Monday, April 26, 2010

It's Here....THE NEW BLOG!

Hey Guys, I've got a brand spankin' new blog, please click here and bookmark the new site, www.ashleysturmphotography.com/blog for all future posts. It looks incredible and is very easy to use! There will no longer be postings here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mark Your Calendars

Dear blog readers,

I have not deserted you, I am actually working on a project that you will directly benefit from. It's something that's been in the works for a while and I can hardly wait to share...! I hope to have everything ready to launch next Monday, so mark your calendars.

Please keep checking back for the exciting news promise it will be worth it!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mckenzie Carter / 2011 Senior Rep / Salem, OR Senior Photographer

Mckenzie is my first Senior Rep for 2011. I've had lots of applications coming in but this girl not only turned hers in first, I was very impressed with her application and how seriously she took this opportunity. I'm still accepting applications and most likely there's still a spot left at YOUR school! Download your application here and be sure to shoot me an email or comment here if you are planning to apply!

I want you all to get to know one of the new faces of Ashley Sturm Photography, Mckenzie Carter. I've had loads of fun becoming acquainted with this bubbly, energetic, intelligent teen.

Here are a few fun facts about her:

• Some of her favorite clothing stores include: Nordstrom, Buckle, Charlotte Russe, Forever 21 and Maurices.

• Extra Curricular Activities: Volleyball & Basketball.

• I asked if she had a style her peers want to emulate, here's what she answered:
"If I had to put a label on my style it would probably be sassy, fun, confident and girly all mixed into one."

• She plans to pursue her degree in Business and after college open a boutique shop in Portland or Seattle, and eventually bring her own line of clothing into the shop. (How cool is that!)




She looks stunning in this shoot above.



These are the 4x6 promo cards I ordered her, aren't they cool?

I don't think either of us can wait for her Spring shoot in May. We've begun planning all the fun details and I'm sure it will involve color, fashion, and just the right amount of 'edge'.

Once again, I'm still accepting applications for 2011 Senior Reps so if you're currently a Junior and think you may have what it takes, download the application and send it in today!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Austynn's Newborn Portraits / Salem, OR Photographer

There's something so special about capturing the first days of a baby's life. Their sweet innocence, love for their mother and need to be cared for and nurtured is completely unique to their age.

So much life ahead of them, so much love behind them. When I met Austynn and her mommy Kira I could see such a beautiful bond of love and affection. She's definitely a mommy's girl.

I wonder if I look so peaceful when I sleep? (hahaha)








Friday, April 9, 2010

DIY Bridesmaid Invitational Present

Today's entry is for all those who enjoy getting crafty! This particular project could be used for a variety of occasions from birthday to wedding favors, thank you's to x-mas presents. I used it as a way to ask my girlfriends and sisters to be my bridesmaids for my wedding.

I knew I wanted to make my bridesmaids feel special and pampered, and first impressions are everything, right? I decided to ask each girl individually to be my bridesmaid by offering them a cute little gift, something I would make.

After talking to Misty, my wedding planner from Luxe I was inspired to do something with a cupcake in cute packaging. I headed off to Michaels craft store to purchase all the materials and returned home to put everything together.


Here's What You'll Need:

(Calculate each item X the number of recipients.)
Small Kraft box
1-1/2 ft strip of 1-1/2 inch ribbon
6 inch strip of 1/4 inch ribbon
2 Tags each (I used some cute vintage ones made by Martha Stewart)
Computer paper
Glue
Scissors
Cupcakes - I choose cupcakes but there are many other items you could choose like cookies, jelly-beans, figurines, etc.)


