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FAQ for Photographers: See the Light. Be the Light.

The other night, when Jamie and I were walking home from the Jenny Lewis show, we witnessed some of the most amazing sunset light EVER. It’s so weird how, since I’ve really delved into photography, I’ve begun to pay so much more attention to light. I can’t believe how important it is to creating a perfect image. And there are so many different qualities of light- harsh light, soft light, warm light, low light, and on and on. One of the keys to being successful, it seems to me, is learning how to use and manipulate the light you have to bring out the best in your subject, and knowing your camera settings inside and out to be able to do so quickly…. because many times the light can change before you blink. You gotta chase it and capture it while you can. At this stage in my development, I am nowhere near mastering the art of artificial lighting, whether on or off camera. In fact, it intimidates me quite a bit. I’m hoping to one day be able to afford a Give Me Moore session with Kelly Moore, who I consider to be one of the absolute best off-camera-lighting photographers PERIOD. But ’til then, I’ll keep chasing the light God gives me, and using it to the best of my ability. Which is pretty dang hard to beat, I gotta tell you.

Ah, what dreamy light… I love how it’s playing off all the buildings, reflecting from window to window to window. Yummm.







On another note, I’m really, really working on a pricing guide (with a LOT of help from Stacy Reeves’s Pricing Guide and Nolo’s Small Business Start-Up Kit) and some gallery pages to get this site a little more professionalized. So people might actually HIRE me! What a novel idea. :)


should i just rename the blog “ode to jenny lewis”?

Thursday night Jamie and I went to the Gallivan Center in downtown Salt Lake City for their free Twilight Concert Series (the equivalent of Sundown in the City, for all you Knoxville folk). Mainly because JENNY LEWIS was playing! AHHHHH! Oh my goodness, I have such a girl crush on her. I want to BE her. And apparently a lot of other girls do too, because you should have SEEN how many Jenny Lewis wannabes were wandering around. You can see in the pictures that she was wearing those crazy high-waisted super short shorts from the 70s with a ripped-up T-shirt tucked in. This is NOT a look many girls can pull off. But oh man, that sure didn’t stop them from trying. We saw WAY more butt cheeks hanging out of shorts than we imagined possible. But Jenny? Well of course SHE can pull them off. If you’re the Queen of Indie, you can pretty much do and wear what you want and get away with it. That’s just the way it is.

For all the reasons I am in LOVE with this girl, see these old blog posts: HERE and HERE.

So I will spare you all the gushing since you’ve heard it before, but I HAD to share some images because we were actually able to get CLOSE this time. Granted, I was standing behind the gawkiest 6’6″ kid in the world and could barely see anything, but that’s what holding a camera over your head the whole time is for! Duhhhh.

These were shot with my Canon Powershot SD870 IS, which is a crazy-good point and shoot. Considering the low lighting, no flash, and the close-up zooms– and the fact that I was holding the camera over my head the whole time– this thing performed pretty dang well.



The guy in the white T-shirt is Johnathan Rice, Jenny’s boy toy/producer/back-up singer/guitar player. Awwwww…..










Tara - I’m so jealous of you right now…so jealous.

admin - Just put that on your list of reasons to become a Mormon and move to SLC. :)

Meet the Petteys | Salt Lake City Family Photography | Salt Lake City, Utah Wedding and Portrait Photography | Morgan Trinker - […] common. And boy, did we! I nearly died when they told me one of the things that drew them to me was my Jenny Lewis blog post (and then later when, on Facebook, Emily said she was listening to Rilo Kiley). That pretty much […]

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 […]