Kim Schroeder business headshots from James Studio


Peter Mueller Business Headshots

Peter Mueller business headshots done quickly at a time that works well for you.



Studio Photography of 5-year-old child Dylan

I am on the video team at my church.   A few weeks ago I was shooting with Chris during the morning worship service.  It was still very early, so Chris had his son, Dylan, with him.  As we were chatting, we talked about updates to my new studio on University Avenue and portrait photography of kids.  A few days later Chris made arrangements to have Dylan come in with his mom, Kelly, for studio portraits.  The following are some of my favorites from our session.   

Dylan is showing off some of his Kung Fu moves.  This could come in real handy as a Yankees Fan. 

In every session I try to get unique poses and looks that I have not done before.  As in the image above, it is great when people show their personality and some spontaneity.  Even so, I always get the traditional poses too. Here is one with mom.

Dylan is a bright kid.  He has bright eyes and lots of personality.  I think the photograph below reveals some of his spunk. 

Child Portrait Dylan

One of my favorite backgrounds is made of barn wood.  The multi-toned wood provides an interesting character to the photograph. 

Child Portrait Dylan

I like this up close look at Dylan while his legs and feet are fading in the background. 

Child Portrait Dylan

I have a variety of stuffed animals in the studio.  I also have a rubber chicken.  As I was holding the chicken, I asked Dylan to mimic what he guessed the sound of the chicken would make.  I had him do it a couple of times and then I squeezed the chicken.  It does not crow or go, “Bawk, bawk”.  No; it howls!  This was hilarious to Dylan, which resulted in the following shot. 

Family Portrait Dylan

Back to showing some classic boy personality.  Here is Dylan doing the splits. 

Child Portrait Dylan

How to get great photographs on your big day?

You are investing a fair amount of time, money, and energy into one of the most important days of your life.  You may have family and friends coming from out of town and out of state to help you celebrate this fantastic day.  You work, plan, and organize to make it all work together smoothly.  Your photographer will take pictures of you and your party at the locations you have chosen.

If the ceremony takes place in a church building, the photographs will be influenced by that setting.  This is also true for outdoor weddings or other kinds of buildings. I know that I’m stating the obvious, but it is an important fact and must not be forgotten.  Consider the locations for the various parts of the day.

Getting Ready
If you are anticipating photographs will be taken during the “getting ready” session, then it is very important to consider where the ladies will be getting ready and where the guys will be getting ready.  Understandably, a church will have only certain rooms available for getting ready.  But you can still have an influence on the look that is available in that room.

To be sure, you’ll want to have access to a large mirror in each of those rooms.  But the mirror is not just for helping you to put on your makeup or make sure that your veil or tie is on straight.  Think about whether you know someone who has a classic floor mirror like the one shown or some other elegant mirror.

Anne in the Mirror

Does the place where you are getting ready have large, bare walls and unattractive furniture?  Think about what you might be able to provide to make the room, or at least one wall, look more attractive.  Would it be possible to bring a framed abstract painting?  Or, might you bring a vase with a beautiful bouquet of flowers? The entire room does not need to be decorated.  Often what the photographer needs is just an attractive corner or portion of a wall that would provide a beautiful background.

When You First Meet
Many brides wish to be traditional and not see the groom until they are coming down the aisle.  But today many brides are choosing a “First Look” as a more practical approach of having a time prior to the ceremony where the she approaches the groom, touches him on the shoulder, he turns around, and they embrace and truly enjoy the moment.


This approach allows the bride and groom to show a variety of emotions and enjoy each other’s presence in a way that cannot be done during the ceremony.  And during this time the photographs can be glorious.   This approach provides the opportunity to make sure those romantic photographs are taken.

The Ceremony
It will be important to consider features that make for an attractive background at the ceremony as well.  Having a unity candle or even unity sand of different colors in clear vessels is often very nice.  Often churches have candelabras that hold several candles; these also can look very elegant.


In addition, consider talking with your florist about flowers for the background of the church.  Some couples also decorate the ends of the pews.  This can also add beautiful detail to photographs (and your guests will find them attractive, too).

Shortly after the ceremony come the traditional formal photographs.  And too often all the photographs are done in the front of the church.  Consider having photographs done in other -places of the church.  It can work well to have the large-group photographs in front of the church and then creative shots in other places.  If the ceremony is in a church which has pews, have the wedding party spread throughout the church for a few photographs.


Consider going outside for photographs of the bride with each of the bridesmaids, etc.  If outside photography is not possible, find a nice background somewhere else, such as a stained-glass window.

Outdoor Photographs
Why are people so crazy about outdoor photographs?  Maybe it is because of the natural light and natural surroundings which help to make the outdoor photographs so beautiful.  The fact is that usually the most beautiful and creative photographs are taken outside.  When considering outdoor photographs, your photographer will likely be looking for places with beautiful backgrounds but where the wedding party can be in the shade.


Full-sun photographs are fine from a distance, like when you’re trying to do something fun like a group jump.  In situations like this, the eyes of each person do not matter so much.  However, for close-up shots and photographs of just a few people at a time, you’ll want to be in the shade so that the photograph catches your eyes wide open without any squinting.

The Reception
Because the reception, dinner, and dance is traditionally in darker, mood lighting, this will be a challenge to your photographer.  Flash will enable photographs to be taken, but because of the limited light, the background is generally dark.  Flash illuminates the people in the front but quickly falls off, creating a dark, muddy look in the back.  This often results in shots that are not as artistic as other photographs taken during the earlier part of the day.  Here are three items you might consider to improve your reception photographs.  First, notify the DJ or anyone who is controlling the lights that you prefer the lights to be kept in the mid-range–not too dark and not too light.  This one tip would greatly help the quality of your reception photographs.  Second, take groups of people out into the hallway where there is more light to take group shots.  Third, look around the reception facility for better backgrounds than just a hallway.  Look for mirrors, pictures, and other elements that would make an attractive background.  Don’t be afraid to point out such a place to your photographer.


The Photographer

Of course, an essential element to getting great photographs is having the right photographer for you.  I have an article called, “Who Should Be Your Photographer?”  Briefly, your photographer should be someone with whom you feel comfortable, someone you trust, and someone who is able to produce the goods.  As a warning, there are several important reasons for not choosing a friend or relative to shoot your wedding.  Learn more by checking out that article.

Your wedding day is your day.  People will be especially nice to you and want to help you.  I’m suggesting that you also plan for getting great, artistic photographs.  I hope that you will call me to arrange for James Studio to help you with this process and provide the “at ease” experience and quality photographs of which you dream.  You can reach me at (608) 233-5556.

By James Bendewald

Who Should You Choose for Your Photographer?

Choosing a photographer for your wedding is one of your most important vendor decisions. Photographers vary in their personality, their photographic style, how they work with the wedding party, how much experience they have, the quality of the equipment they use, the packages they provide, as well as the final products they produce. So you’re not just hiring someone to take pictures. No matter how you look at it, you’re getting a package deal. The question is, what will the package include?

The Package Deal
Many photographers today include their photographs on a DVD. The wise bride or groom will ask if those photographs have been edited.  I too have a no-edit package.  My Bronze Package includes all the photos but no editing.  Photographs that are completely unedited can vary a great deal in terms of how good they could be.  Yes, many photographs that were properly lit and exposed will look fine but with editing can look “very professional”.  Edited photographs can take a dark image and make it look spectacular.  I have photographs, such as the one below that is not the best because of the brides dark eyes, but after editing and working on the image it has since become one of my favorites.

Original unedited photograph

Straight from the camera

After editing

Ashley Walk2

If the photographer states that digital negatives are included on the DVD, be wary that these may be unedited photographs. James Studio edits every photograph customers receive (accept for the Bronze Package). Photographs that are used in albums, those which are purchased online, and those which are enlarged, are all given additional editing time. This makes them superior photographs like the ones you see on this web site.

Heart Throb

Second, ask whether the photographs you receive will be of a high-resolution quality. Many photographers only provide a low-resolution version that only has enough resolution available for printing small 4 x 6- or 5 x 7-inch photographs. James Studio provides high-resolution photographs that can be printed in any standard size.

