Branch Blog - Professional Photographer NWA

Voted Very Best Photographer #5

Branch Photography is honored to be Voted by the readers of Celebrate Arkansas magazine, Very Best Commercial Photographer. This is the 5th Year we've received this honor by the readers. I am truly blessed to be in a profession that I love so much, that I can meet so many great people, touch so many lives and blessed with a talent to create images that everyone loves. Thanks to all that voted for Branch Photography.





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Every session, I like to make it enjoyable for everyone, having fun shows in the final images even if they're not smiling. Some don't like to smile, some don't like to look serious (it makes them look mad), but to find a happy balance and capture a personality will make for beautiful variety in portraiture. With Larra Donaldson's Black Label portraits, I captured her confidence and fun mood. A photograph of confidence is different from one of just looking mad, it's in the eyes. It will be a constant reminder to the subject of what is inside her/him and, hopefully, give them inspiration and motivation that they can accomplish their goals and conquer their fears. Isn't that what we all want?


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Black Label Portraiture Session

Meet Melody Martins, she is a bank president at Signature Bank in Bentonville. Not only is she ambitious and successful, but also genuinely sweet and kind. The images speak volumes about their personality, boldness and kindness with the drive that go her where she is today.

Over the past few years, it seems as though the nation has embraced more negativity, we've all seen it in many forms. There is an ever growing need to elevate the human spirit, self worth and acknowledge people for their many accomplishments, one of the reasons for Branch Black Label Portraiture.

The images I create are to show personalities. With high school seniors, the images show who they are at this point in their life; with family portraits, the images show the love and family connection; with business portraits, the images show that the person is approachable and a person you can trust.

With Branch Black Label Portraiture, my goal is to go further to an elevated personal level. While mood, confidence, ambition and success are the viewer's impression or thoughts, the images have another purpose that is more personal to the subject. The images portrait the energy of who that person is, a reminder of how others see them and who they truly are, which is a good reminder of our personal empowerment. My goal is to first, show the others who they are and inspire. On a personal level, the goal is to remind the subject of how awesome they are, to lift them up with a quick glance at the photo and give them purpose and ambition when the image 'looks back'.


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The First, the Present & the Memories in Between


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Memories are a POWERFUL thing, it can lift us up, bring us down, make us thankful or learn from mistakes. I was recently working in the shop with walnut wood and the smell triggered memories of my father and I making an entertainment center when i was 16, it's like I was there. The senses of sight, touch and sound are just as impactful.

Recently I was listening to the 70's music on iHeart Radio, wow did it ever take me back to a simpler time, you know the feeling. It's amazing when you hear a song and it unlocks memories and triggers emotions from times you thought you had forgotten, it's a powerful thing. Not long after that, I was thinking, 'what ever happened to my first camera?', honestly, i have no idea, but i had to look on eBay and found the exact model in pristine condition, an Olympus OM10. I purchased a camera exactly like this in 1979 to photograph sporting events for my local hometown newspaper. As soon as I got it, yep, I looked through the viewfinder and, more powerful than any song, a flood of memories came back as I saw the meter and heard the click of the camera and cranked the film advance. Then I looked at my current camera and thought of millions of images I've been blessed to take over the last 35 + years, the people the camera has put me in front of and the number of cameras I've had. So I had to take this photo of the two cameras, the first and the present.

I calculated I've had right at 20 different cameras between, some were very large as the second photo shows (a copy of a self portrait), the largest was a Mamiya RB67 with a 100-200 zoom lens. A few others were Hasselblad that I used at many proms, graduations and weddings and put thousands of rolls of film through them all. Wow how times and technology have changes… but thankful my memories the cameras have given me have never changed.

Neil Family

Meet Adam and Calie Neil and their sweet daughters, Jada & Brooklyn. I had the opportunity to create their beautiful portraits just before Christmas. It's so important to have beautiful professional portraits created occasionally to show the growth and changes in life, this can be every year to every 5-6 years depending on the ages of the children. These portraits are important to the parents and family now, it is a centerpiece of the living room where guests, friends and family can view and be a conversation piece. What most people don't think about is how these prints will be MORE important in decades down the road. To look back, enjoy and reminisce of days of youth what times were like and the times enjoyed. Later in years the children will want the photos to display in their own homes, to show their kids, friends and family as a conversation piece… and the cycle continues with images that grow more valuable.

I have the honor to work with Calie on many occasions, creating images for great people at Legacy Bank, she and the bank are always a pleasure to work with. During the session I recognized Adam, he looked familiar, we got to talking and found out he used to work at Bedford Camera for several years until he went to JB Hunt 15 years ago. Back before switching to digital full time about 18 years ago, I carried film to Bedfords for processing on a regular basis and got to know many of them including Adam. He shared an inspiring story of how a relationship he made with a Bedford client directed him to JB Hunt and he has greatly progressed since that time, a truly inspiring truth in every business.

The session was fun and exciting, even though it was Brooklyn's (the youngest) first time to be photographed in a studio setting, she did great, all the while giving us fun expressions, showing her personality (giving us all a good laugh). After we completed the session, Jada even came up and gave me a hug, that made my day.

The stories I get to hear from clients during sessions are so great. To get to know what they do, where they've been, about their family and show their pride & love in their children, this is another reason I love what I do.

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Missouri Session

Location sessions are always exciting for me. While I do research on the property and location as much as I can, it's never exactly the same as being there. This challenges me, technically and artistically, and I love that challenge that pushes me to focus on the final image and the many possibilities.

