My camera loves you

What size digital jpeg photo file do you need?

I offer 3 sizes of digital JPEG photo files, small, medium and large, which size of the digital file do you need?

Small is for web use, profiles for social media sites, your own web sites, for printing on your business cards, flyers, etc. Pixel-wise, the long side is 900 pixels, at 300 pixels per inch of photo quality prints, this means it’s a 3″x2.7″ print, so a wallet size, your photo on your business card does not usually take up the whole card, so plenty big for that. When you print it bigger on a flyer, people are not expecting photo quality, so you can print bigger than 3″ on the long side, and it will still be OK. If you print on a glossy brochure, and you want larger than 3″ on the long side, then you may want to order the next size up, medium.

Medium size is for print, up to 8″x12″ if it is not cropped. A lot of times the file is cropped to 8″x10″ proportion, because that’s a common print size. When you order a medium size digital file, you also get the small size (if you want it) included. The medium size JPEG file is 2400×3600 pixels when it is at the 8″x12″ proportion. This means there are 300 pixels per inch, and that is a photo quality print at 8″x12″ size.

Large size is for printing a poster or anything larger than 8×12. Most people do not need this size, but it’s available if you do have something special in mind.

Here is a sample of the small jpeg file, click on it to see how it looks by itself on a web page, and I am sure you will agree it is more than sufficient for web use.

sample small jpeg file

and here I am including a medium size jpeg file, click it to see how big it is. It may look the same size as the small on this page. because the browser resized it to fit in the space of this blog format, but when you click on it, you will be able to zoom in and see more. The small jpeg on the other hand, can not be zoomed in (at least in Safari browser).

sample medium size jpeg file


What is “high resolution”?

Is the small jpeg file “high resolution”? Of course, it is 900 pixels and printing it at 300 pixels per inch, you are only getting 3 inches. So it is not a resolution you are asking, but the print size. When viewing an image on the web, the browser does not display at 300 pixels per inch, but maybe 90 pixels per inch (measure your screen resolution if you are curious about what it is, but every screen is going to be different! what I do know is it is NOT 300 pixels per inch!) So the 900 pixels on the long side of the small jpeg file will be 10 inches on your screen! See this article if you are interested in more detailed explanation.

So a medium size jpeg file has a lot more pixels than the small jpeg file, and you can print bigger at photo quality. But they are all “high resolution”! You should care about how many pixels are in the file, the more pixels, the more inches you can print as a photo.

Celebration of Smiles days set for April 2015

Come to Celebration of Smiles

We have set two days aside to participate in “Celebration of Smiles” this year. April 7 and April 17.

For a minimum donation of $49, you get a 30 minutes mini-session, and an 8×10 print of you or your loved one. in addition, you get a $50 studio gift card for use in future studio products. Since only $240 provides a surgery for one of the children, five sessions will help create a smile in children like Divith and Danila. Call me at 831-426-1400 now to make your appointment, space is limited.


PPA Charities Platinum Studio!

It has been many years since 2007 when I first got involved with PPA Charities. PPA is Professional Photographers of America, a trade organization for professional photographers. Over the years PPA Charities has with the help of photographers everywhere to create smiles and help children in need. With the participation of clients at Family Portrait Month, Celebration of Smiles Day and other events, I was able to donate enough money to create more than 15 smiles! shows  a list of participating studios

Positive Vista Photography & Art is a platinum studio for PPA Charities

Master the squinch

Why squinching is cool or how to look awesome in your headshot

Do you know why squinching is cool? Here is one of the secrets to looking awesome in your headshot.

Don’t look in the dictionary, “Squinch” is a word made up by famous New York and Los Angeles headshot photographer Peter Hurley, squinching is cool! Judge yourself, which photo looks better? Even this dog looks cooler when he squinches! Of course if you are trying to project an innocent look, or look adoringly at your baby, then this is not something to do. For headshots though, it generally makes for a more confident look, more sophisticated expression, and make you look more intriguing to the viewer. Doesn’t Serena look way more interesting and more photogenic in the photo where she squinches?

How do you squinch? Look in the mirror, and try to squint by pinching your lower eyelid a tiny bit. We don’t want to look too contorted, a little goes a long way! Peter Hurley has a video on Youtube, if you want more instructions, check it out It’s got more than 1.5 million views!

dog squinting

Family Portrait Month is October

Family Portrait Month this year is October

I thought you would want to know about a very special family portrait promotion we will be participating in with an elite group of photographers around the country. For the month of October we will celebrate Family Portrait Month, a wonderful opportunity for you to update your family portrait (or portraits of your children), and support Operation Smile, which treats children around the world who suffer with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities.

Along with other studio members of Professional Photographers of America (PPA), we have pledged to contribute your $98 session fee to PPA Charities, which has chosen Operation Smile as its charitable beneficiary. Every $240 will enable one child to have the needed surgery to have a normal smile that the rest of take for granted.

My studio has helped to create 13 smiles since 2007 and changed the lives of these children forever! Please join us to create more smiles this October. A family portrait is defined as one with more than one member of the family! Baby, mother, dad, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandkids, and even your dogs can quality.

Baby's first photo session.

Read Tips on what to wear for your family portrait on my blog.












What is your reaction when you see a photo of a child with cleft lips or palate? Do you turn away in horror and avert your eyes like I did years ago? I have now seen the transformation which can take place and the real and happy smiles and lives they and their family can enjoy.  Join me this year to help a few more children through the national fundraising event Family Portrait Month, the month of October this year in my studio.















Here in USA, children who are born with cleft lips or palete can pretty easily get surgery and live a normal life with a real smile. Katy is a mom and a photographer in Nashville whose son was born with cleft lips, watch her video to see why she supports Operation Smile to help other children.

One of the rewards of being a professional photographer is to help bring families together, to create great memories to cherish forever, and to change lives!

Join me for Family Portrait Month. Email me or call 831-426-1400 to be part of Family Portrait Month this year.

Portrait with your cats as part of your family

Portraits with your Cats?

If cats are in your life, then you probably have taken many photos of your cats. But how about a photo with your cat? I do a lot of pet photography, most them are of dogs, but there are some cats and even other unique pets people have, like rabbits, chicken and even a rat.

It is definitely not an easy thing to do to take portraits of you and your cats in the studio. Most cats hate to ride in cars, the first step is to transport the cats to the studio, then we have to make sure the cats are not freaked out, which they are sometimes when they get to the studio.

The latest session with a cat named Happy who was definitely not too happy to be crated and taken to the studio, both me and the owner got scratched by the cat! but the kitten Maze was amazing, with a coat like a leopard!

photo of kitten

Cats don’t really follow directions unless your cat is an exception! I don’t use the tricks I did for the SPCA in this video  for cats in the studio, because the owner can usually hold the cats without too much problem. Most owners want to hold their cats in the portraits with their cats.

There is a story for every cat in these photos. One of them did not get along with the other 2, so we had to do some tricks to make them appear in the same photo. Another got along fabulously with the 4 dogs in the household. One was even fine with the chickens! There is more than one animal in these photos who are no longer with us. As much as we love them, and most cats live a long life, they will eventually leave us behind. Wouldn’t it be great to have a portrait with your cats (or dogs!) when it is still possible?

Portraits with cats

It’s also possible to have the portrait taken at home, where the cats are more at ease, like this one.


Santa Cruz pet photography

Santa Cruz pet photographer takes pet photos at the SPCA

Pet photography, especially at the Santa Cruz SPCA is not always easy, some of the animals have pretty bad history of being abused and are extremely shy or nervous, but sometimes we get surprised, a dog may pose perfectly! It’s a good thing that I am very patient and calm and get along with animals. Here are the latest photos from this week’s Santa Cruz pet photo shoot at the SPCA.

It’s always amazing to see how the SPCA in its tiny facility is able to help and save so many animals. Of course all the volunteers help make this possible. I have been volunteering as a photographer since 2008 and have photographed more than 1500 pets. The wall in the SPCA store in Capitola Mall has a small collection of them. It is a low budget photo wall, but it has some twists and surprises. Have you seen this video of how it was installed?


Each of the animals in the mosaic is a dog at the SPCA who have been adopted! This is a close-up of the wall at the SPCA store in Capitola Mall. Is your pet one of them?

mosaic dog head photo

The dog head is composed of a mosaic of photos!

