Why you NEED a $10 shower curtain

Wedding Hacks Tip #2

One of the easiest ways to improve the look and quality of your phone pics (use a DLSR to show maximum details) is with a simple white shower curtain and a couple of clips you can get from the hardware store. All you have to do is clip it over the window. It softens the light making the light more even over the whole subject. This way, you won’t get blown-out highlights when your phone tries to compensate for the dark shadows on the other side. If you really want to go a step further, you can even get a piece of white paper or foam core (depending on how big your subject is) and hold it up on the opposite side of the object to make the shadow side brighter.

I also find the curtain to be more helpful than a photography light bouncer as a lot of the times there isn’t a ledge or anything I can prop it up against to hold it. Pinning it to the curtains or shades keeps my hands free.

If you are photographing a large family for portraits, a model or even a décor tables, cakes, food or stationery for editorials and you want to keep the detail of the background, use two curtains stitched together for one large diffuser over the whole subject. You can get a couple of assistants to mount it on poles to hold (if you don’t have proper scrim stands) and voilà, beautiful even light on your subject and beautiful even light on the background. We used this for the portrait shown in the example above with the couple in front of the lake.

Here are some examples how you can use this quick tip to improve the look of your work when posting on social media, no matter what your profession is:

Make-up & Hair Artists: Have your subject face directly towards the window light (with the curtain pinned up) for a flattering shot

Cake/Food/Desserts: Pin the curtain in the window, place the item on a nearby table and shoot backlit or 45 degrees and use a piece of paper to bounce light in the front of the food.

Stationers and paper goods: Same as above

Décor & Florists: Shoot 45 degrees to the window or side light with the curtain up and a bounce on the opposite side. This will show texture. If you want to show colour, shoot it with front light using the curtain. You can even shoot it outside in the full sun, just get someone to hold the curtain between it and the sun.

Happy posting!

Wedding Hack #2: How you can use a $10 shower curtain to improve the look of your social media photos, no matter what your profession is.

3 Secrets to Dynamic Black and White Images

Jasalyn’s dynamic black and white images have been a staple for every client for the last six years, mastering a style that is easily identified. The richness in the details and her signature bridal portraits are defining elements, expressing movement and texture in the images. 

3 Secrets to dynamic black & white images with Jasalyn Thorne

Many years before we had a solid grip on our photo editing, I would be in awe of black and white images that were so full of life and texture, you could almost reach into the photo and feel the subject. I wanted that! It was something that I was thirsting to know. How did they do it, how did they get such light and life into the images,? I had to find out.

It took years for us to learn and unlock the secrets to dynamic black and white images. I would learn a little here and a little there and soon, it would all come together in this wonderful mix that finally gave me the results I so desperately wanted for my own work.

Photo Credit: Gucio Photography

BC Wedding Awards winning image showing her classic veil technique

A few of the artists that I would look at regularly were Richard Avedon, Ansel Adams (of course), Troy Moth, as well as vintage Dior images. All of these men seemed to know the secrets and after much study I realized it’s not one element alone. It is a beautiful mix of the right lighting, the type of light, positioning, good old fashioned dodge and burning and spending hours in detailed editing.

I believe in the art of the photograph, spending time on pulling out the potential that’s already there. I often spend hours and sometimes days on one image. Like a painter who examines and re-examines, I see different areas that can use a touch here and a touch there. It’s not a one-click wonder. Every photo will need something different and time spent revealing the final image.

Many people ask me about our black and white work and I always tell them, you have to start at the start. If you want great images, not just good one, but great images, you have to start with a solid, well exposed base and then all you have to do is pull out the image, it’s there, it’s only a matter of time and attention. Here are 3 secrets I learned over the years to achieving dynamic black and whites:

3 Secrets to Dynamic Black & White Images:

1. Always, always, always shoot for the details: 

Details, details everywhere on the subject. That is the goal. This can only be achieved if the subject is fully in the shade. There is the odd time when I will back-light the subject but it will usually only be a portion of the subject and mostly on engagements, not when there is a wedding gown involved, it’s too easy to lose detail on white. An image with details will engage your viewer and keep their eyes busy, exploring your photograph.

