Last week on my monthly trip to Ikea, Dan was rambling about how he was going to do this thing where he hooks up his old phone to speakers and streams Pandora. I didn’t understand how that would work because those phones are not activated. He said they didn’t have to be, as long as I had WiFi to run them on, they still work, just not the calling option.
I have never kept an old phone before because it usually had Tide detergent filled water seeping from the cracks. The last one that had to be retired was because of a cracked screen. It’s still functional, but the tiny flakes of glass in my finger was reason enough to bite the bullet and buy a new one.
I pulled the finger slicer out of the old phone drawer and charged it up. I had to redownload Pandora and I was questioning this plan the whole time. It works! Now I can listen to music while I edit photos without it being all choppy and slowing my computer down to a snail’s pace!
Pandora is my new favorite thing. Shut up, I know I am late to the game. The last time I used it was when it first came out and they had commercials every other song and the amount of music was very limited. Recently I have been on this weird music kick. I don’t know what you would call the genre of music that it falls under, but it’s not the stuff you hear on the radio and at 41 years old, it feels like I have heard every single song on the radio and I need something else.
I’m a 15 year old that suddenly decided to quit the cheerleading team and only listens to underground music and rolls her black eyelined eyes at everything.
Last week was one of those weeks where I buried myself in my office to edit pictures with a vengeance. I had about 7 client’s proofs on deck and had 2 more sneaking in before Christmas and with Kara coming home, they couldn’t wait. Pandora felt my pain and stepped up to provide me with that mix of music that had me smiling and sometimes even crying. I mean, I was bawling at Passenger’s – Let her Go. Rosenburg with that haunting, British-folky sound gets me every single time. That last line…oh my lawdy my heart just breaks.
I have been writing down all the music that I love so at some point when I have a second I can download it and make a CD that I will never remove from my car.
One of my clients and friends came over to go over his pictures and he laughed at my broken phone set up and questioned my musical choices. He said, “This actually fits the weird mood you have been in the last week.”
Music is so revealing. I hadn’t talked to him about anything I have been going through because he’s a part of our BFF group and I didn’t want to talk about it to one person and then have to deal with it from anyone else later. I’m lucky enough to have pockets of friends that I can lean into and it won’t overlap with the other pocket. It does sometimes, with the photography club, running team, hockey team, skydiving team…they all intermingle now and I NEVER saw that happening. I’m happy though because I have the greatest friends and they are good for each other. Anyway, I was surprised he picked up on my mood.
“I’m good now. I’m better than good.” I’m on a different road and I have to switch the way I have been thinking for the last four years. It’s scary, but I am ready.
The past week the Pandora has been honed with the thumbs up, thumbs down and it even knows what time of day what I want to hear! At night it’s that folky sound. During the day it’s Warren Haynes grit. Sometimes she slips in some country and I can be heard belting out, “Follow your Arrow” by Kasey Musgraves.
I blame this new music interest on Carson Daily…he got me hooked on Joshua James which has opened up so much more music I wouldn’t have normally listened to.
Yesterday I was in the place to watch an all day marathon of OWN television. It was that show Ayana Save My Life or something like that.
I think I watched 3 episodes and slept through the other 2.
During each of the episodes the key to fixing the problem was communicating. This one episode really resounded with me because of the words that were used.
I wish I had a closet of all the words I have heard that have moved me through the years. I would hang them up and on days when I needed them I could wrap them around me like a warm robe.
In this episode she is trying to talk to this older gentleman who was very set in his way because of how he was raised and his life experiences. She said, “Sometimes you have to meet people where they are.” (in their experience) and this man was not in the same place that she needed him to be to be able to make a difference. She tried for about 20 minutes to communicate what she needed and it wasn’t working. She thanked him for his time and told the viewers, “you have to meet people where they are, but sometimes you have to leave them there.”
