Thursday, June 21, 2018

Simple and Beautiful

"I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn't photograph them."
~ Diane Arbus

A photographer learns to see the finished image in his mind before composing the photo in the camera, and often transforms ordinary subjects into something beautiful.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tegenungan Waterfall, Bali

Although there were many tourists hiking near the falls for the short time we were there, somehow I managed to get this composition with only one person taking in the beauty of this place. And he wore the perfect color shirt to stand out against the background!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Niche or No Niche!

(pronounced either neesh or nitch....both are acceptable)

As a serious photographer, or dedicated hobbyist, have you found your niche? 

Have you discovered a subject you love to photograph above everything else?  If you can answer that question with a confident “yes”, then stop reading and go spend this time photographing more puppies, mushrooms, brides or whatever your passion is!

But if you are inclined to answer that question with a hesitant “maybe” or a frustrated “no”, then continue reading to get my perspective on how to find your niche, or more importantly, how to decide if you really need to have a niche!

If you travel in photography circles, you no doubt have run across discussions that give advice about narrowing down your subject matter to what you truly love to photograph, and then concentrating on honing your skills in that specific area or genre. 

Usually these discussions end with something like, “Don’t worry if you haven’t found your niche, or discovered your signature style, just keep on shooting and it will come.”  And many times it does!   Your niche often evolves and will bring a certain level of comfort and encouragement to help you move forward in a specific direction. 

But I have discovered that many photographers, even many who have been shooting for years, (or decades like me), still haven’t found their niche!!  Why not!  For me, limiting the genre of photography I enjoy, or the subjects I like to shoot, or the styles I like to experiment with, feels too boring, too restrictive, too confining, like being in a photographic prison!  (Okay, that last part may be a bit dramatic!)

For years I thought about this and worried about it.  If I continued to photograph everything I saw that was interesting to me, I probably would never be skillful at shooting anything, (you know, to paraphrase the saying, “A Jack (or Jill) of all trades is a master of none”).  But I knew if I had to limit or curtail what I photographed, the joy I find in photography would be greatly diminished.

But today, after decades of shooting, I can proudly say I am still ‘niche free’, (and worry free), and at the same time have continued to maintain my love for photography!  With some critical and honest contemplation, here is the most important question I had to answer to help me embrace being ‘niche-less’:

What is my foremost reason for wanting to be a photographer? 
Here is a short list of some possibilities for you to consider:

·      I want to use photography as a career.  This will be a business and I must do what it takes to develop a customer base and earn money.
·      I want to have a usable skill to help my family and community.  I would like to be the official photographer at family weddings, birthdays, sports games and community events.
·      I want to be able to take great pictures documenting all the places where I travel, so I can make quality photo books.
·      I want to take photos of my children’s milestones and family growth through the years.
·      I want to develop a solid presence on social media.  It gives my self esteem a boost when others enjoy my photography and say I’m a good photographer.
·      I want to use photography as a stress reliever and a pleasant diversion from my everyday work and routine.
·      I want to use my photos as the starting point for my art projects.  I love the creativity of using editing software to transform a photo into something from my imagination.

I’m sure you can think of more reasons, and most of us probably have several reasons, but once you nail down your primary motivation for being a photographer, you can decide if identifying a niche will be an important part of your success and contentment, or not.  Here are some examples: 

If you are looking to earn money, branding yourself and advertising your area of expertise, (your niche), will help funnel potential customers down to the ones who are actually looking for your particular photographic skills.

If you are looking to build a large presence on social media, posting images of one genre or style, (your niche), will attract a larger group of dedicated followers who have your same interests.

If your motivation is more internal, meaning you take pictures primarily because it brings you joy, (no niche), then you are not as concerned with earning money, gathering followers or being motivated by other outside influences.  You may have little or no incentive to narrow down your subject matter or define a shooting style.  This leaves you free to explore, experiment, change, evolve, discover, learn, and grow in many directions. 

Of course I’m not suggesting that by having a specific purpose or niche means you won’t find happiness or joy in your photography.  In fact, if you have chosen a niche you love and are attaining your goals, (i.e. earning money, becoming popular on social media, or improving your skills, for example), you will also love being a photographer.

