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Meet the Merkls

Hello, Internet. Long time, no images. I know. Sad day. But today I can fiiiiinally reveal to you what I’ve been planning and working on for a few weeks now. (See inspiration post for this project.) I’ve been so, so, so excited about doing this, because Megan and Brandon were up for anything and allowed me to experiment my little heart out. These kinds of shoots are what really get my creative juices flowing, because there are none of the pressures of time limits and high expectations and all that. Also doesn’t hurt that the Merkls are just a ridiculously good-looking family (lil Jameson’s gonna have some good genes, huh?) and that in many ways, they share my artistic “vision,” so to speak. I love that Megan is really able to understand what all goes into this, since she has started a business of her own (check out her Etsy shop to see the card designs she currently has available). So we had LOTS to talk about when they came to visit last weekend for the 4th of July. I won’t go into all the details since I’m sure about half of you have already scrolled past this to look at the images (and trust me, I don’t blame you!), but all in all it was so much fun to have friends come hang out with us, and to be able to show them around our new city. And we totally cooked out and watched fireworks on Capitol Hill and the whole she-bang for the 4th, so that was way fun. But for now, let the show begin!

[From other photographers’ blogs I follow, I’m thinking I should be writing captions on TOP of the images, since that’s what you see first before you look at the image itself. So I’m going to start doing that. Just didn’t want to confuse anyone. :) ]

So we started off in this cool little row of shops and studios and things near the farmers’ market, where we had been Saturday morning. I was SO nervous that it would start raining and ruin everything, but fortunately the rain held out and the clouds gave us some beautiful creamy light. Yum! And I was NOT kidding about the balloons. Betcha thought I was, huh? Oh no. No ma’am.


Thanks Jamie for shooting with the Lensbaby for me. (He captured the one on the left… isn’t it sweet?!) If there’s one thing I’ve gotta learn, it’s how to juggle multiple cameras and lenses quickly and efficiently. You just don’t realize how much time it takes to do everything ’til you’re trying to do it while people are watching and waiting. Man!

Oh, and I promised I’d give some of the how-to, remember? So for those who are interested, I primarily shot with a Canon 40D body (which has been absolutely amazing for me), with a 20D as a backup (mostly for the Lensbaby shots so I wouldn’t have to keep switching lenses). I also mostly used a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens, which is a FANTASTIC all-purpose lens. I debated back and forth between this one and its MUCH more expensive counterpart, the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8, but after reading a batrillion reviews and comparisons, I decided that for now, this would be my best bet for the money. And I haven’t regretted that decision once. I also mostly shot with as wide of an aperture as possible, anywhere from 2.8-4.0 or so, depending on how much depth of field I needed. If you’re looking to purchase a good lens, I would strongly recommend not buying one with any aperture smaller than 2.8. Those extra f-stops of light make ALL the difference in getting the sharpest images possible.

[If you are really new to photography, and are as confused as I was about what the crap apertures, f-stops, and shutter speeds have to do with ANYTHING, I would highly recommend checking out The Pioneer Woman’s website. She’s a very normal– and very likeable and hilarious– woman who doesn’t talk down to you or make you feel idiotic. She explains a lot of the basics very simply and straight-to-the-point, unlike a lot of other bloggers I’ve read. She also has some wonderful FREE photoshop actions you can download from her site . My favorites are “Seventies” and “Boost”– with a lot of layer adjusting, of course. :) ]



Alright, enough shop talk. I have to say, Brandon was ALL ABOUT making this photo shoot awesome. I mean, I expected Megan to be able to work the camera, because usually girls are a little more enthusiastic about this type of thing, but Brandon totally got it. He was telling jokes the whole time to make Megan laugh, because he knew I needed some authentically happy shots! So awesome. You guys rock.


Work it, Brandon, WORK IT OUT.

[Again, for the photographers, if you’re wondering how this old-timey look was achieved– as I did for about two months of seeing it all over photographers’ blogs and not knowing how the heck it was done– it’s an action that’s part of the Totally Rad Action Set. If you like what you see but aren’t sure if you should take the plunge, DO IT. You will LOVE these actions. There’s a lot of debate about whether or not they’re overused or whatever, but I say, if you like ’em, you like ’em, so WHO CARES? My faves are Pro Retouch, Detroit, Pool Party, Oh Snap!, Claire-i-fy, and the one seen below, Old Skool.)


Remember the Audrey Hepburn still from Funny Face? BOOM.


So, so, so stinkin’ adorable.


I believe the instructions went something like “Make Megan get sassy.” Jamie was all about that. Lord knows what he said to bring out the sass. (Fortunately I was too concerned about getting the shots to pay much attention.)


Oh yes. Not a naked belly or hands-forming-a-heart-around-the-belly-button in sight. (WHY on EARTH do people think maternity pictures have to be all about the naked belly? My thinking is that you want to remember what YOU looked like, how YOU felt, knowing the baby was coming, rather than just what your outtie looked like. I mean, really. There’s a lot more to it than that. Not that I know from personal experience… I’m just taking a gander here.)


And you KNOW we had to break out some Juno-inspired shots. Oh thank heaven for 7 Eleven!


The quintessential little boy’s book.


Um…. can we say gorgeous? Altogether now…


Aaaaand again…. Ready go…..


Gotta give more props to Jamie for holding my reflector. (And being so darn enthusiastic about it… thanks dear!)


The bike story? Oh, you gotta keep reading for the bike story…


And I think this one might be my favorite. I’m proud of this one.


As for that bike, well, let’s just say it’s truly vintage. As in, kind of falling apart. Looks AWESOME, this I know, but I still haven’t exactly managed to make it rideable (even though I painted it, replaced the tires and seat, tightened the screws, etc. etc.). But I LOVE the bike. Anyway, my intention was to get some shots of Brandon riding it by really fast so he would be a blur in the picture, but alas: we were on a steep hill, the tires were flat, and the bike itself just pretty much doesn’t work. So he was struggling big time to make it do anything. Well, when we turned back to go down the hill toward the house, Brandon thought it’d be a good idea to hop on the bike and coast down INTO A LANE OF ONCOMING TRAFFIC (well, there weren’t actually any cars coming, but I needed that for dramatic effect. You know.) Needless to say, he wiped out completely, and Megan freaked out, and Jamie almost peed himself he was laughing so hard, and I just stood there at a loss for HOW to react. It was something else. He may have ruined his brand new Banana Republic clothes, but at least he now has a sweet battle scar to show for it:


And yep, he totally worked the heart-shaped-hands. This is why we are friends with the Merkls.

And now for a little bit of low-tech action. These were shot with my trusty Diana camera, which is about as cheap and dinky as a camera can come. Its body is made entirely of plastic that feels like it will shatter into a million pieces if you LOOK at it the wrong way. But man, can this camera produce some amazing works of art. No aperture, no flash, not an f-stop in sight… just good old-fashioned FUN. I love the surprise of it all. Check it out:


Double exposure… heck yeah.





Ah, yes. No Photoshop required. Beautiful.

And finally…. DUN DUN DUN…. the piece de la resistance…. the SLIDESHOW! But it’s no ordinary slideshow… there’s a little extra something special… more experimenting, if you will. With video! Okay, so it’s by no means the HD video that a Canon Mark II 5D can shoot. But I kinda like it that way. Home movie style, you know? It just adds a little je-ne-sais-quoi (as you can see, my high school French has really paid off). If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a picture with a soundtrack and a little video here and there is worth an epic amount of words, a la War and Peace or something. I made MYSELF start choking up when I saw it all put together… and that’s how I know this is something I HAVE to keep playing with. If only I could afford Super 8mm…. ah, well.

Without further ado:

(and with music credit going to Michael Cera and Ellen Page’s version of “Anyone Else but You” from Juno, and to Priscilla Ahn for her “Dream”):

the merkls from Morgan Trinker on Vimeo.


Heather - Morgan….You have given your friends something that will be cherished the rest of their lives…”a picture is worth a thousand words”……so true. They were all amazing…my faves were the ones with the bike and the ones at the park(?) with the books and green apples. You did a great job, I didn’t expect anything different. Love to you and Jamie.

kimber - Morgan, Holy crap! These are amazing. Megan looks so beautiful. You have outdone yourself! I love the pictures with the bike and the “battle scar” with the heart was hilarious! One of my fave bloggers Bakerella, just did a shoot/cake pop making with The Pioneer Woman a few months ago! These are fabulous; I’m gonna have to book you crazy in advance!

Gwen - Morgan those were AMAZING!!! I loved them! I may have to use your services sometime soon…

admin - Thank you guys so much for the sweet words! I have to say, it was pretty fun to work on, so I don’t know if I could exactly classify it as a “job”!

Lil Jameson’s gonna be here before you know it… | Salt Lake City, Utah Wedding and Portrait Photography | Morgan Trinker - […] flew to Denver (slash Louisville, slash Boulder!) for my bff Megan’s baby shower. (I shot her maternity session earlier this month.) I had SO much fun! I hadn’t been to Colorado before, so it was exciting […]

baby jameson makes three! | Salt Lake City, Utah Wedding and Portrait Photography | Morgan Trinker - […] Jamie and I flew out to Boulder to visit our friends Megan and Brandon (you may remember their maternity pictures and baby shower) and to meet their brand new baby boy, Jameson. Oh my goodness, he is the cutest […]

Gretchen and the Green Chair

Since I’m relatively new to the whole dog-ownership realm, it seems like every day I learn something new about living with dogs and training them. When we first got Gretchen, the first couple of weeks were kind of tough, what with the potty training and figuring out when and how to exercise her and who would come home when to let her out and whatnot. But I’ll never forget that first night we brought her home. The shelter had to keep her a few days to give her all her shots and let her recover, so I ended having to work the night that Jamie picked her up. I could hardly contain my excitement that whole shift, just thinking about how she had instantly won us over, and how I couldn’t wait to make her life happy again, after her being abandoned and then stuck in a shelter and all that. (Let me tell you, if you really, deep down want a dog but aren’t sure if you should actually get one yet, DO NOT go to the animal shelters “just to look.” Or else you will come home with a dog. It’s pretty much a guarantee.) When I walked in the door, Jamie was reading on the couch and Gretchen was laying on the floor, and I walked around and kneeled down to her level, and she got up and walked over to me and sat in front of me and just put her arms right up on my shoulders, giving me a doggie-hug. I just about lost it, let me tell you.

Since then, she’s given us our fair share of trials (all of the beds she’s chewed up, the neighbors she’s made mad, the walks she’s ruined by turning them into tug-of-war matches with her leash, and the middle-of-the-night puking sessions she has on a regular basis all come to mind), but at the end of the day, when she’s pooped from all her barking and baying and running and playing and chewing and romping around, when she’s so warm and soft and snuggly, you just can’t help but LOVE HER. So much. Because no matter how long we had to leave her in her crate, no matter if it was a rainy day and she couldn’t go on a very long walk, no matter how many times we yelled at her for digging through the trash, she ALWAYS comes back to us and lets us know how much she needs us. Dogs, in my honest opinion, really are just about the closest picture of God’s unconditional love that you’ll find anywhere on this earth. And we’re so lucky to have a little piece of that in Gretchen.

Well, anyway, one of our ongoing battles has been keeping her off the furniture. She adores curling up on the furniture because she can be closer to us and she can see everything a lot easier. And I think it’s probably a little cozier. We tried originally to keep her off altogether. Then we decided just to give her her own little “spot” on the couch, which we covered with a sheet to “protect” it (yeah, right). Well, then she just got too big for her britches, and started gnawing on the arms of the couch for fun and trying to sneak her bones up there to chew on, no matter how many times we scolded her and pushed her off (because those things are NASTY). And the dog hair was EVERYWHERE. So we vowed that when we got rid of our other couch and got the one we have now, that we would start enforcing the no-furniture-at-all-whatsoever-no-matter-how-long-you-stare-at-me-with-those-sad-eyes rule again. The problem was that we got this green chair (off craigslist for $10 at that!) that Gretchen pretty much decided was hers the second we brought it in the apartment. No, really. You know how old men have their special chairs, that they sit in to read their newspapers and watch TV and take afternoon naps? Yep, that would be Gretchen with this green chair. So we tried to keep her off it. We really did. And it worked for a long time, actually, even though we knew she hated being banished to her floor bed.

Well, the other night, she started sneaking up on the chair again. At first, we kept up with our usual absolutely-not-NO-MA’AM business, but eventually our resistance wore down because a) she doesn’t make a peep when she’s curled up in her chair and b) SHE JUST LOOKS SO DARN CUTE IN IT. So yes. We relented. We let her reclaim her throne. We’re suckers, we know.

Well, it was funny tonight, because Jamie took the green chair, and Gretchen was not having any of that. So what does she do? She climbs right on up there. Practically on top of Jamie. Until he eventually got so annoyed he moved to the couch. Yep, that’s how Gretchen rolls.









But I ask you, oh you who judge, COULD YOU SAY NO TO THIS FACE?

Pshhh…. Didn’t think so.


Tara - Props to you for even trying to keep Gretchen off the furniture.
I didn’t even try with Wendell.

Morgan, I absolutely adore this post. I have to admit that a few tears popped up while I was reading it. I love dogs…

admin - I know. Meee toooo…. I always say now that I’m just not sure how much I could really like someone who doesn’t love dogs. I mean, really.

A new chapter.

I realized the other day that I’ve started the past 6 or so blog entries with “so,” SO I promised myself I wouldn’t do it again!

I didn’t think that it would ever come to this point, but I’ve actually had a couple of people email me recently asking ME for photography tips and tricks. Who, ME?! Gosh, I still feel like SUCH a newbie, and it boggles my mind that anyone would come to me for advice. At first, I felt kind of awkward about dispensing what I’ve learned, because I’m afraid of sounding so… well, amateurish. But the more I thought about it, the more I figured that it’s not like there are a lot of pros out there reading this, and it’s mostly just people kind of like me who are starting from square one and just need to know the basics. And trust me, if you want to learn yourself, you will spend HOURS, days even, glued to books and blogs and forums and websites trying to make sense of it all. So I’m not claiming to have figured it all out. FAR FROM IT, believe me. And while I still don’t feel “qualified” to be any sort of teacher on this subject, I decided that I’m going to try to share more of the “how” behind the “what” from now on, for those who are interested in learning too. I mean, it’s the least I can do when I think about how much I’VE learned by reading other people’s blogs.

So come along this crazy journey with me. Why not?

A preview of a fun little technique I’ve been practicing lately that I’ll explain more about later: