olio style studio » moments remembered forever

The short answer is, “Yes, but…”

When you purchase the digital proofs or the enhanced fine art digital images, the studio grants you the rights to make prints for personal use.  You can take the files to your favorite local shop or online services.  However, the quality could vary widely depending on many factors.

Here is an enhanced fine art digital image we meticulously edited and touched up to create a dramatic mood (without losing details in the staircase or the architecture) while highlighting the couple dancing under the archway.  When we make fine art prints and canvases for our clients, we work with national photography labs which cater only to photographers.  We trust the lab’s ability to faithfully reproduce the image accurately in color and tonal range.

I printed the same image through the local Costco and Walgreen.  Then I submitted the photo to Shutterfly.  Finally, to round off the comparisons, I bought an HP Tango home smart photo printer, a popular consumer-grade home printer.  Below is what I got.  The Costco printer was clearly out to lunch – the resulting print was dark and muddy, and most of the details were lost.   Walgreen’s print had an expected green color cast, while the Shutterfly’s print was blotchy with a tint of red.  The HP Tango couldn’t reproduce true black leaving the overall image looking washed out.

Below is another example – as you can see, none could accurately reproduce the color tone of the skin nor the contrast of the overall image (just look at her hair).

If the goal of any photo center is to faithfully reproduce the digital image, why do these prints vary so much?  There could be many reasons – the color and tonal calibration might be out of range and needs to be recalibrated, or the print shops deliberately changed the color/contrast in order to make a more vivid photograph.

I know some of you will say, “I printed my photos at xyz, and they turned out just fine.”  It’s absolutely possible the likes of Costco, Walgreen or any popular photo center could reproduce beautiful images on their printers.  The reality is the quality varies drastically depending on the technician, the day (recently calibrated?) or location (a newly installed printer vs. an ancient relic?).

Whatever your decision is regarding reproduction, we truly believe these portraits, the heirlooms of your family, belong on the wall and tables around your home, not on a disk drive!

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Clients often ask about what editing and post-processing we do for the final print or canvas.  One of the key tools is selective dodging (brightening) and burning (darkening).

Selective dodging serves a few important purposes.  By dodging, or brightening, a specific area of the photo, we can draw the viewer’s attention to the subject(s) against the background.   Dodging can also balance the entire image by selectively brighten dark areas.  In the example below, the faces of the children were brightened to draw attention to them.

Selective burning (darkening) is by far the most common tool used.  It suppresses distracting elements in the photo by leading the viewer’s attention away from them.  Also, darkening select areas create depth and contrast, often creates a more dramatic image.



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A few times a year, families from near and far gather together to celebration holidays, anniversaries, or special events.  Often, it’s a rare opportunity to see everyone in one place, catch up on gossips and rekindle lost ties.

I believe pictures are a great way to capture the memories of these gatherings.  With many holidays and celebrations around the corner (Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc), be your family’s historian.  Let’s the photos be the heirloom of your family for generations to come.

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This blog post was written by Emmy award-winning TV anchor and investigative reporter Vicky Nguyen. I recently photographed her family for a “day in the life” session. As a storyteller and journalist, she was immediately interested in the idea of a photo shoot that would capture her family in action, candid and un-posed. The concept of chronicling a moment in time, to look at now, in a year, in a decade, really appealed to her. To read Vicky’s take on the day, and her advice for anyone considering booking a shoot, or gifting one, check out her post here.

A heads up to readers–her blog is a raw and often hilariously honest depiction of life as a working mother, very unvarnished.

Guest Blogger: Vicky Nguyen, www.vickynguyen.com

Aside from the obvious, husband-to-be, family, friends, the most important thing to me at my wedding was: documenting it. Photos and video. If you know me, you know my long-term memory is crap. I blame it on years of general assignment reporting where your job is literally to become as well-versed as you can on one or more topics that day, digest the information, and tell it to viewers as cogently as possible.

Rinse and repeat.

That is a daily workout for your short term memory. My short term memory became The Rock of short term memories. All buff and tatted while maintaining its gentle and sensitive side. But my long term memory atrophied. It was so rarely exercised that it sort of just…sucked at remembering things long term. I recently did a personality quiz and one of the questions, on a scale of completely disagree, mostly disagree, neutral, mostly agree, completely agree, was: Are you often in situations where people are telling stories about you and you have no memory of those stories? I was all, COMPLETELY AGREE.

So I knew that I wanted to properly document my wedding day, because I didn’t want to have all these people talking about it later and me being all, “I was there? You don’t say!”

And obviously being a journalist, I think the documentary, photojournalism style of recording a piece of your history is mission critical. I love the candid moments far more than the posed ones, and I love the storytelling you can glean from a series of photos.

We recently did a “day in the life” photo shoot with my friend Jay. It’s something I’d never thought to do but decided to invest in because I know exactly how fast my girls are growing up. Emerson is 9, Odessa 6 and Renley 2. It’s the perfect window of time before they become too self-conscious, when we’re all still together on weekends because Renley is still napping and the girls aren’t in too many activities yet.

I realized there are so many moments that happen on a Saturday or Sunday that may seem mundane but when you look back on those snippets in time, they are special because they are so normal. The unposed, candid, capture the essence of the day.

Seeing the girls wake up and make their beds, Odessa putting on some fake American Girl doll bangs to prank her dad, Renley’s bedhead… plus all the photos that document little details about their toys, their art, how they like to play.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. For someone who wants to remember as much as possible but has the long term memory of an amnesiac, having this snapshot in time of what we did as a family from waking up until the last story before bedtime–I loved the concept, and the collection of photos at the end definitely exceeded my expectations.

My advice if you do a “day in the life shoot”–don’t over plan your day. Have a couple fun things to do, maybe a picnic or park visit. We happened to do our shoot on a day when we were having relatives over for dinner, so I spent a lot of time in the kitchen prepping and cooking. It was super helpful to work with Jay, who really faded into the background and made it super easy for us to do what we normally do without feeling like we were being photographed. It takes a talented person to do that and capture really well composed images. We had a conversation later about the White House photographers and what a job that must be. Always on and witness to so many historical moments.  This was no White House shoot, just an ordinary day in our lives. But when we look at the final product–a slideshow plus 1400 images–I’m so happy we did it. The girls were themselves, and now I have a video we’ll force them to play at each of their weddings.

See how my post came full circle? BANG!

PS The Good Doctor was judiciously edited out of this public version of the slideshow but rest assured, he was well spot-lighted in the shoot. #DadsRule




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