Monday, April 30, 2012

30 Day Photography Challenge: Day 30 | Self-Portrait

What a month.
My camera feels the love.  That's for sure!

I got myself human looking today, all ready to attempt that "self-portrait" once again.  My hair was fighting me, my makeup hated me, and my clothes... Okay, I am whining.  The point is: I was far from excited to be taking a photo of myself.

I think doing self-portraiture is a very, very good thing for a photographer to do.
It reminds you just how self-conscience and nervous a client can be!

As soon as I got my tripod set up and my camera set, my boys decided they wanted to get in on this photo taking action.  At first they were content with pretending they were taking each shot.  (I even set up a second tripod with a toy camera on it, so they could both be the photographer.  Aw...)

Then they couldn't resist and jumped in for some shots with mommy.

They have been my models off and on all month.  How great it is to wrap this challenge up with them as well?

This is my self-portrait.
I am an author.
A blogger.
A photographer.
An avid reader.
A dreamer.  A goofball.  A friend, a wife, a sister, a daughter.

But at the end of every day.  At the start of every morning.  What I do day in and day out.  What I love, could never live without, what I am... I am mommy.  And I love my self-portrait.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

30 Day Photography Challenge: Day 29 | Black and White

I adore animals.  Especially dogs.  There is something about them that just makes me melt.  Someday I plan on owning pets (once this apartment stage of my life is over) and cooing over them at all hours.

That being said, I really haven't photographed animals much.  Like children... it is hard!

Tonight we celebrated my father-in-law's 50th birthday.  (Happy Birthday Brian!)  My sister-in-law brought up her new little puppy, Shy, to join in the family fun.  What a cutie!  She is a black and white husky, and truly lives up to her name.  I love this puppy.  *gets all mushy over puppy dog*

I decided to snap some photos of her.  Which proved to be hard.  She is very very very shy, and especially likes to hide from my camera.  Unlike a human, I can't just offer a bribe.  All I was pretty much left with was sniper shots, puppy stalking, and waiting... lots of waiting.

Still, I loved it.  I need to snag her from her mama again soon and practice animal photography even more.
What a great little model!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

30 Day Photography Challenge: Day 28 | Flowers

Flowers are pretty enough to photograph any day.  Especially now that it is spring and everything is blooming into life.

Today I was given the chance to photograph a very gorgeous young lady.  The last time I photographed her was almost two years ago, back for her senior photos.  In that time, I have been given the chance to literally watch this young girl bloom into the remarkable woman she is today.  She is absolutely stunning inside and out. How lucky am I to be given a chance to capture that true beauty?

While on her shoot, I of course had to use her for my flower challenge.  We ended the shoot with her laying in the field, the sun bright and flowers in her hair.  Absolutely beautiful.

This is something I love about photography.
When you are given the chance to photograph return clients.

You can see how they have grown.  Changed.  Blossomed into a stunning flower that you now have the chance to pluck for that moment of time and remember in a photograph.  Each moment is special.  Each smile, tear, sigh is precious.  Each year is a new leaf turned.

I cannot wait to see how this flower blossoms next spring.

Thank you Makenzie for letting me capture your beauty once again!

Friday, April 27, 2012

30 Day Photography Challenge: Day 27 | From a Distance

Kids are pretty much impervious to rain.  Did you know that?
I decided to take my kiddos to the park today.  Both to get them out of our small apartment, and also to try and get my shot for the day.  Just after we got to the park (which is only across the street mind you) it started to drizzle.  Then rain.  I asked my kids if they wanted to go home, but I don't think they even heard me.  They were having the time of their lives.

Due to the rain though, I barely got any photos.  

What did I learn today?
Well, for one: Don't challenge the weather forecast.

And two:  My kit lens has lost its appeal.  True story.

I have been using solely my kit lens (18-55mm) this entire last year.  It does a good job and can capture some amazing photos.  Then a little bit back, I bought my nifty fifty.  And that was the end of that.  What a pretty little prime lens.  What a wonder...

I decided to use my kit lens today solely because I knew how much my kids move and wanted the chance to zoom when needed.  Taking the time to frame the 50mm with my two boys, no one else there helping me maintain them, in the semi rain sounded like a bad idea.

Now, looking back on it, I wish I had just tried.  While I do love the shots I managed to snap before I hid my camera from the rain, I know my 50mm could have gotten such a better final product.

Man, I cannot wait to order my 24-70mm.  I drool just at the thought of it.

Still, it was fun.
Reminding myself over and over to get that "from the distance" shot helped me view my kiddos in a different light.  I wasn't in their faces, fighting for that cute smile or up-close moment.  I just stood back and let them be.

