Bearing the titles of Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman from Professional Photographers of America, David and Ally McKay embody the keen vision and aesthetic prowess that separated good photographers from great ones. They share these skills during classes at McKay Photography Academy, where they train eyes, fingers, and imaginations to work in tandem as a snapshooting dream machine. Their classes help aspiring photographers progress from neophytes to seasoned pros; the Beginning Digital Photography course teaches students to harness the intricacies of their instruments, and the Pro Academy offers inside tips on how to successfully snap wedding portraits, pose recent grads, or tease out candid emotions. When not busy instructing the next generation of shutterbugs, David and Ally also devise photo safaris, which send small teams of photographers to capture shots of famed landmarks including San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge; the Lincoln Memorial of Washington, DC; or Yosemite's 60-foot statue of Yogi Bear.
Colorband PhotoArtisans are Roy Groat Jr. and Jamie Chen, whose photographing abilities transform beautiful scenery into beautifully crafted images. Before on-camera debuts, models have the option to meet with the photographers and discuss the shoot. During the portrait session, the picture makers will make pictures while subjects pose through two outfit swaps and two background changes (a $150 value). Emphasis is placed on creating great images in the studio with minimal digital darkroom enhancement. However, digital manipulations can be added upon request, from adding texture overlays or halos to simply shuffling faces around to confuse future generations.
At Denton's, which opened in 1942, preservation specialists ensconce works of art and memories inside custom-made frames, premade frames, and shadow boxes. Although prices vary based on size, material, and whether or not the artwork was pilfered from the Guggenheim, many projects average between $100 and $200. Choose a basic black frame with clear glass to encase a 16"x20" movie poster ($75), or outfit that same 16"x20" in a higher-end frame with conservation matting and a hard glaze of glass ($150). Demure 8"x10" prints stay sharp-looking in custom casings ($25+), and decorative shadow boxes ($330+) safeguard 3-D objects such as jerseys, baseballs, or Rollie Fingers's mustache.
Take 2 Productions specializes in digital media, snapping photographs, filming events, and preserving past memories with video transfer services. Photographers travel to athletic competitions to capture team pictures and memorialize family trees with traditional portraiture. To enhance existing reels, Take 2 Productions edits and transfers VHS and camcorder footage to DVD format, adding in background music, title cards, and celebrity cameos for posterity.
Though Randy Taylor’s passion for photography has taken him to the Iditarod dogsled race in Alaska and back, he spends most of his time at Taylor Made Photography capturing shots of families and kids. Back in the studio or outside in its gardens—complete with footbridge, tire swing, hay bales, and stone archways—Randy and his staff compose classic portraits marked by vibrant colors and flattering light. To keep his skills up to snuff, the 30-year industry veteran regularly participates in photography competitions and acts as a judge himself at national circuit conventions where he’s impervious to bribes, no matter how much saltwater taffy they entail.
Studio Innovations lives up to its name, and the proof is in its galleries of quirky and original portrait sessions. Whether photographing babies, high-school seniors, or genius babies graduating high school, the staff never hesitates to incorporate creative props into the high-contrast, boldly colored prints. Nowhere are the studio's ace editing skills more on display than in their pinup shoots, which capture coquettish frames of ladies amid vintage kitchen and dinner backdrops. Gals can transform their best shots into a calendar, deck of playing cards, or leather-bound portfolio.
The backdrop for pictures at AnnaMarie Photography can be customized to match the feel of any session, as can the wardrobe full of tutus, dresses, ties, and hats that photo subjects can don. The photographer captures a range of subjects both in and out of the studio: toddlers, teens, expectant mothers, recent grads, pin-ups, and wedding parties. She even snaps scenic photos of outdoor scenes, such as boats in a harbor or boats in a kiddie pool so they give a proper pout.