Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What are you waiting for?

There’s a recurring theme when I speak with women about booking a session (be it family or glamour) and it is, “oh, I’d love to have photos but I’d like to {fill in the blank} first’.  The most common hesitation is with regard to weight and I am here to tell you that you are beautiful, right now, today!

In a few days it will be 15 years since my mom’s death and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and miss her.  My mom was BEAUTIFUL…her smile and the sparkle in her eyes brightened any room she was in.  She was generous beyond measure and stubborn and kind and loyal and an honest-to-goodness poster child for her Zodiac sign of Cancer!  She also struggled with her weight.  I believe that because of her insecurity about her weight she never pursued us having family portraits and, in large part, the only images that exist of her are snapshots.  I can’t tell you how much I wish we had professional portraits done before she was ill, before she was gone. 

A photographer ‘friend’ (we’ve never met in person but I think he’s the coolest!), Edward Verosky, published an article last year (http://www.edverosky.net/blog/2011/03/an-important-time-to-be-a-photographer/) in which he wrote about a conversation he’d had with a salesman at a large photography store in NYC.  Their conversation centred around the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and its impact with regard to photography.  The salesman said this, More people wanted cameras, and I think it had something to do with the fact that they started thinking about how things around you might not always be there.”  And, man, was he right… the people we love, the legs we have today, and the city skyline we grew up with are all transient and we cannot know how long we will have them for.

I recently saw a greeting card that read, “All I want for my 40th is my 25 year old body”.  Isn’t it true that we are so critical of ourselves, on a daily basis, that we don’t spend enough time (if any) relishing in how great we look, how wonderful we feel, how our hair is softer now that we’ve discovered Moroccan Oil :), how much energy we have, how grateful we are for our health, and the list of today’s blessings goes on and on.   Why do we wait for comparisons to the past in order to realize today’s fortunes?

I know firsthand that a woman wants to get ‘prepared’ for a photo session, especially a glamour or boudoir session, and it makes sense.  I also think that the preparations for a beauty shoot can do wonders for us…it made me more conscious of what I was eating, it motivated me to drink more water, I have never been as disciplined with my workouts as I was leading up to my own boudoir shoot, and I felt like I was demonstrating a wonderful example to my children about finding balance in life and not always putting ourselves, as moms/wives/employees, at the bottom of the list.  We are important, and we need to value our own health, wellbeing, and happiness and, in so doing, we better the lives of everyone around us.  What I don’t believe in is setting unrealistic goals (for instance, "I will do a portrait sitting as soon as I have Elle McPherson's body!") that you feel must be achieved before gifting yourself, and your loved ones, with images of the beautiful woman you are today.

So, for every woman reading this…don’t put off recording your life’s story because of how you think you should look; hire a professional photographer, who knows what equipment, lighting, and posing to employ in accentuating your unique and innate beauty, and celebrate who you are TODAY…trust me, the experience and resulting images will be treasured!

Life is beautiful!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Session in the Park

I had the absolute pleasure of photographing a family session in the park this week...I first met this family when the dad coached the t-ball team that my kids were on this past spring and we then quickly discovered that our kids attend the same school!  They are kind, warm hearted, fun, generous people and their son is an absolute character!  

I am thrilled with the images we captured...these are all unedited images that I think are just perfect - beautiful people, beautiful light, and beautiful setting!  The following are a few of my favourites from the evening...

© Bella Faccia Inc. 
© Bella Faccia Inc.  
© Bella Faccia Inc. 

© Bella Faccia Inc. 

© Bella Faccia Inc. 

© Bella Faccia Inc. 
It was fun to step out of the studio for this...variety in business (and life) is wonderful!

Life is beautiful!


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Land of Enchantment

In May 2001 my then-boyfriend and I travelled from White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico up to the Four Corners with many stops along the way.  We fell in love with the culture, art, diverse landscape, adobe architecture, history, and the phenomenally blue skies!

Flash forward to May 2012 when my now-husband and I re-visited our favourite state to celebrate our tenth anniversary.  There were things that had changed but, in large part, the Land of Enchantment remained, to us, as captivating as ever.

This first image is a portrait of Fabiola...we were stopped roadside so that I could photograph the ruins of what we would discover was a Christian settlement.  There was a sign asking that you not proceed past the fence, and I was respectful of their wishes (albeit sad).  I was just about done when a beat up truck pulled up and Fabiola emerged.  She was sweet, well spoken, and happy to see people interested in the history of the place.  In a past life Fabiola was an archaeologist who lived in all corners of the globe, eventually marrying a professor and settling in her home state of New Mexico.   Fabiola gave us an 'inside the fence' tour of the ruins and, reluctantly, allowed me to take only two photos.  She told us the best place nearby to eat, directed us to the Three Crosses in Abiquiu made famous by Georgia O'Keefe, and, without question, added something magical to our road trip.  I will never forget our friend or the unexpected adventure of that afternoon.

