can't avoid it. The neat thing about this technique is that it doesn't ruin the image. The flash gives Morgan all of her light in something like 1/2000th of a second, then she is just a black silhouette. The blue of the sky fills in after the flash during the rest of the 2 1/2 seconds of exposure. During that time, with the camera moving, bits of the sky start to creep in around her. This creates an image with a different type of look to it.

It turned out that Morgan and Katie had worn their Sample Worthy shirts to school that day, so we had Morgan whip off her sweatshirt and throw some sample worthy attitude our way for the final two images of the day.

Of course, she pulled it off beautifully - the images turned out great!

Fun on a farm - portraits of some beautiful girls

This is one of those shoots I can point to explain why I love my job.

We've been working North of Sacramento a great deal this Fall, in particular at East Nicolaus High School. In doing so, we've made some great new friends. They've been featured here quite a bit lately, but here's a lot more of them!

After doing the portraits at the volleyball tournament in Carmichael, I thought it would be great fun to setup for some similar images out on the Reese family farm. So I called Stacy Reese up and asked if her daughter's would be interested. I also asked if she could arrange to get Juliet Conant over and if anyone else would like to have some fun in front of the camera.

As we headed out, the day was heavily overcast and I was afraid it was going to rain on us - we were expecting to setup lights, a canvas backdrop and such things outdoors and falling water is no friend to that. Thankfully, the clouds started breaking as we arrived. We setup in the doorway to the workshop on the farm, tucked in tight against the wall to avoid the breeze catching our canvas and turning it into a sail.

As we don't have a studio shooting location (though plans are in the work to change that) and are used to working on location, this was both new and old hat to us. New in that the results LOOKED like they were shot in a studio, old as we still had to lug our gear out, set it up and tear it down! However, the work was definitely worth it. The ladies were both adorable and hysterical - it was often hard to photograph for laughing. The Reese sisters Sydney and Morgan are feisty and fun.

We also got to meet and make a new friend - Katie Mose (forgive me if I spelled your name wrong Katie!). Katie is a friend and schoolmate of Sydney and Morgan and turned out to be just as fun to photograph.

I love photographing in places I have never been, it makes the entire process much more interesting and gives us the opportunity for images that would not be able to be created in the studio. After a while of photographing against the canvas backdrop, the sun had begun to set and turned that once potential sun into a stunning evening sky. The clouds had broken up, there were dense, dark clouds mixing with light clouds, patches of rich evening blue sky - all kinds of nice stuff!

So I grabbed our mainlight and took the gang over to an area I had spotted when I first arrived and was scouting locations.

At this point, another great thing happend - Juliet arrived! She'd been up in Chico working with the team at the university there, they are interested in having her play volleyball for them next year as a Freshman.

Juliet made our job EASY. She's tall, fit, statuesque ... and looks great in a cowboy hat and jeans even after a day of sweating it out in the gym!

Sydney and Juliet hopped in front of the camera together and Sydney was happily strutting her stuff ... right to the time we told her she was "rockin' the beergut". Of course, there isn't the slightest hint of a beergut on any of these ladies, but Sydney's shirt was bulging a bit. I did love the reaction though ...

With the entire group there and the sky putting on such a great display, we had them hop up on a corral fence ...

After a few frames, they whipped out their Charlie's Angels gun pose ... and then a light went on in Sydney's head. I swear I saw it go on. Her face lit up and she blurted, "I can get guns!". She and the rest of the gang ran back to the house and came back a few minutes later with a couple of rifles and a couple of revolvers.

[For the gun squeamish, let me just say this was all parentally supervised and we personally double checked every weapon to make sure it was unloaded and the ladies were all very responsible in their handling. And another note also for you city dwellers out there who might not be used to this ... remember these are country gals - farmers and hunters, where guns are still a regular part of life.]

These turned out to be amongst the girls favorite pictures of the day!

Sydney had been telling us that evening about how she hunts elk with her father, Tom, and so we had her put on her bright orange, rabbit fur lined hunting cap and jacket. I don't think I've ever seen a more adorable hunter!

By this time, the sun was well and truly down, but we hadn't had the chance to photograph Juliet in our traveling studio, so we dragged her over (well, that's an exaggeration as she didn't put up any sort of a protest ... she was all for it!). I know I mentioned earlier that Juliet made our job easy ... but I just have to say it again. There's something about her that is very pleasing to photograph. She's a very nice young woman - funny, very polite and easy to talk to. But put her in front of a camera and something more shines through that you don't necessarily see when just speaking with her. I don't know how to describe it. She's just a pleasure to photograph. We're supposed to do her Senior portraits and I'm really looking forward to it.

Finally, we ended our photography for the night - it was so dark I was guessing on my focus and counting on my depth of field to carry me through.

After we tore down, we were invited to stay for dinner - steak and shrimp. The steak was home grown, his name was Bubba, and he tasted GREAT. Really very good. The company was a real pleasure. As we were tearing down, it was great to watch the girls and family gathered around my laptop in their house laughing and pointing out the images they liked.

Jason and I had a really memorable evening with a group we now consider friends. I hope to photograph for them and enjoy their company many times in the future. I've been told that Sydney and Morgan won't have anyone else for their Senior portrait photographer and, though I've got a year to wait for Sydney and two for Morgan, I'm looking forward to it already!

An unusual set of portraits.

Today, I got to do something that I've never done before, and I really enjoyed it.

Jason and I attended the Carmichael Invitational tournament as photographers ... but not in our normal capacity of photographing volleyball action and showing it on viewers for sale. Today, we attended as portrait photographers and had fun grabbing players and photographing them off of the court.