2. Indirect directional lighting:

This may be a new term for you but it is THE key element to creating the look of the black and white image. This is what will give the dimension and texture to the image. You may be saying,“but there is no directional light when you shoot in the shade”, there actually is! It’s subtle but it’s there. If you can learn to see it, it will be your best friend when composing your shots. Light wraps around and will be stronger shining from one direction versus another, even in the shade. Use a friend and move them around the location, paying attention to where the light is brightest. It helps if you use a darker background to make the highlights more visible. You can also front face the subject to the direction of light and get an all-over light, which I have done before, but I tend to favour the directional method. It gives more opportunity for shade and highlights.

3. Old-fashioned dodge & burn, with a little added contrast:

The old masters of black and white certainly had this down to a “T”. It is the paintbrush to the canvas of your image. This tool is what you use to pull out the details and take your viewer exactly where you want them to focus. Using dodge on the highlights and a little burning on other highlights, bring out the texture, and shade in the fabrics. This is especially useful in defining lace elements on the gown. Use the burn tool, as well as a curves mask, to darken the areas that need contouring, blacking out and as an aid to make the highlights appear brighter. Use contrast to make those finishing touches to the focal areas as our eyes will naturally go to the part of the image with the most contrast.

If you have a question regarding shooting or editing for black and white, I’d love to help. Leave a comment or question below or email me at info@jasalynthornephotography.com

See more of Jasalyn’s work on her website

Learn 3 secrets to dynamic black and white images with Jasalyn Thorne, one of Canada’s most published wedding photographers. Jasalyn & Jason Thorne have been shooting for over a decade and are always looking for the next big adventure. From shooting on a glacier mountain tops to the arid deserts and tropical destinations, their work has taken them to some of the most beautiful places on earth.

Check out more here!

How-To: Gluten-free French Macarons

Client Gifts: Gluten-free French macaron how-to

Learn this easy gluten-free recipe for French macarons that will leave your clients oooo-ing and ahhhh-ing at these deliciously simple yet luxurious french biscuits. Follow the easy step-by-step and show us a photo of your beautiful creations. Use hashtag #modaclientgifts on Instagram or Twitter, we’d love to share!

The French macaron has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever attempted to bake. I have been making these tiny delights for almost 3 years now and I still kneel eagerly at the door of my oven, with nose pressed hard against the hot glass, in anticipation of watching the macaron’s signature “foot” rise from the batter and then breathe a sigh of relief, success. The key to a successful macaron is all in the mixing. Too much and they’ll come out flat. Too little and they will be too stiff to form an even dome.   These little sweets can frustrate you with their finicky ways but also give you the greatest sense of accomplishment when they come out in perfect form. Here are the tips and tricks which I have learned over the past two years from expert chefs, blog stalking, numerous taste tests of local macarons and trial and error in my own kitchen with HUNDREDS of cookies going into the trash after numerous failed attempts, all in the name of mastering these delicious biscuits.

Here’s what you’ll need:

A. 2 Aluminium baking sheets  B. A kitchen scale  C. Parchment paper  D. 3 large eggs  E. 12-14in piping bag  F. No. 11 plain piping tip  G. Powdered or liquid food colouring  H. Stainless Steel bowl  I. 45g berry sugar (or castor sugar)  J. Fine mesh sifter  K. Silicone spatula  L. 175g. icing sugar  M. 90g Almond flour

Yield: 16 macarons

Step 1. Preheat oven to 320F for a non-convection. You may have to play with the temperature to get it just right as every oven is different. Line your baking sheet with the parchment and if needed, use a couple of forks as weights to pin down the edges to prevent it from curling into your macarons. I use a doubled tray to prevent burning on the underside of my macarons. Use a wand mixer to combine together the icing sugar and almond flour . Sift the mixture using a fine mesh. If there are any large morsels, use the spatula to press them through the mesh and toss away any which won’t fit. I find this helps to give the macarons very smooth tops.