Instructions

1. Cut all your ribbon, set aside.
2. Assemble each box.
3. Separate the tags into two piles; one for the name and one for the message.
4. Punch a hole into the name tags.
5. Punch two small holes 1/2 inch apart on the message tags.
6. On your computer type out each individual's name and space apart by 2 inches. Do the same with a message you want to share. Print and make sure the sizing will fit onto your tags.
7. Glue the printed names and messages into the tags.
8. Take your 1/4 inch ribbon poke through two small holes on your tag with the message, and tie into a small bow.
9. Glue tag with message to the bottom of lid (what faces you when you open it).
10. Place your present inside the box and seal with 1-1/2 inch ribbon. Take the name tag and bring the ribbon through, sealing it with a bow tie.
11. Cut out a heart shape on a patterned paper and glue to the front of the box.


I hope you enjoyed today's entry, do you think you may use this idea on the future? What for?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

8 Quick Tips To Portrait Photography, by Ezekiel

Have you ever wanted to learn how the professionals take a photo? I searched high and low and found just the person to demonstrate proper use of a camera. ; ) He may stand only 2 feet tall and be a mere 2.5 years old, but he's got the vocabulary of 3.5 year old and camera skilz like nobody's biznaz. (yes, I do a poor job at talking gangsta)

So with no further ado, let me introduce Ezekiel (hereinafter referred to as 'Zeeky") my nephew who's about to teach us all how to use our camera, mind, heart, and whim to utilize 8 tips to portrait photography.

1. Before you start clicking your shutter, get to know your subject. Notice their expressions; excitement, nervous, joy. Engage in conversation and establish common interests to make them more comfortable.

2. As you're talking, start envisioning what shots you'll take. Hold your eye up to the viewfinder and take some 'test shots.' Zeeky's got some really creative ways to look through your viewfinder, I may just try these myself. ; )

3. It's good to check your photos periodically as you go to ensure exposure is correct, but NEVER review each image and become more engaged with your playback than your subject. This can make them nervous and wonder if their photos are turning out.

Again, some creative ways to look through the viewfinder. : )

4. Still having trouble braking the ice with your subject? Give them a prop, something to focus on other than how to hold their hands. I like to find something either relevant to the subject or an object that I find aesthetically appealing, like this vintage bingo basket I found. Zeeky loves playing with this, and I find the concentration on his face perfectly represents where he's at in his developmental process.

5. Take time to photograph the details. Surroundings, props, eyes, hair, every part that represents them. Focusing in on one little part of your subject is a great way to really command the viewer's attention to that feature. Like Zeeky's hands. We may have missed how little and cute his little fingers were, or how dexterous he's becoming as he spins the bingo basket had I not focused in on just his hand.


6. Give your subject verbal prompts. As candid as these next few shots may look, I actually asked him to laugh at the camera. I'm all about a natural and un-posed photo, but sometimes a little acting goes a long way. Try to get as many natural smiles and giggles as you can, but don't be afraid to simply ask for the look you want.

7. Get on the same level. This is especially important when photographing small children. Being on the same level as your subject gives them more significance and power in your photo, and relates more intimately with them. There are times to get lower or higher, but don't always stand in place and shoot. Play with perspective and capture the world as they see it, from 2 feet tall.



8. Be true to yourself and your interests when you get behind the camera. Invest your whole mind and heart as you connect with your subject and dare to see things a new fresh way.


Alright, that's a wrap. Let's hear it for Zeeky, he did a splendid job!

Monday, April 5, 2010

High School Senior Reps 2011 / Salem, OR Photographer

Are you a Junior in High School, or do you know a Junior who wants FREE Senior Portraits?

Ashley Sturm Photography is now accepting
Senior Rep applications!

Senior Representatives are chosen to promote Ashley Sturm Photography and spread the word among their peers and their parent's friends and family. Any student that will be a senior during the 2010-2011 school year is qualified to apply. A maximum of 3 Reps from each high school will be accepted.
Download your application here.


As An Ashley Sturm Photography Rep You Receive:

• One FREE 2-hour on-location session in the Spring/early Summer ($125 value).
• Highly customized planning for your session including wardrobe, location, propping.
• Online gallery to view and share your photographs
• Custom Senior Rep referral* cards, each with your portraits, name, and information about our studio, PLUS a 10% discount to the person presenting your referral card. This means you can offer all your friends an exclusive discount of 10%, just because you're a Senior Rep!
• Special Press on ASP's Blog and Facebook page.