And look what I managed to capture.  My two boys take a juice break, happy as can be.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

30 Day Photography Challenge: Day 26 | Close-Up

Today was the first day of the Early Childhood Development Music class I am taking my youngest to.  He loves music.  And I am loving this chance to spend one on one time with just him.  I honestly can't say how often that has happened, and this chance to just focus on him is amazing.  Not to mention I love to see him boogie.

For today's challenge, I could have gone all macro.  What is more close up than an awesome macro shot?

Then I went to class, saw how this little kid of mine reacted to the music around him, and knew I had to take some photos.  As I was going through them once we got home, I decided I wanted to use one of the shots from class as my close-up shot.

It isn't macro.  It is just his little hands, dirty finger nails and all, exploring a new instrument.
Honestly, that is close-up to me.  It is a moment.  A memory.  A snapshot of a first.

I love music.  I grew up being a part of choirs.  Training in musical theatre.  Taking private voice and piano lessons.  My Dad and I have fun making up random songs together with no purpose, singing the words as they come to mind.  I always have a song in my head.  Always.

Seeing how much my son is already embracing music... It means so much to me.
Seeing him boogie... makes my day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

30 Day Photography Challenge: Day 25 | Something Pink

Pink.  This is a color that pretty much does not exist in my home.  I have two little boys, are very very much boy.  My home is littered with blues and greens, spaceships and race cars.  My only smidge of pink that exists here is the few shirts and pieces of jewelry I might own in that shade.

Pink doesn't exist in the world of boy.

So for today, I enlisted my friend Heidi's cute little girl.  We dolled her in pink, head to toe.  Oh my, so much pink!  It has been raining off and on, so I took her outside in rain boots and equipped with an umbrella... and we had fun!  I treated this very much like a lifestyle shoot, and let the little lady lead the shoot.  We had tons of fun jumping in puddles, running around, screaming and giggling.  I was exhausted by the end. But beaming.

Goodness.  I love my little boys.  Don't get me wrong.  But how I want a daughter...

This was a great exercise (literally...) in photographing a child.  You can't just ask them to sit and smile nice.  All that gets is either A) a forced CHEESE or more often B) anger, screaming, and pure camera avoidance.  With kids, you have to get into the shot.  You have to play around, be a fool, and literally exhaust yourself.

Boy, is it fun!
I love this entire impromptu shoot I did today.  In fact, I will be posting a full preview album for it on my Facebook page... soon.  This little lady was a perfect model in the rain puddles.  Especially in that pink.

(Again...I want a girl...)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

30 Day Challenge: Day 24 | Animal

For today I wanted to photograph a real, live animal.  Sadly, I couldn't get my clicky fingers on any.  I was bumming at first, until I went to play with my son.  I mentioned in a previous post about my son's love obsession with Meow.  This stuffed toy cat is real to him.  Sometimes more real than an actual cat.  After thinking about it, I realized:  How could I say no to photographing Meow?

We got Meow for my son just after he his the big one year mark.  It has now become a family tradition to take our kids to Build-A-Bear when they turn one, and my son was the one to set it.  We thought we would get him something cute.  Another toy for the stack.  Little did we know that the fluffy, sparkly snow leopard he chose, stuffed, and fluffed would become a permanent part of our family.

Now tatty, tattered, and loved beyond understanding...
Three years later, and Meow Merritt is the cat we never had.

Meow's voice box recently died.  Too much meowing for this kitty.  Luckily, my good friend Tiffany knows how to sew (Okay, I am artsy.  But sewing was the art form that never, ever stuck.)  She came over today to perform a voice box transplant on Meow.  

My son hovered over her the entire time.  Holding Meow's hand.  Talking to Meow.  Kissing the heart and putting it back in.  By the time the surgery was over, he was beaming as he held his Meow and heard her actually say 'meow' for the first time in too long.

What a moment to capture.

We forget that reality is all objective to children.  A cat doesn't have to be living, breathing, and shedding to be one of the most important pets (and friends) in the world.  How fun and touching it is to take a moment and capture this world in a photograph.  To remind them years down the road that the ratty cat toy sitting dusty on their shelf used to be their best friend in the entire world.

I wonder if my imaginary friends miss me.

Goodness, I love this little boy.  I love his imagination.  His excitement for life.  His adventure and spirit.
And yes, I love Meow.

Monday, April 23, 2012

30 Day Photography Challenge: Day 23 | Sunflare

Sunflares can make a photo magical.  They add that mystical glow that makes you catch your breath and feel like for a moment, you truly were there.  I love sunflares.  I love the softness they add to the photograph.  The imperfect beauty.

I was excited for today.
Then I learned a lesson:

Don't put it off.

