Friday, April 30, 2010

photo of the day: inspiring me

Currently my head is spinning with last-minute details as we work to pull together this workshop, and these sit beside me, on my desk, and I love it.
::inspiring me::


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

photo of the day: perfect light

Someone asked on twitter the other day what one thing I would teach to young photographers if I could, and I responded without a second thought: look for good light. Which then brought the response: what exactly is good light. I was having a hard time defining it in 140 characters, and could only say: you know it when you see it. It's the light that smoothes skin, brightens eyes, rims hair, bathes everything in the golden glow that only actually exists in your memory.
It's the light you see here:

perfect light

It's here, and here, and here. You can find it when there's harsh light, you can find it when you're picking up trash. The key is knowing how to look. (Yes, that's what we're going to spend an hour doing on Saturday. At least.)

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Friday, April 23, 2010

photo of the day: nose kisses

The rest of these images will be ready soon (hopefully today), but I had to share this image. I lovelove asking people to kiss on the nose; there's something so intimate about it. You don't do nose kisses unless it's someone you really trust.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

photo of the day: sneak peek

I'm going to cheat on this one, and just give you the link to the rest of the sneak preview from Saturday's fantastic wedding. It's my birthday, and while the to-do list is somewhat the length of my arm, I'm going to take a little time off to celebrate the last birthday of my twenties. Here's to living a life you love, peoples!

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

photo of the day: go team

I know, I'm slacking! The rest of the photos from this engagement shoot really should be up by tomorrow. For now, I love this shot. They have matching jerseys, and I was super-happy with how this came out.

go team!

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

photo of the day: public service announcement

So today we're going to add something to the collective knowledge base and I'm going to pass on a handy tip so you can avoid my rookie mistake. Here we go.
I talk all the time about changing your perspective, seeing things differently, looking for a new shot or angle. However. Turning your camera so it's crooked is not the answer. A BAD PICTURE IS STILL A BAD PICTURE EVEN THOUGH YOUR CAMERA IS AT AN ANGLE. If the photo is boring, turning the camera all wonkified isn't going to change that. Get a different subject, get rid of distracting backgrounds, whatever. Don't just turn your camera slightly and call it "arty." It's not arty. It's lazy.
Exhibits A-E:
vintage porkchop
This picture is about 8 years old and was taken with a point and shoot, so, um, I'm sorry. But seriously: what exactly does the angle accomplish here other than chopping off her hand? Expression is good, light is decent; make this a vertical and it would be frame-able. As it is, this picture is stuck in limbo.

le cake
It looks like the cake is about to fall off the plate.

shoes one
See? Angle does NOT equal artistic. Nor does uber-crappy vignetting.

And again!

amongst the greenery
Gah! If I had walked in front of him a tiny bit so the background was filled with green and then turned it so the camera was straight, this image would be awesome. As it

So I took all these pictures, ok? I just went and pulled them off my flickrstream. LEARN FROM IT, people. I've exposed my lameness (and there's more where that came from) and don't let this public humiliation be in vain. Straighten those cameras and make your subject the interesting part.

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Friday, April 02, 2010

photo of the day: soul

Sunday night a friend and I drove over to The Globe Theater in Berlin to see The OC Originals. This is a project started by Wes Davis in which very talented local musicians get together for an evening and share their original work. The slogan is "no cover and no covers!" It was an incredibly fun evening, and despite the fact that I felt like I was dying (the next day I came down with the black death--well, either that or the flu--but you know how it is) I managed to pull out a few images that I liked. Sadly, I cannot remember this gentleman's name. I'm completely blaming that on my illness.

an oc original

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

photo of the day: I *heart* nerds

More outtakes from Saturday's shoot in Winterthur. I love these glasses so much; they're 3D glasses where the lenses fell out.


