I am pleased to welcome Alvaro, the lead cinematographer of Alvaro Misericordia Films to our team. Having recently relocated from Bolivia to Tampa Alvaro is now heading up the Video Department in Studio. I am excited and extremely grateful to be able to offer our clients film options. Specializing in beautiful wedding films he also produces commercial films. Take a moment to check out their work.
My fellow photographers often ask me why I go to so many creatives conventions. The simple truth is I love learning. Spending time and catching up with those who inspire me is a bonus. Attending Photo Plus in NY is an entirely different experience than attending WPPI in Las Vegas. I come away from each convention with a new perspective and ready to put into action, for my clients, all that I have learned. In one word, I leave INSPIRED. Inspired to work harder, create more, and challenge me in not only my photography but in my life. I admire educators that can teach while also inspiring passion and dare you to think outside of the box.
I can meet up with old friends and always manage to acquire new friends. Making sure that the long days are balanced out with lots of comradery and laughter. Unlike some photographers, I don't think I will ever "know" enough.
Outside of the educating and learning that goes on at this convention, the Expo Floors are a measure of what is happening within the industry. Often new products from Nikon, Canon, and many others are released at these conventions. New gadgets and gizmos that started as Kickstarter debut during these meetings. Those of you who know me personally know how much I love a good gadget. I am excited at the new light from Lume Cube. This 1.5-inch cube of light has ten intensities of light, strobe and can be commanded from an app on your iphone. I was so blown away by the demo I purchased two cubes to see how I could incorporate them into my studio. RC Concepcion did a live demo on the expo floor, and my excitement increased tenfold. The image he made with just three Lume Cubes was stunning. As a new product, there are some limitations as far as mounting for portrait photographers. I still bought them because I know it is a matter of time before they add more options to their collection thus allowing all types of photographers to incorporate the Lume Cube whatever their need might a small, quick and powerful light source.
I realize there is no magic bean to success, but I do believe that passion, practice, and dedication to learning are what sets photographers apart. In my journey to becoming a full-time photographer, I have been truly blessed with some amazing mentors. Had I not attended theses conferences I would probably never met some of these amazing educators, photographers, that I now call friends.
Dream * Inspire * Capture
As a photographer, I am fascinated by light. My favorite times of the day are sunrise and sunset because the light changes so beautifully in such a short time. Mastering the use of light shaping and diffusing to create the desired image is something I love to practice.
When I saw Adele’s latest album cover, I fell in love with the lighting used in her images. Unable to climb the stairs to get into the studio, I had one light brought downstairs and tried the invisible black background method in my dining room. I just played around with placing the light in different areas until I liked the fall off. I wanted to visually see the changes and the degrees of the angles in real time, so this set-up worked well. Sometimes you can learn even more than you think just playing with light.
My version of this image used a little more light, and the post-processing stayed in color. I also used an iPhone instead of an old-fashioned phone to give it a modern twist.
Having my baby girl home from college has been lovely—I can hardly believe she is a junior and preparing to study in South Africa for the semester. The steady stream of her friends visiting the house has filled it with chatter and laughter, a perfect backdrop for me as I finally began consolidating images from various hard drives.
I am welcoming a new year with open arms, determined not to let it be affected by last year’s struggles. It is, after all, a chance to embrace the possibilities of all the adventures that lie ahead. I am well on the road to a complete recovery from knee surgery, and I’m ready to get back to living a full life and capturing beautiful images!
As climbing the stairs isn't as much a challenge anymore, I am actually back in the studio. My first task has been sorting through way too many hard drives, trying to gather all of my images in one place in preparation to set up a synology storage system. I am pretty excited about revamping my storage to be more streamlined. Let’s face it: sorting though 10+ external hard drives to retrieve images from 2000 is no fun at all. Having both my personal and professional images all in one place will make for one happy photographer.
As I have been shopping and organizing with my daughter for her four months away, I’ve been thinking about the best way for her to back up and store her images. She’ll be traveling throughout South Africa with limited internet access, so we decided that ten 16G memory cards, a 1TB G- tech external hard drive, and an upgraded Dropbox account should take care of storage, back-up, and image sharing.
I am both excited for her new adventure and absolutely terrified. Maybe I’m even a little jealous that she will be in such a beautiful place surrounded by so much wildlife… A photographers paradise.
