My sweet friend Lennie, for whom I did headshots last fall, is about to be mother of the bride. :) Her beautiful daughter Nina got engaged to her boyfriend Luke this past Christmas. Luke prepared a romantic and meaningful proposal at a waterfall in Deep Creek, Maryland, for his girlfriend of three years. After she got over her initial shock, she said "YES!" about a million times and here we are...shooting the first of two engagement sessions (this is the traditional one...there's a fun, theme shoot planned for later this year), and having a blast in the process.
All my engaged couples have been fun and wonderful in their own way, but Nina & Luke brought their brand of "PSD"...Perfectly Stunning Dorks. :) I never had to force a pose or a kiss, and there was so much laughter it brought Brian and myself to tears with how funny the two of them are. While they are supremely attractive beings, and also funny and smart and sweet, they are also head over heels in love with each other. That comes across in every photo...their comfort level, and how much they still give each other butterflies. I can't wait to finish editing! ENJOY!!! :)
Ya gotta have a gimmick. That's what photography today has become. Something that draws people in on a daily basis, gets them to share your blogs, your images, your links, with everyone they know. Something that causes them to risk getting caught at work peeking at your website while they have their latte and muffin. The work itself isn't enough. Everyone I know (and admire) has a super cool site, exciting names for posts on certain days of the week, contests & giveaways, and a massive and loyal following. Oh, AND gorgeous photos. :)
I don't have a gimmick. I'm...gimmickless. I mean, I'm a redhead (but so is the great Katelyn James). I drink Diet Coke like it's goin' out of style (but who doesn't?), and I wear cowboy boots to every shoot (but that's a trend that half the stylish gals I know are wearing). I'm a good writer (again, half the internet world can string together a clever line). I have a strong faith in God, but I'm not one to blog about my love for Him. I'm in nursing school but who isn't back in school for something new?
I have a decent website but it doesn't have the bells and whistles of so many other sites. I have two adorable puppies whom I shamelessly exploit...but as cute as they are, having a cute pet that you photograph endlessly isn't all that creative. Oooh...I have a hot, supportive, loving hubby! But he's MY luck, and my blessing, and not a gimmick, either. :)
I can't yet afford to go to fancy photography conferences or workshops, and I don't take photography classes. I'm a self-taught, fly by the seat of my pants, practice constantly kind of lady. And while I don't mind a little teamwork, I enjoy flying solo.
I'd love to say my work speaks for itself. It's sharp, colorful, bright, sweet...and I'm proud of what I can accomplish with my used lenses and little crop sensor camera even though my heart longs for the Mark II (or III!) full frame camera and the top shelf lenses of my peers.
I do have speed on my side...after a shoot, many images are being posted the same day. I also answer my clients quickly and am extremely accessible to them. I believe in the power of editing so that people look and feel beautiful and flawless in a natural way. I am also very affordable and try to add the little things that make something special whenever I can.
But what's a girl without a gimmick to do?
I think my greatest strength lies in how comfortable I am with people. When you've been onstage for your whole life, you're not shy. You're articulate and energetic and funny. You have neat stories to tell. I'm kind and honest and passionate, too. I'm creative without being edgy...more romantic and old-fashioned than cool or hip. I don't copy others, instead, I see a photo or a scene and then I create my own possibilities and ideas from it. I'm inspired by many things around me.
My bottom line is that I care about my clients. I want them to be ecstatically happy with their pictures and feel that I've given them something to cherish and proudly display for a long time, whether it's on the walls of their home or on their Facebook pages. I want them to come away from their time with me feeling good about themselves and like they had a blast posing for endless pics.
I hope someday to attract a big, loyal following of clients and fans alike based on that, even if I'm not one of the cool kids. :)
(Ever notice how wilting roses look a little bit like Degas ballerinas?) :)
Today was one of those days...for me personally, I was having dual medical procedures at the hospital this morning, so that was a definite blech. But a lot of my friends and family members were just having a crappy day overall. When it started to rain earlier, I thought, great...how much more icky can this day get?
