The Beauty of the Face and its Subtleties

My favorite thing about portrait photography is capturing the subtleties of the face. How micro expressions develop out of the smallest of movements and adjustments.

A little twitch, a minor change in posture, the smallest rise of the eyebrow can bring an image from ok to wow in a fraction of a heartbeat. This is beautiful. What landscape photographers possibly wait an hour or more for, those who capture people can attain in seconds. Now, of course in both instances the subjects have to cooperate and both could strike out and gain not a thing but one has control over their subjects and the other is at the mercy of mother nature.

My last session of 2015 was with a dancer that had a look I noticed down at the school while shooting rehearsals last spring. A look that screamed to be captured. This has happened more than once for various reasons, but this instance spoke volumes, moved me quite a bit. And it was all about the look of the face.

Christmas Holidays gave her mom and I the time needed to schedule the session. Fanfreakintastic is was. Still going through all the images but I came across this series of eight successive images that reveals what drives me in creating portraits. Each frame is different, each look unique. Some work, some do not.

The first two images are the concluding run of some keepers, then I lost her for a minute before getting her back. Processing was just some minor tweaks in Lightroom, none of these have been retouched yet. Kylie_PShepherd-23-2Kylie_PShepherd-24-2

I started losing her here a bit as we transitioned into a different feel. This is where the subtle movement comes in. I always capture the transitions, you never know what will come out of them. The fortunate thing about the digital age. Kylie_PShepherd-25-2Kylie_PShepherd-26-2Kylie_PShepherd-27-2

Those times when you wish you remembered what you said to get this reaction. Probably threw out a Hurleyism. Kylie_PShepherd-28-2Kylie_PShepherd-29-2

Transition complete, we have a winner. A completely different look seven images later and some fun in the process. How beautiful is that!  Kylie_PShepherd-30-2

Looking forward to many great things in 2016. I wish all of you a great transition in to the new year as well.

Thanks for Stopping by, drummers will be coming soon! Till next time…


Honing In

The past couple of years has been a whirlwind of learning for me while pressing that little button. I think I am close to developing  a consistent style, but am still searching for that consistent look to my images. The last couple of months I have been narrowing down that look a bit trying to hone in to something concrete. I think I do not shoot enough in the studio yet to really dig into something viable, being only part time, but I have created many images I am proud of.


ErikaBSr_PShepherd-115 BrookeCarleigh_PShepherd-69-Edit

We are mainly talking about people here. People in my studio. My nature images are beautiful, I think, but not my forte. They come from an allure of being smitten by what mother nature presents to us. Soulful and heartfelt. Though now whenever I feel the follicles raise, I make sure and capture something I can use with my portrait work as well. I suck at making selections, but I love blending textures and overlays. This I am sure will lead to composites sooner than later. Growing in to that one slowly but surely. Love Joel Grimes, and I have been following Renee Robyn lately. She is the definition of cool.


I love the music images, but we are so dependent of the venue for usable light, I throw away more than I keep. For the record I think flash in rude in this scenario. Yes, sometimes, when allowed, it is necessary. But then you lose what you see. I have not used flash at a gig in forever, but when I did, or when I will, I utilize a rogue grid to maintain as much ambient feel as possible.  Defined direction of light. And while this is for a different post, the majority of the time, gear does matter!



I love head shots for the purity of the image. There are many definitions about what a head shot is and how it looks and I have seen images that have been called head shots but I call a portrait. It’s all in the application of the image I suppose. I am a disciple of the Peter Hurley style of head shot. Pure, head and shoulders, simple background. All about the expression. And in this age of social imaging, having a good head shot is so important. Yup, I still need one too.



And usually at the end of a session, before we go, things get a little unpredictable


The journey will continue. I will continue to grow, everyday is a learning experience which is embraced and cherished. There are a few people who are on my radar, some visions I need to fulfill and I am expanding into a few different arenas. I think 2016 is going to be a fantastic year.

Happy Holidays!

Thanks for stopping by, till next time!