Hope your New Year is off to a great start.
In a few hours, I will finally have the surgery to repair my knee and start taking new steps literally to regain my life. As all photographers know, being creative takes stamina and overall physical strength. Scouting locations, hauling gear, and contorting our bodies to capture the best shot is all part of the job. I love every minute of creating images, but the hard truth is that it has forced me to see that I have not taken care of myself. The up-and-down weight I've been carrying for 20+ years has taken its toll on my already compromised joints.
I have spent the better part of this year fighting my body and trying to ignore the pain. I have only recently come to terms with the fact that I have allowed my knee issues to slowly strip away who I am. I have been in pain every day since I first saw my ortho doc in February.
I like to think of myself as a strong, type A, get-it-done kind of woman. I could not come to terms with not being able to do what I love, never mind not being able to walk even short distances without awful pain. I just dealt with the pain while trying to do everything until I couldn’t. Going out on a shoot would lead to days in bed with pain meds and ice. Surgery, countless steroid injections, medication, and icing just could not stop the pain.
So I decided I had to surrender and get my life back. The first step was committing to taking care of myself and scheduling a partial knee replacement surgery. While I don’t like the idea of it, I need to be able to engage in life again.
As the year winds down, I will be busy with physical therapy and committing myself to being healthier and stronger so that I can get back to being on location and capturing beautiful images. I have a stack of books and Kelbyone videos to keep me busy during my recovery. If you have any good book recommendations, please share!
In the mean time, live, shoot, and capture what makes you happy!
Hello all, it’s been a while since I last wrote. I found myself in a bit of a rut after dealing with knee issues since the beginning of the year and the surgery that followed. I really thought I wouldn't make this year’s Photoshop World (PSW) conference, but I am so glad I did. For anyone interested in what Photoshop World is like, here is my recap of my experience this year:
After a much needed nap, I can now reflect on what an absolutely fabulous week I had at Photoshop World. I daresay it was epic!
In Kathy’s words, she and I left home as friends and are returning sisters! There really aren't any words to describe how grateful I am for Kathy’s dedication to making sure I was okay, even while she was running around working. Kathy, our late night talks and giggles were priceless, but above all thank you for just being who you are! Check out Kathy’s work.
It's so hard to describe to people that have never attended PSW why they should. As this was my 5th time attending the conference, I am often asked why it’s really necessary to go every year. The number one reason is the line up of instructors, but it’s really so much deeper than just that. At every conference, I have met up with old friends and gained new ones. As much as the conference is about learning from the instructors, it is also about getting inspiration from all of the people you meet.
As an example, I met Craig McCormick at my very first PSW, and this time around he took the top prize: the Vincent Versace Award for Photographic Excellence. On top of that, the talented Mark Rodriguez, who I met at a Strobist Meet Up in Tampa, took the top Guru Award for Best in Show. If that isn't inspiring, I don't know what is.
I also had the pleasure of meeting some incredibly talented fellow creatives this year: Daniel Gregory, Alex Sahagun, Matt Divine, Adam Silversmith and Charles King. Daniel Gregory is a teacher of fine arts out of Seattle Washington, and he has a KelbyOne class coming out soon that I promise you will not want to miss! I had the pleasure of having dinner with him one night, and the conversation was such an ‘a-ha moment’ that many at the table where crying. Lori Gregory, his wife, was also a pleasure to meet, and I have already started to read her book.
Alex is an awesome photographer out of Mexico and an all-around gentleman. I nicknamed him my ‘PSW hubby’ because he took such good care of me, helping me to get around and finding ice for me in the middle of class when my knee swelled up.
Matt is an inspiring wedding photographer out of Connecticut and a friend of Brad Moore. Brad is first action to Scott Kelby and an incredible talented concert photographer in his own right. Matt instantly became part of our little group, and he was kind enough to include me in a drive out to Ghost Town. We shared great conversation and some stunning scenery as we explored the area. As we parted, he said a beautiful prayer for my knee to heal without delay.
Adam is an incredible photographer based in Vegas. He doubled as our local advisor on the best shooting locations around the city, and was extremely helpful in answering all of my questions about where to shoot in the area.
Charles King is an extremely gifted wedding photographer out of Virginia. I met Charles at a previous Photoshop World conference. This year, I was able to spend more time with him.
To each and every one of you who made this Photoshop World conference EPIC, I am humbled and extremely grateful that I now call you friends! I wish you all safe travels home, and am looking forward to seeing you again in the future.
On top of meeting all of these incredible people, PSW was essentially like being invited a huge party with some of the best photographers and graphic designers in the world. It was great chatting with the likes of Joe McNally, Anne Cahill, Jay Maisel, RC Concepcion, Scott Kelby, Glyn Dewis, Erik Valind, Corey Barker, Mia McCormick, Peter Hurley, Brandon Ford, Pete Collins, Moose Peterson, Alan Hess, Joel Grimes, Tim Wallace, Roberto Valenzuela and Frank Doorhof, just to name a few of my favorites.
This year, I really struggled to decide whether or not to go to PSW because of my knee problems. But it was worth it in the end, even if I did have to ride around in a scooter. I have to thank the whole KelbyOne crew, who went above and beyond to make me feel welcome and worked out any of the logistics of getting me around the convention center. As always, they also put in so much work behind-the-scenes to make PSW Vegas the best conference in the world. To all of those people, I must say that your hard work and dedication is truly appreciated!
Video coming soon. Stay Tuned.
- Nathaniel Branden
As many of you already know, part of my mission is to use photography to bring out people's unique beauty. I am so very proud that I was asked to accompany The Change Project as one of their photographers as they travel the country sharing their mission of tolerance, love and equality for all. For those of you who don't know about The Change Project, I asked Steven Romeo, founder of the organization to submit today's blog post.
Two weeks ago, The Change Project successfully kicked off 2015 by attending the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change Conference in Denver, Colorado. After 4 days jam packed with queer activism, the organization ended up raising $5000 through sales of their self-designed T-shirts, and expanded their photography campaign with a whole day of new photoshoots. Founded in June of 2013, the Alabama based non-profit began as the brainchild of progressive activist Steven Romeo. Through photography and social media campaigns, The Change Project is bringing awareness to the diversity of identities within the queer community - something it hopes will reduce the stigmatization that persists around many marginalized identities.
Since that first summer, The Change Project has held open shoots at Pride events across much of the Southeast, as well as several major conferences and universities. Meanwhile, the organization has expanded its work to include design consulting for smaller activist groups, and fundraises for multiple progressive causes by selling a self-designed clothing line. This year, The Change Project has an impressive line – up planned. Besides Creating Change, TCP will be attending 19 Pride events and conferences spanning from Tampa and Houston in the South to Chicago and Philadelphia in the North. Also in the works is a fine arts installation. “Our Bodies, Our Lives” will be on display in The Change Project’s Birmingham headquarters, and will highlight the violence society often imposes upon queer bodies for not fitting social norms.
Over the past two years, The Change Project has grown from a school project based out of founder Steven Romeo’s living room, to a multifaceted campaign touring across the nation. Historically, art has always played a large role in queer activist movements, such as the “Silence = Death” campaign and the Memorial Quilt Project during the AIDS crisis. The Change Project follows in the footsteps of those revolutionary leaders, using the new media of today to bring to life the lived realities – both pleasant and horrific – of queer people in the modern age.
Visit us: http://www.embodyprogress.org/
What a roller coaster ride 2014 was.
As I’ve started to print and enlarge more of my work to hang in my studio, I’ve been thinking a lot about printing photographs. And as we start a new year, I am on a mission to print more images as a way of welcoming the possibilities ahead.
With the digital age, social media has become our photo album. Many people don’t even print their photos anymore; they just keep a digital album to share. Although I do share a lot of my images digitally, there’s nothing like actually holding a print or hanging a canvas on a wall.
I’ve always had an affinity for printed photos. My mom owned an antique store when I was young, and she would often have stacks of old photos for sale. I worried about the people in the photos—wasn’t someone missing these images in their family albums? I diligently kept scrapbooks myself for years as a way to document my life and my daughter’s childhood. My intricate scrapbooks have been replaced by photo books, but I still get prints to have some tangible reminders of special moments in my life.
Professionally, nothing makes me more proud of my work than seeing it in print. The paper just picks up elements of a photograph that you can’t capture on a screen. One of my favorites is a photo I took of the Louvre museum in Paris. Though I like the digital photo, it really came to life when I had it printed on high-quality pearl paper.
