Ashlyn & Chad | January 17, 2016

Ashlyn & Chad were recently married at the Benson Hotel in downtown Portland.  The couple got ready at different areas of the hotel and met for a first moment together along the iconic staircase in the lobby area.  It was the perfect setting to kick off their wedding day celebration.  We were able to capture some portraits of the couple outdoors as well as locations throughout the hotel itself.

Chad’s father officiated the wedding ceremony and a wedding guest strategically placed a GoPro to capture some video of the exchanging of the vows.  The guests laughed and cheered throughout the ceremony as everyone witnessed Ashlyn and Chad become husband and wife.  We escaped upstairs to sign the marriage license and capture a few more photos of the couple before re-joining the guests for cocktail hour.

Ashlyn and Chad had a grand entrance into the reception area with Ryan from a Perfect Memory Events DJing the evening’s festivities.  The dance floor remained very active throughout the evening with guests of all ages tearing it up to the music.  In lieu of a wedding cake, Ashlyn and Chad opted to cut into an oversized donut and had various flavored donuts available for guests.  The garter and bouquet toss was done from a balcony area up above with guests gathering below.  Then, for a special dance for the evening, Ashlyn and Chad changed into their new matching Nike sneakers to dance to Miley Cyrus’ song “23.”

Congratulations to Ashlyn and Chad!

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Keith and Julie - February 7, 2016 - 10:18 pm

We voted one vote a piece to get more favorites. Congratulations! It was beautiful and we loved being a part of your Wedding Day and weekend celebrations. 💗

15 Favorite Shoots of 2015

With 2015 coming to a close, we wanted to highlight on multiple monitors 15 of our favorite shoots of the year.

I must say, 2015 was the best year yet.  When I started Paul Rich Studio my goal was simple – photograph as many weddings as possible.  However, in the Pacific Northwest, the wedding season is primarily confined to the months of June-October.  Weddings occur outside of those months, but this area has a rather concentrated season for weddings.  So what ended up happening over a relatively short period of time was a summer that was just swamped with work.  It was great, but for anyone who lives in this area knows, summers are the most coveted time of year.  Oregon offers incredible hikes, waterfalls, and stretches of beach.  Who doesn’t want to spend some down time outdoors?  So, I knew I had to diversify my work if I wanted to be able to have some time off in the summer.  That’s when I began focusing on family portraits back in 2010 and expanding into a photography studio space.  Well that focus and intensity really paid off.  This year we photographed a total of 16 weddings (less than I have photographed in over 5 years) and an all-time high 57 portrait sessions (not including our mini-session specials).  We also had the opportunity to photograph more events and editorial assignments than ever before.

So, in no particular order, here are our favorite 15 photo shoots of 2015.

Set of twins born through surrogacy – Nicolas and Tom flew in from Luxembourg to welcome their newborn twins who were born through surrogacy.  We had the opportunity to capture the birth story and other portrait sessions with the twins and surrogate family.  Nicolas and Tom were kind enough to share their experience working with us on YouTube.  Check out the Portland surrogacy video to see more.

Australia & New Zealand – One of the most challenging yet gratifying experiences of being self-employed is taking time off.  This year I was able to take a month off for an epic trip with my sister to Australia and New Zealand.  We rented a camper van and toured the North Island in New Zealand and a beautiful stretch of Australia from Sydney to Melbourne and a bit beyond.  More images from Australia and New Zealand can be viewed in the online galleries that were created from the trip.  I am in the process of submitting these images to the two main stock photography agencies that represent my photography work.

Adam & Josh’s Wedding – Themed weddings are always a special treat to attend and especially fun to photograph.  Adam and Josh hosted an Up inspired wedding at Home Place Farm in Molalla, OR.  The venue provided the perfect setting for their themed wedding.  Their wedding is featured in the current issue of Portland Bride & Groom and is filled with incredible ideas and inspiration.

Samantha & Jamie Engagement Session – Samantha & Jamie requested to have their engagement session at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in SE Portland.  I had heard of the location many many times (and in fact live within 3 miles of the garden), but had never actually photographed there before.  It was everything I had heard of and so much more.  It is truly a great location for portraits.  This is one of my favorites from their engagement session.

Customer Appreciation Sessions – To celebrate the launch of our new photography studio in January 2015, we offered a complimentary portrait session to our clients during a Customer Appreciation Weekend Event.  It was an opportunity to introduce everyone to our new space in NE Portland and thank them for supporting our business over the years.

ANSAC – In April of this year I was hired by ANSAC to document a ship christening by Wyoming Congressman Lummis.  The ship was built in Japan and brought over to the Port of Portland for the ceremonial christening event.  During the event, the ship was loaded with soda ash and prepped for departure back to Japan.  I had a 5 minute period of time to setup and execute this portrait of Congressman Lummis with all the attendees of the event.

Amy & Paul’s WeddingAmy & Paul’s wedding was such an honor to document.  Amy provided Pinterest boards, concepts, and ideas of what she was wanting in her wedding photography and it was really fun collaborating together to make it all happen.  We pulled off an evening engagement session in downtown Portland and captured one of the most epic wedding celebrations of all time in October of this year.

