Archive for 'Calgary Photographer – Personal'


I was recently invited to be apart of a small group of photographers committed to shooting one concept a month over the course of four months.  We have to post our concepts at the beginning of the month, progress throughout the month and by mid month we have to have an image ready for critique by the group.  If any of you have ever shot a concept, it’s a pretty intense schedule and I have all my planned out as I have found getting the props and locations and models to be half the battle.

This is the second one I have done; I will post the first one at a later date, but I wanted to share this one first. I have titled this one “Master and Commander”, as I drew my visual inspiration from this movie, in terms of setting the time period.  More than anything, I wanted to protray how children effortlessly turn their reality into fantasy through a use of their vivid imaginations.  The tub grounds the picture firmly into reality, but as the child gets deeper into their game, reality fades into imagination.

I would love this picture to serve as personal inspiration never to let go of that child-like wonder and ability to draw from my imagination to make my own reality come true…and to capture the essence of the quote below….

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

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I hope you enjoy this new series as much as I have making it:). I would love to be able to offer these types of concept shoots as commissioned portraits, so let me know if you have an interest in them!

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Christmas Magic Blog


Thanks for an amazing 2014 and here’s to a bright and brilliant 2015!!!

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So this is a post I have been meaning to share for some time!  I thought that as summer is winding down, I’d better get it completed so that anyone who wants to can use my suggestions in their underwater journey.  By no means am I claiming to be an expert in this field, I just thought I would offer what I know and what works for me, and share something that has become one of my favourite mediums to work with.

Underwater photography has been an amazing journey for me so far and I have really loved the results and enjoyed the process.  It does require a fair bit of preparation and investment in time and money if you are going to use a DSLR.  But for me at least, it’s been worth it. I enjoy being able to express myself through this medium, capture unique family portraits and give another perspective to the viewer. There are certainly lots of things to consider and lots of options to explore, so let’s get going!

1) Underwater housings

There are a ton of ways to take your camera underwater (safely) and have some fun! Cases are available from a fairly low cost option if you want to stay with your iPhone, to an investment of thousands if you want a more durable housing for your DSLR. There are cheaper housings available for DSLRs, however it’s much like taking your camera underwater in a zip lock baggie and hoping for the best IMO. Personally, I use an Ikelite underwater housing, but there are  lots to choose from depending on how much you want to spend and how much control you want over your camera.  Whatever you decide, make sure to test your equipment every time and seal all the O  rings if your housing has them.  And then double check your equipment, because you can’t be paranoid enough!! If you go in salt water, you really must take extra care to wash your gear off as soon as you can in fresh water before you take it all apart as I have found it very damaging to the housing.  Sand is also a hard to deal with element as it often gets stuck on the seals and prevents a good seal, which can be costly.  You may want to consider extra insurance for the gear you take underwater too :)

Oh, and if you decide on a DSLR housing, be prepared and forewarned….those suckers are heavy….

Jennifer Kapala Underwater Photography

2) Working with the medium

It is without a doubt one of the most difficult mediums to work with as it’s so unpredictable. I mean everything about it.  The way the light moves, the way your subject moves, the way you move, the way the water moves…everything. If you are a type “A” personality, be prepared to lower your expectations.  Think about it, you are putting your sharpest lens, in your expensive camera, and then putting it behind a plastic or glass dome and then putting it in water, and THEN pointing it at your subject.  You’ve got a lot of “stuff” between your lens and subject, from the plastic to water, which is nothing like the air your may be used to.  Things happen. Light refracts in unusual ways, beautiful light all of a sudden seems dead underwater, your subject moves and then there is all the water between you and your subject.  I try to find the best light I can and usually like shooting in the morning or afternoon on brighter days.  Overcast days tend to be harder to work with.

Skin tones are a lovely mixture of blue and cyan and unless you like the look, you will also want to learn to edit them. Though I do find skin tones better the closer the subject is to the surface. For my editing, I use Lightroom and Photoshop , and find that my photos take a lot of more contrast and clarity than I typically use. Get familiar with whatever program you use and play around!

Be prepared to find beauty in the unusual and be curious, from the way the bubbles rise, to the way that the light hits your subject.  It’s a very different experience from your typical portrait session and creates a dreamy atmosphere….



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3) Working with your subjects

I work primarily with kids and the aim is to have fun and make it playful!  Lots of times kids are only too happy to oblige and even come up with their own ideas.  I keep it short and sweet and give them lots of fun time and rest between pictures too.  I do try to ask them not to puff out their checks so much when they are underwater, which is a natural expression most people have :).  Sometimes it works on one, but not the other…

Jennifer Kapala

4) Camera gear

Personally, I take in my Canon 5D Mark III.  I know, I know, everyone is having a heart attack and thinking I am nuts.  But as a recovering type “A” I do like the files better.  I use a 35 mm currently, but have also used a 15 mm fisheye and a 50 mm.  I found that the 35 mm was the best for me as I liked the sharpness and colour it produced and it focuses short distances which is important when working with children as the all like to swim up really…..

Jennifer Kapala underwater



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I would think that a 16-35 mm or a 24 mm would be best, but I work with what I have!

This is by no means all there is to say on the subject, or all there is to learn, simply a few ideas I have gathered based on my experience so far. I hope you have fun with your underwater exploration, however you choose to get started.  I have turned mine into a personal project, called “In The Flow” , but I would love to see some of your work too!


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I have recently been trying to take more quiet, everyday moments with some of my personal work.  I love taking just a few frames to express a relationship or a fleeting moment in time.  My youngest son recently turned four and I captured the last five minutes before his bedtime as a three year old.  I was fortunate enough to have it featured on the 5 Minute Project – check it out! To me, these four frames below really get at the essence of who my two youngest buys are, of  their relationship with each other and myself, and of our vacation.  From a playful moment with one, to the two of them interacting with me and each other, to the quiet comtemplation of my youngest.  It’s only four pictures, yet it brings back a wealth of memories for me :).

What story would you tell with four frames?

Jennifer Kapala 5 mins of brothers



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Underwater photography has always intrigued me as much as water has captivated  me.  From swimming pools to the depths of the ocean, there is something all at once calming and powerful about water that I find hauntingly inspiring. I recently got back from Maui and got lots of opportunities to really explore the water and my fascination with it. From my time there, and reflecting on what I want to do with my work this year, I have decided to start a new series of personal work and explore it a bit further.  I am a firm believer in personal work to further your technical and creative ability as an artist. A couple of years ago I completed a 365 and although it was really challenging to have that type of dedication, it was worth it. Personal projects have the power to set  you free to create without any pressure, besides those we inflict on ourselves.

There is many more to come, but I loved this night on the beach in the waves watching children play by the last light of the day.  Hope you join me on this journey.

Water Stories - Jennifer Kapala Child Photography-1-2

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