But if you get bored easily, or just enjoy variety, I would like to offer an alternative to developing a specific niche.  And that is to simply photograph whatever you enjoy with no qualms or qualifying ‘ifs, ands or buts’!  Your interests may change from year to year, season to season, or even day to day.  But you will make connections with, and learn from a diverse group of photographers who will help enrich your photography experiences and expand your creativity.  And yes, your skills and talents as a photographer will still continue to increase and expand, even if you are a Jack or Jill of many genres and styles of photography.

In practical terms for me, this means, shooting flowers in spring, and landscapes in the summer and fall months.   Winter will probably mean concentrating on still life and food photography indoors. At the beginning of the school year I’ll be shooting portraits of my grandkids, and in December I’ll probably be shooting Christmas lights.  Last month I was shooting Hindu temples in Bali and real estate photos for a friend selling her house.  And inbetween there is street photography, black & white, high key, macro photography, and the list goes on and on!  The expectation of what I might be shooting next and what my finished image will be, is invigorating and exciting!

To sum up, developing a niche or not, depends on whichever decision leads you closer to your goals as a photographer, and at the same time adds the most to your enthusiasm for taking pictures.  Imogen Cunningham said,  “Which of my photographs is my favorite?  The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”  Me too!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Peonies in Shade

Peonies in Shade

These peonies were drooping almost to the ground and were in deep shadow, creating a dark and moody photo which I emphasized with soft focus and some creative editing.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Bold & Beautiful!

Bold & Beautiful

If you like bold, beautiful, colorful flowers, blue sky and lots of sunshine like I do, then this one's for you!! Perfect to cheer up a Monday!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sweet Sunday!

Sweet Sunday!

Hope yours is peaceful, and we all take time to remember the important things in life that speak peace to the soul.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Provo Utah Temple

Provo Utah Temple
Look what I've been missing!  I only live a short distance from this temple and cannot believe I haven't been there when these beautiful roses are in bloom.  They are magnificent and the possible photo compositions seemed endless.  

Because the lighting was very 'contrasty' with lots of dark shadows, I combined 3 separate exposures to even it out.  This was my favorite composition including lots of roses shown in a diagonal line leading the eye into the frame toward the temple.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Spotlight Please!

Spotlight Please!

Spotlight Please! When I'm shooting garden flowers on a sunny day, I look for single flowers lit by the sun with a background that is in the shade. This adds drama to the subject and composition, and makes even common flowers look special. I also try to include a hint of the foliage in the background for additional interest so the viewer knows this was taken in a garden and not in a studio using a black backdrop.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Lensbaby Look

Selecting a narrow point of focus plus the dreamy look created by a Lensbaby lens, (specialty lens), turns an ordinary photo into something a bit more artistic. (BTW, who says you can't take photos in the middle of a bright sunny day!)

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Uluwati, Bali

 Uluwatu Coastline, Bali

This is the view from Pura Luhur Uluwatu, claimed to be one of the most holy temples in Bali. It is perched on the edge of a cliff with beautiful ocean views in all directions, at the very southern edge of the island. We managed to be visiting at the perfect time to take photos.

Saturday, June 2, 2018



Congratulations to our oldest grandson Taylor. I usually don't post family photos but once in a while I can't help myself! Taylor is a young man of honor and integrity, plus he is humble and kind to everyone. And he was one of the top 30 students in his graduating class of around 800 I think! (Only a grandma can get away with bragging like this! He never would, and I'm going to be in trouble if he sees this!!)

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Home is Beautiful!

Woodland Hills, Utah

There is beauty everywhere!  I sometimes forget there is beauty close to home, not just in faraway places.  When life gets too busy, I forget to look for it, but when I do, often something beautiful jumps right out at me, even in a vacant lot next to the road.  I hope you look for something beautiful during your travels today!

