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

A Day with McClanahan Studio

It's always tough to give a good answer when people ask us "what do you do?" The answer is complicated. We laugh. We play. We elicit beauty. We manipulate light. We create heirlooms. We hang out in a gnarly old building. We adventure. We push boundaries. We never stop learning. Recently we teamed up with our good friend Rob and made a video that sums up these things and more. We hope you like it:

The video is permanently hosted on our home page. If you like the song, it's called "We Came Alive" by Benjamin Dunn!

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.

Get Serenaded and Immortalized during Music Walk Sept. 11

Greetings Ames! We are excited to be participating in the Main Street Cultural District's Music Walk this Thursday, September 11 from 5-8pm. We will be hosting live music by one of our favorite artists Lane Jahn (AKA angel voice). Lane is also a local jewelry designer and you can check out his stuff here! To top off the event, Dan will be photographing a tintype headshot of everybody that stops by and posting them on our Facebook page (and they will look something like this): Dan and Alex McClanahan pose for Tintype photographs to demonstrate what they will be shooting at Music Walk in downtown Ames on September 11

If you've never met us or visited our gallery before, we would love to meet you! We're located right accross from the Ames Public Library at 210 5th St, and to make it easier for you, here's what the place looks like from the outside:

McClanahan Studio, 210 5th St Ames IA, from the exterior with a sun flare peeking over the corner of the building

Here's the inside (though currently we don't have a Christmas tree):

McClanahan Studio gallery interior at Christmas time

See you thursday!

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"

 

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

2013 AHS Girls Cross Country Poster

This year we got to again create a schedule poster for the Ames High Girl's CC team! The bar was set pretty high with last year's epic storm poster, so this year's goal was to create something brighter and happier but still with a lot of "wow" factor. Here's what we came up with: Ames High School Girls Cross Country 2013

From what we've heard, the team is off to a fantastic start this year. If any of you girls are reading this, keep running fast! Cyclone Power!

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

McClanahan Stadium

We're excited to support Cyclone Nation as the Official Photographer of ISU Basketball! You may have already seen it, but here's our jumbotron animation that's airing at every Cyclone home basketball game this season. It was created by the insane Johnny Likens. We're excited to see it in person for the first time at this weekend's game. Go Clones! Make sure you blow this up to full screen when you watch it! http://vimeo.com/53744158  

Kelly & Koda: 1st Place Album

Apologies for not posting in a while... it's been a busy month with travels to Alaska for a destination wedding and overseeing construction on our new location back home. If you don't yet follow us on Facebook, updates and a plethora of images are being posted regularly here. I meant to post this a while ago, but better late than never! I entered this album from my engagement session with Kelly & Koda in the annual Professional Photographers of Iowa competition and it won first place! It's a humbling honor considering the number of outstanding photographers we have in our state. The album also went on to receive merit at the Professional Photographers of America International Print Competition. Our albums are the finished product we take the most pride and joy in as photographers because they're an amazing storytelling vessel. The power of the finished piece is greater than the sum of its parts. We will have a printed copy of this album on display in our new studio once we get moved in! Back to the subject: Kelly & Koda are not only best friends, they're very active together. They love biking, swing dancing and just straight–up adventuring together. We themed their engagement session around these attributes of their relationship and had an insane amount of fun adventuring and creating with them! Their wedding is right around the corner and we can't wait to capture it! Without further ado, here's the album:

 

 

Feature: Professional Photographer Magazine

We just received our July issue of Professional Photographer Magazine and we're excited to share that our engagement imagery is featured as the cover story! The mag called us a couple months ago for an interview so we know we would be published in some capacity, but we didn't know that we would be getting the cover until recently. You can download a pdf of the story here. We must give a giant thanks to our engagement couples for letting us into your lives to create imagery!

Meet Victoria! (our new radtern)

"Radtern" (rad + intern) is a word we just made up because we couldn't find an existing word in the English dictionary that does Victoria justice. She's our first ever intern and we're stoked to have her on board with us this summer! We hand–picked Victoria to join our crew because she's got a lethal combination of talent and personality. She's a senior at the University of Iowa studying Cinema Production and South Asian Studies. Victoria will be helping with our busy portrait workflow and will also be filming several video projects that we have in the works. (details are hush hush for now, but we'll be releasing some no–holds–barred educational photography content that will be off the hook!) Just how rad is Victoria? Since a picture is worth 1000 words, we've summed it up for you in approximately 9000 words:

 

Meet Kristin! (she works here)

 

 

We are so excited to announce the newest member to the studio team: Kristin! Count yourselves lucky if this super sweet, funny, and uber smart chica answers the phone the next time you call. Kristin will be keeping Dan and Alex in line to make sure the studio always delivers the best products as quickly as possible. She's only been here since Monday and we already can't remember how we managed without her. We know you're going to love her!

 

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McStudio declares permanent residency in Ames!!!

We're sorry for being kind of quiet lately... We've been preoccupied with a huge project that we haven't been able to say anything about until now! Yesterday we purchased 208 5th St, the building we've been renting our current studio from for the last 2 years. Over the course of the next few months we will be renovating the street–level facade and constructing a new headquarters for McClanahan Studio. We will be removing the existing glass block/maroon wood sections (in the first image below) and replacing them with glass storefront reminiscent of the original design of the building (2nd image below, courtesy the Ames Historical Society). We're excited to be recipients of a City of Ames Facade Grant that will help fund the historical restoration. The new facade will drastically improve the attractiveness of the building and will give us a permanent physical venue for sharing our work with the community. This endeavor will give the studio potential for expansion in a number of ways, some of which you will hear about soon ;) We will also be cosmetically enhancing the building's interior to embrace the existing rustic appeal. There will be some sweet commercial office spaces available for renting soon (feel welcome to spread the word, and contact us if interested). We love downtown Ames for its charming array of small businesses and we're excited to play our part in restoring and growing this wonderful community!

2012 Brides Choice Award

Whoohoo! We just received this press release from Wedding Wire:

{Ames,IA} – January 26, 2012 – WeddingWire, the nation's leading wedding Marketplace, is excited to announce McClanahan Studio has been selected to receive the prestigious WeddingWire Bride’s Choice Awards™ 2012 for Photography!

The esteemed annual awards program recognizes the top local wedding vendors from the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism within the wedding industry. While many industry awards are selected by the organization, McClanahan Studio was selected based on its stellar reviews from past newlywed clients.

McClanahan Studio is recognized as part of the top five percent of wedding professionals in the WeddingWire local vendor community, comprised of over 200,000 wedding professionals throughout the United States and Canada. The Bride’s Choice Award recognizes the best local wedding vendors across 20 service categories, from wedding venues to wedding photographers, based on their overall professional achievements throughout the past year.

“WeddingWire is thrilled to honor the success of the top-rated wedding professionals within the WeddingWire Community,” said Timothy Chi, CEO, WeddingWire. “Since the launch of the Bride’s Choice Awards™ program four years ago, thousands of outstanding wedding professionals have been recognized by the bridal community for their supreme service and dedication to the wedding industry. It is with great pleasure that we congratulate McClanahan Studio for their continued professionalism and commitment to enriching the wedding planning experience for engaged couples.”

We are happy to announce that McClanahan Studio is one of the very best Photographers within the WeddingWire Network, which includes leading wedding planning sites WeddingWire, Project Wedding, Brides.com, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Weddingbee.

We would like to thank our brides for taking the time to review our business on WeddingWire. Your positive feedback made it possible for us to receive this recognition and we absolutely wouldn't be able to do what we do without you! Check out our WeddingWire page here: http://www.weddingwire.com/reviews/mcclanahan-studio-ames/a48c1e1dc2f99dc2.html

-Dan and Alex

2011 Platinum Photographer of the Year

This is pretty wild, but after double checking to verify that the judges didn't confuse me for somebody else named Dan I'm excited to share the news with you! If you're a regular on the blog, you might remember that back in February my entries in the Professional Photographers of Iowa print competition won every category that was submitted. After the state competition I sent my prints on to a regional competition, and then onto the Professional Photographer's of America's International Photographic Competition where my images competed against the best work from 22,000 photographers in 54 countries.  I'm very shocked (and a little giddy) to find out that I did rather well...I was named a 2011 Platinum Photographer of the Year. What the heck does that mean? Here's part of the press release from PPA: The level of the award is determined by how many of the photographer's four entries receive the highest possible honor: acceptance into the PPA Loan Collection, which is displayed at photographic exhibitions, conventions and other photography events. McClanahan was named a Platinum Medalist, meaning that three of his four merited images entered the PPA Loan Collection. In 2011 he was one of only 32 Platinum Medalists worldwide.

"These photographers have reached a prestigious achievement," states Dennis Craft, PPA's Photographic Exhibition Committee Chairman. 'The consistent quality required to earn the title of Platinum Medalist in one of the world's most celebrated photography competitions certainly bodes well for their clients, too!"

I must give a HUGE thanks to our clients and our friends that put up with our craziness and allow us to create images like these. What we do wouldn't be possible with out you and you truly are the reason we love our job!   My winning entries were as follows:

"Never Trust A Woman"- This image is a top 10 finisher and will duke it out for a 1st place Grand Imaging Award at Imaging USA in February. This print is also nominated for a Kodak Gallery Elite Award, which will also be announced at Imaging USA.

"Heidi & Neal" - engagement album selected for the Loan Collection. Here's one spread from the album:

"Jill& John" - wedding album selected for the Loan Collection. Here's one spread from the album:

"All American Slam" - merited image:   (GO STATE!)

-Dan

 

Sabbatical Part 2: Utah

Salutations! After our stint in Colorado we spent a couple days driving through Utah. We've been working on expanding our fine art portfolio and had the opportunity to photograph some breathtaking landscapes. The neat thing about Utah in the Winter is we were literally all alone pretty much everywhere we went (in the Summertime the parks are packed). Our first stop was Arches National Park, where we made a sunrise hike and kicked things off with a self portrait:Delicate Arch:Windows: Intermission: After Arches we spent an afternoon at Zion National Park where we embarked on literally the most beautiful hike of our lives. It was relatively steep and treacherous near the end, but the view was worth it: Here's a peek at the trail, which drops off on either side: We'll wrap things up with a nighttime self portrait from Zion (30 second exposure):

We shot way more than we've had time to edit on the road, so keep your eyes peeled for some more images in the future. If you ever get a chance to drive through Utah, we highly recommend it. Stay tuned for Sabbatical Part 3: Las Vegas!