Photographer Spotlight: Kat Gill of Katch Studios

We are so excited to welcome the insanely talented Kat Gill of Katch Studios to the Rock the Shot Blog! Take a moment to learn more about her beautiful wedding and boudoir photography, and be sure to visit her website. Thank you so much Kat for taking the time to share your work with us today!

Where did your inspiration for photography begin?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been the “picture-taker” amongst my friends and family. As a teen, I was never without my little point and shoot camera, and in my 20′s that love for photos segued into a love for scrapbooking and making photo albums. But like many female photographers out there, it wasn’t until I had my first baby that I went out and purchased a DSLR camera and my passion for photography really became all-consuming. Playing around with that first Canon 20D really inspired me and soon, I was rarely seen without it.

How would you describe your photography style?

My photography style has really evolved. When I first started out, I was really inspired by everything and everyone and my style was kind of all over the place. Over the years, I think I’ve really started to find my own voice, and now I love to try and have a consistent look & vision. I’d describe my photography style as modern, romantic, soft & natural.

Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?

I’m 100% self taught and am always pretty frank and upfront about the fact that I’m really not a “technical” photographer at all. In fact, I’m sure I’m doing things all wrong according to the book:)I learned everything I know from just trial and error, and fiddling around on my own. Whatever talents I have in photography are really derived mainly from my eye and my gut. I know what I want my photos to look like and what I want them to say… and I get there by following my instincts.

Do you shoot Canon or Nikon, and what is your favorite lens?

I’m a Canon girl, and surprisingly enough, about 80% of my photos are taken with my 50mm f1.4. The f1.2 has been on my “to buy” list for a few years now, but my good ol’ trustee f 1.4 does such a good job that I have yet to trade it up.

Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?

When shooting on location, beautiful light really just comes from knowing where and when to shoot. As with most photographers, I schedule most of my shoots during “golden hour” to get that beautiful warm, sunset light. And of course, some places with give you a view of that pretty light better than other places will. When shooting portraits or boudoir in my natural light studio, I’m always mindful of where the natural light is and how it works for all the different poses.

What is the most challenging thing about photographing boudoir?

Every woman just wants to feel beautiful. Knowing this though and trying to execute this are two different things! Shooting boudoir is so fun & inspiring but it is without a doubt, one of the hardest types of photography out there. There’s so many factors that go into every single shot– you have to find the light, come up with a pose, adjust the pose to make sure it’s flattering, find the client’s best angles, make sure everything looks effortless and not too “posey”, make sure the hair and the lingerie/outfits are in the right place… and then on top of all of that, you need to make sure the facial expression is just right. When clients are fully clothed in other types of shoots, all these things are already tough enough, but when your client is so exposed and feeling vulnerable, these things become that much more important and having a quick eye for detail really becomes crucial.

What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?

Like most photographers out there, I’m always working on finding a good balance between my personal life and my work life. Thankfully, every year seems to get easier, and with experience, I’ve slowly found my way to a really happy place. I have 2 young kids and an amazing husband that has always been super supportive of my business. They’ve had to endure a lot of times where it seemed I was married to my job and my computer. Becoming more established and busy in my career has actually allowed me to really choose what it is I want to do and how often. It’s still VERY tough to say “no” to work, but in doing that a lot more, I’m so much happier and my life is more balanced. I make time for the things that bring me happiness such as yoga, family fun days with my kids, date nights with my hubby, and ladies nights with my girlfriends. And unlike before, if something doesn’t get blogged right away, or I have to turn down that extra client– then so be it:)

If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?

This career is not for the faint of heart! It often requires a thick skin, lots of determination, and countless sacrifices– but it can also be so extremely rewarding and fulfilling. I’ve heard a statistic that says that most aspiring photographers quit within 2 years of starting their business and this doesn’t surprise me at all. I think a lot of people think “I love taking pictures so I should become a photographer!” but in reality, so much of this job has to do with customer service, long hours working in isolation in front of a computer, and the ability to manage yourself efficiently. It’s very often not glamorous at all, and if you’re not a self-starter and extremely motivated to succeed, it probably isn’t the right career path for you. BUT, if the passion is there, and you’re willing to really commit yourself, it’s an amazing job. My biggest piece of advice to new photographers is to constantly work on your craft. Shoot a TON and continue to work on refining your style. Put out into the universe more of what you WANT to shoot, and eventually that will be what starts coming to you.