Yup.  That's what I did.  I took a few shots in the morning.  Nothing serious.  Then I decided I could just wait until my kiddos were in bed to get my awesome challenge winner.  Bad decision, right there.  I went out with my friend Heidi and we tried.  We even found the park that my husband and I went to on our honeymoon 7 years ago.  It was a special place, a beautiful night... and I just couldn't get a flare!

Go figure, right?  

While the sunset was amazing, the clouds were taking away the chance of any worthy sunflares.  That, or my mind just wasn't it in the game because I kept thinking of my husband, and my shots were sad because of that.  Either way, putting it off ended up making my day nothing like I thought it would be.

Luckily I did snap those few shots in the morning.  If I hadn't... I would have had nothing for today.

Take my advice: If you have a goal, never put it off.  You don't know if waiting that one extra hour might result in you losing the goal all together.

Even though these aren't flare shots, I wanted to share them.  They were taken at the park.  Seven years ago I was a newlywed at this same park, holding hands and laughing with my husband on our honeymoon.  I haven't been to that park since.  Going there made me smile.  And made me want to take him back there once again.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

30 Day Photography Challenge: Day 22 | Hands

My husband is a PC gamer.  Nine times out of ten, you will find him in the evening playing one of his many beloved video games.  It is his way to cool down, relax.  I write, read, photograph, edit... He games.  Typically while I am at my computer, typing away, I can hear the click click click of his mouse as he defeats bad guys, pillages dungeons, gains new super powers... or runs away.

It is a noise that means home to me.
Believe it.

Tonight, after a busy day, I didn't get much time to really think about my challenge photo for the day.  When I looked over and saw my husband, busy as always with one hand holding that mouse and the other hovering over WASD, I knew my shot was there.

It was fun to hide over his shoulder and snap away.  This is something that he loves, and I love him for it.  Of course, the winning photo for today isn't about the computer.  It was taken when he took a break to get a nice cold Mountain Dew.  If you know my husband, you know this is his life fuel.

I told him to freeze.  Snapped the shot.  And then let him disappear back into his game.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

30 Day Photography Challenge: Day 21 | Faceless Self-Portrait

I had a few ideas for today's challenge.  I even made a prop for one of the ideas, something that would have been entertaining and very tongue and cheek.  I took a few shots with that prop, but for some reason the photos just didn't feel like "it."  Then I tried something different... and the shot was there.

I love this one.
Yes, it isn't full focused.  It is grainy.  There are imperfections.

It is me.

I battle depression.  Sometimes it gets the best of me and I can barely find my way out.  Sometimes I don't want to find the way out.  I feel raw, hidden away, faceless.  This photo I decided to go with today... it is the faceless me in more than one way.

There are three main things that manage to pull me out of my facelessness.  My husband and sons.  My writing.  And my photography.  They define who I am.  They fill the emptiness and remind me that I have these blessings in my life.  They remind me that I am someone.  Someone worth something.

I know I am not the only one out there who ever feels faceless.
Remember: You are someone.  You have a face, a beautiful face.  And the shadows always pass.

Friday, April 20, 2012

30 Day Photography Challenge: Day 20 | Bokeh

Bokeh.  Bokeh bokeh bokeh.
I most likely sound like I have lost it, huh?

According to Wikipedia, bokeh is "the blur or the aesthetic quality of the blur,in out-of-focus areas of an image."

According to all you normal folk... Bokeh is that cool polka dot affect.

In all actuality, bokeh isn't only those awesome out of focus polka dots that look like a party.  It is anything set out of focus by your camera.  Mainly, your aperture.  The more open the aperture, the better chance to get awesome bokeh.

Set up some Christmas lights or the such in the distance, and the bokeh becomes polka dots.

I decided to peruse around the internet and read/listen to various tutorials on bokeh.  (Look at that, Jenni is learning.)  After gathering notes and ideas, I set up my hallway to become a bokeh studio.  Let me tell you, it was quite fun.  Christmas lights, a stool, a jar, a black blanket, and my handy tripod.  I was in bokeh heaven.

I love the magical, fire fly like aspect I managed to catch.  
All thanks to my 50mm, f1.8 lens.  I love you lens. *moment*

Now I am on a bokeh high and wanting to find more chances to explore this awesome photography trick.
And no, don't ask me how to pronounce it.  No one quite knows how. 


After I had exhausted my hallway, I set up another bokeh studio in my bathroom.  The candle I photographed means alot to me.  I made it on the Pioneer Trek I attended when I was fourteen.  That trek made a huge, important impact in my life.  This candle I keep in a sconce above my bed.  And photographing it in all the bokeh heaven... I had a moment.  I will admit it.

I love this shot (though it didn't quite win for my photo of the day) and even had some fun adding words to it for a little sentimental affect.  Seriously thinking of printing it now, hanging it, remembering it.  Here I go, having a moment again...