© Bella Faccia Inc All Rights Reserved
Fabiola, near Abiquiu, NM
Our son is an avid dinosaur fanatic (his hero, since before he was three, has been Dr. Jack Horner!) and so when he discovered we were headed to NM he asked if we could visit Ghost Ranch, made famous in the paleontological world due to a number of significant discoveries.  Many of Georgia O'Keefe's works were inspired in and around Ghost Ranch, where she lived during 1934.  It was our pleasure to take the 'scenic route' between Santa Fe and Taos so that we could say, for our son, 'we were there!'
© Bella Faccia Inc All Rights Reserved
Ghost Ranch, NM
On our first trip we spent a night at Ranchos de Taos and enjoyed a sunny afternoon at the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church.  This church has been photographed from all angles by photographers of all abilities, including the exceedingly talented Ansel Adams.  It is a magical place and we planned our trip so that I could be there to photograph the church and it's surroundings in the evening and again in the early morning light.  This image was taken very late in the evening and I was getting ready to leave (we were hungry and my husband was getting bored!) when I noticed that a slice of late-day sun was illuminating this beautiful statue.
© Bella Faccia Inc All Rights Reserved
San Francisco de Asis Mission Church at Ranchos de Taos, NM
The next morning I got up before dawn to beat the light (and the people) at this little church.  It was so serene and, although not a religious person, I couldn't help but feel the love emanating from years of the faithful worshippers.  I feel so grateful to have had the unique opportunity to revisit this place that I have dreamt of since that first trip 11 years ago.

© Bella Faccia Inc All Rights Reserved
San Francisco de Asis Mission Church at Ranchos de Taos, NM
New Mexico...I am sure I will see you again and in the meantime I will remember you fondly through my images and memories.

Life - and New Mexico - are beautiful!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Namaste, Room to Read!

Today I volunteered in my daughter’s kindergarten class…during the three hours we were there she participated in reading, played educational games, practiced math, spent time outside, socialized, was aided in problem solving, and spoke in both her native English and in her new language of Spanish.

My kids, like their parents, are blessed to live in a place that not only values education, but values education for all kids – boys AND GIRLS!

On June 16, 2012, my son, daughter, and I attended ‘Namaste India’.  ‘Namaste India’ was a global fundraising initiative by and for Room to Read.  The goal was to raise enough money to fund at least 150 young girls in the Room to Read Girls’ Education Program; by early estimates they have exceeded their goal - an awesome outcome regardless and especially considering this was the first time for the event!

Namaste India Global Yoga Day included, across 5 continents, 108 participating yoga studios, individual teachers, and yogis who pulled up a mat in honour of the initiative!  Here, in Calgary, Cori Everett, of Soul Health, graciously and generously donated a yoga class to which everyone - men, women, and children, the practiced and the not so practiced - were welcomed. 

My sister, Lisa Amonson, is Calgary Chapter Leader for Room to Read and, while we were wrapping up our yoga session, she spoke to us, and in particular to the many kids present, about what it means to walk into a library and HAVE BOOKS, what it means to know that you may attend school each day regardless of your genes, and also how it feels to help those who are in much different and harder circumstances than we are.  It was very moving and I will take a brief moment now to say that I think my sister is awesome and I applaud her generous spirit, her intelligent mind, and her willingness to go far beyond what most of us do in the name of another...Lisa inspires me and my family in countless ways.

Calgary Chapter raised, at last count, $1,285!!  WOW!  It is so inspiring when people can come together to consciously change another’s life.  It is also very rewarding to give to a charity that has meaningful accolades, beyond the idealism of what they are trying to do…

Room to Read has, in Africa and Asia:

·      Provided access to education for more than 6 million children since 2000
·      Established 1,592 schools and 13,170 libraries
·      Published 700+ books in 27 local languages (representing 7.2 million books!)
·      Distributed more than 10 million books including original Room to Read titles, donated English and local-language books
·      Supported 13,160 girls through the Girls’ Education Program


·      Room to Read was recognized in Barron’s magazine “25 Best Givers” list (2009 and 2010) and the Global Journal’s “Top 100 NGOs in the World (2012)
·      They were awarded Charity Navigator’s highest 4-star rating for sound fiscal management five years in a row – a recognition that only 6% of their rated charities can claim!
·      And more….!

On a Room to Read ‘Quick Fact Sheet’, they say:

“ Room to Read focuses on girls transitioning to secondary school because that is where the biggest – and most permanent – gaps in gender equality in education take place.  We do this primarily through supporting girls to attend school, providing female mentoring, and creating more girl-friendly school environments.  We have recently added more emphasis on teaching life skills to girls so they will finish school ready to make informed life decisions.”