What do you love most about being a photographer?

The fact that my job is also my passion. I don’t just go to work and punch in and out. Every day, I’m intrigued, I’m challenged, and I’m inspired. Also, having a job that touches others and brings them happiness is a feeling that never gets old, and when I’m feeling tired, overwhelmed, stressed out, or beaten down– remembering this is what lifts me up again. When I take a photo so beautiful that it makes me gasp, or when I hear from a client that I’ve affected their life deeply in some way– I reflect on how lucky I am that I get to call this “work” and I know that it’s something not to be taken for granted.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’m pretty happy right now and there’s very little about my life that I’d want to change. I hope to continue to just grow as an artist and touch people with my work. In 5 years, my kids will both be in school so my schedule will probably be opened up a bit. Hopefully that means I can expand my business and take on more clients. I bigger studio would also be the cherry on top of this lovely sundae:)

About the Artist:
 Kat Gill is the photographer behind Katch Studios | Photography.  When she’s not holding her camera, she’s holding her iphone camera.  When she’s not taking pictures of her beautiful clients, she’s taking pictures of her beloved kids or the food she’s about to eat.  When she can’t be found posing clients in her studio, she can be found doing yoga poses just about anywhere.

Visit Kat at her WEBSITE | BLOG | FACEBOOK pages here

Making Selections with the Marquee Tool

Today we’ll be taking a look at how to make selections with the Marquee tool in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. To illustrate the marquee, I am going to focus on making vignettes (darkening of area along the outside which puts more focus on the subject).

Remember, these are not tutorials that show everything you can do with the tools, rather they are to give you a good introduction and basic understanding of how to use them.

As with the lasso tool, when you use the marquee tool, you are simply selecting an area that you wish to make changes to.

Whether you use the elliptical (can make ovals or circles) marquee or the rectangular (can make squares or rectangles), with both you can adjust the areas inside the selection with adjustment layers, or you can run a filter and it will only affect the area selected.

The steps are the same as with the lasso tool, but here they are again:

  • Click the selection tool you wish to use.
  • Set the feather that fits the area you are selecting – small area to select = small feather / large area = large feather.
  • If making exposure, contrast, etc. changes, create an adjustment layer and the adj layer created will come with a mask of your selection.
  • If using a filter, make a duplicate copy (control/command + j) of the background and then select the area and run the filter.
  • Lower layer opacities to suit the image.

Here is what the marquee tool and tool option menu looks like in Photoshop CS6 and CC (Creative Cloud). The tool and option menu also looks very similar to this in Photoshop Elements 10-6.

Below is what the marquee tool option menu looks like in PSE 11.

Would you like to see why you want to use a feather when using the marquee tool to brighten, darken, etc.? Below shows a zero feather and you can clearly see the start and stop points for the change. This is NOT good.

  • The change shown below can be made by making the selection, then creating a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer, then changing the blend mode to Screen and lowering the layer opacity.

If we add a feather of 90 pixels, making the change blend into the neighboring pixels, then we have a nice transition from change to no change. In other words, no start and stop that we saw above.

  • The change shown below can be made by making the selection, then creating a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer, then changing the blend mode to Screen and lowering the layer opacity.

As with other selection tools, you can create just one marquee or you can create multiple. If you have them overlap, they will become one selection.

The screen print below shows an odd-shaped selection (look at mask in layer panel). I did that by selecting one area, clicking on Add and selecting another area. Because the two overlapped, they create one larger mask.

