Everything you know about photography is wrong!

(C)Allan Castle 2018_2683.jpg

One of the interesting and sometimes irritating things about being a professional artist is that people are always asking what camera should they should buy.  Do I like Canon or Nikon? Maybe Sony? 

They say what kind of camera took that picture? I tell them that an artist took the picture, not a camera. It's like asking what kind of typewriter wrote that novel? Or is Microsoft word better than some other program. Of course, what’s most important in writing is the words you use.

Cameras are tools. Photoshop is a tool. Lights are tools. Nothing more. A photographer with a vision is a hero and can take incredible pictures using even poor quality equipment.

I attended a wedding a while back, as a guest. The bride came up to me and asked me to take a few photos of her cutting the cake. I only had a $8 disposable camera. It was on the table for the guests to use. I said to the bride, ok let’s cut the cake. I pushed the little button to charge the flash. I took a shot. Then I said, let me take a couple more photos. At her request I took a few more shots, including a bridal portrait.

Two weeks later, the bride called. We chatted about the honeymoon and she mentioned that my pictures were much better than the other photographer who was hired to cover her wedding! How could that be, she said? The photographer the woman hired had used a $5,000 camera, with a big flash, expensive zoom lens, etc? I had an $8 camera. Well I guess I have better timing on when to take the picture, what’s the best angle, etc. And I have taken professional photos at about 200 weddings. Experience helps.

Do I use professional equipment? Yes, because it makes my life easier. The camera focuses faster, has more accurate exposure. The lights have consistent color, etc. When you take 100, 200 or more photos per day, that’s important.

What do I use? Whatever works for the assignment. To get me the right look for the picture. Mostly it is a digital camera, but sometimes it might be a an old fashioned film camera. It depends.

Beautiful Headshot

Black and white headshot

Black and white headshot

A fine art fashion headshot portrait of Cynthia. Blond on white background.

It's important to capture just the right angle, lighting and expression to make a perfect head shot. Then the image must be processed carefully. So many digital images are very harsh and show all the flaws. This picture has no retouching and is almost flawless. Photographing a blond with pale skin is more difficult than it seems. It is easy to wash all the skin. In color the skin may appear almost a light purple, unless lit and color balanced correctly. In black and white the skin may look to dark or too light and show distracting shadows.

And of course the most important factor is not technical, but capturing a soulful expression, beautiful eyes and lips and getting a great angle.  

Double exposure, creative portrait


Here is an attention getting image. A double exposure or multiple exposure means more than one image is layered on another image.  That often creates a surreal, dramatic photograph that has a fine art feeling.

Of course, the processing of the image is very important. Notice the "low key", darker tones that emphasize the eyes. And with a touch of grain, the photo has a fascinating texture and holds your attention.

Many of my younger clients, like images that have multiple exposures, movement or are "quirky" or unusual. 

Glamour photo created on real film

Created on real film. Allows a beautiful, softness and fabulous skin tones.

Created on real film. Allows a beautiful, softness and fabulous skin tones.

Here is a 1980s inspired glamour photo. Glamour pictures are a perfect gift for that special person in your life.

Why use film? It gives the softest, most beautiful skin tones. Hair and skin almost glow. It is so  flattering.

It is also so fun to take these kinds of images. It's like dress up day at your salon or getting ready for a fun night out. Just get a pretty dress or top. For vintage you probably have an outfit already hanging in your closet or head out to the nearest consignment shop or vintage store.

Vintage Portrait created on film

Created using a large format film camera. 4x5 film, Hand Developed

Created using a large format film camera. 4x5 film, Hand Developed

A timeless portrait that tells a story. Classic, vintage and looks like a photograph taken 100 years ago. The original was created using 4x5 film. Then Allan aged and distressed the photo and added a frame. Looks like it could have been taken in the Civil War period or early 1900s. This photo will be handed down to your children and grand children.

Photo taken to express a mood, emotion and memories. When printed large size it is perfect for display in  your living room over your fireplace. Because it was taken on large format film, it can be enlarged to at least 3 x 4 feet and still retain it's quality.

Most photos today do not have the authentic "soul" of film. They are often throw away and disposable. Real, finely printed images, enhance your decoration of your home or office, last for generations and help you retain memories of the important people in your life.

Valentine's Day Photos

Boudoir Photo for Valentine's Day

Every year, especially after New Years Day, I get calls about boudoir photography. What is it and how does my studio differ than the other photographers in Colorado?

