Senior Sport Players – the Guys

Over the past few years, I have grown to absolutely love shooting senior sports pictures. It’s not something I expected to love early in my career, but with experience and a now extensive repertoire of Photoshop skills, they have become one of my favorite things to shoot. That’s one reason I love taking photographs for senior guys! Most of them choose to do a sports session as part of their senior experience, and each sport and session has its own fun take. I get to play around with various backgrounds and special effects to make each image stand out. That, after all, is the goal: A stand out image. These guys have put their blood, sweat, and tears into the game and they deserve to have an amazing product to capture their success. As they wrap up their high school careers, I want them to have something to show off to their family and friends that shows their skills in a larger-than-life kind of way.

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Another reason these sessions are a favorite for guys is that they get to be in their element. I’ve had very few senior guys who were thrilled to get dressed up and pose for pictures. But when they can just kick around a soccer ball and show off some skills, they are so much more comfortable. As someone who does not like to be on the other end of the camera, I can totally sympathize! The more relaxed the session can be, the better. Shooting portraits for senior guys is a very different experience than shooting for senior girls, and I am so thankful to get to enjoy utilizing different skills of my own to create something that fits the personality of each client. I love it all. I’ve said it many times and I’ll keep saying it: My job is awesome.

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Fairy Tale Photo Shoot

“Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale.” – Hans Christian Andersen

Fairy tales are wonderful. Even though our lives may seem much less exciting than fairy tales, very lacking in dragons and fairy godmothers, the things that make fairy tales wonderful are there. We experience love, pain, adventure, heartache, triumph, and everything in between. I think that’s why we admire and relate to the characters we grew up with. We see their struggles and successes, and we come to find that they’re not so different from our own. Their personalities, too, are not so different. Maybe they’re a little too flawless, but we can certainly identify with their bravery, ambition, determination, compassion, and kindness. They are fierce defenders of goodness. In them we can see the traits that make us who we are, and the ones we hope to emulate.

I loved getting to see which characters my senior models related to most. From the compassion of Pocahontas to the bravery of Merida, each of my seniors had a reason to choose who they wanted to portray. And they rocked it! Check out some highlights from each of their concept shoots. Starting with . . .

Merida, Brave

Merida Concept Shoot, senior portraits fairy tale, merida, senior concept sessions


Belle, Beauty and the Beast

 Belle senior model concept session, fairy tales

Ariel, The Little Mermaid

 mermaid photo shoot, senior model, senior photographer  

Little Red Riding Hood

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 pocahontas concept shoot, senior model, huntsville photographer, cindy shaver photography

The Secret Garden

 secret garden concept shoot, senior model, huntsville photographer, cindy shaver photography  secret garden concept shoot, senior model, huntsville photographer, cindy shaver photography


 fairy concept shoot, senior model, huntsville photographer, cindy shaver photography

and finally,


Rapunzel concept shoot, senior model, huntsville photographer, cindy shaver photography


Best luck to these amazing girls as they write the next chapters of their own stories!

View the entire series of images at

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Choosing the BEST Photographer for Your Family Moments

There are several things to consider when choosing the best photographer for the key events in your life.  What style photography do you prefer?  Are you looking for someone to capture a formal family portrait?   Would you rather it be a casual, relaxed image of your family; or are you wanting something unique that shows personality or conveys a message about who your family are or what they love?  Choosing a skilled portrait artist can help bring whatever vision you have to the portraits that adorn your walls.

We live in a time when just about everyone has a nice camera and can take a decent photograph, so why spend the extra money on a professional photographer?   A trained professional can bring so much more to an image than simply pressing a shutter.  They have been trained to use light correctly, whether it be natural light or a strobe.   A professional knows how best to pose individuals so they look the best in their images.  The lens choice used in a portrait can completely change the look, and a professional know this well.  Read over the graphics below to learn more about the difference in hiring the best professional for your moment and allowing a friend to snap pictures for you.

Every photographer is an artist and has their own style that they use in creating their art.  Look through galleries of images and make sure the photographer you are considering matches the style of imagery you are wanting for your home.   But, keep in mind that art is also a trendy beast, so determine for yourself if the current trend is something that will hold the test of time.   Portraiture should stand the test of time.   Today’s wall art will become a family heirloom for your children and their children, make it special!


Finding a Professional Photographer Choosing a professional photographe


Take a minute (or three) to watch the following video:

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Out of the Box Senior Portraits – Huntsville Senior Portrait Photographer

It’s a cold and rainy day as I sit and write this blog post.   This type of weather makes for a very slow season for photographers.  However, it is the perfect opportunity to practice new skills and shoot for yourself.   I’ve taken the opportunity to work on two concept shoots over the past couple of weeks.  Both are ideas for concept shoots for my incoming senior models.   My plan for the Class of 2017 senior models is to provide each of them with a concept/themed shoot for their marketing images.   These will also become an add-on option for future seniors in the north Alabama area.