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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

photo of the day: happy family

This shoot was tightly scheduled, and I just didn't think to compensate for my non-existent sense of direction. Suffice it to say that somehow on the drive back from Wilmington I managed to end up in Baltimore. I HAVE NO IDEA. My lovely husband saved the day for me, and met up with the couple, using the spare camera to get things started. By the time I showed up they were laughing, joking, had some amazing photos, and the light was perfect. This image, however, was the second-to-last snap of the evening, I think. By that point we were so cold we could barely move our hands, and I could see everyone's breath. Despite all that, we got some amazing photos, and I love this one. Isn't Jackson adorable? I'll share more soon, I promise.

the three of them

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

photo of the day: happy accidents

Inspired by Picasso and one of the most talented photographers I know personally, I'm trying to deconstruct my photography more, pushing past literal interpretations of events and finding focus and beauty in the mundane. Well, I'm not doing terribly well, but the tree image on the right was actually an accidental snap of the camera button. So rather than throw it away, I'm counting it as a happy accident.


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Monday, March 29, 2010

photo of the day: cuddles!

I mentioned on Friday that I had lots of shoots scheduled over the weekend, and I did indeed have three. (There was another band performance I could have dragged le camera to, but after 1300 photos that day, I decided not to.) Anyway, the first one was in Wilmington at Winterthur Gardens, and it was awesome seeing the gardens for the first time. Even though not much is blooming, there was a slope COVERED IN BLUEBELLS. Amazing. All I could think was "I want to do bridal portraits here!"
Anyway, the subject of the shoot was a five-year-old who's a friend of my sister, which is how I got involved with the pictures. In the shot below she's got M wrapped in her trench coat, keeping her warm while we waited to start taking pictures.
I love this image because it is such typical Joy: impulsive, laughing, comfortable in her own skin. If you've ever met my sister (and a lot of you probably have--she's incredibly good at her job) you know that she absolutely lives up to her name, besides being one of the most focused people I know.

le sister

Anyway, I had to share this image, because it probably won't end up framed anywhere, but it is the sort of image that is frozen in my mind when I think of my family.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

photo of the day: thirds

Last week was career day for Wicomico County freshmen at Salisbury University, and I was privileged to present for (I think) the third year in a row. I'm supposed to talk about what it takes to have my career (photographer) and I do, but I like to take a good portion of the time and show the kids simple ways to make their photos more effective. After all: they're the same age I was when I picked up my first real camera, and about 95% of them have access to a camera of some kind (I asked). So anyway, I went over several points with them, and thought I'd share at least one of my examples here: the rule of thirds.

If you've messed about with photography at all you've almost certainly heard of the rule of thirds--place your focal point on the third line instead of in the middle--so it's nothing revolutionary. I actually had a hard time finding illustrations for this point, since I almost inevitably shoot with lots of negative space in my images. But then I happened across this pair of pictures, and they're an excellent example of several things, not just the rule of thirds.

Part of being a photographer is choosing what to show in photos, and a good photographer can make a really bad venue look impressive. I was shooting at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens here, but as you can see from the first image, it's still possible to make an incredibly beautiful location look lame! Distracting foreground, unattractive walls, and a bland pose combine to make the first photo incredibly eh. (Yes, "eh" is a technical term.)

So I moved a little closer, stood up a little taller, turned my camera to make a vertical instead of horizontal, and added action to the photo, and it turned into one of my all-time favorite images. I mean, look at that expression on the left! Gold!



So I guess I'll sum up this post (and this week!) by telling you what I told the kids last week: I don't care what kind of a photographer you want to be; your job is to see things differently. If you see the way everyone else sees your photos will look like everyone elses. Push yourself to see in a new way.

See differently, people.

PS: I have three photoshoots lined up for the weekend, so there will be much activity next week! It's getting to be wedding season again, so we'll see if I actually manage to keep posting with any kind of consistency at all. But being busy is a good problem to have, right?

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

photo of the day: ROAR

Yes, I'm adding to the white tshirt project. For the photo on the left, I said, "What face does your sister make when you touch her stuff?" 


