Best On-Location Shoot Ever!

June 12, 2014  •  Leave a Comment


I recently had the opportunity to take photos of my niece Chelsey. They were "senior photos" of sorts. She was graduating from college and her parents wanted to capture Chelsey and her twin brother Frank before they "flew the coop". As a parent myself, I know this will be both a happy and melancholy time.

Chelsey knew exactly where she wanted her photos taken. At the Target Field in downtown Minneapolis. Not just in the stadium during a game. Rather, on the field, in the dugout and on the players' steps.

This story goes back many years for Chelsey. She has always loved baseball. Being a twin, she and Frank played ball together from a young age. Chelsey played on the boys teams until high school when she had to switch. She not only held her own...she was very good! She continued to play in college and she volunteered as often as she could for baseball organizations including the Minnesota Twins. This Spring, Chelsey was offered an internship with the Minnesota Twins (she does fun things like create the questions about the ball players that display on the screens and operate the Fan Cam video camera). It was because of her internship that she was given permission to use the stadium for her on-location shoot.

Not only was it an opportunity of a lifetime for me, it was a reminder that location is critical to taking great photos. Locations that hold special meaning bring out genuine happiness and familiarity. If you have a portrait session coming up, think about locations that are important to you. Some other on-location shoots that I've enjoyed, because they've held special meaning to others, include Afton Apple Orchard, Lake Elmo Park Reserve and Lake Elmo Airport. Be creative. Game on!




Go ahead, Take a Selfie. It's an Official Word Now.

May 19, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

We've all done it. You know...taken a selfie and posted it to your favorite social site. Facebook, Instagram, maybe Snapchat. This week, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary added selfie and 150 other new words to its print and online versions. So exactly what is a selfie? It's "an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks." It doesn't seem like the word has been around for long, but its first use goes way back to 2002!

Selfies have taken on some criticism in recent months. While many people consider the selfie to be self-indulged and too "I focused", others say a selfie is a medium to help people, especially young women, see their beauty and self-worth in a very honest and visible way. Regardless, it captures the moment. How do you see it?

Oh...for the other new words added to the Dictionary, check out the following URL: I definitely learned a few things.

Quality Images Can Make the Difference in Building Your Small Business

May 09, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

According to the Digital Influence Index*, the Internet influences purchase decisions 66% of the time. How you are portrayed on your website is critical to helping people connect with you and feel comfortable with your business.

Do you have high quality images on your website? Website usability studies show that consumers see value in the images that contain relevant information - such as images that show goods or services, or real people in the business.

Here are a few businesses where great photography of your work is critical:

  • Home builders and remodelers
  • Interior design
  • Real estate
  • Hair salons

When what you're selling is "you", make sure you feel comfortable with your personal brand. A personal brand is not what you say about yourself. It is a collection of perceptions or emotions that others have about you. The good news is that you can help influence this with high quality images of yourself and your location that can be used in websites and other marketing.

Personal brand is especially critical to the following roles:

  • Financial advisors
  • Insurance agents
  • Dentists
  • Other independent professionals

Headshots through a professional photographer are relatively low cost. They are a small investment that can pay big dividends.

* Source: Fleishman-Hillard and Harris Digital Influence Index, 2012



Must-do's for Great Graduation Ceremony Photos

April 23, 2014  •  1 Comment

Lots of graduation ceremonies are coming up: U of M 5/2-5/19, University of St. Thomas 5/24, East Ridge High School 5/31, Park High School 5/31, Woodbury High School 6/1. And many more around the cities!

Taking great photos during and after commencement can be a challenge. Lighting is often poor and there is usually lots of excitement/chaos. And, you may have literally a second to capture the perfect moment. 

Here are some tips for taking graduation ceremony photos that will be the envy of your friends.

Planning for the Day:

  1. If the graduation ceremony is held in a larger facility, pick a meeting place after the ceremony that will work well for a photo background. For instance, meet by a landscaped area or by a structure that has architectural design, not by the exit doors or in a designated area of the parking lot.
  2. Know your graduate's logistics. Ask: which side the graduate will enter from, where they are in the line or who they follow, where they'll sit. Make sure you're seated in a location where you can capture their every moment.
  3. Capture candid shots of your graduate, their friends and their favorite teachers when they walk in. These are often the most genuine smiles.
  4. Practice the diploma shot before it's your graduate's turn. You should have at least a few people (or maybe a few hundred people!) to practice on before your graduate takes the stage.
  5. Don't forget to capture the "traditional" photo of the graduate holding their diploma. Sounds obvious...but it is easily forgotten when the graduate is busy hugging family and celebrating with friends.

Technical Tips:

  1. When inside, avoid using a flash. The flash usually isn't big enough for the venue and it will darken the ambient light in the photo. If you can, increase the ISO setting number which will increase the sensitivity of the camera's sensor. In photography, ISO refers to how sensitive the camera's sensor is to light. Most digital cameras allow you to adjust this sensitivity.
  2. When outside, if there is bright sun, find a shady place and use a fill flash (turn the flash on so it fires on every picture until you change the flash setting back to auto).
  3. To capture caps being thrown in the air, use the burst mode to take multiple photos. For a clear photo, focus on high shutter speed of at least 250. If your camera has time value setting/shutter speed priority, use it. This will set the priority on the shutter speed and automatically adjust the aperture. Use an ISO of no higher than 800 for sharp images.
  4. If the above tips appear a little overwhelming, go out and practice capturing images using different settings. Digital photography provides immediate results.

Enjoy the moment and capture as many awesome photos as possible! Many of these photos will be treasured in the future.

Do you have lessons learned or other tips? Click on Leave a Comment to share your thoughts and/or tips.


Top 5 Uses for High School Senior Photos…Beyond The Yearbook

April 10, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Many high school seniors schedule their senior photos around the school’s yearbook deadline. Nowadays, photos are used for so much more than the yearbook. Didn’t get the session in before the yearbook deadline? No worries. There still are plenty of opportunities to get the value out of your photo session.

Top 5 Uses for High School Senior Photos…Beyond The Yearbook:

  1. Exchanging photos with friends: Seniors hand out an average of 150 photos to friends.
  2. Graduation: Photos are a critical element of graduation announcements and Open House invites. And don’t forget the Open House photo boards and digital slide shows.
  3. Digital Capture For Social Media: One of the first things seniors do when they get their photos is share them on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
  4. College: Most college freshman need portrait photos for college hallway collages, badges and dorm decorations.
  5. Home: Parents cherish high school senior photos. These same photos help parents in their own transition, as children move on to college and beyond.

Contact Todd Wildenauer at 612-859-3568 if you would like to book a senior portrait session.



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