About this photo:  no, a new type of large Utah sunflower is not in bloom! These wildflowers are a little bit bigger than an Oreo cookie on a plant that is about a foot tall. And no, there was no Photoshop trickery involved in this image. Unique and different compositions can be created by choosing the right scene, the right lens, the right camera settings and the right perspective or point of view. Here I used a wide angle lens, a small aperture (f/20), placed my camera just a few inches away from the flowers and focused about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way into the scene.  I was in a hurry because behind me were black rain clouds that were moving quickly and dumped just minutes after I took this shot. If I had had more time, and wanted a technically better image, (sharper), I would have put my camera on a tripod, taken numerous shots using different focal points from foreground to background, then combined them in PS or another software program. (For you Utah County photographers, I recently posted a similar shot that I had taken several years ago, and said it was taken in the Elk Ridge area. I went back to find this place again, and it is on the main road into Woodland Hills and the flowers are blooming right now.)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Traveling Salesman - Bali

Traveling Salesman....perhaps???

I can't imagine what a balancing act this must be, especially turning corners! Necessity really is the mother of invention!  (I'm going to think of this photo the next time I hop in my car and drive the two blocks to Costco!)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Traveler and Toiler

Traveler and Toiler
In Bali, like many countries, the local residents who need to work hard most days, have learned to coexist with the tourists who come to relax and sight see.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Moment in Time - Bali

A peaceful moment in time...or so it seems. 

We only spent one day on the beach in Bali, and were there along with about a hundred of our closest friends. The day was hot and humid, the midday sun was bright and moving across a cloudless sky, bleaching out most colors. Not good conditions for landscape photography, but I knew I had to come away with at least one beach photo. I noticed this pergola with hanging lanterns and draped in matching fabric. I thought this might add some color and interest to an otherwise boring and 'high key' like scene. It was a miracle there were no people directly in front of me, (they were everywhere else on the beach). Just as I was quickly composing my shot, using the pergola as a 'frame', this lady strolled into my picture and stopped long enough for me to use her as my subject of interest! She almost looks like a model purposefully posing for the camera, but she had no idea I was taking her picture! (I did do a bit of editing to lighten and even out the color to enhance a high key look.)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Monday, May 14, 2018

Dinner Entertainment - Bali

The Welcoming Committee and Dinner Entertainment

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Greeter!!

The 'Greeter'

Welcome, I'm so glad you're here!!!! This was our greeting as we entered the Monkey Sanctuary in Bali! The country is filled with ferocious looking statues, (among more friendly ones), which is so contradictory to the nature of the Balinese people we met. Mostly, these people were soft spoken, respectful, modest, friendly, helpful, etc.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Spring on Temple Square - Predawn

Salt Lake Temple

Predawn when the light was dim and warm and cast a soft dreamy glow on the Salt Lake temple. Each year as the trees grow larger in front of the temple it gets increasing hard to compose an image that includes both the temple and the flower beds from this vantage point. I used a tripod and slow shutter speed to capture the light and still had to edit to increase the exposure. (This was the first shot I took on the same morning as my two previous posts.)

Monday, May 7, 2018

Salt Lake Temple - Spring 2018

Temple Square - Spring 2018

Whenever I point my camera at the sun, I am usually surprised at the result.  Often the result is a blown out mess, but sometimes I end up with interesting sun flares or colorful bokeh, (soft light circles), that make for unique images.  This one may not be everyone's 'cup of tea' but it certainly meets my criteria of trying to find different and original compositions and lighting effects that I haven't seen before in any of the photos I've taken of the Salt Lake Temple over the years (see last post).  P.S.  I did a fair amount of editing to make this a presentable image by toning down the exposure on the highlights and lightening the midtones and darks.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Spring on Temple Square - 2018

Temple Square - Spring 2018

This morning I made my yearly spring pilgrimage to Temple Square to photograph flowers.  It is always a challenge for me to get different or unique compositions because I have done this for so many years, plus today the sky did not cooperate and was pretty boring.  Nevertheless, it's always a beautiful day on Temple Square!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Bali - 4

Long Tail Macaques
Monkey Forest Sanctuary
Monkeys live in various places in Bali. We visited the Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud. The monkeys there are called long tail macaques. They have lost their fear of humans and many were within a foot or two of where we were walking. Our guide told us there are two kinds of monkeys......mischievous, and naughty, depending on where they live. The mischievous ones might steal your glasses and jewelry or unzip or steal purses and backpacks looking for food. Or they might sit on your shoulder or your head and not get off until you give them something to eat. The naughty monkeys will become aggressive, attack or even bite if they perceive you have food and are not giving it to them, or if you offer food then withdraw it. Someone told us a story about a monkey opening a waist pack, (I have learned that the term fanny pack is offensive in some cultures), pulling out a wad of paper money, then scrambling up a tree and throwing it away. I have to say, I was a bit nervous being so near to them, but as we had no food or other enticing objects with us, they left us alone.

