Become a FotoFly Certified Photographer

Many of you who are reading this are creative.  Many of you are interested in photography.  Many of you would love to be a photographer.  I understand why.  When you’re a photographer, you get to create everyday something that someone truly appreciates.  There is nothing like seeing the face of a mom as she looks at pictures of her children that you created…and then looks at you…I love that moment.

Photography is a talent and I know many of you have it – or, you have potential.  Maybe you’d like to pursue this and develop this talent but are not sure how.  Some of you have come to my workshops.  I’ve listened to you aspiring photographers for four years now.  You want to learn.  Some want to learn just so they can take their own children’s pictures.  Some want to become good enough that they could actually make money at it.  We have something for you.

FotoFly has created a way for you to become a world-class photographer.  Not an average photographer, not a beginner photographer, not an amateur – but a real, world-class photographer.  We’ve had this vision for a long time.  We’ve created a comprehensive curriculum.  We have an ideal facility.  We’ve FINALLY gotten the licensing from the state.  We’re ready to begin FotoFly Academy.FotoFly_FA

FotoFly Academy is a three-month photography school at Thanksgiving Point.  In those three months, you will develop the very same skills as our own photographers.  It doesn’t matter what past experience you have.  Many of our best photographers had almost no photography experience prior to being trained by FotoFly.  Just a few examples:

Maquel was a server at Texas Roadhouse

Maquel was a server at Texas Roadhouse

Kenny was a security guard.

Kenny was a security guard.

Bobbi worked at a ski resort.

Bobbi worked at a ski resort.

Tom was a musician.

Tom was a musician.

Each of our photographers has become a world-class photographer in a remarkably short amount of time.  We know how to create photographers.  We can make you a photographer.  You will learn everything you need to become a photographer.  We’re holding nothing back.  If it is your goal to make money, this will help you stand out from the hundreds of aspiring photographers in Utah. 

FOTOFLYYou will become FotoFly Certified.  With that will come certain benefits that you can read about on our academy website.

It is our intention that all future FotoFly photographers will be hired from past FotoFly Academy graduates.  We don’t promise that we will hire you if you graduate, but it is how you would become a potential candidate.

If you graduate from FotoFly Academy, you will become one of us and we will consider you part of the FotoFamily.  IMG_2504

Why are we doing this?  Because someone needs to.  There needs to be a standard established that will allow customers to know if someone has really been trained and knows what he or she is doing.  As of now, there’s no certification, no licensing, nothing.  All customers have is a photographer’s website with sample images that may or may not be his or her own work.  Or, those awesome pictures may represent the very best images taken over the past two years.  I’m afraid too many families, brides, couples and parents are getting burned – wasting their money and TIME.

We’re discounting the tuition for this first semester by $2,000.

The guarantee is that you will become an amazingly skilled, incredibly versatile photographer – ready to work in a studio or outdoors or indoors – anywhere.  It’s not going to be an easy process, but you will have a skill that you will have forever.  You can take it with you anywhere and it will benefit you for the rest of your life.  When you graduate, customers will respect you, other photographers will respect you, I’ll respect you – because you’ll have earned it.

Here’s the exciting/challenging part, classes start on June 16th!  We had secure our ‘post-secondary school’ license before we could advertise publicly.  Because of the shortened notice, we will be slightly flexible about when you must be paid in full.  To reserve your place, visit our website and pay the enrollment fee.  We actually already have a paid student before we’ve advertised!  We understand that you may have a lot of questions but want to reserve a spot, we are allowing refunds of the enrollment fee until June 9th.  To enroll, learn more, and contact us with any questions, visit:


Finally, one more way to earn a free session from FotoFly…  If you refer someone who ends up being a student, we’ll give you a free session at any location.  It’s the least we can do.

Another contest? Yes, with FOUR winners.

I’m glad we presented our mission statement yesterday.  I received personal messages from some of you confused about what it meant.  It’s always been clear in my mind but didn’t translate very well to the public.  So, without changing the meaning, we have changed the wording.FotoFly Mission

The mission statement was originally written to declare our intention to change the photography industry.  From the beginning, we’ve wanted to influence all of it.  And there’s some things that need to change.  FotoFly is thriving, but the rest of the photography world is headed into a weird direction.  Here’s what I’m seeing.

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We’ve seen many photographers who have hung on to old business models close down. They are being replaced by hundreds of ‘amateur professionals.’ These are good people with good intentions that love photography but may not have formal training.

As of last night, there are 745 amateur professionals advertising on KSL.  I spent a couple of hours looking through them and I have some concerns.  Today, I took some time to attempt to duplicate the type of problems that I was seeing.  The issues fell into four main categories:


There was a lot of splotchy lighting, some just bad lighting, and mostly FLAT lighting:

This is what I call 'splotchy' light.

This is what I call ‘splotchy’ light.

Flat light.

Flat light.


This is light coming from below her.

This is light coming from below her.


