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I know I have been pretty absent recently and I wanted to apologize, firstly.

I tend to have this habit where I ride on the wave of something, then slowly ebb away from it. Eventually, I do come back, but I need to make it a little more permanent. The recent neglect of this blog has been due to the fact that I’m not shooting as much as I did in New York. It’s also due to the fact that I’m not back in school yet and I don’t have the spare time I used to.

It should be noted though, that I am doing lifestyle photography for my church (University Place Presbyterian Church) and it has been really a great experience, especially because my photography has been printed and displayed around the facility. If you are interested in seeing photos before I post them here, you can find some of my work on the church’s Flickr located here and here. In the meanwhile, I am going to get the photos organized and upload them onto Flickr in their own set.

Since the last time I posted in April (epic fail on my part) to now, a lot of awesome things have happened and will happen. Some of the highlights are:

- My dad visited Washington for the first time in July. He’s a born and bred New Yorker, like me, but he was awestruck by the beauty of the Northwest. We went up to Mount Rainier and I got a lot of really great shots (you can see some below and above). Also, if you plan on visiting the mountain sometime soon, make sure to do the Trail of Shadows near Longmire. When I was up there with my dad we hiked the trail, and goodness, it’s gorgeous.

- A good friend and I started a lifestyle blog together called Evergreen and Aperture. The blog was born out of our annoyance over the lack of blogs that don’t discuss sustainable living, eco-friendly products, and also the lack of beauty blogs that don’t mention the amount of harmful chemicals companies put in products. Right now we’re still in the honeymoon phase, but we’ve got some solid content up.

- We’re also in the works of compiling a list of brands that contain harmful chemicals, alternative products to use, and what products from brands contain these chemicals and which don’t. Additionally, we will also be explaining the hazards to these chemicals and what they are in a way that the public can understand. I’m pretty excited to see what articles my friend comes up with because she’s an Environmental Sciences major who is a living example of someone that is passionate about the environment. As for me, I’m the resident photographer for the blog. Which means I’ll be posting some photography tips on there, particularly tips from a camera-buying aspect. This is especially important to me because I help a lot of people at my job with purchasing cameras, so I’m considerably up to speed with the current needs and questions people have.

-  Also the local Renaissance Faire is happening this weekend. You know what that means – photos! I am so excited to see how the Northwest does their faires. And obviously expect some photos to show up here, of course.

Until next time, stay posted for those Flickr updates and any photography articles I write for my alternate blog because I’ll redirect them here!

And I don’t own houseplants because I don’t water them enough like my blog … ;)

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Excuse the super quick post, I just wanted to announce that I decided to jump the bandwagon and create a Posterous (a micro-blog, basically). You can find random photography posts there, such as inspiration posts or random articles I stumble upon.

I will continue posting blogs here, as I consider this my more “serious” blog (if that makes any sense).

Since I have been on a creating frenzy today, I also created an about.me page too. It’s a pretty cool idea because it’s like an e-business card that lets you link to other websites you’re affiliated with. I would definitely recommend this for anyone involved in the visual arts (models, photographers, graphic designers, videographers, etc.)

Also, if you’re in the Seattle/Tacoma area don’t forget about the photo-walk on April 23rd! You can find out more here.

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Are you available on a Saturday?

Do you love photography and want to meet new people who love what you do?

Or do you want to learn a thing or two about photography?


Then join my group and I for a photo-walk through Seattle, beginning at St. James Cathedral on Saturday April 23rd, starting at 11:00am!

From the cathedral we will walk directly over to Benaroya Hall (the symphony hall), followed by the Seattle Public Library: Central. Afterward, the group will decide if we want to do lunch in either Pioneer Square or Chinatown (both of which are in walking distance). I am also hoping to take photos between our destinations, so if you see something interesting along the way, don’t hesitate to capture it!

The walk is completely free, with the only expense being lunch in either Pioneer Square or Chinatown. I’m hoping to use the lunch as a great opportunity to solidify any bonds we’ve made with one another, and of course talk more about photography and ourselves ;)!

Additionally, the walk is not limited to photographers with DSLRs. All camera types and skill levels are welcome!

To RSVP/ask any questions, contact me on the E Schumann Foto Facebook page, or e-mail me directly at eschumannfoto@gmail.com. If you e-mail me please be sure to put “Photowalk” in the subject, and to include your name and the best way to contact you (e.g., mobile phone, e-mail, etc.)

Further details can be found below:


Seattle Photo-Walk!
- Starting at Saint James Cathedral at 11:00am (late arrivals may meet us at our second or third destination), followed by Benaroya Hall and then the Seattle Public Library
- Optional lunch afterward in either Pioneer Square or Chinatown (it’s a great chance to make friends and let us know more about yourself!)


