Sandra Coan’s Friday Favorites: Thankful for…

Happy Friday!

I have to tell you, our “Thankful for…” post is something that I look forward to every year!  I love reading your words and seeing the people and things that bring you joy.  So great!

In honor of Thanksgiving, we will be taking next Thursday and Friday off.  So that means our next Friday Favorites won’t be until December!!  How crazy is that?

The new theme will be “Winter”… what does it look like where you are?  Can’t wait to see!

Have a great weekend everyone!



“{thankful} for squishy little smiles”  Monica Hart Photography


“Thankful for an awesome hubby who teaches our kiddos the fundamentals early”


“I am thankful we visited my mom’s hometown in West Virginia this summer, spent quality time with our cousins, and got to put our feet in the river.”  Carrie Geddie Photography


Thankful for {them} Colie James Photography


thankful for my daughters!” LifeCreated


{thankful} I’m very thankful for my family’s good health. I shot this image today of a husband and father battling cancer. It was heartbreaking to approach this session with the perspective that these may be the last photos this family ever has together. I tried to document the things that have stuck in my head about my own dad and knew that I had to get a picture of his hands. Even sick from Chemo and weak and in pain, a daddy’s hands always remind me of strength and I sincerely pray that this young father kicks cancer’s butt!Lea Kahle Hartman


“{thankful} for her willingness to explore new ideas with me” Brittany Blake Photography


“Thankful for… two sons who love to play together.” JRo Photo

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Lea Ciceraro - Thank you SO very much for including one of my photos!! XOXO Happy Friday!

Kim Hildebrand: Little Leiv

I am so excited to share these photos!!

Kim is my friend and studio-mate.  I’ve always admired her work, especially her masterful use of studio lighting.  Recently, I’ve been shooting my film inside with strobes, and knowing how good Kim is with lights, I encouraged her to do the same.  The results speak from themselves!  Perfection!!

Kim’s experience with lighting and with working with families really shows!  That skill combined with the glory of Fuji 400h is almost too much for me to handle!

The only thing I don’t like about these photos is that I didn’t take them. :)

Gorgeous work Kim!!

-Sandra Coan

From Kim:

“This new little family hired me for maternity and newborn photos and we agreed to try film for both sessions. Little Leiv was 3 weeks old for their newborn session. Since I mostly shoot cuddly family poses for newborn shoots, I wasn’t worried about the 10-day window. I’ve been shooting my newborn studio sessions with strobes for several years now, but never with film. Sandra pushed me to try it and I’m so glad I did!”

Pentax | Fuji 400h | Richard Photo Lab

About Kim:  based in Seattle,Washington  / website / contact / facebook



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Kim - Thank you for the feature, Sandra! I just love how these images turned out and can’t wait to use more film in studio :)

carrie geddie - These are INCREDIBLE!!! I love them!!! Way to knock it out of the park, Kim!

Elena - These are amazingly beautiful Kim! You’re so very talented! Super proud of your hard work and dedication. I’m always amazed by your gorgeous pictures!!!

jenna reich - These are incredible!

Christina Mallet on Instagram: These Photos Make Me Think…

Hello and happy Instagram Wednesday!

Today’s images are all so special, for so many different reasons–read on for all my thoughts.

Congratulations to all the featured photographers–I was really moved this week.




Okay, so let’s just start this off with Wow. This is such a stellar image in so many ways.

The color palate is muted and rich all at once–and how amazing that little miss is perfectly colored as well.

A breathtaking location– I’m reminded that if I want to make amazing photos, a good place to start is to visit amazing places.



Another color palate beauty.

This photo appears to be a candid moment, because of the movement in the little one’s twirl, but its execution makes me think it’s an illustration of the ‘decisive moment’

I’ve linked an article about the ‘Decisive Moment’, which was a term coined by the famous street photographer Henri Cartier Bressen.

PetaPixal says “The decisive moment refers to capturing an event that is ephemeral and spontaneous, where the image represents the essence of the event itself.”

This image, I think, could be the basis for a famous painting.



Fierce–Both the photo and this small person’s expression!

I’m reminded of how powerful a simple portrait can be.

The dominant colors here, the cool blue and warm skin are great complimentary colors.

This could be a poster for a sequel to The Hunger Games.



Oh little goat! How very sweet you are!

This image was made with film and I know I always say this, but I knew immediately.

Here’s how I knew: The detail in the whites and blacks of the goat’s fur.

Film just has a dynamic range that is able to pick up the details of extremes, like nothing else, except our eyes.



That hair is amazingly beautiful and so striking with the green background.

Her so very flawless skin, is lovely.

I don’t know what’s going on here but I envision she is reciting a poem because she seems smart and arty and unique.



Geez, this is fantastic.

I am sort of obsessed with very large animal heads on people.

This image is comical and interesting.

