A4_002 9 Dec 2014

Tell a Tail

The best kind of camera is the one you always have on you and the best kind of subject is the one who’s always around.


Caption: My two corgis, Porter and Lilly, pose for a portrait at Triple B Farms in Ladson, SC. (Photo by Cali Barini)

Camera Info: Nikon COOLPIX S01

When I’m not on assignment, I usually don’t carry my big cameras around. One, I’ve had to lug them all day already and, two, I just want to be in the moment – enjoy the moment. That’s why I always carry my pocket-sized camera, what I refer to as my Tic-Tac camera, everywhere I go. So when I’m packing up my camera bag for an assignment or trip, my little camera gets stuffed into a spare pocket.



Caption: My go-to camera bag is the Manfrotto Professional Backpack 30. In it, I keep my two Nikon D800 camera bodies, a Nikkor 24-70mm and 70-200mm lens, two spare batteries, flash cards, wifi, an external harddrive, my laptop, iPad, chargers and last, but not least, my Nikon COOLPIX S01 pocket camera.


Most importantly, I keep that camera on me when I’m at home. Yup, even when I’m not “on the job” so to speak. I’ve found I really enjoy photographing my fur-kids. Dressing them up, taking candid pictures – it’s all in good fun. This little sidebar fascination with my dogs has allowed me to let my photographic hair down. Honestly, I was inspired by #ThisWildIdea on Instagram.


Caption: Penelope Lilly wears a red scarf around the house.

Since my dogs provide endless options creatively, I’m only limited to my imagination.

Camera Info: Nikon COOLPIX S01

This guy loves his dog Maddie so much that he decided to dedicate an entire photographic series on her. Wow, what a thought. She’s too cute for words really. But I thought, “I love my dogs too and I’m already photographing them all the time, why am I not doing this?”


Caption: Porter Lliam wears his red hoodie for a portrait while working at the studio.

Camera Info: Nikon COOLPIX S01

While I’m no Theron Humphrey, and my dogs aren’t even as close to being as talented as Maddie, the point of the exercise to is to have fun with photography. Do what you love, laugh a little, experiment and play for goodness sakes. Not every image has to be a masterpiece.


Caption: Penny Lou takes a nap with reading glasses and a book.

Camera Info: Nikon COOLPIX S01

Using and point-and-shoot camera has many positives. You don’t have to worry about ISO, F-Stop, Shutter Speed, White Balance and all that. You can just concentrate on moments.


Caption: Penelope Lilly waits for someone to walk through front door.

Camera Info: Nikon COOLPIX S01

Taking away the distractions of camera function buttons also allows you to just observe light and composition. So what if it isn’t a perfect exposure, at least you’re seeing something new. Taking the time to shoot what you love will ultimate train your eye to see differently, creatively.


Caption: Porter Lliam and Penelope Lilly watch the neighbors for the window.

Camera Info: Nikon COOLPIX S01

 A point-and-shoot camera, or smart phone camera, gives you the ability to be in the moment and capture it at the same time. Sometimes, however, I just prefer to take a mental photo of the moment.

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Professional Backpack 30
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A3_008 5 Dec 2014

Neither Seen, Nor Heard

As a photographer, there are times when it’s best to neither be seen, nor heard. That’s when I turn to my mirrorless cameras for help. After all, it’s not always about who brings the biggest, most expensive DSLR cameras and lenses to the shoot. It’s about who conducts themselves professionally, while staying out of the way and capturing good images.


Robin Meade and Darius Rucker sing a song together during a television interview at the Music Farm in Charleston, South Carolina.

Camera Info: Nikon COOLPIX P7800, Aperture Priority Mode, ISO 1600, F/2.8, 1/100 Shutter Speed, Exposure Compensation -1.3


As a freelance photographer, my assignments range from taking lit portraits of story subject matter, spot news journalism, feature stories, behind the scenes photography and everything in between. I’ve got 10×20’ room full of gear that will get me through any crazy scenario an editor might through my way. For me, it’s just a matter of problem solving.

A3_002 I’m always prepared for the worse case scenario of any given assignment. I’ll take into consideration setting up remotely triggered cameras, off-camera flashes, long lenses, wide lenses, filters, etc. All of this equipment is hauled in their appropriate bags. My camera bodies and two essential lenses (24-70mm and 70-200mm) are carried in my Manfrotto Professional Backpack 30, my specialty lenses are packed neatly in my Manfrotto Professional Roller Bag 50, and my Nikon flashes and accessories are carried in my Manfrotto Professional Shoulder Bag 30.

When I received an assignment to photograph CNN Headline News anchor Robin Meade and country music recording artist Darius Rucker, I had a lot to consider. Obviously making quality images goes without saying, but I had to do that without making a sound. Since the main purpose of Meade and Rucker’s meeting was a television interview, soundmen would be recording audio the entire time. This meant having the clank of my Nikon D800’s shutter in the background would be a no-go.


 Robin Meade and Darius Rucker sing a song together during a television interview at the Music Farm in Charleston, South Carolina.

Camera Info: Nikon D800, Aperture Priority Mode, ISO 4000, F/2.8, 1/160 Shutter Speed, Exposure Compensation -0.7

 I was told I’d have to ability to make noise between “cuts,” but that would’ve left me with just seconds of shoot time for the entire thirty-minute interview. Ultimately, that limited my options. I had to find a way to keep shooting while they were filming. There’s always the choice of using a sound blimp like those made by Fatboy or AquaTech. However, I don’t do enough assignments such as these to warrant spending $1,200 or more on blimps. Instead, I turned to my mirrorless camera instead.

 A3_004 The Nikon COOLPIX P7800 is a robust mirrorless camera that cannot only take photos without a sound, but also produce a large file and operates well in lowlight.

Have the mirrorless camera, along with my DSLR, gave me the freedom to shoot while cameras were rolling. I didn’t miss moments and I didn’t make a sound. So long as I stayed out of the video crews’ frame, I was free to explore and shoot to my heart’s conent.


Darius Rucker sits for an interview at the Music Farm in Charleston, South Carolina.

Camera Info: Nikon COOLPIX P7800, Aperture Priority Mode, ISO 1600, F/3.5, 1/100 Shutter Speed, Exposure Compensation -1.3


Robin Meade interviews Darius Rucker about his Grammy nomination for “Wagon Wheel” at the Music Farm in Charleston, South Carolina.

Camera Info: Nikon COOLPIX P7800, Aperture Priority Mode, ISO 1600, F/2.8, 1/80 Shutter Speed, Exposure Compensation -1.3


Robin Meade and Darius Rucker’s boots side-by-side during a television interview in Charleston, South Carolina.

Camera Info: Nikon COOLPIX P7800, Aperture Priority Mode, ISO 1600, F/2.8, 1/20 Shutter Speed, Exposure Compensation -1.3

 In a nutshell, the moral of this story is that it’s often not about the size of the camera you bring to a photo shoot. Rather, the camera’s capabilities and attributes may best suit the assignments parameters. Remember to always explore your options – don’t limit yourself.

This day with me

Professional Backpack 30
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Professional Roller bag 50
Professional bags collection

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A2_006 3 Dec 2014

Familia Equis

Directing a human being during a portrait session is one thing, but adding a thousand pound, hoofed animal to the equation complicates things a bit. Here’s a few tips to get you started in the right direction.


Photographer Stacy Pearsall and her horse Sir Prize. (by Andy Dunaway)

I’ve been around horses my entire life. My mother, and her mother, had horses. Naturally I inherited the equine gene and started riding before I could walk. Therefore my understanding of this animal gives an advantage when it comes to taking portraits of them. Move slow, be calm, be aware and listen to the horses handler. After all, they know the animals better than anyone – even you.

First of all, horses are herd animals and don’t you forget it! When horses are taken away from their herds, they become nervous. In nature, the animal that’s alone is a preyed animal. I suggest if the horse has a buddy – keep them nearby right out of frame but still in line-of-site.

Second, most horses spook at objects they’ve not seen before such as lights and softboxes. Make sure you have the horses familiar with your tools before you jump into the shoot. I suggest popping the flash a few times too. It’s one thing to show them the light, but another to blast light in their faces.

