Erie Photography

I have been working on a great new idea, inspired from one of my professional groups. I call it “THE BOX”. Julia was my first willing participant.
The camera and lighting setup is very specific. The edits are very time consuming. But the outcome is outstanding. It’s a type of collage, constrained by the boundaries of the frame.
It’s designed to capture many aspects of a person, group or family, and present it in a somewhat organized fashion for the viewer.
I’ll vary the frame colors according to the subject and clothing. But for this first subject, I kept the backgrounds pure white and the frame pure black.
Julia’s costume was such a great, bright red, that I had to keep everything else constant to keep your focus on the costume, and her amazing dancer poses and expressions.
I’m adding this to my Senior options this year, and maybe my Family shoots as well.
I hope you enjoy it. Give me some feedback and ideas, and I’ll work with them.

Erie Dance Photography: Feathers!



Here are a couple of images of a lovely and talented dancer. We had a fun time capturing some great images against a high-key white background.

Contact us if you need professional dance images taken for your program book or for your personal enjoyment. With over 10,000 dance images taken, you can count on us for professional posing, lighting, exposure and post-processing. We use only professional labs for our proofing and prints. No discount store prints here!

Family Portrait Photography in Erie: Low-Key Portraiture


Last week I highlighted some High-Key portraiture using a white background. This week I wanted to show you some images taken at the opposite end of the background spectrum.

Often called “Low-Key” lighting, this technique features a dark background. The objective is not to simply lower the lighting level; you still need enough light to render the subjects well in the exposure. In fact, with dark-haired subjects, you may need as my lights as the High Key method. These lights are often pointed back toward the camera to provide some illumination on the subjects’ hair, for separation from the background.

In this image, we have mother and daughters, all dressed in black, against a black background. A key light to camera right provides the front illumination of the right side. A fill light to camera left lightens the shadows. And two lights behind them fitted with grids, provide the rim or hair lighting.

You can see a nice shine in the girls’ hair from the supplemental lighting, as well as clearly lit faces. Low-key images are often subdued and elegant in appearance, contrasted with the higher-energy appearance of high-key imagery. These portraits do very well in large print format, in canvas or traditional print form.

High Key Portrait Photography in Erie

High key is the term used for a bright white background. It’s often difficult to light, requiring as many as four lights to properly expose the background and main subject.

In the original color image below, Lauren is properly exposed and the image is finished in color with just a touch of softness added in post-processing.

In the second image, I used a BW conversion that favored red tones, bringing her skin to a pure white, and providing some definition to her face, hair and hands. It’s interesting that in this conversion, her clothing begins to blend to the background, creating an abstract look.

This was one of the harder types of settings for me to learn to light. When done properly, the effect is stunning. But when the background is overexposed or underexposed, the result can be an image that is flat, grey or overpowering, causing undesired halos.

One of the benefits of my new studio is that I have all of my gear available, and can go from natural light to black to colored backdrop to pure white “high key” in just a few minutes. Plus the brick walls rock!

Amanda’s Afternoon

Sunday had its share of rain. We managed to miss 99% of it during Amanda’s session. Starting indoors, we captured some great images under lights and backdrops. Here’s a shot against white:

Later we headed outdoors and picked up this great shot at the beach. The surf was high and led to some great wave action at the shoreline.


Great shots, Amanda! More are on the way!

Hide the Cheese!

Here is a portrait of a young mouse. She is a friend of Angelina Ballerina, and she likes to dance. She is very busy and curious, but she will occasionally sit still for a photograph. She likes to make funny faces, and has a mischievous twinkle in her eye.

She spends her days at school, and her nights studying and practicing to be a great dancer. She is very dedicated and has already learned many dances. She has lots of dancer friends and always has a smile on her face.

Last Sunday, she and her friends gave their day to share their love of dance with some young ladies and their mothers at Angelina’s Dance Party. This party was a lot of fun for the guests, their parents, the WQLN team and the dance family that works together every year to put on a great party for the kids.

If you see a mouse with a dancing costume around town, thank them for volunteering their time to bring Angelina’s Dance Party to Erie!

Black and White Photography in Erie, PA

When I’m setting up to shoot groups of people, I often will grab an unsuspecting subject and fire off a few quick shots. This confirms that my metering is correct and my light and camera setup is ready to go.

This was my high key setup for the Angelina Ballerina photos, which I shot on Sunday.

Julianna came along for the day as her sister was in the production. She was nice enough to volunteer to help me for the brief but exciting periods when I was photographing the young guests, and to stand in as my test subject.

I took the image and did a quick conversion using the Channel Mixer, emphasizing the reds (skin tone) and bringing down the blues. This is a far better method to convert to black and white than simply letting the program desaturate the image to grey scale, as you can control the amount of red, blue and green signal that gets into the final black and white image.

Then I did a bit of contrast enhancement with Levels and the image was ready to go!

Nice shot Jules! And thanks for your help!

Maternity Portraits in Erie


This image was taken from a recent maternity session. Maggie was just a couple of weeks away from her due date when we took these images. She was remarkably relaxed and comfortable.

I have been working with Maggie since she and her husband Steve were engaged. I have taken their engagement, wedding first maternity, and baby photos, and now their second maternity images.

As you know I am fond of high key images, and this was no exception. This was taken with no light other than that of a south facing window to her back.

Maggie, you look wonderful!