From the Beginning…

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Here’s a photo of an old battery charger I took at my dad’s auto electric repair shop. Dad is the one main person I can attribute my absolute love for photography to, and ultimately my artistic spirit in general. I’ve always felt a strong connection to my dad, ever since I was a kid. He’s a brilliant photographer with a strong and quiet spirit, and a wonderful, amazing person all around.

I think I may have mentioned yesterday when I started this blog that when I first got into photography, I had no real interest in shooting people. I was first an artist in the drawing and painting sense before I tried my hand at photography, so I was still stuck in the same type of “artsy” mind set I was in before- and if I WAS going to shoot people, I wanted to do heavier Photoshop, kind of dream-like (think Salvador Dali) type shots. Also, I started shooting at a time in my life without real opportunity to shoot people, so I spent most of my early photography practice shooting inanimate objects and really cool surfaces and textures.

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Another one I can thank Dad for the opportunity of taking. Since he has quite the automotive connection around our town, he’s able to easily search out intriguing objects to shoot. This is a photo I took when he took me along to a repair shop where the owner specialized in restoring vintage Harley Davidson motorcycles. Here, we have a 1937 and a 1938 model, I believe.

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Ever seen a cup of coffee look like this? I’ve recently started using coconut oil in place of cream in my coffee. Not only have I found a tastier and healthier way to cut the acidity in my coffee, I’ve also found a way to create really cool textures to shoot as I’m trying to wake up for the day!

So, as I’m catching you up to my current photographic experiences, you’ll probably be seeing mostly artistic shots of non-humans. While I have yet to master the art of the puppy photo (good grief, they move even quicker than children!), I’ve also found my handsome cat Poe to be quite the dapper subject when I’m bored and don’t have a real reason to get out of the house.

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I honestly thought I shot this one in color. I’m certain I did, but I just can’t find it anywhere now. Too bad, because he’s got some killer orange eyes. Anyway, this is our kitty, Mr. Jamie Vincent van Poe, or Poe for short.
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Just ever so handsome, don’t you think?

Anyway, onto my actual point of this post. The previous images were mostly taken for fun- I didn’t actually think about starting a business or practicing portraits for some time after I began photography. I originally was just happy to have an extremely fulfilling hobby (although very expensive) that I could share with my dad. Not gonna lie- he and I are quite a bit alike. Neither of us express ourselves with words very well. I know that my sister and I are the light of his life, and I hope he knows that I respect him and admire him more than almost anyone I’ve ever met.. He is absolutely in the least cliche way possible, my hero.. I even married a man who reminds me a lot of him in personality. But Dad and I have never actually sat down and told each other these things- we’re just too awkward for that. So the fact that the two of us share an artistic interest is basically our “bonding”, and I love it so much. Mom says it makes dad extremely happy too 😀

I don’t remember exactly when my mind began opening to the idea of shooting portraits and weddings, because it was a creeping, slow process. I do remember though, what pushed me over the edge and made me say to myself,  “I want to spend my life shooting people, and I want to do it as beautifully as possible”.  I’d attended one of our local Photography Gild meetings as a guest, and a woman named Barbara Grimball was speaking. She had a projector showing us basically what a good portfolio looked like. Key things like keeping the style similar, using your best work, simplicity in portraits, etc. It was super interesting and I was hanging on every word she said. But the thing that really caught me was her UNBELIEVABLY GORGEOUS portrait work. I mean really. I can honestly say that some of her photos left me breathless, because she put so much talent and beauty into composing them, using the proper tools in the proper way to create perfect lighting (of course, I only use natural light right now, but I have SO MUCH respect for a studio shooter), and so on. She even showed us how it doesn’t matter how beautiful your subject is- only that you photograph them beautifully. She demonstrated this point with a few shots of the man who taught my first ever photography class and works at one of our local camera shops, Woody. Now, I’m not saying Woody isn’t beautiful. He’s a beautiful person for sure, and he’s a wonderful photographer who I really look up to. But he is a 50 or 60-something man with a long grey pony tail, usually wearing acid-washed denim, who just oozes “original hippie awesomeness” vibes (which is probably yet another reason why I think he’s just the coolest guy ever). Anyway, Barb’s portraits of Woody were just amazing. She has the tendency to drape cloth over her subjects to avoid any sort of.. well, I guess you could say “clothing style” showing through. She said she hates brand logos showing (as do I), and she doesn’t like to insinuate typical style. In short terms- her photography is FINE ART, not a fashion show. You know how boring it is to see a photo of someone in a T-shirt and jeans? YAWN. Barb transforms her subjects into timeless beings with the simple use of textured or beautifully colored cloth, and finishes the look of with carefully chosen props. In this case, Woody (with his pony tail taken out and hair hanging loose around his shoulders) looked like a wise old sage, or a wizard, or a scholar, and an old-world one at that. I couldn’t decide. But I honestly would hang those photos on my wall because she just shot them so beautifully.
Anyway, long rant to make my point. Barbara Grimball was the genius who made me realize what portraits CAN and SHOULD be. Now, will I perfectly stick with Barb’s photographic style? Absolutely not! But I will always remember the amazing things I learned from her, those things that I’ve always been subconsciously drawn to yet didn’t know exactly why until she explained them, and I’ll apply those things to my own brand and style of shooting portraits. I think that’s what I love so much about photography- each artist has his or her own unique style. While we may draw inspiration from those we admire, we use bits of that inspiration to create our own artistic style, rather than perfectly reproducing what we learned from the artistic geniuses we’ve learned it from.

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To finish this post, I give you one of the photos from my very first portrait shoot ever. I found a photography contest that was judged by the widely known Woodstock photographer, Elliott Landy. Mr. Landy is known for many wonderful shots of celebrities from the Woodstock era, including Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan, two of my favorite musicians. Anyway, the theme was “Spirit of the Sixties” and the rules were that the image and title be drawn from the title of a 60’s era song. I didn’t use this shot (I used one with my lovely model Ashley on a bridge.. can you guess what I named it?) I tried to go with a slightly aged look but didn’t want to go too overboard in editing it to look like an old photo- I did add more image noise, but still kept the coloring semi-modern. While I didn’t place, and didn’t expect to considering it was my first attempt, I was given an honorable mention, and was thrilled!

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2 responses to “From the Beginning…

  1. I love the photo of the coffee with coconut oil. I sometimes add that to mine as well.
    And congrats on the honorable mention for your first portrait shoot. I’m sure it took some courage to open yourself to criticism from such a well known judge. Keep it up 🙂

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