It got me to thinking about the gift of conversations. If you ask someone who has lost someone what they would want and 90% of the time they say something like, “I wish I would have told them…” or “I wish I just had one more day to just sit and talk…”
In my life I have had ‘last conversations’ with people. I didn’t always know that it was the last conversation though. I was on the phone with Grandma moments before I would have no other conversations with her. She got up to check on something and fell down. I would never be able to talk to her again, to hear her voice.
My last words to my grandpa was, “I’ll see you later, Ugly.” and his were to me, “Yep, see you later, Double Ugly.” I wouldn’t change any conversation I had with either of these people if you offered me all the money in the world. There is something gentle and comforting about the way I conversed with my grandparents. They had unconditional love…and in that love I could feel safe to hear their words and give them mine.
I can think of the last conversations in my life that if I could change, I would. My step daughter is one of them. The way it ended was wrong and It was based on her immature behavior and someday when she is grown, I hope that she chooses to change our last conversation with an apology. I don’t care that she is still in contact with her step sisters, but as for me I will not allow her to disrespect me the way she did ever again. I have forgiven her, but I won’t allow myself to be hurt again.
My ex-father in law. I did get to say goodbye to him and I know that he loves me, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t miss the conversations. I miss the phone calls to each other to talk about Twilight Zone or some other old movie we both loved. That easy way of conversing.
My old best friend. The last conversation I had with her was her being very mad at me that I was going skydiving without her. I can’t believe that was the last thing we talked about. I can’t believe after everything we had been through, that our last conversation would be something so incredibly stupid.
Looking back, I realize now that she had no idea how strong I really was and it made her her feel better as a person to have control over me and our friendship. She crossed the line when she wanted control over how I was raising my children. I’m all up for ideas, tips and conversations on how to do things that work better. It’s a whole new story when she went behind my back to someone else that didn’t have my families best interest at heart and thought they could turn my daughters against me.
Sometimes people have their final conversation with you and you can’t control how that will go. I accept now that some times…stupid conversations are going to be the last conversation.
I decided yesterday that I am not going to take any conversation for granted anymore. I am going to really hear what people are telling me. I want to be able to say at the end of the conversation, “I heard what you said to me.” and they will know that their words are blessings…or they are weapons. I will let people know that if they give me love, I will not take it for granted. I will also understand that not everyone has a large emotional vocabulary, but if they can express their disappointments, they can just as easily express their love.
Today I will wear my warm robe of words that were given to me by the three amazing women in my life. I am loved.
It’s been a good long time since I have sat down and wrote anything. Even as I write I feel guilty because I have about 10 plus blog posts I need to write for my photography page.
I’ve been booked solid during the weekends for the last 9 weeks. Once I decided to start my business again, I have been getting calls and booking portraits and weddings left and right.
I was happy to get back in contact with a few brides I had shot their wedding in the past. They said, “I’ve been waiting for you to get back into photography so I can get my families pictures done.” I even had a fellow photographer say, “Okay, I’m booking you before you decide to stop taking pictures. It’s been 4 years since I’ve had our pictures done, we are do.”
It feels really good to know I have a loyal bunch of clients.
This upcoming week I am working on putting a calendar together for our hockey team. It’s fun to get to know the guys (and girls) outside of the hockey rink. They are pretty awesome and supportive group.
So much has happened since the last time I wrote anything here, but it’s all about photography so I will save you from having to hear about that.
Kara turns 21 in March and I am saving up to go to Vegas with her. My mom has been having more good days than bad days and we are hoping she will be able to go with us. Alyx has a boyfriend now. That’s kind of weird. Shea is boy crazy and when she comes over we go through her phone and she tells me which one she’s talking to now. I wouldn’t say any of my kids are shy, but Shea has a hard time talking to boys and it’s freaking adorable.
My skydiving friends came to visit me last week. I was able to get pictures of Amanda. The last time we did any pictures was her wedding and that turned out to be just a complete mess. It was typhoon weather the day of her wedding and everything had to be crammed into the reception hall. It was a stressful day and it showed. I promised her to retake her pictures when she was feeling up to it. With things in her life changing we figured there was nothing like a photo shoot to cheer her up. We had a blast.