In my personal life, I find that prints are important, too. The issue with storing all of your photos online is that you never really see them. Facebook is all about projecting your life to others, but why should you not display those best moments for yourself? I find that when I print out my personal photos and put them up in frames, on the wall, or even tacked to a bulletin board, I look at them more often. In doing so, I spend a bit more time each day reflecting on positive memories.
We could all do with a couple more reminders of good times. I encourage you to pick out some of your favorite photos that you haven’t printed yet and go print them, even if it’s just at the local Kodak kiosk in the drugstore. Let your loved ones and cherished memories have a physical presence in your life rather than get lost in the archives of Facebook albums and computer files!
If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you're not out there, you'll only hear about it.
As the year is winding down and I once again find myself reflecting on what I have learned and how I have grown this past year.
I am much more comfortable with the technical stuff: different cameras, lights, and gadgets. What I didn't realize until just recently is that shooting everyday has taught me to really see the world around me. What a great unexpected gift. What do I mean you ask? If we are blessed with sight we often go through life taking so much of the world around us for granted. Think about it - On your drive to work you are probably so used to the route you don’t really see what you are passing each day - you just glance as you are driving past.
Even with the great advancements in cameras they still do not possess a seeing mode. Which I suppose is a good thing as seeing is personal experience flavored by who we are. A sum of all our experiences if you will. The camera is just the tool we used to see the world.
I recently watched Jeremy Cowart’s video Lifefinder. In one section Jeremy talks about how he often takes different routes to the same places to keep his creativity going, always scouting for new locations to shoot. Yep, it is just that simple
I have always been a little crazy with my camera: pulling the car over to shoot something that caught my eye or stopping in mid sentence to wonder off and take a shot of something in the distance. I have this insatiable drive to document and capture the world around me. Lucky for me my family is used to it. So stopping everything to snap a photograph is part of who I am. But now I find myself really seeing things that I have passed many times before. I am more in-tuned and I have been training myself to really see…how cool it is that!
At Photoshop World a few years ago I was listening to Jay Maisel speak about how he always carries his camera with him. I have tried to incorporate always having a camera with me ever since. It is a little easier as most cell phones have cameras now days but there have defiantly been times I wish I had my nikon with me and not just my cell phone camera. I have recently taken to using my cell phone and a cool app MacAPic to scout locations that I would like to shoot. Another tip I picked up from Jeremy have a location folder. For me nothing sparks creativity more than having a visual image to start the process.
Another reason I often review the work of photographers I admire not because I want to copy or even emulate their images. More because I want to be inspired by those that inspire me - to take what I have learned and make it my own. I find it challenging to dissect the image - a kind of how did they do that? It forces me to think, draw on my knowledge and search if its something I don't know.
I am finishing off my year more in love with photography than ever before. The ability of a photography to move me to tears, trigger a memory, take me back to a time and place long forgotten, conjure an emotion I can’t even explain is priceless to me. Do you know what I am talking about? Have you ever stopped what you are doing to look at an image that just moves you. Thats why photographers shoot to try and capture the moment we see and share it before it is gone forever! Happy Holidays and Happy Shooting!
“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
In my quest to become a better photographer, fear is my biggest obstacle. Fear of not being good enough, fear of putting my images out into the world, fear of rejection. It’s kind of interesting to me that fear has played such a big role in my development, as I initially thought the technical aspects of photography would be the most challenging and terrifying.
The fear starts from the beginning. Once I am at a workshop, the little voices start: “You only have a Nikon D90,” or “You don’t have any fixed f-stop lenses.” In my mind, this means I’m far out of my league and causes me to try to make myself blend into the background. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about this because I know fear is holding me back.
Recently, with the help of my amazing partner, I was able to visit my daughter for parents’ weekend and then head for New York City for the PhotoPlus Expo. Being in New York was a great opportunity to spend time with my baby sister and learn a lot at the expo, but soon after planning the trip, my fear set in.
I am proud to say that I just did it, despite all of the fears that made me want to cancel. And it was well worth it. There where demos from the likes of Joe McNally and Scott Kelby and his team. I wandered from booth to booth, checking out the latest gear, watching demos, and even running across a few familiar faces. I went to two after parties, and I was able to grab dinner with none other than Pete Collins, Jeremy Coward, and Brad Moore. Even better than dinner with these amazing photographers was our discussion about fear.
