I am a creative portrait artist.

I have mastered using light, cameras and photography as my tools for
creating portraits in innovative, nontraditional ways.

A photographer today is anyone who clicked the button on the camera, and that’s only a simple very brief step in the process. It is the planning that goes on well before and the creative art after that moment that makes the result of button pushing and turns it into creative portrait you will cherish.

Anyone can be a photographer. All you have to be able to do is lift a camera and push the button. And in today’s world, many people are billing themselves as a photographer because they have a “really nice camera” that they paid $500 for and they can set it on automatic.  A nice camera does not make them a portrait artist it makes them a nice camera owner.

The creation of family heirloom photography takes years of learning, practice, and many skills beyond pushing the button; it takes a creative portrait artist.

To be a creative portrait artist requires:

  • A fundamental knowledge of light and how it plays on the face and body.
  • An understanding of color and how the use of complimentary or contrasting colors can have a dramatic impact on an image.
  • Skills to be able to determine proper locations, or perfect backgrounds and settings, especially when working outdoors.  A setting that may look nice to the human eye may or may not look wonderful in an image, depending on a lot of factors.
  • Knowledge of how best to position a myriad of human body styles to make people look their best.
  • An understanding of the physics of light and optics, and the interplay with shutter speed and aperture.
  • The ability to choose proper settings both for how they’ll look in the final print and how the existing light will enhance or detract from the image.  Then it takes a knowledge, skill and equipment to modify that light to make it look it’s best.
  • A deep understanding of psychology to help those in front of the camera look and feel their best, which can sometimes be the most challenging skill of all.
  • Understanding the concepts of art, and the rules of composition, plus the knowledge of when to break them creatively and properly.
  • Knowing how to properly place the subjects in relation to each other. You can’t just clump people. There a lot of fundamental design rules that come into play.


And once you have everything ready – a great location, beautiful light, perfect placement, complimentary body and facial position, great composition and energy -  it takes the ability to get great expressions.

After the capture session, it takes lots of artistic vision and skill to properly finish the images using tools like Photoshop.  Unfortunately, too many people use Photoshop to attempt to FIX the things they did wrong when doing the initial capture, because of their lack of skill and ability in the things we’ve already talked about.


It takes an understanding of the technical side of color, exposure, color space and all the other factors that go into the final preparation of a image for printing.


So you see, the act of pushing the button; the act of being a photographer is only one instantaneous factor in a whole progression of steps that determine how wonderful a finished image might be and just how much it will be valued for generations.


So, when you  want to create wonderful images of someone you love, or a time you want to remember, which would you prefer?  Do you want someone who’s merely a button pusher?  Or do you want someone who has the skills to create something that will become a family heirloom, and be treasured for generations?
That’s why I am  not a  button pushing photographer, but a Portrait Artist.


I am Blessed As a Creative Portrait Artist, a trained Photographer.

I’m lucky and feel very blessed . . . everyday I get to do something I really love. I wake up each morning grateful that I can combine my passion for photography with my love of people. I get to create images for my clients that will be shared, treasured and passed down from generation to generation. And the best part, I have a great time doing it!


Being in business for over 23 years has given me a chance to become part of clients’ lives as I watch their families grow. I’ve seen newborns become children, grow into teenagers, evolve into young adults and begin their own families. It’s one of the best parts of being a photographer for this long . . . I know my clients have also become my friends.


Painting your portrait with light as a Portrait Artist

My goal is to see light and use it to create your portrait. It is not the cameras, lenses or equipment that creates a portrait; a portrait is a direct reflection of the photographer’s ability to see and manipulate the light. I pose my subject into the light, and use the correct camera angle to capture the intensity of the light. Most importantly I use the light to define a moment in time. It is the light that sparks the color in your eyes, creates the deep serious mood, that dances on the water in the background, and gives an airy feeling to a summer portrait. Light is the most important tool, and the least forgiving.


We do not play it safe

Understanding light control is why so many photographers play it safe and use "standard portrait lighting". It's quick, easy, and OK most of the time. It takes years of study, training, and practice to develop the ability to see and use light; It is what separates my work from other studios. To make the most of my abilities, I constantly challenge myself with location photography. The light always varies, some good, some bad, and some very sweet defining light. Location photography is always the most difficult, but brings out my best.


Pre-portrait planning is critical

At Max Bailey we invest the time to prepare you for your portrait experience. In your pre-portrait consultation we study samples, define your needs, decide what to record in your portraits, plan the location, time of day, clothing and style of your session. We are the only Portrait Studio in the area to offer this service. Whether you choose to have us photograph your wedding, family, child, baby, high school senior or event, we take the same time and care in planning.


Photographic Skills unmatched in the area

I have spent years working with cameras, digital software, computers, and equipment to improve every photograph. The equipment is now second nature; Artwork we used to do with brushes, dyes, and oil paint, we now do by hand digitally with the same techniques. We touch, re-touch, and enhance every image before it is printed. We use only the finest archival processes, photographic papers, and watercolor papers for our masterpiece art line. My style of photography allows me to create images in natural settings that reflect your inner longings, attitudes, and relationships. Our clients choose us for something beyond the ordinary. My freestyle approach means your portraits will never be like anyone else's, because you are not like anyone else. I have worked long to move from being only a photographer to a creative portrait artist.


Let me create a lasting memory for you.


Photographically yours,


Portraitist Joel Maxwell
Minnesota Accredited Photographer