The Compelling Image in the Age of Social Media

In addition to my Napkin Dad persona I am also the owner of MAKE Studio, photography with an emphasis on personal portraits.  In that capacity I spoke last week at the Social Media Tulsa conference on ‘The Compelling Image in the Age of Social Media’.

Frontispiece of Presentation


One of the points I made is having ‘just’ a cell phone does NOT mean you can’t take a good head shot.  I took these photos of Jami Henson, who attended my session at the conference, right outside the main ballroom. It took a total of about 10 minutes to get 20-30 shots using the two cameras. 


Now you might be able to discern the difference between the two images at the large size, but the truth is most social media uses, especially head shots are going to be much smaller. They are used as icons, profile pics and in other reduced size situations. 

My point is not whether the DSLR photo is better, of course it is. But it is so much better in social media digital circumstances that you shouldn’t get the best out of what you have available?  Can you put up something other than a grainy, ugly, badly lit photo of yourself at a party? Yes, you can. And you can do it with a cell phone if you need to.

If you are interested in experiencing the entire hands-on presentation/workshop for your company or group, please feel free to contact me.

Update 3/25/13: 

So, ready to find out the answer?  The top photograph was taken with my iPhone, the bottom with my Panasonic G1 camera.  I did the same minimal manipulation on both.  The iPhone image I converted to sepia and slightly adjusted the brightness and contrast using the Photoshop Express App in the phone. It took about 2 minutes to take, process and post.  The G1 image I did the exact same thing, but did it on my Mac Pro desktop after downloading from my camera.  


© 2013 All rights reserved – Marty Coleman | MAKE Studio

The Compelling Image – Photography #2


I compel you to look at Photography part 2.  You can hear more about it at the Social Media Tulsa Conference where I will be speaking and leading a hands-on session on creating Compelling Images for Social Media.

photography 2

Screw The Fashion Police

You are in the crowd at the edge of the red carpet at the Oscars and a famous star with a snake tattoo, a bizarre dress that is sure to put her on the worst dress list and some god-awful makeup walks by as the crowd around you whispers terrible things about her.  But you? All you see are earrings that rock your world. Everyone else hates them but you love them.  You take a quick pic of all of her because that is what you are supposed to do, but then you focus in and take a photo of what you really love, her earrings.  

That individual photo might seem to be about a Star’s earrings but do that again and again and again, wherever you go, and people will realize it’s also about you.  They will see who you are. You will have your own identity, your own point of view, your own visualization of who you are and what you love in the world.  And everyone else will know who you are as well.  

And there you have the secret of how to find a compelling image, by having the courage to follow what compels you.  It’s as simple as that.  


Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman, who design her tattoo for her.

Quote also by Marty Coleman, who designed her earrings too.  However, she is to blame for the makeup, which I tried to talk her out of.



Shooting a Feeling – Photography Lesson #1


I am speaking this week at the Social Media Tulsa Conference.  A link to the conference website is below and you are invited to attend.  My topic is ‘The Compelling Image in the Age of Social Media’.  This week I am drawing some images that will introduce various areas I want to cover.  

photography 1

What Compels You?

This one applies whether you are posting your photo to social media sites or not.  It’s about focusing less on documenting the dry look of what happens and focusing more on capturing the compelling feeling of what happens. 

Look for the Feeling

This can happen in one of 2 ways. You can choose to focus on something that, in it’s very look, visualizes a feeling. The drawing above is an example of that.  The bloody foot and sock after an ultra marathon tell more about the feeling of the event than does a simple photo of the participant raising a medal with a smiling face.  Obviously, there is nothing wrong with photographing that smiling face, but if you REALLY want to express the feeling, you might consider looking at what conveys that feeling.  Is it the sweat on the brow, the person pouring water over their head, maybe the bloody sock?  Investigate how the feeling is visualized in the moment and capture it.

Create the Feeling

The other way it can happen is by the technique you use to take the photograph. I once took a series of photos at one of my daughters’ birthday party.  We had a pinata set up and I took a number of photos of the kids at the party swinging at it.  In most of the photos my flash worked as you would expect, it froze the action.  But in a few I purposely set the exposure of the camera much longer, so the flash went off but there was a trail of action that was in the photo as well.   Those were the images that gave the feeling of the girls having fun, swinging at a pinata.  The feeling was in the action, not just in the frozen moment.  Learn what techniques you have available to you to help get across the feeling.

