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

Photographic Sunday – Cranbrook, 1981

Hello to all my Napkin Kin!  A few weeks ago I finished my very first short story, ‘Sunday in Sunrise’.  I published it here on successive Sundays for about 3 months.  I am editing it now and will be offering it as an e-book in the near future.

Now I would like to set aside several Sundays to show you some of my photography. I used film until 2005 so any images predating then you can assume are film images, any after that will be digital.

I would love to answer any questions you have or hear any comments about the images or the stories attached to them.  Comments make my world go ’round so don’t be shy!
Let’s get started, shall we?  

Portrait with Oval

In 1980 I started graduate school at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.  There was a young woman manning the gift shop at the museum and she allowed me to do a series of portraits of her.  The best of the bunch were the oval series with the ceiling light alcove being the only other thing in the image.  

Portrait with Triangle

I got a work-study job in the Cranbrook Museum, helping to install exhibitions.  One of them was a conceptual art exhibition that took up the entire museum. One of the rooms was a series of geometric wall drawings in pastel by Sol LeWitt.  We did the actual drawings with specific instructions from LeWitt as to how they should be realized.  When I had some time off from the project I brought in a fellow student and took some photos of her with the walls being prepped as a background.

My wife at the time had a job at a restaurant in the nearby town.  A fellow waitress was hoping to do some modeling so we took some time to do some portfolio shots. We also did some shots on a very gray, foggy day that were mysterious and moody. These were my favorite shots from that year.

© 2011 Marty Coleman – All rights reserved.

Every Portrait That Is Painted With Feeling

I should take a pic of day #5 of ‘Photography Week’ at The Napkin Dad Daily

In photography or any other medium an artist is the one who is not trying to copy.  They have in their head a vision, an idea, a concept, an attitude that compels them to create something out of it all.  Something that is not just a news record of a person or event or place.
If they don’t have anything in their head when they start the process they know how to find it.  They find it by being curious and fearless, by going places not easily arrived at, looking at things not easily seen, asking questions not easily asked. 
What they come up with may start with the scene or person in front of them but it goes well beyond that to include who they are as well.
Here are some portraits I have done that I think are more about me than about the sitter.
The Woman in Dallas Let Her Hair Down – 2009

The Storm Inside

The Journey to the Interior

Drawing and photographs by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily
Quote by Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900, Irish writer and raconteur

>You Don't Take A Photograph


I am making this day #4 of ‘Photography Week’ at the Napkin Dad Daily
There has been a debate within the photography world ever since the advent of the digital camera and software such as Photoshop that can be used to work on photographs.

The debate is between ‘purists’ those who believe what comes straight out of the camera is the final product and any manipulation of it after the fact is a no no.  If one does manipulate the image, then it is an indication of them being an inferior photographer since they should have been able to get it right while taking the photo.  This is true for cropping, color, tonal range, hue & saturation and most any other element within the photo.

The other side has the ‘manipulators’.  They believe that there is nothing wrong with working on an image in a software program. Any and all things that can be done to a photo is allowed, all that matters is what does it look like in the end.  The method by which that end result is achieved isn’t important.  The photographer that settles for a boring photograph out of a principle that says it has to stay in it’s ‘natural’ state is missing the point of image making.

So, I can guess you probably realize that I fall on the side of the manipulators.  I have good company, by the way.  The author of this quote is THE single most famous photographer, EVER.  He was a master of the utmost degree.  He is so popular that he has become a cliche. And to be honest I disliked his work for many years for that exact reason. All I saw were the cliche, famous images that were so over publicized as to have no visual value to me at all.  I thought of him as the easy listening photographer. Boring.

Then I saw two exhibits of his work and read up on him and his efforts over many years.  I was utterly and completely blown away by his range of images, his work ethic, his philosophical progression and his character.   In my investigation I realized that this person who so many saw as the premier example of ‘the purist’ was actually the master manipulator.

He worked in film, not digital, but his manipulations were no less extensive.  His ability to bring out the essence of a scene came not just from his taking the photo at the right time and knowing his technique, but in working within the darkroom, dodging; burning, picking the right developer, the right paper, the right temperature, the right timing.

I am glad to have Ansel Adams beside me in the manipulator camp.

Here are a few of his less well known images.
The Tetons and The Snake River – 1942

Freeway Interchange – 1967

Sand Cove – 1944

The Camera Is An Instrument

I don’t have a photographic memory, but I think this is day #3 of ‘Photography Week’ at the Napkin Dad Daily

One thing I have always tried to teach my students, whether formally when I was a college instructor, or informally in my photo group, is that your eye is the deciding factor in whether you are going to make great images, NOT your technical ability.  You have to be able to look beyond the obvious and see what else is available.
Maybe it’s shape, texture, content, patterns, color, emotion.  But what you first see is not always what is most important.  Perhaps what is next to that main element is actually more important.  Maybe the combination of those things will give you the image you want. Maybe the empty space in between the elements are what really tell the best story in that scene.
Taking the most obvious picture will usually yield the most obvious response. The most obvious response usually dissipates very quickly, leaving the viewer feeling a bit cheated. The image becomes like propaganda, the simplest message delivered in the simplest way possible.  And unless you are trying to pound someone with a message, it also becomes the most boring way as well.
Here are some of my more interesting landscape photos.
Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

Arrow and Indian

Four Circles

Four Shadows / One Wall


Drawing and photographs by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote by Dorethea Lange, 1895-1965, American photographer

>It Is One Thing


It’s unexpectedly day #2 of ‘Photography Week’ at The Napkin Dad Daily

I love taking portraits. But it’s very hard for me to do studio work. The lack of background, the lighting, it all lessens the ability to get to the heart of someone.  I know there is a place for those types of portraits and I do them, even have a studio to do so, but I prefer natural light, natural environment portraits.  I can get into who a person is much easier that way.




Drawing and Photographs by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote by Paul Strand, 1890-1976, American photographer and filmmaker.

The Still Must Tease – Photography


I help run a photo group here in Tulsa.  We had our annual Halloween Cemetery shoot this weekend and I gave a presentation the week before about how to get the most out of this sort of shoot. Beyond the technical styles we went over the most important thing was focusing the participants on the idea of telling a story with their images.
This are a few I took during our outing. 

A day late but Happy Halloween!

Drawing and Photographs by Marty Coleman

Quote by Cindy Sherman, 2954-not dead yet, American artist

%d bloggers like this: