Social Media -A Role in Finding Missing Loved Ones

I am noticing more and more posts and news clips of people looking for lost loved ones and turning to social media to help with the search. I can’t imagine the overwhelming emotion that would come with finding a missing or long lost loved one! I always wondered if people were successful in their quest so I decided to search for some answers. My top search response was Facebook Reunites family-Huffington Post. What a great read. So many families had a second chance because of searches on Facebook!images reunite

Thanks to human compassion and a desire for happy endings, people are sharing these messages or paying attention to the details or photos in hopes to help others find who they are looking for. I was happy to see so many great stories of family members coming together for the first time in many, many years.

This makes me curious about the internet and social media’s effectiveness in finding missing children and adults. I imagine it provides more images milksuccessful results than the milk cartons or posters on street corners and provides added exposure to news reports where pictures and descriptions can only be viewed a short time. Having images and descriptions of missing people on Facebook, news sites and many other missing people sites certainly helps maximize the exposure urgently needed in hope to quickly locate the missing.

As with everything else to do with social media, there are risks that come with this type of exposure. A key point I read in an article shared below is to inform the police and not the original poster of the search if you recognize a missing person just in case they happen to be under police protection. It is easy for us to get caught up in wanting to help someone but it is important to be responsible and inform authority of any information you may have.

Do you pay particular attention to missing person posts?

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

An ongoing joke in my family has been how getting my parents on board with social media and new technology has been like teaching an old dog new tricks. It isn’t impossible but it takes a lot of patience!

Let’s face it, if you didn’t grow up using smartphones, the internet or even computers, learning to use these isn’t going to be second nature. I always giggle when my dad says he found a nice truck or house for sale on the computer.  Really Dad, on the computer? Maybe that is why he insists on keeping is flip phone that doesn’t have all the  ‘fancy stuff’ he doesn’t need.  My low-tech father who never did figure out how to reset the clock on the old VCR does surprise me at times; he now uses online banking and has become a savvy online shopper!


My mom on the other hand is diving right in. She tries to keep up with friends and family on Facebook. She uses email regularly, has a website for her business and uses square for business transactions on her smartphone. She is trying to keep up with technology but I know she gets overwhelmed.  I have spent many hours teaching her some basics and playing the role of tech support for her but usually only after she has tried to learn or resolve issues on her own. It is funny to see her collection of Windows 8, Word, Facebook & Samsung S4 ‘For Dummies’ books but I am proud of her for trying to learn on her own.

Smartphones are here to make things easier for us. They are an all in one tool that we can no longer live without. Smartphones have replaced so many physical items and tools that past generations couldn’t live without and now they have a hard time comprehending that all these now fit in the palm of their hands.

infographic what a smartphone has replaced

I think anyone who isn’t already embracing these new technologies should start, no matter what age or skill level. Not everyone learns at the same pace and all users are different but everyone will find value in new technology. By exploring the internet, my dad has learned how to source tools and materials for hobbies or repairs around the house.  This saves him from driving an hour to the nearest city to shop around from store to store. My mother has increased her sales for her jewelry business by accepting mobile credit card payments, she increased the visibility of her work online via her website and business Facebook page and now sells on Etsy. She also gets to Skype with her grand-daughter, view, share and comment on her siblings, nieces/nephews and friends Facebook posts and text me reminders or funny pictures she took on her phone. My mother is amazed at all the great things she can now do using all her new technology and she keeps on learning!

Here is an interesting read from Trending Buffalo on what smartphones have replaced: Everything from this 1991 Radio Shack ad I now do with my phone


What are your fears or hesitations using some of the latest technology?

Do you have any funny stories of older generations learning new age technology?

Social Promotion–Ride The Wave Or Risk Drowning!

Jumping on the social Media bandwagon can be extremely overwhelming, especially since it seems that everybody else is ahead of you by a decade. I am in my late thirties and I feel like dinosaur when it comes to social media.


Pre-Digital ‘High Resolution’ Camera

In 1998 I graduated from a 2 year photography program at a french community college. The program provided all the tools I needed to be successful in the industry. We learned about lighting techniques and how to use of 4×5 and medium format film cameras with various lenses and exposures to achieve different effects. We also learned how to develop negatives, slides and prints in both black & white and color. My favorite part was scanning my prints and digitally manipulating them in Photoshop. In my business class, they helped us come up with a company name and a logo (I am so glad I moved on from my original idea). They also thought us how to market our business by creating fancy looking flyers and handouts. Sounds prehistoric right? Thankfully, I got a full time job in my field right away which was pretty cool. I stayed  for 16 years until I decide to branch out on my own.


