How are Porcelain Portraits Made?

One of the questions most frequently asked by our clients is, “How are Porcelain Portraits made?”. In order to answer this question, this blog post will provide a step by step explanation of the entire process, start to finish, along with illustrations of each step. Here we go!

Step One: An order is received from a client, advising the shape and size porcelain tile they would like, with the image to be used attached. Prior to beginning the process, we first review the image the client has provided to ensure it will produce a high quality Porcelain Portrait.

Step Two: Everything we will be using throughout the process is prepared. A soaking pan is filled with warm water and placed on a warming tray, which is then turned on. After turning the printer on, we ensure there is sufficient specialized paper loaded to complete the day’s orders. The laminating machine is also turned on so that it will begin to warm up.

Step Three: The image is opened in PhotoShop in order to edit any problem areas. Once the image has been perfected, it is then cropped to the correct shape and size using the corresponding template. At this point, we check to ensure there is a 1/4″ border surrounding the image. This border will show as white on the finished porcelains. Although it is possible to bring the image all the way to the edge, the majority of our clients prefer the small white border instead.Image

Step Four: In order to prevent wasting the specialized paper needed to create the Porcelain Portraits, we place as many images onto one 8.5″x11″ sheet, while leaving enough space between each image to create the border. When making small porcelains, we can often fit several images on one sheet, whereas the larger porcelains typically require an entire sheet to themselves.

Step Five: Once we have hit the “Print” button for each sheet of images, we then move into the room in which the printer and laminating machine are located. The sheets are removed from the printer and inspected for any imperfections. If anything is found, the image must be discarded and reprinted. (When entering or exiting this room, we must ensue that the door is securely closed, as the temperature and humidity must remain at specific level in order for the specialized ink to work correctly. The required temperature and humidity levels are reached with the use of a heater and air conditioner, as well as a humidifier and dehumidifier. If the room is not kept at the correct temperature and humidity, the ink, which is colored minerals, will harden and ruin.)

Step Six: If there are multiple images on a sheet, the paper is cut to separate the individual images, again ensuring there is sufficient space for the border.Image

Step Seven: The protective paper is removed from the laminating paper. Holding the two sheets together and up to the light, the excess laminate paper is trimmed off, ensuring that the extra space for the border is maintained.Image

Step Eight: Once all excess is removed, we check the laminating machine to ensure the red light is on, indicating that it has been warmed up and is ready to use. Once the red light is on, we turn on the motor and begin feeding the image through the machine. As the image appears on the opposite side of the machine, it will now be laminated, as the heat has caused the laminating paper and the image to bind  together.

Step Nine: We then lie the tile(s) we will be using on the work bench and clean each tile with alcohol to remove any grease and dirt. This step is extremely important, as any grease or dirt will cause imperfections in the finished porcelain.

Step Ten: The paper is then removed from the image and the sheet without the image is discarded.Image

Step Eleven: Any excess border is cut away, as having too much extra paper will make it difficult to align the image correctly.Image

Step Twelve: The image is then placed in the warm water in the soaking pan. We allow the image to soak in the water for 15-20 seconds to ensure the entire image and borders are fully emerged.Image

Step Thirteen: Once the image has soaked for 15-20 seconds, it is lifted out of the water and placed on the tile. While applying gentle but steady pressure to the top of the image with the tips of our fingers, the bottom white sheet is pulled out. Once we do this, you will be able to see the porcelain through the image and border.Image

Step Fourteen: After we align the image evenly on the tile, we then take a folded paper towel and place it over the image. Using the roller, we begin rolling over the image, starting from the middle out to soak up any excess water.Image

Step Fifteen: Once we have rolled over the entire image, we lift the paper towel to ensure the image is still aligned correctly. If not, we gentle move the image until it is once again centered. Once it is aligned, we use the squeegee to slowly push out any air bubbles that may be trapped between the image and the tile, again starting at the middle and working our way out to the edges.Image

Step Sixteen: We then replace the paper towel back over the image, again using the roller to collect any water the squeegee may have pushed to the edge.Image

Step Seventeen: The tile is then placed in the kiln, ensuring that nothing is touching the top of the porcelain (where the image is) and that the tiles are not touching each other. The only thing they may be allowed to touch is the rack itself.