I think what makes it funny is the very human stance of the child–graceful hands, very straight forward stance and then there’s that disheveled bear about to say hello or bite our heads off.

This is quirky and I love me some quirk.


Sunset photos are hard, and not because they are hard to capture, rather they are hard to capture in a compelling way.

I think the issue with sunsets is they are often very static in that you have no idea if the sun is going up or down because the image is flat, lacking anything in the foreground.

This image wins the sunset prize because we have a sense of place and time, thank you rising or departing sunshine.

This is a metropolis, and you know those waters are bustling in the daylight, but in this image it’s only us the viewers and a quiet city.

I like this because it’s a sort of voyeuristic view of a city sleeping–watching sleeping is always beautiful.



This is such a beautiful portrait of a beautiful child.

The creative, in-camera, crop here is so great and adds a bit of mystery.

I say mystery because it would seem little one is deep in thought, and maybe there are thoughts of cookies or space travel.



Big daddy hand and teeny tiny baby hand, le sigh.

This is such a tender image and I love the detail in the man hands, like maybe he’s been doing manly work.

That contrast with the vulnerable baby hand, reaching out makes parents everywhere swoon and reminisce.



There’s something really sweet and a little bit comical about this image.

First, let me say that the light is great because it illuminates kiddo’s face and expression but because the light is blocked, we also have a bit of a silhouette.

I love the very straight lines of the concrete and the curves of the curls and the back of the shirt bulges.

The thing that makes me giggle a little bit is the sort of mug shot/lineup quality going on here.



I think this film image should be used in a Pit Bull rescue or awareness campaign.

I come from a long line of animal rescuers and I’m passionate about images of dogs classified as bully breeds in a beautiful, quiet and sweet way.

This image is so wonderful because it does that but also because the image is stellar.

Great depth of field and amazing window light for a serious and sweet portrait.

This image is made with film and again, the range of light and shadow is pure film gold!

Good tog and dog!

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Abby Elizabeth Malone - Beautiful and thoughtful selections! All are wonderful! Thanks for featuring me!

Studio Lighting with Sandra Coan: Using Wireless Triggers with Vintage Film Cameras


So after last weeks post on using an external light meter with studio lights, I received a ton of messages from people with all sorts of great questions. One question I heard over and over was from film photographers who were really interested in using lights in their workflow but unsure how to get their vintage film cameras to communicate with their lights.

So my friends, I made another video.  In this one, I’ll show you how to use a wireless trigger and receiver with your vintage film cameras!

Hope it helps!

p.s.  I have a cold so my voice is a little scratchy… and I have crazy muppet like hair!  Haha… glad we’re all friends here!

If you like this content, and want more free tips on photography and business, sign up for our newsletter!

And if you really want to learn everything there is to know about shooting film inside (in a client’s home or in studio) join us for our workshop Film for the Studio Photographer!


This image was taken with a Hasselblad 503, Acros 100 and studio lights.  Processed at Richard Photo Lab.

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Joyce’s Quick Tip: The Zone System – The Basics

“The Zone System is a framework for understanding exposure and development and visualizing their effect in advance. Areas of different luminance in the subject are related to exposure zones, and these in turn to appropriate values of gray in the final print. Thus careful exposure and development procedures permit the photographer to control the negative densities and corresponding print values that will represent specific areas, in accordance with the visualized final image.” ~ Ansel Adams, The Negative

After the light meter became readily available in the 1930′s, Ansel Adams began to experiment ways to control the images captured on the negative to the end product, the print.  The Zone System was developed using shades of gray to control his visualized images through tones and exposure, using the medium gray (standard gray card) as the anchoring point.

As a film photographer, The Zone System is one of the first things we need to learn besides the exposure triangle.  The combination of using a handheld light meter and the knowledge of The Zone System enable us to create the film image we have visualized when we click the shutter button.  The very first thing I teach in my Embrace The Grain Workshop (an Intro to Film Photography) is The Zone System.

I will be talking briefly about how we can use The Zone System for our vision and style a little more in the next few weeks.  So I think it would be helpful to show you how each zone of The Zone System is defined using printable tones by Ansel Adam.  I am sharing one of the PDFs I have created for my workshop for you all to download. You can print it out and laminate it as a handy reference when you are out and about with your film camera.  The Zone System is useful for all types of lighting and perfect for every skin tone.  To download your copy, click on the image below.

The Zone System
The Zone System is referenced from Basic Techniques of Photography by John P. Shaefer

Blog Contributor and Writer:  Joyce Kang

Joyce Kang selfie black and white on mamiya c330Joyce Kang is a fine art lifestyle children & family photographer in Austin Texas.  She is also a mentor and a film workshop instructor for Embrace The Grain.  She is married to her best friend and enjoys outdoors with her family.  She loves to curl up with a good book and has a terrible addiction to any thing that tops with a heaping scoop of ice cream drizzled with chocolate fudge!

Follow Joyce and see more of her work at: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google+

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