Social Media Tulsa Conference

The conference is Thurs/Fri, March 21st & 22nd at the Mayo Hotel in beautiful downtown Tulsa.  You can still register to attend, here is the link to the Social Media Tulsa website with the agenda, schedule, speakers, etc.  

My presentation is Thursday, 3/21 at 3:30 in the Penthouse of the Mayo Hotel.  It is going to be a combination of speaking and hands on workshop.  If weather permits we will be going out onto the roof of the Mayo to take photos so bring your camera phone if not a bigger camera!


Drawing by Marty Coleman

Quote by David Alan Harvey


Me Drawing Lauren Drawing

Recently I went to Philbrook Museum of Art here in Tulsa to do a photo shoot for a friend, Kathi Morrison, and her family.  When we were done I left the family and went traipsing around the museum on my own for a while.  When I came down stairs I found Kathi’s daughter, Lauren, at a little kid’s drawing table drawing herself in a mirror. Her brother was there as well and asked me, “Do you know how to draw”?  I said yes and sat across from his sister and started to draw her drawing herself as he watched.  This is the drawing that resulted.

The Model LM - drawing

Lauren Morrison

Here is a photo I took of her earlier in the day during the family portrait session.


Lauren Morrison

Here is Lauren with the rest of her family in one of the group portraits.

Kathi Morrison and Family

If you haven’t had a chance to get to Philbrook you really should go. It’s the former home of Waite Phillips of Phillips 66 gasoline fame and is now a world class museum. It has the original mansion as well as a large modern addition where temporary exhibitions, lectures and educational activities take place. It even has a fantastic restaurant called ‘The Villa’ that serves lunch and a great Sunday brunch.  And, as the photo below shows, it’s got an incredible outdoor space. What you see here is both the formal and informal Italian gardens.  Behind and to the left and right are great open spaces with sculptures, walkways and a creek.


Philbrook at Sunset by Marty Coleman

You can find more information at


Portraits – Photo Retrospective 2012, part 2

Welcome back Napkin Kin to part 2 of my portraits of 2012.  Yesterday I covered the Second half of 2012, July-December.  Today I am showing the first half with a bit of overlap, January to July.



Niece, San Diego, CA, 7/12


Niece Jumping at Sunset, Del Mar, CA, 7/12

My drive down from Northern California in July ended with me at my sister’s house in San Diego.  I took advantage of the opportunity to do a photo shoot of my young niece. She was quite the natural and loved posing in the backyard and on the beach where I grew up.  My sister Jackie of course did a little stage mom thing, hovering, directing, etc. But my niece was a natural and didn’t need much help.  She looks a lot like our late mother and that was an extra blessing of being able to photograph her.


Julia in the sun

Julia Wade, New York City, NY, 6/12

I went to New York City in June to speak and attend Blog World.  I met up with a dear friend whom I worked with back in the 80s and 90s at Eulipia Restaurant in San Jose, CA.  Then Julia was a struggling student focusing on opera. I did a number of drawings of her back then in various opera costumes for a huge drawing (I never finished).  Now she is now a very well known international recording artist of inspirational/spiritual music.  We found some time to walk and talk early one morning before our days started.  This was taken at a park right on the edge of the Hudson River.  She has a blog called ‘Inspiratus‘. Check out the interview she did with me back in 2009 and then click on home to see her latest entries about her new CD.


Meredith in Blue

Meredith Wood in Blue, Jacob Javits Convention Center, New York City, 6/12

While I was at the Blog World conference I, of course, needed to eat. Not knowing any good places around the convention center I did what any good social media person would do, I tweeted ‘who wants to go to dinner?’ using the Blog World hashtag. I got a number of responses and ended up going to dinner with Meredith and 2 others. Meredith is from NYC and knew exactly where to go for the best meal, which it was.

Her eyes are almost as brilliant blue as my wife Linda’s and when we returned to the conference I realized her and her eyes would stand out fantastic against the blue that was everywhere in the brightly lit lobby.  The next day we found an extra 10 minutes to take some quick shots. I was up on a bench to make sure I got the best blue background.



Michelle at Philbrook

Michelle Linn, Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK 6/12


Michelle Relaxing, Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK 6/12

I have been doing a photo-collage series for a number of years now called ‘IN Public/Private‘.  It is of reporters and anchors in the Tulsa area.  When my napkins started getting attention and reporters came over to interview me I basically told them, ‘You can interview me if I can take pictures of you’ and that is how it started.  In many cases I offered to take some ‘normal’ photos (my version of normal at least) in exchange for them posing for my collage image idea.  I also asked them to publicize my project to their co-workers to see if they also might be interested in collaborating.

