Are You Thinking ‘Nordstrom’, But People Are Seeing ‘Dollar Store’?

Hey–sometimes the truth hurts. But somebody has to do it. In the business world I have to tell it like it is. Painful, but so is seeing some of the awful portraits people use for business websites and LinkedIn. Many professional people have amateur, or worse, photos of themselves. On Facebook it's a different matter–anything goes and anyway, who cares?


Pictures tell all.

Blog - Top Ten Photo Tips!

• something for everyone

• approved for all audiences

• safe if used as directed

Things you can do to make your portrait turn out better. Regardless of who shoots it. Whether I do it, another photographer does it, or you have an acquaintance do it. Some people have a favorite photo of themselves that happens to be very good purely by accident. Those are great when they occur, but can be maddeningly difficult to recreate on demand. In any case, these tips can help.


1. Get your hair done beforehand. Make sure a few days have passed. Any new hair style or cut takes a bit of time to settle in. Afterwards is too late and you wasted your money.


2. Who’s your audience? You need a portrait that appeals to them as well as you. 

4. Know your likes and dislikes from previous portraits. Tell the photographer ahead of time or when you’re about to shoot. It avoids them inadvertently repeating something you hate (they’re not psychic).

5. Think about what kind of style appeals to you–conventional, casual, reserved, contemporary, avant garde, photojournalistic, rock ‘n’ roll album cover, retro, and so forth.

6. Look at the photographer’s previous work. See that they’re comfortable working with people. People can be quirky. You have to work with all sorts of people.

3. Wear a favorite outfit. If you think you look really good in it, then you will.

7. If you spot some other portrait you really like, save it and use it for inspiration (not imitation).


8. Shoot plenty. Shoot a range of smiles & expressions. Sort it out when viewing on the back of the camera. Be ruthless in editing out the not-so-good ones. It’s not like you’re wasting film or anything.


9. Be sure to get Photoshop work done on the one you pick. Soften lines, take out stray hair, remove temporary blemishes, etc. Everybody needs it.

10. Hire a good hair and make-up person to come to the shoot, they know what looks good for the camera.

Bonus tips–STRANGE things to avoid:

1. A photographer who still uses film. It has no advantages. It indicates a reluctance to move forward. Clinging to outdated methods probably means other aspects of their procedures are weird, too.

2. A photographer who picks which photo you can have. I've heard people’s stories about this. Makes absolutely no sense at all.

3. Being told to cock your head in some strange position. Or turning your shoulders one way and your head 180º the other direction. It looks stupid.

Vermont Kayak & Vacation Trip

Nancy, Jesse, and I visited Vermont for some vacation time. Stayed in White River Junction, selected for the area’s numerous access spots on both the White River and the Connecticut River.


Interstate driving in July creates a thirst. Therefore, we stopped at the Harpoon brewery right off the highway in Windsor. We agreed on these two things about beer: 1. it must be very cold, 2. it tastes better when it’s never been on a truck.


On the Connecticut River above the Wilder Dam. Unlike the previous photo, there’s more water than beer.


We saw four or five rope swings along the shore. Some looked unsafe. This one was probably had the best arc, height, and landing experience. Jesse said it was very cold.


Pose from the Karate Kid


We stopped for lunch on Gilman Island. It even had a flat spot and picnic table. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, chips, carrots, water never tasted so good. The island is covered with hemlocks and white pines of all sizes. This looks like one of the biggest pines.


A serious sports enthusiast and his coach. Some days you need to give your arms and fanny a break from kayaking.


Path through the hemlocks, jewel weed, and ferns along the Quechee Gorge in Hartford, VT.


The bridge above the Quechee Gorge is 162 feet high. Panorama covers the view from straight down all the way to the horizon, looking south. Amazing straight line through the rock.


At the far end of the gorge in the above photo, things flatten out and the water’s more sedate.


Our traveling rig. Only half utilized. The aluminum truck box was a roadside find earlier this summer. Fits all the paddles, life jackets, gear, and supplies. It’s screwed down to the trailer boards to keep it from disappearing.