Heather Pearl – Heather contacted me wanting to capture some updated photos of her various characters.  She regularly performs in the Portland area and is one of the core members of the Nomadic Theatre Company.  These types of photo shoots are incredibly fun and a great opportunity to collaborate with other artists.

Family Christmas Photo – We photograph a number of families each year during the months of Nov and Dec for holiday cards.  However, one family in particular wanted something really different for their holiday card.  Each year, this family participates in a friendly “competition” amongst their closest friends to see who can come up with the most creative and different holiday portrait.

Same Sex Wedding in WA – We had the opportunity to photograph a same sex wedding this summer up in WA where the “wedding venue” was a spacious log cabin home that was rented through Airbnb.  I thought this was such a neat idea.  The home had multiple rooms allowing enough space for a number of guests to spend the evening.  I expect to see more of this in the near future.  The couple very much wanted a portrait of the two of them enjoying a star filled sky with a shooting star.  We were able to create this image in a rather non-traditional way making it rank among our top favorite shoots of 2015.

Maternity Session – Misty is a highly sought after coordinator in Portland who designs and produces some of the most stunning weddings and events in Portland.  She contacted us looking to have a maternity session captured that gave the feel of a lazy Sunday morning.  I loved the concept and enjoyed collaborating together to make it happen.  Maternity sessions are most often captured at our photography studio or outdoors in a park-like setting.  This session, however, was captured at the Hotel deLuxe in downtown Portland.

Potato Sensory Evaluation – It is certainly not everyday that one is asked to document a Potato Sensory Evaluation. In fact, I didn’t even know that they existed until I was contacted by the Oregon Potato Commission to document it.  The event was held at Le Cordon Bleu in downtown Portland and easily ranked as one of the more unique experiences of the year.

Ashlyn & Chad’s Engagement Session – One of my favorite locations to capture engagement sessions is Sauvie Island.  That is where Ashlyn & Chad chose to have their session and it was a heck of a lot of fun.  The weather was perfect.  We had an opportunity to include their dog in a few photos and most importantly, we just had a lot of fun together.

Toni & Jared’s Wedding in Boston – Having the chance to head home, visit family, and photograph a wedding was a really fulfilling experience.  The longer I live on the west coast the more I appreciate my roots back east.  So it is always a treat visiting Boston and all it has to offer.

Santa Toy Drive Event – Last year, when the Ice Bucket Challenge swept the nation, I crafted up an idea to offer 15 minute mini-portrait sessions for $15 as a way to raise money for ALS.  I charged just $15 for the digital files from the event and in sum total raised over $1,000 in 1 weekend.  The idea enabled me to donate a far greater amount of money than I would have been able to commit to on my own and reminded me of the power and synergy that is created when people work together.  It inspired me to want to do more of those types of events in the future.  So, this year, while putting together an idea of photos with Santa, my friend Amy suggested the idea of a toy drive portrait special.  It was the perfect idea!  Amy and I offered mini sessions with Santa in exchange for the donation of a new unwrapped toy.  Again, with the collective effort of many, we were able to donate a nice selection of toys to young boys and girls in our community.

I cannot thank you all enough for your business and continuous stream of referrals.  You have enabled me to pursue my dreams and live a life I never thought imaginable.  Thank you so much.

I wish everyone a fabulous New Year.  May 2016 be your most prosperous and fulfilling year yet.

Jeannie - December 27, 2015 - 12:44 pm

Paul,
I have seen many of your photographs which I prefer to call pieces of art. Your dad has shared them with me with great pride. Recently, he showed with me the calendar of Australia and New Zealand you created. Beautiful! I wish you much continued success in 2016 and cannot wait to see the new art you produce.
Jeannie

Lynne Van Volkenburgh Johnson - December 29, 2015 - 7:34 am

Such beautiful work. You are so talented and your heart shows through in every photo you take. Can’t wait to work with you again soon!

Paul Rich - February 11, 2016 - 8:10 am

That is incredibly kind of you. Thank you so much!

Maternity Session at Hotel deLuxe

I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Misty (owner of Luxe Event Productions) on a more personal level outside of the wedding industry.  Misty is a highly sought after coordinator in Portland who designs and produces some of the most stunning weddings and events in town.  Her exquisite styling, attention to detail, and overall coordination makes every event she manages a smashing success.  She is constantly pushing the envelope, challenging herself, and delivering the very finest to her clients.

Back in 2013, Misty and I teamed up with Jordan from Blum Floral Design to document a series of tablescape inspirations.  Misty and her team along with Jordan challenged themselves to design, create, and execute a number of tablescape designs quickly.  It was like the way jazz musicians and comedians improv.  No scripts.  No rules.  Just play creatively and see what happens.  I appreciated the challenge of photographing these inspiration pieces just as quickly.  We had a total of 3 table areas that were prepped, designed, and then torn down again ready for the next setup.  We moved very quickly and ended up with a wonderful collection of images that are now available to prospective clients of Misty’s when they are planning their wedding.  I remember during that photo shoot when Misty and I were catching up that she talked of hopes of having her own family in the near future.  For anyone who has ever owned their own business, you can appreciate the delicate balance that exists between work and personal life.

