Photographer and Author
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 […]
Mar 23
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 […]
Mar 16
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 […]
Annual Local Author Book Sale
On Saturday February 1st, the Scottsdale Civic Center Library hosted the 7th Annual Local Author Book Sale. As an author and photographer, I feel strongly about supporting local authors and artists. This event is great for authors to share their work and expand their readership. It’s also a great opportunity for readers looking for new books. There something for everyone. Categories range from children’s books, novels, memoirs, and other nonfiction categories.   The book sale is free to the public, and it typically runs from 10AM until 2PM. What I really appreciated about this event was that it was a nice size. Sometimes book/art fairs are so massive that I feel lost, but I was able to check out all the authors in a reasonable amount of time. I was especially happy to see some familiar faces. The following writers I have met through the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers. I have learned so much from these talented women, and I highly suggest you take a look at their work.         If you missed this book sale, have no fear. There are plenty of opportunities throughout the year to support the growing community of Arizona writers. The […]
Jan 27
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Shoots
Whether you’re hiring a model or someone has hired you for a photoshoot, efficiency and time management is extremely important. You want to get the most from your shoots. With digital cameras there is no excuse not to get more than what you actually need.   As a musician, I’ve been to my fair share of shoots. Some photographers were so unorganized that I spent an entire day sitting around just to be photographed for a few minutes. They were horrible experiences. No one likes to have their time wasted. The biggest reason that photographers have stressful shoots is that they don’t do enough planning ahead of time. Obviously things may happen on the day of the shoot that are not within your control. However, if you put some thought into what you want to get out of the shoot, you’ll be able to adapt more quickly.   I’ve listed a few tips that other photographers have shared with me. It may seem like common sense, and that’s because it is. There’s a lot to think about when you plan a photoshoot, and sometimes certain logistics get lost in the planning. It happens to everyone. That’s why it’s helpful to […]
Getting the Right Pose
  When I first started doing fashion and artistic photoshoots, I struggled with posing the models. If the model was experienced, I didn’t have any issues because he/she already knew how to use her body to create certain looks. Personally, I have a difficult time posing in front of the camera, so it would also make sense that I would have a hard time explaining what I wanted from the model. This was especially true in the case when I worked with people who were uncomfortable being in front of the camera.   In a boudoir photography workshop I participated in a few years ago, the teacher showed us a notebook that was filled with different types of poses. The notebook was divided into categories, such as sitting, standing, and closeup poses. I thought this was a brilliant idea, so I created my own notebook. The next time I had a shoot, instead of describing the pose, I had the model look at some examples. It worked like magic. Since then I have always brought examples to my shoots.   My goal with poses is to find something that looks “natural” for the model. We’ve all seen those awkward photos […]
Jan 13
How to Create a Silhouette Photo in the Studio
  I had an interesting and unusual assignment of creating a silhouette photo for a string quintet. Silhouette photography is beautiful, but it requires planning. I have seen photographers do a few silhouette shots of their clients if they’re doing a photoshoot and the sun is setting. There is usually a short window of time while the sun is setting to get that perfect silhouette look.   Since I knew it would be virtually impossible to have 5 people available on the same day and time for a photoshoot, I decided that I would have to re-create the silhouette look in the studio. The process turned out to be much easier than I had thought it would be, but there are some factors to consider before you plan your shoot.   Background and Composition Before I contacted any of the musicians, I spent some time thinking about how I wanted the final product to look. The client wanted the photograph to be artistic and fit the personality of the quintet. Because I was working with 5 people, I needed to know ahead of time, how I wanted to position them. I also looked for possible backgrounds, so I could make […]
Every Picture Has a Story
  Sometimes serene photographs I post on social media have a funny or awkward back story. I almost didn’t get this photo. It was a fluke that I was at the right place at the right time.   In 2016, my father had won a cruise to Alaska. My mother hates to travel (and share a tiny confined space with my father, she would add). I went on the trip instead, and I had one of the most amazing experiences photographing scenic landscapes. I don’t usually photograph nature, but I developed an appreciation for wildlife photographers. So much of the beauty of wildlife photography depends on perfect timing as well as a really expensive and heavy telephoto lens.   On the morning of our disembarkation, I was sitting in my father’s room playing on my phone. He suddenly shouted, “Get your camera! Hurry!” I fumbled for camera and, when I stumbled out onto the balcony I saw this beautiful lighthouse against a backdrop of  majestic snow-capped mountains and heavy clouds. The ship was cruising, so I had to work fast. I felt like all thumbs as I adjusted my camera settings. I took as many pictures as I could until […]
A Year in Review
  At the end of the year, I take some time to review my work and reevaluate my goals. I’m certainly not one of those people who does New Year’s Resolutions, but I do like to hold myself accountable and make sure that I’m using my time wisely to accomplish everything I want to do. During my review, I list what I think went well and what I would like to improve in the future. When I was a graduate student, I worked with Susan Griffin, a writing mentor and renowned feminist and author. Every time she looked at my writing, she would first tell me what I did well. She explained that it’s just as important to know what you’re doing right because you want to build on that.   Looking back at the past twelve months these are some of the strengths and weaknesses I found in my own work.   Strengths 1.) An education in self-publishing: I had to wear many hats this year because I had to learn about the process of designing, printing, selling, and marketing my book. I’m by no means an expert, but the education I got this year will be extremely important […]
Liliana
    While working on my book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, I met many incredible people. I first met Liliana at a photoshoot. When I saw her amazing ink, I asked if she would be a part of my book. Since then, I have worked with her on other projects.   Last week, I did a photoshoot with Liliana, and she shared her new tattoos with me. Her latest additions were Gypsy tattoos, beautiful women adorned with elements of nature. Until I saw her new ink, I didn’t even know there was “Gypsy” style. It still amazes what artists can do with tattoos. Body art has grown and expanded so much in the last decade that it will be interesting to see how it continues to evolve in the next ten years.
Holiday Gift Ideas
Holiday gift shopping can be challenging, especially if you wait until the last minute. I’ve gotten better at making my purchases earlier in the year, but I still struggle to find unique gift ideas. The hardest are the White Elephant or Secret Santa Gifts. Most often gift cards work really well. Who doesn’t love an Amazon Gift Card, right? However, there is something gratifying when you can find that perfectly gift for someone that will make them laugh or smile. Here, I’ve listed some gift ideas that might elicit a chuckle. Everything I’ve listed below is available for $25 or less.   1.) Wine Tumblers by Tru Blue Steel I know a lot of people who like to enjoy their wine with their significant other or friends. While the Yeti brand can be a bit pricey, there are many other brands that offer the same features for a fraction of the price. These Tru Blue Steel tumblers are BPA free and dishwasher safe. Plus, they run just over $20, so they won’t break the bank.   2.) Lets Get Galactic Art For several months, I’ve been following Holoreader on Instagram. Holoreader is an Instagram account that belongs to Cassie Lola, […]