Basically my education was a big waste of time and money. Other than lighting techniques, everything I learned was obsolete within 2 years of the program. Photography is an industry that requires ongoing learning. I have been learning since the day I graduated. The camera gear, lighting equipment, computer and software technology evolves quickly and requires constant learning and deep pockets. These are all part of the evolution required to keep a business in any technical industry afloat. Keeping up has been challenging, yet rewarding and I am having a lot of fun doing it. The programs today teach current digital marketing skills using social media and other modern tools. A fresh batch of photographers graduate each year with all the knowledge they need to be successful for their next few years. When I think about getting myself on par with the rest of the industry in regards to promoting and sharing using social media, that’s when I freeze up!Print

My initial challenge is that I don’t want to oversell my services. I am worried about bombarding people with posts and advertisements. How do you find the right balance to share but not over share?  I rarely post on my personal Facebook page so it seems strange to me to start posting about every one of my photo shoots like many photographers do. I am a ‘read/view only’ type of member on twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. How do I break of out this mindset? Is it possible to reach out to a broader audience without annoying your current social media circle? This is all part of my current learning mission and I know there are loads of great blogs and sites like ’When, How and Where to Promote Your Content on Social Media and Social Media for Your Photography Business that can help with this. I assume some people are naturals at sharing on social media and don’t need to ‘learn’ about it. I really hope it is something one can learn.


I started a Social Media course to get me out of my comfort zone and it is working so far. I need to jump on the wagon to succeed and I want to prove it’s success to myself more than anything.  Once I’m on board and riding the wave, I want to be able to help others who have similar fears and hesitations or just plain don’t know where to begin.

Do you ever find yourself annoyed with people who overshare or over promote using social media?

What do you believe is an acceptable level of sharing and promoting for a small business?



Let That Personality Shine! Why I love photographing Children

O-Town Photography

I enjoy photographing people in general but children are by far the most rewarding. Their care-free attitude, curiosity and imagination make them the best subjects.

Moms often have this unrealistic expectation that their kids will just stand or sit still and smile naturally for a photo but that is most often not the case, at least not at first.

Kids need to let their personality shine, get the silly out of their system and just plain have fun. When the creative table is turned and I let kids pose their way and get them to show me their goofy side or maybe give me some attitude, I get some of the best pictures. It also helps them realize having pictures taken can be fun and not something to dread like going to the dentist. I love building a rapport with kids, getting silly with them and showing them some of those funny images I have taken of them.  I find this approach to be easiest way to make them smile and gain their trust and attention for when we need to get a little more serious for some of the poses mom expects.


Patience is an important factor in photographing kids, but having a natural comfort for working with children of different age groups and personalities is a strong suit. A photographer can read all the “Top 10 children photography Tips” or “7 Tips For Photographing Kids”  they want but unfortunately, a natural ability to work with kids can’t really be learnt. I take pride in turning frowns upside down.  I enjoy working my way from a child that is so timid they can’t even look at me or one with crocodile tears intimidated by the environment or set up to a happy smiley child excited about the photos they have just taken.

O-Town Photography

In my eyes, teenagers are just as much fun to photograph.  I take a more ‘chill’ approach and I get their input so I know what they like. In this day of smartphone cameras and endless selfies, they know what looks they like of themselves. I interact with them by showing them pictures as we go to ensure they are happy. I always ensure their poses are flattering and delete any I know will embarrass them. The pre-teens and teens are very sensitive about the way they look and truly appreciate being reassured and told they are looking great and doing well. I am only satisfied when I know they are happy and feel good about themselves. It is rewarding to know I can impact someone’s confidence by ensuring they feel pretty or handsome.

O-Town Photography

Photographing kids of any ages is not easy by any means, but when I see the parents and kids reactions to their final images, it makes it all worthwhile! For more information on portrait sessions for children, view the O-Town Photography Portrait page.



Professional Looking Social Presence

I had the opportunity to attend career and transition coaching at Optimum Talent this past winter and I have to admit, I learned a lot about myself and how to sell what I have to offer. My biggest takeaway was learning to sell myself with an overall polished professional image carried through my new resume, LinkedIn profile, website and bio.