We brought out a gorgeous canvas backdrop, lights and set ourselves up a studio outdoors in a shady spot in the middle of a walkway between the two gyms.

During our setup, we met two very young ladies named Annie and Mary - we didn't know it at the time, but we would be spending the day with them! We asked them if they would help us test our lights and make sure we had everything going. Annie was happy to help and jumped right in front of the camera ...

Seeing that Annie made it through and plucking up her courage, Mary joined Annie ... and that started the fun!

After a while of being photographed with Annie, Mary wanted an chance for an image by herself.

Once these two got started, they didn't want to stop! They were two very funny and fun, bright young ladies that were a real pleasure to photograph.

After we had been photographing Annie and Mary for a while, I noticed some players from the Ripon HS team watching. I recognized them from club and called over, asking if anyone wanted pictures taken - three players jumped up immediately!

It was immediately obvious that I had some serious model material on my hands and that these ladies were experienced in front of the camera ...

Actually, all of that laughter and goofiness came from us asking them if they could show us a serious face. Have you ever asked a teenaged girl who ISN'T mad at you that question? It produces an amazing amount of laughter and giggles!

Finally though, they were able to pull it off ...

At this point, several more Ripon team members jumped in and well ... I really do mean JUMPED!

We did get everything settled down and get a few shots in (ladies, I haven't been able to prepare all of the portraits of Ripon, but here are what I have ready for you!) ...

After we were done photographing the ladies from Ripon, our new friends Annie and Mary wanted another go in front of the camera (notice how they joined the Ripon ladies too!). I haven't had time to prepare those images, but they were just as adorable as the ones above, believe me. These ladies were total hams! I had to limit the number of pictures we took, not only because - if we let them - they would have been in front of the camera all day, but because in spite of having brought all of our gear for this studio setup I made the bonehead mistake of only bringing a single CF card for storing images! Yikes!

After a bit, I went over and talked to a couple of ladies from the Colfax team, Samantha and Erica. Both super nice, they agreed to come on over.

By this time, we were more into the swing of having some fun with the lights and experimenting a bit. Samantha in particular got quite a bit of time in front of the camera - Erica was called away to do lines for a match, but - before she left - we got some great images of her ...

Samantha, it turns out, is just as much of a ham as Annie and Mary. Not only that, but she's taking photo in school, completely understood what we were talking about when we were working with the lights and she's a Hall like we are. She's also a total goofball - I like this girl!

Sam had beautiful red hair and stunning eyes and though this day was a day for black and white, I had to output a few in color:

Sam also had no problem with our serious face request - she pulled off the Nike advertisement look without a hitch.

After a bit, Sam ran off to get her friend and teammate Emily who jumped in front of the camera with her. Emily could totally pull off the serious look as well ...

Emily has several other images that turned out beautifully, but I haven't been able to prepare them for viewing yet - so don't forget to come back and check again Emily!

Emily and Samantha jumped in front of the camera for a few images with each other. I liked these ... we got a little serious and alot of fun!

After a bit, the girls had to go. Jason and I hung out and had a hotdog lunch, but by this time teams were leaving, meaning the remaining teams would all be helping referre or would be playing, no more potential subjects just hanging around, so we packed up to go.

Even though we were done taking pictures, Annie and Mary weren't done with us. They insisted on helping us pack up. Mary's strong! She picked up and carried two mats we use for keeping feet clean before they step onto our backgrounds. They are large, rubber welcome mats. That little gal lugged them about 50 yards to our car. She set them down several times, but she was dead set on getting them there. Annie helped carry one of our lights and some stands in a bag - also heavy. Then they went back two more times! They carried out more stand bags and our rolled canvas backdrop perched on their shoulders with one gal at each end. I was impressed - and it was very sweet of them to want to help.

[I didn't get to say goodbye to you Annie and Mary - thank you for hanging out with us, being such goofballs in front of the camera, helping us load up our gear and in general being wonderful people. We had a great time meeting you!]

All in all, Jason and I had a great day. I think we created some very nice images and helped make the tournament a bit more fun. We got a chance to try out some new equipment (the background) and spend a Saturday doing something a bit unusual.

I figure we'll surprise the JV girls this weekend with the same setup, unless we get rained out!

Let me know what you think of the images, I'd love to hear from you.

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Redcross Hometown Heroes

Recently we were asked if we would donate photography to the Red Cross Hometown Heroes recognition program. Via this program, locals who have stood out in their service to others are recognized. This year there was a postman who administered CPR to a 3 year old girl had stopped breathing during a seizure, a Placer County Deputy Sheriff who - racing ahead of the flames that caused so much damage off of HWY 49 in August - stayed in a neighborhood that was already burning to break into a home and save an elderly woman who could not walk quickly or well. There were the two construction workers who helped a man who was dying of cardiac arrest. There were the two administrators who didn't act in an emergency but rather put together a comprehensive package of information on how to handle an emergency and avoid one. Afterall, a disaster is simply an emergency which wasn't handled properly! There was the firefighter who saved a man from a burning car - she cut it open and pulled him out, and the Iraqi veteran who lost his life in the war. Finally, there was the little girl who wrote an essay on safety.

I had a lot of fun meeting these people and hearing their stories. It is heartening to know - with all of the doom and gloom shoved out by the press - that there are real people who are willing to act in an effort to save fellow human beings. Who can observe, decide and ACT to help resolve a situation, often without regard to their own condition or safety. I was happy to donate my time to a cause which recognizes good people in our society!

Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved Micheal Hall Photography