I am excited to announce that Four Stone Photography will be the official photographer for The Getty Owl run in February. I was contacted by Kate and she has been enjoying watching my photography blossom and she wanted me to capture her big day. This means I have to decide if I am going to run it or take pictures. I have 3 other photographers on call for the first half and I could shoot the last half after I drag my tired carcass across the finish line. Details to come later when I go to my first meeting with Team Getty.
Well, it’s back to editing and writing for FSP. :)
My favorite thing to take pictures of. My daughter asleep next to me., a photo by Random and Odd on Flickr.
I sometimes think, “I should write…” and then I get overwhelmed with all the shit I have to do.
It’s been a busy month for Four Stone Photography. I shot my very first same sex marriage. Held up great until it came to the part where they were signing their marriage licences. Tears started coming down. The bride looked at me and smiled. She said, “Thank you.” She knew I got the impact this moment had.
I usually try not to book too much after a wedding because of the volume of editing I have to do. A whole day can be spent just rotating and going through each picture to make sure it’s not blurry. I didn’t follow my own rules and I had about 5 photo shoots booked.
This morning I booked another wedding that is very last minute. Luckily I picked up an outstanding assistant! I brought her to a wedding, because God forbid I get her feet wet with a photoshoot, nawww….let’s just throw her in the deep end and see if she can swim! Having an assistant made things so much easier for me. Alyx usually assists me at shoots, but because of her junior year in high school being a busy one and adding a job on top of it she hasn’t been able to come on many. She will always do baby shoots even if it means not doing her homework.
I picked up another lens today. I figured out that I am addicted to fixed lenses. My first was the 105 then the 50 then the 90 and now the 30. I’m done for awhile. I can’t afford to even drive past Action Camera anymore. I walk in and they know me by name now!
Well, I took 10 minutes away from my editing to write this and now I am 20 minutes behind. Up all night again!
Cow looking back at the smoking semi it just got out of, a photo by Random and Odd on Flickr.
I told you about the guy that told me to put out into the universe what I wanted, right?
It’s working…not only is it working, I am getting other people’s requests for what they want. I met this woman at the gas station and we started talking and she said, “I prayed for you today. I prayed I would find hope somewhere and to get me feeling different than I do.” My heart melted because in my life I have met people that have turned me around from the sad place I was and I am so grateful for them.
When I agreed to start taking pictures again, the floodgate of new people have been surrounding me and I am loving it. I decided this time around that I would take my business in the direction *I* wanted it to go and focus less on the sheer volume of pictures and go with the story I am telling. Now that I am focusing on that, that is all I see when I am shooting.
I guess it’s like when you buy a new car, you notice all of the same model on the road with you.
The group I am on is talking about an ‘editing’ challenge. I’m interested in looking at what people do with a photo, but less into joining into the festivities. I’ve said it many times before. I don’t ‘photoshop’ pictures.
I had a woman ask if I could take out a double chin in her pictures. I’ve had another ask if I could ‘cut them out’ and put them in a different place. My answer is always, NO. I’m about the real, here and now shots. I understand wanting to look your absolute best in a photo, but my number one purpose is to capture you as you are and how people love you.
I believe in scouting out the perfect location for you and your personality. Sometimes I don’t get it right and I will call you back in and say, “Hey, I found a place that will fit you better and let’s do this again, no charge!”
This takes up my time, gas and money to find these places and schedule the right time where the sun is going down right behind you. This is what I believe in …the real. I’m not going to cheat my way into a great shot. What you see in my portfolio is because I was there and I took it.