Fast forward to about am month ago and Misty was looking for a photographer to document a Fresh 48 Session for her at the hospital.  She and her husband are expecting their first girl in January 2016.  So she was wanting to line someone up to document the momentous occasion.  We were able to connect, put together a game plan, and plan for an upcoming Fresh 48 Session.  In the meantime, Misty wanted to connect for a maternity session as well.  She asked to create a stylistic look that felt very much like a lazy Sunday morning.  She had visions of ethereal light, delicate poses, and a softness and casualness that felt restful and relaxing.  Misty shared some inspiration boards from Pinterest that she had created and desired to create that type of mood in her images.

We met up one early morning over at Hotel deLuxe in downtown Portland and once again, had the opportunity to creatively collaborate.

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The Making of a Photograph

I recently had the opportunity to create a rather unique family portrait for a family’s annual holiday card tradition.  Each year, this family participates in a friendly “competition” amongst their closest friends to see who can come up with the most creative and different holiday portrait.  Last year, we did a fun portrait of the family outdoors with their pets wearing Santa hats.  This year, we decided to really up our game and came up with something that is truly unique.  And it was quite the feat to pull off photographically.  I love challenges like these and thought I would share how this image was created.  Here is the finished product:

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To pull this off, I knew there was no way to direct the gaze of the entire family plus their pets all at once.  To get all of the animals to look in one direction AND to properly line up everyone’s faces, would be virtually impossible.  So, I individually photographed each subject and then composited the image together playing with scale a bit to properly align everyone’s faces.

Here is a shot diagram revealing my lighting technique.  A 3×4 softbox was used on camera right at a slight angle coming from behind the subject as the primary light source.  A silver reflector was setup on camera left to kick some of that light back onto the subject.  I wanted just the slightest kick of light on the back side of the subject to help define the shape of their head and separate it from the black background.  I also used a strobe into an umbrella just behind the camera to help bring up the values a bit more on the sides of their faces.  I wanted the lighting to be dramatic but I didn’t want to lose detail in the blacks so I made sure to use just enough fill light to create that separation in tones.  I also wasn’t sure if the family would want their portrait in color or B&W, so I wanted it to be lit and crafted in such a way as to work either in color or B&W.

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I started with the family members knowing they would be the easiest to photograph.  I photographed all 4 and then moved on to capturing the pets.  The dogs were pretty easy.  Use a doggie treat and give the command to sit and you have enough time to capture the dogs.  I could manipulate the direction of their gaze by instructing the treat holder to move the doggie treat accordingly.  Need the dog’s gaze to shift a bit more toward the right?  Simply move the treat more to the right and the dog’s gaze will follow.  Then, it was time to capture the cats and I knew they would likely be the most challenging.  We setup a table had a family member hold the cat in place and used a little cat toy to capture the cat’s attention.  Again, we were able to do this just long enough to capture the necessary pose.  It required capturing the cat a couple of times as the flashes typically made the cats want to jump away.  It was certainly a group effort.  Here is an example of one of the individual shots:

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So, with each individual photograph, I then created a mask to extract the subject from the background.

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Each subject became their own layer.  I created a black background and began layering each subject one on top of the other to create the linear sequence of faces all looking in the same direction.  The post production process was as complex if not even more so than the actual shoot itself.  But, the end result was exactly what the client was looking for – something different and unique that represented their entire family.  We created a 4×8″ layout for the card and had them printed and shipped directly to the family to personalize and send out to all their friends and family.

Santa Toy Drive Event

Paul Rich Studio recently teamed up with Amy Vining Photography to host a Santa Toy Drive Event at the studio.  The idea was to have families donate a new unwrapped gift in exchange for a holiday portrait mini-session.  We offered multiple time slots throughout the day, some of which included an opportunity to meet with Santa, and others that did not.  We wanted to have the option available for our families.

We scheduled sessions every 30 minutes and held the event during the weekend of Dec 5th and 6th.  Families arrived with their gift donation, enjoyed a fun festive mini-session, ate a cookie or two, and were on their way.  Santa was extremely generous with his time and made sure to engage the children to make the experience exceptionally fun.  And the best part…  No lines.  No waiting.  No rushing.  And all while doing something really nice for the local community as well.

Here are a handful of our favorites from the Santa Toy Drive Event:

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Sandy Gruber - December 11, 2015 - 6:05 am

Terrific event, great Santa, and wonderful photos. Congratulations on a job well done.

Nancy Gruber - December 12, 2015 - 2:07 am

Fabulous

Irving Park Family Portraits

One of the great things about the location of our photography studio is its proximity to Irving Park in NE Portland.  It is perfect for offering hybrid sessions where families wish to have portraits captured indoors and outdoors.

Helen’s parents drove up from Eugene to capture some photos with their granddaughter and based on the timing, with the sun setting so early in the day, we were able to capture some photos outdoors at Irving Park and then head over to the studio after the sun set for some additional portraits at the studio.  It is a great way to create variety in the portraits you receive from your session.

Here are some highlights from portraits at Irving Park and at our photography studio just blocks away:

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