*A referral is a person you recommend that becomes a client of mine; someone you refer to me.

But That's Not All!

Each Referral = $20 gift card or a $35 print credit. You can choose from the following for your $20 gift card; Nordstrom, Starbucks, Best Buy, or Target.
Second Referral = Additional 2-hour on-location session in the late Summer/early Fall with a new online gallery and custom set of referral cards.
($125 value)
Third Referral = One 8x10 OR Two 5x7 customized softcover photo book(s) with 10 pages (20 sides) of photos from your session. ($250 value).

Fifth Referral =
15 full color 5x7 customized Senior Graduation Announcements. ($120 value)
Tenth Referral = 32GB iPod Touch ..... Seriously! ($299 value)

Ashley Sturm Photography makes sure being a Senior Rep pays off!
After your tenth referral you will have received products & services valued over $1,260, all for simply telling your friends and family about your personal experience with ASP and convincing them to book their own personal session.

So what are you waiting for?
Download your application, tell all your friends about this opportunity and take your first step to getting amazing senior portraits and a ton of amazing products FREE.

HURRY! Application deadline will be in May and seniors are chosen on a first-come first-serve basis. Don't miss out!


Call my business phone for more details:
(503) 559-1906,
Or Email me:
ashley@ashleysturmphotography.com ,
And Visit My Website:
www.ashleysturmphotography.com


Portraits from some of my 2010 seniors.







Friday, April 2, 2010

5 Things You Wouldn't Think To Do On A Rainy Weekend

Today, it's rainy. Today, it's stormy. Gray. Windy. Wet. Pitter-Patter. Gray.

It's Spring, right? Aren't we supposed to see blue skies, colorful flowers, picnics and afternoon walks? Oh, right, we live in Oregon.

If you live in Oregon the rain just can't get you down, or you'd be a pretty sad person most of the time. I think no matter the weather there's plenty to do on a weekend, so I'm sharing 5 things to do on a rainy day.

1. Get crafty and re-decorate for Spring. Search crafting blogs for ideas, Martha Stewart, and HGTV. Find forgotten treasures stored in your basement and give them a new polish. Recover those gray pillows with fresh colors and big floral prints.

2. Organize your family photos. (You know, the ones piled in the box buried in the garage?) Buy a nice photo album, or get creative and make are with your photos by making a collage.

3. Fancy up your typical 'Movie Marathon' with a fondue feast. Start with your appitizer course: breads and veggies dipped in cheesy heaven. Then your main; meats boiled in seasoned broth, dipped in an assortment of flavorful dips. Last but perhaps tastiest, finish with your dessert; warm chocolate with fruits, cakes, marshmallows, and nuts as dippers.

4. Turn your favorite room into a spa. Turn down the lights, put on some relaxing music, eat some cookies, light some candles and soak your feet. Maybe you could even convince your significant other or kids to give you a foot massage!

5. Do some online shopping for cute spring accessories on Etsy.

I'll throw in a 6th idea for kicks, draw pictures with chalk on your sidewalk. : )

Hope you all have a wonderful Easter weekend!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Product Spotlight: Senior Folio / Salem, OR Photographer

I've never been a fan of those cheap card stock senior folios used to display senior portraits. You know the ones with the gold lining? But after multiple clients asked what folios I offered I realized I had to find a higher quality product to offer them, and I did. :)

Made locally in Gresham these sleek leather folios offer a minimalistic, clean, sophisticated case for your senior's portraits (or any subject for that matter). The photo slots are customizable and they even offer imprinting. Comes with a beautiful black box to safely store and carry your folio.

Prices range from $105-$205 depending on size and the amount of photographs you want and include photographs. Imprinting costs an additional $45 but adds a personal touch.

Call today if you're interested, for a limited time I'm offering a 15% discount to any customer who mentions this post when ordering their folio. Offer ends April 14th 2010.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Austynn's Sneak Peek / Salem OR Newborn Photographer

Last Friday I got to meet sweet little Austynn who's a five-week-old darling girl. Enjoy this preview to next week's full post!

Friday, March 26, 2010

What You Should Know Before Choosing Your Wedding Vendors

Today's personal wedding entry is focused on searching for your ideal vendor, comparing one vendor's pricing and products to another's, and making your final selection. The pressure to find your best vendor can be very intimidating, I know I spent countless hours researching a location that was cute but within our little budget. It took way more time than I imagined, but in the end I was happy to know I had truly found the best location at a very reasonable price.


Isn't it so cute?!















Before I get lay out this process I have to say something very important. Choosing a vendor is so much more than who offers the best price and who has the the flashiest website. You're choosing someone who will not only supply a product that sets a tone for your wedding, you're choosing someone who you can rely on to be professional, timely, relaxed friendly, and courteous to you and your family. As a photographer I insist that a bride and groom schedule a free wedding consultation to meet me in person and be able to discuss my pricing, products, and style. This is very important that they get to know me as a person and I get to know them, which allows me to know what products and services to direct them to. When you leave the consultation you should see they have shown all the traits you find essential.

The last thing you need is to deal with a stressed unorganized vendor with bad people skills the day of your wedding. I can't say enough how important it is to sit down and talk face to face with vendors before making your final selection. It's easy these days with technology and social media to conduct all your communications through email, but anyone can sound friendly through in type. : ) You have to take the time to meet them in person and see if you like them not just because they have a good price and offer a nice product, but because you feel comfortable with them as a person.

Based on my experience, there are four stages to finding your wedding vendors.

1. First you begin your search for vendors, but how? Start by asking friends and family for recommendations, and see if there are any wedding professional in your circle of friends. You'll be amazed at how willing people are to offer their advice. There's almost nothing better than a good or bad referral to direct you to the right vendor, or away from the wrong one. Search online from Google Maps, search google with keywords such as wedding florist, Salem OR, look to wedding websites like weddingwire.com and Portland Style Unveiled, and visit bridal shows. Gather a list of a few vendors in each category of need by bookmarking their websites, saving clippings from magazines, etc. I personally created folders for each vendor; florist, invitation, ect, for easy reference.


2. Your Second step is to begin contacting businesses to check their availability and learn about their pricing, packages, and products. In my opinion this is the hardest part as it involves a lot of back and forth through email or phone, and a bazillion pricing sheets and contracts to decipher. As you start getting responses you'll be able to weed out those that simply aren't available and those that either aren't in your price range or don't offer products you are interested in. Or you may even get a bad vibe or not seen the level of customer service you expect through your initial communication. I've always had a high expectation for customer service and wouldn't settle for anyone that fell below that. After you've done your research and narrowed down your options to a few in each category, you're ready for step three.

3. The Third part is fun because you get to meet the wedding vendors and interview them. Yes, you should talk with your vendors face to face, and come prepared with good questions. Do a little research beforehand to be educated in good questions to ask. Bring a pad and paper. Here you really get to know the personality and professionalism of your vendors. Better to find out their personality at a coffee shop 6 months before than the day of your wedding when there's no turning back!

4. In most cases after meeting your potential vendors you will have a solid list of favorites to choose from. All that's left to do is make your final selection and make things official by contacting them and making your deposits and signing contracts. One last tip is to read through all the contracts and make sure you understand what you're signing!


Here is a list of my top recommendations for wedding vendors as a bride and a wedding professional myself:

Wedding Planner
Luxe Event Productions : ) Owner Misty is the sweetest gal you'll meet full of incredible ideas and practical advise.

Locations (close to Salem, Oregon)
Historic Deepwood Estates Very reasonably priced and simply stunning
Settlemier House Also very affordable and full of character
Green Villa Barn Unsurpassed setting. This was my top choice for location, it's just a little pricey for me.

