Amanda McClure Photography: Blog en-us (C) Amanda McClure (Amanda McClure Photography) Wed, 25 Oct 2017 04:14:00 GMT Wed, 25 Oct 2017 04:14:00 GMT Amanda McClure Photography: Blog 79 120 What (not) to wear.... for your portraits

I get asked this all of the time; what should I wear for my session?  While I know each person and family is different, there are a few rules to consider when planning your outfit for your portrait session.  I've put together a list to help y'all out.

Let's start with what NOT to wear.

  1. Don't wear shirts with writing on them.  Why?  Well because when photographed, some of the words may get cut off.  So a shirt that says something like "Do Me A Favor And Stop Talking" may photograph and only show the words "Do Me".  You see the problem there?
  2. Don't wear clothing with large logos on them.  Why?  In part for the same reason as number one.  But also because large logos that are popular today, may not be in 10 years.  Your portraits are something that people will look back on for years to come.  Logos can date the photos.  We all remember the 1990's obsession with large Nike logos right.... lets not do that for your portraits, ok.
  3. Don't wear busy or bold patterns.  Why?  Well the short version is that they just don't photograph well.  The longer version is that they distract from you as the center of the portrait and suddenly the pattern becomes the focal point of the photo.  That's not what we want... people want to see a portrait of you, not your crazy patterned dress or shirt.


But then what should you wear you ask.... 

  1. Think about the colors in your home.  Choose outfits that coordinate with the colors already in your home.  If you decorate your home in blues and greys, then don't wear reds in your photos.  Why?  Well ideally, your portraits will hang somewhere in your home so if you hate red hanging on the wall, then you won't want your family portrait hanging in your home if everyone is wearing red.
  2. Coordinate but don't match!  This is SO IMPORTANT!  Your family should dress in one color pallet.  But you should not all go out and buy the same shirt, dress or pair of pants.  Its best if each of you have a completely different outfit, but within one color family.  For example, if you choose denim and black/grey then all of your family can choose pieces in either denim or black.  Dad can wear jeans and a black button down, mom can wear a cute black dress with a grey scarf, Jr. can wear jeans and a grey button down, baby girl can wear a cute black headband with jeans and a black sweater.  Get the idea?  Everyone coordinates, no one matches.  Now-- you can break the rule a little.  If mom or sister wants to throw a splash of color in there with a necklace or hairbow then have at it.  But remember rule #1-- make sure you will coordinate with your home... because that is where these photos will most likely be displayed.
  3. Wear clothes that fit!  It seems obvious but if your clothes are too tight or too baggy, then you won't look your best.  Tight clothes cause bumps, bulges and muffin top.  Baggy clothes make you look bigger and sloppy.  Wear something that fits comfortably in any position.  Not only will you look better, but when you are comfortable, you photograph better too!
]]> (Amanda McClure Photography) Fri, 15 Sep 2017 14:59:44 GMT
Where are your digital files now? So you got a family session done and the photographer gave you all of the digital files on a disk.  Let me ask you a few serious questions, and please answer honestly....

What did you do with that disk of your family portraits?

  • Did you look through all of the images, ooooh and aaaahh?
  • Did you post a couple on facebook?
  • Did you print a holiday card? (Did you mail that holiday card?)
  • Did you print any of those images to hang in your home
  • Did you print any of those images to give to grandma?
  • Did you put that disk in a drawer somewhere?
  • Did you make a backup copy of that disk?
  • Do you even know where that disk is now?

Image Source: Professional Photographers of America

So many clients expect digital images to come with their session.  A few of my sessions do come with digital images but most do not.  I'm sure many of you ask the question "why can't I have my digital images?"  Well, here's the thing..... most people don't really know why they want the images to begin with.  Most people don't actually print any of those images.  And most people don't realize that digital images DEGRADE over time!





I'm a print artist.  I believe in printing your images because professionally printed images last for more than 100 years whereas digital media has a shelf life of 5 years or so.  I believe in printing because a print is tangible-- you can hold it in your hand, hang it on the wall, put it on your desk.  It's something for you to actually share with other people.  I believe in printing because I have lost digital images to computer crashes, to lost disks, to technology advancing and my digital storage media becoming obsolete.  

I don't have a single image from my college days-- not one.  I took a ton!  It was the beginning of the digital era.  We didn't need film anymore, we could snap all of the photos we wanted to.  I took probably thousands of photos.  AND I DON'T HAVE A SINGLE ONE!  What happened to them?  Well, my laptop crashed with a lot of them saved there.  Several CDs were lost in various moves and don't even get me started on ZIP disks!!  Never heard of a ZIP disk-- well that is because it was high end storage media at the time and it quickly became obsolete when the flash drive was introduced.  So-- I had mountains of disks that could no longer even be read.  Thousands of images GONE!

