Saturday, January 28, 2012

Seniors 2012 - Zak

I got a call earlier this week asking to do senior portraits for a kid named Zak.  Definitely psyched for it because, when I was talking to his mom she said he skateboards and shooting at a skate park would be super fun.  Of course, the weather today turned out terrible - very windy and with freezing rain.  So that part is postponed to next weekend, but today we still got some awesome studio shots!

This was my lighting set up for the day.  The hair light is an Alien Bee B400, the umbrella and softbox have B800s.  This was also my first shoot using my new background, so that was pretty exciting!  After years of saying "these paper backdrops are in terrible shape, I should buy new ones" I finally invested in black and white muslin backdrops.  MUCH nicer.

At ImagingUSA this year, I went to a lighting seminar from Oscar Lozoya, who is amazing.  He really had me excited about lighting so I was determined to make something nice today.  Quite pleased with how it turned out - you can see the separation between the background and Zak's dark hair, the highlights on his shirt aren't blown out and there's great texture.  The softbox was up higher (and not tilted down) in this photo than in the example because he's standing, but basically the same setup.

Backlit by the softbox.  It makes a great white background!

This shows the lighting set-up from the example.  Because he's a skateboarder and we couldn't go outside, we still wanted to include his favorite board in the studio shots.

There's a brick wall in The Fallout Shelter where I was shooting, so had Zak grab his board and take a few shots over there.  I showed him this on the back of the camera and he said he really liked the lighting and how the skateboard is visible in the background.  Yay, I love making the client happy!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Is Your Kid the Cutest?

As many of you know, my charity of choice is Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.  Every year, they have a fundraiser, the Charity Model Search, which is a photo contest for the Cutest Kid.  I decided to participate this year, so am looking for models!  Once you have your session, I'll post a picture to the contest and you have all your friends and families vote.  Votes cost $1 a piece, but are absolutely worth it - every penny benefits NILMDTS.  Plus you have the chance to win all kinds of prizes!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

ImagingUSA 2012 - Life is To Short To Live Somebody Else's Dream

Just got home from ImagingUSA which was in New Orleans this year.  This is my fourth year at Imaging, and my first as a member of PPA (Professional Photographers of America) instead of a volunteer from SPS (Student Photographic Society).  I'm a grown-up!!  Hahahaha, yeahhh....  Anyway, I went with my ex-boyfriend and fellow photographer/former SPS and AiP kid Cryss.  We were able to meet up with our Colorado friend Sheena, which was awesome!  She and her husband used to live in Louisiana so were able to suggest all kinds of delicious places to eat (ok, seriously, Mother's?  That was one impressive sandwich).  I wish I could see my photographer friends who don't live around Pittsburgh more often, but it's nice to catch up at Imaging.

Cryss and I stayed about a mile from the convention center in the French Quarter, which I love.  New Orleans in general, I love.  I wanted to stay.  Yes, last year I wanted to stay in San Antonio, but New  Traveling is definitely in my future, though I was thrilled to come home.  While I was there though, so much walking!  All around, not just to the convention center, though I spend a LOT of time there!

My goal this year was to go to a bunch of classes on business (pricing, marketing, that sort of thing) and senior portraiture.  I need some help in the business/marking aspect so that was to teach me and I love doing senior pictures so wanted inspiration there.  Literally took half a composition book full of notes!  Sunday there were four time slots for class and I went to all four which was exhausting but informative.  The problem of course, was deciding what to go to, but I mostly picked good ones.  Monday I went to two out of the three, then went exploring, and Tuesday I slacked and only went to two of four because I slept in a little and then went to the Expo where I bought a Rogue Flash Bender (goes on your speedlight, pretty nifty) and a new LensBaby Composer Pro (these are AMAZING).  I can't wait to use them!!  I especially think the LensBaby is going to be a huge hit with my senior girls this year, so am really excited.  I'm also really excited about some of the things I learned.

A couple things really stuck out.  One was a lighting class by this guy named Oscar Lozoya.  He is AMAZING.  Seriously, look him up.  Actually, I'll make it easy and just click on his name, it takes you to his website.  I was so insanely impressed by his lighting and diagrams that I bought his book and had him sign it.  The other thing that stuck out was the phrase "FEAR LESS."  A couple of the speakers I saw talked about not selling yourself short and having confidence in yourself and your work.  To be honest, I have trouble with that sometimes.  One speaker though, Kimberly Wylie, she had these phrases on her slides: "Fear less, dream more" and "Life is too short to live somebody else's dream" that really hit me.  Those are things I've been working on and am getting better at (Damien tells me similar things a lot), but sometimes you need to hear them in a setting like that.  So yeah, that was really inspirational to me and I'm going to try so hard to live MY dream.

These are all images from my last day in NOLA, when I did what I spent most the trip attempting to do and went on a photo adventure to the cemetery where the Marie Laveau the Voodoo Queen is rumored to be buried.  So in love.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Up Early with Liv

I'm mentioned my model Liv many times.  We've known each other since she was in elementary school with my sister and is home from college for winter break right now so we decided to do a shoot.  Liv wanted something kind of vintage, which reminded me of a senior picture shoot I did over summer.  We decided to revisit that location with some great thrift store finds.  At sunrise.  Getting up early is not my strong point but something I really need to work on, plus the light is always beautiful.

Of course, switching between lenses made it difficult because I was using the f1.4 and the first frame or two after switching would be either too dark or completely blown out.  HOWEVER, there is this magical thing called camera RAW which allowed some saving.  Check out how awesome this before and after is!

The top is straight out of camera.  The bottom is after some tinkering around in LightRoom.  Sometimes mistakes turn out really well!!  Now for the intentional images....

I just had to edit this all old-timey.  The fall-off from the f1.4 is beautiful and I love how the necklace and lace of the dress look.  She looks straight out of the 19th century.

Love her poses!

The light and lines in this makes it a favorite.  Plus Liv has a stunning profile - having a good model can make or break a photo.

Of course, I had to go and love the vintage look in black and white which took out the lovely colors but there's an image on my facebook page from this shoot in color.  Go love it!

Sardonyx Battle of the Bands Finals

On Sunday, my friend Craig from The Pittsburgh Scene texted me saying that the Sardonyx high school Battle of the Bands at Diesel needed a photographer ASAP, could I come?  Long story short, I grabbed my camera and went over.  A couple bands had already played but I managed to catch the top three.  I had various lens - the 18-55mm kit lens, a 75-300, and my new 85mm prime f1.4 which I'm crazy about.  I used all of them throughout the night, switching as I ran around from the pit in front to all sides of the balcony to the stairs just offstage.

Shirts vs Skins.  They were pretty cool, had to be to get second place!  Also, hot pink Doc Martens are my dream shoes, so super jealous of the singer's.

M4.   I thought this was a high school battle, but 10-year-olds playing Metallica (and doing it decently) is kind of mind-blowing!

Lovely Crisis.  They got third, and had amazing energy but the most impressive part was how into them the crowd was.

Second Empire.   My personal favorite of the night and the winner of the battle.  I would definitely listen to them in my car.  I HATE when venues use all red light because it completely destroys detail but her eyes in this are phenomenal.

East Enders.  Some of the kids from M4 and some other kids.  They were really impressive - one kid was switching between lead guitar, keyboards and saxophone at age I spent most my time climbing trees and reading fantasy novels.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Band Promos - S.T.D.

So my boyfriend has this metal band called Sick Twisted Debauchery (S.T.D.) and last year my friend Timmy recorded them and this year they want to put out a nice CD with album art and all that fancy stuff.  They're pretty good, actually.  I suggest reading the album review on Amazon because it's hysterical.  I've been telling them they need photos for months and Damien (my boyfriend, the band's singer) finally agreed.  They warned me they aren't photogenic.  They're awkward and unattractive people who don't know what to do in front of a camera.  "It's ok," I insisted.  "Everyone looks good in the right light!"  Little did I know what I was in for.

Last week I went to band practice in Ty the drummer's basement and set up my lights and photographed S.T.D.  It went...interestingly.  They were awkward unphotogenic people who can't behave and don't know what to do in front a camera. We looked over the pictures immediately after and decided to do them again, but with the guys playing so they were more comfortable.  So here are some photos from the second set.  It's all individuals.  One of these days we'll do more (they don't really have a choice) but it was cold and getting late and this was all they need right now.