The picture above is no photoshop, straight from the camera with a crap lens I hate. Do I love the picture? Absolutely. It was taken on Sunday when I was on my way home from scouting places for photos. A cattle truck had caught fire beside HWY 80. I swung back around with the intention of taking pictures of the burning truck, but when I saw the damage the fire had done to these poor calves and the pain they were in, my goal switched to getting them to a safe spot to live out the rest of their very short lives. This calf left a very bloody trail of hoof prints and when he turned back around when he heard the cry of the other calf behind him, I got the shot. I didn’t show the front view because he was bleeding from his eye socket and had blood coming out of his mouth. It was devastating to witness it, let alone help get it off the road and into a confined area. All the cows that survived the fire had to be put down because of how bad they were burned.
I uploaded the other, more graphic shots to my Nat Geo folder. They are being submitted for review.
I love light.
I’m that person that will see light in a weird spot and point it out to people and they just look at me like i’m weird. Well, friends that aren’t photographers.
When I went out shooting with my friend, Tammy she took a totally different approach to light and went about it fearlessly in her work. For her, the shots came out beautifully. I took a few identical shots and I liked the effect, but missed the deep, richness I tend to aim for.
No two photographers are alike. I am now seeing this by studying the things that I take.
On my Flickr I will occasionally find a picture that I didn’t take and it was taken by my ex. It’s very easy for me now to see what photo I took and the ones that he took. During that time I was deep into the macro lens. I shot primarily with the 105 prime. This was my spurge of money on what I thought would be my passion. Come to find out, it wasn’t and when I tried to return the lens, my photographer guru said he would allow me to return if I took 1000 photos of what I wanted to take photos of. I pouted and cried, but in the end it turned out to be the best lens in my arsenal and once I “figured it out” I knew how to respond the way I wanted. The pictures in my photo stream that belong to me are glaringly obvious to me now. The angle at which I shot it, what I wanted in focus and where the light is hitting. Whenever I see one of his shots now, I delete it. Those aren’t mine to keep and I wouldn’t want them in there for people to see and think that is my style of photography.
I’m always trying to define what kind of photography I have so I can begin to build on it. In the last month or two I have really started to figure out the direction I have always been going, but didn’t know how to define it. My work, when it’s done for me is documentary portrait. I like to use the portrait as a narrative of imagery. I want the whole story without giving it all away.
I can go through all my work and the photos that define me as a photographer are done in this style. Now I am learning how to display that and taking the time in camera to see what I am going for so in post I can get myself there.
This is important for me to learn. When in Action Camera yesterday I was looking at a 70-200 2.8 and I put in my hands I was instantly to the point of orgasm. This thing is sexy as fuck. I shot a few test shots and then handed it back to the sales person. He could see the excitement in my face. My eyes were big and glossy, huge smile and little hearts floating above my head.
“Yeah?” he smiled back at me.
“No.” As beautiful as it was and all that it could do, it was just too heavy for me. It takes a lot of glass to get you to a 2.8 at 200, I know this…but I didn’t think it would be THAT heavy.
This is HUGE for me to know and to still not go, “Don’t care, getting it anyway!” because I am a little kid and lenses are my candy.
He showed me a few other ones and asked me what I primarily shot. I told him “weddings…..ughhhh…i hate weddings!” and then I corrected myself. “no, I love weddings, I love shooting weddings. I hate weddings in post.” He suggested paying someone to do my post work and trust me, I have thought of that. It was nice having my second shooter also be very proficient in Photoshop because I could alter the shots I wanted to display and have him do the other stuff.
I’m also glad I don’t have that as an option because my work is MY work and not photshops work.
I like photoshop for straightening lines, evening out the color tones and pulling out color that wasn’t there before. That’s it.
That’s me as a photographer. I try to get it right in the camera and I get it right, to my standards 1 in ever 30 shots.
My critiquing of my work goes through more parameters that people don’t even know about. Each shot I NOW put out there has been scrutinized to the umpteenth degree until I feel it’s good enough to show.
It wasn’t always like this. I would shoot 100 pictures and put up 80. This isn’t telling a story, it’s burying you in a novel of 800 chapters that should have been done in 1.
I’m still learning this. LESS IS MORE.