Step 2. With room temperature eggs, separate the whites into a clean, dry, grease-free stainless steel bowl. For some reason, I find they whip up better in steel than in a glass bowl. If you get some yolk in there, you may be whipping them for a very long time. Best to start over. Beat on high with a hand mixer or whisk attachment, until they become frothy, like a bubble bath. When the eggs lose the yellowish tint and it starts to turn white, now is the time to add your sugar, a little at a time until gone.

Continue to whip the eggs until they get glossy and stick firmly to the sides of the bowl when held on an angle and the whites form stiff peaks which curl slightly at the tips. It usually takes anywhere from 2-6 min. On a more humid day, I find it takes longer to get to this point. You’ll have to go by how it looks.

Step 3. Now is the time to add the colouring. I used a powder colouring but you can use liquid if you add it at the beginning. Adding the powder later will give them a stronger colour.

Step 4. Mix in the dry ingredients in 3 equal parts, folding the mixture under and over with my silicone spatula until all is incorporated and no dry bits are visible.

Step 5. Now comes the tricky part, the macaronnage (or mixing). We want to stir out some of the air to make the batter have the consistency of running lava. You have to do it by eye. Mix the batter until you can take a scoop and it runs off the spatula in a ribbon-like manner with little to no breaks in the falling batter. The ribbons should disappear back into the batter in a matter of 10-20 seconds and it becomes smooth again. If you mix it too much you will have flat macarons, too little and they will form uneven domes.

Step 6. Prep your piping bag with your No.11 plain tip and use a shot glass or small round object to trace circles on the underside of the parchment as a guide when piping the macarons. Remember to pipe a little less than the template outline to allow the batter to spread when it settles on to the parchment.

Pipe the macarons onto the parchment and give the piping tip a quick flick of the wrist at the end to help smooth the surface. Don’t worry if there are slight peaks, if you mixed the batter correctly, by the time they go into the oven they should be smooth and even.

Step 7. Give the tray a firm tap or two to help the air bubbles rise to the top and burst. You can use a toothpick to coax the larger bubbles to pop. Set the tray of macarons on the counter and leave them to air dry until the tops are dry to the touch. This is what will make the macarons rise and show the signature little ruffle at the base, called the “foot”. Depending on the humidity, this can take as little as 10 min or up to 2 hrs.

Step 7. Once they are dry to the touch, place on the middle rack of the oven to bake at 320F for 10 min and then at 285F for 7-8min. If your oven has hot spots, try rotating the try halfway through the first stage of baking to prevent burning. The foot should be visible by the end of 10 min. When done, remove the parchment with the macarons from the hot tray and set on the counter to cool. The macarons should lift easily from the parchment. If they are a little sticky, you may need to increase the bake time for the bottoms to cook completely. Some suggest popping the tray of macarons in the freezer for 15-20 min and then, using a knife, lift them cleanly from the parchment.

Step 8. To make the filling, I chose a simple butter-cream. It’s roughly a 1:2 ratio of unsalted butter and icing sugar and then a few tablespoons of Apricot jam. I like mine a little sweeter so I added a little more icing sugar to taste. In a small glass bowl, use a spatula to cream together the icing sugar and butter, then add the jam to taste. Pipe desired amount onto the cooled macarons. Place the completed cookies in an air-tight container and pop them into the fridge for 48hrs. This helps to soften the macarons and allows the flavour of the filling to permeate the entire macaron.

The finished macarons should have a delicate outer shell with a moist, not chewy interior which may look slightly wet. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months. Serve at room temperature.

Enjoy!….and remember to save some for your clients 🙂

Client gifts: Learn this easy and cost-effective recipe for luxurious French macarons. They make the perfect client gift and gluten free!