 

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In New York, the mere act of hustling is executed nearly every single day. Whether it be the guy trying to sell you “I love New York” t-shirts or the sharply dressed business person, everyone hustles just a bit to get what they want.

When I was starting out as a photographer I had no guidance from other professional photographers or any formal training under my belt. (Everything I know to this day is through self-study and practice.) All I had was the support of my family and their logic about business practices to guide me along.

And since I still have no (official) formal training or field experience, I am not ready to charge for my work. I started out by developing contacts and utilizing New York’s plethora of fashion models through various resources, mainly a non-profit that was organizing a fashion show. Myself and many other photographers worked for free, trading our time for the models’ and the makeup artists’. It was a fabulous system as everyone developed their portfolios, and I gained valuable field experience. Heck, I even made some awesome contacts along the way.

Unfortunately, I had to tear myself from those contacts/opportunities to pursue my new life in the Northwest. Now that I’m back to square one, I’m back to trading my time for the models’ and the makeup artists’.

Honestly, I would rather shoot for free than charge a client for work that I consider sub-par. Photography isn’t a money-making machine to me, it’s an art form and something I have a deep-rooted passion for. I wake up nearly every day with a gnawing feeling of wanting to take pictures!

Additionally, a small fraction of me also refuses to charge for my work because I don’t want to become one of the many photographers who charge for their work and it looks just … blah. Although I definitely don’t think my work is “blah,” I definitely do not think I am at a place where I can confidently charge my clients yet. Let alone take their money and believe I am providing a top-notch service to them.

Recently I came across some people who seem to think that photographers who don’t charge for their work give “real” photographers a bad rap. As if to say that photographers who charge for free are “wannabes.”

Honestly, I strongly disagree with this. Strongly.

Not charging for your work is a great way to obtain experience without the pressure of creating amazing results for your client. It gives aspiring photographers the freedom they need to experiment as well. I can understand if photographers that don’t charge for their work develop certain expectations within clients, but by the same token, photographers who charge for work that looks like total rubbish develop clients that become numb to other (more skilled) photographers.

It should be noted though that only the photographer can decide when to begin charging for their work. Shooting for free is definitely not a permanent choice, it’s just a starting point that requires a bit of hustling.
 

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In an ideal world, I would be able to take photographs every day and make a living from it.

In the real world, I work part-time at Best Buy selling cameras, and do not have the chance to shoot every day (or make enough to live off of it).

As someone who thrives on taking photos every day, I found myself feeling lost and unfulfilled on the days I was not shooting. In order to try to feel fulfilled I attempted to take a photo everyday of anything (mostly things around my apartment or within walking distance). Unfortunately, this also burdened me with the feeling of unfulfillment, mainly because I was never happy with any of the photos I took.

Naturally I ditched the idea of trying to take photo everyday, because I never publish any work I’m not happy with. Ever. (Curse my perfectionist tendencies . . .)

Due to my work schedule I found the time between shoots was growing to an unacceptable distance. And surely enough, I felt this void inside of me, like I was missing out on something.

What I was missing out on was photography, and I knew it, but couldn’t find a way to fulfill it.

It wasn’t until this past week that I found a way to keep my photography sanity intact: blogs, blogs, blogs, and websites. And more blogs, of course!

All of the photography blogs and websites I encounter I make sure to immediately bookmark, so on days that I’m not taking photos I can check them out and see what’s new or learn about new techniques, etc. It’s a win-win situation, because I can remain productive with my photography even though I am not shooting.

For anyone else out there that may feel the same way I do, I wanted to share the list of blogs and websites I’ve collected. You’ll find my nifty little list below, and hopefully it’ll help another struggling photographer regain his sanity too.

  • DSLR Tips is exactly what you’d imagine it to be, a tips website. This website does so much more though, such as offering incredibly in-depth reviews on different cameras, lenses, etc. They also have a Youtube channel where you can find reviews and tips in the form of video.
  • Photofocus is a one-stop kind of blog. Ran by photographer Scott Bourne, he posts informative articles, podcasts, and reviews. He also posts fairly regularly, which is nice.

  • PIXIQ is an online community that is staffed by contributing professional photographers, bloggers, etc. They have a whole slew of different categories, such as photography news, reviews, and even a techniques section. Each category has a plethora of articles within it, so be sure to check them all out!

  • Black Star Rising is an informative website that features articles meant for all different levels of photographers. I find that the website is best suited for professional or (new) freelance photographers, since most of the articles cover business related issues. However there are a great majority of articles that do discuss creative blocks, etc.

