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.

Wedding Ideas: Ring Dog

Incorporate your beloved pet into your wedding ceremony. Include a collar or flowers to match the wedding colors – but we don't recommend giving the dog the real rings  :)   If he gets nervous, let the flower girl carry him down for an even more adorable moment. To see more from Sarah & Lyle's destination wedding, click here!

Wedding Ideas: Winter Fur

Having a cold weather wedding? Make sure to remember a jacket so you can still embrace outdoor photos. We loved Holly's choice of a faux fur that matched the lace of her dress perfectly. You'd never be able to tell is was under 30 degrees F with the warmth in her genuine smile (opposed to chattering teeth). To see more of Holly & Jay's "Christmas in NY" themed wedding, click here!

Wedding Ideas: TMNT Cake Pops!

"They're the world's most fearsome fighting team!" A throwback to the favorite childhood cartoon of the bride and groom, these Ninja Turtle cake pops were one to remember. Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael each had their own cake flavor: funfetti, lemon, chocolate, and red velvet. Maybe TMNT isn't your thing, but incorporating a shared childhood memory or inside joke certainly should be part of your big day. To see more of Kelly & Nick's personality filled wedding (including some epic football skills in a college stadium), click here!

Wedding Ideas: Unity Tree

For an alternative to the ceremony's unity candle, try a unity tree. Perfect for an outdoor ceremony. The bride and groom each fill a vase with dirt and a bottle with water from their childhood home. The tree symbolizes the roots of their relationship and the continued growth of their love. Plant the tree at your first house as a married couple. To see more from Whitney & David's vineyard wedding, click here!

Wedding Ideas: Bridesmaid Dress Color Spectrum

Choose a color spectrum and have every bridesmaid pick out any dress they love in that palette. Either make a mood board by cutting out shades from magazines, or drop by a paint store to grab some swatches. Then copy and mail it to each of the girls and let them go shopping! Make sure to have everyone text you a photo of their winner before cutting off the tags – just in case two girls choose the same dress. We loved how the flowers pulled all the colors together perfectly. To see more from Elizabeth & Marc's rustic wedding, click here!

Rock The Dress: Bridal Portraits on the Farm

Back in December we spent an evening creating some rural-themed images of wedding dresses for Pure Bridal, a wonderful bridal boutique in Ames (check them out)! The winter light was fleeting (and it was quite chilly), but our farm location was very inspiring and we created some cool images that Pure Bridal is using in their marketing materials. Dresses, jewelry and accessories by Pure Bridal and hair and makeup by Studio 7 Salon and Spa. Enjoy!

Meg & Chad

We had the pleasure of photographing portraits for our friends Meg & Chad on their farm in Audubon, IA. Below is a compilation of some of our favorite images from the evening. Meg was a classmate of Alex's in the Design program at Iowa State, and now she owns and operates Moglea, an insanely awesome boutique letterpress stationery design studio. It was a treat to get to hang out on the farm and get a glimpse into the lives of these two! Enjoy:

 

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  

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!

Laura & James (married)

This post has been a long time coming, but it's better late than never! These are some of our favorite portraits from Laura & James' December wedding. Don't let the lack of snow fool you – it was pretty darn chilly, but the couple let us take them outside anyway! Laura is Dan's cousin, thus making James our new cousin–in–law, thus making this image series an extra special one for us. It's been a joy to watch Laura grow from little girl into beautiful woman and find a man worthy of becoming her husband. James has a sweet Mustang and he's disproved the "White Men Can't Jump" myth (see below), so he's doing a great job increasing our family's street cred! the following images were photographed at Brookside Park and our studio in downtown Ames. Enjoy!