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Monday, March 22, 2010

photo of the day: last-minute

I promise that after tomorrow I'll be done with images from this wedding, but I was going back through these this weekend and found a couple of images that I just love. Technically this one is pretty weak, but I love the sense of urgency communicated by each person, as well the general sense of confusion. This is what weddings are, usually: a bunch of waiting interspersed with frantic hurrying. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

hustle and bustle

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

photo of the day: in memory

It's quite possible, and even probable, that I've posted this photo before. But that's ok: I'll keep posting this picture, every year, on Saint Patricks Day, until I just stop blogging. Because St Patricks Day will never be just a holiday to me any more: it's the anniversary of the death of Randi Dye, my husband's mother. Today marks 4 years since she finally succumbed in her battle against breast cancer, leaving behind 6 kids, the youngest of which was 8.
This picture was taken in July of 2005, less than 12 months before she died, and it's one of only a handful that I've taken of her. The family had driven in from Ohio for one last family vacation before Jared's and my wedding in the fall, and we spent as much time as possible at the beach. She couldn't walk much at that point--there were tumors in her legs--but she still managed to organize meals and rally hordes of people out the door.
You can see in this shot how thin she is, and you can even see a little bit of the distortion that the tumors were causing in her head. But she's laughing, and that's how I try to remember her.

my mother in law

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

photo of the day: me myself and I

True facts: some days you want to take pictures and there is no one around to pose for you. And it might just happen that on that day it's warm and glorious and the last thing you want to do is sit down and work on finalizing your presentation for career day. So I don't know about you, but on such a day I personally might crank up the tunes and spend half an hour being a nerd in front of the camera in the name of "practice." For what I have no idea. But there you go. (Don't worry, I did actually put in some real work.)


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Friday, March 12, 2010

photo of the day: hair toss

Being up in Rehoboth this week reminded me just how much I love shooting there, so I was going through some of last years shoots from the beach. I love this particular shot, which would never make the cut for a senior since you can't see enough of her face, but I love her smile and the movement of her hair. So much attitude. A few more of her images are here.

hair toss

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

photo of the day: ignite sussex

For me, this photo encapsulates what last night's Ignite Sussex meetup was all about: people connecting and using technology and face-to-face contact to build bridges and inspire each other.

ignite sussex

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

photo of the day: jump

Last autumn my husband and I shot a reception in Cambridge, and while I was doing formals the couple's little son was getting antsy and cranky, so J took him off to the side for his own private photoshoot that involved much running and jumping. I love this one.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

photo of the day: new york, new york

Confession: I hate looking like a tourist. So much so that I have trouble pulling out a camera when I'm in a traditionally touristy area. Consequently I rarely take travel photos, even though it's very good way to practice detail shots. However, when le husband and I took off two days last week to spend some time together in the city, I swore I would actually record our time, at least a little. I only ended up with about 20 pictures that I love, but I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, and that's the point, right?

film noir

stolen kiss


long exposure


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Friday, March 05, 2010

photo of the day: I have no idea

I don't know how one would describe this expression; I just know that if you had to make a face to represent "verb conjugation" this would probably be it.
outtake 2

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

photo of the day: suprised

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

photo of the day: confuzzled

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

photo of the day: outtake

Since I'm going on a mini-break with le husband for the next couple of days, I'm not going to be around to generate new blog content. (Don't worry: we hope to come back with plenty.) So I'm just going to give you some of the outtakes from the white tshirt project for the rest of the week.

See, before you get to that comfortable place where you get a genuine smile, you get a lot of reeeallly goofy expressions. So I'm going to share some of my favorites.

outtake 1

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Monday, March 01, 2010

photo of the day: the white shirt project

I'm presenting next week at Ignite Sussex, and as I've been working on the slides I got the motivation I needed to start a project that has been percolating for while: the white tshirt project. Eventually I plan to have black and white prints of bunches of my friends mounted on the walls of my living room, but I started with the ten people I had handy last night. (Yes, there are only nine in the collage. Ten is much harder to fit into a rectangle.) 

The point that the images go with for the presentation, however, is this: the part of my job that I love, the reason I can't take pictures of houses or flowers or rocks, is there is this moment, after you shove someone in front of a camera, when suddenly they relax, you connect, they look at the camera, forget it's there, and see you. And that smile, that moment of realness, is what I live for.

I hope to grow this thing eventually

(You can view a larger version here, and the whole set is here. I'll be adding to it eventually.)

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

photo of the day: the bunneh

Argh. I know. I've missed two days in a row. Sorry, people.

Last summer, just for fun, I wrote a story with pictures. This is one of the outtakes from that shoot; I love the gesture she's making, and I love the hoppy bunny (who has since departed this moral coil).

This is an excellent example of the joys of shooting RAW: there is no way I could get this exposure with JPG.


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Thursday, February 18, 2010

photo of the day: first look

At this wedding we did most of the formals prior to the ceremony, so the bride and groom had a first look before we started. The groom was really reluctant; he kept finding excuses not to see the bride! But when we finally convinced him to come into the sanctuary, it was worth it, because we were able to capture this look. I love.

first look

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

photo of the day: the aisle

This was taken at my January 2 wedding, moments before the bride walked down the aisle. I love her expression as she focuses ahead, ignoring me, looking toward her future.

right before she walks down the aisle

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

photo of the day: this is why you practice

Because that's how you get good. Two years ago I had some weddings booked and a few under my belt, but not too many, and I wanted to practice on this whole "posing the bride" thing, as well as add to the old portfolio. So I asked for a model via craigslist, and that's how I met V. I had a wedding dress (picked up for $10), so she had to be a certain size. It really wasn't big enough, though. So I added a skirt made of tulle, picked lilacs out of the backyard, and we had ourselves a bridal shoot.

The first thing I notice on reviewing this stack of photos is the time of day in which I shot. It. Was. Bright. Correctly exposing both her skin and the pale dress was nearly impossible. And since I wasn't yet shooting RAW, there's not much to be done. Sign number one of an inexperienced shooter.

The second thing I noticed was just how awkward I was at posing. It's interesting looking at the images. I'm attempting the detail shots that I'd seen on blogs, practicing with shallow focus, and really failing quite a lot. It's funny, because now those details shots are my favorite, and have become second nature. I'd forgotten that there was a time when I just couldn't do them. Posing my model is awkward, too. It's obvious in the shots that I didn't know what to ask for, didn't know how to show her how to move. If you've ever done a photoshoot with me, I'm very physical. I have to wear pants when I shoot because much of my posing is done through example. In these images I hadn't a clue what to ask for.

The last thing I noticed is how I ask for much different images now. In the first round of culling, two years ago, the images I picked were more formal and posed. This time, I like the candid ones, the ones that are drenched with light. Consequently, out of the 419 images I took that day, there are about 6 that I actually like now and would even consider keeping in my portfolio. If you don't believe me, check out the rest of the set. First seven are from the original cut, second seven are from today.

And that, children, is why we practice. Because that is how you get good.

the lashes

tiptoe through the tulip

retro glam

jeep girl

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Monday, February 15, 2010

photo of the day: president's day

Fact: I looooove shooting in Washington DC. Especially at night. I just think it's such a gorgeous city that I'm always game for a photo shoot there. When M got married, I couldn't shoot her wedding; I was already double-booked that day. So I promised that we'd do a bridal shoot at some point. Well, a couple of months ago I had a free evening, so of course I had to occupy it by driving to DC and taking pictures!

We had a blast with this shoot, stomping through the monument area, M wearing her dress and a flannel jacket, myself with a mask on my head, and my assistant/makeup artist wearing a tiny top hat. Passersby either thought we were Halloween rejects or asked to have their photos taken with us. Both ends of the spectrum there.

For this image I used one off-camera flash held to the right, triggered by on-camera flash. I have no idea what the rest of the settings were, but I was working hard to get Lincoln in the background. Note: shooting at monuments and memorials can be tricky, because you want some of that iconic imagery but its easy to make things look like bad travel photography. This was one of my absolute favorite images of the night, despite the fact that friends have informed me that Abe looks like a creeper in the background. You know, he kind of does. ah, well. Happy Presidents Day!

honest abe looks like a creeper

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

photo of the day: snackable

This wedding took place on Kent Island, and was a rip-roaring good time. It included one of the best candy tables I've ever seen, and as we were waiting for the cue to walk down the aisle, none of us could resist a swedish fish. Or two. The bridesmaids were no exception. The rest of this wedding is here.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

photo of the day: birdseye view

This is another photo from a shoot that you've already seen, but I finished processing this week. (I'm delaying working on other stuff.) I know I do a lot of photos with focus on the eyelashes, but that's because eyelashes are AWESOME. There are several photos in this second round of uploads that I kind of liked on my first flip through, but didn't love. It's taken editing to make them really pop. Now, though, I can't stop staring at them.
This particular image I love because it makes me think of Moulin Rouge, which is one of my absolute favorite movies of all time. Visually it is such a cacophony, I can't watch it without finding inspiration. So the hat, the eyes, the hair: it's all so lovely to me. Anyway, the rest of the batch is here.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

photo of the day: the yellow umbrella

A couple of trips to Ohio ago I was really working hard on the whole "mastery of the off-camera flash" thing, so when I had a little free time we dressed up one of my sisters-in-law and staged an impromptu photo shoot. (What? It's what I do!) Because of where their house is located, there really aren't any good outdoor shooting locations aside from the road in front of their house, so the road it was.
I set up two flashes, one on either side, triggered with on camera flash, and we posed until we saw the headlights of a car coming over the hill. Then we would grab the flashes, scramble to the side, wait until it passed, and repeat the process.
This photo ended up being one of my favorites: I love the look on her face, like she's about to step into a fairy tale.
the yellow umbrella

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Monday, February 08, 2010

photo of the day: waiting for the festivities

This was snapped off this weekend during a pause between rushing around preparing for a family birthday party. I love the sense of waiting, of being suspended in an in-between time. I also love the curly yellow tails.

waiting for festivities to begin

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

photo of the day: sweet thing

portrait of a cupcake

I am not by nature a good still-life photographer: most of the time I find inanimate objects boring. Details at weddings are different, though, because I use those details to tell the story. But give me just an object and ask me to make a portrait? Not my thing.
However, when that object is food, it all changes. My local Starbucks is the reigning champion in cupcake sales, and part of the reason for that is the fact that they put together their own marketing for cupcakes in the drivethrough, and I get to shoot it. Um, yummy! I really enjoy a chance to work on food photography.
For this shot I used a pale pink piece of fabric as my background, draping it over boxes to create a mini-cupcake studio. I think bounced flash off the white ceiling, and voila! Delicious cupcake yumminess.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

photo of the day: self-portrait with camera

This was taken when I was down in Atlanta to shoot this wedding; the hotel in which I stayed was so lovely I couldn't help having a little mini photoshoot with the only available model: myself.
self-portrait with camera

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

pic(s) of the day: old school

Since yesterday I was busy having a very awful day, I didn't manage to post a picture of the day. So I'm making up for it by posting two today. These images are both taken from the same shoot, one I did nearly three years ago. (!!!) I ran across them while looking for something else, and while I still love the pictures, I wouldn't shoot the whole series at all the same way now. Or process them like this. It's a good thing, I think, to grow as a photographer.

I do remember that while doing this shoot the sun was much, much stronger than I was hoping for, and I had almost no experience shooting in those conditions. Consequently most of the pictures have really hard shadows. But I think it was this shoot that started me learning the joy of backlighting. You can see the rest of the shoot (and prehistoric editing) here. Lots of learning, no?
jump for joy
I used to edit everything in photoshop, the early version is here. This one was done with Lightroom. Regardless, I love the sense of life in this.

sparkles on the water

I actually hate the framing on this picture. But I love the light and I adore the sparkles on the water.

The moral of the story is: practice makes perfect! Or at least much, much better.

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