music photography

Chasing the Light | St. Louis Music Photographer by Michael Henson

A Zesty Evening

Variety and new experiences certainly add zest to life! So, it’s safe to say that last night was a bit…zesty…I had the opportunity to shoot an interview video and get some live shots of a friend’s band, Chasing the Light. As with most of my photo opportunities this fall, the lighting wasn’t the greatest for photos and I had to make adjustments in order to come away with the shots I wanted.

I pondered the best approach while watching the last part of soundcheck and decided that I would prefer to stay a bit further out from the action and us my telephoto lens to get close. This let me stay unobtrusive and helped me keep the focus where I wanted it by blurring out the backgrounds as much as possible. A combination of camera setting tweaks, a steady grip, and a little bit of post-processing magic enabled me to come away with some fun shots that look great!

The More You Know

It just goes to show, knowledge and experience are vital. Without these things, difficult lighting situations, poor weather, or ugly venues can ruin what might otherwise be an amazing photo opportunity.

For more from Chasing the Light, check out:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Enjoy the pics and be on the lookout for the interview in the near future!

Instagrammer Meet-Up! @BRIPHILLIPS | St. Louis Photographer by Michael Henson

A project that I've been working on is to meet some of the inspirational people that I follow on Instagram to chat about creativity, life, and their work. I'll be sharing their stories, some pictures, and our time together here so keep checking back!

I had the chance to meet Brianna, @briphillips, in the Shaw Neighborhood a couple weeks back at Gelateria del Leone on Grand. From the nice weather, to the incredible environment, to the inspiring conversation, the evening was great! We talked music, school, design, and coffee for a while before stepping outside for a few photos. 

The part of the conversation that excited me most was getting to hear Brianna discuss Trifold Roasters, a collaboration that she's working on with a friend that will seek to provide locally sourced, locally roasted coffee to businesses and churches in the area. Started in someone's kitchen with a vision and some coffee beans - It's an inspiring story that reminds me (and hopefully reminds you) that, regardless of your vision, you have to "go for it" if you ever expect anything to come of it! Don't simply entertain daydreams of something that you would "like to do someday" and get out there and do it! 

Embrace the conflict you encounter along the way and live an incredible, daring story. Remember, if things get too hectic and you just need a break, you can always take a break and snag some gelato!

(As always comments and feedback are appreciated! If you have any questions you'd like me to ask the next Instagrammer, let me know!)

Gelateria del Leone
Bri Phillips Trifold Roasters St. Louis


The 3 Reasons People Hate Their Pictures (& How to Avoid Them) | St. Louis Photographer by Michael Henson

We've all been there. We're going through life minding our own business. Maybe we're munching on a snack that's messier than we expected or sweating in the blazing Midwest summer sun with enough humidity to stifle a small blaze if the sun were to start one. Maybe we're about to sneeze or have our eyes closed...then CLICK! The hated sound of a camera going off in your face. That incredibly un-photogenic expression is captured forever on a memory card or burned into film and there's really not much you can do about it!

Yes, there's a reason that most of us hate having to have photos taken. Valuable arguments for the preservation of memories aside, the thought of willingly putting yourself through that process is entirely unappealing and you'd rather just pass on the whole affair. I get it! There are three primary reasons people dislike having photos taken...but you don't have to be one of them! Keep reading and I'll help you out! 

One : They Hate How They Look

This is very understandable! Like the scenarios I described earlier, it's easy to judge your personal appearance based on bad experiences in the past. I get it! 

Two: They Don't Feel Comfortable

I've heard this countless times. Most of the time, people confuse their level of "photogenic-ness" with their comfort level in front of the camera. Other times, there's an irrational fear of the camera itself that's developed over years of comparisons to Photoshopped celebrities or the bad experiences from previous camera related events. The truth is, you can look amazing regardless of whether or not you feel amazing! Trust me! 

Three: They Don't Know What to Do With Their _____

Most of those stepping in front of the camera aren't sure what to do with their hands, legs, feet, head, arms, etc. Sometimes, this results in failed attempts to mimic their celebrity of choice and end up looking awkward and uncomfortable. This leads to reason #2 and eventually #1 as they review their pictures at a later date. It's quite the spiral!

How do you fix these common reasons for photo-hate?

There are steps that you can take to make yourself look more comfortable, confident, and "better" in all photos that I will discuss more in-depth in a later post, but the easiest way to ensure you look your absolute best is to find a photographer you like and trust. A photographer that is worth their session fee will be able to help you look good, help you feel comfortable throughout the session, and will coach you through what to do and how to position your hands, feet, etc.

What's that look like? For example, when I begin my sessions, I will provide a general idea of the direction I plan to go throughout the session. I'll give some pointers to the guy/gal/family that will help them understand how to place their hands, head, and feet to look their absolute best, and I'll find out which side the gals prefer I shoot from (most have a definite preference). I'll explain some of the terminology that I'll use throughout the session so they understand what I'm asking for when I say, "v-up," or, "open up." Finally, I'll take a few moments to show them the images that I've taken early in the session to show that things are looking great.

These simple steps help alleviate the fears and discomfort associated with getting photos taken. By following this process, my "peeps" understand how to look their best, they feel comfortable with my level of knowledge, and they get a chance to see that everything is going great early in the session so they can relax and actually enjoy it rather than feeling uptight and nervous about the results. The result is a happy client, couple, or family and photos that look stellar!

I'm not insinuating that my process is the "end all/be all" approach to photography. My purpose is to describe some examples of ways that photographers can work to make your experience enjoyable rather than frightening. So, do your research! Find a photographer who's style you like and who you feel comfortable with and confident in. Then, relax and enjoy the process! That's the formula for excellent photos that you'll be happy with for years to come.

Lock in the Freshness - Take a Photo! | St. Louis Photographer by Michael Henson

It was more than a little embarrassing and completely overwhelming. What had started as an enjoyable, nostalgic trip down memory lane ended with emotions tinged with sadness flaring as I was struck with memories and wishes of relationships never to be. The catalyst for this decidedly non-masculine display of emotion? Photos. Family snapshots of grandparents that passed far too early for my liking having left fond memories of days spent in the lake, Christmases in the cabin, and practical jokes that Grandpa liked to play on my cousin and me. I could say that it was in those moments that I realized the power of photography, but it wasn’t. That realization came only as I’ve spent time trying to determine exactly why photography is so important to me. The answer is surprisingly complex and will vary from person to person based on a variety of factors that I can’t even begin to list.

bubble portrait stl

For me, photography captures moments and locks “freshness” into memories, events, and times periods of life. Whether it is a senior photo that captures the essence and personality of a young adult preparing to launch themselves into the world, or the overwhelming innocence of a candidly captured toddler as they play with mom or dad, the purpose is the same, to save that time for all time. Years from now, you may pull out an album or box of photos and reminisce about how small your child used to be or how much fun you had during high school.

kiener plaza st louis

No matter what stage of life you find yourself in, years from now you will relish the photos you have. Your family and generations to come will cherish the memories photos allow you to share and your only regret will be that you don’t have more. So don’t hesitate! Break out that camera or phone and snap away! Don’t just keep your photos on “the cloud” or on a hard drive somewhere, get them printed. Don’t hesitate to invest in a photo session with a photographer and recognize the value in filling your home and heirloom boxes with printed reminders of those memories. You might regret spending that much money on a house or a car, but you won’t look back at those memories years from now and wish you hadn’t made the investment. What do you love about photos? Which photos do you choose to print and save?

Don't forget to follow me on Facebook and shoot me a message if you have any questions!

easter 2015 portrait stl

Imani Zola - Stylist Session | St. Louis Fashion Photographer by Michael Henson

Imani reached out to me to collaborate on a fashion photo shoot featuring her as the stylist and some of the models from Barbizon Clayton. Of course, I agreed to help! After meeting to discuss some of the particulars and scout the locations, we set the shoot up for what ended up being a gorgeous Saturday.

With several models, multiple fashion themes, and time spent inside and out, we ended up having a great time and finished the day with some great shots. I'm looking forward to working with Imani again (we have another collaboration in the works that you will be hearing more about over the next month or so) and can't wait to book some more fashion sessions! Check out her website, www.imanizola.comhere!

Don't forget! If you would like to schedule your personalized photo session, shoot me a message here, give me a call or contact me via my Facebook page! I look forward to hearing from you!