Photographer
Ashley Sturm Photography It may be silly to recommend myself but I really believe in the product and experience I provide.

Invitations
Red Pearl Designs I can't recommend enough that you order your invitations through owner of RPD, Megan. With exceptional products and outstanding customer service you're to love RPD!

Florist
Bella Fleur Floral Design

Now that I've shared my recommendations, I want to know what YOURS are! Have you chosen any vendors you're particularly excited about? Do you have experiences you'd like to share, websites we simply HAVE TO go to, vendors we can't live without?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shabby-Chic Desk Makeover / Salem, OR Photographer

Does anyone else find thrift-store shopping therapeutic? You know, you hit up Value Village on your day off, pick through their shelves filled with dirty nick-nacks hoping to find the vintage camera you oogled on Anthropologie's website last night. Do you ever do a happy dance when you score a major find at a crazy low price, and tell all your friends at least 3 times? There's something so satisfying about the pursuit; like a treasure hunt. Just talking about this is making me want to hit up a nearby second-hand shop. But how could I share MY amazing find with you if I did?



It was about a year ago I found this little bed stand table (the only 'before' photo of it I could find) at Value Village right off 25th & Mission Street. It was $9 and I scooped it up after noticing it's rustic knobs and all the intricate detailing on the drawers. That was back when I had my 89 Volvo Wagon that could hold anything, it looked like this:


I finally got the motivation to give it a new paint finish which I feel has improved it's looks by leaps and bounds! Ryan and I sanded it down and gave it two coats of April Mist 450E-2 Behr paint. To complete the vintage look we roughed it up with sandpaper and carefully took razer blades to the edges.


Isn't it CUTE! Ryan and I love it. Partly because it cost us under $12, partly because of it's shabby-chic look we (or, I) adore, and mostly because it was home project where we've gotten our hands dirty. Things just mean so much more when you put a little sweat and labor into it. I've always looked forward to 'making a home' with my husband, it's so grand to see it all come together!

What does this have to do with photography? Nothing. But it has everything to do with ME, who's behind the camera. I like to share little pieces of who I am and inspire YOU to get creative, think outside the box, and hit up your local thrift store. Happy shopping, and be sure to share your best find and favorite place treasure hunt.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Home Interior / Salem OR Commercial Photographer

If I told you the owners of this house rescued a cat from Africa and brought it back, tamed it from being wild and that same once-wild cat was snuggling me while taking these shots, would you believe me? Well it's the truth, and these folks not only have 5, yes FIVE house cats, they own alpacas and harvest their fur. If I wasn't so gosh-darned scared of them I might have grabbed some photos but something about alpacas, llamas, and camels give me the heebie-jeebies.

My Grandma asked me to take a little trip with her to Corvallis to photograph a home she decorated for a client. Her business, Inside Views is an interior design company and she needed some updated shots to use in her portfolio. Don't let the fact that she's a grandma, (great-grandma actually) fool you. Her work is stunning and taste is flawless. I see a lot of myself in her and am thankful for all she's taught me. Her creativity, persistence, petite-ness, stamina, drive, and workaholic tendencies. Yes, I can be a bit of a workaholic. : /

Enough about me, let's check out these cool commercial photographs of this funky house!





Monday, March 22, 2010

I Need Your Vote / 2010 Best Of Mid Valley


Hi Fans! Today I've got a special request that involves YOU. Through April 6th votes are being cast for the 2010 Best of the Mid-Valley and it would just knock my socks off to be nominated! With no need for login votes are made simply and quickly, it took me 1 minute. You can vote once a day which means you could vote every day between now and then if you felt so inclined. Winners are announced May 2nd.



Here's How To Vote:

1. Click this link to head over to the Statesman Journal's website where votes are being cast.
2. Select the 'Professional Services' button.
3. Under Photographer, select 'Ashley Sturm Photography'.
4. Repeat as many times as you like, once a day. : )

It's a long shot being a new photographer compared to some who've been in business over 10 years, but why not try?! Thanks in advance for all who vote, I really appreciate your support!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Photography Tip: Image Workflow / Salem, OR Photographer

Nerds Be-Ware - You're going to LOVE this blog!

