Photogs: Learn from us at Imaging USA 2015!

Hello Photographers! Later this month we will be very involved teaching and sharing alongside the best in the industry at Imaging USA in Nashville Feb 1-3. If you've never been to Imaging before, it's our favorite networking and learning event of the year. Thousands of photographers from around the globe congregate to geek out, share, shoot, eat, drink and be merry! This is the only educational event we will be teaching at in 2015If you're serious about photography this event is an amazing catalyst for growth and we would encourage you to consider going even if you have no interest in our classes!

We'll be teaching a series of hands-on pre convention classes with live photoshoots and a platform class. Here's' the info:

Hands On Photography: Relevant Senior Portraiture

January 31

Separate registration required for pre-convention classes.

In this interactive class, Dan and Alex McClanahan will show you how they photograph Seniors on location. Forget about your studio set ups and the boring backdrops; it’s time to create portraits that really showcase this milestone moment!

Learn how to scout the best location, find great light and interesting backgrounds. Explore how to blend strobe and constant light for the perfect result. Dan and Alex also share how they interact with their clients to establish rapport and a level of comfort; this will help you capture the emotion and expression you want, while your subjects still look natural. You’ll also discuss the poses that work well and how to not just take a picture but tell a story with your image.

Dan and Alex have a unique, quirky style that allows them and their clients to have fun, yet still apply the technical knowledge that results in outstanding images. Learn how you can do it too! Here are some examples of the in-camera location lighting we'll be demonstrating:

How to Rock Weddings

February 1, 5:00 PM - 6:15 PM

Taught by Dan and Alex McClanahan, M.Photog.

Sponsored by Miller's Professional Imaging

Dan and Alex will walk you through a complete wedding day and show you how they direct and light each section of the day to make it look perfect despite such obstacles as rain, ugly churches, dark receptions and an array of other hindrances. They will share how they work together as complimentary shooters to create a cohesive story that is emotionally gripping, laugh-out-loud fun, and inclusive of every important detail. Lastly they will give you tips for album design—the ultimate medium for showcasing your wedding work!

Dan and Alex will cover:

  • art direction to create a compelling story
  • go-to shots every wedding needs
  • lighting techniques for tricky scenarios
  • utilizing two shooters for efficiency and variety
  • album design tips

Here are some recent wedding images that demonstrate what we'll be sharing: 

 

PPA is letting us give away FREE expo passes that will get you into the trade show (which is enormous), but won't get you into classes. If you live near Nashville and want to partake in the social/networking aspect of Imaging, you can register for a free expo pass here:

imagingusa.org/free-expo  Use code: TSC2015

See you in Nashville!

-Dan and Alex

2014 PPA Photographer of the Year!

Warning: This post is geeky and goes in depth about photographic competition. We won't be offended if you skip straight to the pictures :) We recently got our results back from the Professional Photographer's of America's IPC (International Print Competition)! IPC is like the Super Bowl for photographers with thousands of competitors from across the globe. It's the final culmination of competition that begins at the state level, moves on to the district level, and finale's with IPC. Basically it works like this: every photographer enters a maximum of 4 prints or albums which are scored on a scale from 0-100 according to 12 elements by a panel of expert judges. Images that earn an 80 or above are given a "merit" and enter the PPA General Collection, which only a small percentage of images earn. Merit images are then re-judged to see if they are deemed worthy of being in PPA's "Loan Collection," which only a small percentage of merited images obtain. If a photographer is able to merit all 4 of their entries, they are named a coveted PPA "Photographer of the Year." There are different designations of "Photographer of the Year" according to how many of an artist's merit images are selected for the Loan Collection.

PPA initiated a second branch of the competition called "Master Artist" which is basically a competition of photoshop skills where the artist includes their source files alongside their image so the judges can gauge how complicated their task was and see how creative they were with what they had to work with. A photographer can enter 4 images in Master Artist beyond the 4 that they enter in regular print competition. Complicated, eh!? But for photographers IPC is one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking events of the year!