Glamour makeover portrait experience

What is it like to have a glamour makeover portrait experience at the studio? A photo shoot which uncovers the beauty within.

Recently we had just such and experience to photograph a beautiful mom of 3 little girls. Jennalee had just given birth to her 3rd daughter at the beginning of the year and with all the tasks related to being a mom and also running her business (Santa Cruz Skin Solutions, she is a wonderful esthetician!) she was feeling very unattractive. It was just the right time for a beauty, glamour, makeover portrait session! See what happened at the studio when she came in that day!

dog doing yoga

Santa Cruz pet photographer at the SPCA

Santa Cruz pet photographer at the SPCA

When this dog is not doing yogaI try to go about once a month to the Santa Cruz SPCA to photograph the animals. Pet photography can be very rewarding and fun. The dogs (and cats) who have a good photo are more likely to attract people to come visit them and to adopt them. Here are some fun photos from today’s photo shoot.

There were 5 in this litter, named after tropical islands, we only managed to get 4 in the group shot. The leftmost one was the smallest of the litter, her name is “Maui”, she is super cute, and did a lot of singing! When I talked to her, she tilted her head for the last photo here. I am sure she will get a home real soon.

See more pet photographs at the gallery.

littermates littermates puppy singing puppy tilting her head

What happened to my business reviews on Yahoo local?

About a month ago, Yahoo Local listing starting serving up Yelp reviews for businesses. This may or may not a good thing. If you have never had  or not have many reviews on Yahoo for your business, but a lot on Yelp, this is great, because now you have more reviews showing up when people search for you on Yahoo. But what happens when you have more reviews on Yahoo? I actually had more reviews on Yahoo of my photography business than Yelp. I did not like Yelp’s policy of arbitrarily hiding reviews so I have told people that and I always preferred seeing reviews on Yahoo Local. In years past, when Google+ did not exist, Google used to serve up Yahoo reviews, but things have changed since.

I have always had positive business reviews of my studio because I always make sure clients are completely thrilled and happy with what they got and experienced at my studio, that’s part of my “be thrilled or bust” guarantee. When people take the time to write me a review, I not only appreciate the feedback, I also save a copy of the review to keep on my computer, that’s a good thing because now I found no way to see the 21 reviews my clients have written for me on Yahoo listings and the reviews would have been lost if I had not saved them. I think Yahoo really did a disservice to their business listing customers, there should be a way to still see these reviews! So is the web forever? Not exactly.

For now, I am just going to repost some of them here, so at least the effort and feelings my clients have expressed are not lost. To all of you who have written reviews of your experience at my studio at Yahoo, Yelp or Google, THANK YOU! I enjoyed meeting you and photographing you and your family, and have fun!

family photography Santa CruzDANA Created on 05/11/13

I had been wanting to do a family photo for quite a while but never took the time to get it together until I saw a Groupon for Positive Vista. I had never heard of Portia Shao, but then, I didn’t know any photographers so I just went for it. It ended up being a great choice for me! My daughter lives out of town and it was a little difficult to find a time when all four of us could be together to even take a picture. Portia was wonderful in helping with offering to work when she normally wouldn’t to accommodate my needs. The photo shoot was amazing, not only did she spend more time than I would have expected, it was a blast! We all were laughing and having a great time. Portia took probably hundreds of shots, in all different combinations of the four of us. I ended up with exactly what I originally wanted and more, I now have a beautiful collage of my two young adult children and the best picture of myself ever taken! Thank you Portia for capturing my family in time that we will all enjoy for many years into the future!


Theresa Created on 07/18/12 portrait-by-portia-shao-01

Coming for overseas to do a photo shoot with my boyfriend, what i liked most about Portia was her efficiency and willingness to be creative and flexible with us! Also very professional and fast results. never left you lingering!

 Posted on 06/01/12

I had a wonderful experience at Portia Shao’s studio. I originally went to get a few portraits of myself dressed in my military uniform for a Father’s Day gift. She was very accommodating and flexible. I ended up bringing my dog, Jazz, along and Portia even took a few shots of us together- which turned out to be some of the cutest shots I have of her. My dog was actually smiling! Portia made me feel completely at ease during the photo shoot and had many creative ideas. You can tell photography is not just a job to her, but also a passion.

Zoe Posted on 02/28/12

Wonderful experience! My daughter had been looking to do head shots, performing on stage as well as in front of a camera. I have never done anything like this before and Portia was able to walk us through the process. What a treat for both my daughter and myself. Portia knows exactly what she is doing and does it very well. The portraits were amazing and exactly what we were looking for. Now its up to my daughter to do the rest, but those photos sure won’t go unnoticed. Thank you Portia, it was very enjoyable and relaxing

jaynorry 10/31/2011 portrait-by-portia-shao-04
I needed a photo of myself for a book I had written and was ready to publish. I found Portia Shao online, and was impressed with her comprehensive website and her perspective on her art. Then I met her, and I was even more impressed. She is awesome! I have never felt comfortable having pictures taken of me, and have seldom been happy with them. I was apprehensive about the session. Portia put me immediately at ease; I was amazed at how happy I was with the shots she took, and the work she did on them. She delivered like a true professional and a talented artist. I would recommend Positive Vista Photography and Art to anyone looking for the perfect photo or set of photos for any occasion.
portrait-by-portia-shao-05Edna Vilozny 10/21/2011
I recently came to see Portia Shao at Positive Vista Photography and Art for a mother/son portrait with my little boy, Brody. I wanted a loving, intimate and somewhat candid-looking photo spread to display in my new apartment. Portia helped me achieve exactly what I wanted, and Brody and I had a great time during the shoot (3 year old boys don’t always love having their picture taken!). Portia helped me every step of the way, from deciding on poses, choosing the layout and what kind of frame setting I wanted. I love my portrait and will continue to use Positive Vista in the future.

ihollenberg 09/09/201 portrait-by-portia-shao-06
I needed a head shot for a professional profile, and felt a little bit nervous because I think of myself as not photogenic. Portia’s photograph of me is better than I would have believed possible! It was fun working with her, and I would recommend her highly to any one, whether for a professional or a personal portrait.

portrait-by-portia-shao-07Lisa 08/11/2011
Portia Shao is amazing! I recently had her take family portraits when my father, who is now 81, was visiting us from Florida. I have very few photos of my father and me together (one of us is always on the other end of the camera! :), so the resulting photos are very precious to me. They came out beautifully — even my children each wanted their own copy of the family picture (and that’s saying alot coming from teenagers!) — and I am thrilled! She also took professional head shots for me for both my website and my social media sites and I love the way they came out as well. As a financial professional, people want to get to know me and my work; having a professional image is very important, and Portia has definitely captured that in my photo. If you need to upgrade your professional image, Portia and Positive Vista should be the next appointment you put on your calendar!


Celebration of Smiles Day is April 6

Photographer can actually create smiles

I do not mean I say “cheese” to make you smile in front of my camera. The smiles I am talking about are life-changing ones through surgery by doctors and volunteers of Operation Smile with donations from people everywhere, including PPA (Professional Photographers of America) Charities. Last year I was a 2013 Operation Smile Studio, and this year will be the 7th year I am celebrating smiles with PPA Charities.












What is your reaction when you see a photo of a child with cleft lips or palate? Do you turn away in horror and avert your eyes like I did years ago? I have now seen the transformation which can take place and the real and happy smiles and lives they and their family can enjoy.  Join me this year to help a few more children through the national fundraising event Celebration of Smiles Day. It will be on Sunday April 6 in my studio.















Here in USA, children who are born with cleft lips or palete can pretty easily get surgery and live a normal life with a real smile. Katy is a mom and a photographer in Nashville whose son was born with cleft lips, watch her video to see why she supports Operation Smile to help other children.

One of the rewards of being a professional photographer is to help bring families together, to create great memories to cherish forever, and to change lives!

Join me on Celebration of Smiles Day April 6 to capture smiles of your child and help to create smiles with a minimum $24 donation per child in a mini session (10 minutes) and a 5×7 print of your child. The $24 goes to Operation Smile to create a smile and change life of another child. Email me or call 831-426-1400 to be part of Celebration of Smiles Day on April 6, 2014. Here is FAQ and details about Celebration of Smiles Day.