Tag Archives: portraits

Tis the Season!

It’s the time of year that may fill you with joy and warmth as you gather with friends and family to celebrate the holidays. Or it may fill you with dread and stress as you painfully figure out what to buy to express your love and appreciation. It doesn’t help that everyone, everywhere is having a sale and telling you to “buy now, don’t miss out, last chance to save big!” That can get the jolliest person to feel a bit irritable. So, let’s look at cuteness for a second…



Did that help? I hoped so! Kewpie dolls are like Gnomes – you either love them or hate them. I am hoping you love them, and that they make you smile as much as they do me!

This year, I decided to not join the masses in offering large discounts and trying to get you to “buy now” – instead I spent time with my family and have decided to just let you know that I am grateful, and tell you what’s shaking up for 2015.

Putting art on the back burner…

My fine art photography business is winding down. I have one last holiday pop-up shop on December 11th here in West Seattle. After this, I’m focusing all of my efforts on photographing people. I will keep my Etsy shop alive if you ever do want to get something fun with a photograph on it as a gift or to liven up your home. But, crunching the numbers for all of my sales so far, I have made about $22 from Etsy sales after all of my fees and costs were paid, about $70 from the art shows after booth fees and gallery portions were taken out. As I look forward to this last show, I am left hoping to sell at least enough to cover printing up some new cards and magnet sets. On average, artists take home about third of what their selling prices are listing.

Putting people first…

Last month, as I was preparing to say a final farewell to my Aunt who passed away from cancer, I took some time to go through my old film photographs. I saw how my first photographic focus was on people. Even with film costing money, I snapped hundreds of images of my family and friends. It’s really my first love, and so only natural that I return to it. The reason I started doing Fine Art photography was because my time was very limited with two small kids. The time has been well-spent as I have learned a lot about the local art scene, and met a wonderful variety of local artists.

I hope to merge the old love I have of people with a more fine art touch as I embark on photography as a service. The struggle of course will be to decided on what to focus on exactly. Most business books and experts recommend sticking to one thing. I’m not good at picking out one thing. I love people. Whether it’s capturing a laugh between two friends at a wedding or the spark that shines on someone’s face during a portrait session, I enjoy it all.

Stay tuned, dear readers, more changes as we ring in the New Year!


Holli with an i

p.s. Yes, I sell gift certificates if you should want to give someone special a portrait session.

Dancing with the trees

Life is too short to wait until I feel old enough to reach for my dreams. I’ve felt that very deeply lately after losing a mentor and watching my aunt struggle with cancer. The problem with being me is that I have many dreams and yet a very real sense of duty and responsibility to focus on my photography business in a traditional business model.

My dream is to use photography to capture fine art portraits based on whimsical concepts AND to help through non-profit photography. While I’ve been focusing on my business and learning non-profit photography (planning on learning through Workshops With A Purpose in April 2015), I’ve decided to jump into the other side of my dream – concept based fine art portraiture.

I have this idea to photograph women in the woods with the shoot designed around specific types of trees to highlight the beauty of both nature an real women. So, I shared the idea on my facebook page, and the response was encouraging! So, a new personal project has been born, and I look forward to filling my portfolio for the day when I can offer concept based fine art portraits…

That look a little something like this:

TreeGirl©HolliMargell 2 TreeGirl©HolliMargell 3 TreeGirl©HolliMargell 4 TreeGirl©HolliMargell 5

TreeGirl©HolliMargell 1Everything about this session with my daughter was amazingly fulfilling. From creating her head pieces to scouting the locations to actually giving her a piggyback ride once her shoes were off so she could stand on that tree barefoot was so much fun. It was like playing dress up and watching a dream come true. Now, I have challenged myself to do 10 more of these sessions with the same concept so that I can fill a portfolio and streamline the process to create an enjoyable client experience.

So, thank you for watching me grow my fine art creative portraiture branch!


A Fall Day At The Beach: family portraits

There is something beautiful about a fall day in Seattle. Though it’s usually overcast this time of year with a layer of gray clouds, it’s rather beautiful in a quiet serene sort of way.That’s why I was actually a bit excited when the day of our family portrait session was overcast, because I think it provides the best light for a fall feel and the colors really stand out.

LeonardEdits_HolliMargell 1The Leonard family has a growing soon to be 2-year-old who loves to RUN! Thankfully Jack Block park provided lots of space for him to explore between takes trying to capture a family portrait.

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I have to say, it’s truly an honor to photograph a family year after year – to be a part of capturing their family tree as it grows is pretty neat.We brought umbrellas just in case the clouds decided to open up and downpour, but instead the sun came out. But, the wee lad had been so eager to use them, we let him try it out just for fun!

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Behind the Scenes Portraits: Studio Lighting

Almost exactly one month after taking The Lighting Challenge: Natural vs. Studio lighting course, I booked several hours at Urban Light Studio to practice what I learned. I was giddy, nervous and excited – like the first day of school or something. Part of my nervousness came from my photography posse: I had a Make Up Artist, a fellow photographer, models and my kids along for the sessions!

Erin at Studio 3 Cubed captured me in action!
©Studio 3 Cubed Erin at Studio 3 Cubed captured me in action!
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Blue eyed beauties!


Getting down at baby-level...
©Studio 3 Cubed Getting down at baby-level…
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I love how the black backdrop highlights their gorgeous hair and eyes.
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Such sweet smiles!
©Studio 3 Cubed Behind the scenes…
Yes, that's my girl helping to make the baby smile!
©Studio 3 Cubed
Yes, that’s my girl helping to make the baby smile!