A Heady Plea

This entry is not about the pictures. It is a heady plea to protect our children and their friends. Schools are out and the weather is warm. Skateboards, bicycles, roller blades, quads, dirt bikes, the list goes on. Many people like to tempt fate and leave their buckets on the shelf when they go out.

My full time job, the one that pays the bills is a Paramedic. I do not ride full time any longer on the truck because of administrative responsibilities but I still see my fare share of neglect.  The following excerpt can be about anyone of us, any of our children, families or friends. It is actually a pretty generic description of incidents that transpire everyday:

Pt found lying on side of road prone, combative, confused. Pt was on his skateboard    going down a large street hill , fell off hitting the back of his head and sliding down    street approx 3-4 feet, Positive Loss of Consciousness. Pt combative ,  vomiting. Large laceration with crepitus to  back of head, Abrasions to Left eye, L shoulder , L elbow, L flank, R + L knees.  Raccoon  eyes noted with pupils equal and reactive to light. Pt repetitive questioning, c/o  headache and feeling cold with no recall of incident.

Do you know what was missing? The Brain Bucket. Too cool. Too Hot, Too Cocky. Too Stupid. Neglect? Perhaps. This is the helmet I wear when I am cycling. Yes it was somewhat expensive. But there are ones much less expensive and crash worthy enough for skate boards and the like. And definitely cooler looking.


This is not recent, probably about 8 years ago, debridement sucks….. a bunch. But I had a helmet on..Did not even think of putting this in until now. …But it works.

Picture 701

So if you do not have a helmet, if your kids do not have a helmet, if your friends neighbors cousins do not have helmets, urge them on. Save a brain.  Better to lose a little off the top of your helmet…..

BrainBucket_PShepherd-6Than off the top of your head….

All for now, till next time!


A Young Dancer’s Words

I wanted to share something my daughter recently wrote. She has been a recreational dancer for the past 9 years and has participated on our dance schools competition team for the last 4 years. All those things that young teens do to their parents vanish when they are at dance and I am thankful that she has this opportunity and that she is growing because of it.



You can’t just do dance. It’s all about having the passion within, and connecting to the music through the moves. It’s about feeling every single step, and always trying your hardest. It’s about enjoying yourself and having fun. Dance is a story within your soul. I don’t dance because I have to, I dance because it makes me happy.

B.A.S. 4/2014


“Dance is a story within your soul”

Wow, such a strong, passionate and meaningful statement from a young teenager. You go young love, pen us some more prose! Of course as a parent one can not ask one to write more, we just have to wait till it happens again. Encourage delicately….


Hat throw








Keep on Dancing!


My Apologies, I have not been able to stay on top of the blog lately, been a bit distracted

Fear not though, I am still getting to capture some images

I hope to be back in the swing of things soon though, healing takes time and I am sure most of you would agree, family comes first. Underneath my stoic exterior I am still a bit uneasy, this one was scary.

For my wife, the mother of our beautiful daughter, A woman as tough as they come.


Thanks for stopping by, Talk to you soon!

Squirrels and Serenity

I sit here on my patio, John Mayer playing through the earphones, waiting for the storm to roll in.Observing all the little creatures flying around me, perching themselves on the tree branches, the fence posts, eating the seeds off the ground.

There is a squirrel sitting on the fence eyeing up the bird food. Unsure if he should jump on the little tablet holding a plate of bread. He is actually checking me out. Wondering if I will stop him. I am after one of our Cardinals who has been very elusive this year.

I have been longing for simplicity for a while now, seemingly this coincided with me delving into learning about serious photography and the simple act of pressing a button. This may be a bit of a misnomer as I have discovered because there is a great deal involved in creating and capturing a respectable photo.

