Learning the fine art of boudoir portraiture

Photographers need to learn and grow. I try to attend several seminars each year. The Professional Photographers of America (PPA) offers local seminars twice a year, called “Super Monday”, often produced by local photographers. I often either attend or instruct these sessions. They are a great opportunity to meet with other photographers and learn new techniques.

This May, my friends Stephanie Cunningham and Dana Nordlund jointly presented a Super Monday at Steph’s studio in Ripley NY. Their program was entitled “Bombshell Boudoir” and featured some great models, great clothing and amazing hair and makeup. I have little experience with the style called boudoir, meaning a women’s bedroom. These photographs are often suggestive, but not outright naughty. In addition, we worked on pinup photos as well, which are generally more fun and “G” rated than boudoir.

We used some the newest Wescott constant lights, from florescent to the newest (unreleased) LED lights. They are great for WYSIWYG studio lights!

Here are a few samples of the session. There are dozens more on my Facebook business page!

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Special thanks to our models who worked tirelessly for the whole day, and our clothing, hair and makeup contributors.

Puppy Portraits: Pet Photography Practice

Pet photography - mature mutt

Vito on his favorite leather ottoman

Pet photography - two dogs on couch

Vito and Dixie on the couch – their first visit to the portrait studio
Pet Photography - Golden Doodle

Noble pose for a puppy

Pet photography in high key

Dixie, aka “Puppet”, our golden doodle puppy, taken with high-key white background.

Today I finally took my two dogs to the studio for some fun. They are both big, and full of energy and bot terribly well trained. It was a crazy half hour to get them posed and snap a few images.

Pet photography is an area that I would like to grow. I figured that if I could get my two crazy canines to behave, I can handle other pets as well.

Erie Photographer John Huegel wins Cleveland’s “Hammer Ergatta” indoor rowing competition for age group

John Huegel at the 2013 Cleveland Hammer Ergatta. First place for 50-59 year old males.

John Huegel at the 2013 Cleveland Hammer Ergatta. First place for 50-59 year old males.

This one’s a bit off of the topic of photography, but what the heck.

Winter is usually the time when I hibernate. But this year, I stayed very active on an indoor rowing training plan. Indoor rowers, or ergometers (“ergs”), simulate the activity of rowing on the water through the use of a flywheel that creates drag with either air or water. The Concept 2 Ergometer is the world standard indoor rower.

This summer I bought a slightly used Concept 2 Model E, and have put nearly a million meters on it. That’s nearly 600 miles if it were an actual boat. The workout is a full body experience, using the legs, the core back/stomach muscles, and the arms and chest. The machine reacts to your force, meaning you can go easy or hard, and you can tailor the workout to very specific outcomes, such as intervals or long, slow rows.

I have rowed a variety of distances on the erg, from 500 meters, which takes about a minute and a half, to the half-marathon distance of 21,074 meters, finishing in just under 90 minutes. As a distance runner, I prefer the longer pieces, but the competition is all about the 2k, or 2000 meter distance.

The 2k has been described as 4 minutes of pain followed by 3 minutes of agony. For men of my age and build, a good 2k time is somewhere between 6:45 and 7:30. When I started training a few months ago, I pulled a 7:39. Then over the fall and the holidays, I followed a training program that gradually brought my time down to 7:10.

I’m no stranger to racing, but all of my experience was the running kind.The Hammer was my first rowing competition. After the heat began, I maintained a pretty consistent pace of about 1:47 per 500 meters. Competing with 7 others in my age group, I started off in 3rd or 4th place, and gradually came up to second. With about three minutes left, I kept my pace consistent while the first place rower started to fade a bit. I finished with a good lead, and trimmed a second off of my best, to finish at 7:08.9. It was a great feeling, and I especially appreciate the support of my wife, who sat in the coach’s chair while I wheezed and panted and pulled.

Am I done? No way! My goal is to break 7 minutes. It’s a magic number for indoor rowers, and I’m convinced I can do it. Plus I really enjoy rowing. I can put on a video and “coast”, or I can focus and pound out some really tough workouts.

So what does this have to do with photography? Well, my wife took a photo of me just after I got my gold medal, so that counts!

Anyway, I encourage everyone to stay active and set goals. Last year my goal was weight loss and I dropped nearly 50 pounds. And I achieved my CPP Professional Photographer Certification.

This year my goal is to reach a fitness level I have never achieved before, and break the magic 7:00 mark!