ImageStep Eighteen: The door to the kiln is shut and it is turned on. Our Porcelain Portraits will be ready for shipping the next day!Image

Now Offering MARBLE PORTRAITS!!!

In addition to our Porcelain Portraits, we are now offering Marble Portraits to our professional photographer clients! As with the Porcelain Portraits, as a client, you would simply forward the image you would like placed on the Marble Portrait, along … Continue reading

30 Day Photographer Challenge: Day 17 “Photo Lab Pet Photography”

30 Day Photographer Challenge: Day 17 “Photo Lab Pet Photography”

For Day 17 of our 30 Day Photographer Challenge, I decided to go with a photographer who was a little different than all of the other photographers who we have featured so for. This is why Photo Lab Pet Photography out of Petaluma, California has been chosen as the featured photographer for Day 17 of our 30 Day Photographer Challenge. Although most of the photographers you will find online strictly work with humans, I came across Bill Parsons and Natalia Martinez after a friend of mine on Facebook commented on their work. Although finding a photographer who’s only subjects are pets is rare, as its seems that every 500 photographers, there is one pet photographer, I am glad that I have found Bill and Natalia and that I can now share their work with you.

It is always interesting to learn how and when a person discovered and then fell in love with the art of photography. On Photo Lab Pet Photography’s Facebook page, Bill and Natalia explain that they have always had a passion for animals. They feel, just as I do, that our pets are an important part of our family and should be treated as such. I could never understand why a person would want to have a dog, who they left outside, chained to a tree, waiting for a 5 minute interaction when their human came to feed them. Or why have a cat, who you leave outside, only putting food and water out for them and never allowing them to come inside? In my opinion, animals, being the loving and loyal things that they are, should be treated the same as your children. Just like your children, your animals did not ask to come into your life. You chose to bring them into your world and you therefore have an obligation to treat them with all the love and kindness they will no doubt show you.

Bill & Natalia have a black lab named Corbin. They would frequently photograph Corbin and his feline siblings until sadly, one day they learned that Corbin had been diagnosed with cancer. Bill & Natalia were glad to have the photographs of Corbin that had been taken before he was sick so that they could look at them and remember all of the wonderful times they had with him. When they were told that Corbin was cancer free, they were overjoyed. However, the treatments had earned them a large vet bill. Learning of this, a friend asked them to photograph her two dogs in order to make some money to put toward the outstanding vet bill. She paid them to take the photos of her dogs, but she gave them something much more valuable then money- the idea that would eventually become Photo Lab Pet Photography- named in honor of the black lab who started it all.

In truth, I can admit that I am an extremely sensitive person. When I learned of the horrible things that Michael Vick had done to his animals, I could not help but to cry and become sick to my stomach. When I was 7 years old, I had a cat that would follow me to the bus stop to watch me get on the bus and he would be waiting for me in the same spot when I got home from school. Our scary neighbor would walk his son to the bus stop as well. One morning, he went to pet my cat and the cat, probably sensing what an evil man he was, bit his hand. I stood frozen and horrified as the man picked up my cat by his tail and proceeded to bite him on the paw. “An eye for an eye,” he said. The cat scratched at his face and took off running back to our house and I ran right behind him. I was so distraught that I did not go to school for two days. And I would hold my cat and ask over and over for him to forgive me for letting the evil man hurt him. Looking back, I think it was this experience that made me become so protective of animals. Not only my animals, but any animal. They cannot speak and can only do so much to protect themselves, so I feel as if it is our duty to protect them, just as we would protect our children. It is nice to know that I am not alone in this feeling, as is clear from the frequent posts by Bill & Natalia regarding their various charities and requests for assistance for animals in need of Forever Families.

Anyone who has a pet as a child, learns at a young age how very short an animal’s life is when compared to ours. I had once told myself that I would never get my own children a pet because I knew just how badly it hurt to loose them. When I did have a son of my own, I changed my mind because I wanted to allow him to love an animal the way I had as a child. We now have two white German Shepards named Thor and Odin, as well as a black and white cat named Cecil, who we adopted just a few months ago but already love as our own. As anyone with a pet knows, they each have their own unique personalities, which only makes them more lovable. Bill & Natalia are able to capture these personalities in order to allow them to shine through their lens in the photograph. It is this ability which separates them from several other pet photographers I have seen. The entire reason for a photograph is to remember a special moment in time, to be able to look at the photograph and remember the love you felt for the subject and the emotions you felt during the time in your life when it was taken. Its obvious that Bill & Natalia are able to give this gift to their clients and I applaud them for it. It is absolutely invaluable and I would give almost anything to be able to go back and have them photograph the animals I loved in my childhood who are no longer with us. 

