Hi! I am an Ashtabula, Ohio Photographer Specializing in Senior Portraits. I started KMB Photography 10 years ago. Here,  I try to share some useful tips that I have learned over the years that will help you make the most of your photo session!

Best entry level/hobbyist cameras for beginners

August 05, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

    A common question for anyone either interested in learning more about photography, or just wanting to get better pictures as a hobbyist is "what camera should I buy?"

    This can be a tough question to answer due to the rapid change in technology and what an individual wants to spend.  Most of the time, when someone inquires, they are wanting the ability to use different lenses, in which case you want to go with a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera.

     Like anything in our modern world, there are so many to choose from it can be overwhelming!

     I found a good resource from Digital Camera World that reviews camera's under $500. Here is the link:


    There are a couple of cameras in this article that are not DSLR's,  meaning you could not switch out different lenses, but one of them is the Panasonic Lumix which has a zoom lens on it that will go from 25-250mm, pretty much eliminating the need to do so. This means that you could get a wide angle & yet be able to zoom in quite a ways as well. This is not offered on the other cameras in the list & only a few specific lenses you purchase would have that capability.  While this is great for a beginner, there are many reasons, that I won't go into on this blog, that it might not be the best choice for someone wanting to further their photography skills.

Front Zoom. Panasonic - LUMIX ZS100 1-inch 20.1-Megapixel Sensor Point and Shoot Digital Camera with LEICA DC 10X Lens - Black.

    Since I have always used Nikon cameras, the D3500 is one that jumps out to me.  One reason for this is the fact that it is very user & beginner friendly.  I love Nikon, but when people ask whether to go with a Nikon or Canon, in all the research I've done, reading, & talking to others that use Canon, I feel that they are very comparable & while there are a few pros & cons to each, one is not really better than the other.Nikon D3500
     That being said many have opted for the Canon EOS Rebel  as it comes at a better price point.

Canon EOS 2000D DSLR Camera and EF-S 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens, Black

While I've only made mention of a few different cameras, any of these on this list would be good reliable cameras, just depending on your need and price range!

What goes into portrait pricing

June 24, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

     Portrait pricing can be complex.  There are so many aspects that must be factored into the pricing of a portrait in order to offer a quality product & sustain a viable business.  Many think that it is based on the cost of the actual print, but in reality that has little to do with the pricing of the portrait photographers offer.

      1. Equipment

     Having good equipment & back-ups of equipment is essential to any photography business.

The equipment you have will determine, to a certain extent, your style & type of photography you offer.  I use off camera lighting  to avoid darkness around the eyes and enhance & brighten the eyes & facial features.  This off camera lighting in combination with different modifiers (soft boxes) can create an array of different looks and enhance a scene or make it look entirely different than what we are seeing with our eyes. I also have an array of varying powers in lights depending on the lighting situation I am in.

I  keep on hand,  3 Nikon cameras, 3 different lenses (usually more), 2 high powered lights, 2 medium powered lights,  5 flashes or lower powered lights & reflectors.  In addition, I  have many light stands, light modifiers (such as below) and radio triggers to trigger the lights to flash. Also, a powerful desktop computer that stays in good working order that can handle the large files that I deal with & the software to process those files in creative ways. And, like any other business that deals with technology, you must keep up.  The technology changes so fast & upgrades almost have to be made every so many years to keep up & provide the best quality for your clients.

Westcott Rapid Box Octa with Built-in Speedlite Mount (26")

Godox AD600BM Witstro Manual All-In-One Outdoor Flash


The First Nikon Lenses You Should Buy | Reviews by Wirecutter

2. Software & Fees

This may be a sort of branch of virtual equipment.  Software has become very important in the modern photography world.  I have 4 main forms of software that I utilize daily/weekly.  They come with a cost as do their upgrades. In addition there are fees we must pay to keep domain names for instance website providers, etc. Also, in order to apply some of the fun effects people like, we must pay to purchase those & incorporate them into our workflow.

3. Repairs/Maintenance

This is another aspect of photography that has to be figured into cost. Wear & tear on your gear.  Just like anything else, you are going to have things break, whether something blows over in the wind, or as I mentioned above, something quits functioning from just normal wear & tear over time.  Any repairs that need to be made on this expensive equipment always come with quite a price as well, so it is important to budget for that & figure that into your pricing. This includes your computer equipment.  Unless you are a computer whiz (which I am not), You probably will need to pay someone who can fix & tweak your computer(s) periodically.  Equipment also needs to be maintained periodically sent out to companies that can handle the cleaning or upkeep of this equipment.

4. Insurance

Like any other business, it is important to have insurance on all of that equipment and also liability insurance to protect yourself from any unwanted situations that can arise.

