Photography as an experience

I know other photographers do things way different… I know and respect and understand… let me explain my way for a moment or two

My goal is often to mix great art, making someone look good and showing off who someone is.

This of all the pics is Kambria’s smile to me. The real one.

I can be lazy i know this… and most others know this.
OK so I’m a tad lazy sometimes and that’s what leads to a lot of this style.
I know how to do a bunch of things with lighting… but i don’t often do it.
I stick to easy lighting situations and simple techniques.

But there’s a reason…
thing is my style doesn’t really allow for some of this fancy stuff.
It’s a whole experience being around me… I usually want happy faces and good experiences.
Or for them to feel like they can be creative.

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I set up the shot… i picked the background… i got the camera set. But she did the moves.
I told her “look here”… or “look to your right” – she picked the rest… and i thought she did good. And since she did it herself… it’s much more likely to be something that is who she is.

My style??
Well I’d like to think that what I offer is a very fluid interaction and that people so often feel very very comfortable around me.
Even those that aren’t into pictures… they become into it. Or at least have a non-painful time.

My style is bringing out their style…. facilitating their ability to come up with ideas and make them their own.

This leads to more pictures.
Sure i could pose them and put their head and hands right in the perfect spot… but each time i do that we just lost 10 more pictures… at least.

Sure I personally have a distinct way of shooting and a look to my pictures… and I have poses that i fall back on. But each time they get to put a flare on those… as i get to put my own flare on concepts I’ve done before.


So, i suppose i go for the quantity approach.
People love that i take lots of pictures in so many styles and views.
They certainly get their bang for their buck when they walk away with 100+ good pictures of themselves.
And it also increases the odds of ones they absolutely love.
See the thing is we might have an idea in our mind and work super hard to make that spot and that lighting perfect. But it doesn’t always assure that is what the client loves the most.
So often they love the moment. They love their expression, they love the memories associated with that moment. Or perhaps they just like another spot a bit more. They might prefer a picture of a lesser quality than the one you made look imaculate. And it just takes exploring and playing around to find that spot.

It’s so interesting to see what someone likes in the end and finding out why they like it.



This girl loved these little piglets… she’s going to love these series of pictures.

What We Do
If i’m with a couple we walk around from spot to spot.
I never stay in one place for long.
I take pictures of the spot in as many directions and angles as there are good shots.
I try out standing, leaning, sitting and sometimes laying, or a sit-lean.


Here’s the most unlikely place. Next to the bathroom with a gate in the back.
It’s a white cement block wall… nothing special.
But it’s her expression. Finding something she was comfortable doing.
They aren’t always comfortable posing as they stand.
But doing this pose I could tell was way easier… which means relaxing and getting the expression we were wanting.
I have them look at me and then eachother… I have them interact and try out many poses until we find one that both looks good, they feel comfortable with and shows off who they are.

That’s my favorite compliment… “this is totally me” meaning I took a picture that showed what they felt or who they are.

Sure we create art and sometimes it’s not true to life… but I never said I was against that.
In fact I love doing juxtaposition. Making a really happy smiley girl be serious. Or making said picture be a really moody picture.

Many Moods… of which ONE is happiness
Our lives are pretty complex and we have lots of moods… I don’t think the only mood we should ever see in a picture is Happy. But I also know that’s a really good one to take decent percentage of.
There are many people that believe the only good picture is a happy picture. I understand, but those are the same people that won’t watch anything but a comedy… and they miss out on so much.



Allow them to put their own flare and personality into Your Pictures.

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Oh and specially grab those candid moments. The moment after you pose them and they think they’re done.
The moment when THEY truly come out and stop acting and start doing.

Speaking of acting…
Making them do over the top kinds of stuff is often a great thing. Because when you extend them to that level then they’ll be more comfortable when they go back down to a simpler level.


After sitting on a bunch of old tires… i’m sure they thought that anything could go.

Heck we posed in front of pigs…

Doesn’t mean we can’t tell them when something is off.

I’m not opposed to letting them know when somethign looks bad.
So often people don’t know what to do with their hands. So i give them ideas.


I needed to direct him to put that hand somewhere… try the thumb in pocket… good enough.
That other arm… that was tricky. I reajusted it many times… at different angles it was even harder… he just wasn’t comfortable wherever it was placed.
But this one wasn’t too bad.
The focus should still be the expressions in my opinion. We don’t want the other things to take away attention from that.

Connection between eachother



Connection with the viewers


Or Both :)


Which one you want is up to you i guess… well, not just you… but the client.

Then there are sometimes you don’t have to worry about their faces and you can just do the details and more expressive shots.

Like i said earlier… sometimes people love seeing pictures of themselves looking like who they ARE NOT.
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Or they might not like them at all

But you can try and find out.

What we personally like


Sometimes we take the pictures we personally like.
Because we need more to show off. haha


  1. Suzanne says

    Since I was at the shoot, I got to see first hand how you work with a couple and how amazing it is that you get them to be comfortable and open up so you can get great shots. You are the master with your signature “HaHa” that gets them to laugh EVERY time! That combined with the way you set up the shot and location is what makes you the phenomenal photographer you are. You have inspired so many others to step outside the box and take pictures differently. Thank you for sharing your ideas.

  2. mickelle says

    I worked with the most awkward guy I’ve ever met last month. I soooo needed to read this first. I’ve bookmarked it and plan to read it again before shoots with strangers. (JaG)

  3. Jessica says

    I LOVE your philosophy! It fits my own style and photography preferences. I don’t think it’s lazy, I think it’s more natural.

  4. Kaitlyn Janis says

    Thanks so much for the ideas. I guess I don’t have to be so stressed out about posing and having all these ideas in my cap before I even head out for a shoot. I like your relaxed style and approach.

  5. Melissa says

    I agree with Jessica, we should stick with the term natural, instead of lazy.

  6. Kimbrey says

    It’s easy to tell that you make people feel comfortable. JaG

  7. scott says

    And as you can see… now days I’m sadly not as “natural” – lazy as I used to be.
    I got into the second light thing and have been setting up more scenes.

    Still not quite like other people… I still mix in a lot of the old jarvie style shooting with the new techniques.

  8. […] Photography As an Experience – ”My goal is often to mix great art, making someone look good and showing off who someone is.” It’s important to make your subjects feel comfortable because when they feel comfortable, they’re more likely to show their true selves (or to even act out the opposite of their personality just for fun) and that can help make pictures really great! […]

  9. Kaylynne says

    First of all, lazy is not necessarily a bad thing (think of all the cool things that have been invented because of laziness like the washing machine or the TV Remote! 😛 )

    I love taking pictures when my clients (especially ones who tend to stiffen up when they know they’re being photographed) think I’m just changing the settings on my camera – I usually get quite a few really good shots that way because they figure “These aren’t the ‘real’ pictures.” – So I second your recommendation to catch those candid moments!

    Also, as far as posing hands goes – if my subject and I can’t quite figure out where to place hands, I’ll just kind of get them talking and while we’re conversing, I try to pay attention to what they do with their hands while they’re talking and maybe around 70% of the time I’ll catch something that will work for the shot.

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