Archive for October, 2010


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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Originally posted on: Sep 1st, 2010 at 9:00pm

With approximately 18 days left until I move to Seattle, I spent some vital time today with my friend Katie. Our friendship dates back to middle school, where we gravitated to each other due to our quirkiness, love for Japanese culture, and spiritual beliefs.

Thankfully, our friendship (albeit not as strong) has still lasted through college semesters spent apart and Katie studying abroad in Japan.

After her time spent in Japan and my experience eating not-so-great sushi, we began our afternoon with some “legit sushi,” followed by a few hours of meandering. Those hours of meandering lead us to a home decor store that had one of the most lovely ladies’ room I have ever seen! Literally, I have never taken a photo inside of a public bathroom before, but I had to capture this chandelier before someone walked in on me (being a weirdo).

Look at gorgeous this chandelier is! I want one in my apartment.

Katie posing near this grungy wall. I love her style, she’s totally bold with clothes (braver than me anyway)!


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Originally posted on: Aug 29th, 2010 at 10:59pm

Over the past couple of weeks I have had the pleasure to work with the charity organization You Live and You Learn for their upcoming fashion show.

For those that want to learn more, the YLAYL organization is described as:

The non-profit organization showcases the talent of aspiring and struggling fashion designers by educating them on how to create runway events. This is a creative forum for many to learn and to express themselves. The events are fundraisers aimed to create a program for high school students and college graduates to gain diversified experience qualifying them for license exams such as the NCIDQ. This is an educational initiative that motivates and helps many make their dreams come true.

The event itself was based around New York’s upcoming Fashion Week, showcasing designers from San Francisco, New York, and Paris. With only a mere one and a half weeks before New York’s actual Fashion Week (September 9th through the 16th to be exact).

Personally, my experience with the event the organization has been three weeks of amazing opportunities, three weeks of learning more about myself as a photographer, and three weeks of building up my confidence as a photographer.

One of the most enormous confidence boosters I received from this experience was the opportunity to work with models intimately. Because, honestly, I was extremely nervous to take a picture of someone who has their picture taken for a living. Thankfully though, I immediately discovered that I really, really enjoy fashion/editorial photography because I can exercise a great deal of creativity.

I have also established some fantastic working relationships and friendships with the models. Within the past month I have scheduled (and successfully shot) three photoshoots with them, and have more planned right up until the day of my relocation to Seattle next month. So exciting!

It should be noted though, that not everything is always so pristine behind my lens. Honestly, shooting during the event required a bit of trouble-shooting mixed in with self-doubt and, my least favorite feeling of all, feeling out of control.

Nobody is perfect – let’s face it people! As a photographer, I know I am not the best, and no matter how much I strive to be in control or perfect, I know that I will encounter a myriad of issues for the rest of my life. I try to remain optimistic by telling myself it’s how I handle the situation.

What exactly happened to me was a combination of two things: lighting and my limited equipment. The lighting casted shadows of the worst places on the models, so I had to adjust those dark spots with my flash. I am no strobist – please give me natural lighting any day! Therefore, working with my flash produced some nice photos and a lot of not-so-nice photos.

The second problem I faced was completely out of my control, because it dealt with the fact that I have the lamest array of lenses. Ever. The only lens I had that was fast enough for the situation was my 50mm f/1.8 prime.

Let’s just say shooting a fashion show with a 50mm fixed lens is a terrible experience. Mainly because you see all these great shots, but can’t do squat about snagging them because your lens is only useful if the subject is 50mm away (in this situation that is).

So, here I am with all of these great designs and models (who were rocking the runway!) and I’m completely, and utterly locked in because of a lens. Ugh!

Believe me, I’m not one to cry about my gear, because I have done some seriously incredible things with what I have. Heck, I even always tell myself “it’s not about your equipment, but what you can make your equipment do for you.” Sadly though, my mantra fell through last night as I discovered that if I want to continue serious photography, I am going to have to get a better all-around lens so I can avoid troubling situations like this.

In the end, I’m not too upset about my photos, because I’m thankful to have walked with over five successful photographs.

To view the whole set, check them out on Flickr!

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Originally posted on: Aug 26th, 2010 at 10:07pm

As of next month, I am shifting my life towards a whole new perspective. This perspective will bring me, and situate me in the Northwest. Although I am excited about this immense change in my life, I am nervous.

Nervous because my whole family resides in New York.

Nervous because I am a native New Yorker, and I am very comfortable with all the ease and action my Great Apple offers me.

Nervous because I will be on my own, yet guided and loved tenderly by my boyfriend of over three years.

To help ease the nervousness about leaving my family and the ones I love so dearly, I try to spend as much time with them as possible. Part of this includes Thursday photoshoots/hanging out/exploring new places with my father. He was the man who sparked my love for photography, and he is the man I credit on my website for my style and photographic eye.

As part of the process of my life changing so rapidly and positively, I wanted to share photos from today’s shoot with you from DUMBO, Brooklyn.

I like to think of my presentation as a candid walking tour through Brooklyn, with me and my father.

Also since my father shoots in film, I hope he will be able to can scan the prints and send them to me so I may share his shots.

One of the first pictures I shot when we began. I always see these tin flowers and think about pretty they are in such an industrialized area. Although they are pretty and a fun little hybrid of the natural and unnatural, they often remind just how much real beauty cannot be replicated.

I lead my dad to the little beach area underneath the Manhattan bridge and we were shooting different things, until this couple brought their dog over. Since I love dogs, I found watching him quite entertaining and photo-worthy!

Once I stopped laughing and enjoying the dog, I finally got my shot of the bridge. This shot was kind of a pain because the shadows were so dramatic that the bridge came out back-lit. This is where we cue a bunch of post-processing.

This fence is really cool and unique. I wish all of the world’s fences were this artistic.

After several rainy and cool days, I couldn’t help but incorporate the beautiful blue sky into most of my photos.

A cute sign for a little cafe. The inside looked cute too, but I didn’t go in.

Just a neat little shot of down one of the many, many, MANY blocks we walked down.

To view the full set, check them out on Flickr!


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Originally posted on: Aug 25th, 2010 at 7:01pm

Photography has always been a deep love of mine, but it wasn’t until I received a little push from a friend of mine that I decided to take it to the next level.

I started off my freelancing career with a magazine (Obvious Magazine) event which took place at a lounge based in New York City during late July. This is where I met a woman who works with a charity* based around the fashion industry.

She shook my hand, politely introduced herself to me and told me she needed photographers for an upcoming fashion show and would love to have me help out.

As a brand spankin’ new photographer, I definitely could not (would not) turn down this opportunity. Surely enough, she contacted me via email and invited me to a runway rehearsal, where I would have the chance to photograph some of the models one on one (with hair and makeup done)!

Since this amazing journey has began, I have developed relationships with models and have even more amazing photoshoots with them. Especially since I know that I am helping new models out by giving them quality photos for their portfolios, I feel really great about what I’m doing.

I love photography!

Speaking of new models, I wanted to share some of my favorite shots from the fabulously fun shoot I did with one of the many models I have befriended. His name is Darius J. Rentz, and you should definitely check out his Model Mayhem!

Darius had the amazing idea of making this photo appear as if he were waiting … Way to emote Darius, you hit the nail on the head!

One of my absolutely favorite shots of Darius, his pose is so strong.

Darius loved the red door, so we made it happen!

To view the full set, check them out on Flickr!

* The charity organization and name are undisclosed due to privacy/security reasons.

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