Working with Mannequins

      When I was working on Mannequins: Stories of the First Supermodel, I purchased these two busts for an idea I had for an artistic photoshoot. I have not yet finished this project, but I have worked frequently with these two beauties.   As someone who likes to try new ideas with lighting, I like the idea of being able to practice before experimenting at a photoshoot. When I’m working with a model, I like to be fully prepared. It doesn’t mean that I’m not making adjustments during the photoshoot, but I don’t want to waste precious time. If I do want to try out an idea, I’ll wait until the end of the shoot.   Mannequins are great because you can practice your photography whenever the mood strikes you. They can’t talk back or complain that you’re taking too long. They are very patient and forgiving models. 😉 The names of these two mannequins are Melina and Monique.

My Return to Writing Fiction

Even though my first book was nonfiction, I actually started out as a novelist. In 2012, I graduated with a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from California College of the Arts. I was in the process of reworking my first novel when I realized that I needed to step away from the story to clear my head. During what was supposed to be a short break resulted in Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. Now, I’m getting ready to publish my second photography book, which covers the subject of mannequins.   Just as I was getting ready to start my third book, COVID-19 spread throughout the world and halted my progress. I’ll admit that I felt disappointed, but one of the things I have learned as an artist has been adapting to change. The arts is one of the least stable careers for a variety of reasons and therefore the only way to have longevity is to be able to adapt and transform. As a result of the lockdown, I had to choose a different route for my third book. I have decided to return to my roots, which is fiction.   During my two years as graduate […]

Ava (A Short Story)

Working Title: “Ava” Word count: 2,754             1978 “I know I’m right. Fifty million French men can’t be wrong,” my mother Ava stated as though it were a fact. I grabbed my three-year-old daughter Lily who was running around the living room with her arms out like an airplane. She wriggled in my grasp when I tried to sit her on my lap. Her curly locks were frizzing, making my nose itch. “Not the fifty million Frenchmen again,” I retorted. From the time I was a little girl, my mother would try to win any argument with the fictitious French men. I later learned she picked up this phrase from the 1929 musical comedy called, of course, “Fifty Million French Men.” Ava got up to get a new pack of cigarettes from her purse and walked to the fridge to grab orange juice and vodka so that she could make a Screwdriver. “That husband of yours is irresponsible, and it’s going to get you into trouble. Why does he have to leave a company that’s paid him good money?” she said. “Because they weren’t treating him well, and this new business is his passion. Sometimes we have to follow our […]

How Fashion Shaped My Photography

  When I was eighteen, I invented the Bisadora Hip Purse, which earned an engineering patent. Being involved in the fashion industry taught me a lot about photography. There are so many genres of photography and, in the fashion business, I learned about product, lifestyle, and editorial photography. During my time as a handbag designer, I became more involved in photography and I ended up doing a few of the photoshoots myself.   Product photography taught me the importance of lighting and posing. Color accuracy is important for obvious reasons, but I also learned that the pose was just as important. I ran an online shop, and the models had to show how the purse would look on the body. In these types of photoshoots, the handbag was more important than the model. Product photography is more straight forward compared to other types of photography because the purpose is to show the product as accurately as possible. Also, there’s immediate feedback if customers feel that the website description is inaccurate.   When I worked on photoshoots for marketing campaigns and social media, I learned about the importance of storytelling. Without using words, I created lifestyle shots that I felt best […]

You’re Not Alone Even If You Feel You’re Alone

This isn’t going to be my typical blog post. At a time like this, it’s impossible to go about business as usual. All of our lives have been affected by the virus in some way or another. I also know there’s already a lot of information out there about COVID-19, the economy and job loss, and mental issues stemming from prolonged isolation.   So, why am I even bothering writing about a topic that’s been front page news for weeks? I think it’s worth reiterating that the majority of us are suffering from anxiety and depression from the uncertainty that many of us face as a result of COVID-19 and it’s impact on businesses and the economy. While social distancing and self-imposed isolation are critical at this time, we would be remiss to believe that these policies wouldn’t have an effect on our mental state.   Henry David Thoreau wrote, “The mass of men live their lives in quiet desperation.” Sometimes social media convinces us that we are not living our lives right. Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen many posts of people chilling in their fashionable loungewear and announcing that they’re doing their “inner work,” meditating, playing board […]

Don’t Be A Negative Nancy!