I'm curious to know how many photographers or aspiring photographers read my blog. For anyone who's tech savvy, into digital photography, or is simply interested in what happens in between me taking a photograph and you receiving a print, read on! Today's entry is about my work-flow. Does it make me a nerd that I'm excited to share what I feel is an efficient, smart work-flow? It seems to work well and save on time, despite my sloooow laptop. I'm hoping to upgrade to the 21 or 72 inch iMac sometime this year....oh what delight!

I would love to be a source of information to others and share some tips I've learned along the way. I'm so thankful for all I've learned and hope to share some advice to make someone else's process easier.

OK, here's my process from capture to final backup. I've included plenty of screenshots for those of you who are visual like me. : )

1. Import RAW images into Lightroom, checking the following menu options:


a. File Handling: Copy photos to a new location and add to catalog.
b. Copy to: (Here's the filing system I use): External Hard-drive/Ashley Sturm Photography/Images/Work-Portraits/2010/03-19 Client Name, Shoot Type. (This really keeps everything nice and organized!).
c. Organize: Into one folder.
d. Backup: I do one backup to my 1TB external hard-drive, using the same filing system as above. The other backup is on my CF card for a few days.
e. File Name: leave as original.
f. Information to apply: Under Keywords I input relevant keywords.


2. In Library mode do culling (The act of culling; The process of selecting for acceptance or removal). Choose collection to show clients using the filter options by staring with "1". Select 10-20 for BLOG and Facebook and mark red. Delete remaining from disk.


3. Color Correct all images stared "1", sync develop settings as possible. After color correct is complete, 'select all', and hit Apple+S, or on the menu, Metedata, Save metedata to file. This saves an XMP alongside the RAW file. Based on my research an XMP is a small file that retains all your Lightroom adjustments alongside your RAW file, referred to as a sidecar file.

4. Export Files For Client Gallery. I've been using Zenfolio, and found a plugin called Jeffrey Friendl's 'Export to Zenfolio' Plugin. It exports web-formatted JPGs and uploads them to a new gallery folder which I create, all in one step. It takes a while but you can just walk away from your computer or do something else in the meantime. Easy.

a. I create a gallery name that lands on the Home Page, and select to sort gallery by date taken.



I have to make a side note. Any export settings I use often, say exporting for blog, for editing, for zenfolio, for print, ect I save. I do this by making all my export selections and clicking Add under the Presets section on the left of the Export menu. Saves lots of time!


5. Edit Favorites in Photoshop for Blog, Website, and Facebook. I select all my red marked images and use my custom Photoshop preset to export:



a. Export To: Same folder as original photo.
b. Check Add to This Catalog & Stack with Original. This will automatically add the file to your catalog and place it right next to the original RAW file.
c. I keep the file name the same.
d. File Setting: 100% quality JPG, AdobeRGB (1998).
e. I don't check anything else. Make sure it's all full resolution.


6. Open files in Photoshop, edit (I use Jesh De Rox Colorshift actions which I love!) After I'm done I flatten, save as JPG, and close. When you jump back over to Lightroom you'll see all your adjustments from Photoshop.


7. Export for web using my preset for Blog or Website.


8. Make all adjustments and preparations for print order.


9. Final backup to external hard-drive and DVD. I use Toast as my burning software. It's easy to use with a thorough set of menu options.

And that completes my digital workflow! Now comes the best part, share what your favorite editing tricks are, what you learned, or how I could improve my process. I love your feedback and hope this can be like a forum of inspiration, information, and daily doses of happiness.

Have a wonderful weekend, enjoy some sun, and I'll see ya bright and early Monday!


Luxe Event Productions Preferred Vendor

Luxe Event Productions Preferred Vendor
Luxe Event Productions Preferred Vendor

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