As you can tell, I am hyper focused on finding the lines of my path and staying on it. This is important to me because I am leaving behind a legacy that my daughter will say to her great grandchildren, “My mother was a photographer…” and show them the photos I took. This is important to remember when I am taking the pictures of other people to. I want my photo to be the one they hold on to pass down.
I’m still just figuring it all out after 20 years of this.
I went out to Elk Grove to help Victoria and her mother put on a dinner for the runners, Gold Star Families, Firefighters and the Patriot Guard riders who all participated in the Run for the Fallen today.
What an incredibly emotional event.
Victoria lost her brother in 2007 while he was stationed abroad.
The strength this family has amazes me every time I do an event that honors her brother and others that were killed at war.
I am sore, tired and emotionally drained and it was worth it all.
I was in the middle of an Andy Katz class and someone in the class said, “I notice you don’t follow the rules. You put your subject in the middle and don’t follow the rules of thirds.”
I have been drawn to his photography for awhile, but I always thought it was the clean lines and soft romantic feel.
He said something like, I hate rules. I like what I like and this is how I like it.
I think lately I have been noticing more of the technical aspects of photography; the rules of 3rds being broken, the negative space in the wrong spots. Harsh lights and blown out pictures. I was getting snobby about it too. Taking a hard look at my work I realize that I am not a rule follower and when I try to follow the rules, it comes out fake. I like balanced, even, clean lines. I like realistic colors. I like classic black and white and not blown to shit facial features. This is not to say that some of my favorite pictures are the ones I mess with until I have no idea the steps I took to get it there, probably because I hated the picture before and I wanted to see if I could salvage it. Some of my best work is straight out of the camera, but the ones I enjoy are the ones that would have been discarded. I think this says more about my personality than I realized before taking these classes.
I like a good, clean shot and that’s easy for me. I LOVE difficult and temperamental shots.
A quote from this morning’s class that was a rerun from yesterday was something like, If you always do what you’re good at, you will most likely not fail. You will also not grow and become stagnant and that is even worse than failure.
I get this. There is a photographer out there that does those same family shots and they all look identical. All the wedding pictures are the same as the ones from the wedding before. No new technique. Completely predictable. I don’t want to become that photographer. I was that photographer for years.
I woke up this morning to a kiss from a wonderful man and as soon as he walked out the door my mind was racing about what I was going to learn in class today. I got up 2 hours earlier to prepare for my day. That is such an amazing and wonderful feeling to be living and breathing in something I love and I put aside for too long.
I’ve spent the last couple of days watching photography symposiums, lectures and classes and I am so full that I am exploding.
When my teenage friends use to ask me why I felt I needed to go to church, why not just worship at home? I would always tell them that the fellowship I got from being with like minded teens couldn’t be reproduced by just reading my bible at home alone. As I got older and I stopped going to church and surrounding myself with people with that worshipped regularly, I found that I would ask that same question about church. Why surround myself with hypocritical jerks that act one way on Sunday and then treat people like crap the rest of the week?
Because I have been using that as my excuse, God finally said, “FINE!” and he shoved a few people in my life that walk the walk and talk the talk…and they don’t annoy me with, “God Bless You and may he walk with you…blah blah blah.” They are the real deal. If I could hang out with these bitches on Sunday I would totally go to church. No I wouldn’t. I really love them though and I find inspiration from both of them.
I’ve talked about my photo group and how they motivate and inspire me daily. They keep me on my toes and humble. They are my fellowship. The classes are my church.
In this one class I was watching (and taking notes like a mad woman) this photographer was talking about what we are burdened with, what we are blessed with and what we do with our gift. It’s overwhelming at parts and I had to walk away from the computer and jump up and down with frustration. Just when you think you have the technical down, you have a picture shoved in your face and on the spot you have to figure out what stop, what iso, what lens they were using. When they reveal the answer I am sick to my stomach because I was so far off. NO WAY could they possibly get that shot with that light. NO. These photographers are painting with light and I spend so much time frustrated with it. Too much. Not enough. Too high. Too orange. Too shadowy. TOO FLAT.
Some say “no 50!” and some are “decide for yourself.” Ugh. I praise my 50 and I wouldn’t leave my house without it. I need my 1.4 lens like I need air. As I read and watch and see what it is that I love, I realize it’s not weddings. Yes, that is where the money is, but it’s not my passion.
I started doing weddings with a second shooter and then moved into just using an assistant. I think because I am not intimidated by them that I am not pushing myself or challenging myself anymore.
With that, I’ve decided to challenge myself.
I’m going to into some new areas with what I can do and push myself until I am scared shitless.
I’m self assigning new projects and the first month is “Straight from the Camera”.
Yes, I am willing to share this whole process with you. It’s going to be ugly, muddy and weird though.
I finally caved in yesterday and bought a new monitor. I haven’t had one since 2009 and to be honest, I didn’t really miss it. For the small amount of weddings and family portraits I was doing I didn’t need it. Sitting on my bed working on pictures while watching DIY is the American Dream.
I’ve been aware that my days were limited and I would have to figure out a way to get back to a desk and start putting all my free time back into this just like I did all those years ago.
Yesterday was the straw. I decided to go up to my studio and work on my pictures and I was up there for about 3 hours deep into the editing of every single picture when my eyes just said, “Enough. We are stepping out for coffee and a picture of Zac Effron.”
Normally I put about 5 days of research into whatever I am buying (unless it jumps out at me and says, “BUY ME, DAMN IT! BUY ME NOW!”) but I pulled up the Costco page and looked at 2 monitors and said, screw it and I went down and bought a monitor without research it. I also threw in 2 pack of Viva La Juicy because why the fuck not? It’s been a good year and half since I ran out and I don’t care how much they tell you that the cheap knockoffs are just as good. THEY ARE NOT.
I got home and hooked up that bad boy and started editing. HOLY MOTHER MARY OF CHRIST AND ALL THAT IS SACRED. I didn’t realize how much I missed when I was editing without a monitor.
I pulled up some of my recent pictures and I was shocked how clear they are.
Best purchase all year.
The photo a day almost came to a screeching halt this morning when I realized with all the editing yesterday I didn’t take a picture. I grabbed my phone hoping that I took something! Anything! Then I remembered I took a snapshot of the boys on my monitor and sent it to my bride. Saved. I promise to use the picture a day for what it is, a tool to get better and just use this picture as my mulligan.
I’m going to put them up on a Tumblr site soon.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I really love my studio. It’s the trees outside the window that let sparkles of light to shimmy across the desk. My favorite is the morning before I have to turn on the fan and I can hear the kids across the street playing, the wind (or maybe it’s the cars on the street) through the trees and the sound of my grandma’s old clock ticking away.
Today is a day we are to remember. It’s 9/11. We are bombarded with images of what happened all those years ago and for the last few years, I haven’t watched TV on this day. In fact it’s been a really long time since I have. My (at one time) step son expressed his sadness having his birthday butt up to this day and how it’s hard to celebrate when everyone is so sad. I decided that we would forget for a year and we would focus on making his birthday the best. I got him a dog one year. I tried to convince Jessica Alba to jump out of a cake for him and the final birthday spent with him he was turning 18 and I was suffering with my version of WTF where no doctors could figure out what was wrong with me and I was waking up in a rash on 9/11. Since then 9/11 is a gauge as to what I have going on in my life and I can look back and say, “Well at least I didn’t land myself in jail for throwing a glass at my boyfriend.” So I have that going for me.
I was watching Finding Forrester again (love that movie) and he has so many amazing lines in that movie, but the one I love the most is, “Why is it that the words we write for ourselves are so much better than the words we write for others?”
I need to print that out and put it somewhere so I can remember it when I am writing these REALLY LAME POSTS.
Tomorrow. I will do better tomorrow.