And here's a color photo of Damien because I love him and am happy he wears the gloves I got him for Christmas  <3

Monday, January 2, 2012

It's a New Year! Time for a Flashback

Normally my first blog of the year is Imaging USA, which is in New Orleans this year!  I can't wait.  But I just noticed a blog by a photographer I know, Kenneth Rodriguez, who posted his 15 favorite images of his from 2011.  "What a great idea!" I thought.  "I'm totally stealing it!"  So here I am, making elena-dee's Eleven Best Images from 2011 (in no real order).  I hope you guys agree!!

First off, my little cousins Brian and Mikayla!  Their dad, my cousin Paul, asked me to do family portraits for them over the summer.  We did a lot of traditional portraits of the family but I also got some super cute shots of the B and Mik just playing around.  They're such great kids and I absolutely love them.

Rowan.  I've known her family pretty much my entire life and so got to take some fun photos of her with cupcakes.  She was psyched because she got to eat some of them.  I wish I remembered what her dad said to get this look!

Melody.  Crazy little model/musician, her shoot was SO FUN!  She had great ideas and awesome outfits/props.  I adored the lighting in this shot, and her angles.  Girl knows how to pose!

I didn't shoot as many live shows as I usually do this year, but of them, Livan's set at the Hard Rock Cafe definitely stood out.  Maybe because it this was the first time I used my new 85mm f1.4 lens, maybe because we talked to him for awhile and he had a lot of really interesting things to say.  Or it could also be because this is a freaking sweet picture.

A couple years ago, when Resistance 13 started up, I did their promo shots out I don't even know where.  Ohio, I think?  It was awesome and we got some really sweet pictures.  They've gone through a line-up change since so new photos were needed!  Once again we got a lot of great shots but this is definitely my personal favorite.

 A couple years ago, when I started doing senior pictures, a girl named Janelle had me take hers.  This year, her cousin Abbie wanted me to do hers as well.  She mentioned an abandoned train station that I had actually always wanted to shoot at and never had.  I love Abbie's style and at the station she managed to look straight out of the 1940s.

I do a lot of senior pictures and they're always fun and interesting and I get such great kids.  Allie's shoot was really special to me though - her aunt Whitney and I were best friends for about a decade before Whit died in a car crash three years ago.  When I was asked to do Allie's photos, I was thrilled.  It was like seeing part of a long lost family.  All the sad stuff aside, this is one of my favorite senior shots of the year.  She has her letterman jacket, nice background, great smile....  I love senior pictures!

Rick has been coming to my family's bowling alley as long as I remember, so when he and Lisa asked me to photograph their wedding, I was thrilled!  Weddings are a lot of work but the results tend to be beautiful.  They got married at Shakespeare's, this amazing restaurant/golf course/castle.  Yes, it's a castle with enormous (and heavy!) front doors.  I love all the photos from Rick and Lisa's wedding.

I had only planned on putting one wedding photo in this list because I don't shoot too many.  Then I remembered this insanely adorable shot from Jason and Danielle's winter wedding last February.  It's just too cute, you can't help but smile!

After the romance of the couple photos, we need a romantic location!  I went with my boyfriend's family to Niagara Falls in September (and actually again just a couple days ago for New Years!) and got a few photos.  The boats, the birds, the mist, I love it all!!

OF COURSE this is at the top.  It's my adorable little cat Trigger Happy Jack, cuddling with my bearded dragon, Kitten.  We very nearly were in Professional Photographer Magazine for this image and I was amazed at how good the vertical version of this photo did.  2000+ views and over 250 votes!!  Other photographers were emailing me saying they hoped I would win and people were posting the link to the magazine cover contest all over Facebook....  It was kind of crazy but so awesome.  Thank you to everyone who voted!!!  I'm so grateful for all your support.

Looking through this list one last time, I realize a couple things.  First off, I'm super indecisive.  I knew this already, but you have no idea how many photos were on this list and then weren't and then were again and I love so many it's hard to choose!!  I also realized that I absolutely LOVE my manual focus lenses.  The 50mm f2prime?  Yeah, that's definitely my favorite.  Pretty sure the new 85mm f1.4 is going to get a lot of use in 2012 too.  It's going to be a good year - I have a new job lined up photographing newborns that I'll be starting in a couple weeks and am going to try to build my senior and wedding business up more.  I'm feeling optimistic!!