Thirdly, like most humans, horses are more comfortable in an environment they’re familiar with. If possible, try to shoot the horses on their own turf. This will greatly reduce the stress on the animals, and their humans.


Photography assistant Cali Barini stands-in before the couple and their animals are brought over for their portrait.

Now your ready to shoot… Before you bring the entourage over, have a stand-in in place. This will allow you the time you need to set up for the shot, pre-focus, dial in your lights and have everything ready to just click the shutter release button. Most horses have a short attention span, so being as ready as possible is key.


Mark and Rohena Armstrong pose with their horses and dogs in St. Stephens, South Carolina.

Camera Info: Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-70mm Lens, Manual Exposure, ISO 200, F/14, 1/200 Shutter Speed

Lighting Equipment: Elinchrom Ranger RX with a Rotalux 69” Octa softbox, Avenger C-Stand, Avenger Sandbag

Lighting Bag: Manfrotto LW-97PL


My Manfrotto LW-97 PL packed with location accessories including extension cables, power strips, Gaffers tape, Manfrotto Justin Clamps, knee cushion, collapsible step stool, reflector dishes, spare flash tubes and more.


The last tip I’ll leave you with is this – set your lights and bring the horses to it. Don’t come at the horses with your lights. Doing so may cause a stampede, and always remember to put safety first.

This day with me

House of Love Jewelry 25 Aug 2014

My Bazuka and Me by Stacy Pearsall

Keep your seamless roll paper, don’t toss it. There’s a tube out there, the Flambeau Outdoors Bazuka Rod Case, that’s built for fisherman’s poles, but doubles well as a seamless paper roll transport device too.

With the Veterans Portrait Project, I’m on assignment two and three locations a week, which means my entire studio must be mobile and easy to maneuver. I’ve queried many portrait photographers who use seamless paper backdrops for their shoots on location. Most say they just order a roll and discard it after one shoot. Since I’m keen on conserving dollars and cents, I can’t justify tossing a $45 roll of Savage paper into the dumpster that is still good for more rounds of shooting.

Initially, I trolled the photo and video retailers for a bag or device that would suit my seamless paper for transport under the plain. A carrier that was shaped correctly and rigid so that paper wouldn’t get damaged. I found absolutely nothing.

After discussing my problem with my husband, and fellow photographer, Andy Dunaway, he handmade something for me out of PVC pipe. Granted it wasn’t going to win any beauty contests, but it did the job. It was sturdy, and met the airline requirements to fly. That’s all that mattered to me. Plus, it only cost $15 to make. Essentially it was a length of PVC pipe with on end permanently sealed shut. Foam padding was adhered to the inside of the sealed cap to prevent any kinking or curling to the edge of the paper. The open end of the pipe was simple screw cap that came on and off. This was also adhered with foam. I put the roll paper and the Manfrotto Backgound Support Kit’s cross bar inside and ship it whole.


The benefit of the pipe’s rigidity was also it’s doom – not to mention the tube’s shape. The bag handlers at the airport would throw the pipe onto the belt where it would just roll off the side and fall to the ground. Of course when hard plastic meets asphalt, it never ends well. On two occasions, this cracked my pipe’s cap right off.  I was lucky not to lose my Manfrotto Background Support Kit crossbar.



On the pipe’s last voyage, it took a fall that could not be repaired on the road. Therefore, I spent a late night in Boston searching for a replacement that could get me through the rest of my week’s travels. I strolled into a Dick Sporting Goods store and was looking at various athletic bags, none of which were long enough. Before throwing in the towel, I strolled back to the fishing and firearm section. I described my dilemma to an employee who promptly said, “What about a fishing pole holder?”


Turns out the Flambeau Outdoors Bazuka Rod Case fits a 107” roll of seamless backdrop paper perfection. It even has the capability of extending, so you can carry longer rolls too! Plus, it comes with padding inside so you don’t have to modify it. Furthermore, it’s hard exterior isn’t so hard that it cracks when bounced around during travel. This case retails for the same amount as one roll of 107” Savage seamless roll paper, so it’s worth the investment if you can reuse your paper a few times.


This day with me