I know this post has absolutely nothing to do with photography (outside of my pictures from the event), but: it was written by a gal who has had all the chances in the world; someone who has happily travelled to a great many places on the planet; an individual who gets to follow her dreams BECAUSE of an upbringing that endowed her with education, support, and encouragement; and finally, by a person who wants our world to be more understanding, with greater equality, and in which the girls of Asia and Africa are able to provide their intelligence and skills to their own families first, then their communities, and ultimately to our world. 

I am of the absolute belief that educating the world’s children and, in particular, giving an extra hand to girls is critical to our future.  I encourage you to look into Room to Read and hopefully you too will consider it a charity worthy of your hard earned dollars.

Room to Read links:

To find out more, please email: info@roomtoread.org

Soul Health Yoga Studio - Cori Everett:
* Cori is in the midst of a website rehaul (and any small business owner knows that website updates     are tough and time consuming!); please know that she is ‘one of the good guys’…a terrific yoga instructor and a wonderful human being!

Life – and education – are beautiful!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Switching things up...

This past weekend I had the pleasure of working with Candace M.; a successful fitness model/competitor.  I first met Candace last January on a charitable project we were both involved with and I was thrilled when she called to book a session with Bella Faccia.

In discussing the shoot, we decided to experiment with her look a little - unlike most of my clientele, Candace is in front of the camera pretty often as part of her modelling and competing and so switching things up was an easy decision for her!  We thought it would be good to add some softer images to her portfolio and we were both excited to have her don a wig!  She's naturally beautiful, is in amazing shape, and I love the images we made together.  Here are a few from the shoot...

Copyright Bella Faccia Inc. 2012  All Rights Reserved
HMUA: Blush Hair and Makeup
Copyright Bella Faccia Inc. 2012  All Rights Reserved
HMUA: Blush Hair and Makeup

Life is beautiful!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Working Woman to Glamour Goddess!

I recently attended a photography seminar in which the photographer told us that she has a Before & After gallery…and I immediately thought, ‘amazing idea!’

You may wonder why I think this is such a great idea…

One of the reasons I find myself so drawn to working with women is because I personally know how incredibly empowering the experience of a glamour/boudoir/fine art nude shoot can and should be.  Most of us live our lives at a relatively quick pace: rushing from work to home, squeezing in getting groceries, remembering that it’s pajama day at ballet (comes to mind because I forgot this year :(  ), keeping the kids/dogs/husbands fed and in clean clothes, staying in touch with friends and family, and the list goes on and on.  Many of my friends are able to fit in a trip to the salon once in a while and maybe even a workout or two a week, but most are busy enough that the time they spend on themselves is very limited.  <Enter Bella Faccia!>  Imagine showing up for your session, in your jeans and tee, un-styled hair, no makeup…and then being pampered as the hair and makeup artist helps accentuate your inherent beauty followed by a session of us capturing you at your most glamorous!  This experience, in my opinion, has very little to do with ego (although, being honest, what woman doesn't secretly want a shot where she looks smokin' hot!) and everything to do with re-establishing your belief that you are important, beautiful, valued, and worth time and effort toward feeling healthy and strong on a daily basis.

Bella Faccia Studio...chilled champagne and fresh strawberries awaiting my client's arrival
The other reason I believe this gallery is important is because I think many of you may look at images on my site, and others', and think: ‘that is an unattainable goal’, or ‘they must be models’, or ‘I live in Lulu Lemon, I don’t ‘fit’ the part’…enter the Before & After gallery in which you will see women who could be your neighbour, your co-worker, your best friend, your sister, your mother, your xyz!  The Before & After gallery is where you will see women who are just like you! 

It is my intention, with the ‘Before & After’ gallery, to show my clients, who arrive in their daily uniform and from their hectic lives, and who then leave as the sexy, strong, independent, and empowered women they always were but may have neglected or forgotten amidst all of life’s other commitments.  This experience should be fun and relaxing; and, I hope, it also provides a deeper sense of self-worth and a reminder that we must stop putting ourselves at the bottom of the list.

Note: participation in the Before & After gallery is something I request; it is not obligatory in any way!  That said, most of my clients are pretty thrilled with their transformations and are happy to share so that other women will see how amazing the experience will be!

Life is beautiful!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012


When I was 15 I had the opportunity to participate in an exchange program to Natal, Brazil.  It was the beginning of what has been a lifelong love affair…with the country, its culture, and, ESPECIALLY, its people!

I have now had the absolute privilege of travelling to Brazil three times, with a cumulative time spent there of about a year and a half.  Even though it has been years since my last adventure to this colorful, vivacious, and welcoming land; the memories and my friendships made on all three trips continue to be as cherished today as they were 20 odd years ago (no need for detailed math here I figure! ;) !).