Monday, April 30, 2018


 Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

I see this temple printed on many of the travel brochures for Bali.   It is Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, (sometimes called the floating temple), built on a tiny island and dedicated to the goddess of the lake, Dewi Danu. I was disappointed because it was a dark and cloudy day when we visited, my camera batteries were dying as quickly as I changed them, and my lenses were fogging up because of the 100% humidity. I took tons of photos that ultimately ended up in the 'trash bin', but there were a few seconds when the clouds gave way to a couple of blue patches that lit up the temple. I snapped this photo quickly even though there was person's head in the bottom of the frame. I cropped her out!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bali - 2

Beautiful doors everywhere we traveled in Bali.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Bali - 1

 Pura Taman Saraswati

After traveling half way around the world, (30+ hours in airports/airplanes with 3 layovers), and then having a limited number of days and daylight hours, it is hard to narrow down photo opportunities when visiting such a beautiful, culturally rich and interesting place as Bali. But having to do just that, I opted to concentrate on the history, culture and people rather than the landscapes, beach scenes and sunsets. (After all, a beautiful sunset over the ocean occurs in many places!) Most Balinese are Hindu, and their religious practices and rituals permeate their every day lives. They say there are at least 200,000 temples and monuments on this small island, some dating back to the 10th century. This is Pura Taman Saraswati, built in honor of Saraswati, the deity of learning and the arts.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tucson, Arizona LDS Temple

Tucson, Arizona LDS Temple

During our recent visit to Arizona, I was able to photograph the Tucson LDS (Mormon)Temple, (in addition to the Gilbert, AZ temple shown in a previous post). It is the 157 of 159 operating temples around the world and opened in 2017. When I first set out with my camera, I was disappointed that I just couldn't seen to find a good angle or composition, at least from ground level. I was not happy with any of my photos from that day. But it was good luck that the motel we had chosen was just a short drive from the temple so I was able to go back several times both at sunrise and sunset, and was finally rewarded with a beautiful sunrise. I ended up taking this shot from across a busy street and had to time my shots in between the cars passing right in front of me.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Gilbert Arizona LDS Temple

Gilbert Arizona LDS Temple

Even though the weather report looked boring, I drug myself out of bed well before dawn. We were visiting my son's family in Mesa several weeks ago, and I was determined to photograph the LDS (Mormon) temple located a short distance away in Gilbert Arizona. Even though it has been open since 2014, (the 142nd of 159 temples worldwide), I had not seen it during our previous visits. I pulled into the parking lot and found I was the only one there. As I waited in the dark, I was already convinced the sunrise would be boring as there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and since the temple faces directly east, to my back, I wouldn't even be able to get a sunburst for added interest. But as the darkness began to lift I noticed a few hazy clouds starting to form behind the temple. This looked promising. As time went on, they continued to grow in size and become more defined. Then to my delight, I detected a slight pink glow that increased in color with every passing second until they formed a beautiful backdrop. I started taking photos like crazy. But the best was yet to come. When the sun finally peeked over the horizon, its rays lit up the temple with an ethereal like glow. The scene was so beautiful and so peaceful that I only took a few pictures, then stopped just to enjoy this fleeting moment in time, and thank God for this lovely beginning to the day. (For a night owl, sometimes getting up early is so worth it!!)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Sunday 2018

Wishing my fellow Christians around the world a joyous Easter Sunday, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, Savior and Redeemer! 
(The Christus statue by Thorvaldsen, found on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.)