Michelle was very excited about the idea and we met for the very first time at Philbrook to take the photos. Here are a few of the portraits I took of her. She was an enthusiastic delight and has since become a wonderful friend.  Ironically, so far her collage image ended up in a new series called ‘Visual Poems‘ not the ‘IN’ series I had intended her to be in.   You can find her at work in the mornings on Fox 23 here in Tulsa.


renaissance faire kiss

Renaissance Faire Kiss, Muskogee, OK, 5/12

Renaissance Faire Gossip

Renaissance Faire Gossip, Muskogee, OK, 5/12

In May I led a group of photographers at an outing to the Renaissance Faire.  The theme of the shoot was ‘stranger portraits’ and I spent some time before hand explaining to the group how to go about asking strangers to pose for you.  Of course, at a venue like the Renaissance Faire, it really isn’t all that necessary to ask since all the participants already know they are going to be photographed and most of the visitors are dressed up and want to be as well.  But it is good to know anyway because you often might have to ask them to move from where they are standing or sitting to get a good shot. Here are 2 double portraits I took while I was there.



Caitlin’s Senior Collection 1, Waco, TX, 4/12

Caitlin's Senior Collection 2

Caitlin’s Senior Collection 2, Waco, TX, 4/12

My step-daughter Caitlin (whose portraits can be seen in part 1 yesterday) was an Apparel Design major at Baylor University. She had her senior collection show in April of 2012 and I was lucky enough to do the photo shoot for the collection.  We found one of the most beautiful cemeteries I have ever seen to do the shoot, less than a mile from Caitlin’s house.  Here are two of the photos from the shoot.

We also were incredibly lucky to  have our first choice of model to bail on us. It freaked Caitlin out a bit of course but the result was we got Rebekah Campbell as our model instead. She had never done a real fashion shoot before and Caitlin was a bit worried about that. Luckily we had nothing to worry about. She was fantastic in her poses, facial expressions, taking directions and overall professional demeanor.  

In addition it turns out she is an fine art major focusing on painting so we had an instant connection creatively.  I am encouraging her to pursue both modeling and painting as best she can, I have no doubt she will be successful in both. 



Philbrook Portrait in Black and White

Portrait in Black and White, Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK, 2/12

woman in a museum

Woman in a Museum, Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK 2/12

In February I took that same photo group I mentioned above to Philbrook Museum of Art.  This time the focus was on Black and White.  We weren’t only going to have the finished result in BW but actually set the camera to BW so they could see what they were getting from the outset.  

One of the photographers had his wife along with him but she was not doing any photography.   I persuaded her, in spite of her initial shyness, that she would be a fantastic model for those of us who wanted a person in our images.  She eventually got into it and it made for some great images as a result. 


If you are interested in contacting me about doing a photo shoot you can contact me at the contact page in any number of ways.

If would like to see more of my work go to my website, MAKE Studio | Marty Coleman

All photos © 2013 by Marty Coleman | MAKE Studio – All rights reserved.  Sharing this page is perfectly fine but please do not reproduce individual without attribution and permission.  


Portraits – Photo retrospective 2012, part 1

Hello Napkin Kin! Welcome to 2013.

One of my resolutions is to mix it up a bit on The Napkin Dad Daily in 2013 and one way to do that is to add in more of my other work for you to see.

Here are some of my photographic portraits from 2012. Starting with the latest and going back to July.  Let me know what you think of them, ok?

Group portrait

The Morrison Family, Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK, 12/12


Lauren Morrison, Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK, 12/12

Kathi Morrison and I met online. She lives in Florida but she used to live in Tulsa and we met because she saw a photo of Philbrook Museum of Art that I had taken.  She particularly liked my Velveteen Women exhibition images and we made plans that if I ever made it to Florida, where she lives, we would do a photo shoot together for use in a similar type of photo collage image.   I haven’t made it to Florida yet (I am open to a patron/sponsor who wants to pay my way, hint hint), but she made it up to Tulsa to visit with her family.  We made arrangements to get together at her favorite place, Philbrook, and do a quick family portrait shoot.


profile portrait

Courtney in Profile, Tulsa, OK, 11/12

fall portrait

Courtney in the Fall, Tulsa, OK, 11/12

Courtney and I are running buddies.  We help coach a 10k intermediate running group here in Tulsa.  She is about the same age as my four daughters and we have a similar type relationship.  That means I tell what she should do and she rolls her eyes at me.  After this past fall running season I did a photo shoot with her that went from inside to outside at sunset among fall foliage.  I absolutely love her profile so was really happy to capture it in such beautiful light.  It took a little coaxing but once she got into it we had a great time capturing the fall feel in the outdoor portraits.