10 steps to boost your Instagram

10 quick and easy steps to boost your Instagram

You just finished an amazing project and can’t wait to share it with your Instagram audience. You excitedly upload and hit “post”, waiting to see what your followers have to say but to your surprise, there’s no response. You refresh but still only a few people have even noticed. The next day you post a quick photo of what you’re up to that day and all of a sudden, you instantly have 100 likes and 8 new comments. What gives? It seems a mystery sometimes trying to figure out the secrets to Instagram success.

Here’s a boost you can do today!

We recently talked with award-winning make-up artist and Moda Member, Jayna Marie (Instagram @jaynamariemakeup), to share with us her best secrets to discovering what your audience is waiting for. She’ll share how to get more organic followers and interactions which leads to a more profitable audience. Her account went from a few hundred to a few thousand, all by using these quick tips!

1. Use more phone photos than professional photos.

Depending on your industry, showing the here-and-now, behind-the-scenes, phone photos tend to get better responses than professional images (with some exceptions, of course). If you are going to post professional photos, try following them up with a phone photo of how-it-happened or a behind-the-scenes.

2. Use #hashtags!

Some people make fun of too many hashtags but the truth is, that’s how your photos are mostly found by people who aren’t current followers.

Hashtags are words that are associated with your content, found in the text description of your post. For example, if you are posting about a wedding cake, you could use the style of the cake, the city where you live, the colour of the cake and the elements you used on the cake as a potential hashtag, example: #vancouvercakes #pinkcake #weddingcake

3. Research your #hashtags.

As mentioned above, a hashtag is crucial part of your post. More importantly is knowing the right hashtag to use. Use the hashtag search tool to see what’s popular and relevant to your post. Also see who is using those tags, are they consumers or more industry? Choose the right one for the desired audience.

4. Use your client’s #hashtag of their wedding, (with your client’s permission, of course!)

This is a great tactic to reach the majority of your client’s wedding guests even before they’ve left the event. If you can, post a polished photo, make it a knock-out, and then a behind-the-scenes to show how it happened. People love to see what’s going on. Try to post throughout the day to keep viewers engaged. You may find this one to be a real winner.

5. Tag big brands to encourage a Regram (post sharing).

Research companies of products you use to see if they regram from clients on a regular basis and what style of images they use. Larger companies will often regram their products in-use by their customers. Use the “tag” feature to attach the company’s account and don’t forget to mention them in the text description of the post as well using their @account.

Using these tips, Jayna’s work was featured by @houseoflashes and her post got over 8,000 likes and got over 100 new followers from that post alone!

6. Keep your best work at the top of your grid.

People who visit your account take about 3-5 seconds to scan your work and decide if they want to see more and to follow you. Make sure you have your best work showing in the first 6 squares of your grid.

7. Make your photos consistent.

Accounts that are easy to view and consistent in style usually get followed more often. Keep the size and orientation of the images consistent for a more uniform look. You can easily make landscape images fit the Instagram constraints by taking a screen shot of the image on your phone, just turn your phone vertical when viewing your photo gallery to show the white space and take the screen shot. When posted in Instagram, it will show the full image using the white space.

8. Make the description text unique and interesting.

People read text…yes, they actually do! So make sure you put in a description for your post and make it interesting. Often times, people use the text as a defining reference when they are having a hard time describing the photo. Don’t leave it blank, use every tool to engage them in your post.

9. Pay attention to your most popular posts.

People are following you for a reason and it’s very easy to lose followers. Take a look at the type of images, style and content of your posts that have received the most interactions over the last few months. This will give you a major insight into why your followers are there and then post more of that type of content.

10. Be patient, grow organically.

Don’t buy followers. Use the tips you’ve learned here and see what amazing connections you can make. After all, the whole point is to connect with the right people and build a profitable relationship. Social media tools have made is easy to connect  with people around the world. And don’t be afraid to strike a conversation with the people you follow as well!