5. Experience & Schooling

Of course, Experience & schooling play a large role in pricing. Many of us have paid for education in this field, have paid for & continue to pay for & travel to work shops to keep up with the latest trends & techniques.  These are all things that play into the quality of work that we offer.

7. Planning for a Shoot

Each type of shoot is different, so whether it be a wedding, newborn, family, senior, sports teams, etc.,there is a level of planning that needs to go into it to determine what type of lighting equipment you want to use, and various poses and or props you want to incorporate as well. The better prepared you are, the smoother a shoot will go; as you have put the time into the creating & planning upfront!

8. Editing, Effects, & Digital Backgrounds

A large portion of time goes to Editing.  Going through all of the pictures taken to weed out closed eyes, keep the best expressions & apply effects to at least some of the images to show an enhanced version is important. The effects, as I mentioned above, are also a part of the process. Effects can make for some fun pictures, but come at a cost as well.  Digital backgrounds (which I mainly use for sports teams), are another expense. And as trends change, new backgrounds must be purchased to keep up with our ever changing world.

9. Marketing

If you want to grow your business & keep income coming in, you must market, which takes time & money.  Whether it be sending out mailers, placing ads in yearbooks, or campaigns on facebook it all takes time to create. The ads & money to run them  definitely must be factored into your pricing.

10. Customer Service

Taking time for your clients to explain your processes & walk them through their ordering process is imperative.

I meet with my senior clients for a preconsultation before we actually shoot the session to go over ideas for the shoot, locations, pricing, & products. This way everything is clear the day of the shoot, we are all prepared, & the client thoroughly understands pricing.  I also meet with all senior clients & any other clients that wish to meet to help them through the ordering process.  Of course there is always time on the phone, answering e-mails, facebook messages, scheduling etc. that play into all of this as well.


When I first started my business, it took me quite a few years to realize all that would go into it, and what I needed to charge for my time & the time spent away form my family.  But having run a small business for 10 years now, I see that all of these aspects of our jobs as photographers are important to giving our clients the best experience & quality of work. They need to be taken into consideration when we price our work.





What to bring to your senior portrait session!

June 05, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

      As The time once again approaches for senior pictures to begin, I was thinking about some things that are very helpful to bring to your session that make for better photographs & show who you really are.

      1. Clothing

      *Due to the fact that we want to try and match backgrounds & create cohesive looking pictures, we want to make sure we have some basics to work with.  It's always good to bring something in black, white or cream, maybe tan or gray.  You also want to make sure that you have some solids to work with. These neutrals are also important to have so that those who would like wall art have colors that will blend with their home. Some backgrounds just do not lend themselves to clothes with patterns.  While patterned clothes can look good and be a fun addition to your porfolio when used at the right locations, we want to make sure that we have plenty of variety to work with. Better to have too much than not enough.  I generally look over the seniors clothes at the beginning of the shoot to see what might look best where.

         2. Accessories

      *One way to enhance your pictures, make them standout, and show a little bit of who you are,  is by bringing lots of accessories.  Jewelry, Sunglasses, Hats,etc are always a great way to have some fun with your pictures, bring variety, & show your style!

          3.  Props

       *There are so many fun props that you can incorporate in your pictures to create a portrait that speaks to who you are!

        You can incorporate a car, truck, tractor, ATV, bicycle, etc.  

    Don't forget to incorporate your interests into your portraits my bringing Athletic equipment, instruments, etc.

football-senior-picture-ideasfootball-senior-picture-ideas senior-boy-drums-photography-ashtabula-photographersenior-boy-drums-photography-ashtabula-photographer boys-basketball-senior-picturesboys-basketball-senior-picturesGame Changers by Shirk Photography      Hope this has helped to give you all some ideas for your senior pictures this

      summer & fall!

     Have a great weekend!

Fun with fashion & your senior pictures!

May 12, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

     With most of us at home and all teen activities pretty much at a halt, it's exciting to think out getting out & shooting appropriately distanced outside, & exciting for the seniors to begin thinking about where they would like to go & what they'd like to wear for their senior pictures.  Kind of a fun thing to look forward to right now & focus on putting some fun outfits together!

      While you definitely want some classic outfits & neutrals/colors, you also want to have fun with your pictures & bring variety.

      This article on teen fashion gives some good tips & shows some new fun colorful ideas that are beginning to trend in teen photography.

      Check it out!





Fun Photography Products!

May 04, 2020  •  4 Comments

     Many times, clients  have so many images that they love but are not sure how to display them all.

Besides the traditional prints & canvas there are so many other ways to display and use your portraits!


    Above is one of my favorites, as well as many of my clients favorite products!  These are called standout clusters.  Although you could achieve the same layout with canvas or framed prints, this wall cluster is made up of what are called standouts.  They are a little more affordable than canvas & very lightweight so that you are able to hang them with contact strips instead of putting nails in the wall!  The options are endless with this product!

     Metals are another great product. Metal gives the image a very modern, industrial look.  Great for any image, but definitely enhances sports images!

     Fine art acrylics are another modern looking product. Acrylic really makes the colors pop!


    Wall clings are a great product for a more casual relaxed look, such as in a child or teenagers room.  They simply cling to the wall, and peel off without hurting the paint!

     Two other products that I have found to be very popular are the accordian mini books and hard cover books.

The accordians are 3"x 4" with 12 images in them, or 4"x 5" with 8 images in them.  They can sit on a desk or be carried in a purse.  They are great brag books for parents & grandparents.  Many have found them to be great gifts to family members (including me)!

The Hard cover books, or albums, are a great way to print & keep all of your favorite images from a session.  These have become especially popular for senior clients.  They are usually purchased as a keepsake & something that can be put out & displayed at their open house so everyone can take a look at their favorite images from their senior session!  I created & purchased one for my son last year as well,  & now display it on a table in my home.

    Hope this gets you excited & gives you some ideas about how to use your portraits of your family!


Print & organize your family photos with MPIX.com

April 16, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

    Hi - hope everyone is staying safe & staying Sane LOL!   

    Like a said in my last blog post, I know many are working exhausting schedules, especially in the medical field, and I know, I am so thankful for them!

    But, For those of us that have a little more time on our hands, there's a lot of things we can do at home to keep ourselves busy.

    One, is to have your pictures from your phone printed.  Most people I talk to have not printed their pictures in years. Time of course, is always the problem. But if they don't get printed, you may be in danger of losing them someday & future generations may not have access to them. Technology changes so fast, it's hard to keep up. Most of us have seen printed pictures of great grandparents, and relatives long gone. I remember having so much fun being able to see family members from years gone by that i'd never had a chance to meet!  Although weathered looking they do survive for future generations, so it is an important to have them printed.

     Of course, there are various online printing labs out there, but the one I send any client to that purchases a digital image from me is Mpix.com. Their prices are very good & the quality is excellent. I use them to print my personal photos of my family. They have an app as well to make it easy. Just search MPIX in the app store & download it.  And, right now Mpix is having a 20% off sale. Mpix will also match your discount with a donation! Great time to catch up on your pictures and help someone else!

Here is the link to their website:



They also have a lot of great products to choose from as well!  Good time to add some of your favorite images to your home to freshen things up! Try a new product, or plan or purchase something for a gift for mother or father's day!

Here's a  couple of links to some of their fun products:





     As far as organizing, I used to put all of my pictures in albums. This is, of course, is a great way to organize & look at them, but the storing of them is a little overwhelming.  I have albums upon albums of my family.  I started using these storage containers to keep them organized, but also save space. They have worked pretty well so far. Just an idea!

 So download the MPIX app & get started today!

I've gotta go LOL -  the reason I wrote this is because I've got to get on this as well!

Good luck! 

Fun project with your own pictures!

April 01, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

     While I know there are many out there working their hearts out (in the medical field especially), there are many confined to their homes right now. We are so thankful to those who are doing all they can to combat this virus & help those who are sick!

     But, for those of you who have some extra time due to being confined at home right now, here is a fun project to work on with pictures of your children & family.  We all have pictures on our cell phones that we aren't doing anything with. Go through & pick out your favorites. Find a place in your home where you could display them.  

     I have a small wall in my home located between my living room & kitchen,  &  I filled it completely with canvas of my favorite pictures of my kids from over the years.  It makes me smile every time I walk past it! Why are we taking all these pictures if we rarely look at them or display them?

     I chose Black & white as this way it blends with my home which is neutral. Color would be great too, but can look busier depending on your decor.

     I do replace these with a Christmas wall at Christmas time that is all color though.

     Another idea would be to make a wall of not only your children, but of family in general. Great grandparents, Grandparents, yourself. Old pictures, new pictures, whatever you like.

     I feel that another good reason for doing this is that a printed picture will last much longer than the digital version. Many of us have pictures that we've been able to see of Great Grandparents that have been kept & passed down.  Great grandchildren may be able to see them if they are printed, but it is very unlikely that they will be seen if they are just left in the digital version, as technology changes so fast!

     A great company to order from online is MPIX.com.  They are a sister company of one of my professional printing labs. The prices are inexpensive, the quality is good, they have all kinds of products to pick from & they ship fast!

    So get ambitious & start creating your wall!


Better indoor photos

March 24, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

With many of us being confined to our homes & the weather not being the best, we've got to find different things to do, learn,etc.