  When I’m working on my books, there is a lot of pressure to make sure everything is perfect. A lot of research and marketing/advertising experiments are involved in self-publishing. Last year, there were so many days that I just came home and sat in front of the television because my brain felt fried. I missed being creative, but I didn’t have the energy to do anymore.   This year, I’m trying to allow myself a little more time to work on my personal projects. So far, it’s been a challenging balancing act, but one that I feel is important to maintain.   The Women Series One night, I asked my mother, “Where did Negative Nancy come from? What did Nancy ever do to deserve that title?”   In fact, the Negative Nancy meme goes back to the 1960s when President Lyndon Johnson called his critics of his Vietnam War policies “Nervous Nellies.” The name caught on and soon people were applying the idea to other names, such as Debbie Downer, Chatty Cathy, ect.   I thought this was comical, and I decided that I was going to challenge myself to find a name for every letter in the alphabet […]

Tarot Cards

I love working with themes. Because I’m interested in so many different artistic styles, I enjoy immersing myself in a particular style for a period of time and then switching it up to do something else.   Many years ago, a friend introduced me to her Gilded Tarot deck, designed and written by Ciro Marchetti and  Barbara Moore. I immediately fell in love with the colorful artwork. Each card was packed with symbolism and meaning. Since then, I have purchased a few of my own decks, one of which is the Gilded Deck. Each deck has its own theme, whether it’s fairies, cats, Steampunk, or collage. I do go through periods where I use one particular deck because the artwork resonates with me at that time. In fact, the photo I’m using for this post is from The Steampunk Tarot deck illustrated and written by Aly Fell and Barbara Moore. I immediately fell in love with this deck because the cards look dark and mysterious, and I love anything that is Steampunk.   One of the most recognized decks is the original Rider-Waite Tarot Deck. In 1903, Arthur Edward Waite, who wrote the booklet, hired a young artist named Pamela […]

Rosie’s House

  A couple of weeks ago, I was hired to photograph a Mardi Gras party that was raising funds for Rosie’s House, an organization that offers music lessons to disadvantaged children. The festive event was a huge success, and it was pretty clear that everyone was having a great time. One of the young students from Rosie’s House performed a very difficult piano piece that received a resounding applause from the audience. Even though event photography can be exhausting, I truly enjoy it. I always meet such incredible people, and there’s something very satisfying about contributing (even if it’s a small part) to events that benefit such organizations. Over the years, I have done many different types of photography ranging from concerts, fashion, portraiture, and weddings. Event photography can be fairly easy or really difficult depending on how well the photographer prepares. Before this event, I practiced with a mannequin to make sure that I knew how I would handle different lighting situations. The important thing to remember about event photography is that very little is in your control. Chances are you haven’t seen the venue, you can’t change the lighting, and the attendees are busy, which means you have […]

Book Contests: Are they worth it?

When I first started getting into photography, I would submit my work to contests now and again. Most of these contests I found through social media platforms. While many of them had reasonable application fees, they were time consuming and I was competing against thousands of very talented photographers. After a while, I wrote off contests.   Fast forward a couple years. . . I published my debut book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, and now I was trying to gain exposure for my book. As a self-published author, it can be extremely challenging to get your book seen by the right audience. According to Forbes, anywhere between 600,000 to a million titles are published each year. The chances of readers stumbling onto your book on Amazon is pretty small.   In the beginning, I was mostly focused on social media marketing and advertising. By chance, I found out about a contest from the Nonfiction Author’s Association Book Awards program. I entered the contest and received two Gold Awards for Photography and Pop Culture. In addition, to receiving an emblem and title, which I could now use for my marketing materials, I got exposure from their marketing channels from […]

My Self-Publishing Journey: Social Media

I’ll be honest here. If I weren’t an artist, I probably wouldn’t be on social media or my presence would be limited. I’m very shy and introverted, and I’ve seen the ugly side of social media. However, while I might complain about social media, I also understand that it plays an integral part in our lives. This is particularly true for individuals who are marketing themselves. Social media has its place, and it’s here to stay.   I’m not writing this post because I’m an expert on social media. Like most people out there, I have struggled building my social media presence. Over the last couple of years, I have spoken to other artists who have experienced the same challenges as me and hearing their stories has helped me put things into a more healthy perspective. Let’s face it, the self-publishing world is not for the faint of heart and there are many days you might feel like you’re working for nothing. There were many days that I would scroll through Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and think, “What am I doing wrong?”   Building a meaningful presence on social media takes time, but don’t discount the small successes along the […]