That first trip, before I’d even turned 16, planted a seed for me: that worldly experiences benefit young people in ways that are hard to quantify or qualify, but that undoubtedly have lifelong impacts on how we view the world and its inhabitants; regardless of colour, religion, or culture.  I believe that if every young person were given the opportunity to live, learn, and love in another country, our global society would be much healthier, more forgiving, and more accepting resulting in an even more wonderful world. 

Tomorrow my family will welcome Joao Paulo Gil Cavalcanti to our home for the coming few months.  Joao Paulo is my Brazilian nephew, by way of being grandson of the wonderful couple who hosted me for nearly all my time in Brazil, and he is now 19 (gasp, time flies!).  JP will be attending an intensive English course while here, amidst having the adventure of being an international traveler, as he prepares to begin his University career.

Photos 1 & 2: Me & JP at my farewell party in 1994
Photo 3: JP & Vovo Teca (his Great Grandma & a woman who
showed me consistent kindness)
While this post isn’t photography related; it does speak to what I hope for Bella Faccia to represent: admiration of beauty in its myriad forms, love of life, fun, music, memories, commitment, trust, family, and friendship. Brazil will always be an important part of who I am and I sincerely hope to provide a similar learning/growing opportunity to Joao Paulo.

Life is beautiful!


Monday, April 2, 2012

TomAto / Tom-ah-to

Over the past few months, as I’ve contemplated Bella Faccia’s move to specialize in women, I have been a little overwhelmed with what terminology to use.  For some the word ‘boudoir’ has significant connotations (not all good!), for others ‘glamour’ spurs thoughts of the’80s, and then there is ‘contemporary portraiture’, which I love but seems to leave people perplexed with what it actually means.

Whatever words you or I choose; I hope that you will see Bella Faccia’s portraits of women and girls as: beautiful, strong, elegant, alluringfun, sweetsexy (when appropriate!), and a visual testament to how amazing my subjects truly are. 

My absolute goal is to provide stunning images from a wonderful, empowering, and memorable shoot with Bella Faccia – no matter what ya’ call it!

Life is beautiful!


HMUA & Modelling: Talyn Stone

Saturday, March 31, 2012

My Girly Favourites: Old & New

One of the things I most enjoy about being a girl is the multitude of great products on the market; however, the sheer volume of choices is a little daunting…that’s where girlfriends come in!  These are a few favourites of mine that help me feel a little more beautiful, a little more ‘put-together’, and even a little sexier!

Hanky Panky…my girlfriend introduced me to this line of intimates about 6 years ago and I’ve never looked back!  They are pricey, but SO WORTH IT!  No panty lines, heck, it doesn’t even feel like you have underwear on at all!  This is my all time fave girly product, no question!

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion…in fairness I haven’t given many others a try, but why would I when this primer is amazing!  Your eye shadows will be more vibrant and will have better staying power…your eyes will still look picture perfect long after your day (or shoot!) is done!

St Tropez Bronzing Mousse…love, love, love this self-tanning mousse!  It's easy to apply - no streaks and no mess (just make sure to exfoliate well first and do buy the application glove, it really helps and washes well for use again & again).  This product will leave you looking that beautiful golden-brown that we crave without the risks associated with lying in the sun (and us gals in the colder climates can have a subtle glow ALL YEAR LONG – hooray!)

BB Cream…my newest find and I’m pretty impressed so far!  I will say that, although it’s on this list, it isn’t a fave yet as it is still too new to me; however, I am really likin’ it and wanted to let you know about this huge trend that is just now arriving in North America.  Depending on the source, BB either means Blemish Balm or Beauty Balm; the trend started in Asia, where they are widely referred to as Blemish Balms but it would seem that the European & N.A. marketing agencies have creatively changed that first "B" to “Beauty”!  Wikipedia has this to say, “...and some newer ones are advertised as having functions of primer, foundation, moisturizer, sun block, pore minimization and skin refining together, making them an economic skin care solution”.  I’ve never worn foundation as an everyday product, but BB cream gives you that terrific base while being really light. 

Life is beautiful! 


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What do you 'Major' in?

Do you remember when you were finishing high school and the whole world seemed open to you?  I remember feeling such power and excitement with the tremendous opportunities that I knew were out there waiting for me!  I also remember feeling utter fear and anxiety knowing how many opportunities were out there, waiting for me.  How does a person know what the right path is?  How can you know, deep in your soul, that you have a calling to do one, very specific thing?  Truth is I think the majority can relate to my experience and a very lucky few know exactly what they want.

I’ve always known that I wanted to be in a service oriented role…that is the schooling I pursued, and every job I’ve ever had has centered around it.  I’ve enjoyed every employ I’ve had, but they’ve never felt like ‘me’.  I never was passionate about admin, or HR, or sound masking.  I liked my roles but they didn’t fulfill me on a deeper level.