If you are interested in photography as a hobby, or just to get better pictures of your family, here are some tips for getting beautiful Window light portraits!

senior pictures-studio-ashtabulphotographersenior pictures-studio-ashtabulphotographer


1. Find a large window in your home. If it's a cloudy day, pull the blinds or curtains up. If it's sunny, place some white or beige sheers(if you have them) over the window. Do not try this if there is direct sunlight shining in. Wait for another time of day. If it is a north facing window, anytime of day is fine. This is best between the hours of 10:00 A.M. & 2:00 P.M. to ensure plenty of light.  This window will act as a large soft box such as you would see in a portrait studio.

2. Clear any clutter from the background (you may want to stick with a close-up for this reason).


3. Place your subject at the edge of the window light, just back from the edge of it slightly so the window light can wrap around their body as much as possible.  For instance, they will not face the window directly, they would be perpendicular to it, with one side of their  body (shoulder, arm) facing  the window, if that makes sense.

4. If you have a large white board, such as a poster board, or something of that nature you will want to have someone hold that up on the opposite side of the window. This will bounce light back from the window and hit the opposite side of the subjects body furthest away from the window, so that the shadow on that side is not too dark. You may also cover a large piece of cardboard with aluminum foil to use as a reflector. This will reflect even more light back. The closer you place it to them the more the reflected light will fill in the shadow side.  If you don't have either, try turning the subjects face a little more towards the window to ensure that at least 2/3 to 3/4 of their face is lit by the window light.

5.  One last thing you can try is putting the window  behind the subject. You would then have to bounce a lot of light from the window back at them. I use 1- 4'x7' large whiteboard on  either side of the subject in this case.


  You can try these things with your cell phones as well. The cameras in cell phones are very advanced now. So much is about the light. If you will try using these tips, you will see a huge difference in the quality of a photo you can take even with a cell phone!

Hope this was helpful and interesting to someone.

All of the photographs above were taken that way. The main difference is that I have 2 huge 4'x7' white boards on the opposite side of the window which bounces a lot more light back.




Incorporating Portraits into your home decor

March 17, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Many times, people are so excited to have their pictures done, but then are not sure how to fit them in with their home decor.

One way to do this is to make sure you wear colors that will blend with the decor in your home. It may sound silly, but it goes a long way in making things fit together & look cohesive when you go to hang them.

These examples are from my sisters home, as she has found creative ways to display them & incorporate them into her home decor!

Decorating your home with your meaningful portraits can be so much fun & make you smile every time you look at them! Hope this has given you some inspiration & insight into how to incorporate your portraits into your home!

Wedding Photography Sample Edits

March 02, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

    I had the pleasure of photographing the wedding of Tony Germinaro and Cassie (Mcminn) Germinaro this weekend. 

    Such a wonderful & unique wedding with the mad hatter tea party from Alice & Wonderland as their theme! 

    In editing, I usually have a pretty good idea of whether or not I want to make something black & white or what color effect I'd like to go with. Usually I narrow it down to about 2 edits depending on the mood of the picture etc.. In this case, I have 5 that I really like!  Here is one of my favorite pictures of them & here are the edits:

1. The Moody Romantic Edit


  2. The Clean & Airy Edit


3. The Cool & Airy Wintry Edit

4. The Vintage Edit

5. Black & White Edit

    Which would you choose?

What to wear for your portrait session

February 20, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

     So many people struggle with what to wear for their photo shoots.  Especially if siblings or a family is being photographed. It  can be overwhelming to try to put colors (even if they are just neutrals) together for everyone! 

     This is a question that I get asked a lot, so I thought I would share some information that might help:

      1.  Try to stick to mainly solids, especially if you are planning for a portrait with more than one person. With that being said, the key word is Mainly.   Having one family member wear a pattern will put things together & add interest to the portrait.

modern-family-photographermodern-family-photographer 2.  Try and match or blend with your background.  Don't get me wrong, you don't want to totally blend in, but it is a much more cohesive, put-together looking portrait when this can be achieved.

19571957 3.  Stick to roughly 3 (maybe 4) colors or hues. Remember a neutral, tan, gray, brown, cream, white or black is a color. The shade you go with & how light or dark the clothing is needs too be taken into consideration as well. This too, will help with the cohesiveness & overall look of the portrait. rustic-family-portraitrustic-family-portrait 4.  Lastly, If you are being photographed on a lighter background, go with lighter clothing. Darker clothing looks best on a darker background. Just one more thing that plays into the overall look of your picture!


    *I hope this has been helpful.  In order to envision what colors & hues  look like together, I have put together  pinterest boards.  Below, you will see there are different boards depending on what type of shoot you have planned. (I used them when I had my family pictures done as well LOL)!

Here are the links where you can go & view different color palettes together:


January February (1) March (3) April (2) May (2) June (2) July August (1) September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December