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Saguaro Easter Bunny

Saguaros come in the most interesting shapes....
even a friendly bunny for Easter!  I think he's waving at me!!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Saguaro Silhouette

Desert sunsets rarely disappoint! 
When visiting the saguaros, one must get the iconic silhouette photo.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Saguaro Composition

If I have to photograph in the middle of the day when there is no dramatic lighting, I look for unusual or different compositions to make a photo interesting. This is pretty easy to do among the saguaros as they come in all sizes and shapes.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

First Cactus Photo - 2018

This is the only true cactus that I found in bloom during our southern Arizona travels. Must be a bit too early in the season. These flowers were very tiny. 
 (The Ocotillos in my last post are not true cacti.)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Ocotillo Plants in Saguaro National Park

The Ocotillo plants are just beginning to bloom in Saguaro National Park located in southern Arizona.  
(Tip:  For those of you not familiar with this plant and the cactus this Park is famous for, the common pronunciation of Ocotillo is 'Okoteeo' and Saguaro is 'Sawaro'.  Might save you a bit of embarrassment if you ever get to visit this beautiful part of the Amercan south west.)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Interesting People at Work - Photo No. 6

Bartender - Santa Fe, New Mexico

 Through the years I've had a photography project that I call, 'Interesting People at Work'. (Scroll back to see the previous 5 photos I've posted.) The first rule I follow is that I try to capture part of my subjects' work environment in the photo, and the second rule is that I have to interact, visit with, and get to know the people I'm photographing. This is a bit intimidating and challenging to speak to strangers, and gain their trust until they relax enough to be photographed. I have been posting some of the interesting people with interesting jobs that I've met over the years. This photo was taken in Santa Fe NM for an assignment we were given in a photography workshop I attended. (It was such a 'growing' experience and so rewarding that it became the beginning of this project.) We were to roam the streets, meet interesting people and photograph them. I don't think I have ever been in a stand alone bar either before or since taking this photo!! It had an open front so the inside was visible to people walking on the sidewalk. I glanced in and saw all of the interesting memorabilia on the walls and noticed that the bartender looked just like the photo on the wall behind him. I took a deep breath, went in, introduced myself, and asked him about all the photos on the wall. He told me his father was a great war hero and his bar was dedicated to keeping his dad's memory alive. After we visited, he gave me permission to take his picture. I told him to just go about his work, that I'd like to take a 'non posed' shot. I like that I caught him just as he was mimicking the pose in the photo of his dad.  (P.S.  I don't even think he was upset that I didn't buy anything!)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


If I wasn't freaked out enough by Jeff holding a snake, this one of him making friends with a tarantula really did me in!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Interesting People At Work - Photo No. 5

Snake Handler from Costa Rica

This is a snake handler from Costa Rica. In addition to being a bit intimidating, taking environmental portraits of strangers, (who are really not strange), is very satisfying. Everyone has an interesting story to tell! I love to ask questions, listen, then try to capture a bit of their personality in my photos. (Five minutes after this shot, that snake was in my husband's arms....yikes!)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Interesting People At Work - Photo No. 4

You know what they used to say for a business venture to succeed.... 
Oh, and have a friendly smile for potential investors! 
(Roaming the streets of Auckland, NZ.)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Daffodils in St. George

Spring Daffodils in St. George

"It might seem crazy what I'm 'bout to say
Sunshine she's here, you can take a break
I'm a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don't care baby by the way
Huh, because I'm happy......." Pharrell Williams

I had a chance meeting with a lovely friend yesterday and she said my photos made her ''happy". Well, that just made me happy! This photo's for you my friend. I hope it makes everyone a little bit happier on this beautiful Sunday!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Interesting People At Work - Photo No. 3

Artificial Limb Technician

'Interesting People at Work', Photo No. 3. Initially we were shocked when we walked into an old WWII army barracks in Fiji that was temporarily converted into a makeshift medical center. We saw a long hallway filled with people who were missing legs, sitting in wheelchairs, and lined up against the wall. We soon learned, however, that an organization from India had developed a way to create artificial limbs quickly and inexpensively and a group from this organization was traveling to less developed countries to teach local doctors and medical workers this process. (Many people in the countries they teach, lose limbs because of untreated diabetes.) This group has received world recognition for their accomplishments. During our visit we watched a patient be measured for a prosthetic leg, wait while it was made, receive instruction after it was attached, then walk without assistance, all in the same day! The conditions in which they worked were less than adequate if compared to many other medical facilities, but the results were amazing! Here is one of the technicians creating artificial legs.

Part of the medical team who was also a recipient of a leg demonstrating its flexibility and versitility.

 Technician describing the process.

 Patient walking on his new leg for the first time.

 Specialized oven donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.