Test Shoot with Keeley!

I got really great shots of Keeley during our test shoot on Saturday. I had the pleasure of having a fellow photographer shadow me on this shoot! I am always happy to spread my knowledge and help other photographers on their journey to mastering the craft. I’ve been so lucky to have some amazing mentors in my life, and am grateful for their influence, advice, and critique on my work. There are a few specific people who’s teachings have been incredibly invaluable to my business! And I hope to return the favor and give someone else little tips that help change their process, editing, or the way they look at light. Or just inspire them :)

Test Shoot Inspiration!

Hey Models! I have a Pinterest board for Test Shoot inspiration! Take a look for poses, outfit ideas, and cool vibes that we aspire our shoots to be like! https://www.pinterest.com/colleensobrien/model-test-shoot/

Test Shoot with Laurel

I photographed Laurel last Saturday, mostly in my studio because it was a little snowy and chilly outside! I bought these sheer white curtains and was so excited to play with the light next to my window. The curtains act as a diffuser, creating a soft glow. The shoot reminded me of something you might see in a Free People catalog! Mostly because her shirt is Free People :) Usually I pull clothes from my own closet for models to wear, but Laurel has amazing taste in fashion, so we used all of her own stuff! Oh, and like most model test shoots, this was her first photo shoot ever! She did pretty amazing and I can’t wait to see where her modeling takes her. 

Preview of Holly!

Here’s a portrait of beautiful Holly, who I photographed the other day. She came all the way from Vail! She’s a badass chickadee because she plays soccer, volleyball, skis, AND models. Busy gal.

Before | After

Here’s an example of the editing and retouching done to all of my images before seen by anyone! It’s crucial to get the lighting, sharpness, focus, and all camera settings correct when taking the photo, and leaving the editing to only enhance and add artistic value to it. You can see here that only subtle enhancements were made, such as deeper shadows and contrast, more vibrant colors. This is the only editing I prefer to do for portraits, so it keeps the person looking like their real, naturally beautiful self. I’ve had clients say so many times “You can photoshop that out, right?” well, no not really ;) 

Behind the Scenes of “Milk & Honey”

Here are some behind the scenes images of my newest editorial “Milk & Honey.” You can see the whole set at the top of my Editorial tab! This shoot was inspired by Alli’s property. Alli is my friend and most loved beauty artist. She is a hair & make-up master, and I love her so much! She lives with her boyfriend & his family on some land in Littleton, CO. They have some chickens, llamas, and horses, so I thought it would be so fun to incorporate the animals in the shoot! Angel, our beautiful model/muse, was so patient and accommodating when working with the animals! We started the shoot with the llamas, and when I was directing her, I was like “Ok, Angel, this is going to be weird at first, but basically let’s follow the llamas around and just do your best to pose near them.” ha! She did ah-mazing. I love her look so much. It’s very unique and I think that’s what I love most about her. She’s such a sweet, gentle soul too. 

I can’t forget to mention how impressed I was working with a new stylist, Avery Ashmore. I haven’t had the best of luck with stylists in the past in aligning with my vision, so more times than not, I resort to my own closet for outfit styling. But having a stylist who is really great at what they do is so worth it, and steps the entire editorial up a notch. It gives me room to focus more on the creative concept and technical photography of it all! I am always so appreciative of my team to help with editorials because there’s no way I could accomplish it alone!!

Here’s the mood board I created for the shoot. This is great to have for editorials because it keeps everyone on the same page, and being a photographer - the best way for me to communicate my vision is through images, so it works out well. They’re also SO fun to make. I mean, look how pretty.. If only I could get paid to look at inspiration all day and create mood boards. 

New Collar Goods

My wonderful friends Jon and Deana have their own custom furniture company, and I had the honor of photographing their products for their website in my studio! Here are some behind the scenes photos, as well as some of my favorite product shots. Check out their site where you’ll see their creative take on the images and get to know their story a little better! www.newcollargoods.com

Also, Jon is the man behind my NEW LOGO! In addition to his furniture building skills, he is also a graphic designer. I’m so happy with my logo and can’t wait to print my business cards! 