11. (bonus!) See the best times to post for higher interactions

Try them out and let us know how you’ve seen your account grow!!

Jayna Marie is one of Canada’s leading make-up artist, keynote speaker and instructor. She has worked with celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Nikki Yanofsky, travelled to exotic places for global destination weddings and has won numerous industry awards. Jayna strives to find a healthy balance between professionalism, fun and creativity. She believes that being successful is based 50% on talent and 50% on personality…which is why you’ll always find her with a smile on her face. If you ask her for one piece of beauty advice, Jayna says “Don’t be afraid of trying something new…it’s only make-up, not a tattoo!!” http://www.jaynamarie.com/

10 quick and easy steps to boost your Instagram and get seen! Join Jayna Marie as she share how to get more organic followers and interactions which leads to a more profitable audience.

Clients not calling back? This could be why!

We all know that feeling when we’ve had a client’s first consultation, we go through our presentation and hope and pray that they will choose us but they leave the meeting with a somewhat low energy and quiet demeanour. With our experience, we know that the client will probably not be calling us back.  Most of us, in efforts to slough off the lack of enthusiasm would say to ourselves, “they probably weren’t the right client for me”. But was that really the case? Or did we somehow influence the meeting to make the client feel this way, resulting in not booking that client?

When I first came across Mark Bowden’s Ted Talk about using your body to effectively create a positive and engaging atmosphere, I was floored when I tried these techniques in the real world and saw a HUGE change in the interactions and responses I saw from real people. I also identified the bad habits I was unknowingly impressing on my clients. It was amazing to see the success I saw from these simple but effective techniques and with practice, they will become apart of how you communicate.

We contacted Mark to give us, as artistic professionals, a short series of videos that will help us create the right environment that will leave the clients with positive feelings of connection to you and your work.

Here’s what Mark had to say for us in part 1:

“When you are a creative professional one of the hardest things to do is sell your work. It’s almost impossible to detach yourself from it. It’s personal. It can be difficult to be honest about how great you and your work really are! You can tend to be all too modest and undersell yourself to the point of appearing anxious and dejected about your work. This attitude and behaviour can really deaden the atmosphere around your work. Instead you need to inspire people to work with you every time you speak.

Here is a short video giving you my top techniques for coming across as an inspirational creative rather than a starving artist!” :

Leave us a comment and let us know how you see improvement in how people respond to your communication.

Mark Bowden is an expert in body language and the the creator of TRUTHPLANE®, a presentation training company and unique methodology for anyone who has to communicate with impact. He is the author of many best selling body language books, giving keynote speeches worldwide. I highly recommend getting his books here and see more on his website.


Clients not calling back? Ever wonder if it’s you or them? Join Body Language expert, Mark Bowden as he shares life changing techniques that just might save your business.

Wedding Hacks – Tip #1

It’s the morning of the wedding and you’re trying to find a suitable place to hang the Bride’s wedding dress but nothing can be found. The curtain rod is too high and there is no ledge thick enough to hold a heavy wedding gown. The only options you’re left with is to either lay it on the bed or hang it in the closet, both of which are less than ideal to show off the gown.

I was laying in bed, almost asleep when the idea popped into my head. I thank God for all those late nights and early morning wake-ups when you startle yourself awake, alive with a solution to a problem you’ve been mulling over for days. This was one of them. We had a bride a few years ago who was hoping for the iconic dress-in-the-window shot but alas, there was no where to hang the dress in her hotel room. Many hotels don’t seem to offer the spaces needed to artistically hang the dress for a flattering shot. We usually revert to our assistants standing on the window sill whilst holding the gown and then photoshop their arm out later.

This was the much needed solution, a tile lifter!

We picked up this 25lb tile lifter from Home Depot, painted it white to blend in with the back-lighting and voila! The perfect solution for under $20!

Now you can get that perfect shot, no matter where you are!

Learn this simple secret to getting that perfect gown shot, every time!

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