Jay & Holly (married)

We've had the privilege of getting to know Jay's family over the past few years so we were extra excited when Jay and Holly got engaged and wanted us to be their photographers! Their December wedding ceremony took place in the chapel at Hope Lutheran Church in West Des Moines. Thanks to the extremely mild winter this year we were able to photograph most of their portraits outside. Holly's Ivory dress with fur coat and Jay's tan suit looked stunning against the golden browns of winter trees at sunset. It was a treat to witness their joy. Their reception took place at the Foxboro in Johnston. It was immaculately decorated by Jay's parents Sheri & Stan, two wonderful people that have the gift of touching the lives of everyone they come in contact with. They sprinkled the ceiling with snowflakes and filled the room with Christmas trees, lights and decorations that transformed the room into a winter wonderland. It was the perfect end to a wonderful wedding day.

Kelly & Nick (married)

Kelly & Nick did an outstanding job incorporating their favorite places and things into their wedding day. The couple has deep roots at Iowa State University. (If you recall their engagement session, we photographed around campus town and inside the bar where they first met.) Being Cyclone alumni and fans ourselves, we were very excited to receive access to photograph some portraits inside Jack Trice Stadium! It's safe to say the experience was a dream come true for everybody involved and we learned that girls rock at football (see below). Kelly & Nick tied the knot right next to the stadium inside the conservatory at the always beautiful Reiman Gardens. A favorite moment was when Kelly's adorable niece decided to take a nap in her daddy's arms prior her moment to shine as flower girl. After the ceremony the ISU theme was continued when we boarded a CyRide bus for a romantic cruise before the couple's introduction to their reception at the Knapp Storm Dinning Complex. The reception was decorated like a night club with moody purple and blue lights and Kelly & Nick put on a show cutting their zombie wedding cake , which read "Til death do us part..."

Megan & Kyle (married)

Megan & Kyle's wedding took place on a crisp autumn day in Atlantic, IA. We can't remember a moment when Megan didn't have a smile on her face and it was such a joy to document her relationship with Kyle! We loved Megan's peacock feather theme and the bright touches of teal and purple carried throughout the garments and decor. Their ceremony took place at St. Peter & Paul Catholic Church with reception following at the Cass County Memorial Building. Megan & Kyle's engagement session was also quite memorable and you can see highlights from it here. Please enjoy a few of our favorite moments from the day:

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

Meredith & Matt (married)

Meredith and Matt first met in a nursing class at Creighton University in Omaha. Matt had been working up the courage to talk to her for a while so he asked his friends to be his "wingmen" and sit with him in the row behind Meredith during their next class. After Matt sat down, his friends filed into the row behind him, leaving Matt completely alone in his row. We were able to get into the very same classroom where it all started (see below) on Meredith and Matt's wedding day. Their ceremony took place at St. John's on Creighton's campus and we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day. We photographed portraits on campus and downtown around the Magnolia Hotel, where the reception took place. Meredith's attention to detail was impeccable and her reception was no exception. We personally enjoyed the eye–popping, drool–inducing candy bar where guests were encouraged to load up a keepsake bag of sweets for the journey home. The candy bar also made for some creative craziness in their photobooth (which will be our next post later this week!). We feel blessed to have been a part of this magical day. Meredith and Matt — much love and success in your new life together!

Mackenzi & Kyle (married)

Mackenzi & Kyle's wedding day began at the Adam's Street Bed and Breakfast in Carroll, IA, where Mackenzi and her bridesmaids were getting ready. We want to give them a shout out for being some of the most fun bridesmaids we've ever met! (If you haven't seen the images from their crazy photobooth yet, click here right now). Once Mackenzi donned her charming birdcage veil and mermaid gown, we met up with Kyle for some portraits, including some intimate moments and an image inspired by American Gothic. The entire event was held at Santa Maria Winery. The weather was gorgeous and the ceremony took place outside on the patio, followed by cocktails and a reception inside the winery. It provided a wonderful scene for dancing and formalities to unfold. Mackenzi & Kyle presented a special cupcake and led the guests in a rousing "Happy Birthday" for their nephew's first birthday. The ring bearer (Mackenzi and Kyle's adorable son), busted some killer dance moves with his teddy bear and rockstar sneakers (see below).