Modern Portrait Photography


The Cook Family Portraits

Such a beautiful family- they have some of the cutest kids! They were brave to do their photographs outside in Rifle, CO on a cold winter day! But I’m glad they did! I think you have so much more variety in backdrop options and prefer to photograph outside on location. However, I do have many beautiful backdrops and ideas for indoor portraits as well! This family about four years ago passed on a couple of bags of clothing to us before my first child was born. We were so grateful and they were so generous to help a family they didn’t even know! To check out more of their family portraits click the following link The Cook Family Portraits.

_DSC2766-Editp copy _DSC2798-Editp copy _DSC2834-Editp copy _DSC2867-Editp copy _DSC2886-Editp copy

Coal Ridge High School Seniors {Silt, CO Photographer}

I was able to photograph this group of Coal High School seniors. Don’t forget that sharing your photo session with a friend is a fun way to do your senior portraits. These are all Coal Ridge High School soccer girls! Check them out- beautiful girls!

We’ve got Ashley…

Ashley Senior Portraits 1 Ashley Senior Portraits 2 Ashley senior portraits 3

And Becca…

Becca Senior Portraits 1 Becca Senior Portraits 2 Becca Senior Portraits 3And Hilda…

Hilda Senior Portraits 1 Hilda Senior Portraits 2 Hilda senior portraits 3And finally Miranda!

Miranda Senior Portraits 1 Miranda Senior Portraits 2 Miranda Senior Portraits 3

Ashley’s Senior Portraits {Silt, CO Photographer}

I had the chance to photograph this beautiful Coal Ridge High School senior. Ashley loves singing and soccer. Her favorite colors are yellow, purple and blue. She likes country music and her favorite movie is “Sweet Home Alabama”. Ashley says three words her friends would describe her as are trustworthy, fun and caring. She has a bubbly personality and wants to be remembered as being mature… but still fun! Check out a few of her favorite senior portraits!

_DSC3972-Edit copy _DSC4027-Edit copy _DSC4258-Edit copyIf this blog post gets at least 15 comments, Ashley will get an extra gift print! So comment below and let her know what you think!

Composition Tip # 5: Perspective { Silt, Colorado Photographer }

This one is another easy one: change your perspective to add a little interest to your photographs. You can create totally different looks of an image just by changing your perspective. This is one thing I learned in one of my photography classes in college that whenever photographing something, consider all of the perspectives and different sides of it. You may be missing out on some amazing images if you never look around the back side or other possibilities. Try shooting with a worm’s eye or bird’s eye view- the photo above I stood on a ladder to get this beautiful girls photo.  How boring would that be if I always shoot from my 5 ft viewpoint- not to mention this would not be the most attractive point of view for all of my subjects. When changing your point of view, be mindful of the effect it will have. If you shoot down on someone they will appear smaller. If your subject is concerned about a double chin, then shoot at a higher perspective and it will hide it. With kids it is fun to get on their level and shoot from the way they see the world. If you want your subject to appear larger, taller, or stronger then shoot low looking up at them. Now go give this a try! Choose one subject and then photograph it in all the different perspectives you can (straight on, worm’s eye view, bird’s eye view, the front, the back, the side, the top, the bottom, and so on)!

Composition Tip #4: Add Depth { Rifle, CO Photographer }

To create a more interesting photo you need to create depth. Depth is where you have a foreground, middle ground and background. The way I love to do this is to place the subject in the middle of something that way I have some some elements in front and behind them- like I have pictured above with the weeds in the foreground and background. The trick I’ve learned is if a foreground is not naturally there, then you put it there. My clients usually look at me a little weird, wondering why I am carrying weeds in my pocket!

Emily’s Senior Portraits { Rifle, CO Senior Photographer }

I had a blast photographing this beautiful Rifle High School Senior. We did these portraits in beautiful Rifle, CO. I love that they had quite a few people there to help with the portraits! Thanks to Emily’s mom for hanging my beads for me- to get this creative look that I was going for. I love bringing unnatural elements into the outdoors. I love the juxtaposition of the sparkly beads with the old run down house! Don’t forget when you book a senior portrait session with me you can always bring whoever along and get a few shots with them; whether it be your mom, best friend or sibling (like Emily did with her little brother).