Third, you need to consider what is included in the package. Does the package include an album? Albums included in our packages are a significant savings over an album purchased separately. If you want a professional, heirloom-quality album, think about choosing a package that includes an album. The more expensive the package, the better the quality of the album and number of sides it includes.


An inside page of a James Studio album.


Another inside page of a James Studio album.

But packages can also include engagement sessions, reception-growing-up-video slide shows, enlargements and wall portraits. So pay attention to what is included in the package.

The Photographer
As part of the package deal you’re not just getting pictures and albums, you’re also hiring a photographer. So what qualities should you look for in a photographer? In some ways the answer is obvious. You look at the photographer’s work and decide on whether you like the pictures or not. Also, when speaking with a photographer you need to decide on whether you are comfortable with this person. Does the person seem competent and relaxed? Does the photographer ask questions about you?  Is the photographer interested in your story?

Also consider the art value of the photographer brings.   When you look at the photographer’s pictures, is there a blurred background? In most photos it should be.  Not every picture has to have a blurred background; portraits and formal pictures often do not. But artistic pictures often do have  an attractive out-of-focus blur. If the photographer does not produce pictures that have a blurred background or don’t position the bride & groom with different or interesting backgrounds then the pictures are likely going to be either very formal or un-artistic.

Who You Should Not Hire As Your Photographer
You should not hire a photographer whose pictures you do not like, whose pictures are not artistic, or whose pictures do not have the subject in clear focus. You should not hire someone whom you consider to be too proud or stand offish, kind of quirky, unreliable, too busy, or unavailable. In addition, you should not use a friend or relative to shoot your wedding.

Why You Should Not Choose a Friend or Relative to Shoot Your Wedding
Choosing a friend or relative to photograph your wedding can result in huge savings. However, don’t let this motivating factor blind you to other issues when considering who to hire for your once-in-a-lifetime wedding photographer.

It has been a hard lesson for me to learn, but my wife has convinced me that it is inappropriate to try to sell things to my friends, family, and even neighbors. Why? Because if they buy something, they may do it out of a feeling of obligation, and if they don’t buy, it can cause stress in the relationship. So let’s suppose your friend or relative offers to photograph your wedding. If you are not altogether happy with the photographs, it will likely create hurtful feelings between you. And if the person is not a professional who shoots weddings frequently, you’ll likely be disappointed.

Let’s suppose that your friend or relative offers to do this job for very little or no money. Remember–photography done right is a very big job and could constitute the most generous gift of your wedding. The person or persons shooting the wedding may, out of a generous heart, want to do it for free, but may find it to be a burdensome task in the end. It is a significant investment of time, and if it is done well, it will be much more than you imagine. This whole process may strain your relationship or strain an internal relationship with a spouse who may not feel as generous! In addition, the friend or relative might do better by simply enjoying that day with the others rather than working.

Be sure to ask the photographer if the images will be edited before you receive them.  As shown in the first point of this article, it is a fundamental factor for having professional looking images.   Unless you have very low expectations or plan to edit them yourself, you will not be happy with the photography if the images are not edited.   However, editing alone can take 15-25 hours for one wedding.  A wedding generally produces 1,000 to 1,800 digital images.  Therefore, by having your photography done by a friend or family member you will likely either get substandard images OR you will be getting a gift that is way beyond other gifts because of the time needed to do the job right.

Ashley Bubbles

In many cases a friend or relative wanting to help you out will not have the experience and artistic eye to know how to arrange people to get quality, artistic photographs. In addition, their photographic equipment is likely marginal at best for producing professional-looking photographs. A professional photographer has professional cameras, lenses and off camera lighting that helps to produce quality photographs. And a professional photographer has the experience to guide you through your wedding day to make it all happen more smoothly and joyfully.

At James Studio we are interested in helping you enjoy your day.  We provide fun, contemporary images and utilize our experience to achieve creativity and color-rich photography.  James Studio provides a business model that is relationship oriented and we use some of the best equipment available.   If you hire James Studio you will be cared for along the way.

If you are interested in our services you can reach me at (608) 233-5556 we are located at 2611 University Avenue.

By James Bendewald