Tarot Deck: Queen of Swords

  The Queen of Swords is like the woman at the party who is elegant, witty, gracious, and more than capable of seeing through people’s facades. If you ask her a question, she will not mince words. She is honest and authentic, so, if you’re not ready to hear the truth, don’t ask her opinion.   As her title suggests, she carries a sword because she is the truth slayer. Her sword symbolizes mental clarity, which gives her the ability to cut through the noise and get to the truth. She is also adept at creating boundaries, without pushing anyone away. She knows that she can take care of herself and this strength only adds to her beauty.   This court card suggests someone who is able to discern false from truth in a manner that is diplomatic and discerning. Just because we can tell when someone is not being honest, doesn’t mean we have to start an argument with them. The Queen of Swords demonstrates that you can both maintain a healthy boundary and practice honesty while still being kind.

Lighting Challenge: Using Christmas Lights

  When I first started really getting serious about my photography, the one thing that really intimidated me was working with studio lights. Most of the time I tried getting away with just using natural or ambient light, which worked most of the time. However, there were photoshoots where I absolutely needed to use studio lighting. Before those shoots, I would suffer a lot of anxiety because I felt the pressure to get the lighting done right and in a short amount of time. I was afraid people would look down on me or judge me if it took me too many tries to get the lighting just right.   Taking classes on lighting was definitely helpful for me, but what has really helped me the most was practicing with my lighting kit over and over again and changing up the variables. It’s cool to check out what other photographers are doing, but, unless you have their exact kit, your results will be different. Instead, when I check out photographers on Instagram, I’ll adapt their techniques with what I have in my studio. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.   Confidence with lighting doesn’t happen over night. I have […]

Tarot Deck: The Moon

  It is usually at night that our fears and anxieties begin to spiderweb. When you step outside, the moon (especially when it’s full) illuminates some things, but not everything. What we can’t see with our eyes, we fill in with our imagination. Often, this leads to worry, paranoia, or making rash decisions.   The Moon has a few interpretations. This card can mean confusion, deception, or worry. Sometimes the best thing to do when life is unclear is to be patient and wait for or gather more information. This is can be very challenging because people tend to want to resolve whatever is bothering them quickly. However, there are some situations where there is nothing you can do but wait.   When this card shows up in a reading, take stock in what could be contributing to your confusion or fears. During the darkest of times we can learn a lot about ourselves. Strength doesn’t develop unless we are being challenged. Take a deep breath, observe, and listen. Eventually, the darkness will pass.  

Tips for Photographing Art

  I really enjoy photographing art because I love to photograph visually stunning objects. Taking pictures of art is a form of product photography, where the goal is to create an image that accurately represents the art piece. Some art pieces are much more difficult to photograph than others. For example, glitter has proven to be my most challenging issue when I photograph art. In my personal life and work, glitter is my obsession. However, glitter produces a lot of highlights and in other places it can appear much darker than it actually is. When I correct one issue, another one emerges. In this particular instance, I recommend taking multiple photos with slightly varied lighting settings and check to see what looks most like the piece. It’s always good to be in communication with the client. If there’s more than one option, let the artist weigh in on the selection.   When I do art photoshoots, I work much differently than when I shoot for an art project or event. I’ve listed below some recommendations that have helped me.   1.)  Use a cable to connect your camera to Lightroom on your computer: I usually don’t like to use cables […]

Antique vs Vintage: What’s the difference?

Before I had started working on my second book, which explores the history of mannequins, I had always used the words vintage and antique interchangeably. It turns out that they are not the same. Antiques are items that are over 100 years old. There is no definitive rule for vintage, but it usually refers to items that are around twenty years or older.   One of the models that I frequently work with is known for her beautiful vintage wardrobe. Her name is Liliana, and I met her roughly three years ago when I was working on my first book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. Most of our shoots have been in the studio, but this time we decided to photograph at her home, which she has furnished and decorated with antiques and vintage items. Her home reminded me of something that I would see in a magazine or a museum. She told me that most of the items she found in Goodwill stores around the Phoenix metropolitan area. Needless to say, I was in awe of her home and often got distracted looking at all the figurines, artwork, and other items that I don’t usually see anywhere else. […]

Why I Wrote A Book About Mannequins

  I had never planned to work on a project involving mannequins. Even though I found them interesting, I just never thought to write a book about them. This changed during a trip I took with a friend of mine back in 2015. The two of us were walking along State Street in Santa Barbara, California when an antique store caught our attention. Their store front was so colorful and filled with interesting things that we were immediately drawn in, as though strings were pulling us into the store. Once inside, I started to notice several mannequin heads perched on shelves and stuffed between other antique and vintage items. Each one was different. I was so enchanted by these busts that I started to take pictures of them with my phone. I didn’t touch or move them. I only wanted to show their beauty and uniqueness.   From that point on I began photographing mannequins whenever I saw them in an antique store. I also started reading about their history, and I learned a lot of things that surprised me about these fashion dolls. Mannequins have been used for thousands of years. In 1923, Howard Carter discovered a mannequin that […]

Adjusting to the “New Normal”: Life in the time of COVID

I know everyone has been affected by COVID-19 in one way or another, and some have been more affected than others. In fact, I’ve been reluctant to express how the pandemic impacted me because I know that on the spectrum of struggles there are people out there who have it much worse. However, regardless of where anyone is in the spectrum, it’s important to acknowledge that there is a connection between current events and our emotional health. As a dear friend once told me, “Pain is not a competition.”   Since we are in the midst of unprecedented times, I’ve had to completely rework my timeline and strategy for my projects. Most of my freelance work has been on hold because people aren’t hosting or attending large events. This means that I have had to reevaluate my budget for publishing, marketing, and advertising. Since I’ve had a career in the arts since I was eighteen, I understand that uncertainty comes with the territory and being able to adapt is crucial. For me, this means exploring new ways to create content and generate revenue.   I’m still in the process of figuring it out, but I’ve made changes to my workflow […]

Playing with Color Gels

  During my last photoshoot with Angela Jordan, I decided to take a few minutes to experiment with color gels. I have never taken a class on color theory, but I frequently check out Pinterest and Instagram to look at other photographers’ lighting techniques. I’ve notice that photographers use certain color combinations, and I tried to incorporate what I liked in my photoshoot with Angela.   I think when used correctly, color gels can really make an impact on your images. I had so much fun with this shoot that it’s inspired me to do more shoots with color gels.   I also want to thank Angela Jordan for being my muse once again. She is one of the few models that I frequently use for my photoshoots. She’s versatile, and I’m always amazed at how she poses her body to portray drastically different themes.

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 […]