The experience was so much fun that I want to host a photographer’s playdate there sometime soon. A huge thank you to Erin at Studio 3 Cubed for being such a wonderful assistant and capturing these behind-the scenes photos!

And, I have learned that I need to work on my editing and lighting skills. I really love how these portraits turned out, but I haven’t nailed it since they don’t have the same natural light feel that my other portraits possess. I want to have consistency in my work whether in the studio or at the park.

P.S. You must check out her gorgeous beauty portraiture.

Getting In Front Of The Lens!

If you look through our family photo albums, I’m rarely seen because I’m usually the photographer! Well, just before Christmas, I decided to ask our family portrait photographer to capture a photograph of me with just my kids…

©Tim Rounds A Mommy Portrait!
©Tim Rounds A Mommy Portrait!

And then, just after the new year, I traded Head Shots with Melanie of Rio Jean Photography. I was more nervous for those portraits than I was for my Mommy portrait. But, Melanie knows what she’s doing and put me right at ease. It was honestly very cold, and yet, she was able to capture my smile and help me pose my body in a way that doesn’t say, “I’m SO COLD!”

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by Rio Jean Photography

Instead, she guided me to looking my best…

Another favorite by Rio Jean Photography
Another favorite by Rio Jean Photography

…and I can honestly say the last image is my very favorite portrait I think I have ever had of myself.

by Rio Jean Photography


I loved working with Melanie! The best part of our Head Shot Swap was getting behind the lens and experiencing what it is like to be the subject in a photograph. I felt nervous, and giddy at the same time.

This really helped me see how important it is to put my own clients at ease during a photo session. It was such a fun experience and now I can honestly say I know what you feel like when I’m the one behind the camera!

Childhood inspiration

The other day, my kids had made a mess of legos on their bedroom floor just before bedtime. Instead of scolding them, I took a moment and saw the wonderland they had created. That made a light-bulb go off above my head: childhood is full of inspiration. You never know what experiences you provide a child will blossom later in life.

Snacking in my Grandma's garden.
Snacking in my Grandma’s garden.

When I found this photograph of myself eating a strawberry in my Grandma’s garden, I smiled. She always had a garden, whether with raised beds in the city or on a few acres in the country during her retirement. Those first memories of fresh strawberries and Lemon Balm are still with me, and inspire me to garden myself.

I wish she could see me today, and come wander our community garden where I am trying to grow some of my own vegetables and give my own kids the experience of watching nature bloom. Or that my photography is inspired by nature: capturing people in their natural beauty. She really was my second photography fan, and I always think of her when I smell Lemon Balm!

So, remember that even just providing experiences for children can inspire you or them days and years down the road!

Polishing Photography With Photoshop

It’s been years since I used Photoshop. I think I may have taken one of the first Photoshop courses offered at Peninsula College back in 2001. Back then, it was used to enhance photography into more of a graphic design element for advertising layouts. I had a lot of fun with those classes, but since then have struggled with the idea of using it in my portraiture since I’m a fan of photojournalism.

As I shared last week, I’ve updated my business and skills to include processing with Photoshop instead of simple cropping or adjusting exposure. And, I’m super excited at the results. It’s been a struggle to add this as I’m kind of a purist, and don’t want to over-use Photoshop or be lumped into the camp of photographers who abuse it. So, today I want to show you an example of how I’m using photoshop to enhance a portrait:


Basically, I corrected skin tone for something like this photo shoot when we were photographing in the shade. While doing this, I realized how some photographer’s photos look so vibrant – like with more intense color than I know we can see with the eye on a bright sunny day – magic of photoshop! And, I’m really happy to “level-up” my people photography and make them look their best.




Film Friday: My first Portraits and Photoshop

When I first started using a camera, I captured people.  I literally dusted off my old portfolio this morning and opened it up…
There were several wedding prints as I was building my own Wedding Photography business, but several of the portraits reminded me how much I love to capture the beauty in people as much as I do in nature. Here is one of my cousin taken outside in the snow:

©Holli With An I Photography One of my favorite film portraits.
©Holli With An I Photography
One of my favorite film portraits.

And, then I found this one of my body building brother – I used it to make a advertisement for back to school supplies in my first Photoshop class (dare I say 13 years ago!). Now I need to find the final project. And, it’s time to brush up on my photoshop skills as I get to add more options to my photography business.

©Holli WIth An I Photography - one of my first photos for a photoshop class over 10 years ago!
©Holli WIth An I Photography – one of my first photos for a photoshop class over 10 years ago!

These photographs show his real muscles, and I photoshopped a sheet of lined paper behind him. So, basically, I learned photoshop back in the day before all of the “touch up” tools do face-lifts and body sculpting. As I learn the new Photoshop, I will still shoot in a documentary style, and use it sparingly to enhance an image or to create some digital art.

Now that you know a little bit more about my background, tell me what you think: Should I “up my game” and learn all of those “face-lifting” techniques or stay consistent with my current style and when I do use the magic of Photoshop, create something that is clearly digital art?


Children Portraits: And then there were four!

What a joy it was to photograph this family as they welcomed a fourth sibling, a precious girl. She clearly adored her older siblings. They were a bundle of energy!

With a red wagon and balloons, we had fun rolling around the park!
Lounging in the park, the littlest guy was such a good model!
Lounging in the park, the littlest guy was such a good model!

Their Mother told me the oldest didn’t like to pose for photographs, but you can’t tell by these – she was super helpful with her baby sister, and then didn’t make a fuss about posing for my camera.

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Such a sweet smile!

The boys were such fun, and clearly adore their little sister!

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What a sweet big brother.

I hope they had as much fun as I did capturing this moment in their lives.

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These two are naturals!