Sunset portrait in the fall

Caitlin in the Fall, Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX, 10/12

full body portrait with pumpkins

Caitlin in Orange, Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX, 10/12

This is my step-daughter, Caitlin.  I first met her when she was 13 and I started dating her mother, my now wife, Linda.  When she was 15 we did a secret photo shoot so we could make a gift of photos for her mother for Christmas, which she loved.  Seven years later we did it again.  I went down to Dallas to visit her for a fall weekend.  Caitlin loves the fall and pumpkins so when we found out that the Dallas Arboretum had a huge pumpkin display going on we made that our photo destination.  These are two of the images from that shoot. We gave the photos to Linda for Christmas this year and she was very happy.



Anna Kazmi as a Vampire, Oaklawn Cemetery, Tulsa, OK, 10/12


Meera Kazmi as Morticia, Oaklawn Cemetery, Tulsa, OK, 10/12

The Kazmi sisters are famous models in Oklahoma specializing in vintage clothing, accessories and photo shoots.  They started wearing vintage clothing, in particular 1940s vintage, as young teenagers. They have an extensive collection of clothing now and are asked to participate in modeling gigs, exhibitions, fashion shows and the like all the time.  Their mother, Karen, always accompanies them and the family is a complete delight to know and work with.  I asked them to attend our Tulsa Digital Photography Group’s annual Halloween Cemetery shoot and the happily obliged.  I stylized these images quite a bit to fit the theme, with Anna making a great vampire and Meera playing a perfect Morticia.


In July I traveled to California to attend my ex-father-in-law, Dwight Johnson’s memorial service.  Since I was driving down from Northern California after the service to visit my father in Southern California I took the opportunity to contact a number of old and new friends in California to see if I could rustle up some photo shoots to allay the cost of the unexpected expense of the trip.

portrait near water

Amy at the Water’s Edge, Morgan Hill, CA, 7/12

portrait in water

Amy with her Feet in the Water, Morgan Hill, CA, 7/12

I first met Amy when I was a High School leader in a church we attended in San Jose, CA back in the 80s and 90s. She was my favorite high schooler in the group, with a fierce intelligence and a very creative streak.  We kept in touch all these years and she was on the route to Southern California so I stopped by for a quick shoot. We took off for a small lake she knew of and did some images in the dappled sunlight.


Business portrait

Kathy in Natural Light, Berkeley Hills, CA, 7/12

Kathy and I waited tables together 30+ years ago at Eulipia Restaurant in San Jose, CA. I had reconnected with her through Facebook and when I let her know I was coming to California she just happened to need some new business and business casual photos. We did a quick shoot at her Berkeley Hills home near where I was staying.  The light was fantastic with the entire Bay Area reflecting in her incredible blue eyes.


Susan and dog

Susan with Dog in the Window, Malibu Pier, Malibu, CA 7/12

Susan with water

Susan Looking Up, Malibu Pier, Malibu, CA, 7/12

Unlike the other two I photographed on the trip, Susan and I had only met once before. We met at Blog World New York in June of 2012 at a closing party.  We hit it off and later when I was planning my trip she liked the idea of getting some new, more natural portraits done of her. We met at the Malibu Inn and spent several hours there, on the beach and on the pier taking photos. She has a TV and acting background so she was delight to work with.


That’s a fair amount for now, covering the second half of 2012.  I will post first half of my 2012 portraits in the next few weeks. In the meanwhile, if you would like some photos done, you know who to contact!  You can see a larger more extensive selection of my portraits and other work I do by going to my other website, 

All photographs © 2013 MAKE Studio | Marty Coleman

Subscribe and Join TheNapkin Kin

Get on the mailing list and get The Napkin Newsletter once a month and get a review of the months postings, with extra resources and features that will make your brain bigger and your day better!


Thanks, You Are Now A Napkin Kin!

%d bloggers like this: