Carol Sheppard Photography: Blog en-us (Carol Sheppard Photography) Mon, 13 Nov 2017 20:32:00 GMT Mon, 13 Nov 2017 20:32:00 GMT Carol Sheppard Photography: Blog 120 80 Custom Greeting Cards Your best memories and favorite moments make great holiday greeting cards and announcements!

But do you really have the time to edit, format and print your own?  And are you willing to invest in the printer, ink and cardstock, as well as the time, to produce these items?

1.  In addition to being a local photographer, my supplies are purchased from U.S.-based manufacturers and my income goes back into the local economy.  My cards and prints are manufactured in the U.S., creating jobs for our own economy.

2.  As a professional, I not only earn my income from my photography, but I put back into the community by putting up my images as free exhibits for local businesses, exhibits that the public can enjoy at restaurants and while shopping locally.

3.  I use recycled materials wherever possible, and my materials are professional photographic quality, not whatever is cheapest at the big box store that week.

4.  Many of my sales have a percentage that is contributed to various charities.  You are not supporting some faceless corporation with your dollars; you are supporting small businesses and local charitable organizations such as Old Dog Haven.

5.  What is your time worth?  Can you really spare the time to learn how to best use the products and then produce a card worthy of sending?

6.  Because I am experienced with the production of cards, prints and wall art from photographs, I can design and customize your product.  I won't make you fit your ideas into a pre-set format, but will work with you to create something that matches your personal vision.

So don't delay--the Holidays are almost here!!  Personalized gifts are the current trend, and they are ideal for someone who seems to have everything or likes to pick out their own items.  Gift certificates are available if you just don't feel up to selecting for someone.


]]> (Carol Sheppard Photography) art cards certificates charitable charity custom customized gift greeting holiday local notecards personalized photographic prints trend wall Mon, 13 Nov 2017 20:32:23 GMT
10 Hacks for Tabletop Product Photography

Let’s face it, the Internet and Social Media platforms are here to stay.  If once I couldn’t imagine it becoming such a huge part of my life, I no longer make that mistake.  Now, in fact, I can’t imagine what I ever did without it.


As a result of the vast archives of knowledge now readily available to you on any number of devices, we are moving toward a DIY world...and sometimes reality just tells you that you can’t afford to hire someone to do something for you, as much as you’d like to.


This applies even more so to the budding entrepreneur or self-employed individual.  Shoestring budgets are the norm, not the exception.


What are you to do if you need photos for your new website or on-line advertisement but can’t afford to pay a professional photographer?  I could say something pithy like, “You can’t afford NOT to use a professional!”  But I’ve been there, and I know that it can be a matter of choosing between doing it yourself or not having it at all.


So here are 10 tips for great tabletop product photography:


  1. You NEED good lighting.  Period.  This doesn’t mean professional-level lights or off-camera flash units. But it all starts with good light; without it, your pictures will look flat, or the fine features of your product will disappear within too many highlights or too few shadow details.  Ambient light from a window can be some of your prettiest light.  Don’t be afraid to move the light source (if you can) closer to or further from your product; add a small lamp to the area, but look for light bulbs that imitate natural light if possible.

  2. If lighting is Queen, then focus is King!  Creative focus is used by professionals to make an image jump from just a picture  But at a minimum, you want to de-clutter backgrounds and do some Border Patrol.  What is Border Patrol?  It means looking all around the area that will be in focus or visible within your image and ensuring that you have eliminated all distracting elements,such as bright spots or alien things poking into the corner of your image “frame,” etc.

  3. Deal with glare and shadows:  there are easy ways to overcome these common problems.  A diffuser is positioned between your subject and the light source; it softens the light and eliminates any hot spots of glare.  A bounce source is just the opposite: it gathers the light and redirects it at parts of your subject.  They are generally very inexpensive to purchase and will make a world of difference in the quality of your image.

  4. Many household items can be used instead of commercial products.  A $4.00 semi-sheer shower curtain from the Dollar Store can be used to diffuse light that is causing a glare on your shiny product.  Clothespins and binder clips can hold things in place as well as those beautiful clamps that you can buy from photography vendors.  A reflector can be made out of covering a piece of cardboard with foil, or holding a white 8.5x11 sheet of paper up to “throw” or “bounce” the light from point A to point B.

  5. Consider investing in a tabletop light tent.  Not only are they relatively inexpensive, they will bounce the light from all angles and provide a lovely solid background (and you can quickly and easily change backgrounds instantly with one of these),  They fold up for easy storage and are very lightweight.  If you are planning to do lots of images, do yourself a favor and get one of these.  They are sold on Amazon, Hunt’s Photo & Video, B&H Photography, so you have lots of choice.

  6. Use a basic panel of complementary colors.  I love colors as much as the next person, but the best images don’t have competing colors.  If you have a color wheel, you can pick complementary colors in setting up your image.  If not, look for combinations that feel pleasing to you when you look at them.  There’s nothing wrong with black and white, but I have found that a three-color palette works well.

  7. Fill the frame.  The subject will look more pleasing if it fills the frame of your picture without touching the edges or frame of your image.  You can shoot wider and crop as necessary, which will give you different options--keep the original intact and crop from a duplication of the original image, so that you can compare a landscape orientation versus a portrait orientation.

  8. Use depth of field creatively.  If you don’t know what that is, it means keep your background soft, but keep your foreground and subject sharp.  Blurry foregrounds are uncomfortable for viewers.  Soft backgrounds are pleasing.  Most cameras have a way to adjust this feature, even Smartphones.

  9. Set your product up in a way that brings it to life.  If you are displaying a piece of jewelry, use a mannequin or model to display your product at its best.  Rather than taking a one-dimension image, think of a way to give your product dimension, size comparison, etc.  You’ve probably seen the image that shows a product next to a dime or quarter?  That gives you an idea of the product’s actual size.  Don’t make your viewers guess.  Use a beautiful piece of glassware, a stunning piece of quartz, or other object to display your product in an interesting and appealing way.

  10. Use a tripod or other stabilizer!!  The Gorilla Pod is a small, flexible three-legged gadget that will wrap around a fence rail, a chair rail, a tree branch or other object to hold your light-weight camera or Smartphone.

My last bit of advice is:  Know when to invest in a professional; a picture is worth a thousand words and the best pictures will bring the most sales.  So know when to throw in the towel and leave the professional images to the professional photographers.

]]> (Carol Sheppard Photography) Commercial Photography Product Photography Website Photography hacks photography website Mon, 24 Apr 2017 21:12:08 GMT
The Perfect Mothers' Day Gift THE PERFECT MOTHERS’ DAY GIFT

Mothers’ Day is a scant two months away…it’s hard to believe but true.  And one thing I hear people repeatedly saying is that time seems to go so fast these days.

Now is a great time to start thinking about that all-important Mothers’ Day gift.  The weather is still in transition from Winter to Spring, making it still a time to relax indoors and work on projects, organizing and planning.  Taxes aren’t due for another month-and-a-half, so you don’t need to be in panic mode yet.  We have put the angst of Valentine’s Day behind us, and Christmas is still just a mere glimmer on the horizon.  Why wait until April to get your Mothers’ Day gift settled?

Photographs make the perfect Mothers’ Day gift.  Here’s why:

Budget Friendliness:  You can find a fit for any budget by gifting a photographic print or photo-based product;

Emotional Impact:  The whole premise of Mothers’ Day is based on sentimentality, so an emotion-evoking gift like a family portrait isn’t narcissistic for this particular holiday;

Spot-On Appropriate:  Most Mothers that I know appreciate a great photograph of their children and/or grandchildren as a gift for this special day in a way that no other group of people does;

A One-of-a-Kind Gift:  It is guaranteed to be unique!

           Don’t want to go to the trouble of arranging for a photo session?  Find out Mom’s favorite color or subject and give her the gift of a framed or unframed print.  You will be supporting a local artist while giving your Mom something she can enjoy day after day for years to come….unlike those boring fallbacks like chocolates and flowers.  Why not give Mom a flower print?


                                       Late Bloomer       


Maybe she has a soft spot for Hummingbirds, replenishing a feeder year-round?


                                                Spring is Here!

 Or how about a Nature print with vibrant, cheerful colors?  Or her favorite color?