I saw awkward posing, unnatural posing, posey posing, and unflattering posing.

They seem posed.  This isn't flattering to both of them.

They seem posed. This isn’t flattering to both of them.


This is unnatural and weird.


We’ve changed the shape of her body with how we’ve posed her and positioned ourselves.


This looks cheesy.

This looks cheesy.


I am into pensive looks.  Sometimes I like crying pictures.  I love smiles.  But, I dislike fake smiles or bored/nothing expressions.

This just seems staged - not authentic.

This just seems staged – not authentic.

She seems bored.

She seems bored.


Many of the pictures were incorrectly composed.  In other words, they were cropped wrong (too tight, unbalanced) or there was something in the foreground/background that didn’t belong.  Or, they were just weird…weird vignettes or colorizing.

We call this a 'floating head.'

We call this a ‘floating head.’

This is cropped too tight and feels uncomfortable.

This is cropped too tight and feels uncomfortable.

We need to stop the colorizing thing.  It was super cool in the 80's.

We need to stop the colorizing thing. It was super cool in the 80′s.

White vignettes were also cool 20 years ago.

White vignettes were also cool 20 years ago.

Again, I'm still seeing colorizing out there...

Again, I’m still seeing colorizing out there…

Bad photography has always made me a little angry.  Whether it’s a random family portrait on someone’s wall or as I’m reviewing our own pictures – I always feel some level of anger.  I think I put myself in the family’s or the parent’s or the bride’s shoes and it is upsetting.  Especially when money has been paid.

This is my angry face.

This is my angry face.

As I looked over the 745 photographers, I thought:  “If I were a customer, how would I EVER choose?  How would I know if this person actually knows what he/she is doing and know that I’m not wasting my time and money.”  Then I thought, “If I was one of these 745 photographers, how would I ever stand out?”  Tomorrow night, I’m going to talk about FotoFly’s step in solving this problem.  Depositphotos_6515817_m

Until then, I would like to have a fun contest that involves you and YOUR pictures.  Email to pictures that YOU have done that, after you’ve looked at them, you’ve realized that you had a lighting, or posing, or expression, or composition problem.  Please don’t send pictures that you had someone else do of you.  I don’t want to embarrass any fledgling photographer out there – but if you’re okay with it, post pictures that you’ve done.  I don’t want any copyright issues…  We will pick winners in each category.  So, tomorrow night at 9:00, we’re picking four more winners.  This is the most I’ve given away in a long time.

Here’s the deal, you must send them by 7:00 am tomorrow morning because I’m going to post my favorites of each category tomorrow morning and we’ll spend the day voting.  Tomorrow night at 9:00, I’m going to announce the winners and finally make our big announcement.



For almost four years, our process has been:

    • 45 minute photography session.
    • 60 minutes of editing while you wait/run errands/eat lunch/etc.
    • 30 minutes reviewing your images and choosing prints.
    • 15 minutes getting your images printed and then paying.

Experience Timeline

By the time you’re done, it has been between 2-3 hours.  I know that, for many, the process is too long.  In fact, it would probably deter me from getting my kids’ pictures very often.  I don’t have many afternoons to kill…  So, we’ve decided to give people the choice to leave after the session!

Experience Timeline Crossed Out

Introducing EasyFoto.  Beginning Monday, May 19th, you will have the choice to be done with the studio experience when your session is over.  Of course, we ask that you pay the session price before leaving…  Within two hours, you’ll be emailed a link to easily download all of your high-resolution images straight to your computer – as if you had just inserted your disk or flash drive.  You receive the same variety and quality of images.  As always, we guarantee that you will love your portraits.

Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 10.04.20 AM

The EasyFoto option will cost $8 and has five benefits:

  1. You’ll be in and out of FotoFly within an hour!
  2. You will receive a $5 certificate code good for any prints.Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 10.17.53 AM
  3. You’ll still receive a 20% discount coupon code for your prints if you order within a week.  The prices are the same as the studio prices.Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 10.19.42 AM
  4. Any family member or friend can also download the full-sized images if you give them your gallery code.  There isn’t a limit to how many times your session can be downloaded.  Your parents and brothers/sisters will love this!Happy Couple Using Laptop
  5. Your session is archived indefinitely.  This is a great way to backup your images.

Our software will allow you to easily review each image and choose which images to print from the comfort of your home.  Here’s some  honesty…  This is the big risk for FotoFly:  by presenting to you your images in our studio, the likelihood of you printing with us is greater than if you view the images at home.  We rely on the printing with us to keep session prices low and stay in business.  If our printing sales drop to zero – we’ll need to reconsider the EasyFoto option or raise our session price to stay in business.  So, please continue to use us to produce your prints that you use for your walls, scrapbooks, desks, gifts, etc.


There are three main benefits to printing with us:

    1. The color of our prints is more vibrant and matches reality.  The images are crisper.
    2. The quality of paper we use is dramatically different than what you’ll receive at a discount printer.  You can feel the difference.
    3. You’re supporting FotoFly and keeping us around.whole staff

You’ll have two choices for delivery:

green 24 hours button

    1.  Have your prints held at the studio for you to pick up.  They will be ready within 24 hours of you ordering them!  (except on Sunday)
    2. Have them delivered to your home for $2.95 (for regular sized prints).  We will ship them within 24 hours!

You will be able to adjust the cropping of your images through the software.  We will offer responsive support for any other adjustments you would like to your images before printing.

Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 10.14.02 AM

If you prefer how we have done it in the past, you will still have the option to view your images with an artist an hour after your session. By the way, nothing will change in how we schedule sessions or how much time we allow photographers to photograph sessions.

I’ve uploaded a few into a sample gallery so you can get a feel for what it will be like to use the process.  Go to, click on ORDER PRINTS, and then enter ’20141111example’ as the GALLERY ID.  Be sure to take the time to read the instructions about how to download at the top of the gallery.

Since the creation of FotoFly, I’ve tried to innovate/improve based on what I would want as a customer.  To me, I think the waiting game after the session has been the low point of the FotoFly experience.  We want your lasting memory being a talented photographer doing everything he or she can to create amazing portraits for your family (like this) – not spending time on our super nice couches in the front of the studio.

Luke 2

You won’t have to do this…

I know that our low price encourages people to come to FotoFly.  I also know that the three hour commitment has discouraged people from coming to FotoFly very often.  It’s our hope that the low price AND the shortened time and added convenience will make us the obvious choice for frequent family photos – at least until the other studios start doing the same thing and then we’ll have to come up with something else.

Madison Larsen is like a child.

Children are born with a few natural tendencies:   They like to play.  They have great imaginations.  They love to create.  Somehow, the world beats these natural tendencies out of us and we conform.   It’s sad really.  Some people, however, seem to hold onto to these gifts.

At FotoFly, we try to find people who still have these natural tendencies intact:  creative, fun, playful, and have amazing imaginations.  Madison Larsen is one of our most veteran photographers and, rather than slipping into a rut, is still pushing the creative envelope.  She had an idea for a cool image she wanted to create, did it, and wrote about it – including the behind-the-scenes pictures.  So, in Madison’s words:

I decided to do a self-portrait one afternoon after I got off work.  We had a FotoFly Art Show coming up and I’ve had this idea in my head that I have wanted to try out, and now I had a deadline to make it happen.   The next day, I went to work at FotoFlyAway at Thanksgiving Point.  After shooting there all day, I decided the location I wanted and Kenny said he would take it for me.   After work it started raining, but it wasn’t raining enough to make us reschedule the shoot. Luckily Alex was able to come help out too as we wouldn’t have been able to do it without her!

Here is our initial test shot as I was explaining to Kenny what I was going to do and what I wanted it to look like:

After getting my idea solidified, we got down to the technicalities.  I wanted the picture to be dark, so we raised our shutter-speed to 1/640 which isn’t very high, but it was already pretty dark outside because of the storm that was rolling in. Since we were raising out shutter speed to make the image darker, I wanted to add in a light source to give a little light on me. So we had a flash with a soft box on it just to the right of me so it was highlighting my hair and back. 

As you can see in the image above, every thing is darker, but we do get some light on me which, I think, makes the picture work. So pictured above is Alex. She had the pleasure of throwing my skirt up in the air so we could make it look like I was falling. So once we got the skirt picture, we had Alex toss my hair.

Mind you, my abs are KILLING by this point. And I’ve almost fallen off the chair like 5 times, but eventually we got something I liked. Then I had Kenny stay where he was and take a picture above where I was and below where I was so that if I wanted to add in more background later, I could.

As you can see above, we got more of the background and you can see my light source. When taking extra frames of the background, it’s easiest to focus on your subject and then turn your camera to manual focus so that you can take the other pictures without having to re-focus so your final image of the composite photos will be consistent.

Here is the final image:

As you can see the original image was taken in a landscape format and I didn’t love it. I really wanted the space above me so that you could tell I was falling. So I composited my skirt picture and my hair picture together, took out the stool, added the background above me and underneath me and then messed around with the color until I got what I was looking for. I really wanted to combine the idea of innocence and beauty with a darker theme and I think I achieved that. I can’t wait to do more of this “fine art” type work.

Other notable pictures taken that day:


I love these pictures!  They’re a great demonstration of her talent.  I love the type of person Madison is – along with the rest of our creative team.  No one asks them to do this stuff, they just do it.

The challenge now is to invent some sort of way to recreate this concept in a way that’s reasonable for FotoFly to do in a session…

We’re lucky to have the people we do working for us.  Having been in this business for over 22 years, I can say that these ‘experiments’ of hers are world-class.  I couldn’t be more proud Madison!

If you have any questions about the shoot – or photography in general, feel free to ask as comments to this post!