This year both of us (Dan and Alex) entered IPC's regular print competition and Dan additionally entered Master Artist. Overall we did well! Alex merited 3/4 of her images and Loaned 1 of them. Dan merited 3/4 and Loaned all 3. He also merited 4/4 in his MA case and Loaned 2 of them, earning him a PPA "Gold Photographer of the Year" designation! This is his 3rd time in 4 years earning a Photographer of the Year designation. Not too shabby for a couple of Iowa kids! If you've read this far, you are very patient and we thank you for taking an interest in our work! Enjoy viewing our 2014 images:

Dan's Print Case

"Basking in Love's Light"

PPA Loan Collection

Bride and groom portrait lounged on the rocky Oregon coast with an epic sunset behind. Des Moines Photographer McClanahan Studio photographed this image. Destination wedding. Photo was selected for the 2014 PPA Loan Collection.

"Soaring to Victory"

PPA Loan Collection

Ames high school senior Erin Lehman jumps her competition horse at dusk with a look of determination on her face. This strobist image accentuates the horse's muscles and shiny coat. Photographed in Ames, Iowa by Des Moines Photographer Dan McClanahan. Photo was selected for the 2014 PPA Loan Collection.

"Letting Him Go"

PPA Loan Collection

A Des Moines bride lays on a rock in the ocean and watches her veil wash back and forth in the tide. Destination wedding photographed in Oregon by Iowa Wedding Photographer of the Year McClanahan Studio. West coast wedding, dramatic sunrise portrait was selected for the 2014 PPA Loan Collection.

"Pipe Dreams"

Didn't merit, but we still love this image of local legend Marcus Savage

Ames skating legend Marcus Savage poses for a photograph by Dan McClanahan that is composited into a west coast skate park with stadium lights and sunset. Marcus has a great skater fro!

Alex's Print Case

"Media Slave"

PPA General Collection

Ames beauty Maggie Doyle sits upon a throne constructed from VHS tape to be photographed by Des Moines Photographer McClanahan Studio. Image is a metaphor about the impact media has on our subconscious minds in American culture. Photo was chosen for the 2014 PPA General Collection.

"Rustic Rendezvous"

Didn't merit, but we love this image and made a decorative print of it for our building!

Portrait of Eric and Ellie Whillhoit perched in the hayloft of an old barn at Willhoit farms. Engagement portrait showcasing a meaningful location and a quiet moment between sweethearts. Backlit and toned in a vintage fashion that matches the mood of the image. Captured by Des Moines Photographer Alex McClanahan.

"Rachel & Jared"

Milwaukee Wedding. PPA Loan Collection. This also won the top wedding award in Iowa and was the highest scoring album in our 10 state district!

"Lia & Björn"

Seattle Wedding. PPA General Collection

Dan's Master Artist Case

"Living in Our Own Little World"

PPA Loan Collection

Dan and Alex McClanahan's infamous Christmas card inside a snow globe. She is putting the star on the tree from the top rung of a ladder and he is shoveling the ground, both filled with utopian happiness. Image by Des Moines photographer McClanahan Studio selected for the 2014 PPA Loan Collection. Composited elements included on the print to show the complexity of the project.

"Keeping Her Grounded"

PPA General Collection Composite engagement photo by Des Moines photographer McClanahan Studio showing Mark and Valentina Looney having a symbolic moment on a backpacking trip in the southwest. Valentina is reaching for a butterfly not noticing the cliff's edge and Mark is keeping her from falling off. Photograph selected for the 2014 PPA Loan Collection.

"The Perfect Storm"

PPA General Collection

Iowa State Cyclone Women's Basketball poster featuring hallie christofferson by Des Moines photographer Dan McClanahan. entitled "the perfect storm," the poster shows three seniors emerging from a storm cloud in action poses. Photo was selected for the 2014 PPA General Collection.

"The Winning Moment"

PPA Loan Collection

Des Moines Photographer Dan McClanahan created this poster for Iowa State Cyclone Men's Basketball  2014 season. Featuring Melvin Ejim, DeAndre Kane, Georges Niang executing a drive in Hilton Coliseum against a fictitious opponent. Composite image was selected for the 2014 PPA Loan Collection.

Dave & Barb: Biker Gang

For the last several years we've seldom taken our camera gear into the non–work related portions of our life for the sake of sanity. Recently we've been convicted to do a better job documenting our friends and families because time is fickle and the people we love need to be documented and preserved. Alex's dad has had a motorcycle since before she was born and Alex's mom recently got a retro scooter, so we couldn't resist doing a mini photoshoot of them and their wheels! In attempts to do justice to their coolness we photographed underneath the soon–to–be–torn–down I-74 bridge near their house in Bettendorf. Coincidentally the bridge is also near the studio of good friend and photographer John Mohr. John helped us out on the shoot (it was quite windy and he saved our main light from smashing) and he took the BTS image below!

Mom & Dadio, thanks for being such incredibly supportive parents. We aspire to even be half as caring, generous, and rad as you two. We love you always and in all ways.

Alex's parents Dave and Barb rocking out with their motorcycle and scooter under the I-74 bridge in Davenport, IA

Alex's parents Dave and Barb rocking out with their motorcycle and scooter under the I-74 bridge in Davenport, IA

behind the scenes photo taken by John Moore in Davenport Iowa showing McClanahan Studio photographing their parents as a biker gang.

Merry Christmas 2013!

Here's our personal Christmas card from 2013! This has been posted on social media for quite a while now, but we wanted to blog it for those that haven't seen it and for archival purposes. This year's card is a drastic departure from the goofy composited cards of year's past (see them here: 2009201020112012). We photographed these images on location at about 10:3opm in a field off of 13th st in Ames. The tree and snow are lit up by a flash behind us, and our faces are spot-lit by a gridded flash to camera left. Contrary to speculation, this isn't a photoshop composite - it was really snowing and really cold! We had to take frequent breaks to jump back in the car and warm up before continuing to shoot, but it was absolutely worth it. We had help from our friends Nathan and Elena (of Dust Studios) and had quite a fun time playing in the snow with them. We hope you had restful holidays and are kicking  butt in 2014! McClanahan Studio in Ames Iowa Christmas Card photographed on a snowy night in Ames, Iowa, quoting "Oh Holy Night" McClanahan Studio in Ames Iowa Christmas Card photographed on a snowy night in Ames, Iowa, quoting "Oh Holy Night"

 

McClaniversary 5 Year West Coast Road Trip!

This year we celebrated our 5–year wedding anniversary! It's hard to believe that much time has elapsed since we embarked on our marital journey, but we decided it was a milestone worth celebrating. We had the opportunity to fly to Seattle to photograph the wedding of our friends, Bjorn and Lia, close to our anniversary (there are some cool images of Bjorn and Lia part way down this post) and we decided to rent a car after the wedding and spent a week driving highway 101 south to San Francisco. Because we founded McClanahan Studio shortly after getting married we haven't had much time completely unplugged to focus 100% of our attention on one another. We viewed this week as an opportunity to do just that and it was AWESOME! We highly recommend that all married couples schedule time to unplug and have an adventure once in a while. It re–calibrates your unity and is refreshing to the soul! The following post is a hodgepodge of Instagrams taken on our iPhone and photographs taken on a Canon 5dMkIII. Our self portraits were lit with a speedlight and some of the fine art photographs were captured using neutral density filters to slow down time (sort of like Hermione in "Prisoner of Azkaban"). Our journey started in Seattle paddle boarding with friends and visiting the infamous bridge troll. Then we headed south along the Oregon coast, spent an afternoon sand–boarding some epic dunes, ventured through Redwood National Forrest, toured a couple wineries in Napa Valley and concluded with a day of biking through San Francisco and a sunset overlook of the Golden Gate Bridge. We would encourage adding the NorthWest to your bucket list and taking the time to experience these views for yourself! If you have specific questions about where we stayed and what we did, leave a comment and we'll fill you in. We hope you enjoy our images!

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Published: The Best of Senior Portrait Photography

We recently received the honor of being featured alongside top shooters from around the country in the second edition of The Best of Senior Portrait Photography. There are photographers in this book that we've long admired and it's wild to flip through the pages see our work alongside thiers! Of course this reflects directly upon our amazing clients and supportive community that enable us to create the work that we do, so we'd like to extend a huge THANKS to you guys! We have a copy of the book in the studio if you'd like to see it, and photographers looking for great inspiration can purchase the book here via amazon. best of senior portrait photography cover best of senior portrait photography inside spread best of senior portrait photography mcclanahan studio feature

Hubs and Dubs Redux

If you've known us for a while, you might remember our Hubs and Dubs (husband and wife) superhero halloween costumes from our first year as a married couple. Alex sewed our costumes and we tore up Ames in heroic twitterpated fashion. Here's our self portrait from that night that started it all:

Well, we're super excited that our friend and former client Benjamin Mackey was willing to reincarnate Hubs and Dubs via his amazing illustrative vision. Benjamin is an extremely talented artist and you should check out his work here. He's currently freelancing, so if you need custom illustration he will rock your world. Here's what he made for us:

We like the mods he made to our costumes and can't wait to get these hung up in our home!

Gentlemen of the Centanila Tropics

A while back you might remember our post about Dan's trip to LA to photograph The Deadlies...While he was there he stayed with one of the band members and his roommates at their apartment in the Centanila Tropics. They turned out to be an incredibly zany and fun-loving bunch, so he decided to commemorate their camaraderie with a few images. The  cool thing about Los Angeles is you can set off bright flashes in the middle of the night and nobody really cares because it's so bright there anyways. I hope this provides a little inspiration for you to turn off the Netflix and do something creative with your friends this weekend ;)

2013 Iowa Photographer of the Year

Gratitude is the feeling that has been on our hearts this week. Gratitude for the family and friends that have supported and endured with us through the hardest working year of our lives in 2012. Also, gratitude for our wonderful clients (friends) that have let us in to their lives and allowed us to tell their stories and capture their memories. You are why we love what we do! It is with gratitude that we're excited share some good news with you:

Last week we both competed in the annual Professional Photographer's of Iowa print competition. The best professional photographers in the state each submit 4 prints that are judged by a national panel according to the 12 elements of a merit image.

This was Alex's first year competing and she ended up with the highest average score between her four prints, winning the coveted "PPI Photographer of the Year" trophy! She had one print earn a rarely attained "Perfect 100" score. That print also earned her the Masterpiece Award from Fujifilm and first place in the "Portrait of a Child" category. Lastly, she won first place with her wedding album and earned the trophy for "Best Wedding Image." Not bad for a first–timer! Dan is one proud hubby!

Dan ended up 3rd place in the Top 10 with all four of his images earning a merit (scoring 80 or above) and earning Distinguished Print awards (those funny looking purple ribbons in the photo). He also earned a coveted Judges Choice ribbon.

We need to keep the images under the radar until the final round of judging takes place later this year (International Print Competition), but we have posted the images for you to view on a private page here. If you are a PPA judge - don't click the link! The rest of you, please refrain from sharing the link publicly for the time being. Also you are cordially invited to stop by our studio and we will gladly show you the prints in person (which is better anyways because then we get to hang out).

Thank you for reading this! As you have surely noticed, our blog has fallen onto the back–burner in recent months but we have big plans to bring it new life in the coming weeks. Check back soon!

xoxo,

Dalex

The Hemberger Bunch! (interactive version)

This year we realized there are exactly nine members of Alex's immediate family (if you include the dog), so we had the perfect amount to finally pull off a Brady Bunch–inspired Christmas card. Without further ado, we'd like to introduce you the beloved Hemberger family. Yes - they are as awesome as they look :) For the full experience, give it a few seconds to load and hover your mouse over each member of the 'Bunch!