"Purple Rain"                 






]]> (Carol Sheppard Photography) Mlothers Day Mothers' Day Tue, 28 Feb 2017 21:41:07 GMT
The Constant Companion: Travelling with your Dog Keanu on BreakKeanu on Break All Images ©

The Constant Companion

Whether out in the field for business or pleasure, loneliness can sometimes intrude on the serenity of watching life unfold from behind my camera. A firm supporter of dogs in the workplace, my pets have always been able to accompany me to my own office and keep me company in my home office as well. They remind me to take frequent breaks and keep me from getting immersed too far into my work that I forget to quit after a reasonable amount of time.

Three years ago, when I relocated across the country, it was only natural that I would be accompanied by my animal companion, Keanu. Driving a 14-foot truck holding many of my most valued possessions, we set out on a journey mapped out for us by AAA, designated as “scenic.” The only stipulations I had provided were that the stops had to include Mt. Rushmore, Nauvoo, IL, and Yellowstone National Park. I had no set timeframe, but a general idea that the journey should be completed in no more than 21 days.

Taking a pet on a cross-country trip has its own share of risks and responsibilities. Planning is essential. But having Keanu as my co-pilot gave me a comfort I didn’t know would exist as I ventured forth into places I’d never been before.

1. Know the rules and follow them. There are many fine establishments that are pet-friendly; seek out those places and follow their rules in order to keep them pet-friendly. La Quinta Inn is one place in particular that greeted us with treats for Keanu and a comfortable, relaxing place to lay our heads at the end of a long day.  Our responsibility back to them is to ensure our pets are clean, well-behaved and non-destructive while on their premises.

2. Meal times require special planning. If you cannot find a restaurant with an outdoor patio that allows pets, you can always pick up food to take out and find a park or other peaceful spot to stop.  Do not EVER leave your dog in a hot car; even a moderately warm one will heat up fast once you are stopped.

3. Attend to the needs of your pet. They will need breaks to relieve themselves, stretch their legs, or get some water. Your pets meal breaks can coincide with your own. Save rewards for random hand-outs; you don’t want to train your dog to crave constant stops.

4. Reward positive behavior. Praise your companion with lots of touch and only an occasional treat. They are in enforced inactivity, so don’t overfeed them to compensate for the long car rides and confined spaces of hotels.

5. Bring some of their favorite toys and make sure they always have a comfort object with them. Ours was a Curious George dog bed and, of all things, a stuffed moose. To this day, my dog still snuggles with that moose when we ride in the car. He positions it from spot to spot, and sometimes show it a bit of (ahem) unaccountable affection. The dog bed was appropriated by his rescue dog cousin, who often bunches it up underneath him and sucks on the edges. Go figure.

6. Make sure that your dogs have been properly socialized before beginning to take them out into the world. There are loud noises and strangers to be encountered at many places; allow your pet to get comfortable on an individual basis with some of these things before overwhelming them with new sights and sounds and a multitude of new individuals. Instruct children (and even some adults) gently in how your pet likes to be approached. Thank them for doing it in a manner that is sensitive to your pet.

7. Many parks, especially Federal parks, have rules and restrictions regarding pets. Frustrating, yes, but probably put in place for safety of your pet and others. Sometimes my dog is better behaved than many individuals that I observe in the parks and public monument sites. The Bottom Line: try to respect them. A No-Brainer: Always clean up after your pet and properly dispose of the waste. I carry plastic bags in everything—pockets, purses, camera bags, glove box—for just this purpose.

8.Carry towels, a blanket, and an extra leash tucked into your car somewhere. Keep a collapsible water bowl handy, or even a small container from a consumable food (make sure it is squeaky clean first, please!).

With only one occasion where Keanu jumped from the window of the truck at a gas station in order to greet another dog, we made it to our destination without incident, with many great memories and, of course, images, to commemorate the trip. The caveat is that traveling with your pet should not give you a false sense of security, but will provide you with the rich rewards of companionship if you are willing to put the effort in to accommodate your 4-legged companion. Carol Sheppard is a free-lance Nature, Event and Lifestyle photographer and educator in photography, art, and solo travelling. She has made her home in Bellingham, Washington since 2012.