Sprouts For Spring

We grew alfalfa sprouts at home. Did it over the last 4-5 days. Soak, rinse, keep warm, keep in the dark, rinse more, and finally place them in the sun 3 hours or so to turn green. We actually over did it. Used too much seed so we ended up with enough for 40 people. Since I was the one so gung-ho on the idea, I’ve been eating them like a horse eats hay. They’re cunchier than store ones and very water filled. Good for salad, sandwiches, Easter bunnies, photographers, and so forth. It’s kind of a thrill to grow your own food. We are having a garden outside, but it takes weeks and months to yield edible food. This was our quickie fix to grow food for the table. Yum!


Large wide-mouth canning jar with fiberglas screen held on by the ring. Easy rinsing & draining.


Sprout forest close up during their couple of hours in the direct sun.

Gov. John Rowland, 1998

I had a job in 1998 to photograph an attorney general candidate together with Gov. John Rowland at his office. (That person has been cropped out here.) It’s a form of endorsement to help the underdog candidate to unseat their challenger. There’ve been a few such jobs over the years. This was a time before Rowland’s troubles became known. A personal anecdote–on the afternoon of 9/11 as I drove home, I was listening to the radio about the tragic events of the day. Gov. Rowland spoke to the people of CT and was commanding in his message of reassurance. It was a good showing of his strength, and I was impressed at the time. Today, it was unfortunate to see the headline in the paper about his federal indictment on conspiracy and election campaign charges. Character, trust, integrity, deceit, and strength–human behavior can be very perplexing.


Does Removing Snow Tires Cause It To Snow?

I took them off this past weekend. They’re so much more effective compared to what they jokingly call ‘all-weather’ tires. But if I leave them on and they contibue to wear down, then they aren’t so good anymore. There’s a risk involved–if we get dumped on with a major snowfall, it’s my fault.


See you next year! Enjoy your summer!

Riverfront Boathouse Construction

A client for whom I donate photography wanted a few photographs of the view of the Connecticut River from the upper level of the Glastonbury Riverfront Boathouse, which is under construction. Completion and dedication tentatively is for later this summer 2014. The client received the views they wanted. I happened to especially like this interior view with workmen and others on the second floor. The arrangement of the six people as they go about their work turned out pretty good. I’ll redo this photograph in a few months when it’s done and open to the public. It’ll make a nice comparison.


Interior second floor during construction

Eagle Search Along CT River

Three of us trekked from near Glastonbury center down to the Connecticut River searching for a bald eagle’s nest we had been told about. Mike Keiser (middle), Jesse Billard (right), and I left our cars and walked to the area we were told about. At this time of year nests are easy to spot. Mike said they’re generally 6 feet across of so. There was plenty of open water for them to hunt. Mike also told us mid- to late afternoon is when they become more active catching fish. We split up. Mike headed north along the river, Jesse and I went south. Alas, we struck out on our first go-round. No nests, no eagles. We’re going to check other sources and go again until we come back with the actual photographs. Stay tuned!


Somewhere along the Connecticut River on a quest to find the nest.



(They’re smiling because of my exceptionally good jokes)

A very nice recent job was a visit to ThinkitDrinkit in the Colt Building. They create individualized nutritional drinks based on the needs of the drink customer. They connect consumers with good information and healthy products. Pictured here are owners David Kania (beneath the ‘rin’) and Wayne Gryk (under the ‘Th’) with their team. Photographing people such as them is what makes my work so enjoyable.

'Getting paid is half the work, so skip the charade and don’t go berserk.'

March Glastonbury Chamber Creatives Group meeting - Weds Feb. 5.

Snow cancellation as in Feb. is not an option!

This meeting will talk about the challenges, difficulties, and solutions of getting paid in a timely fashion. It’s something we all must deal with. Although the subject of money and payment can be intimidating to bring up and frustrating to deal with, there are proven ways to make it go easier. Come and share your techniques, concerns, problems, and stories and come away with a better sense of how to handle the important business step of getting paid for your work.

Optional: bring with you a real life example of innovation or creativity that’s surprising or unexpected.  From any field of work or human endeavor. Something the rest of us may not have noticed.

Register online:

Weds. March. 5, 2014

Pond House Grille

2935 Main Street


5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

See you there!


© Copyright 2016 Peter Billard Photographer