Pete had a great quote: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Our conversation centered around how easy it is to compare ourselves in this age. How do we stay true to ourselves with social media? Are we constantly in search of “likes” and comments for validation?
I know I feel a sense of relief when someone likes my work, which is probably why I often struggle at that moment before I send my work into the universe. Should I or shouldn't I send it out? What if its not as good as I think it is?
I know I have a way to go with my relationship with fear, but I think I am on the right path. I have found my new motto to help keep me on track:
Alis volat propriis
“She flies with her own wings.”
Here's to flying high...happy shooting!
“I’m a photoholic! I love photography. I love taking photographs. I love looking at photographs, and, some of my best friends are photographers.”
~ Arthur Meyerson
This past week I joined fellow photographers of the Tampa Modeling Photography Association (TaMPA) at the Annual Halloween Photoshoot in Ybor City. I have to say, the models went all out with their hair, makeup, and costumes.
For the those of you who aren't familiar with how meet-ups work, they are essentially groups of photographers and models of all levels that plan on-location practice shoots. With TaMPA, once on location, we divide into groups, and each group is assigned models. It is up to each photographer to scout out the area and set up an on-location shoot. After several hours of shooting, we meet back up, grab some food, and discuss the evening. These are great, hands-on exercises in working to capture images in unfamiliar settings.
To create the creepy mood of Halloween, I decided to play around with using colored gels on my Q-flashes. I scouted out a white brick wall, and it turned out to be the perfect canvas. I tried different colors from warm yellows and reds to cool blues and greens, and I found that experimenting was the best way to visually see what I wanted in the final image. Working with gels also helped change the effect of the light.
If you have never tried an on-location shoot, I highly recommend getting out of the studio and challenging yourself to think on your feet and work with others. I find I learn just as much creating my own shot as I do watching my fellow photographers set up theirs.
Happy Shooting *
[T]hat old September feeling... of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air.... Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes and failures had been wiped clean by summer.
Fall is in the air. I love all that comes with fall in Florida: cooler days, cozy sweaters, holidays, and the like. I’m also happy that it’s almost time to make the trip up to Duke to visit my daughter, where I can get some college students home-cooked meals and take in the changing foliage.
Whenever I travel, I always try to schedule some shooting time, as I find a change of surroundings helps with creativity. I google the area and check out the must-see locations, then I check out images on Pinterest and Flickr for inspiration (but never to copy!). I also make notes of what gear I want to bring and any camera shops in the area that I want to check out.
For challenging my creativity, I find it most helpful to assign myself personal projects and to travel. By stepping into the unknown, you force yourself to adapt, and this helps you learn to solve problems and work with what you have. Remember that you can challenge yourself even by exploring the new parts of your own town or joining a local photography club. The goal, after all, is to shoot as much as possible.
"We make pictures. At the end of the day, we create something potentially significant that did not exist at the beginning of the day. We go forward, despite the uncertainty. Because this is an act of love and passion, which defies reason and prudence."
~ Joe McNally
Just by viewing a brochure, you can tell what a workshop with Joe McNally is going to entail. What the brochure can’t tell you, though, is Joe’s love and passion for what he does is genuine. Nor can it illustrate the natural fluidity of Joe McNally, Cali, and Jon working together as a team, or RC Concepcion’s talent and natural ability to teach, and his lovely wife Jenn’s genuine interest in everyone’s success. All together they created a phenomenal learning atmosphere.
This workshop started with a single speed light - lighting scenarios and finished with an extravagant staged scene with 7-10 speed lights (flashes). Each morning from 9-12, we reviewed the previous days work, discussed lighting scenarios at length, and listened to Joe talk about the lighting and the wonderful stories behind his images. Joe could have been an impersonator, as each day he broke out into different characters and accents as he shared his journey as a photographer. We broke everyday from 12-3, allowing the participants to enjoy the surroundings before our afternoon sessions from 3-6:30. RC walked us through basic retouching, giving us all a guide of where to start. He took us into Photoshop and demystified it, eventually finishing up the week by taking us though the process of capturing an HDR image and post-processing it.
I had taken previous pre-con workshops from Joe & RC at Photoshop World, so I was familiar with their work, passion, and style of teaching. I was more concerned about what the group would be like. I think we were all a little awkward on the first day, but by the second day we were all finding our groove. By the end of the week, we were all friends, sharing contact details and planning to meet up in the future.
