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. […]

Themes

I enjoy all my shoots, but I particularly had fun with this one. When I first mentioned doing a photo series for the 7 Deadly Sins, a lot of people told they thought it was over done. In some ways they’re right, but I thought it would be an interesting challenge to see if I could come up with my own interpretation, despite the fact so many people have put their own stamp on this theme. This photoshoot was Gluttony, which involves an excess of food usually. I got the inspiration for this shoot from an old Gwen Stefani video called “Luxurious.” There’s a scene where Stefani is lying on colorfully wrapped candy. I loved the colors and the concept, and so I adapted it to my shoot. I certainly did get weird looks at the store when I picked up bags and bags of candy. Though I bought quite a lot, it still wasn’t enough. During the shoot, I made sure to arrange the candy so that I would be able to go back into Photoshop and clone the candy so that the entire background would be covered. The editing was a little more difficult than I thought it […]

Dealing with Doubt

The hardest part with the arts is that there is no “right” answer. It’s about choices, preferences, interpretations, and so much more. As an creative person, there have been many moments where I have felt doubt creep into my mind. Typically, I’m one of those people who thinks about every outcome, as though I’m playing a game of chess. This is especially the case when I’m trying to get to sleep, and I can feel my fears spiderwebbing. It’s definitely not a healthy way to live, but how do we overcome doubt?    When I can feel the anxiety intensifying, which has been a frequent occurrence these last few weeks, I’ll talk to my mom. One of the things that she always tells me is, “It’s not brain surgery. You don’t have someone’s life in your hands.” This is very true, and I’m glad my work doesn’t involve a life or death situation. However, this doesn’t always help me in the moment when I have to make a decision. I’m a perfectionist and very passionate about what I put out into the world. For example, I had been really stressing about a decision I had to make about a project […]

Giving back

Whenever I read stories of people volunteering their time to helping others, I’m often reminded of how little I’m involved in my own community. Thankfully, my photography and writing has given me some opportunities to reach out to people. However, it’s very easy for me to lock myself in my office and work until I fall asleep. I’m an introvert. I’m shy, and I suffer from social anxiety. It’s hard to overcome our fears, but I’ve reached a point in my life where my desire to be part of the community is stronger than my anxiety. A friend of mine told me about a volunteering opportunity where Bethlehem Church shelters and feeds homeless women for the night. It was an incredible experience for me because I had a chance to meet some of these wonderful women who benefit from this volunteer organization. Besides the fact that it felt good to do something for someone else, I felt like I was a part of something bigger than myself. I believe that’s what it means to feel part of a community. While we have social media platforms that give us virtual space to express our views, there is still a false sense […]

Superhero

A couple of weekends ago, I had the honor of photographing for the band Superhero at the W Hotel in Scottsdale. Superhero often performs at major corporate and charity events, playing some of the best music from 80’s through today. The band was absolutely great, but the lighting was a definite concern for me. There was very little lighting on the singers, and a large projector screen silhouetted the musicians because there wasn’t enough light in front to balance the screen’s brightness. Because I’ve photographed so many metal bands who play on dark stages, I knew how to handle the situation. Besides adjusting aperture, ISO, and, shutter speed, the other thing that I do in this situation is wait for appropriate moments to capture a good shot. For example, I knew it was too dark to get any kind of jumping or quick movement. Instead, I waited for those moments where the musicians held a pose or weren’t moving too much. A lot of concert photography is making the most out of the situation. The lighting isn’t always going to be ideal. The venue may be so crowded that it’s hard to capture a shot of the band without fans blocking your view. […]

Chester

I’m sure I have mentioned this before in an earlier post, but, as a photographer, I always like challenging myself. I’ve photographed animals before, but not very often. Photographing animals, particularly wildlife, is a whole genre and style of photography in itself. When I visited Alaska, I took a workshop where we learned effective tools for photographing landscapes and wildlife. At one point, the teacher showed us a photo that he had taken of a newly born eagle. He said that it took him 4 years to get that photo. It takes an incredible amount of patience and a bit of luck to get those kinds of photographs. I don’t see myself backpacking through the woods with a heavy duty telephoto lens anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try to photograph animals when I can. Growing up, I lived in a neighborhood where people had horse property. I love horses and so I asked Chester’s owner if I could photograph her horse. Chester, the beautiful auburn horse, was easy going, but also very shy. He liked to stay close to his girlfriend, Velvet. I kept my goals for this shoot very simple because the space I was sharing with the horse […]

Photographing Art

A lot of what I’ve learned about photography came as a result of photographing other people’s art. The nice thing about photographing art is that it can’t talk back to you. If you have to fidget with the lighting or the camera settings, the art is not going anywhere. That’s the nice part. The hard part about photographing art is that involves some interpretation and a lot of precision. For example, sculptures can be photographed from a multitude of angles, and, even the slightest change in the angle makes a huge difference. The face, for example,  can look completely different depending on if I shoot at eye level versus slightly below eye level. A lot of the times, unless the artist is specific in how they want the art photographed, I look at the shape of the face. Just like with people, sculptures have a “good side.” Another issue to contend with when photographing art is color accuracy. It’s never going to be 100%, but you can get it really close. Lighting has a lot to do with the color, but a lot of the times the color is further corrected in Lightroom or Photoshop. Color accuracy can be pretty tricky because sometimes […]

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 […]

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.  

Tattle Tales: Session Three

I was thrilled when I heard that Tillie was open to being a part of my tattoo project. Though I hadn’t met her yet, I had heard about her incredible tattoos. When I finally had the chance to meet her, I was immediately blown away by her body art. Her tattoos had so much color and detail that it was definitely more than your “run-of-the-mill” tattoo. Her arms were wrapped with various illustrations, including an owl, a woman’s face, and a reference to the Harry Potter books. On her thigh, Tillie had what looked like a beautiful painting of Frida Kahlo. The colors were so vivid and the face looked so real that it was almost hard to believe that all of that could be achieved with a tattoo gun. Because of all the aspects of Tillie’s body art, I had to take multiple photos to successfully capture the beauty and intricacies of her tattoos. One of the perks of working on this tattoo series is that I get to meet some amazing people. I really enjoyed getting know Tillie and hear about how she incorporated her various passions into her body art. Our bodies are a blank canvas, but […]