Photography has been a love of mine for nearly my entire life; it was such an early interest that my pop, whom also loved taking pictures, gifted me with an Ansco Kadet camera when I was 6 or 7.  I’ve always been drawn to photography but I lacked the confidence, in myself and in my creativity, to truly pursue it.

After I’d had my two children, I slowly started to care less about failing and more about pursuing my interests and dreams.  My husband surprised me with my first digital SLR in October of 2007, and I knew it was time to get serious about learning the art and technical aspects of good photography.  I had cute babies to practice on and a yearning to find something of my own, amidst the chaos of motherhood and homemaking.

In 2009 I started Bella Faccia Photography (‘Bella Faccia’ is ‘Beautiful Face’ in Italian) and, with my stomach in knots, I told people that I was going to pursue photography professionally.  GULP.  Over the past four years I have completed my Certificate of Photography at SAIT, I’ve attended multiple workshops, seminars, lectures, and I’ve shot almost every type of portraiture job you can imagine.  It has been an amazing three years and I feel utterly blessed! 

As amazing as the past few years have been; I did feel a little lost.  Each client and job presented new challenges, which is great, but I tended to feel a little behind the eight ball.  I spent hours (days probably) agonizing over where to shoot the engagement pics, how to light the newborn, or how to eliminate the specular highlights on a ceramic apple…it’s been fun and I’ve learned A LOT, but I also felt like I was becoming a jack of all trades and master of none.  This isn’t to say that a person can’t be good at multiple genres, of course there are people who blow me away…but I have come to realize that I like feeling really well prepared.  I couldn’t put my finger on it but, in hindsight, I was ready to get out of General Studies and start Majoring in something.

In October of 2010, I shot a job that I then referred to as a ‘form shoot’ – it wasn’t boudoir, but I wasn’t sure exactly what it should be called.  I really enjoyed the process of working with one person, a woman, with whom I could direct, collaborate, laugh, joke, encourage…it was an amazing experience and what really solidified things for me was how happy my client was.  She ended up purchasing a 30x40 acrylic-mounted piece for her home…AWESOME!  I went on to shoot a few nude/nearly nude maternity sessions and was even more drawn to this genre, and this clientele.

In the fall of 2011 I began the process of building a home studio.  I wanted to have my own space: to shoot in, to practice in, to have a little gallery in, etc.  During this same time I really started to think seriously about shooting more women and then, recently, it dawned on me: I don’t have to be a generalist, I can pursue what I feel the most connected to.  I love every aspect of working one on one with women.  I love collaborating and I love the excitement in the room.  I love that there is music playing. I love that my client is feeling her most glamorous with her hair and makeup done.  I love that she is as committed as I am to getting GREAT shots.  I love that she has invested in herself for that day – no laundry, no fighting kids, just HER looking beautiful, playing 'cover girl' for the day! I just love the whole thing! 

I’ve blogged about my own experience posing for a nude shoot and how incredibly empowering the experience was – not just that day, but in a profound, life altering way.  I simply can’t imagine a better, more uplifting experience for a woman than to invest in herself…to beautify (spray tans are a pain in the ass but MAN do they make you feel like a million bucks), to feel encouraged to drink a little more water, to treat her skin a little better, to hold her shoulders back a little more and her head a little higher, to recognize that it’s a good thing to celebrate the ‘here and now’, and to know that the day, the experience, and the result are all about her innate beauty and strength.   Ladies, I am speaking to you and it ain’t about my own marketing…this is a tremendous gift to yourself and, whether it’s with me or another, you should do this for yourself, right now.

 HMUA: Jyoti Purba, BLUSH                          Copyright Bella Faccia Inc. 2012

This past Friday was my inaugural shoot in the studio.  It was a thrill for me on so many levels but this blog post is already long enough!  Sufficed to say that I was elated, this morning, to receive this text from my studio’s inaugural client after she’d viewed her private, on-line gallery:

…Who is that girl?  Those pictures are awesome!!!  Thank you for making me look ‘hot’.  There are so many that shocked me (in a good way!).  I’ll have a hard time picking.  The poses were awesome, the lighting was perfect and the fan had high impact.  You are very talented.  I’m so thankful you were there with me during the entire process from idea inception to the shoot.  I’m so glad I did it!

So, here we are…I have officially announced my ‘Major’ and I couldn’t feel any more delighted.

Life is beautiful!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

PPSOP Newsletter Featuring Yours Truly!

Late this week I received an email from Chris Hurtt, over at PPSOP (Perfect Picture School of Photography), saying that they wanted to include me as their featured photographer/student in their weekly mail out!  Super exciting, humbling, nerve wracking...

