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SOAR! Photography Exercise for August! Playing with Textures!

Me Ra Koh

The second Monday of the month is here!  This means a new SOAR! Photography Exercise!  The assignment was to do a Senior Portrait Session with Textures in mind.  I asked the ladies to go out into their local area and find places that have diverse textures for a possible photo shoot.  We did this exercise last year, and the results were AWESOME!  To see the whole exercise so you can do it too, CLICK HERE! 

Linda Baylis, one of our three SOAR! Recipients from last year, knocked this exercise out of the park in sharing her journey and discoveries!  In fact, our Linda is now settled in New Zealand!!!  She recently launched her photography business and is gearing up to SOAR! in the beautiful area called Hawke’s Bay!!!  I know she will do so well!  Linda’s got so much spunk, power, confidence and passion!  I am…no, actually WE ALL ARE, so PROUD OF HER!!!  CLICK HERE to see Linda’s new website!  Below is the post that she wrote last year for Seniors and Textures.  May this exercise inspire you to see textures in a whole new light!




I’m not sure that any of our three SOAR! Recipients have considered Senior Portraits as their main photography focus, but I’m wondering if tackling a senior shoot with textures in mind…may just open up a new love or disdain.

Let me just say is it was LOVE at first CLICK! This week’s photo exercise left me brimming with confidence, inspiration, and excitement. For the first time ever I walked away from the shoot knowing I had some great stuff and the added bonus… we had so much fun!

The day before the session I set out to scout some locations. I already knew where to find some great brick walls and red doors in Old Sacramento Town but I wanted to investigate a mid-town area my photographer friend Bree Hester had taken me to once. I never thought the urban grunge look would fit with my emerging style so it’s not a  location I’d considered before. Oh what I was missing out on!!!

Here’s what I found… two whole blocks of amazing textures, colors, open shade and a world of shooting possibilities. Seriously – I was practically bouncing off the walls I was so excited!

R Street Plaza - Texture Heaven

Looks can be deceiving… luckily my senior’s Mom who joined us on the shoot trusted me on that!

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location5 location6

location grey


And here are the results…

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pic5 pic1


PIC1 pic5

What did I learn?

1. Looks can be deceiving – the grungiest wall can make a beautiful backdrop!
2. Seniors ROCK. Christian was the nicest young man – so relaxed, so photogenic and so open to direction! And patience… this guy was a trooper!
3. Mom’s are a great asset to have on a shoot – the picture above with him sitting on top of the rust covered wall was taken in full sun. I had Mum hold up the screen from my 5 in 1 reflector kit to block the sun.
4. It doesn’t matter how many times I fold up my reflector kit with ease and grace in the privacy of my own home – I will never master it during a public photo session.
5. I am no longer concerned with the technical details. I shoot in raw for the added combined premises insurance but feel I’ve finally crossed that line that allows me now to concentrate on the other aspects of good photography.
6. Despite having my most unusual problem to date… not knowing how to cull down the images – I still see so many things I wish I had tried, could have done differently….
7. Last but not least, there is nothing more rewarding than the excitement of a client who LOVES your images as well as the experience of the actual session. Seriously.

After reading Me Ra’s blog post yesterday I realized there are many more ideas and techniques I’d like to explore.  For example, while I shot in manual during this session, I never changed my aperture from f.2.8. I’d never thought of a wheat field as ‘texture’ and I’m eager to find out if any of our museums have fabulous pillars. As well as exploring how textures can enhance senior images I had another goal for this session. I really wanted to shoot for an album and come up with a fantastic studio sample album featuring my very own images. This is something I said I aspired to way back in my SOAR application. I’m so excited with how the album came out and had so much fun with the textures and colors. Quite a change from my classic wedding album designs! You can check it out here.

I really hope you have as much as fun and get as much inspiration from this exercise as I did. I look forward to seeing your results. Keep it coming Me Ra!

Take care,

(We love you Linda!!! xoxo, m)

  1. jeramy says:

    great stuff linda!

  2. Charisse says:

    Linda these images are wonderful and that album… it’s gorgeous! I can’t wait to see what beauty you bring us from Hawkes Bay! Glad you are settled in and moving forward. I miss you here!


  3. Sara A says:

    Wonderful post, Linda! I’ve really been working hard to try to see the beauty and different textures available around me, to try to hone my eye to see potential photo spots as a photographer.

    I’ve love to see a future post as well about the balance between finding locations that are beautiful and unique but that also remain true to your subject. I’ve read some of Brooke Snow’s thoughts on this and found it very thought-provoking, and I find myself more and more drawn to places that are familiar and loved by my client…but how to balance that with certain desired “trends” and looks that are so popular (i.e. the ubiquitous wheat fields, graffiti walls, etc.). I’m sure every photographer is different, but I’d love to hear some additional perspectives on this.

  4. ajira says:

    Loved this post last year and love it today. Excited to see more of what you’re doing in Hawke’s Bay!

  5. Linda Baylis says:

    Hard to believe it was only last year I was doing this exercise! Thanks for the kind words, and Ajira, I promise – as soon as I actually start doing something that’s not on the business end – you’ll hear all about it! I’ve just returned from four days away from the family to attend the annual New Zealand Professional Photography Conference and have come away with SO much to think about.

    Me Ra – I am so grateful for your continued support and encouragement. It’s amazing how far you can go when someone remarkable believes in you. Let’s see how much further when you truly begin to believe in yourself!

    Don’t pass this exercise over – I learned so much and had some fun too! Look forward to seeing all your results!


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