Aside from the quality of the workshop itself, the location of this one was perfect. Jade Mountain & Anse Chastanet could not be a more perfect place to capture the true beauty and warmth of the people of St. Lucia.
The location also made it a perfect trip for significant others, too. My husband enjoyed a much needed vacation full of relaxing, scuba diving, and talking with the locals about the ocean. One of the highlights of his trip was meeting Victor the “Human Submarine,” who is actually in the Guinness Book of World Records for spending the most time under water—a total of 6+ years. Joe & RC made sure the experience was great for our partners, too, by including them in what we were doing and showing them behind the scenes.
So was this workshop worth the investment? Absolutely! Would I do another? Most definitely! I had the time of my life learning and spending time with some truly special people in a breathtaking environment. Even the pictures I took that didn't work are valuable to me because they were learning experiences that I now understand.
At the end of the day, I was able to share the experience with the love of my life and walk away with some amazing images, and I would recommend any budding photographer to take part in a Joe McNally or RC Concepcion workshop. You will come away re-energized in your quest for your next picture.
A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.
The Firehouse is nestled at the bottom of a winding road. If not for the bright red fire engines peeking out, it might be mistaken for just another building in the quaint town of Soufriere. Once inside, Joe McNally challenged us all to pay attention to detail and scout for good shots. I decided I wanted to shoot inside of a firetruck’s cab. RC challenged me to create and build an image using two lights, one in the cab and one outside the window. I have to admit, I initially thought this would be an easy image to create. I was wrong!
Capturing this image proved to be one of the most difficult exercises, both in terms of technicality and endurance. It was hot as hell, we were in a small, cramped space, and I felt bad for models Darius and Henry, who were in full firefighter gear.
I eventually gave Darius and Henry a break and Cali stepped in to assist me in getting the lighting right. Part of what makes Joe’s workshops such great learning experiences is that they don’t just show up when you’re struggling and give you the answer. They talk you through what you’re doing, asking the right questions to force you to think and go through the steps yourself. When I finally had an image with just the light I was looking for, Henry stepped back in and I resumed shooting. But something still wasn't quite right.
RC stopped by to see how I was progressing and I explained my dilemma. “Why don't you try a different shooting position?” he said. That was my aha moment. I was so busy wrestling with the spill of the light from the window and Henry’s position that I forgot the simplest of solutions—to move myself! I began the slow migration to the other side of the cab, contorting myself to eventually end up right in front of Henry… With one click, I finally got the image I wanted. We all climbed out of the cab of the fire truck feeling quite pleased. RC and Henry gave their thumbs up on the image, and RC told me to go show Joe.
I was so excited as I walked towards Joe I didn't see the cement block used to park the trucks, you guessed it I tripped and went flying. I tried to correct myself to protect RC’s camera, crashing into the wall, while my right hand, which was holding RC’s Nikon D3S, miraculously landed on a single fireman's boot. No damage done. As RC says, every good picture has an even better story.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
~ William Arthur Ward
The first thing you learn when you jump into photography is that there’s never enough time or money to do what you want to do. Therefore, the question for me is where I should spend the time and money I have to get the best result. My husband recently surprised me with the opportunity to travel to the island of St. Lucia to participate in Joe McNally & RC’s workshop and have a much needed vacation alone. But after the shock and excitement sunk in, I was then left feeling a little disconcerted about taking this adventure with my Nikon D90. Don’t get me wrong, I love my D90, but as I’ve advanced, I’ve become ready to kick it up a notch in the camera and fast glass department. While at this year’s Photoshop World conference in Las Vegas, I mentioned to Matt K after one of his classes that I was really thinking of renting gear to take with me, but a afraid to do so as 1) I have never rented gear before, and 2) I didn’t know what gear would be best to rent. He recommended that I talk to RC. It wasn't until we landed back home in Tampa that I remembered to ask RC about renting gear. When I talked to him, he said, very matter-of-factly, “No, don’t rent gear. Stop by my office this week and you can use my Nikon D3S, 24-70mm, and 70 -200mm.” I instantly started to tear up. As I am recalling this moment in time I am sure my words are not doing it justice. Not only was I excited about using top-of-the-line gear, but the gesture in itself was so generous. For this accomplished photographer to lend his equipment to a wide-eyed newcomer with no qualms about it was inspiring. Everyone who knows me already knows that I think the KelbyOne membership is well worth the money for those wanting to learn more about photography. This gesture by RC sums up what I think is at the heart of all the photographers that work and teach at KelbyOne: They truly love what they do, and they are more than happy to share their knowledge, enthusiasm, and passion to make you the best photographer you can be.