With the image below, I made a vignette by inverting (reversing) my selection. Here are the steps I took:

  • Make the selections
  • Create a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer
  • Change the blend mode to Multiply (makes my image very dark inside my selection)
  • I INVERTED the selection by pressing ‘control’ and ‘i’ (command and ‘i’ on a Mac)

Image courtesy of Lily Fields Photography

Hello!  I’m Amanda, a quirky, introverted Mom of four, who is passionate about helping others learn their cameras and editing software. I also currently homeschool my four kids, ages 13 to 6, all whom run away when they see me carrying my camera.

Visit me at my WEBSITE and FACEBOOK page!

Photographer Spotlight: Tiffany Farley

We are excited to introduce Tiffany Farley to our Rock the Shot readers.  Take a moment to learn more about her beautiful maternity and motherhood portraits, and be sure to visit her website. Thank you so much Tiffany for taking the time to share your work with us today!

Where did your inspiration for photography begin?
I am afraid that I come with the common tale that I have always loved taking photographs- but I promise it’s true! I began to fall in love with the camera when my High School offered a film photography elective. Photographing portraits has always been my favorite, especially the black and white. It remained a hobby over the years, and something I found myself really drawn to after college. My favorite online reads soon became different lifestyle photography blogs. I found myself so inspired by how photographers were capturing families outside of a traditional studio that I had known growing up. Giving myself permission to chase something I was so passionate about was one of the best decisions, and biggest steps of faith I have ever taken.

How would you describe your photography style?
My style of photography is very unique, intimate, and moving. The majority of my sessions are focused on the connection between just two, and most often related to motherhood. When someone looks at my work, I want them to FEEL something. I want that emotion to resonate deeply within them. I am drawn to what is classic and timeless, and keep in mind that my end goal is to provide art for my clients to pass down to next generations. This value becomes the decision maker behind how I direct a shoot, how I edit my work, and how I present my work to my clients after their session

Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?
Outside of my High School Film Photography elective I am self-taught. I learned everything I needed to get started from photographer’s blogs, and resources like Rock the Shot.

Do you shoot Canon or Nikon, and what is your favorite lens?
I’m a Canon girl, (although slowly learning on my Hasselblad) and my favorite lens is currently the 50mm 1:2L.

Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?
I am very purposeful when scheduling the time of my shoots to photograph in light that suits my taste. My outdoor sessions are held in the very early morning, or the hour leading up to sunset. My indoor sessions are held during brighter times of the day and I always look for a clean window space to photograph my subjects near. I really love a soft directional light in my portraits, so I always move myself to an angle that helps create this. Sometimes all is takes is my stepping a little to the right or left to make a huge difference in the lighting of my subject.

What is the most challenging thing about photographing maternity?
Photographing pregnancy is one of my favorite types of portraiture. I believe motherhood is so incredibly beautiful and deserves to be photographed as such. Although I do not photograph weddings, I would never photograph an expecting mother any differently than I would a bride. She deserves the same beauty and grace in her images, and when it comes to maternity sessions this is of the utmost importance to me.

I would say my biggest challenge has been communicating this idea that pregnancy deserves a place in Fine Art Portraiture; and above anything deserves to be photographed period. Many women have no desire to photograph this time, but I believe that with the right photographer they would never regret it.

What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?
Oh I don’t think I could limit that to one answer! I feel as though everyday I learn something new about how to be a better photographer or business owner- and I hope that never changes. Let me give you my top three.
The biggest lesson I have learned over the past year is the importance of only photographing what I am passionate about, and learning to say no to the rest. Specializing was the best decision I could have made for my business. It keeps me looking forward to every portrait shoot, and because I truly love what I am creating, I am a better photographer for that client.

The second lesson that I have learned is to repeatedly think about my ideal client. There was a time where my booking rate wasn’t where I needed it to be. Instead of complaining about it, or looking at every other photographer’s website with envy, I took a detailed look at my business and focused inwardly on what I could improve. This way when clients came my way I could be ready to book them and give them an amazing experience. So I took the time to create email folders before I had the emails to fill them, a workflow chart before I had the client’s name to fill in, and creating a gorgeous welcome packet before I had the clients to send them to. I pictured my ideal mother to work with sitting down at her computer and pulling up my website. Was I speaking to her in the way I needed to as soon as she saw my home page? Was everything up to date? Was my portfolio my very best work and only what I wanted to photograph more of? When she booked me, was I adequately able to educate her about her portrait experience so that we had an incredible session? Are my products photographed beautifully so that clients will really see how special they are and want to invest in them for their home? Was I truly putting my best foot forward in every area of my business? This is a great visual exercise that I still use frequently when looking over my brand experience for my clients.