Anyone can sign up for PPSOP's weekly newsletter at their home page, www.ppsop.com, which includes photography tips and tricks from the varied and talented photogs teaching at PPSOP (if you like photography at all I would highly recommend this newsletter!).  Because I have a number of people in my life who are interested in me and my career but who aren't that into photography; I thought I would post what was included in the PPSOP email here... 

Open Quote:
"As we do every Friday...it is time for a look at some student work and share some of their words about PPSOP.  This week we look at the work of Lori Maloney.  Lori started out as a workshop student and then stepped into PPSOP classes from there. To be honest, her energy level was hard to keep up with...but the great thing about it was that it was contagious in the classroom!  We have been thrilled to watch Lori grow her business (www.bellafaccia.ca ) and humbled that she counts PPSOP as part of her growth.   Lori's business is based in Calgary, Canada."

I have had a life long passion for photography, but it was in 2007 that I began to truly dedicate myself to understanding photography.  This was around the time that I purchased “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson.  This book taught me more than any other sole resource to that point (and I believe this still to be true if you don’t count being on a workshop with him!) and I was, as most people are, rather in awe of Mr. Peterson and his manner of making the technical seem easy!

In October of 2009 I decided to ‘hang a shingle’ and Bella Faccia Photography was born!  I love working with people and so I knew that providing portrait photography would be a perfect fit!  In the spring of 2010 I discovered that Bryan would be teaching a workshop in Edmonton, which is only a few hours drive away for me.  Due to an unforeseen set of circumstances Bryan was unable to teach the first two days of the workshop and so asked Chris Hurtt to attend in his place and then also extended the workshop by a day.  So, four days with two AMAZING and GIFTED instructors of photography…it was the best and most valuable workshop I’ve ever attended! 

Two of the things that I most appreciate, both in the workshops and in the PPSOP classes, are the camaraderie and learning you share with the other students.  It feels like a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience, only it needn’t be…I love attending Bryan’s workshops and the variety and depth of the PPSOP classes all contribute to strengthening the foundation I’ve put so much effort into building over the past 5 years.

Through Bella Faccia I have shot: engagements, weddings, maternity, newborns, babies, toddlers, families, a product shoot for a friend/entrepreneur, boudoir, fine art nude, and last month I was the chosen photographer for a charity calendar featuring fitness models and Harley Davidson motorcycles!  I have also sold my fine art pieces, landscape and abstract, for people to hang in their homes and offices (a huge compliment and thrill!). 

Flash forward to today when I am in the midst of building a studio in our home so that I may more easily pursue my love of portraiture AND studio lighting!  I feel so lucky to be where I am, and even more fortunate that my two young children are witnessing their mom not only pursue her dreams but also that they are privy to the effort and commitment it takes to build a business and provide, what I hope is, exemplary customer service.

I am continually challenged: to better my knowledge of my gear and the art of photography; of how to offer and package my services; and to better understand ‘where I fit’ in the world of professional photography.  I am also continually amazed at the inspiration and support from the PPSOP family; I read the PPSOP weekly tips as soon as they arrive in my in box and they provide an immeasurable amount of creative ideas coupled with technical skill.

I so appreciate and am humbled by the decision to feature my work here…I owe Bryan, Chris, and all the PPSOP instructors for being such gracious and talented teachers and artists!"

: End Quote

I tell ya' the last few years have been one helluva ride and it just keeps getting better!

Life is great!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Having Fun Requires Trust

This post, to be the last installment in this series of “Going Beyond Code”, centres on something I’ve written about in earlier blog entries...trust.

It is my firm belief that trust forms not only one aspect of a professional being able to go ‘beyond meeting code’, it, in fact, may be the most important aspect.  As a photographer I have worked with brand new babies who are only days old, I have photographed conservative and modest women with nothing between their natural beauty and my lens, and I have been given the opportunity to document “I do’s”…none of these projects would have been possible without my clients’ trust in me:  trust that I could ‘deliver’ as a photographer, as a professional, and as a human being.  I take great pride in my client’s trust in me, and I also place a heavy weight on said trust – I promise to always do my best in my preparation for the shoot, in my gear choices, in my attitude toward my subjects, in my commitment to getting great images, in my delivery of the proof gallery and the retouching of subsequent prints, and in everything in between. 

If you are looking for a professional photographer I encourage you to find someone who has a photographic eye that appeals to you; I hope you will meet with them to determine if you share a rapport (photo shoots are a lot of fun, you should be able to laugh and feel at ease while ‘under the lights’!); and find a professional whom you believe will deliver to you the experience you are looking for (hiring a great shooter who notoriously takes forever to return phone calls or provide your order may or may not fit the bill for you – hey, we all have our own pet peeves and expectations!)

I truly believe that every aspect I’ve written about over these past few weeks is important in the services I am offering; however, I think that trust is likely the pinnacle of what is required in exceeding expectations – in life and business.

