Friday, December 16, 2011

NILMDTS (in the recent news)

Today, I went online to renew my volunteer status at Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.  I should have done this months ago, but haven't for various reasons.  It's been nagging me though, so tonight I decided to go ahead with it.  When I went to the website, I found that NILMDTS has been in the news recently as the Duggars of the reality show 19 Kids & Counting required the organization's services this past week.  There's a lot of controversy due to the memorial service and photos which leaked

First off, to those of you who are offended by the photographs - don't look.  I saw a couple images in an article and they're absolutely tasteful.  If you think photographing deceased infants is sick and wrong, imagine it was you.  Wouldn't you want the pictures?  Think of history - in the Victorian era, post-mortem images (especially of children) were quite common.  The mortality rate was high and a photograph was a reminder of the child that was lost.  It still is.

Second - This is a tragedy.  Yes, I completely understand mocking reality show stars, but this is a baby.  A lost baby.  The way some articles online are referring to the child is disgusting.  I honestly am far more sickened by the scathing tone of the articles and their uncaring choice of words than the fact that a family wants to have (and show photos at) a memorial service for their child.

Third - Despite the sorrow (I can't help but get teary when I hear about the death of infants and children), I'm glad that NILMDTS was in the news.  The more that the world hears about the organization, the better.  NILMDTS does a wonderful thing for people going through a terrible time and it's something that everyone should be aware of.

So yeah.  I just wanted to share that with you guys if you weren't aware.  And if you are aware, don't hate, ok?  You can mock reality show people if you want (I know I do it) but don't be cruel about this.

Oh, and seeing as it's the holiday season, if you're in the giving mood, please donate to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.  It's an amazing organization providing professional infant memorial photography for free to families who have lost or are likely to lose their baby.  What is there but memories?

Monday, December 12, 2011

LIVAN (and Alice Cooper)

On Tuesday, my boyfriend Damien and I went to The Hard Rock Cafe to see a band.  This isn't really unusual, as we met when his band, Sick Twisted Debauchery, played at The Fallout Shelter.  So anyway, Tuesday we go to see this band, LIVAN, that we saw open for Alice Cooper over the summer.  We were both really impressed and when we heard they were coming to Pittsburgh again had to go.  Not gonna lie, slightly disappointed in the turnout - there were MAYBE 30 people there and most came to eat or were groupies of a local opener.  It was still an awesome show though, and I was psyched because I got to try out the lens I'd just gotten the night before - 85mm prime, f1.4, manual focus.  I'm kind of in love with it.

I mean, look at this.  Seriously, click on the picture and make it bigger.  It's freaking sweet and I'm pretty proud of myself for being able to manually focus with that shallow depth of field.  This, by the way, is Livan, who is really cool and nice.  More on that later, first some pictures of his drummer, Seven.  Watching him is the most fun I've ever had watching a drummer and he may be my new favorite (sorry, Rick-O).

I'm quite pleased with the results.  So, after the show, Damien and I go to tell Livan it was a good show and we specifically came out to see him.  Ended up talking to him for....I don't know, I'm terrible with time, probably 20 minutes at least.  We talked about music and I showed him some of these photo on the back of my camera and he seemed fairly impressed.  After a bit someone else came over so we went to the merch stand.  Damien got a shirt, I got a CD, we chatted with Ash the merch guy.  Then Livan comes back over to us, asks how far we are from Erie (about 2 hours) and if we want to come out on Saturday, he's opening for Alice Cooper and will put us on the guest list.  This sounds ridiculously fun so of course we agree and on Saturday drive up to Erie.

Just a quick note - while in Erie, there's this thing called a cocoa cafe that has some the best hot chocolate EVER.  Try it.

The show was at the Warner Theater, where we had never been before.  We arrived just as Livan was going on stage and because he had invited us I was able to bring my camera in.  85mm again and MUCH harder to focus from the seating.  I went up closer to the stage for awhile during his set and got some pretty great shots.

You can't see his mic stand too well here, but it's amazing.  Mechanical, with removable parts and goes up and down.  Super impressive and when we saw Livan over summer I think Damien wanted one for Christmas....

So, let's see...I'm really interested in the top photo in this set because it breaks a ton of rules but still works.  Maybe because he's facing out of the frame but the lights on the other side make you look at them too.  I'm fond of it.  Next one down has guitarist, Will, who wrote "Black Cherry" a song of theirs I really like, then Seven, then Anna.

I also took a couple shots of Alice Cooper from my seat, and my favorite is below.

Hi Alice!  You're a legend and 40 years ago the first rock show my dad ever went to was to see you.  (My first concert was Spice Girls.  It was awesome.)

After the show we went and hung out with Livan, Will and a couple other girls from Pittsburgh for a few hours in the tour bus.  We talked about politics, religion, different world views (Livan is from Greece and England), crowd responses at shows, all kinds of things.  It was really interesting because I don't normally have that kind of conversation very often but it was definitely thought provoking.  I'm also really terrible at talking to people for extended periods of time but this conversation was all very natural and relaxed.  It was awesome and can't wait for next time!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rose and Rev

Yesterday I photographed Rose and Rev, a nice rock and roll couple.  I met them over summer when I went to see Rev's band, Only Flesh, play.  In October, I did a shoot with the band, which was really fun.  Recently they contacted me again - Rev knows some guys who have a tattoo magazine in Mexico and they want to do an article to promote Only Flesh's new album and needed some photos.

We shot down in The Fallout Shelter, nice three light setup (softbox, umbrella, and hair light) with a white background.  When they walked in, one of my co-workers nearly had a heart attack over Rose ("Who is SHE, she's SO beautiful!!"), which was kind of adorable.  Once we got downstairs, Rev explained to me exactly what he wanted, which was great - we had a plan and we stuck to it.  This is one of my favorite shots, though there are variations on pose and camera angle.  Oh, and yeah, the hooks are real.  He's a piercer and Only Flesh does suspension as part of their act, which is really interesting to watch and I absolutely want to do it myself.  We had a discussion on the pain level - he said it's not just size of the needle, but speed.  For example, if you pushed a safety pin thru your skin, but slowly, it's probably a similar amount of pain to him shoving that hook thru quickly.  It was really fascinating!!

While I had them here, I wanted to do some portraits for the tattoo project I've been on/off working on for the last year and a half or so.  My project isn't just "oh, I'm going to photograph tattoos" but "I'm going to make really nice portraits of tattooed/pierced people."  Rose and I discussed how we both love black and white photographs but since they're both highly colorful people (literally and figuratively) that it's hard to convert.  However, I found a couple shots that work well.  Colored photos of both of them are on my Facebook page.

Wrapping up, we took some cute couple pictures of them.  Awwww!!!

Friday, December 2, 2011


A couple days ago I got a phone call from an aspiring young male model who needed some photos taken to show an agency he was interviewing at.  Yesterday he came by for studio shots.  I like male models because they're more likely to enjoy dramatic lighting than the girls, who go more for soft pretty light.  I did a mix of the two with Devon and he was quite good at following direction and getting a feel for what sort of lighting called for what sort of expression.  Definite potential!