Category Archives: studio


Last Friday I had the pleasure of photographing a young lady who I have photographed every year for the last 4 years. The collaboration started back in January 2011 with a fencing themed photo shoot on white seamless. Since then I have done a “Meet the Beatles” themed shoot with her and her family. We have done a long exposure light trace shoot where we used pen lights and birthday sparklers to put a little twist on the typical fencer portrait. We have shot an aviation themed family portrait in a hanger at the Edmonton international airport. She is a pleasure to work with and the shoots are always so much fun.

Time flies and now the young lady will soon be graduating high school. With the prom dress already bought she wanted to have a trial run with the hairdresser and get some portraits done the same day. So on Friday the whole family came over to our place for pizza, some laughs and some photographs. Here’s what we came up with this time…

This is a 4 light set up. Main light is Elinchrom Ranger through a 60cm Lightrein octo softbox on a boom high camera centre pointed down on the model. One speedlight through a Lastolite Easybox putting some light on the black paper background. One speedlight camera right as fill bounced off of a silver reflector disc. One speedlight camera left and behind in the background pointed at the model for rim lighting. All lights except for the fill were controlled by the PocketWizard i-TTL system (MiniTT1, AC3, FlexTT5, and Power ST4). The fill was controlled by the good ol’ PocketWizard Plus II and leg power (walking back and forth to manually adjust the power).

_PC19653-Edit-Edit-Edit© Peter Carroll

A speedlight was placed in the background of the set pointing at the model for a little light flare to give a paparazzi/glamour feel to the portraits.

_PC19651-Edit© Peter Carroll

_PC19629-Edit-Edit-Edit© Peter Carroll


Here’s a little sample of what I got up to in 2014…

This capture is from a trip to Ireland in 2011 but the processing is new this year. I challenged myself to explore the black and white side of photography more in 2014…


On a trip down to Cypress Hills, Alberta, to prepare for a fun storytelling in photography workshop I co-lead in September I stopped in at Dinosaur Provincial Park and photographed sunset on the Badlands Trail…


In August, I had the pleasure of photographing the band Tess and the D’linquint for their new album Autumn. The image on the right was used by the album’s graphic designer for the cover…
Album Shoot 3


While on the way to photograph Jasper in January I pulled off the Yellowhead Highway to make a phone call and saw this scene…


Mount Chephren in all it’s glory from Lower Waterfowl Lake from a shoot along the Icefields Parkway in November…


I love the fact that Canada has four distinct seasons. I’d hate to wake up to relatively the same weather everyday. I feel as a photographer the changing seasons help me appreciate light and as a person the different seasons help me appreciate time.


I’ll let Van Morrison speak about this next one…

“hark, now hear the sailors cry,
smell the sea, and feel the sky
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic…”

~ Van Morrison



I love winter the way Clavin and Hobbes loved winter…



Corporate headshots became a bigger part of my photography business this past year…


This last photograph I made back in May at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton. I think it’s a fitting photograph to finish off the samples of work I got up to in 2014 because, like in this image, there were times this year when I didn’t know which way was up. It’s been my most successful year to date both creatively and financially in photography but outside of photography it’s been a roller coaster ride with wonderful highs and heart breaking lows. Thanks go out to all my family and friends who were there, with personal messages and true support, when I needed them earlier this year when my son was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis and recently with the death of my mother in law. It’s the human condition but with life experience comes a deeper appreciation for the words – be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.


I’ll end this post with some thoughts about the state of photography in 2014. For more of my thoughts on this subject I refer you to an article, titled Stay On The Bus, which I wrote earlier this year for The Camera Store in Calgary. I look at photography in 2014 and I think of Charles Dicken’s opening sentence to his novel A Tale of Two Cities… “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” I believe there is some absolutely amazing photography being created these days. Every day I am in awe at the creativity of the work and the quality of the stories being told. There are also, unfortunately, some disturbing trends in photography. When I am asked by photographers for some personal advice, I share the following – create for yourself and tell the world your stories, not somebody else’s. Trust your gut. Create from within. Connect with the world around you. Observe. Respond. Bring you to your work. Who cares what photographs are trending on Facebook or 500px or whatever the latest social media site is. Who cares how many “followers” you have or how many “likes” you get on your posts. Live your art by the wise words of Arline Feynman, wife of the great man and physicist Richard Feynman. When Richard seemed preoccupied with his colleagues’ opinions about his work, Arline would say to him, “What do you care what other people think?” Indeed. For deeper insight into these subjects I suggest you read the writing of Guy Tal (Hear No Evil, Forget Vision, The Meaning of Success). If you don’t already follow Guy’s writing I urge you to add Guy Tal’s Photography Journal to your reading list for 2015.

Cheers to Jim Goldstein for his annual “Your Best Photos From _____ ” project. As we climb our own creative mountains it’s important every now and then to stop and enjoy the view.  Every year I so enjoy looking through all the wonderful contributions to the project. Thanks Jim.

Here are links to my previous year in review posts – 2013, 2012, 2011

So here’s to life experiences to date, the battles and the triumphs ahead in 2015 and all the photographs made along the way. See ya after the New Year!

Tess and the D’linquint Album Shoot

Back in August I had the pleasure of shooting an album cover for the band Tess and the D’linquint. I recently attended their wonderful CD launch concert at The Club in Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre (love those funky chandeliers!). Now that the CD is officially launched and available on iTunes, I can share the photography from the project.

The album is titled Autumn and the theme is relationship challenges and the phases relationships go through. I met with the musicians prior to the shoot to discuss what messages they wanted the album photography to convey. From those discussions, we determined that discordant posing was going to be the cornerstone of the shoot. I really enjoy working on these types of projects because interesting work comes from collaboration. Collaboration sometimes takes your work in directions you unlikely would have gone on your own. I always start initial discussions with clients asking what ideas they have for the project. As I listen to clients describe their vision I get a good sense of what concepts they are set on and what areas they are open to suggestions. I then bring my shooting style and ideas to the discussion. From there we can throw the best ideas against the wall and see what sticks. Planning is good as it focusses everybody during a shoot but as the saying goes in the military – a plan is just a point from which to deviate. There always needs to be a dash of spontaneity on a shoot too. The shot that eventually was chosen for the album cover was made up on set. Here’s a little sample of the Tess and the D’linquint “Autumn” album shoot session…

Thanks to the Photographer’s Studio for the rental space for the shoot.

_PC17888© Peter Carroll

_PC17975© Peter Carroll

_PC18118-Edit-2-6(cleaned)© Peter Carroll

_PC18075- Monitor Resolution© Peter Carroll

The actual album cover…

The CD party release poster…

Westin Hotel Corporate Headshots

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of shooting corporate headshots for 16 employees of the Westin hotel in Edmonton. The friendliness and professionalism of everyone involved in the shoot made my job easy. A company’s greatest asset is its people. The Westin hotel in Edmonton has the excellent reputation it does for superior service because of its people. Here are a few sample portraits from the session…

Westin 1© Peter Carroll

Westin 2© Peter Carroll

Westin 3© Peter Carroll

Westin 4© Peter Carroll

My Favourite 11 of 2011

Here are my favourite 11 of my own work from 2011. Personal favourites of one’s own work are always tainted by the stories behind the images. You the viewer judge the images on only what you see and that’s really how images should be judged but I like looking back over the year and remembering all the stories that went into the recent additions to my body of work.

Here’s to a creative 2012 for all of us!

Cheers and see you on the other side of the New Year.


All images are protected by copyright, no use of any image shall be granted without the written permission from Peter Carroll.

Meet the Family

I had a fun shoot on the weekend with a family who wanted a family portrait that was “different”. They wanted something other than the standard everyday group shot. They left what exactly “different” was up to me. Whenever I am taking portraits I try my best to include props or themes that mean something to the people being photographed. Over the course of a few days I pondered different ideas for the shoot but nothing really popped into my head. Then, as I was playing Bejeweled one day (Don’t ask me how my brain works. My wife gave up trying to figure it out years ago!), it hit me – The Beatles! I knew the youngest daughter loved the Beatles. I always liked Robert Freeman’s Meet the Beatles album cover so I pitched the family the idea of using the side lit theme for their portrait. It definitely qualified as different and the inspiration for the shoot meant something to them. They loved the idea. Here’s the final result plus two samples of the individual portraits that I layered in Photoshop. For the version which they are including in their Christmas card this year I tracked down a Beatles font and inluded their family name with a pin stripe graphic detail under the four images.

 © Peter Carroll

 © Peter Carroll

 © Peter Carroll

Helping Hearts: Part 4 – Lighting

In this the 4th and final post in my Helping Hearts series I’ll talk about lighting. As the model for the photo shoot which promted this series was a two year old girl I decided when I was planning the lighting for the session to keep it simple. I knew the energy bundle that is your average two year old would be moving around a lot and lighting that required the subject to hold position or be within a limited area of the set would be out of the question. I had to bathe the set in light and keep it simple. During my initial meeting, the client liked the look of the white seamless and how it is particularly flatering in child portrait work but asked for a 2nd background for a family portrait. As I mentioned in Part 2 of this series, you must be realistic in your expectations when photographing young children. You can’t be too abitious in your lighting setups. I would say two light setups would be the limit for photographing a two year old. Some kids will sit and smile all day. Others… not so much. The little girl who was the star of this session was the former type. She had a snack and played an iPad app while I changed the lights.

Here are the lighting diagrams for the two light setups. For a great explanation on the 2nd diagram – how to turn white paper grey – check out Zack Arias’ blog post here.

White Seamless

Note: I had panel doors in front of the strobes which were used to light up the background to 2 stops over camera exposure.

Turning White Paper Grey

The speedlight behind the model is used to create a light circle effect on the background.

Helping Hearts: Part 3 – Props

I like shooting white seamless portraits. I like the way white seamless puts attention on the subject of the portrait. There’s no distracting background competing for the eye of the viewer. Attention is 100% on the subject. That a double edged sword, however, because it can be the recipe for a boring photograph too. What can you do to keep things interesting? Well, how you light a scene is one obvious answer. Another way is using geometry to your advantage in composition. Our brains are hardwired to appreciate shapes and lines. How you position your subject(s) can add interest. What I want to blog about today, however, is props. Props are a great way to add interest to a portrait and they are particularly powerful in child portraits. The right prop can make a child feel comfortable during a shoot, add an element of interest for anyone viewing the photograph but best of all it can make an emotional connection between family members and the photograph. A special stuffed animal, a favourite toy, a piece of furniture or a momento from a child’s room, are all props that have specific meaning in a child’s life. Using them in a portrait helps tell the story beyond the frame of a child at a specific age. They make an emotional connection with viewers who are family members.

Here are a few examples of props used in my portraits.

This little boy loved to do puzzles…

This little girl had some favourite stuffed friends…

Here are two from last week’s Helping Hearts session. The mother of this little girl had the great idea of bringing along the box of letters and cards they had received while her daughter was getting treatment in hospital. All I said during the initial meet was, “Bring along props from home that have meaning to you and which you would like to see in a photograph”. I’ve only met this beautiful little girl twice but knowing her story as I do that box makes a huge emotional connection for me because it tells of what she’s been though and how she’s fought along the way to get to where she is now.

Helping Hearts: Part 1

I had a great photo shoot last week with a Helping Hearts client. Helping Hearts is an organization which provides free photography sessions for families with children who are suffering a life altering illness or disability. Here are a few images from the session…

In Parts 2,3 and 4 of this Helping Hearts blog post I’ll talk a bit about props, lighting and how to approach photographing wee people.