Powerful portraits workshop experience

Sometimes it’s good to step out of the box and do something different. Which I did recently when I attended a powerful portraits workshop with Fine Art photographer Kelly Schneider This was so outside my comfort zone - there wasn’t a single dog, cat, puppy or kitten there! But it was a great day and I learned so much that I can’t wait to put into practice.

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As my knowledge of lighting grows, I’m finding myself drawn to a certain style more and more. I’ve been studying images by photographers who are utilizing strobes to create incredible drama and almost a 3D feel to their work. I had some idea of how they did this, but so far in my attempts to replicate it, I had failed. Little did I know that when I signed up for Kelly’s workshop, that I was about to finally get the answers to all my questions.

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The amazing thing to me was that I believed the way to create the look I wanted was through post processing. Or maybe a special light modifier. Instead, it was much more simple than I expected. Just a couple of tweaks in the way I set up my studio, and I would be able to create the style I have been pondering for months now.

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One of the things I read about from previous attendees to Kelly’s workshops is not only does he teach, but he gives everyone the opportunity to practice with our own cameras. No more going home with pages of notes, but no experience on how to create what we just learned. While it was hard to have a lot of control over our setups with the number of photographers there, it was just enough for me to come home with images that I can study and refer back to as I begin to practice on my own. Kelly had 2 models for us to work with, which was awesome! Often, at workshops, the attendees act as models - many of us who are uncomfortable in front of the camera. But the 2 young women clearly knew how to pose and take direction as we moved our lighting allowing us, to concentrate on mastering our techniques.

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We used a variety of lighting setups, some of which I had never photographed with before, like constant light. It was nice to experiment with different equipment and see the results without having to borrow, rent or invest in before deciding if it was right for me. There were pros and cons to the options, but for now, I’m going to stick with the strobe that I currently own. I did, however, order some new accessories that will allow me to better create the lighting style that I learned. I’m pretty excited about that!

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So while there were no furry creatures at this workshop to photograph, one thing I want to do more of is photograph people with their pets. Everything I learned will help me create even better portraits for my clients. Are you ready for your fine art portrait featuring the furry members of your family? Drop me a message and let’s start planning your session today!

Thanks for reading!

xoxo

 
 

The Moment it all Clicked

I’m standing on the beach, it’s the end of the day and Mother Nature has graced us with yet another beautiful sunset. It’s a bit chilly and windy, but I don’t mind. After all, this is probably one of my most favorite places in the whole wide world. Not only that, but I’m here with one of my 3 furry best friends. It doesn’t get any better than this. Or does it?

I just wrapped up photographing Kita, my rescue terrier mix. I’ve had this vision for a long time now of a dog on a beach at sunset. For one reason or another, in the short time I’ve been in Florida, this hasn't happened yet. It’s either been too hot, the red tide so bad you can’t breathe or simply just an unspectacular sunset. But finally one night, it all came together for me.

I knew I nailed the shot before I even looked at the back of my camera. It’s simply the greatest feeling when that happens. But it was much more than just that. I was overcome with emotions as I realized everything I had been through in the last year led me to this moment. I picked Kita up and started swinging her around in circles laughing with delight. She was ecstatic too, though I’m not sure she understood yet why. I hugged her over and over again, thanking her for being with me on this journey. As the sun dipped below the horizon, I watched the last of the daylight filled with joy and gratitude. There was no doubt in my mind, I was right where I was supposed to be. Doing exactly what I was meant to do.

How did it take me so long to figure this out? Three things I have always loved - dogs, beaches and sunsets - at the same time in front of my camera. It can’t possibly be any better than that! Now, it’s clear to me why I felt lost for so long. Why I struggled creatively for months wondering if I would ever want to pick up my camera and photograph again. I needed to feel sadness, confusion and emptiness in order to really hear what was in my heart. It was hard at times. Maddening even. I’ve shed a lot of tears, thrown plenty of temper tantrums and oh, so many times, swore I was going to simply. just. give. Up.

But dreams have a way of nagging you, don’t they? And here, on the gulf coast of Mexico, I realized I was making mine come true. Everything simply, well, just clicked for me.

Thanks for reading!

xoxo

 
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Earning my CPP

Certified Professional Photographer

Twenty eighteen ended with a bang when I earned my Certified Professional Photographer designation from Professional Photographers of America. I received the news via an email but wouldn’t believe it until Christmas Eve morning when I opened the front door of my house and found a tube with my certificate inside. This was truly the best gift I received this holiday season!

So what does it mean to be a CPP? Photographers must complete an intensive program that measures her artistic and technical competence. This includes passing a 100 question written exam and submitting a 15 image portfolio to be judged by a panel of judges on technical proficiency . Of these images, 6 are compulsory and 9 are from client work photographed within the last 2 years. Professional Photographers of America currently recognizes fewer than 2,500 CPPs. I am honored to join a prestigious group of photographers.

For me, earning my CPP was more than just the opportunity to add 3 letters to my name. I’m always striving to to learn and grow as a photographer. Going through this process helped me understand what I needed to do to take my work to a new and higher level. Not only has my work improved, but it also boosted confidence in myself as an artist. I began this journey almost 2 years ago when I signed up to take a CPP prep class. And I’m so grateful I did.

Spring has arrived!

After waiting months to see some color, spring finally arrived! And I couldn't wait to get out there with my camera and capture it! I love the burst of color coming up through the ground, the trees waking up and sprouting tiny little green leaves and the sound of birds as they become more active. Spring is probably my favorite season. I'm sure having a May birthday has something to do with that! I haven't photographed many pets lately. In fact, Izzy is the only dog who has been in front of my lens. I've been feeling stuck in a rut with my work lately, as I struggle to create images I'm proud of. It's been refreshing focusing on other subjects during this creative block I'm in. Hopefully it'll help me get through it. But if nothing else, I enjoyed my evening strolls through the gardens. Grateful to not have to bundle up in sweaters and winter coats anymore! Here's a few of my favorite images!

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Pet photography workshop | Recap

I'm always striving to learn more about photography and improve my skills. This year one of my goals was to attend a workshop. With so many opportunities out there, I decided I wanted to focus on studio lighting. This past weekend I spent a day with Andreas Romijn, a dutch photographer, whose work is superb. I've been following him for a while and when I learned he was coming to Chicago to teach, I knew I needed to go. 

Early in my photography journey, I swore up and down I would never shoot in any condition except natural light outdoors. But as time goes by and I see how much you can do with strobes, I'm finding myself using off-camera flash, or OCF for short, more and more. Lighting is tricky to learn in the beginning, but once you grasp general principles it gets easier. These days I have a dream of owning a home where I can set up a studio on my property. I'll never stop shooting outdoors in natural light, but I definitely want to integrate studio sessions into my business.

Andreas' style is pretty much the opposite of what I usually shoot. Dark backdrops, black dogs and dramatic lighting. Yet, I love it! I tend to lean toward light, bright images, with a pop of color. He showed us how he lights his dogs and different ways to use a number of strobes. Then he let us shoot and see this for ourselves. As artists, most of us tend to learn better visually, so this was the perfect way for us to grasp it. He was very involved answering our questions and encouraging us to make decisions on where to place the lights and what settings to use on our camera. I prefer this teaching method over the photographer who sets up the shot, explains why and then lets his students take a photo so they can go home with that "perfect" shot. No one ever learned how to be the best at their craft in just one attempt. 

I came away learning more than I dreamed I would and can't wait to start practicing on my own. Here are a few shots I captured that day. 

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