© Bella Faccia 2011
So, make an investment in yourself and your family…document this special time in your life, and it is special as you will never be ‘here’ again; go outside your comfort zone and be rewarded with a truly liberating gift to yourself; and, above all else, HAVE FUN! 

Life is great!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Cost of Professional Pixels

When I wrote “Beyond ‘Meeting Code’” a few weeks back I mentioned hearing people lament the prices charged by professional photographers.  I think that, likely, the vast majority of people who think the rates are too high have simply: never been provided with the reasoning behind the pricing or, more likely, have never given it any thorough thought.

Over the course of just this past year I have, among other things: attended a few multiple-day workshops; completed an on-line photography course; spent many hours looking at on-line Photoshop tutorials; bought books on Photoshop, Lightroom, and lighting techniques; added studio equipment; paid annual membership dues; begun work on my new home studio; and more.  In short, I have put a considerable amount of money and time toward bettering my skills and set-up so that I may continually improve the product I am providing my clients.

In any business the push to exceed clients’ expectations has to come from the person/people running the business.  However, in order for business owners to continually improve their skill set, equipment, software and products available, so that they can exceed those expectations, they require more than good intentions, they require revenue AND profit.  

I was once chatting about my business with an acquaintance, who is actually a lovely person; she congratulated me for having such an easy job, that it was “easy money”…she expressed her feelings of apparent awe that I was making the full session price for just one hour of work.  She meant no harm, but she was terribly mistaken as, at that time, with business start up costs (which I am still trying to recover), I was actually paying to work!

It seems some people think, ‘well, she has a camera, she loves photography, and it’s only an hour or two of her time; what’s the big deal?’  However, those people neglect to think of, or value, photography as a business with inherent business costs (license, software, hardware, education, marketing, etc.), equipment costs, and the professional’s time spent working on the job. 

I have worked out my time on a couple of typical jobs to give you an idea of the time spent on any given project and you may be surprised to learn that, as an estimate, the client only sees about 15% of the working time that I will put into their final product (outside of the time spent shooting the session, I must: ready my gear, sometimes buy/rent props or equipment, prepare the studio, review and cull images, prepare the on-line gallery, and work on the final edits).  Therefore, if I spend 3 hours on a newborn shoot, the entire project will likely take in the range of 20 hours.  Also note that I haven’t included the time spent on everything else that goes into having a business; for instance, I recently implemented a new back up/storage system and, due to a glitch between the software and hardware, I invested nearly 40 hours trying to ensure my backups and storage were safe.  Now these times may be different for other photographers; for instance a more seasoned retoucher may spend much less time on edits, but I can only speak from my own experience.

Now, I will say that I don’t necessarily think that only a professional photog’s pictures are ‘worthy’ heirlooms; I am first and foremost a lover of images, regardless of who took them or how they were recorded (I recently became addicted to iPhoneography!).  What I am trying to communicate is that, if you choose to hire a professional photographer - who has invested in providing you with an experience and images of a professional quality, and you wish to have a more personal experience than you would in a huge studio - I’d like for you to consider that the pricing, for the session and prints, must cover the expenses and then, hopefully, there is also a profit.  You can love what you do, but you also have to eat!

I began this little series of posts based on the idea of going beyond meeting the requirement, and I passionately believe in doing that in business and in life.  I also believe in simple economics and so if you aren’t making a profit after the start-up years, then you aren’t in business, rather you just have a really expensive hobby.

I hope that this post has effectively communicated two things: that I love what I do (otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it!), and that it costs money to do what I do.  I will continue to strive to exceed both my clients and my own expectations.

Life is great!


Friday, February 3, 2012

Retouching...yes, please!

This is the second post in this series; see "Beyond 'Meeting Code'' to read the 'introduction'....not obligatory, obviously :), but does set the stage for this, as intros do!

Sometimes it seems as though people consider ‘retouching’ a bad word, that it is somehow dishonest.  Other times, it seems as though people believe it is an expected, required, included, and easy aspect to portraiture.  The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle (except for the ‘easy’ part!), and will depend heavily on you, the client, and on the photographer you choose (that is IF you choose a professional photographer)!

So, is it ‘bad’?  I sure don’t think so and, in fact, I believe it is one of the aspects (read: values) that separates a professional portrait from one that isn’t.  I love that we, as professionals, can make YOU look more like YOU.  I know that when I remember my kids as wee ones, I don’t remember the drool on their chins or the porridge on their t’s; I remember my son’s big brown eyes and how my daughter’s smile reminds me of my pop’s.  So, when I am given the privilege of photographing someone – young, old, clothed or not, I want their final image to look just like them, on their very best day, as their loved ones see them.  I saw Scott Kelby (a Photoshop god) speak last spring and he said something akin to, “when you look at your betrothed on your wedding day you don’t see the pimple on their nose, so why should the photos remind you, and future generations, it was there?”…and I totally agree!

Sometimes people speak of retouching as though it is always robust in nature, but the truth is that only slight adjustments are typically necessary and it’s usually simple enhancements.  Sometimes, when I’m shooting on a dark backdrop, I will darken it further in Photoshop to render an even more compelling image of the subject.  Sometimes the light happens to hit my subject’s face in such a way as to cause some sheen…the photo is beautiful, they look terrific, but that darned shine in distracting – so, I just get rid of it.  In that moment I am not altering who they are or how they look, I’m providing an image that hopefully speaks to the ‘there and then’ for them, without distractions.  Other times I might have a little guy who is happy, newly sitting on his own, and loving the attention he’s getting in the studio…we capture amazing shots but he’s teething and the drool just won’t stop.  His parents don’t want snapshots – they can do that at home and they will be adorable and loved images – they come to me, or another, because they want images to hang on their walls.  In these instances there might be a little extra editing to make sure his personality is what attracts the viewer, not the shiny chin or wet shirt!  Then there are other times that I am photographing a maternity portrait or a fine art nude and for these I believe in spending extra time on the image as I know how it feels to be at your most vulnerable in front of the camera.  I know that when I posed for my session I absolutely wanted a little retouching!  My goal, as the photographer, is always to do the least amount possible while retouching those bothersome areas that we all have, and that are different for all of us.  I want for my clients to see their final image and only see how beautiful, handsome, young, vibrant, incredible they are!

Below you’ll see an image x2 of me taken by Bryan F. Peterson last year…thank you, Bryan, for allowing me to post this image unedited (probably harder for me, but still!).  I had worked really hard, through diet and exercise, prior to the shoot and I actually look at the unedited image and feel pretty darned good :)!  That said, this particular image was not a favourite of mine because of my expression…I chose it for this blog for three reasons: it shows my whole body (vs. the head shot in a later example); it is not too revealing; and because I don’t love that it looks as though I’m frowning.  So, what did I do…well, this isn’t a tutorial in Photoshop but, in short, I darkened the background, removed some pimples and some moles/freckles (many a constellation can be found on me!  While I waste not one second worrying about removing every last pimple, I chose to leave +/- half the beauty marks as they are a part of who I am and it would be funny to see me without any!), I lightened under my eyes, brightened my eyes and smile, did a little nip ‘n tuck on my love handles and thighs (shhhh!), minimized my belly button a little (moms, you understand!), lessened the veins in my hands and feet, got rid of my appendectomy scar, lessened the wrinkles/creases around my mouth, made it seem like less of a frown and more of a smile, and, finally, converted the image to B&W and toned it.  (Some of the listed touch ups will not be as obvious here, but on my screen and on a final print, they are.)  I think that the changes are very subtle and that, if I showed him, my husband would think it was untouched…and THAT is what we want!  This retouch took me a little over 1.5 hours.

Image by Bryan F. Peterson, shown here with permission; editing by me!
For comparison, below is, from L to R: unedited, edited in colour, edited in B&W with toning (I'm a big fan of both colour and B&W (and variations of B&W) and so I thought I'd show both here).

Image by Bryan F. Peterson, shown here with permission; edits by me!
PS Man, I wish my shoes were more obvious...they're AWESOME!
In the below example, we decided (well, I decided and the family just went along with it!), to do a Christmas card with a whole bunch of individual photos of the four of us, and our two furry kids.  The headshots were quite tight, therefore you can see every little imperfection – this is not what I want hanging on my friends’ fridges!  And so, on these, I spent a little extra time – so that I felt that I looked as good as I thought I had looked that day :)!  I brightened and widened my eyes (I have a big smile and my eyes have to shrink to make room for it!), I softened my complexion, I brightened the whites a little, and a few other little things that I feel bring the image to print-worthy.  This retouch took me just over an hour.

In both examples I hope I have demonstrated that with a little skill, the right tools, and the care and time to learn and practice, an image can go from being just fine to something beautiful.  My hope has always been, and continues to be, to learn and grow as a photographer (bettering my equipment, knowledge, skills, and ideas) so that I can exceed my client’s hopes.  My sincere hope is that, if you hire me or another, you feel you were rewarded with a portrait experience that went ‘beyond meeting code’!

Bryan F. Peterson is an acclaimed photographer, best selling author, and founder of The Perfect Picture School of Photography (www.ppsop.com), and I thank him for providing me a really wonderful experience during the shoot, for images that I love, and for being a mentor to me and countless others.

Stay tuned as there is at least one more post on this topic!

Life is great!


PS As stated in my last post…I chose to use images of myself so that no client of mine would be left feeling uncomfortable.  I always take a solid ‘gulp’ as I hit ‘post’, but I’d much rather me feel that discomfort than someone who has put their trust in me!