Guess what I do have though---- all of the photos that I took in high school.  Why do I have those and not the ones from college?  Because I PRINTED them.  Yep-- I'm so old that I had a film camera in high school and not because I was trying to be vintage cool.  Those were the days when you had to go to the store, hand over your roll of film and actually have the negatives developed and PRINTED.  Those images went into scrapbooks and albums.  Those images were framed and hung up.  Those images were preserved.  THOSE IMAGES WERE PRINTED!

Don't let your family be a part of the Forgotten Generation!  Print your photos.  I promise, you won't regret what you spend on printing-- but you will regret losing images that you can never get back.


]]> (Amanda McClure Photography) digital digital images family portraits lost generation photography photos print print movement Fri, 21 Jul 2017 03:24:31 GMT
IPC- International Print Competition IPC-International Print Competition.  It's right around the corner.  In fact, judging starts July 31, 2017 and goes through August 2, 2017.  I've got my case submitted and I'll be on pins and needles until I see my scores.  If you're interested in viewing the judging process, you can create a free account at and watch live July 31- Aug 2.


But what is it?  

Why is it important?  

How does it work?  

When choosing a photographer why does IPC matter?  

All good questions that I will address.


Let's start with what is IPC.  

To answer that I need to answer "what is PPA?".  PPA-- Professional Photographers of America is one of the largest professional organizations for photographers in the world.  I know the word "America" is in the title, but PPA is an international organization.  It's an amazing organization that offers professional photographers a variety of business resources, education options as well as networking opportunities.  PPA operates under a code of ethics that it expects its members to honor.  In short-- if you are hiring a photographer who is a member of PPA, rest assured that they have access to amazing resources to help make your experience the best possible portrait experience.

Now, what is IPC?  IPC or International Print Competition is an annual competition for PPA members.  Every image is judged based on the exact same criteria; the 12 Elements of a Merit Image(see below for definitions).  The images are scored 0-100 points.  80 points constitutes a Merit Image.  Anything below a Merit is basically unacceptable (at least to me).  You must score at least 80 to get a merit that counts toward your degree program.  I am currently working toward my Master Photographer degree with PPA.

Each member can submit one Photographic Open Case and/or one Artist Case.  Each case consists of 4 images.  PO (photographic open) cases are traditional photographs.  These are images taken by the photographer, and while they may be manipulated in photoshop-- they aren't CREATED in photoshop.  An Artist Case consists of images CREATED in photoshop.  They may be several images composited together to make one whole artistic image.  Or they may be an image manipulated to the point that it creates something completely different.

You get one Merit for an image that scores 80 or above and if your image is chosen to go into the Loan book, you get an additional merit.  So for each case you have the potential to receive a total of 8 merits.  This is NOT EASY to accomplish!  Its referred to as a Double Diamond Case and as the name implies-- it's the top notch, hardest to achieve level in IPC.

Why is IPC Important?

Well it's important because it challenges the photographer improve their craft.  Sure you can be an average photographer and have a successful business.  There are a lot of bad photographers who still run a successful business because they are excellent business managers.  However, I believe in pushing myself outside of mediocrity.  I want to be better!  I want to achieve more!  I believe that one of the best ways to improve your photography is to get honest and fair feedback on your images.  The judging process for IPC is BRUTAL!  This is a no-holds, we don't care about your feelings, we only care about making you succeed type of judging.  They are honest!  This isn't your mom or grandma or best friend telling you how wonderful you are.  These judges went through training to be able to score these images correctly.  These are professionals in the industry that understand the technicalities of what you do.  These judges are experts!  

I know the score of 80 doesn't seem high but the scoring isn't the same as it was in grade school or college.  A score of 80 is the notch above the Above Average rating.  The scoring is as follows:

Exceptional 100-95  

Superior 94-90

Excellent 89-85

Deserving of a Merit 84-80

Above Average 79-75

Average 74-70

Below Exhibition Standards 69-65


Why does any of this matter?

It matters because no one ever got worse from participating in IPC.  It matters because participation will make you a better photographer.  This year is my second year competing.  I have made MAJOR strides in my photography.  The photographer I was one year ago isn't the same photographer that I am today.  

Master of Photography-- that is the degree that I am working towards.  You need 13 Exhibition Merits, the ones that you get from competing, and 12 Service Merits which you get from attending and/or teaching PPAedu classes.  Photographic Rock Stars can achieve that goal in 2 years... most photographers that I know achieved the degree in 3-4 years.  I'm hoping that I will have all of my merits by 2019 so that I can declare and be awarded my degree in January of 2020 at ImagingUSA (the annual convention).

When you hire a photographer, you want to be sure that the person behind the camera can produce images that you are excited about.  And you want that person to be able to do that consistently-- you don't want one lucky shot out of 100 other bad ones.  Photographers who compete and earn merits are constantly learning and improving their craft.  Once they reach the level of Master, they are experts in their field.  These are photographers who had the patience and the drive to pursue a degree.  They are dedicated to their work.  And they will be dedicated to you as a client, in producing images that are top notch.