Learning to market myself professionally seemed so foreign.  My first seminar was Linked In for your Job Search. They spoke about the changes in company hiring strategies.  I had no idea that networking and social media played such a large role in recruiting. I always knew these were factors and a ways to verify professionalism and character but I didn’t realize how many companies actually recruit using mostly LinkedIn. The facilitator spoke of selling a professional image with the use of a professional profile picture. This made sense to me as a professional photographer, but what about everyone else? Most of the attendees had never considered using a professional portrait on their new or recently polished LinkedIn accounts. They just used a cropped portion of a picture they had on their smartphone or computer or worse yet, a selfie! Why not? Are people really paying attention to the quality of the image? Isn’t it just to have on their profile so they could be recognized by friends, peers or former colleagues? It turns out that organizations really do value the dedication and attention to detail that a proper professional headshot conveys no matter the industry.

Photographs by O-Town Photography

For me, these sessions spiraled into a whirlwind of changes I needed to make to polish my professional ‘look’. I started by changing my company logo and continued by changing my website, business cards, and marketing material. Everything needed to match the new professional image I had in mind.  I still have a lot of work to do to complete that image, specifically in regards to social media presence but it is well on its way.

I realized the value of a Professional Headshot from a customer perspective shortly after my LinkedIn seminar when a client requested a business headshot session because she was “hot on a lead for a new job and in need of a professional image to seal the deal”. During her session, she mentioned that she had also learned the importance of Networking in her job search in the Event Planning field and how she should have done this (have a professional portrait) sooner. She felt that it would have helped people remember who she was and that they had in fact met or worked with her in the past. I’d like to think I played a role in her success when she announced two weeks later that she had landed her dream job.  Maybe the professional photo had nothing to do with it, but, maybe it did! Either way, her professional, approachable smiley new photograph will continue to help her sell her professional image.

Photograph by O-Town Photography

I believe a professional business portrait is a necessary investment for anyone searching for a new career or for business professionals to convey a message of commitment and pride. The cost of a professional business portrait session varies mostly based on the photographer’s experience and offerings.   I want to help others sell their professional image. For this reason, I have dedicated a full page on my  O-Town Photography website to Corporate and Profile Headshots.

If you do not already have a Professional Headshot or portrait you should consider getting one. Get ideas by reviewing ones from people in your industry and find a photographer that you think could achieve that look. Many photographers like myself have the ability to do more than what is displayed on their websites so don’t be afraid to ask for something specific.

I too need to refresh my business headshot.  My self-portrait no longer portrays the image I am looking for. I have arranged to trade sessions with an associated photographer to help me achieve the look I want. I know this is an important step in my professional social presence across all social media platforms and I believe it should be part of yours too!


Photographs by O-Town Photography

Why Family Portraits Are Your Most Valuable Pieces of Artwork

Family Portraits create a visual memory of the evolution of a family. Taking the time to get together for family portraits is one of the most rewarding things a family can do together. Not only does it mean having fun together, but you are also taking the time to create lasting memories to display with pride.

IMG_6742 best 8x12

Being a Professional photographer with O-Town Photography, I see how family portraits bring joy to customers when they receive their final products.  Family portraiture is an excellent way to document family life from year to year. I have photographed some families yearly for over 10 years and it is still exciting to see what we create together each year. A Family photo represents not only a specific time and location, but also a place in the family timeline.  From the addition of new family members, to gap toothed smiles, to awkward fashions and special occasions, the value of the precious memories only increase in value over time.

In the unfortunate loss of a family member, we naturally cling to a portrait as a memory of our loved one. Having recent portraits allows us to go back to a time where we shared that special moment together. There is no greater gift that for a grandchild to see photographs of a grandparent they never met or a loved one they lost at a young age. Family photos that are kept for generations are a gift to current members of the family and an asset to future generations.

With modern technology, it seems everyone has a camera with them006 8x8 at all times. The danger with this is that they can falsely replace the need to have portraits done.  I am not inferring that everyone should have professional family portraits taken yearly, but consider that if mom is the dedicated photographer, the family loses out with her absence in the photos.  The other risk is that smartphone captured images rarely make it to print and don’t get proudly displayed like professional portraits would.

In today’s hectic world, it is difficult to find the time to get together for portraits. However, keep in mind that no amount of money can allow you to go back in time and re-capture your families’ evolution, making family portraits your most valuable artwork.