The first concept was brought to me by my sweet friend Heather Edstrom who even provided me with her beautiful niece Lexi to model for us.  Heather even brought in the amazing stylist Randi Preston of Bridal Hair Huntsville to create the perfect look for Lexi and our woodland themed session.     We used moss, fog and our beautiful model to create some dramatic images for this session.

For the next “shoot for myself” session, I brought in Colleen Gagnon, MUA and Randi Prestion of Bridal Hair Huntsville to create a 1920s look for a few of my senior models.    This theme was old Hollywood glamour.   The two of them took a few suggestions from me and some from the girls and proceeded to create amazing looks for this session.    I have to say, I’m normally a fan of soft light and a bit lower lighting ratios, but I absolutely adore the harder light and the higher ratio in these images.   I’d love to hear what you think.

If you know of a Class of 2017 senior who would love a great experience and some amazing image, send them my way.

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Certified Professional Photographer – Why and How



As I proctored the Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) exam this morning, I thought it might be nice to share with others why I chose to get certified and how you can do the same.

Will certification bring in more clients?   No, not really.   While I have been hired, on occasion, simply because someone wanted a CPP, it doesn’t lead to a great number of new clients.

Will it gain the respect of other photographers?    Maybe.    That depends on the photographer.   Most photographers that respect the education process and what the CPP process entails will certainly respect you more as a professional.   But, there are very many photographers who are amazing artists and have not chosen to go through the process.

Then, why?    For me, I did it simply for myself, as a personal challenge to see if I could.    Would I do it again?   Absolutely!  I learned so much and grew so much as a photographer during and since the process.  That’s why I recommend it to others who want to take their skills to the next level.

In the words of Julia Boyd of the Professional Photographers of America:  “The mission of the CPP Program is to define a consistent standard of professionalism in photography, to provide the education necessary to achieve that standard, and to validate the photographer’s technical proficiency and knowledge of those standards through a rigorous examination and portfolio review.   The letters CPP after you name are a declaration of your professional competence.   Professional certification is a concept that consumers have come to equate with a guarantee of quality and experience.”

How does one become certified?     Here are the steps and some resources that will help you along the way:

1.   Visit PPA’s website and declare your candidacy.     (You must be a member of PPA to be certified.)

2.  STUDY!        The standard book suggested for study is Photography by London      PPA member and CPP Liaison Al Audleman has written a book that is an excellent source for studying for the updated exam.    Contact him to purchase that resource.

The PPA site has some study resources HERE.

Once you have declared your candidacy, there are two Facebook groups with great mentors who will help you along the way:

Exam  Study Group

Image Review Group

There are also CPP Prep classes available throughout the year at PPA Headquarters in Atlanta, GA, and at Imaging USA.

3.  Check out the CPP information online for update image submission requirements and start shooting toward those requirements.

4.  Join the Facebook groups and participate, read over previous comments and critiques and share your questions and images so those who have been through the process can help you attain the goal.

5.   For some one on one help, find a liaison in your state and ask for assistance.

6.  Check the PPA website for test dates and register, when you feel you are ready to take the exam.

The certification process will not only raise your skill level, but also your level of confidence in yourself as an artist.    Who wouldn’t want that?





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Tips for Taking Better Photos

Did you get a new camera for Christmas?    Do you have a camera collecting dust because you haven’t taken the time to learn to use it?  I want to offer some tips to get you started taking better photos of your friends and family.  These are your memories, so snap away and print them for future enjoyment.   Images on a disc cannot be enjoyed nearly as much as those in a scrapbook or family album.   I recommend printing at an online lab rather than at a local department store.   MPIX is the site I recommend using.

Photography is ALL about capturing light, so making sure your subject is in good light is key.  Open shade with your subject facing the light is the best place to start.  Look at the eyes, you should see light reflected there.   Make sure there are not hot spots of light on your subject – especially their faces.

child photographer

A true expression is always more meaningful than the fake smiles – saying, “Cheese,” simply doesn’t cut it.    Don’t be afraid to interact and, if needed, act silly to get a real smile.

Senior Portrait Photographer, Huntsville, AL

Finally, focus on the eyes.    If the eyes are out of focus, the entire image will appear “soft.”


I’ve pinned a lot of great information on my Pinterest board.    If you use Pinterest, I’d check it out and repin any that you find useful.

I also recommend some great FREE learning resources available to you at your convenience:

Digital Photography 101 on YouTube is an amazing resource.    Start from the beginning and practice what you learn in order to grow your skills. is another resource.   Click HERE to purchase a great online course for beginners.     CreativeLive broadcasts webinars daily that you can watch free or purchase downloads to watch at your convenience.   Be sure to check out their catalog of past courses to see if there are others you may want to purchase.

Most importantly:   Practice, practice, practice.    You can not skip this step!    Good luck and enjoy the process.





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