My heart is filled with gratitude. I am looking forward to sharing my experience in St Lucia and finding a way to pay it forward.
“ Photos are our autobiography away of telling who we are.” -Jan Phillips
As I am approaching the anniversary of beginning my blog, I asked my daughter to guest blog about what photography means to a young non-photographer.
"Guys, we should take a picture today so my mom doesn’t fuss at me.”
This is how I meekly propose that my friends and I stop to take a quick selfie. I don’t want to be a burden, so I try not to be theatrical—just a quick tap of the phone mid-walk, then we’re on our way. But the photo isn’t really just for my mom, it’s also for myself. For when I need a laugh, for when I’m feeling lonely during a break, for when I want to illustrate a funny story, for when I just want to look back and remember the good times that punctuated long hours of classes, homework, and exams.
Growing up, I never liked to have my photo taken. It was too much attention being placed upon me, too much of a struggle to strike the perfect pose so that I wouldn’t have to cringe every time I walked past the picture on the countertop. But as I went through high school, gained and lost friends, and experienced some rough times, I realized that even the most horrendous five-second snapshot is a valuable moment captured. Who could have guessed that the photo I almost refused to take at my freshman Relay would be one of the few I’d ever have of me and one of my best friends? I used to hate it—curly roots are peeking through my straightened hair, my face is virtually makeup-free, and the angle of my body is less than flattering. But now, I cherish that photo for what it is: friendship, laughter, silliness, and bonding frozen in time.
Now that I’m in college and doing a lot of new things, I try not to think too hard about taking photos. I may not look perfect, but at least I can remember the laughs my friends and I shared as we took a much needed study break, the excitement we felt before seeing Gloria Steinem talk, the fun we had playing in the first snow of winter with our classmates, the music we danced to at that weird outdoor concert, the awesome discussions we had during our end-of-the-year tea party. Our lives are worth capturing and remembering, and I know I want to remember these moments and these people years down the line. I’ve finally come to appreciate how valuable photography is in doing just that.
Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes.
It is not something physical.
~ Sophia Loren
Think about how many times you’ve been about to take someone’s photo when, suddenly, they screech, “No, I need to loose weight!”, “Wait, I don’t have any make up on!”, “ I’m not dressed for pictures!”, or the worst of them all, “I don’t like taking photos!”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have probably used every excuse in the book not to be photographed. But how can we get our friends, family, and even clients to move past these feelings?
When my daughter was six months old, I took her into a studio for a portrait. The photographer wanted me to take a few shots with her. I was mortified and said “Oh, maybe next time, my hair’s not done and I haven't lost the baby weight.” I will never forget what she said to me next: “Twenty years from now, do you think your daughter will care about those things, or will she be happy to have an image of the two of you together?” She was so right. I went on that day to take the photos, and to this day that image of my daughter and I is one of my favorites. I try to remind myself of that day whenever I am tempted to forego a photo.
In the studio, we love helping our clients to see their individual beauty. It’s what I love most about portrait photography, and it’s also part of the reason we like to have in-studio reveals. The moment we show the client their photos, their reaction is priceless.
I recently saw some of the images from the #nomakeupselfies campaign. What an awesome, empowering movement! Here's to being your own kind of beautiful!
We shouldn't hope to end up one day a magnificent, strong, beautiful, capable, kind, loving person. We should start living like that today so we become that. Who we become is not an accident, but a purposeful intent.
Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans. This statement could not be more true of the last 3 months of my life. Fresh out of PSW Atlanta, I was excited and ready to put to use all that I’d learned. Tammy and I were scheduling more shoots in the studio. Life had other plans…
Helping to take care of my aging parents and having them live with me has been a real challenge during the last 2 years. While I’m glad that I’ve been around to help, I also resented losing control over how I spent my time. The stress of it all reached its peak after my dad started to struggle with his breathing, and his team of doctors decided that performing a heart quadruple bypass surgery was the only option he had to solve the problem. All of my siblings flew in from around the world to offer our parents support, surprising my dad. Suddenly, after almost 50 years of partnership, my mom was facing the possibility that my dad may not make it through a serious surgery and grueling recovery.