The third lesson I have learned is not have gear envy. As photographers we are in an industry where it is impossible to always have the latest equipment. There is always a new camera body, a new lens, and a new computer model that seems to be everyone’s must have. If you try to keep up, you will always feel dissatisfied with what you have. Rock what you have and charge accordingly. The only lens I owned for the first 2 years of my business was a 50mm 1:4. Work with what you have until you outgrow it’s capabilities.

If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?
When it comes to your brand, ask yourself “why” before investing in anything. I made so many mistakes as a new photographer, buying all the latest actions and templates thinking those purchases would automatically give me a great brand and website. I bought sample albums from companies simply because a popular photographer used them, and not because I really loved them or because they fit my budget. Mistakes like these set be back financially time and time again.

I have learned that a great brand and style comes from within, not something you can buy. It may be tempting to jump ahead and pick out your new packaging from popular Pinterest boards, but spending time thinking about who your ideal client is should be what is determining all of those decisions.

What do you love most about being a photographer?
Being a photographer allows me to live a life that I love. I have found a passion in photography and running a business that I never even knew was there. I am given opportunities to travel all across the country, and create tangible heirlooms for families. I have seen the joy and healing that photography can bring to hearts and it has truly changed my own life to be a part of that. I have met some of my best friends, and some of the most incredible people through the photography industry. I can truly say that I love my job!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I look forward to motherhood the most, and running a full-time, still successful photography business that will allow me to be home with my future children. I see myself traveling both in and out of the country, and leading unique workshops and teaching opportunities. I have a feeling the next 5 years are going to be my best yet!

About the Artist: Tiffany Farley is a Fine Art portrait photographer with clients spreading across New England and beyond. A self-taught photographer, Tiffany launched her business in 2011 and has since carved her niche in the industry through “Connection Portraits,” a unique specialization that focuses on the intimate connection that exists between just two. Currently located in New Haven, Connecticut as a live-in nanny of two, Tiffany is moving to Southern Maine this fall to pursue photography as her full time career. Tiffany is most passionate for photographing motherhood in all it’s moving forms, and is the founder and curator of the recently launched Fount Collective, a quarterly print publication and submission blog for Fine Art Motherhood portraiture.

Visit Tiffany at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM |  TWITTER pages

Photographer Spotlight: Marina Koslow

We are thrilled to welcome the amazing Marina Koslow  to the Rock the Shot Blog today! Take a moment to learn more about her beautiful senior photography, and be sure to visit her website. Thank you so much Marina for taking the time to share your work with us today!

Where did your inspiration for photography begin?

I began learning the basics of photography from my dad growing up. He would always take pictures of us kids and then we would develop film in a make shift dark room in our kitchen. Those memories are still some of my favorites from childhood. Once I was old enough I would borrow his camera and take pictures of my friends and the city I grew up in which is in Ukraine. It was during a hard time right after the break of Soviet Union. Photography became a small outlet for me while living in grey reality of economic depression. I didn’t know much about the technical aspects of taking photographs until years later after moving to US and picking up a DSLR.

How would you describe your photography style?

clean, classic, romantic portraiture

Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?

I am self taught. A lot of things having to do with “photography” have to be learned by practice. However I do feel that going to a photography school would give one a more artistic background as well as a better understanding of the industry and more connections for potential work.

Do you shoot Canon or Nikon, and what is your favorite lens?

I shoot medium format film cameras. My favorites at the moment are Contax 645 and Mamiya RZ. Contax comes with an 80 mm 2.0 lens and its quite magical. My 35 mm system is Nikon and I am very partial to Zeiss glass. I currently use 85 mm 1.4.

Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?

Don’t be afraid of light! If you are used to diffused soft lighting in the shade it may be difficult to shoot in direct sunlight but sometimes there is no way around it. You can always play it to your advantage. I try to pay attention to the subject’s eyes as well as what’s behind me. If shooting in strong backlighting its important to have some open sky above to make sure that face is still well lit.

What is the most challenging thing about photographing seniors?

Sometimes senior girls are not confident in themselves and that translates into being awkward in front of the camera. It takes a bit of time to break that ice and I always work hard to make them feel beautiful and at ease with me.

What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?

Taking extra time to educate clients is always worth it! locations, outfits, timing – sometimes it means that I need to be a bit more assertive to make sure all elements add up to produce the final product expected.

If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?

Allow yourself time to find what you love doing. It doesn’t happen overnight. Work hard and accept failures when they happen, but always try again.

What do you love most about being a photographer?

I love leaving behind memories of happiness, beauty and life.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

That’s a hard question! I don’t like predicting the future. I would love to see myself doing what I love and maybe traveling a bit outside of photography assignments, just to have more time to shoot for myself.

About the Artist: Marina Koslow is a photographer in Bend, Oregon specializing in weddings, senior portraiture for girls and family portraits. In her free time, she enjoys exploring beautiful Central Oregon, stand up paddle boarding and winter sports.

Visit Marina at her WEBSITE | BLOG | FACEBOOK pages today

August Photo Challenge: Dance Like No One is Watching

Turn up your favorite jam and grab your camera!  This month, challenge yourself to capture an AMAZING image of the beautiful art of “DANCE“!  There are no specific rules for this challenge, you may interpret the theme in any way you wish.  Everyone is invited to participate!

Special thanks to our very generous sponsors for the FABULOUS prizes for this months challenge!

Here are the prizes you can win:

 1st Place PRIZE: “Schoolgirl” Leather Camera Bag from Ketti Handbags {$295 Value}


Since 2008 Ketti Handbags has been producing camera bags with as much personality and flair as the women who carry them. Instead of a camera bag that acts as a purse, we made our newest leather collection a purse that can act as a camera bag. With enough space for wallet, phone, tablet and a camera, the Schoolgirl makes bringing your camera with you simple. It also works great for use on photo shoots – with your camera around your neck, easily carry up to 3 extra lenses in this stylish bag.

2nd Place PRIZE:  Beyond the Lens Photoshop Actions & Textures + Beachwood Papers {$250 Value}


Photo Deal Cafe brings the power of group buying to photographers. Save up to 90% off the BEST Products and Services for Photographers.

3rd Place PRIZE16×24 Canvas from Canvas by Blossom {$137 Value}


Here are the details for entering your submission:

1. Create a post on your blog and include ONE photo submission for the challenge. If you like, include some fun facts about the photo, and any tips or tricks you might like to share about how you captured and/or processed your image.  For this month’s submission, the only requirement is that the image relates to “Dancing” in some way.
2. Include the Rock the Shot Button and type the link in your post. DO NOT include http://
3. You can also link your submission from public Facebook pages, Flickr, Pinterest, etc. Just be sure to include the link within your post. If you are having trouble with this method, check out our step-by-step video tutorial HERE 
4. Submit the link to your post using the InLinkz button below. You must submit the actual post link (permalink), not just your website URL. NOTE: do not include http:// in your link
5. You may submit your photo at any time during the challenge – the deadline for this month’s submission is August 31st, at 11:59pm CST.
6. The winners will be announced on Thursday, September 4th.

LEGAL STUFF: This promotion is in NO WAY sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You will NOT be notified publicly via Facebook if you are a winner. You MUST be 18 to participate. By entering this giveaway, you are providing information to Rock the Shot and NOT to Facebook. Prizes do not have cash value. There will be no returns/exchanges on any of the items.

By submitting your photo, you grant Rock the Shot permission to re-post your photo on our blog and/or Facebook page. Photo Credit will be provided.

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