Kelly Tarleton's portrait

Welcome to my blog! I am a Houston portrait and wedding photographer,
and I also custom design wedding and special event stationery.
This is where I share photos of my latest portrait sessions, design assignments,
and personal projects. Take a look around to see what I've been up to and
be sure to let me know what you think. I love comments!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Getting sidetracked, stealing colors, and redesigning the blog. Again.

With a dream as big as quitting my day job and working as a professional wedding photographer and graphic designer, it's easy sometimes to lose sight of the small tasks. You know the huge small tasks, like a business plan, and a budget, and marketing. It's much easier to daydream, read photo blogs, and drool over expensive lenses. While I strive to keep everything I do with the "BIG picture" in mind, I'm missing the whole prioritization train. I decided last week while staring at my monotone boring blog design (yes, I realize I just overhauled it) that taking the time to redesign it again trumped the business plan outlining. Because after all, I'm selling my visual aesthetic, right? And my blog is a reflection of my brand and me, which leads to marketing, etc. Ignoring the fact that I still have yet to define my brand and who I am as a photographer and graphic designer (most designers will tell you that branding one's self is the hardest thing to do), I decided to pick all new colors and a fresh new style.

I love what this color palette says: that I am fresh, bold, and confident. I could say I planned on them coordinating with my own coloring, but it's a happy coincidence. The sketch of the blog is on the left, the middle colors are paper samples for envelopes and cards, the colors on the right are all of my new colors, and the bottom right are ideas for my new business cards.

One of my favorite parts of being a visual and creative person is recognizing trends in various mediums and relating how what's latest and greatest in the fashion world transcends into interior design, photography, and graphic design. They're all inter-related and it's fascinating to see the connections.

A by-product of constantly cataloguing these visual cues is that I find myself utilizing these trends in my design without remembering necessarily where the inspiration came from. After I decided upon the colors above, Danielle came by my desk one day and informed me that I had stolen her colors. Sure enough, the colors for her identity design were eerily similar. The next night I went to see Houston Ballet's Swan Lake and spotted the same bright colors in the costume designs. And I've continued to recognize the same patterns of color usage in all types of media. While I may not be original in developing this color system, I'm in line with current trends and am very excited to roll out the new blog design in the coming weeks, printing new business cards, and eventually tackling my website to coordinate.

The business plan can wait.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I'm a little vain

My friend Danielle is a very creative and talented graphic designer and told me she wanted a new "artsy" profile photo for her Behance Network page (think a creative portfolio version of LinkedIn.) Of course I jumped on the idea, but also thought I could use it as a barter opportunity for me to get a new profile pic for my Facebook, LinkedIn, and website. Now, I am not one of those photographers who prefers to be on just one side of the lens. I'll be the first to admit that I love having my photo taken, and I think Danielle did a great job! For her own photos, she had so many great ideas and is a natural beauty, so her shots were a breeze to photograph.

To my sister: 1. Yes, that is your skirt. I hope you never want it back, because I love it. 2. THIS is what I mean when I say that I want photos of me to look like photos I would take of other people (remember the Sydney Opera House?) I love you.

Photo by Danielle Duhon

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Barley and Bruno's Playdate

Officially, Barley and I met up with my friend Danielle and Bruno, the boxer this past Sunday so that Danielle and I could shoot portraits of each other to use on our various online profiles. But after our portrait sessions were over, I turned the camera on Barley and Bruno while they ran around like crazy dogs all over the backyard. Check out the previous post for the image of my Beagle/Cheetah mix .

These were my favorites: great light, and tired pups!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Barley Playdate: Teaser

I realize this blog is becoming a photo diary of my dog, but 1. She's just so darn beautiful and 2. I don't have kids to snap and brag about! Plus, I have a new pose to display: cheetah Barley.

Barley had a playdate this weekend with Bruno, the boxer, while my friend Danielle and I took turns in front of and behind the lens for new pictures for our various online profiles. People often ask me "What is Barley?" I respond with "Beagle mix, mixed with what I'm not sure, but I'm leaning towards cheetah or deer" because she runs at lightning speed and leaps with the grace and beauty of a deer. Well, I finally caught one of these attributes on camera. Don't you love her floppy ears?

