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About Me

Single tired mom of four. Lover of chocolate and coffee - not necessarily in that order. Lover of Jesus, photographer by trade, Photoshop junkie and crime TV watcher.


RSS Hallie Westcott Photography

Cure for the Squinters – Connecticut Photographer

March 22, 2010

squinterIt’s very likely if you are taking lots of photographs in brightly lit conditions, you will run across your share of squinters…each of my children are quite sensitive to bright light.  And if you are toting a reflector, you can almost count on it.

The best way to handle this little problem is to ask your squinter to close his or her eyes and open them on the count of three.  This simple little fix will make a big difference.

Making A Home Photo Studio

January 28, 2010


I’ve been looking for options for a studio space for some time now.  Most often, I don’t need a studio, but during the colder months, a space is really important.  I have found clients aren’t always comfortable inviting you into their home, maybe because they aren’t pleased with the look of their surroundings.  And quite frankly, it becomes a difficult task trying to locate a place to shoot that has great light and a pleasant atmosphere.

I located this beautiful spot, with just the right amount of light, hardwood floors, beamed ceilings and I love it.  The problem..it won’t be ready until sometime next year.  So I decided it was in my best interests to use what I had available for now….my office.

My office is certainly no large space, but since I remembered Sandy Puc started shooting in her bedroom, I decided I wouldn’t let the lack of space deter me.  I have 14×17 to play with and low ceilings, but the only other thing I need in my office is my desk, so I knew I could swing it for what I needed.


So a couple of weeks ago, we started cleaning out and moving things around.  Good heavens, I have no earthly idea where all this stuff is going to go.  My house is the size of a tea bag.  That being said, I did put a lot in storage and the rest I will contain with inexpensive storage goodies from IKEA.    It’s like my home away from home, where each nifty gadget and container is one step closer to my dream of total organization….NOT!

Studio_IKEA-0813The first thing I needed to address was hanging my backgrounds.  I found these Manfrotto background hooks at B&H Photo.  They are huge, but since there is little storage space, I got the six hook bracket, that way,  I would have some room for paper storage.  Tripping over them is definitely NOT an option.  I also purchased Expan Drives, which hold the paper on the hooks and allow for easy paper roll up.  The system works great; it was inexpensive and easy to wall mount.

background collage

Next was designing what little space I have into something attractive, client friendly and junk free.  Easier said than done, but it’s really taking shape.  First was picking out the flooring.  I decided to put in laminate, because it is going over concrete and there is a small potential for water if my sump pump ever backs up again.  So why laminate then?  Because I can replace pieces of laminate, but if hardwood swells, I am in deep doo doo.  Excuse the stinky phrase.

There was then the decision to put in windows.  I jumped on that one and ordered three double windows, which is a somewhere in the neighborhood of 13ft. of light!  Whoo hoo!  My office, aka cave, has never seen such lighted goodness.  If all else fails, I will have a really nice sun room..

These are a few of my choices and it may change and it may not, but either way, I can’t wait to show you the finished product!


OK…I know, I know…you want to know where these cool findings came from huh?  First is the Umbra Desktop Fotofalls I am using for a card display.  The small Shabby Side Table is from Target, (couldn’t find a link, but it was in my local store) as well as the Gerber Chair.  The desk is local and the floor is from Lowes.

Cool Links for Photographers

January 7, 2010

There is so much to be gleaned from others that have gone before you, so here are some great links on the web to get you motivated in 2010.

First, Bev Walden’s Blog for her post:  5 things we learned in 2009 that will change 2010 Bev has some great ideas to help motivate & market in 2010.

Then there is the MCP Actions Blog (my favorite blog!) with a post by Shuva Rahim: Blog More, Blog Now, which is what I needed right now.  A little motivation and creative suggestions to get my blogging schedule back on track.

I’m really jazzed about a Creative Techs class: Lighting from A-Z by Roseanne Olson.  The best part is it’s FREE!  You can sign up for the class at Creative Techs, or choose from several other free classes they offer.   So far, I have taken a class in Photoshop and making interactive PDF’s with Adobe Acrobat and InDesign.  Great classes and all for free!

And last, but not least, a blog post at DPS: 5 ways to use your talents to help others. There is really no point in having gift or talent if you are not going to share it with others.  So get on out there!


Organizing in 2010 with OneNote

December 31, 2009

Anyone who knows me will tell you I struggle with organization and because of that, I have always envied those people who are really good at it.   Yeah, you know who you are.

They are organized and well put together in every area of life and able to discuss their ten page, mentally stored to-do list without even breaking a sweat.   Of course, I am way on the other end of the spectrum.  My mind is usually a fractured mess of ideas and tiny fragments of who knows what, which in the past, were either forgotten or lost in the abyss of gray matter.  Such is life.

Until now.

I was browsing through Clickin’ Moms some time ago and came across a post from Amanda at Finn Rose Photography, about organizing with Microsoft OneNote.  And let me tell you…it has changed my life for the better.

For business, I use it to organize my client workflow, client email templates, shooting locations, track my job profit, organize ideas, bits from the web, links, addresses, marketing ideas, to-do’s and so on.  You can even add audio, video and screen clips.  OneNote organizes all your information in a digital workbook format, with tabs that make it easy to find everything.  And if that’s not enough, you can locate your information with tags.

For personal stuff, I use it to create shopping lists, keep track of medical information, recipes and so on.  It even comes with built in templates, to help you get started.  However, I like making my own templates that I can reuse for each occasion.  I have only just begun to realize the potential of OneNote.

So here’s to better organization in 2010!


I am Lego Challenged

December 28, 2009

I see nothing more than a wall when I look at Legos, but not my children….they have vision.


A New Year’s Blog Evolution

December 25, 2009

New Years Evolution

As I sit here trying to muster up the makings of a new post, I can’t  help but wonder where this blog is going.  Much like a photograph, a blog should have a focal point and at some point, this blog’s focus was lost.

There was a time, which seems like an eternity ago, that I posted regularly and with total enthusiasm.  Always finding the humor in the midst of the mundane and a filled glass where most would see (ehem…excuse me,) only backwash.  Of course, that’s when life resembled something that looked more to me like normal…or whatever my perception of normal was.

At that time, I (we) were largely defined by the fact that we were homeschoolers.  I was a struggling single mother who had opened a bookstore to stay home and homeschool my children, while being the caretaker of a mom with an acquired brain injury.   I had spunk and durability, having withstood many an injury to my spirit, I maybe felt a little too good.

But things are different now. So much has happened since then, it would be really hard to nail it down in only one sentence, but since I have resolved to start the new year with transparency and authenticity, there is no time to start like the present.

The overview…I am still a single homeschooling mother, which may or may not be a surprise to those of you who have grown to know me online over the years.  I will not go into detail, but it has been an ugly year to say the least.  I am recovering from a serious burnout of sorts, I now help care for *two* ailing parents, I finally put my youngest in nursery school to give us some time to regroup; even put an end to a chapter in our lives that needed to come to a quick termination after the closing of the bookstore.   This of course is only scratching the surface; however, I will spare you the gory details and hold tight to the fact that we are the mend and only Jesus will bring us through this difficult season.

I have since started a photography business, out of necessity, spent loads of time getting to know my children, and taken more time to nurse my ailing soul, which needed a great deal of nourishment.  I have come to realize, when faith is put to the test, there are really only two possible endings.

My point is, I am no longer the same person I was when I started this blog.  And therefore, it cannot continue as it was.  I have struggled with this fact for sometime; not wanting to stop blogging, but not able to articulate the changes occurring in my life.

But I digress.  As time permits I will still continue posting, but my focus will be more about photography.  I will still enjoy and freely share more personal things, because first, I want to, and second, I feel that a measure of transparency is needed between a writer and a reader for a personal connection to be made.  However, I need to write with a purpose, or writing becomes a task and a burden and I have felt that for long enough.

So there it is…..and it only smarts a little.

Here’s to a joyful New Year.

Image size screwy

December 19, 2009