A Cup of Joe and a Slice of Humanity

My adventures with coffee shops   About a year ago, I wanted to create a space for myself to overcome my anxiety with writing, so I created a website called Demitasse Wanderlust where I blog about the different coffee shops in the greater Phoenix area. I’ve been writing most of my life. My degree is English Literature, so you can imagine the amount of writing I did in those four years. However, after I graduated from California College of the Arts with a MFA in Creative Writing, I noticed that I had developed a lot of anxiety when it concerned sharing my work with others. The workshops in graduate school made me acutely aware of all my weaknesses, but they also affected my confidence. The main and original purpose of this blog was to remind myself to lighten up. As my mother often tells me, “Even the longest life is a short one.”   As I’ve been working on this blog, I’ve realized that coffee shops are more than just a place to satisfy your caffeine addiction. They are symbolically significant in our society because they offer a place to gather, meet, and to feel a part of a community. […]

Robert Capa: Photographer Profile

Whenever I interview someone, I usually ask them about their greatest influence. You can learn a lot about a person from their influences. What qualities attract us? How do these individuals shape our style, workflow, methodology, and etc? Maybe this influential person is someone in our field, or maybe it’s someone we know well.   I had been involved in photography for a few years before I had learned about Robert Capa, but when I had watched a documentary about his life, I became fascinated with the way he worked, his courage, and his incredible talent. Capa was a Jewish Hungarian photojournalist as well as one of the founding partners of Magnum Photos cooperative. As a young man, Capa witnessed the violence that was consuming Europe. He was part of a generation that watched Spain fall into civil war and Hitler rise to power in Germany. Capa was undaunted by the danger all around him. For example, during World War II, Capa parachuted with American troops where they were dropped into Germany. Hundreds of paratroopers died and Capa could have easily died with them, but it never stopped him from capturing footage of the war. Because of Capa, we have a glimpse […]

Antiquing

Before I got into photography, antiquing never appealed to me. I’m actually more of a minimalist when it comes to my personal life. I’m very “right brained,” so I like to keep things as simple as possible so I have more time to do my art. However, I love taking my camera or phone into antique stores because I like taking pictures of objects from the past. It’s like walking into an interactive museum, and I get to take all these interesting things home with me, but all on my camera. Some places prohibit photography, which I always respect, but fortunately most antique shops are okay with photography. I’ve actually used these outings to practice composition and angles. I never move or touch the objects, but I will move around them to get the right photo. The nice thing about photographing mannequins is they can’t talk back. I don’t have to worry about what they’re thinking as I’m taking a bunch of pictures and trying to figure out what angle I like best. I found all these antique stores in Central Phoenix along the 7th Ave corridor, and these photos were taken exclusively with my iPhone 7. Even if you’re […]

Junkyard Photoshoot

Finding cool spots to photograph takes time, and I’m always grateful when photographers share information on new places to photograph. There’s something about junkyards and abandoned places that both terrify and fascinate me. There were so many things to photograph. The possibilities seemed endless. By the way, the entire time I was shooting, I kept thinking of the junkyard scene in “The Brave Little Toaster.”

Photo A Day Challenge

You might think that as a photographer I get behind the camera every day, but there are many days where I’m just sitting in front of the computer editing, writing, or scheduling shoots. Last year I heard about the Photo A Day challenge and for about month I tried it out until I got caught up with life. This year I joined a Facebook group where photographers are invited to post their daily photos. It sounds easy enough, right? Some of us have a closer bond with our devices than with humans. However, there are days where I’ve completely forgotten or just didn’t feel inspired to take a picture. When I saw this challenge on Facebook, I decided to give it another try. I started the challenge on New Years Day (naturally), and I’ve learned a few things about myself as a photographer. I’m very hard on myself with everything I do. Some self criticism is helpful, but too much pressure, for me at least, leads to stagnation. This challenge is forcing me to let go of some of that pressure and allow myself the freedom to try new things and even make mistakes. Sometimes I get frustrated because I’ll be stuck behind […]

Mannequin Magic

Mannequins go back to ancient times. When King Tut’s tomb was opened, in 1923, Howard Carter found a mannequin which matched the Pharaoh’s measurement dating back to 1530 B.C. The European fashion doll was the beginning of the modern mannequin. These dolls ranged from a foot tall to life size and were beautifully clothed and sent abroad to show the fashions of the day. These dolls also had porcelain faces. These models of fashion were so popular that they received protection and safe passage across borders, even during times of war.   After the French Revolution, these fashion dolls were replaced by drawings and dress forms made of wire, leather and wicker. They were often headless. Fortunately, the French came back to life and introduced the full body mannequins in 1870. It was at this time that window shopping became a form of entertainment.   The mannequins of the 1890’s had full bosoms and broader hips. Waists were wasp thin and, even in those days, many women were willing to have their lowest ribs surgically removed to achieve this illusion.   When a mannequin modeling a corset appeared, a religious group tried to banish mannequins completely, but they were unsuccessful. […]

A Photo A Day Challenge

About a month ago I decided to do the Photo A Day Challenge. Even though I take pictures often, photographing concerts and taking portraits, I noticed that I was falling into a pattern of only taking photos of people. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but I really wanted to push myself as a photographer and artist and try other approaches. The best part of about this challenge is that I’ve really taken the pressure off myself and I’m experimenting more. I take more risks because I know that, if the photo doesn’t turn out, I’ll just delete it. No harm done. When I was in graduate school for creative writing, I was taught that, in order to be a great writer, you have to write every day. I think the same could be said about any craft. We’re constantly evolving and getting better at what we do, and that’s mainly because of the hours we put into that form.  

Scouting Locations

Typically, I’ll do a photo shoot anywhere. When you look at my photos, you’ll notice that I tend to get in fairly close to my subject so that you really don’t see too much of the background. It’s not really a conscious thing. It just happens. However, because I always want to push myself artistically, I’ve been adding different elements into the mix. For example, I really love location shoots. It’s tough and tedious at times, but I try to look at it like an adventure. When I find that perfect spot that tells a story or creates a mood, it’s an awesome experience. Recently, I’ve been scouting locations for senior/musician portraits. There are a couple of things that I’ve been keeping in mind when I’m looking for a location. 1.) Versatility (Are there different looks that I could get from one location?) 2.) Popularity (I love parks, but there are usually lots of people.) 3.) Will my model feel comfortable? The above photos are were taken at two different locations. The first photo was taken in downtown Phoenix on Grand Ave. and the second was taken in Tempe.  

Event Photography

Last weekend I played the role of event photographer. This was my first time photographing an event. Of course, I’ve taken pictures of people at friends’ parties, but this was the first time where I was documenting an event. It was a great experience for me for a couple of reasons. First, because the location had minimal lighting, I had to use a flash (this is something I rarely use, even at concerts). Second, I had to “come out of my shell” and get people excited about having their photo taken. I’m a naturally very shy and introverted person, so all of this was a little out of my element. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that asking a person to pose for you, whether it’s someone on the street or a model you want to work with, is nerve wracking. At the party, I had to strike a balance between respecting people’s space and taking initiative. Fortunately, most people were pretty cooperative, and, if someone didn’t want to be in a picture, they were nice about it because I had asked them first.

California

Last week I got a chance to visit my old stomping ground of San Francisco. I lived there for two years while pursuing my MFA in Creative Writing at California College of the Arts. I loved living in San Francisco, but, because I was so busy with school, I wasn’t able to do as much of the touristy activities that most people do when they visit. However, this time I finally had a chance to visit some of the more iconic sites of SF, such as Alcatraz (pictured above).