More photos from the photo session + playdate coming soon.

P.S. I fibbed just a little, I didn't develop the mysterious roll of film over the weekend, it's been a few years, what's a few more days?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Back to Basics

I'm pretty horrible when it comes to habits and routines. When I find something that's comfortable, and pleasing, I stick with it. Sometimes for too long.

I bought a 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens last year that has rarely been removed from my camera since I ripped open the box and first gazed at it in amazement. Because I have also slipped into the comfort zone of the automatic controls on my digital camera, I very often fell victim to user error. I prefer to control my depth of field, so I shoot on the "A" setting and don't pay much attention to the shutter speed. Primary rule of thumb when working with long range focal lengths: always shoot a faster shutter speed than the focal length you are shooting at. This means, at 50 mm, shoot at 1/60 or faster, etc. I could fill volumes with all my blurry photos caused by ignoring the shutter speed. I learned photography on my Dad's manual Canon AE-1, circa 1980, and loved the control I had. I shot manual all through photojournalism school, wihtout any fears. So now that I've gotten into this digi-automatic comfort zone, I don't want out!

But I do want to take better pictures. And everywhere I look, the pros I envy are screaming "learn manual and never look back!" So just for fun, I grabbed my favorite model, grabbed my handy dandy 50 mm f/1.8 lens and set my dial to "M."

On a separate back to basics note, I recently discovered my camera bag is a time capsule:

I found this exposed roll of film in my camera bag when I cleaned it out in preparation to shoot a wedding recently (photos of that to come soon!) And I have no idea what is on it! I haven't shot a roll of film in over 3 years, so your guess is as good as mine. I'm a little curious as to why my initials are on it as well. I'm too young to be having senior moments. I will develop it over the weekend and report next week.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Building and Branding a Business

So I've been a little MIA from the blog lately, more so than usual if you operate by my sister's standards. This is for two reasons: 1: a weeklong vacation in the suburbs of Boston removed from computers, internet, and for the most part, my cell phone; and 2: my own worst enemy, my self-doubt. You see, I am taking the steps to build a brand: myself as a photographer and event graphic designer. I edit my own ideas much too harshly, leaving the blog stale and quickly outdated amongst the updated-daily-photofabulous-blogs. And what do I love most about these photofabulous blogs? The personality. The honesty. The bluntness. The sagas of their misates. The in-your-face-this-is-who-I-am-as-a-photographer dialogue. I know who I want to be as a photographer and designer, and while I realize that it will take awhile to achieve such a status, it has taken me too long to accept where I am in the process= right here. Learning. Watching. Messing up. Having fun.

Long story short, my blog will now be a reflection of who I am right now, not just who I want to be. It is my goal that readers will have a better understanding of who I am, what I'm like, and hopefully the joy I get from being behind the camera and from being creative with the ideas I put on paper with my designs. The point is to have fun and not take myself too seriously! My favorite inspirational quote of the moment is from Henry C. Link, "While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, another is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.” I plan on sharing my journey and process as I build this dream and work towards this goal, one step at a time.

Another reason for the stale blog: I've spent a lot of time thinking and researching the past few weeks, about building and branding my business. I successfully filed my business name, opened up a business banking account, and sketched a few new ideas for my website, logo, and blog. (Don't hold your breath, these will be a long-time coming!)

But I was busy creating a little self-promotion lately. I designed small soft-cover portfolio booklets to send out to a few wedding industry vendors that I've met recently. I wanted to reach out to remind them who I am and what I have to offer. I also handmade cards with my logo and a pocket to stash a few business cards in the back.

About Kelly Tarleton

I've always been a creative person, and the one who always had a camera on-hand at a moment's notice for any occasion. Photography and graphic design dominated my life in school and I loved every minute of it. I miss that constant creative outlet and want to share more of it with my family and friends through this blog.See more of my work at my website:

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