And then the sun came out. And we all know what happens when sunshine through rain graces us...we get a rainbow. A bright, shimmering, full color rainbow that stretched out over the neighborhood. I raced downstairs and caught it just before it faded away. It felt like a moment of hope. I hope it lifts your day, too. :)
So as I mentioned in my previous post, I recently photographed a dance class "Groove" in Gainesville, VA. Below are some of my favorite shots of the beautiful and talented ladies who took part in the class and graciously allowed my camera into the studio. :) For more information on joining this class, please visit the main Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/groovingyou
It combines the freedom of unstructured dancing with very basic movements, set to a fantastic group of songs, a lot of room for creativity, and a spectacular instructor. Try it! As one lady pointed out at the end of the class...if you have to exercise, why shouldn't it be fun? :)
I had the great pleasure of photographing dancer and new instructor Karen King this weekend in her space at Balans Studios. Balans Studios is owned by John & Josephine Kennedy and they've been very gracious in letting Karen use the beautiful space while she earns her certification. Karen recently started teaching a class called "Groove"...it's a combination of hip hop, funk, and freestyle dancing that is designed to live the mind, body, and spirit of the student.
Karen has an infectious laugh and spirit, is full of grace (her soul and her mind, not just her body), and has garnered a terrific following of fellow dance enthusiasts. It's a class where you can leave your cares behind and get lost in the music. And forget about being self-conscious...you spend so much time focused on expressing yourself and in the pounding beat of the song that there's no time to worry if you've got the moves right or if you don't have six pack abs. It's a wonderful class in every sense of the word...if you live in the Gainesville, VA area...you need to go! :)
...wouldn't photograph as well, I'm convinced of it. ;) I love flowers. And I have an affinity for roses, especially those in the pink and lavender hues. My darling husband surprised me with a dozen pale pink roses last night and all through the night, the heady scent of their blooms filled the room in the most wonderful and intoxicating way.
I love photographing flowers. There are so many ways to capture one. They have beautiful color, texture, and incredible depth. I quickly photographed just the standing vase of them this morning...grabbing 9 different shots in just a few minutes using two lenses (for those interested, my 100mm macro lens and my new 24-70mm which I LOVE)...the sunlight was filtering in through the window just perfectly and managed to highlight some of the petals to give them even more dimension.
People rarely tire of flower images. Whether it's a sophisticated bridal bouquet or a field of wildflowers or that stock photo of a solitary flower with a background of bokeh, it never gets old. Flowers have a calming, uplifting effect on most people.
I am scheduled to shoot a gorgeous engaged couple in the Tidal Basin this weekend amidst the cherry blossoms, but it's supposed to rain ALL WEEKEND LONG. Epic Fail. Here's hoping we can find another day soon to ensure the beauty and lushness of the blossoms for our pictures.
Happy Friday to all! Make it a great, albeit rainy, weekend! :)
I like to wear dresses when I shoot a wedding or any other formal occasion. They are super comfy, they help you blend in with the guests, and for a girly girl like me, they're pretty! :)
Finding the RIGHT dress is sometimes a challenge, though. The neckline has to be high enough so you feel comfortable bending and contorting as you should be doing during a shoot. The hemline has to be low enough to kneel and squat and shift without giving anyone a show. The most exciting and sought after feature (for me)? Pockets. A dress with pockets. I have an adorable black chiffon dress with roses that satisfies all my requirements and has pockets. I have a teal green one with the same. My darling friend Ashley is making me my very own country turquoise & white floral dress (with pockets!)...and I just ordered two new cute ones in black and a color called "Dazzleberry"...draw your own conclusions. :)
But for the more formal weddings, I am on the hunt for something dressier. Voila! The dress below, which is listed as a bridesmaids dress and comes in a dizzying array of fashionable colors, is perfect. High neck, knee length, in a lovely peau de soie with cute detailing, and POCKETS! I just need to figure out what color is calling to me...I'm currently digging garnet, electric blue, and Italian plum. Secretly I want the daffodil but that kind of goes against that "blending in" requirement I have. :)
I know some photographers like to wear an all black uniform of pants and a shirt, but I think that not only makes you stand out in a not so good way, but isn't true to your personality, either. When you want to command attention, especially at a big event when things are crazy and you have to corral several guests and wedding parties into groups for photos, you need to have the confidence in yourself to do so. Wearing something that makes you feel good and strong...that's the ticket to having that inner spunk shine through. :)
Mint.com is another time-saving hero. Starting a business is always hard, especially a small business where one is (usually) not only the talent but also the accountant, the marketer, the salesperson, etc. After setting up my DBA and getting the business registered in Virginia, I opened a business checking account with a VISA check card. I keep all my receipts in an accordion file by month as my accountant advised and logged in my gas mileage the little booklet he gave to me. But I wondered how I could avoid having to use my little Excel spreadsheets and email notes and reconciling bank statements as I bought equipment and also spent $ on all the little things, like prints for clients, envelopes to send them, mailing labels, website charges...you name it.
