Saturday, April 30, 2011

2011 Portfolio Review - panelists announced

In class the other day, they announced the 3 photographers who will be panelists reviewing our portfolios.

They are:

Lois Greenfield

Lois's photography is quite stunning; she takes some of the most graceful and detailed pictures of dancers. She is known for freezing motion of the dancers. Here are some images that I grabbed from the web of her work:

Matthew Jordan Smith

Matthew Jordan Smith is known for his work with A-listers like Oprah, Halle Berry, Britney Spears, Mandy Moore, Jamie Foxx, and more. He does a lot of advertising and lifestyle work as well. He has published a few books, including Sepia Dreams and Lost and Found.

Here are a few of his pictures:

and Grant Peterson (whose picture I could not find anywhere on the web), nor any of his work. I have heard of him and Gregory Heisler - our artist in residence - is very good friends with him.

I am excited for these panelists, but it's a tad intimidating knowing that these professionals - who have established themselves in photography - are going to be looking at MY work. Wow! My portfolio review is scheduled for either Monday, June 6th or Tuesday, June 7th. I could go on either it's a bit over a month away before we turn in our portfolios (June 1). There is still SOOO much that needs to be done.

One day at a day at a day at a time!
Pin It

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Essentials for the Business

As we near the end of our time at Hallmark, there are a few things that are essentials for running a successful photography business. This entire year, we have been trained in multiple programs, two of which we've used on a near daily basis. As students we get discounted prices on these two programs -- Lightroom and Photoshop.

Lightroom is a post-capture editing software that allows us to enhance our pictures with regards to exposure, brightness, luminance, sharpening, lens correction, vignetting, etc. We also have the ability to crop and prepare pictures for printing. But before we print, we take our optimized images and edit them in Photoshop, which is where a lot of aesthetic changes are made.

In Photoshop is where most of the beauty enhancements take place. On people we remove blemishes, fix skin tonal issues or uneven skin tones, and work with a bunch of technical sounding things like curves and masks and layers. On objects, we're doing things like using the pen tool to "strip" products and placing them on different backgrounds, using healing tools, brushes and clone stamps to enhance the products to make them the best they can be.

So.....I bought Lightroom and Photoshop and installed them on my computer last week.

Since I'm a photographer, of course I had to take a picture of what came in my package.

And for fun, here's an example of stripping a product and putting in on a new background. You may remember seeing these products in my Phase 3 work, but what you didn't see is what was captured with the camera. As I've said before, it's all about the lighting. So we have to photograph our products with lighting considered, then in post-production we make all the changes and enhancements that are needed to make the final product.*

Here's the "before" you can see, I am holding a "fill" card to allow the light to reflect and illuminate the silver part of the bottle, where the text is. There is also a fill card on the right hand side of the bottle. Notice how close it is to the dispenser part of the tip. And then on the left - slightly out of frame - is a large soft box. The "background" of the picture is another softbox, simply allowing the background to be white and non-distracting.

And the "after" shot with the product on a different background with drop and cast shadows, as well as design elements.

*disclaimer: As I may have mentioned, Bath and Body Works did not contact me to do any of this work. We had to select a product we wished to photograph for a student assignment.

There's so much that goes into producing a picture. I haven't shared any of my Phase 4 work, because I want to wait till it's submitted to post the pictures. But just imagine this....we need to take a total of 27 pictures...all of which go through Lightroom and Photoshop editing.

So in the meantime I am posting about other things going on at school and in life. I can't wait to share what I've been working on.
Pin It

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring is (finally) coming....

I went home to NJ this past weekend for Easter. It was so wonderful to see buds on trees and flowers that had already blossomed. But then I came back to rain and darkness again in MA.

But, we've finally had a minor it was over 70 degrees. I have a tshirt and flip flops on and it feels wonderful. And while I wish I could be outside enjoying it, I picked this evening to be an evening of editing inside, in a room with no windows.

So while I'm stuck inside, enjoy this lovely picture I took this weekend at my parent's house.

Happy Spring, everyone!

Pin It


I know I already have one blood sister, but I have so many other "sisters" in my life. One of these is Hannah. Hannah and I met in 2001 when I went to their house to tutor one of her brothers as a college student. At first I wasn't sure how long I'd stay and tutor, but my tutoring turned into being an "adopted" member of Hannah's family. I love visiting with my family in PA, people who truly care for me and treat me as one of their own.

I haven't been able to spend much time with them this past year when I go visit. It's usually spending the night, getting back late, and leaving early for whatever I have going on. But I am so thankful for the Bingamans. So many of the people in my life know how important they are to me. And I am thankful for Hannah. She has two brothers and no sisters. I count it an honor to be a sister to her. She has grown so much since the 10-year old I knew 10 years ago. She has a heart of gold and will be a lifelong sister-friend. She came up a few weeks ago to visit, and it was so neat to show her Hallmark and how my life is. I even made her stay out till after midnight while a classmate and I took our self portraits at night.

Han, I love you. You are a beauty, inside and out!!

Pin It

Sunday, April 24, 2011

New Stationery Package

I am nearing the final version of my (already) updated logo/brand. My wonderful friend John came up with the design....then I tweaked some of the layout based on what I liked best. John, thanks for taking the time to prepare such a wonderful set of possibilities. I am hopeful to hang onto this for quite awhile.

You may have already seen part of my branding on my website, but if you've not yet checked out my website, PLEASE visit!!

So here's the front of my business card:

....and the back of my business card:

And this is the letterhead:

And finally my envelope:

I am really happy with how it turned out. There is one thing I'd like to do that I'm not quite sure I know how to do, so I may be asking John to help me out one more time.
Pin It

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ruby's Pink Party

I went to Thailand in 2008 for PBU - the university I worked for - as the director of their extension campus for 5 weeks. Toward the end of my trip there, I got an email from the university saying that this woman had contacted them looking to see if we had any connections in Thailand. They put her in touch with me, and I found out she and her husband were looking to adopt a little girl from Thailand. We met over lunch while she told me about the daughter she hoped to bring into her family. In 2009 Ruby came to the States to be raised by this incredible couple.

Last year, I contacted Jen - Ruby's mom - because she had BEAUTIFUL tulips blossoming in her front yard. I went over last year around this time to take pictures of the flowers, some of which are my favorite pictures. Jen and I keep in touch from time to time and we each follow each other's blogs. I wrote Jen a few weeks ago about the tulips and also to see if I could take some pictures of Ruby while I was in town. Jen suggested a unique photo op I wasn't expecting. Ruby's 4th bday party was this weekend, and I had the privilege to photograph the events of the afternoon. I loved taking pics of all the details, including the efforts of Jen. She made a beautiful pink cake, homemade pink popcorn, pink cupcakes, pink marshmallows, pink lemonade, pink cookies, had pink rock candy, pink-labeled bottles of water, pink tutus and wands, and a whole host of other pink things....are you noticing a theme? It was so fun seeing these little girls all decked out in their fairy outfits. There was a woman who came to do face painting...she painted little butterflies on the girls' precious!

This is Miss Ruby...isn't she just darling. Jen and Jeff, thanks for allowing me to spend an afternoon with your little angel. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to be in touch...and hope that you continue to enjoy raising your little Thai princess!

Pin It

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mike and Karen Smiley

While home over Spring Break, I attended the wedding of some good friends. I first met Mike my freshman year of college, but we weren't close till about our junior year. Mike and I have weathered a lot, and I am thankful for his graciousness throughout our friendship. About two years ago, I met Karen and began to hear stories - from Mike - about dates they would go on and how important she was becoming to him. He popped the question this past fall and they scheduled a wedding for the end of March.

Congrats Karen and Mike.....I pray you enjoy the first months of marriage and settle in well.

And while at the wedding, I got to see some good friends from college. One of the people I met on the very first days of college was Christa. We don't get the opportunity to talk as often, but she is a dear friend of mine. And since I'm behind the camera most of the time now, it's nice to have someone else take a picture of me with a friend.

Pin It

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sarah Zimmerman Photography | Open for Business!

Some of you may have already heard, but my website has launched! I am so very excited to have my website up and running. I know there are many more images I could include, but it's been recommended that we only include pictures since we've been at Hallmark.

Sarah Zimmerman Photography

Please visit and take a peek at the site. I am using a hosting site called PhotoBiz; their customer service is incredible and they are working every day on improving their templates and aspects of their site for their customers. I know there are tiny things on the template that I wish I could change, yet I am thankful for a place where the "site" is there and I just have to customize it, because it saves a lot of hours to code a website, and although I like techie stuff, I know nothing about HTML coding.

Thanks to those of you who have already given feedback. If you have comments on the site, feel free to fill out the contact form with your thoughts, or leave a comment on this post.

I can't wait to start getting clients from hits to my site.

And I have Google Analytics, which keeps a report of the traffic to my are some cool facts.

I definitely saw a rise in those visiting the site when I announced its launch on Facebook. Over 80% of the people who visited the site did so through the link on FB. The remaining 20% or so got to my site by entering it directly into their web browser.

And here's how many have visited to date (4/19):

I really would love to have more unique views of my page, so tell all your friends to go visit my site.

As I prepare my Phase 4 portfolio, I'll be adding more pictures! Be on the lookout for new pictures......
Pin It

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Brittanie and Matt - married!

My roommate Julie and I received the opportunity to photograph the wedding of Brittanie and Matt. Their wedding took place this past Saturday at the Helen Hills Chapel on the campus of Smith College in Northampton, MA.

The day was beautiful. The sun was shining and it was truly one of the first NICE days we've had here in MA. It's been a loooong winter, so to have a day where the temps. reached 60+ degrees, we were so joy-filled! It couldn't have been a more beautiful day!

Brittanie and Matt had a small wedding; those who attended were close friends. Brittanie and Matt have a young daughter - Kaya - who also came to the wedding.

We had a lot of fun taking pictures, and I realize there is still much I have to learn. Here are just a few of the images we got from the day.

Brittanie and Matt chose to "jump the broom" at the end of their ceremony. Its purpose/meaning is different to each couple who do it...

I just looove this detail shot; Julie was taking pictures of them from the front and I was standing to the side.

We went to this gazebo near the church to take some couple portraits. I was mostly posing while Julie was taking pictures, but this is one I was able to get. The sun was really bright, so we moved around a lot to try and get them out of the direct sun.

Since the number of those who attended was manageable, we took a group photo outside the church after the ceremony.

(photo credit on this image: Julie Bloniasz)
Pin It

Monday, April 11, 2011

2011 Annual Student Open House

This past weekend was Hallmark's annual Student Open by the students (with help and guidance from our instructors). I signed up to be a chairperson for the Commercial Studio. We were responsible for making sure all the bays were set up with final "hero" images set on the computers in each bay. Thankfully we had 14 people sign up to be on the Commercial Studio team, so that's 2 extra that didn't have bays. Another classmate - Megan - and I opted out of having bays so we could stand at the front and welcome people in, or stand in when other classmates were showing friends and family around.

We came up with the idea to have something at the entrance of the studio welcoming people I got some letters from a teacher supply website and we hung some black seamless paper....and had all of the Commercial Studio people sign their names on the sign in chalk. We also gathered pictures from everyone - 1 self portrait and 3 of each person's favorite shots from commercial - and made it into a slideshow that looped the whole time.

A bunch of other things were going on as well. The portrait studio had 3 bays set up and were taking peoples' pictures, the DL (Design Lab) and IT (Imaging Theater) had all the monitors on with our work displayed on the screens. One of the other portrait studios displayed juried work (of which one of my pictures was a part). There was food upstairs, a slideshow of work in the auditorium on the massive screen with music playing, and then (probably my most favorite part), 3 pieces of each student's work was hung in mattes up and down the hallways. It was sooo neat to see everyone's work hung and looking great. People had business cards in the slots too, so if people wanted, they could take a business card. And then finally, in the classroom, students set up a live demo of stop-action shots...students thought up the idea, built the set, and organized how it would work. So the students put on the suits and other students would hurl paint onto them. The image would then appear on the projector to the right of frame (not included in the pic below).

I took just a few pictures of the day, so you could see some of what was going on throughout the day:

This is a classmate Gary walking though the hallway of our personal work hanging. I got this shot before everything started.

Here's my work hanging on the wall....if you can't identify it, mine are the ones in the middle (the bottom pic is the one of the little girl with the green background)

My photo - of my high-key female - which was selected to be in the juried print room.

The entrance to our Commercial Studio...we have "movie lights" shining on them, which made the silver letters glisten

The Commercial Studio at-a-glance...all the bays looked great. And you can see the powerpoint slideshow going on in the top right of the frame.

I mentioned that in the classroom they had a live demo going on....students dressed up in painter suits and had paint thrown at them

And although my family couldn't come up, I had a few friends come and see me. My friend M L - who I have dinner with every few weeks - stopped by to say hi and have a look around. Then my new friends Ron and Fran came by...they were just so impressed with everything they saw. They even came back for round #2 after picking up their grandsons from the movies.

It was a fun day and a lot of work. We had to do our own fundraising, including a spaghetti dinner, a St. Patty's Day lunch, a talent show, game night and then valentines and clover cards that could be sent to other students.

I think I can speak for all the students, though, and say we're glad to have it be over. Now we can concentrate on taking pictures for our Phase 4....I need to get hustling!!!!
Pin It

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Welcome to the world, Danielle!!

One of my best friends had her first baby on March 13th. I knew I'd be heading home for Spring Break just a few days later, and was excited to see Jess and meet Dani. I held Dani for awhile, and she fell asleep while I was holding her. She has such a sweet demeanor and has the tiniest baby belly.

She has a lot of loving family members to dote on her and I know Jess and Scott are going to be fabulous parents.

Congrats! She is a beautiful and precious baby girl. I can't wait to watch her grow up.
Pin It

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Today we had 4 hours of location studio. We went to an abandoned bank in Greenfield (one town over). The interior of this bank was beautiful. The former safe was still in tact, looking as large as life. The ceiling was high. The original counter with slots for bank deposit slips was still there. The tiles for the bathroom were still there. The wrought iron gate to enter the safe still was affixed to its hinges.

And so for 4 hours, we spent our time taking pictures inside. Our assignment was to mix ambient (available) and strobe (flash) lights to create two black-and-whites to be used for commercial advertising. One picture needed to be vertical (suitable for a cover) and the other a horizontal (suitable for a double-page spread).

These are the results of my friend Rikki:

Pin It

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I had the privilege to photograph 3-month old baby Wes. He has that boyish look to him already, even though he's still all baby.

We got him to smile a few times and his big baby blues are mesmerizing.

I realize as I photograph more and more babies that there is so much to learn. I think of photographers like Anne Geddes, who can pose babies in these incredible ways, and only wish I could take pictures that are hard to take your eyes off of. I know I have many more babies on whom I can practice my photographic skills, so friends with babies (or those yet to arrive), I am ready and willing!!

Pin It

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Brand

With the help of my wonderful friend John and my instructor Pete, I've decided to change my logo/brand. If you've followed my blog, you'll remember my stationery set that we had to design for a class.

When I got my grade back, Pete mentioned he didn't know how he felt about all the circles. He said that the typeface of the font of the Sarah Zimmerman could stand alone as its own "brand". But I really liked the idea of some shape as a design element besides the type. So I contacted my friend John - who is a graphic designer - and asked if he'd help me out. John was oh, so wonderful and sent me this zip file of logos, font styles, and the working files I needed to pick and choose some of the design elements he created specifically for a look for my business. I love the design John came up with and am now in the process of creating my new business card, letterhead and envelope. Once that's done, I can create the header for my website, watermark for my images, and hopefully launch my website soon!! I've been working on it and am happy with how it looks so far.

The new design incorporates colors I love - green, blue, and brown - and a circle, in a way that makes me feel like part of me is coming through the look and feel of the new "circle".

I am very excited to share my design with you...Keep checking back for updates!
Pin It

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Featured Work

I went online to get some web links from Hallmark's site, and just as I was about to click on a page, I saw my art historical reference come up in the featured work at the top of Hallmark's homepage.

I took a screen capture of it so you could see. Even though it's a small thing, it's still cool to see your work somewhere other than where you think it might appear.

And my picture was used a few weeks ago for the student exhibition at the last Admissions Open House, along with some of my classmates' work, so that was an honor as well.

(click on it if you want to see it larger)

Hopefully more of my work will be seen once I'm done at Hallmark too....I can't wait!
Pin It