It was during this time that I realized that we didn't have a recent family portrait. Every family get together, time seems to get away from me and the portrait is put off until the next visit. With all of my siblings and our children finally in one place, I decided that I would have to do a portrait session in Dad’s hospital room.
The night before Dad’s surgery, we all gathered into his room. It was a real challenge to get the shot, but I was determined that I had to.
Thankfully, after six weeks in the hospital and two weeks in rehab, my dad came home to his new home about ten minutes away from us. He still has a long road to recovery ahead, but is making progress everyday. Although this has been a stressful time for my entire family, there was joy to be found—my siblings’ unexpected vacation, a reunited family, cousins playing together. We laughed, cried, and reminisced. We were a family.
Don’t put off that portrait. You owe it to your family to capture and preserve a moment in time. Because tomorrow is not promised to any of us.
The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'.
It hardly seems like it’s been a year since I attended my very first Photoshop World. The contrast of walking into my first pre-con and walking into my pre-con with Joe McNally this past week is like night and day. I was still a nervous wreck... it was Joe McNally, after all. Yet, I felt a sense of peace, a little more confident in my abilities. The rest of the week was simply amazing. I was able to catch up with Craig McCormick of Destructive Pixels and get a private lesson on his templates for iPad books. With these templates, you can create a pretty nice iBook to share with family, friends, or a potential client.
The highlight for the week for me was being able to share with each of the instructors how important they have been in my journey. There were lots of hugs and a few tears, and I came away even more determined to 'pay it forward.' This past year I watched countless KelbyOne tutorials, read even more books and articles, practiced in Lightroom and Photoshop, and got out shooting every chance I could. I can honestly say I am thrilled with my progress and looking forward to continuing my journey .
Photoshop World is the only conference I know of where you can take classes with some of the best instructors in the business, like RC Concepcion, Peter Hurley, Glyn Dewis, Erik Valind, Jay Masiel, Zack Arias, Matt Kloskowski, and Moose Peterson. It’s always hard to decide which workshops to go to. By the end of the conference, my head was spinning with Photoshop, Lightroom, TTL speed lights , lighting set-ups, and invisible black backgrounds. Every night, Tammy and I would compare notes from the classes we took. Attending PSW is really like hitting a giant reset button on your creativity. Being surrounded by and hanging out with amazing instructors and photographers from around the world gives you a unique perspective on your own work.
Best quote from PSW Atlanta—A friend asked Jay Masiel to describe, in three words, how to become a better photographer:
“Move your A#@!"
Hope to see you at PSW Vegas.
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
I can hardly believe that it has already been a year since I attended my very first Photoshop World conference in Orlando. I was so overwhelmed and felt so out of place, kind of like I didn't belong. In fact, I felt so insecure that I almost didn't go into my pre-conference workshop with Matt Kloskowski and Joel Grimes.
I fought back the anxiety, though, and went to the workshop (albeit in the back corner). This is where I met Carl, coming for the seat I was eyeballing and apparently just as nervous as I was. We became friends quickly, and I don’t think it was by accident. We continue to keep in touch via email and are planning to meet up in PSW Las Vegas. I soon met Alex, Beth, and Kirt, and our group grew to 13 buy the end of the week. We now have a group on Facebook where we share our images, post challenges to each other and motivate each other, and it has been a huge help in my journey as a photographer.
I left PSW Orlando with a head full of new information and a mission to become a better photographer. Thanks to all the KelbyOne staff, the new friends I made, and the phenomenal instructors at the conference, I left knowing that I was on the right path to becoming a better photographer. Reflecting back on this past year, I can see just how much I have grown.
At the closing ceremony last year, Erik Valind shared his journey into photography. That speech gave me the push I needed to get started. I feel truly blessed to be returning to PSW this year and sharing the experience with my friend, business partner, and fellow photographer, Tammy (Moments Captured Photography Boutique). She will be the newbie this year, and I am just as excited about sharing that experience with her as I am about all that awaits for all attendees of this year’s PSW Atlanta.
Hope to see you there!