And then I heard about mint.com. I registered online for my FREE account and logged in my banking information. Then I downloaded the app for my Droid desktop. And sat back and watched the magic begin. Seriously...whenever I use my debit card to make a purchase, it automatically logs into mint.com and registers the charge. And then when I have time, I can choose the category (Reimbursable, Taxable, or Vacation Related) and make a quick note about which client it's for...it takes seconds and then I don't have to think about it again. It registers when something is income from a deposit I've made. It automatically sifts it into "shipping" or "Costco printing". I can use it at a gas station and note that 40 miles of the trip is for Client X.
It can also be used to set up a budget or figure out IRA options.
At any time, I can download statements for myself or my accountant. It takes the nightmare out of taxes at the end of the year.
It makes me feel in control of my business. At the touch of a button, I can see my available funds/cash flow and know what's going on. I highly recommend it to anyone who is running their own business and needs something quick, user friendly, and easily available. Enjoy! :)
I started with a Canon Rebel XS and a kit lens. Then I quickly bought my first telephoto lens, a Tamron 70-300 which was cheap but served me well at a wedding I shot back in September. It's nice to have this type of lens to take the close ups during the wedding ceremony without being on the altar with the couple!
I later upgraded the camera to a Canon Rebel T3 18MP (the ISO capability is really outstanding) and bought a few more lenses that helped me be a better portrait photographer, a 50mm 1.8 then a 1.4, and a macro lens for detail shots (like engagement rings)...that also doubles as a fantastic portrait lens!
I recently added to my gear and now have most focal lengths covered (at least in terms of my needs):
Sigma 10-22mm f4
Canon 18-55mm f3.5
Canon 24-70mm f2.8
Canon 70-200mm f4
Tamron 70-300mm f4
Canon 50mm f1.4
Canon 50mm f1.8
Canon 100mm f2.8
I also own a really crappy little fisheye lens extension which actually works just fine for some really specific, kitschy shots. :)
I also have a back up Canon Rebel T3 12.2MP. This works not only in an emergency, but as a partner in crime during a wedding. I can have my primary camera loaded with one lens, and the back up camera loaded with another to be able to switch from one type of shot to the other in the most seamless fashion.
Add to that my cheapie umbrella lighting for indoor studio shots, my camera rain bonnet, my tripod, my hotshoe flash, my lens cleaning stuff, my extra batteries and memory cards...and you have a really heavy camera bag.
At home...the laptop and the editing software: Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom 3, and Portrait Professional (which should only be used in really specific situations!) to help my photos look their absolute best.
Wishlist? Well, my dream camera is the Canon Mark II because it's a full frame camera and also just amazing. Dream lenses include the Canon 50mm 1.2, the Canon 85mm 1.2, and a few fixed lengths with higher apertures like the 24mm and 35mm.
All of this said, if you're a beginner, don't run out and buy lots of equipment. If you can't take a great pic with an entry level DSLR and a kit lens, you can't take a great pic with fancier stuff, either. BUT...if you learn and learn well with the equipment, and pick your lenses based on the types of photography you're doing, upgrading your gear is a fantastic idea.
Equipment doesn't make you a better photographer. Patience, dedication, and lots and lots of practice will. Then reward yourself and your clients with upgraded stuff. ;)
I can't wait to spent the next few months before my next wedding gig learning as much as I can about these new lenses and becoming adept at using them. That way I can give my clients the best photos I am capable of. :)
After photographing Lisa as a bridal model for a stylized shoot back in October, I knew she'd be a breeze to shoot for a "feel pretty" session. We headed down to the canal in Georgetown and had a blast amid joggers, coffee drinkers, yoga experts, and dog walkers. Lisa has this natural glow, perfect skin, fabulous hair, and a killer smile. She also has the gift of dork...the ability to strike a funny pose & then laugh at herself. In high heels and a gorgeous blouse, she laid on a rooftop near the edge, climbed trees, stood in the middle of streets...you name it, she was willing to do it. It made for some great photography. Enjoy some of my favorite shots.