A strong proponent of pet adoption, she is often accompanied in the field by her own rescue dog, Keanu. Her work is available for viewing and purchase at

]]> (Carol Sheppard Photography) Dog Pet Photography Travel Sun, 31 Jul 2016 17:10:03 GMT
Why Nature Photographers Do What They Do A Little About Nature Photographers...Why DO They Do What They Do?


Nature photographers are a rare breed.  They sit out in all kinds of weather, temperatures from freezing to sweltering, lugging cumbersome photo equipment.  They often spend days sitting in thorns and on rocks, crouching on their knees, and going without anything but a snack or two and some water or coffee.  Why do they do it?

My experience is that most nature photographers love the nature that makes up his or her subjects.  We can spend hours observing the most minute movements of animals, studying the fragile lines of a leaf or flower petal, and admiring the ever-changing skies.

There is also some satisfaction in capturing that perfect shot….the one where the animals eyes show a glint of catchlight, where we catch them leaping mid-air after silently stalking their prey, and reflecting that golden light of late afternoon that feels so ephemeral.

And finally, some do it to earn a living while simultaneously engaging in what they love to do, being out in nature.  Or they apply the money they earn from sales to purchase that expensive camera or camera accessory.  Or to pay for the journies to places some of us will only dream about, so that they can bring those places home to those who can't or won't go themselves but would love to see what is there.

There is real satisfaction in selling your work.  Is is for everyone?  No.  Although cameras proliferate these days, there will never be a competition between a cell phone picture and a picture produced after watching a magnificent piece of nature for hours and then lovingly processing that image to reproduce the beauty and awe-inspiring details of that same subject.

If you appreciate the images that many photographers routinely share on the internet and other platforms, such as free public exhibits of their work, let them know you understand the time, labor and expense that went into the proficiency to take those photos.  Don’t copy their work!   Spend the same amount you routinely spend to eat one meal out in an average restaurant and buy a print from that artist.  Because they ARE an artist.



]]> (Carol Sheppard Photography) Nature Photography artists copyright patronage Sun, 22 May 2016 22:00:50 GMT
Our beautiful Pacific Northwest How can you not fall in love anew with the PNW every Spring?  From the tulips of Skagit Valley to the stunning Palouse Falls, our scenery is diverse and always holds a surprise.

Each evening, I am privileged to behold the view of craggy Mt. Baker blanketed with snow, with the sun setting on its face.  I never get tired of the rosy glow reflected from its snowy banks.

This month, May, brings us Mother's Day.  What better way to celebrate than with a gift of Mother Nature's finest?  A photograph lasts longer than a basket of flowers, especially if it includes Mom's favorite flower or a hummingbird (always a Mom-favorite).

If you aren't sure what to get her, email me and let me help you to pick the perfect gift for her.

No matter what, I hope you will enjoy my recent additions to my gallery; next week, I will begin adding more from Ebey's Landing and from the Skagit Valley Tulips of April.




]]> (Carol Sheppard Photography) Fri, 29 Apr 2016 21:25:13 GMT
A new beginning! Three years ago, I made a new beginning when I relocated to the Pacific Northwest...a move that has inspired me continuously in the days since.  Change is always intimidating, and that move was no different.  I left great friends, a home I loved, and an established career behind, coming to a place I had only minimal knowledge of.

Since that time, I have had the pleasure and privilege of living my life as I dreamed it could be:  a life of balance.  I love what I do, I love where I live, and I enjoy nature's bounty as I never have had the opportunity before now.

Recently, I decided to move my website hosting to Zenfolio, which I found to be more user-friendly for both me and, hopefully, for my clients.  The site will be redesigned to more fully showcase the various venues I work in.  It will provide easier access to those who wish to review their event photos and those who wish to browse for an image to use as artwork in their home or office.

Be patient as I go through this process; the next step will be some online training and information on the subject of photography.  In the meantime, you can always Email me at to place an order or to ask any questions you have.

I hope you enjoy viewing my images as much as I enjoy making them,




]]> (Carol Sheppard Photography) Wed, 05 Aug 2015 00:30:00 GMT