  • Jasmine Star Photography Blog was one of the first blogs I discovered. And believe me, it’s so much more than just photography. Jasmine is not afraid to expose herself by writing about her mistakes, or posting personal photos of her husband and their adorable dog Polo. Jasmine is not only an amazing teacher through her blog, but she is a true inspiration. By the way, she also frequents creativeLIVE, which offers web workshops geared towards photographers (plus, it’s Seattle-based).

  • RAW is a blog moderated by photographer Tristan Jud. You’ll find reviews, interesting stories and post-production information here. I recently discovered this website, so I don’t have a great deal to say about it, but I definitely think it’s a worth-while resource.

Do you have any photography blogs or websites you enjoy? If so, feel free to let me know via comments below or reply to me on Twitter!
 

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After finally stumbling into bed rather late last night, I caught myself thinking about photography. I was thinking about ways to improve the blog, how excited I was to take photos for tomorrow (today), and how I wanted to check all of my favorite photographer’s blogs to see if they posted any updates.

Essentially, I was keeping myself awake with the adrenaline of photography coursing through my veins.

As of late, it has felt like photography has kept me alive, and that one day without it feels like true deprivation. Perhaps I am just making up for the time I stopped taking photos, who knows. All I do know is that I want to keep taking photos – photos of anything and everything, because I love it so much.

Well, mushy mini-tangent aside about how I love photography oh-so-much and on to the good stuff!

I wanted to share the photos I took today on photo walk in the Port of Tacoma. Which I believe turned out much, much better than I anticipated. This is mostly attributed to the fact that I had absolutely no clue about what I wanted to shoot today, all I knew was that I wanted to shoot. When my boyfriend started the car and asked me where I wanted to go, I simply told him that I had no idea. He kept pushing for a direction, and I finally blurted out a safe zone: “Downtown Tacoma.”

Immediately, I regretted mentioning downtown because it is a safe zone. I admonished myself for not saying somewhere different, because if I want to become a better photographer, I will have to challenge myself (cue photographer Scott Bourne’s article about proving you are serious about photography and see point number seven). Luckily for me, my boyfriend decided (on his own accord) to turn into the Port of Tacoma to explore somewhere we have never been before.

With many thanks to him, he helped challenge me a bit and even point out some potential photos I may have never considered (three cheers for having a creative partner)!

 

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Huntin’ for Photos!

As I slowly unravel myself from my so-called “photographic rut,” I proposed the idea of going on a mini photo-hunt with my boyfriend in Downtown Tacoma today.

It was a lot of fun to wander around and take photos of whatever, just like I used to back home in New York. But what made it even nicer was that doing this reminded me of my dad, mostly because he and I used to venture around the city to capture anything and everything.

Since these are more casual photos (although I did squeeze in some nice headshots of my boyfriend, who claims he is not a model and gets a little flustered when I play paparazzi with him), I decided to create a nifty little slideshow for ease of viewing.

P.S., amazingly enough, there’s a photo that my boyfriend caught of me while we were waiting for lunch at the Harmon /shock and awe!

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As I have been adjusting to my new life in Washington state, I have come to discover that I put myself in a photographic rut . . .

Mostly because a) I have no photographic contacts over here (don’t worry though, I have been working on establishing new contacts) and b) at the highpoint of my shooting, I wasn’t working or in school, which gave me a lot of time to focus on my photography – at the present moment, I am working, but aim to begin using my days off to take more photos.

Today, I was reading over the amazing (and one of my absolute favorite) photographer Rosie Hardy‘s blog posts and saw a set of photos she published from a wedding. Not only were her color photos absolutely stunning, but her black and whites really caught my eye. These were the most crisp and well-exposed digital black and whites I had seen. I literally felt like I was looking at 35mm b&w prints.

And it was after looking at Rosie Hardy’s inspiring photos that I felt galvanized to take photographs again. I felt the same itch I used to feel to bring my camera with me everywhere, to capture anything that caught my eye. Unfortunately, I didn’t venture too far from home today, so I settled on taking a self-portrait.

Seventy shots later, I finally settled on the following two shots:

Basically, what I did was pull all of my dusty camera gear out of its hiding place in my closet and rig up my tripod. I composed the photo against a set of white window blinds (which I knew would blur as the camera focused on me), grabbed my 35mm Canon FTB QL as a prop, a light reflector, and fired away! If you are curious about the settings I had these photos on, they vary between 1600 and 800 ISO (I wasn’t worried about grain, I was in fact hoping for some to create a film look), and f-stops of 1.8 and 2.2 or so. Additionally, I think it’s important to mention that I had the camera literally set to black and white, rather than convert them to gray-scale in post processing. I was hoping to challenge myself a little bit since I barely ever work with digital b&w.