Please click the link below to see a slide show of more images from Emily’s senior portrait session. She looks great!

Emily’s Senior Portraits.

I’m starting something new, if this blog post gets at least 15 comments, Emily will get an extra gift print! So comment below and let her know what you think!

Photography Composition Tip #3: Fill the Frame

I think often times when you take photos you include too much in the frame. To make sure your subject is the emphasis you need to fill your frame with it! Now this doesn’t mean you have to always zoom in major close. Include enough of the background to set the scene or create the look you are going for without taking away the emphasis from your subject. I have included a couple sample photos that one of my parents took on our trip in Kawaii. The first is from further away so me and my family are barely noticed. Another photo features my family where we fill the frame and you can see us a lot better! Now if you are wanting to document the whole cave then you should make sure you include it. Just make sure you only include elements that help complete the photo without creating distractions for your main subject.

The Poulsen’s Family Portraits { Rifle, CO Family Photographer }

The Poulsen’s.

Click the link above to see a slide show of all their family portraits.

I just love this family! They are so much fun- as I’m sure you can tell from the photos. We took their family photos here in Rifle, CO. I think one of the best parts was how excited their 5 year boy was about the whole experience! He was cracking me up the whole time! He just could not wait to get started taking photographs and to see what I was going to do with all my equipment. I think I’ll have a little photo assistant soon! He already was helping me out by telling me I had to take the lens cap off!

Their youngest child is a bit more somber. But as soon as I told her to say “Daddy wears diapers” she cracked up! It worked every time- especially when her dad Dad said it while shaking his booty! Unfortunately, I had to follow suit and do the same little dance while standing on a fence and saying “Ashley wears diapers!” Yea, I usually look like an idiot when taking photographs- but at least it gets good expressions!

Pictured below is the Christmas Cards that I designed for them. I do custom designed double sided photo cards. They are perfect for this upcoming holiday season! Don’t they look great with their perfectly coordinated outfits!? Such a beautiful family!

Fish Monthly Theme

So I’m the type of mom that needs structured activities planned in order to play with my little boys. I don’t last very long playing cars for example. So in order for me to be a better mom and want to play with my boys I decided to have a monthly theme (since I like planning things based around a theme) that I provide different activities based on. I really would want a weekly theme but I knew I better start with a monthly or quarterly theme and see how it goes. I wanted to try to do activities from all the different subjects. My boys are 3 and 10 months so a lot of my ideas are a little advanced for them (really I’m only doing this with my 3 year old). But Beckett still loves doing projects with me even if it doesn’t turn out the way mine does. For those that don’t know my degree is in art education- so we of course have to do lots of art projects. I love to do activities that allow creative thinking versus cookie cutter projects- but with such young kids that is hard to do- so I try to find a good balance. I am a big Pinterest fan- so you can go check out my boards where I have collected many of these ideas and more!

This first project was right up Beckett’s alley! He loved blowing bubbles in the paint with a straw to make a beautiful water background for our fish drawings! My husband, Dan, drew the top two fish pictures. Dan also has a degree in art so I like to make him do some of the projects with us! When I was teaching art- I would get him to make samples for me! Beckett drew his own fish too- but I didn’t attach his pictures- sorry!

Here’s another project we did that Beckett loved. We used oven baked clay and shaped it into a rainbow fish and then stuck sequins in it to make the pretty scales. I wasn’t sure how the sequins would do in the oven- but it seemed to work. They just started to curl a little. After the fish cooled down we colored it. You can use colored pencils, permanent markers or paint. You can also glue a magnet on the back and hang it on your fridge.

There were quite a few fish songs and finger plays we did. We made this clothes pin shark to go with one of Beckett’s favorite songs:  “5 little Fish” (there were a few different songs we did with that title). This one goes:

“Five little fishes swimming in the sea
teasing Mr. Shark
you can’t catch me you can’t catch me!
Well along came Mr. Shark as quiet as can be
SNAPPED that fish right out of the sea…”

We made a couple easy fish origami that Beckett colored and drew designs on. The photo above the origami is one of my favorite art projects: metal tooling of the rainbow fish.

I made a fishing pole and some felt fish Dr.Seuss’ style. You can get the template and instructions on Martha Stewart’s website. Sorry I don’t have all the links this time- but I can get them for you if you want. I didn’t just do just red fish and blue fish- I made fish with all the main colors- a couple of them aren’t shown above. While I was cutting out all the fish I had Beckett practice cutting with scissors. I drew a line on paper for him to follow. I tried teaching him the correct way to hold the scissors. We will keep practicing! I also cut out shapes and glued them on it’s complementary (color) fish. I would also later do numbers and letters on the fish. Then I had Beckett go fishing so a certain color or shape.

We then did a bunch of different learning activities. I found a lot of these templates online as well. We used goldfish to sort, count, and make patterns. I used fish stickers for him to find the matching fish and to organize from smallest to biggest.

We played out in the backyard in the little pool and went fishing with a net! My little one loved eating the fish and splash in the water!

We had all sorts of fish food as well as you can see above. We had some friends over and decorated fish brownies. I tried making a fish aquarium with jello, jellybeans and a Swedish fish and it did as I expected. The candies started to melt (that’s not the right word)- so it didn’t look real good. We also went fishing for goldfish with pretzels or celery fishing poles dipped in peanut butter.

I had a fish themed playdate where the main activity was a water blob which is a folded tarp taped together and filled with water. I put a little blue food coloring and glitter in it and a bunch of little foam fish. However all my efforts were for nothing because apparently I did not get a strong enough tarp- so the kids feet sink right through! They all still had fun splashing and stomping in the water, using it as a slip n’ slide and collecting all the fish! We also had the kids be fishes and catch the gummy worm bait from a string. I was planning on playing the shark in the water game- that is kinda like musical chairs- but we didn’t have time!

For each theme I’d like to do some sort of field trip. So for this one Beckett went fishing! I also wanted to go to the aquarium or the fish hatchery but we didn’t this time.

We love to read so we read a ton fish books! I like to read to Beckett lots of different books for my sanity- but I have read that the kids benefit more if you read the same book at least 5 x in the same week or so.  Plus kids love repetition! Some our favorite  books that we read were:

Dr. Seuss “1 fish 2 fish”

The rainbow fish by Pfister, Marcus. (and a bunch of other rainbow fish books)

Ten little fish
 by Wood, Audrey.

The three little fish and the big bad shark by  Geist, Ken.

Not Norman : a goldfish story by Bennett, Kelly.

And the lastly we were potty training Beckett- so we of course had to use goldfish (crackers) in the toilet bowl to help him practice his aim! I know I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that- but he thought it was a blast! I had a lot of other ideas that we will have to do next time we do this theme. Let me know if you have any great fish ideas or if you want to know more specifics on any of the projects.

Senior Portraits { Western Colorado Photographer }

Class of 2013! Time is running out! For all you saving your senior photos for the Fall, schedule your session by September 15, 2012 and be eligible for our Fall Fashion shoot. Seniors participating in the Fall Fashion Photo Shoot will get their hair and makeup professionally done and be modeling for a local clothing store. So tell your friends and book your session now! We have three different senior photo session options: the mini, standard, and our glamorous photo session that includes professional makeup by a certified cosmetologist. Contact me to book or with any questions. Call 970.625.1013, send me a Facebook message or email Check out my website at

Photography Composition Tip #2: Consider your Background { Rifle, CO Photographer }

I am finally continuing to blog a more of my slides from my portrait photography class that I has in Silt, Colorado. It was a class more specifically on lighting for portraits but I gave my top composition tips. Number 2 of my composition tips is to make sure you think before you take a photo and double-check you background. In my example above you can see where I have intentionally taken a bad photo. So many of us do this. This tip may seem obvious- but some many of us…even professionals sometimes forget to double-check your background. So I have placed this girl directly in front of a tree so it looks like she has antlers growing out of her head- not the most attractive! In addition I have everything in focus. So to make this photograph better I had the girl take a couple steps over to the side and I shot wide open with a large aperture (f 1.4) to make the background go out of focus and make sure the focus was on my beautiful model! You can also increase the distance from background to your model to help create blur and separation from your subject. When you use some of these techniques it increases your ability to use almost anywhere as a backdrop!

If you are not familiar with some of the basic terms in photography or could use a little refresher about aperture, shutter speed, ISO… I’ve been working on doing a Photography Basics class at the Rifle Library but they had a change in managers before it got finalized and now is my busy season but stay tuned! I will be having another photo class in Rifle or Silt, Colorado soon… maybe after the holidays. I will keep you posted!

Class of 2013 Models wanted { Colorado Senior Photographer }

I am looking for a few well-rounded, outgoing, active students to represent the class of 2013. As a senior model you will be a representative for Ashley Mickelson Photography. Your session will be featured on my website, blog, Facebook and other related marketing materials.

What you get:

  • Complimentary Senior Portrait Session- unlimited outfits and locations. Session must be done before August 13, 2012
  • Designer Rep Cards with your image to pass out to your friends
  • Discounts on photo session and/or prints for friends and family
  • For every rep card or promo card redeemed from your friends, you will receive $25 towards prints and other products
  • Facebook images


  • You must be a full-time student graduating from high school in 2013.
  • Have your senior portraits done exclusively with Ashley Mickelson Photography
  • As most of our models are under 18, I require one of your parents to review the program with us and sign a model release/waiver.
  • Represent Ashley Mickelson Photography by appearing on her website, blog, Facebook and other marketing materials for Ashley Mickelson Photography.
  • Be outgoing and willing to share your experience and images with everyone.

To apply:

Send Ashley Mickelson Photography a message via Facebook or email including:

  • your name
  • high school you attend/graduation year
  • what activities you’re involved in
  • why you think you should be chosen as this year’s model

If you are a good candidate for an interview I will contact you. Only two models per high school will be chosen. I’m looking for senior models attending any of the high schools in Garfield County. Act fast! Application Deadline: August 4, 2012.

Tessa { Colorado Newborn Photographer}

Baby Tessa born 6/21/12. This beauty is pictured above with her proud big brother. If you are planning on getting newborn photographs just remember I love to photograph them before they are 2 weeks old!

Baby Layla { Colorado Newborn Photographer }

I love photographing newborns outside in our natural environment! Thanks to Layla’s mom for letting me take the photos outdoors. Layla Emma  was born June 14th weighing 8lbs 8 oz and 21 1/4″ long. Another reminder if you want your newborn photographed, I like photographing newborns preferably by 10 days old!

The Johnson’s Family Portraits { Rifle, CO Photographer }

I took this cute family’s photos at their beautiful home in Rifle, CO. They have an amazing view from on top of the mountain. Their twin boys love tractors so we had to do some of their family photographs with them. Their daughter loves horses so we got a few photos of her with her horse as well. Click the link below to see a slide show of more of their children and family portraits.

The Johnsons.

RHS Prom Portraits { Rifle, CO Portrait Photographer }

RHS Prom.

Last week I had the opportunity to take these 4 Rifle High students photographs before they went to prom. You can see how amazing they look in the photos below or click the slide show link above to see all of their prom photographs. All of them are seniors and graduating from Rifle High School next month except for one. You will see more photos of Katelyn at another date when I take her senior photographs.

To all those that didn’t book me for portraits before prom: you can still schedule a “Rock the Prom Dress” photo session with me. This portrait session is where you can put that beautiful prom dress to use another time and get some amazing photographs of you wearing it. You don’t have to get your hair and makeup professionally done again for these photos. Just be you wearing your dress and you will look great. For the session we won’t have to worry as much about getting dirty before your prom. We can do nice clean photos if you’re still worried about your dress or we can photograph you in a more fun nontraditional way that you may not have done right before prom. We can get as crazy as you want for some amazing photographs like photograph you in the water with your prom dress on. If you’re wanting to do something a little more crazy and worried about your dress you can always buy one from a thrift shop to use. There’s a lot of fun things we can do for your prom dress photographs. One thing that is for sure about these sessions is you will get photographs of you looking amazing in your beautiful dress just like the Rifle High School teens pictured below. Guys can also get some great photos of them in a tux or a nice suit they have around. So contact me now about scheduling your own “Rock the Prom Dress” photo session today- I know you’ll love doing it. You can schedule your session for you by yourself or split the session fee and do it with a friend or two.

Rifle Chamber Annual Event 2012 { Rifle, CO Photographer }

Rifle Chamber Annual Event 2012.

Here’s a photo slideshow of Rifle Chamber of Commerce annual awards dinner and event. Lots of cute hats and people in the events photographs. To take a look, click the link above. I have all the images up on my website for purchase. Message me and I’ll send you the password for how to order.

DIY Lace Crown

I made these lace crowns to be used as photo props for a couple of projects I have in the works. You can make these for Halloween, playing dress up, as party favors, etc. They are really easy to make. They would be even easier if you didn’t make 15 at once like I did- I was super ready to be done with them. There are many tutorials on the internet on how to make these that I looked at for ideas. Here’s how I made them: First you will need some lace ribbon ( I chose one small and one larger), fabric stiffener (or I read you can use modge podge), spray paint (that’s what I used but you could use another type- possibly one that is a little less chemically), some sort of paper to cover your working space, foam brush, hot glue ( or a fabric glue), and embellishments like rhinestones, fabric flowers, pins (optional).

1. Cut lace to desired length. I think mine were about 11- 16 inches in length. This depends on how you want them to fit- if you want them to fit around the head nicely they will be a bit bigger. A small crown in proportion to your head is also a popular look. I measured how big I wanted them based off my two boys heads.

2. Take the fabric stiffener and cover the lace in it. I poured it into a cup and brushed it on both sides of the lace with a foam brush. I also tried just dunking the lace in the stiffener. Just make sure the lace is thoroughly covered.

3. Wipe off the excess stiffener, making sure there aren’t any bubbles of it in the holes of the lace. I used my fingers to do this by rubbing fingers along the lace and by pinching to pop any bubbles.

4. Lay flat to dry.

5. After the lace has dried, repeat steps 2-4 until you have at least a few coats and the lace is feeling sturdy enough. In my anxiousness to be done with this step, I was a bit sloppy. I had to cut out a few dried bubbles.

6. Glue the ends together to form the crown.

7. Paint the crown. I used a glitter spray paint over a metallic paint but might just do the glitter in the future.

8. Keep as is or add any embellishments you desire. I used a pin, fabric flowers and rhinestones.

Here are a few more samples of my completed crowns.

Savannah’s Senior Photos

Click the link below to see all of Savannah’s beautiful senior portraits taken at Harvey Gap, here in beautiful western Colorado. Savannah is graduating from Coal Ridge High School in 2012! Congrats Savannah!

Savannah’s Senior Photos.


Clink the link below to see a slideshow of Aydan’s beautiful newborn photos.


The Hedberg Family Portraits

This cute family’s photos were taken along the Colorado River in Silt, CO at Ruby River Ranch. Their outfits are a great example of what to wear to a family photo shoot. The outfits are coordinated by a common color scheme!

Kailey’s Senior Portaits

Kailey Adams.

Click the link above to see more pics from Kailey’s senior portrait session. Kailey is a part of Rifle High School’s graduating class of 2012.

Matti Long

Click the link below to see a slideshow of Matti’s senior portrait session done in Rifle, CO. Remember seniors can share a photo session with friend, just like Matti and Kailey did.

Matti Long.

Portrait Lighting Class

I will be doing a Photography class in March for the Silt Library on how to better light your portraits. I have a general outline of what I will be discussing, but as I start preparing for this class I would like your input on what would be most beneficial to you all. I will go over a few important basics of lighting i.e. the color, quality, and direction and we will discuss how to use things we have around the house or outside (mainly the sun) to improve the photographs we take of our families. I will also give a few quick tips on how to take better portrait photographs.

Please comment below if there are any specific questions you have related to lighting in photography or taking portraits that you would like me to discuss. This can anything about using the sun, reflectors, your flash, settings, etc. I’m just curious on what people are interested in learning about. If you are not here in western Colorado or won’t be able to attend still post any questions, ideas below and I will respond back to you or do a blog post answering the question. Thanks! I look forward to hearing your questions and ideas.


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