Anyone who knows the love of an animal should be sure to check out Bill & Natalia’s work for Photo Lab Pet Photographers. To see the animals they have helped and the charities they support, go to their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/PhotoLabPets . To browse through their amazing photography, check out their website at: http://www.photolabpets.com/#home/ . Be sure to send them some love as well and let them know how much us animal lovers appreciate what they are doing for the love of an animal.

When you visit their website, make sure to check out my favorite images! They are:

     *Portfolio, Feline, Conspiracy- Pic 3/9: Black & White of a woman with a cat over her shoulder. Neither are looking into the camera, but you can feel the emotion of the image.           

     *Portfolio, Menagerie, Menagerie-  Pic 8/9: Color image of a man with two gorgeous birds on his shoulders. The love for these animals is obvious in the image.

     *Portfolio, Canine, In Company- Pic 4/39 & 9/39: Images taken on a couples wedding day which feature their dogs. I love that they included their dog in their wedding and the images are just beautiful.

30 Day Photographer Challenge: Day 16 “Creative Images by Jennifer”

30 Day Photographer Challenge: Day 16 “Creative Images by Jennifer”

Creative Images by Jennifer, located in Centerville, Tennessee, has been chosen as the featured photographer for Day 16 of our 30 Day Photographer Challenge! After I found Creative Images by Jennifer on Facebook, I fell in love with her work. In addition to “liking” her Facebook page through the Memory Lane Porcelain Portraits Facebook page, I have also “liked” her on my personal page, so that when I log in, I automatically begin seeing the images she has recently posted in my Newsfeed. The problem is, her Facebook page is so addictive! Once I start looking, I just can’t stop!

After doing a feature post on 15 different photographers, I thought I had seen it all. I didn’t think a photographer could show me something different from everything else I’ve already seen. Creative Images by Jennifer has proven me wrong! Jennifer’s work has a certain surreal look to it. Whether it is a newborn session or a wedding, every image has this calming effect on the viewer. In my opinion, it appears as if Jennifer is a very calming presence, and she passes this on to her subjects. They all look so much at peace! Every artist has a different style to their work. Photographers are no different. While some photographers have extreme contrast in the colors in their images, Jennifer’s colors are much more subtle. The entire image seems to just flow. Natural would be the word I would choose to describe her work as a whole.

When I say natural, you may assume that this means she does not use props. In many cases, the use of a prop, while it looks amazing, makes it quite obvious that this image didn’t just happen by chance. However, Jennifer uses props in a way in which it could be believed that she was out for a walk and snapped a picture of something she just happened to come across. An amazing example of this is an image Jennifer posted on her Facebook page on May 21st of a little one named Ensley. In this image, Ensley is lying asleep in a basket, with a wreath of roses on her head. The basket is sitting on lush grass, which is covered by rose petals, the same color as those in the wreath, which have fallen from the huge rose bushes on either side of the basket. In the background, slightly out of focus, we see high grass with white topped wildflowers throughout. Now, if you think logically, you will conclude that of course Jennifer didn’t just come across this. Ensley’s mama didn’t leave her lying in a basket under a rose bush. But, Jennifer creates a world where it appears as if this is exactly what happened. To me, there is no better word to describe it than surreal. And, I want to live in the world that Jennifer creates. I think anyone would and perhaps that is what is so intriguing about her work. Jennifer, can we all come live in this amazing world you’ve created???

Before I move on from the subject of props, I want to tell you about the props that Jennifer uses in her sessions. As anyone who has read these featured photographer’s posts from Day 1 will know, I have a love/hate relationship with props. However, I’m learning to love them again. Jennifer has some really incredible pieces. When you look through her work, you will see old coca cola boxes, a metal tricycle and bicycle, amazing wicker baskets and a carriage, a gorgeous blue sofa (which she sits in the middle of a field of wildflowers! LOVE!) and my absolute favorite, an old rusted truck! I love that the props that Jennifer uses don’t distract you from the subject. Instead, they complement them. I think it also helps that most of the props that Jennifer uses stick with that rustic feel. I have to add this because Jennifer just posted new images as I was proof reading this post. In the new images, a session done with a newborn Baby “C”, Jennifer has posed “C” so that he is lying on his back, half in a very large clear jar. The baby is wrapped in blue and white fabric and beneath him in the jar and surrounding him on the floor, are a rainbow of gumballs! How fun and creative is that?

I have honestly never come across a photographer who uses more locations, props, outfits, etc during one session. Rather than having to choose their favorite pose out of ten poses on the same background or location, Jennifer offers a HUGE variety! A newborn session with seven completely different images is something I’ve not come across before! When you put this into perspective, it’s clear that Jennifer takes her time with her clients, which can only help to capture that calm feeling you get from her work.

Considering the feeling of peace that comes over me when I look through the work done by Creative Images by Jennifer, it is not surprising in the least to see the many recommendations left by Jennifer clients. On several of the sessions she has posted, she says that she has worked with the family for years or that she has been photographing the child since they were first born. These clients are returning to her because she has the ability to not only provide them with amazing pictures, but to create beautiful memories as well. In each session, it’s clear to the viewer that the subjects are having a good time. I know from personal experience that photographing a toddler can be extremely frustrating for the child as well as the photographer. On some photographer’s websites or Facebook pages, you can tell that there was some difficulty because there may not be as many different shots as there are in another session with, say, a newborn. Looking through Jennifer’s work, I have to assume that she either has the ability to smooth over a toddler’s frustrations, or she prevents those frustrations from ever occurring in the first place. For that, Jennifer, we applaud you!

Make sure to check out Creative Images by Jennifer on her Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Creative-Images-by-Jennifer/89232553225 . Or, you can view her website at: http://www.creativeimagesbyjennifer.com/index2.php#!/home. Just a head’s up though, make sure you have plenty of time because there are a ton of images to look through! If it’s even possible for you to pick a favorite, let me know which one it is! There are so many great ones to choose from! And, don’t forget to leave Jennifer some love to let her know how great you think her work is!                                            

30 Day Photographer Challenge: Day 15 “Laura Gordillo Photography”

30 Day Photographer Challenge: Day 15 “Laura Gordillo Photography”

Laura Gordillo Photography, located in Goodyear, Arizona has been chosen as the featured photographer for Day 15 of our 30 Day Photographer Challenge! As with some of the other photographers who have been featured during this 30 Day Challenge, I have liked Laura Gordillo Photography’s Facebook page on my personal profile because I so enjoy seeing new images of Laura’s show up in my newsfeed. When one of Laura’s images does show in my newsfeed, I know that it is her work without even having to see the name of the person who shared the image. Just as with any great photographer, Laura has her own style that, no matter what she is photographing, shines through and makes it just that much more special.

While I was thinking of what all to include in this post, I remembered something that I had seen Laura write when sharing and adorable picture of four siblings. “It’s ok if a picture doesn’t turn out “perfect,” to me it’s more about the moment you capture.” This basically sums up the images you will see come from Laura Gordillo Photography. She doesn’t just take a picture of a newly engaged couple, a family who’s father is being deployed or a precious newborn baby. Laura captures MEMORIES. As far as I am concerned, that is what makes the difference between a great photographer and a good photographer!

Laura describes herself as a “Natural Light Photographer”. The main word that really jumps out at me is “Natural” because that is what she captures. Laura is proof that the photographers who do not go crazy about having the “Perfect Pose”, create the most beautiful work. By allowing the subject to act naturally, rather then directing them where to put every single body part, she is able to highlight their personality through her lens. When she is working with more then one subject, this allows real relationship with one another to show. At the end of the day, that is the entire purpose of a session. Whether it is a wedding, a birthday party, a birth or a yearly family picture, her clients are coming to her to allow Laura to help them remember a special time in their lives. By allowing them to act like themselves and to do what comes naturally to them, Laura is capturing the truth, thus ensuring her clients never forget how they were truly feeling at this time in their lives. 