I hope this gave you some insight to IPC and why I participate.  I honestly LOVE competing.  It's part of who I am, a competitive spirit.  But it's also helping to shape who I will become; and I'm looking forward to meeting the photographer that I am destined to be!


If you are interested in how an image is judged, below are the criteria that each image is judged against.  

The 12 Elements of a Merit Image Directly from

The Photographic Exhibitions Committee (PEC) of PPA uses the 12 elements below as the “gold standard” to define a merit image. PEC trains judges to be mindful of these elements when judging images to the PPA merit level and to be placed in the International Print Exhibit at Imaging USA, the annual convention. The use of these 12 elements connects the modern practice of photography and its photographers to the historical practice of photography begun nearly two centuries ago.

Twelve elements have been defined as necessary for the success of an art piece or image. Any image, art piece, or photograph will reveal some measure of all twelve elements, while a visually superior example will reveal obvious consideration of each one.

1.) Impact is the sense one gets upon viewing an image for the first time. Compelling images evoke laughter, sadness, anger, pride, wonder or another intense emotion. There can be impact in any of these twelve elements.

2.) Technical excellence is the print quality of the image itself as it is presented for viewing. Retouching, manipulation, sharpness, exposure, printing, mounting, and correct color are some items that speak to the qualities of the physical print.

3.) Creativity is the original, fresh, and external expression of the imagination of the maker by using the medium to convey an idea, message or thought.

4.) Style is defined in a number of ways as it applies to a creative image. It might be defined by a specific genre or simply be recognizable as the characteristics of how a specific artist applies light to a subject. It can impact an image in a positive manner when the subject matter and the style are appropriate for each other, or it can have a negative effect when they are at odds.

5.) Composition is important to the design of an image, bringing all of the visual elements together in concert to express the purpose of the image. Proper composition holds the viewer in the image and prompts the viewer to look where the creator intends. Effective composition can be pleasing or disturbing, depending on the intent of the image maker.

6.) Presentation affects an image by giving it a finished look. The mats and borders used, either physical or digital, should support and enhance the image, not distract from it.

7.) Color Balance supplies harmony to an image. An image in which the tones work together, effectively supporting the image, can enhance its emotional appeal. Color balance is not always harmonious and can be used to evoke diverse feelings for effect.

8.) Center of Interest is the point or points on the image where the maker wants the viewer to stop as they view the image. There can be primary and secondary centers of interest. Occasionally there will be no specific center of interest, when the entire scene collectively serves as the center of interest.

9.) Lighting —the use and control of light—refers to how dimension, shape and roundness are defined in an image. Whether the light applied to an image is manmade or natural, proper use of it should enhance an image.

10.) Subject Matter should always be appropriate to the story being told in an image.

11.) Technique is the approach used to create the image. Printing, lighting, posing, capture, presentation media, and more are part of the technique applied to an image.

12.) Story Telling refers to the image’s ability to evoke imagination. One beautiful thing about art is that each viewer might collect his own message or read her own story in an image.

]]> (Amanda McClure Photography) eastern ohio imagingusa international print competition ipc photographer photography pittsburgh ppa professional photographers of america wheeling Tue, 11 Jul 2017 18:59:40 GMT
So I guess I'm going to start a blog... I mean everyone else is doing it.  They say it's what you are supposed to do if you have a website.  They say a blog is a great way to connect with your clients on a personal level.  "They" say a lot of things... whoever "they" are.  

The real reason I've decided to start blogging is because of Facebook.  Yeah Facebook.  I was sitting at the computer typing out a post about the print movement (don't worry... I'll blog about that too) and I realized that I was about to publish a whole book on my Facebook page.  But let's face it, Facebook isn't where you go to read paragraphs of information and insight.  It's just not what the platform was designed for.  So, here I am in blog land.

Don't worry though.  I've got a plan!  (I've also got ADHD so lets hope I can stick to the plan.)  I want to make this blog into something that is useful to my clients.  Having portraits done is a very personal thing.  You have to trust your photographer but I also think it's important to like the person who you are working with.  So, I also want this to be a place where I can talk about things that are important to me as a person so that you can get to know who I am.

I wasn't joking about the ADHD though.  I actually am diagnosed, so I know that I will struggle to maintain interest in keeping things updated. But I told you---I have a plan!  I'm setting calendar alerts.  I'm taking notes every time I think of a topic that I may want to write about.  I'm going to find a blog buddy to keep me on track (note to self-- find out if blog buddy is a thing.)  I mean, I've already got the topic for post number 2 so I'm WAY ahead of the game.

If there is anything that you would like to know about me, or any subject that you are interested in reading about, be sure to drop me a line.  Email or Facebook messenger are the easiest ways to get in touch.  I hope to hear from you all and I hope you enjoy my crazy version of blogging.




]]> (Amanda McClure Photography) photography portrait photography Sat, 20 May 2017 04:20:29 GMT