Many women (and some men) want a personal gift for Valentine's Day. Boudoir photography usually means photos taken in lingerie. However, I think the term boudoir can be more flexible. Perhaps your idea of boudoir is sexy or glamorous.  Maybe soft or romantic. You might want to wear lingerie or a sexy dress or anything seductive.  Maybe it means a classic Vargas style pinup photo. It can also mean topless or nude photos. 

Many photographers like the idea of creating boudoir photos, but unfortunately a lot of them are not great at the posing and retouching and all the other aspects of these kinds of photos. Most women need a little help to feel comfortable, have fun, pick the most flattering wardrobe and then they need a talented photographer to do the ultimate retouching to give you that almost perfect look.

What we do is a little different at Allan's studio. You determine what you want.  We usually add the backgrounds in later. You can have almost any color, style or look from soft to dramatic black and white.  

We offer the ultimate in retouching. We not only completely retouch your face, but also everything else. We can enhance almost any feature, including your bust, remove stretch marks, reduce your weight and more. 

Until Feb 5, 2018 we are offering a 40% off special on all our portraits.  Please call Allan at  303-743-0616 to discuss your session and book your appointment.

Special Effects - Visual Effects

Colorful wild fashion boudoir portrait

This fine art portrait is composed of several pictures and effects to achieve this wild colorful photo.  It takes several hours to several days complete a photo like this. 

First the photo is taken with the end result in mind. Lighting, color, camera settings and exposure must be set up correctly so that when the photo is brought into Photoshop it is easy to work with.

Second. I start adding layers and effects to the picture.  Sometimes I will create up to 6 or 8 versions to try out different looks and see what works best.  

Third. I often come back to the photo a few days, months or even years later. It is helpful to be able to look at my photos more objectively. Also, although I have been working with Photoshop for many years (from Photoshop 3), I keep adding new tricks and experience new insights.  So sometimes I will be able to create something that I was not able to create before.

Four. When I am finally satisfied, I then create versions to show art collectors, post on social media, etc.

If you are interested in purchasing this photo or using this photo for ads, a record or book cover or for other uses please contact me for more information.

Headshot, classic black and white photo

Classic Headshot of male model, taken with 4x5 film camera.

Classic Headshot of male model, taken with 4x5 film camera.

Simple, elegant, traditional photo taken in the studio with a large format 4x5 film camera.  Great for Instagram, Facebook and social media. Also for dating sites, web uses and more. Because this was photographed on large format film (16 time the area of 35mm), it can also be used to create wall sized portraits for display at a home or office, trade show booth, book cover and more.

Black and white film is so classic and makes everyone look great. The same shot done digitally is very harsh and unflattering. Even though the digital version is less sharp, it shows more skin flaws and problems.  The large film camera "smooths" out skin and gives a natural appearance. 

Film also gives a different look to the picture. More authentic, real and believable. Not the fake and heavily Photoshop retouching we see so much today.

It's amazing that so many people have decided that digital capturing of photos, music, movies, etc. are often artificial and lack soul. Too much compression is applied (to save storage space) that filters out the highest highs in music and adds a dullness in photographs and movies. 

If this is true, why is it so common? There are reasons many have switched to digital. Cost is a major factor.  No more film, developing, simple storage. A photographer can save hundreds of dollars on a wedding or portrait session, but still charge you more money for the end product.

It also allows new photographers to take "usuable" pictures. They do not have to know photographic technique, but can merely put the camera on auto and snap the shutter button.  Then check the picture to see if it is good enough. Not necessarily the best photo or the most artistic photo.  

I recommend that many of my clients use film. They are often started at the depth of the pictures, flattering skin tones and classic good looks.

Fun Multiple Exposure Photography

Multiple Double Exposure of Neon Bar Sign in Colorado

While most of the photos I write about are portraits or fashion photos, I also take pictures for fun. Neon is one of the most interesting things to photograph. It has beautiful color and a special glow. Years ago neon was everywhere.  Now neon lighting is fading due to cheaper, energy-efficient LED bulbs.  But for years, many people went to Las Vegas to see the incredible neon signs at the casinos at night and you can still see neon signs at many older restaurants, buildings and in people's home as decoration and art. 

Denver, like most major cities has some great areas to photograph, such as downtown, the mountains, old fashioned cities like Estes Park and more. This was taken at the Outpost Bar in Denver. It has been there for many years and was even recently used as a location for a TV commercial.  

This photo involves several photographic techniques. Including double exposure, zooming the lens and has some very minor Photoshop work to bring out the colors and darken the borders of the picture.