I really do like the outcome of the two photos I selected. Of all the 70 photos I took, I tried different poses and angels, only to discover what I really wanted to do was depict myself in front of the camera as who I am behind it. I say it was a success!

If you find yourself in a photographic rut, source inspiration from one of your favorite photographers or you can view this handy list I came across on Mostly Lisa‘s blog: http://mostlylisa.com/blog/8things/. She is slowly becoming another source of inspiration for me, especially since she has a Bachelor’s in journalism (hey, that’s what I’m studying for!)


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Why Lifestyle Photography is Hard

Since my relocation to the Northwest, I have managed to put myself into a photographic rut. How did I manage this, you ask? I decided to focus on fashion photography and move out of New York right when I began my photography business.

If this were an alternative universe and I had an MBA, I’m sure I would have not gone through with such a decision. Well, too bad alternate-universe self. I didn’t move to Washington for business. I moved here to be with my boyfriend after three years of bi-coastal love. Enough was enough, photography business or none.

This small realization leads to me to the fact that there is a minimal need (in contrast to my hometown of New York City) for fashion photography. This little nook of the country screams “lifestyle photography!” By this I mean:  family portraits, boudoir, pets, senior photos, weddings, nature and landscape photography, etc.

Which brings me to a confirmation of another realization I had … A few months ago I did family portraits for an absolutely amazing family. The mother wanted me to capture her son and his dad, to remember him as a little boy. I was completely for this idea, but it was one of the toughest jobs I had ever done.

This is when I became scared of family portraits (I still am). It’s not that I don’t like them, but I am used to have a lot of control in my photos – I am used to directing models, not people like my neighbors.

My third and final realization is directly related to the title of this blog post: lifestyle photography is hard.

If you’re a lifestyle photographer reading this, I’m sure you are laughing, perhaps chuckling at me. Yes you, underdog of the photography world. Even you, mother with a camera to capture your children (the ones that do it well, of course). You, my friends, have no easy path to walk before you.

Why?

No control, to very minimal. Unless of course you’re posing your shots. For the most part though, lifestyle photography isn’t about reproducing a moment, it’s about capturing it. Whereas fashion photography/editorial is about reproducing a moment, or creating a brand new one to showcase the subject(s). This is not fact, of course, just my opinion. I did not write the rule book on this, I am just speaking from experience.

And even as a fashion/editorial photographer, I have found candid photographs work better than posing 75% of the time. The models can shift through a couple poses, and I will give them feedback. From there, we will focus on several poses and I will guide them, utilizing the control I need to capture the right shot.

In my experience with lifestyle photography, I am in the background, quiet as a ninja trying to capture and not disrupt a moment. Which makes me feel and sound like a stalker.

Nothing makes me feel more out of control, because in those moments I want to tear up the room and pose people accordingly. But how can I pose people “accordingly” and fine tune all the details when I’m documenting children being tutored? Aside from not trying to break their concentration with my lens in their face, the kids have been with the tutors since 1pm and want nothing more to go home. How can I tell those anxious kids, “Hey, can you just tilt your head to the left a bit?”

Yet, photojournalists do it all the time. They capture a live moment, by stalking it like a prey and waiting for the right moment to strike. All while setting up composition and planning out lighting. Dear photojournalists out there, you are my lifestyle photography heroes. (Even though you’re not lifestyle photographers, in a commercial sense anyway.)

I think I’m going to go spend some time living with lions in the African plains so I can learn more about stalking and when to strike at the right moment. Or maybe I’ll just watch my friend’s cat to learn. Hmm …


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Originally posted on: Sep 15th, 2010 at 10:58pm

‘Cause I keep disappearing! (I know, I know, I’m cheesy.)

Seriously though, there is a serious lack of upkeep over here, mainly because I am so busy prepping for my move.

Yep, that’s right, the days have finally ticked down and Sunday is the big day. Which means it’s hammer time for me and my procrastinating self! I guess it’s time to destroy my cardboard box fortress and actually use those boxes to contain my worldly possessions. (Although I think the fortress is much more fun.)

During this whole process, I have been trying to update Twitter regularly. Feel free to check it out if you are interested in more regular updates.

Due to my unexpected hiatus, here is a small photoset of the recent pictures I have taken in the last couple of weeks. As you can tell, I have managed to squeeze in a photoshoot and some family time as the days wind down. Further photos can be found on Flickr.

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