Professional Photographers Unite!

IMG_4364I recently returned from Imaging USA 2013 in Atlanta. This is the annual convention organized by The Professional Photographers of America (PPA). I have been a member of PPA for many years.

Conventions and other educational programs are important for photographers. They help to keep their skill and knowledge levels high, the expose the photographer to new products and services, and they give us a chance to socialize in a noncompetitive environment. This year I met some great people from all over the world, and talked at length about Senior portraiture and Wedding Photography.

This year, I both attended and volunteered. As a PPA volunteer, I helped with the many courses offered at the convention. There were several large courses offered at the same time, and I worked at seven of them. The bonus was that I got to see those seven classes, and many more when I was “off the clock”.

For my volunteer effort, I earned a Service Merit toward my next level of Certification,  Photographic Craftsman. It will take me a couple of years to earn all of the service and Speaking merits to achieve this level, but the journey will be worth it.

I am very proud of my friend Stephanie Cunningham, who has finished the requirements for her Craftsman degree. Next year in Arizona at the Imaging USA event, she’ll have a chance to cross the stage and receive her medallion!

Erie Senior Portraits: Class of 2013 Feature

Here are some of my favorite images from this summer’s Class of 2013 senior portrait sessions.We love to capture images of seniors doing the things they love.

We work both in the studio (in our groovy old school building at 26th and Peach in Erie), as well as on location at basically any location the senior would like. Many of these locations were specifically chosen by the senior. Of course we will take you to our favorite places if you don’t have any specific locations picked out. And we very often finish at the beach. We have a special formula for capturing amazing sunset portraits!

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For the technically curious, we use Canon cameras and Canon, Sigma and Tamron lenses. I even have a special “Beach Camera” that’s allowed to get sandy! We use Canon and Alien Bees flashes and RadioPoppers and Buff triggers. We rarely tripod, but when we do, we use Manfrotto ball heads and tripods.

I get down and dirty at the beach. I usually get more sand on me than the senior will during the session. My philosophy is: “If you don’t get the right angle, with the right light, at the right moment, with the right pose, it just doesn’t look right!  Right?!”

Check out our Class of 2013 Video as well: http://animoto.com/play/99IXk2rYSg50Fo3nMPdGTg

Thanks to all of my seniors and families that supported them!

Erie Wedding Photography: Renee and Randy

Many have waited for the right moment to be married. If waiting was the reward, Renee and Randy have reached the perfect moment for marriage.

Renee and her ladies prepared at Coventina Day Spa. It was a peaceful snowy day in late December.

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The wedding was held at Holy Rosary church on 28th and East Avenue. Lots of on-site preparation was completed before the ceremony.

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A lovely wedding ceremony, and formal photographs followed:

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And a very nice reception followed, at Union Station, with a chilly stop in Perry SquareIMG_0848 IMG_0942 IMG_0582 IMG_0590 IMG_0600 IMG_0602 IMG_0680 IMG_0684 IMG_0701 IMG_0771 for the bridal couple!

Congratulations Randy and Renee!

Erie Weddings: Lucia and Brandon at Mercyhurst University

I have had the honor of photographing many weddings for graduates of Mercyhurst College (now University!). Lucia and Brandon’s wedding was held in late September of 2012.

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Many Mercyhurst graduates have had their ceremonies at the chapel on the campus of the University. Lucia and Brandon chose to have their ceremony in Mercyhurst’s Christ the King Chapel:

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We captured some very nice images on the Mercyhurst campus as well:


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A lovely reception followed at the Hemingway Room at the Courtyard Marriott.

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Congratulations, Lucia and Brandon!

Erie Weddings: Danielle and Charles

Weatherwise, September 22nd was an “iffy” day. Part of it was sunny. Some was windy. Most of it was cloudy with the threat of precipitation. Danielle, our bride, was not about to be put off by a bit of rain!


The ceremony and reception were held at the historic Sunset Inn in Erie. Famous for its amazing views of the lake at sunset, this day did not have quite the sunset appeal for Danielle and Charles. But that did not stop them from having their ceremony outdoors!

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A delightful indoor reception followed:

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After the reception ended, I still wanted to capture the “Sunset” moment that they wished for and had missed, owing to the rainy weather. So a couple of days later, we ventured out and captured these memorable moments:

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Congratulations, Danielle and Charles! You did get your “Sunset” wedding!