Thuy Dam

I had a portrait session with Thuy Dam, who owns a beauty studio called So You Boutique. She offers services like spray tanning, lash extensions, and teeth whitening. I met her about 2 years ago, and have loved having her in my life. She is a “zen master”! and I considered her part friend, part life coach! She enlightens me daily on new perspectives, as well as encourages me to overcome my weaknesses. Thuy is expanding her business and is including tarot readings, face readings, and energy clearings into her business. She is such an amazing teacher, and I’m so grateful she is in my life! http://soyouboutique.net/

Hannah Test Shoot Preview!

I photographed Hannah with Wilhelmina Models earlier this week. We walked around downtown and found pretty light, and managed to do 3 looks while Hannah was a champ and changed outfits in random bathrooms of downtown government buildings. This was her first time EVER modeling, and I am so blown away by her natural talent!! I love photographing new models and helping them learn poses and what works best for them in front of the camera during our shoot. Can’t wait to share the rest from this test shoot! 

St. Mary’s Glacier

One of my very best friends, Emily, came to visit me for an entire WEEK in October! It was so much fun, like having a roommate and a mini vacation in my own city, showing her all of my favorite places around town. We went to Black Eye Coffee, hit up some breweries, and hiked to the top of St. Mary’s Glacier! 

Ironwood! The prettiest plant shop in town

It’s so beautiful up there, and we had perfect weather that day. I have hiked it once before, but the first time was with a model, and we were not dressed appropriately for a hike, since she was wearing what I was going to photograph her in - a dress and boots! And last time, we didn’t go nearly as far up the glacier. I took my 6 month old puppy, Penny on her first real hike! And I experimented with taking landscape photos. I still don’t believe I did a good enough job capturing the breath-taking scenery.  

Black Eye Coffee

I got to photograph Black Eye Coffee’s brand new space in Capitol Hill, Denver last week! It is so beautiful, and the attention to detail is outstanding. They serve the best quality coffee, as well as craft cocktails with unique names pulled from poems and classic books. I am so glad this place exists for meetings, working, and happy hour! Although last time I was there, I didn’t get much editing done because there are so many beautiful details and fun people watching to do! My iced coffee was served in a highball glass! And the wall of the bar spins around like a secret passage way to a mirror on the other side. So classy. 

Lexie Test Shoot Preview!

Today, I photographed Lexie of Wilhelmina Models for a test shoot. We had incredible light in my studio while it rained outside. I was feeling so inspired to do a monochromatic, preppy fall look with Lexie. And to break out the blue back drop that I haven’t used in a while! I love this shot!

Violet Hour - feat. Avery

Avery is modeling Violet Hour’s robe ~ the Eleanor ~ and two piece set ~ the Cora ~ in her downtown loft. We wanted a vintage, whimsical vibe of spending a long morning drinking coffee and listening to records in her comfy VH sleepwear! Avery is a fashion blogger and her site is awesome and she’s just the cutest! Check it http://www.stylishrubbish.com/

Violet Hour http://www.violethourfashion.com/ where you can purchase a piece of comfy loungewear, and view more of my collaborations with my bff’s company! 

Meda Senior Portraits

Another beautiful senior portrait session, this time with Meda! She’s a senior at Eaglecrest this year. She wants to move to LA and become a model after school. I told her to GO FOR IT!!! She can do anything she wants to do!

These images were shot on my roof in downtown Denver. I love urban portraits. 

Black Widow

My editorial, Black Widow, was published today in Mith Magazine! And they made one of my images their October cover! WOW! I’m so happy to see my work published! And so grateful for my team of creatives that helped make it happen. View the feature here! http://mithmagazine.com/black-widow-aletheia-matthews-wilhelmina-models-by-colleen-obrien/

I’m not so much a writer, but magazine submission rules always force to me try to be. So I wrote a little story to go with the images..

A lonesome widow, desperate in desolation. Her somber heart prefers solitude and uses her wealth to fill a void. She passes the time reading fiction novels in her garden and dreaming of a world where she is fulfilled and free, and someday, loved again.


Photographer - Colleen O’Brien

Model - Aletheia Matthews with Wilhelmina modeling agency

Hair & Make-Up Artist - Allison Beach

Jewelry - Native Clutter

Colorado in the fall

Doing something 2 years in a row automatically makes it a yearly tradition, right? Driving Independence Pass is so incredible in Sept, and I’m so lucky to have been able to do it again. Actually getting there, the whole 4 hour beautiful drive, is the best part of going to Aspen for a weekend getaway. 


I bought a really beautiful set of tarot cards! They’re from Homestead Apothecary which is based in Oakland, CA, but I heard of them through a class taught by the owner, Nic. He came all the way to tiny Silver Plume, CO to share his knowledge of herbal medicine. It focused mostly on stress & anxiety relievers, and we got to make our own tincture. Mine is a mixture of passion flower, camomile, skull cap, & California poppy. The class was hosted by the one and only Shae of Dram Apothecary. I can’t wait to learn how to do readings for myself and friends, maybe even clients! and have our own interpretations on these little messages from the universe. 

I Love My Senior Clients!

High School seniors are so fun for me to photograph! They are so expressive and love being in front of the camera. It’s so exciting for me to capture their shining smiles, which are contagious! I find myself with a huge smile on my face while I edit senior portraits, especially Peighton’s here! 

We did 3 different locations in our session. We started in my studio and did some classic portraits with a colorful background. Then we moved to a courtyard down the street from my studio where she wanted some pictures on the steps. And lastly, we drove all the way out to DIA where there are sunflower fields! We timed it so we were shooting in the fields of flowers at sundown when the light was low. You can see more from our session on my portrait page! 

Violet Hour Kickstarter

This is Katey. She’s my best friend. 

National Bike to Work Day!

She is starting her own company called the Violet Hour, which is a beautiful, classic sleepwear line for women to feel comfortable in the best hour of all the days - when the sun is setting and you get to come home from a long day of work and throw off your jeans and bra and put on really pretty house clothes instead of your boyfriend’s gross tshirt and sweat pants! It ain’t lingerie, but it’s also not PJs. It’s a very perfect sweet spot in between. 

Behind the Scenes shooting Violet Hour products for her site! #bossbabes

my pretty studio with a pretty model named Caroline in the Violet Hour’s pretty robe!

typical photog stance. normal.

Help support her Kickstarter campaign by pledging! Even just $5 gets you sweet, hand written thank you card from Katey. But $55 gets you The Willie dress below!! 



Foraging in Silver Plume

My friend Katey and I signed up for a foraging class as part of her birthday celebration last week! The class was taught by Shae of Dram Apothecary, a wonderful little cocktail bar in the tiny town of Silver Plume, CO

A small group of us walked around the town and short trails into the mountains, stopping and talking about native Colorado plants as we saw them along the trail. Shae informed us of medicinal uses and edible weeds that surround us everyday!  

We looked at several different types of mushrooms, and learned how to tell which are edible and which to stay away from. We were able to cut a few to keep, knowing that the same shroom will grow back in just a day or two if conditions are right! 

I come from a horticulture background, studying plants in college, so it was so therapeutic and refreshing to go back to my roots, so the speak. (I love plant puns.) Foraging as a second job would be just a dream come true. With a tiny cabin in the woods to grow my own vegetables too, of course.

At the end of our hike, there a little picnic waiting for us back at the bar with awesome snacks and cocktails!

Check out Dram and all of Shae’s creations, like her mountain sage bitters, pine syrup, and wildflower tea, all made from plants in her backyard and mountain sides of Silver Plume! So many unique cocktails recipes too! http://dramapothecary.com/

Using Format