I find myself dismissing a great shot because there is a tiny section of the picture that bothers me. Seeing people post blurry photos or ones with blown out highlights, or color balance issues, cut off appendages bothers me. Why? these are pure reflections of what someone saw at the time. I would be terribly embarrassed to put up something like that. I have discovered many people do not see these things and are perfectly happy with what they got. I am OK with that. Just not on any of my pages.I captured a beautiful picture of my daughter recently but considered it a throwaway, not worthy of public consumption. A small leaf positioned itself to close to her face…

The squirrel is inching closer…about to get a taste. Should I let him or throw this frisbee towards him. Only if he starts eating it.

I am a people person, I love to photograph people. I have become very good at eliciting a great head shot. I have begun to delve into the world of beauty/fashion portraiture. However when you are first starting out people can be difficult to come by. Not sure if they think you are not serious, maybe they are just scared or nervous to participate in the adventure, unwilling even if it a free shoot while I get together a portfolio. And that is where nature comes in. It is always available. It never says no. It may put up a fight every now and then, may not produce colors you want but it is always there, willing and waiting, right outside your door.


Thanks for stopping by! Till next time…

Just Some Random Thoughts

As I begin this  post I have no title. I wish to convey my thoughts on a few things related to photography. It has been a a little over a year since I began this quest and while I have garnered a tremendous amount of knowledge I am still lacking in application. Though I think that no matter how new or old you are in this field application is always needed.  I know this will come over time but I want it to occur much faster. It is a feeling much like baking brownies, you have all the ingredients, mix them together, get a little taste of that batter, your mouth begins to cherish the thought of them when they come out of the oven. But then you have to wait for them to cool….You know they are done, but not quite ready yet. You want one now! but they will taste so much better a few minutes later. Patience you tell yourself. But they are perfect now! But in ten minutes they will be heavenly….Patience. All in due time.

Patience is waiting for the moon to be just at the right place in the sky as it rises. I recently used this picture but it fits here too!

Over the Bay


High Dynamic Range. This is one are of photography people either love or hate. There does not seem to be any middle ground with this one. Personally I like it. Great for landscape shots. Simply bracketing your frames resulting in different exposures. They say cheating. Ha! I always considered myself a purist, how does blending three or more   different exposures constitute cheating? Under, over, exact. Especially without further alteration. I could say Photoshop is cheating. Same bloody concept. Putting things where they are not, creating something false. Layers. What is the difference between layers and bracketing? Would not bracketing be a purer form?

DT Shack

Granted I have no idea how to use Photoshop, layers confuse the heck out of me. I am trying to learn Elements but need a hands on class to do so. I shoot RAW. I love Lightroom and use it exclusively for all my developing, er, editing. Which is another interesting topic. You edit your photos on the computer but you develop them in the darkroom. Since LR is my digital darkroom more often than not I say I develop the photos rather than edit. To edit is to change, to develop is to bring out. Yes LR has some fantastic editing capabilities. And I do take advantage of them when needed. Who wants a picture with, um, an imperfection in it….Blemish here, scar there,……….

Ultimately I am a people person. I specialize in Head Shots. I am still fine tuning my approach and need to even out my lighting. Which, will come over time and more sessions (There’s that phrase again). I love the interaction, I love the subtle changes that occur within the minor movements and the way they can make or break the shot. I love the natural reactions as well as the posed looks. I love the fact that I am helping them present themselves in a manner in which they are comfortable with. Peter Hurely pumps me up. Whoa, That was random, but definitely true!


Below is my daughter. What an incredible challenge and a whole lot of work to shoot. Very resistant to follow dad’s coaching. I should pay to get hers done, but why? Why can’t shooting family members be easier. Maybe it is just a teenage thing. There is something about this image that I just love. Perhaps an expression not often seen.


Get her in dance mode though and things do get a whole lot easier.

Britt on Pointe

Dance is another subject I am enamored with. Movements, expressions, shapes. Love it!  Our season is winding down. 8 more weeks to go. I will be compiling the season for a pre-nationals slide show. Got to get them pumped up!

As the pollen encrusts my eyes I guess the moral of this ramble is that I have learned there is no right or wrong in photography, it is ok to break the “rules”, there is definitely good and bad though. Much like life, everyday is a learning experience.

Thanks for stopping by! Till next time…