I had a recent opportunity to create images on location at a private ranch in Missouri. I wasn't able to do much research since it was an open ranch, only able to see on the private web site I was provided. Arriving early, I was able to meet the parents and chat about options and areas they liked. It was an honor to hear of the history of the ranch and of their hunting trips as a family to Africa. This 2000 acre ranch was very nice with rolling hills, open grazing and wooded areas for the deer that were plenty (I saw about 15 does and 4-5 large buck while in the time we were driving around).

We were able to capture a wide variety of incredible images in various spots until the sun went down. The images below are from the first location we went to that was close to the lodge. The other locations were equally as awesome.

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Diplomat of the Year

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Being a Diplomat for the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce takes time, but is rewarding with the new friends you make, meeting new business owners and being a bigger part of the community. As a Diplomat, we are representatives of the chamber at business ribbon cuttings, Morning Coffee events, Business After Hours, driving for Meals on Wheels and other voluntary events. The more I volunteered and was out meeting new people and learning more about the new things going on in Fayetteville, the more I enjoyed it.

I became a diplomat for the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, officially, January 2017, in November I shared the honor of being Diplomat of the Year with my friend George Turner, University of Arkansas. We were tied with the amount of work we had done. I was very surprised when it was announced at the annual Chamber Banquet by Patrick Harrington, Lewis Automotive. This year has flown by and I'm thankful to have gotten to know the fellow diplomats who also give so much of their time.

Wedding Family

I didn't have the opportunity to know my grand parents well. My grandfather on my dad's side passed away when my father was 12 and his mom when i was 6 months old, so i never met either of them. My grandparents on my mother's side passed away when I was a teenager. I don't know what I missed out on until I see a family together with several generations, then I see the tremendous amount of love, how grandparents love and love to spoil their grandchildren and how the parents are basically 'out of the picture' when the grandparents are around Happy.

So when I see a family come together that includes the grandparents I'm thankful they are taking this time and opportunity to create a beautiful image to be on their wall for generations. I have just a few small snapshots of my grandparents, but to a portrait on the wall to tell friends and guests about. The wall portrait goes further, it makes a stronger connection, not only for the family but for the friends and guests. Imagine standing in front of the family portrait on the wall and telling your guests about your grandparents, what they do now, what they did for a living and about their life… suddenly your guests feel more connected to you and have a deeper appreciation for your family connection.

This summer I had the opportunity to photograph the wonderful Wedding family. I had the chance to create their daughter's senior portraits a few years back and got to know her. We not only photographed the family but individually, siblings and then parents. This provided them great grouping opportunities.

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A few months later, they called me back to come to their home, their parents were in town for the weekend. There we created portraits that each set of grandparents would like as well as the parents. What joy this portrait will bring their family over the many years to come and passed down to great and great-great grandchildren sharing the story behind the portrait of each person.


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There is NO other item you can invest in, that will increase in value as much as a family portrait, it gains value every year, regardless of the economy… the value is in the heart!

Haws Family

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What an honor to see families grow and photograph the changes. I am aways excited to see families return and see their children growing up, see seniors come back after years in college, having their headshot created for a carrier we talked about during their session, has not become a reality. When Angie Haws called for a family portrait, I was excited and also so for Karli's senior portraits (see blog post below). We had a great time and they are one of the nicest families I've ever met. The top photo above is from September this year and the one below was from 2011. I wish there was a way to put a freeze on time, but that wouldn't be fair to the young ones who have such a great life ahead, full of hopes, dreams and ambitions.

In Angie's words: "We have been going to Keith for many years. We’ve NEVER been disappointed! Our family pics are always fantastic and we receive many compliments but he really outdid himself on my daughter's recent senior portraits! BREATHTAKING!!!!"

Karli's Senior Portraits

When did time start going by so fast? It started by going to bed on Friday night and waking up to Monday morning, now just as I get used to writing 2016, it's almost 2018.

I first photographed Karli at a photography workshop in 2018, she and her sister were such cuties to work with, very nice and cooperative. As a result, I've photographed their family since in 2011 and recently in September at the same time I photographed Karli's senior pictures, wow time has flown by, just ask her parents. Karli is now a senior at Shiloh Christian school and captain of the cheer squad, she is a great painter and loves art. Above all, she and her family are some of the nicest families I've ever photographed. Karli was a delight to photograph, always in a great mood, kind and polite, a true Christian young lady.

Capturing her personality was easy, her smile says it all. At her permission, I also threw in a variety of expressions, and, even though she's a naturally upbeat and happy young lady, her non smiling images looked awesome as well. I've had the honor to be the senior photographer for seniors from all over NW Arkansas over the many years, I do my best to provide them the latest and best quality senior photography that their friends will rave about.


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Karli in 2008
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Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce Diplomat

I've been a member of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce for a few years now. I've been involved in more networking and going to chamber events. When Shana at the chamber asked if I would be interested in being a Diplomat, while I was honored, I was a little hesitant, not knowing what was involved. After asking around, I'm glad I did. For those who do not know what a chamber diplomat is, they're a volunteer representative of the chamber who attends chamber events (morning breakfasts, after hours, ribbon cuttings, special events and meals on wheels). Since I've been one only 7 months, I've really enjoyed getting to know my fellow diplomats and especially being a part of the community. Being able to see the new businesses and get to know about them is a blessing.

I've tried to attend as many events as possible to be a part, as a result, I've been one of four selected as Diplomat of the Month for the past 3 months. If you want to be a part of the community, join your chamber and get involved, you'll be glad you did.

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Bentonville High Senior

Meet Joe, a senior at Bentonville High School.  He graduated early and is working part time in addition to working out to stay in shape before heading off to college in Mizzou this fall. I always enjoy photographing seniors, hearing their future plans and the enthusiasm and drive they have. If I'm lucky, I get to see them years down the road and hear what they're doing and how their life has turned out. (www.branchseniors.com)

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