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The town of Falmouth, Cape Cod has been named one of the top ten dog-friendly communities in the United States! The contest was sponsored by Dog Fancy Magazine, with results in their September 2012.

With many dog friendly amenities, it’s no wonder an increasing number of tourists come to Cape Cod with their canine friends in tow according to Stanton Terrell, publisher of Falmouthvisitor.com. Our new Falmouth Dog Park on Brick Kiln Road, their recent Pool Party complete with kiddie pools, walking paths, and shops such as Uptown Dog on Main Street are a few examples.

While most Cape Cod beaches are closed from May to September, there are a few beaches off the beaten track in Falmouth that are accessible to dogs year round. I recommend these to clients whose family beach portraits would not be complete without their beloved 4-legged furry ones.

Family Beach Portrait with 3 dogs

An added benefit:  it sure brings about real smiles and makes for an especially fun portrait session, as five cousins and their 3 pups discovered during their recent family portrait!

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Driving home this past Tuesday, I happened to catch part of The Story radio program hosted by Dick Gordon. The broadcast shares personal stories of the tornado that ripped apart the town of Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011, killing 161 people.

The interview I heard was with Angela Walters – a young mother driven to gather family photographs scattered as far as 100 miles away. Inspired by survivors saying “I’d give anything for my photographs,” she has been contributing 40-60 hours each week for the past year – overseeing the collecting, cataloging, and safeguarding of unclaimed photos – upwards of 20,000! How moving it was to hear of the emotions experienced as many photos were reunited with their families.

As a professional photographer and amateur genealogist, I am compelled to remind others of the importance of capturing family memories and safeguarding photos for future generations.

Angela’s advice?  1) Put names on all family photographs.  2) Keep photos near your disaster bag and grab both in an emergency. To which I would add… 3) Make archival copies of your digital photos. Save them to external drives, DVDs, a cloud service, or stored offsite with family/friends. Preferably most since no media is foolproof.

Here are some of my own cherished family photos. First, my great great grandparents who immigrated from the German states of Brandenburg and Wuerttemberg, then met and married in Michigan in the 1870s.

Then there’s “The Smith Brothers” – so called until, after MUCH family research and making connections with newly found cousins, we determined it’s my great great great grandfather Friedrich Trettin (middle) and his “younger” brothers Carl and Hermann in the 1890s.

And last but not least, here’s one of the few pictures of my own family. (Yep, that’s me at the lower left corner.) RIP Mom, Dad and Jim.

I would indeed be devastated if these or any of our family photos were lost in a Cape Cod storm. It is good to hear that the Joplin photo rescue may be morphing into a national initiative to help others impacted by emergencies. You can find out more about Operation Photo Rescue, and view recovered photos, on their web, Facebook, and Flickr pages.

I am thrilled to have earned the designation of Certified Professional Photographer! This is quite an honor. In fact, there are only three other Certified Professional Photographers located across all of Cape Cod.

I earned CPP credentials by first passing a comprehensive CPP exam designed to measure expertise in general photography and portraiture – technical and artistic.

I then submitted a selection of 15 required images that were reviewed and approved by a panel of judges appointed by the Professional Photographic Certification Commission. Six were compulsory, such as images to demonstrate knowledge of flattering short lighting, broad lighting, and high key portraits.

Many photographers offer services on Cape Cod – from true professionals to amateurs wielding big cameras who sometimes get a neat shot. But what many folks don’t realize is this. A key distinction between pro photographers and “faux photographers” is the ability to consistently produce top quality results. From image capture through delivering the final retouched portraits. Who wants to entrust their 50th anniversary or 75th birthday family reunion photographs to a faux photographer who may or may not have a lucky day?

I’m proud to be a Certified Professional Photographer– credentials that do indeed represent a high level of professionalism and expertise. If you’d like to find out more,visit the Professional Photographers of America page and find out why certification makes a difference.

I had the privilege of shooting some studio portraits of Salley Mavor, fiber artist, author and owner of Wee Folk Studio. Salley is one of the most creative people I know. Here’s one of my favorites photographs, showcasing her Little Red Riding Hood creation and those talented fingers! Be sure to visit Salley’s blog.

Smartphone cameras have sure come a long way!  My iPhone 4S (always with me) has enabled me to capture some pretty good pictures I would otherwise have missed. But anyone with more than a mild interest in photography knows that taking WOW pictures more consistently means having a real camera, and knowing how to use it.

If you want to move off Auto mode and start taking control of exposure, depth of field, and motion, sign up for my next Basic Photography class  at the Cape Cod Conservatory in Falmouth beginning Saturday, February 4th. After 6 weeks, you will be amazed at how much more artistic control you have over tricky situations… learned in a fun and supportive environment. Take a look here for more info on my Basic and Intermediate classes.

I thoroughly enjoyed covering the Solstice Singers concert this past Sunday at the Christ Lutheran Church in Falmouth. It’s always an aural and visual pleasure attending the choral group’s performances. Thanks to the amazing low-light capabilities of my Canon 5D Mark II camera, and also knowing I could reduce “noise” in my digital darkroom, I was able to shoot to my heart’s content in the dark interior of the church.  No worries about distracting the audience with flash.

If any of my students or other photographers are wondering, all images except the first four were shot at ISO 12,500 (not a typo!) with around an f/4 aperture and 1/50 second shutter – always a balancing act between controlling noise, depth of field, and subject motion when lighting is dim. Here are a few of my favorites.

The Falmouth Art Center’s Fall Juried Show opened last Friday. Both of my photographs, along with 10 others, were selected to be part of this competitive show of 88 works of art. And I’m delighted that “Wave Catcher” was awarded “Best Photograph!”

“Wave Catcher” is one of many images selected by the little girl’s mother from her extended family’s portrait session held at Old Silver Beach in Falmouth, Cape Cod last summer. She especially adored this one since it so aptly reflected the free and adventurous spirit of her beautiful daughter.

During the visit to the center, I also discovered that “Afternoon Fog” – my other entry – is one of a handful of pieces selected by the Falmouth Garden Club. A club member will create a floral interpretation to be unveiled at the “Petals and Palettes” awards reception held Sunday, October 9 from 2 to 4 PM at the Falmouth Art Center . I hope that many of my friends and fans will be able to attend.