Friday, November 20, 2009

Guidance Counselor for a day

"You seem to be struggling in your business classes, but you're getting excellent grades in your art classes and public speaking." I sat in my guidance counselor's office at the end of my 2nd year of college, reviewing my transcripts. Macroeconomics. Microeconomics. Statistics. Latin. Photography. Public Speaking.... My counselor studied my grades, making mental notes, mulling them over, chewing on them, and finally spitting them out. He asked about my aspirations and I replied that I wanted to be a business major, of some sort. I didn't even really know what that meant, but I heard it made a lot of money and would be a successful career path. Oh, and my parents wanted me to do it. That, or become a doctor or a lawyer. But I could hear the doubt in my counselor's voice.

In all honesty, I wanted to be an artist. I loved art. I was in the National Art Honor Society in high school - Vice President of the club, even. But how do I make a career out of art? It was not deemed a profitable path. At least not usually until your dead - ask Van Gogh or Vermeer. Except I wasn't Van Gogh - I was the shopkeeper that sold him his paint and linseed oil. But my counselor sat in his chair and convinced me that if art was what I loved, then I would find a way to make a career out of it and be successful. I was sold. I had a new major. I was happy. My happy bubble only popped after I left his office and realized I had to break the news to my parents. But, I did it. I majored in Studio Art with a concentration in Photography and Digital Media. I've been working as a successful graphic designer for the past 9 years, and I owe it first and foremost to that one person who believed in me and believed I could do anything I wanted, as long as I had the drive and determination.

The roles were reversed 2 days ago when I was invited to be a "guidance counselor" to several students at a local alternative high school. The school was hosting a Career Information Fair for these "second-chance" kids. It was an opportunity for the students to gain knowledge about different career paths. I saw it as an opportunity to convince them that they could do anything they set their minds to, and to shape their beliefs that no goal is unattainable with hard work. One of the students totally got it when he said, "So you're saying that if it doesn't happen the first time, then try, try, try, and try again?" YES! I don't know if what I talked about convinced any students to pursue their passion or changed any minds that morning, but if I gave even one person hope for their future, then my time spent was well worth it. Pin It

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to Photograph Everyone

Last night I attended a seminar given by the incredibly talented Clay Blackmore.  Walking in early and hearing "Funkytown" streaming from his iTunes playlist, I could tell it was going to be an upbeat and fun evening.  Backdrops were set up in the back two corners of the room, and spotlights, flashes and reflectors on stands dotted the floor all around them.  As I waited for the class to begin, I took in his beautiful photos lining one of the walls of windows.  Wedding photos, portraits, a camera ad with Anna Kournikova...everything just breathtaking.  I felt so out of my league (well, because I was) but was so excited for what I would learn.

I sat in the front row, not wanting to miss a beat, and scribbled my notes furiously as he spoke with speed and passion.  How to photograph to pose them and light them, then lift and refine them.  After a series of slides and explanations on how some of his photos were taken and post processed, he then had live model shoots to further drive home his techniques and methods.  Clay often shot in Live View with a feed to the projector screen so the class could see and understand what he was seeing and composing.  Basic pose.  Feminine pose.  High shoulder.  Spider lights.  Asking his assistants to move lights and flashes here and there.  All about making people look their best and using the right lighting to accomplish it.  Butterflies flitted in my stomach as he called on me as an example.  He said I have a round face (immediately making me regret the McDonald's value meal I had grabbed on my way to the seminar) and that I probably don't like photos where I'm facing the camera.  I most definitely nodded and agreed with his assessment.  He said I probably really like profile photos of myself...again, dead on (the chubby cheeks magically disappear, woohoo!).  Certain face shapes just photograph better at certain angles, and the faster you pick up on that, the faster you know how to pose that person. 

We had a short break (really, I could have gone all the way through and way into the wee hours of the morning, I was that mesmerized), and then after the break a couple of slideshows and some more live model shoots.  He wrapped up and ended the class, but asked the models to stay a little longer so he could snap a few more photos for their portfolios.  I asked if he minded if I stayed and watched him work.  "Not at all," he responded, and I was thankful for any extra time to learn more.  I looked on as Clay gave direction and the models struck their poses, each beautiful girl loving the camera and the camera loving them back.  After the last girl had finished, Clay turned to me and asked if I wanted a couple of photos.  My brain shouted "Ohmygosh areyoukiddingme? No way!" out of nervousness, but my lips formed the words, "Sure, why not!" out of the excitement of having my picture taken by such a talented photographer.  So I stood against the backdrop, lights pointing towards me, knowing I did not have the grace and form of the figures that stood there before me.  Feeling a bit awkward and a little dissheveled in appearance after a late night, I turned and moved as Clay directed and snapped a couple of shots.  And even though the camera may not have loved me, I still loved the camera......the back side of it, that is!

Here is the Explorer of Light working his magic!

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Sunday, November 8, 2009


Do you have a friend that lifts you up every time you're around them and every time you talk to them?  I'm so fortunate to say that I do. 

Earlier this afternoon I went to my friend Becca's house to furbaby-sit her precious kitty.  Being the sweet person that she is, she left a gift for me on the counter.  Excited by what could be inside, I flew through the tissue paper and opened each item, cherishing how thoughtful my dear friend is.  One item in particular warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes...a personalized business card holder.  The reason that gift is so special is because I don't even have business cards yet, but her belief in me is so strong and so real that she believes in her heart that I will need it some day.  As she wrote in her card, "The [card holder] is for your new business cards you will have to start carrying (because everyone will want one...!)".

I have been sharing my thoughts and dreams with Becca of starting a photography business (the excitement of success, my fears of failure), and as she has walked with me in this journey she has been an encouragement to my spirit.  She believes in me 100% and makes me believe in myself.  Her genuine love and compassion is such a blessing to me, and during this transition in my life... truly uplifting.
Thank you, Becca, for my sweet gifts and for the gift of your friendship - I Thank God For You!

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Wedding: Brian and Jenn

Two weeks ago, on October 23rd, our friends Brian and Jenn were married in the Outer Banks during a beautiful ceremony on the beach.  The celebration was complete with close family and friends, but missing one very important person...Brian's mother, who passed away earlier this year from pancreatic cancer.  Though she was missed, she was not forgotten.  Each guest was given a yellow ribbon to wear in remembrance of her.  And this is a testimony to who Brian and Jenn are - compassionate, caring and thoughtful...always loving and never forgetting.

Brian waited patiently for his bride, violin playing softly over the sounds of the waves lapping up onto the shore.  Jenn appeared at the top of the stairs over the sand dunes, breathtaking in her lace gown, and her hair gathered in a feathery clip that fluttered with the slightest breeze.  As she joined Brian, you could see the love in his eyes for her.

Brian and Jenn, I am so happy for you both, and so thankful that we were able to share in this special day with you.  You are both beautiful people and wonderful friends.  We wish you nothing but happiness in your future together!

(I was not the official photographer, so I was only able to snap a few photos here and there.  Below are a few of my favorites.)

Chris and I decided to make a vacation out of the wedding week since we hadn't been able to take one all year due to busy schedules.  A couple days before the wedding we went to the sand dunes to watch the sun set with Brian and Jenn.  They graciously allowed me to use them as "test subjects" to practice posing shots (thank you both, you rock, btw!!), and the two below are my favorites from that night.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Family photo tradition

This past Saturday my family (on my husband's side) had a wonderful photoshoot with my talented friend John Pennington.  We take family photos every year in the fall, always with a different photographer.  John and Grace were charming and wonderful to work with.  It was inspiring to watch him pose us as families and individuals, and to see him get really into his work (he even waded into the creek bed to get the shots he envisioned!). 

Below is a pic of John at work, and a couple of my photos from the day.

I have quite the talented family!  Here's my mother-in-law in action...

My hubby took this photo of me.  (He has a naturally good eye for photography, and if he wasn't my husband, I just might feel threatened!)  *okay, I still feel a little threatened*  ;)

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