Looking through the website and the Facebook page for Laura Gordillo Photography, it also quickly becomes clear that Laura is willing to go above and beyond to make her clients happy. In one case, she photographed a family, a husband & wife, along with their four children. She explains that the father is in the military and was being deployed just a few days after the portrait session. After editing the images, the wife asked Laura to create a slideshow of the final images so that she could forward it to her husband. Not only did Laura create beautiful images of this family, she also placed them in a slideshow, with music, so that this brave man could look at the family he was missing and remember the fun they had during their session. In this slideshow, there is an image that touched my heart, so I know that it had to have really pulled at the father’s. When you go to Laura Gordillo Photography’s website and Facebook, be sure to take a look at the slideshow. The image I’m referring to is a black & white of the four children. They are not posed and are looking in all different directions, but it is crystal clear just how much fun they are having and how much they love each other. I can only imagine how much this image alone must help their father get through his deployment. 

After reviewing hundreds upon hundreds to photographer’s work, I have found that sometimes, a photographer will go overboard with the props if they are not comfortable in their talent. This is not to say that every photographer who chooses to use props feels this way, as I have seen some amazing work in which the photographer included props. However, I do think there is a thin line between what is just right and what is too much when it comes to props. Thankfully, Laura is aware of this line and she never crosses over it when she does choose to include some extras in the images. She has some very beautiful items. I especially love the baby carriages and the headpieces that she chooses for newborn sessions! An amazing example of this is an image from a One Year Old session that was posted in May. In the image, the one year old baby girl is sitting in a colorful hat box, wearing a blue hat and strings of white pearls, while a vintage clock sits next to her showing the time as 12:20, the exact time she was born. I love the creativeness and the personalization of the image.

Speaking of personalizing an image, Laura also shares an image taken of her niece at her Quinceanera. During the celebrations, her niece danced the Waltz with all of the important men in her life. Sadly, her grandfather had passed away the year before. In memory of her “TaTa”, she danced the waltz alone. Wanting to do something special for her, Laura took a shot of her niece dancing alone and then added a somewhat transparent image of “TaTa”, making it appear as if he was there, dancing with her in spirit form! This image was wonderfully touching and actually made me cry. I would love to have something like this on my wedding day for my grandfather who passed.

Although several of the photographers I have featured have shown support for charities through their work, none have gone quite so far as Laura. On her website, you can learn about the Photography Missions in which Laura Gordillo Photography participates. The first of these is “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”. NILMDTS’s mission is “to introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with a free gift of professional portraiture.” I recall first hearing about remembrance photography when Michelle & Jim Bob Duggar, of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, lost their child and their niece released images that were taken by a professional photographer as a gift for the family. It caused much debate as to whether or not this is right. But, I believe that if it allows the family to gain some sort of peace and begin to heal from such a great loss, why should anyone disapprove of it? Having lost a child at 6 months gestation myself, I would have cherished a photograph of my daughter and I wish I would have known that “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” existed. To learn more about NILMDTS, click on their link on this page of Laura’s website: http://lgordillophoto.com/?load=flash

Laura is also involved in “Maple Leaf Mission” which offers a “Final Moment Session” as well as “Your Moment Session” and “Military Moment Session”, all free of charge. Maple Leaf Mission states that they want to offer “The gift of life in pictures” to the families of those who have been diagnosed with a terminal disease, are suffering from a debilitating or life limiting illness, or those who have been deployed overseas through the military. From what I understand, those who participate in Maple Leaf are attempting to make a hard time a little easier by providing those who are going through a difficult time with a beautiful memory. It is really quite beautiful. You can learn more about the services offered by clicking on their link on this page of Laura’s website: http://lgordillophoto.com/?load=flash

I am so glad that I chose to featured Laura Gordillo Photography for Day 15. I don’t believe I have ever experienced so many emotions while looking through a photographer’s website. Laura is not only an extremely talented photographer, she is also an amazing person who is using her passion for photography to give back to those suffering. With all of the horrible things we see on the news nowadays, it is uplifting to discover that there are still people in the world who are willing to give a little bit of their lives to help others. Kudos to you Laura!

Make sure to check out Laura Gordillo Photography’s Facebook page and website. You’ll probably need hours, so consider yourself warned! :)