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, […]

The Importance of Tattoo Placement

Meet Angela Angela Jordan is a personal trainer and owner of Camp AJ Athletic Conditioning. When I interviewed Angela for my book, she emphasized the importance of tattoo placement. The body is the canvas and tattoos are art, so where it goes on the body is very important. She explained that a tattoo can make the body look better or worse. For example, a poorly placed tattoo on the thigh can actually make the leg look bigger, whereas certain shapes of tattoos can make the body look leaner.   At the time of the interview, Angela didn’t have nearly as much ink. As a trainer, she felt it was important that people could see her physique. Several months ago, when I saw that Angela had added a glorious lion neck tattoo to her collection of body art, I decided to reach out to her. Even now, it’s rare to see neck tattoos. She first seriously considered getting a neck tattoo when she saw a photo of herself with a large necklace that covered most of her neck. She liked the look and quickly decided to take the plunge. While she has received reactions from people, Angela says that there hasn’t […]

Working with natural light

    When I first started doing photography, I did a lot of photo shoots using just natural light. It was nice to focus on composition and getting familiar with the camera, without having to deal with a lighting kit. I feel that if you try to focus on too many things, it can feel overwhelming. Now that I’ve been doing photography for a while, I’m much more adept and comfortable incorporating studio lights.   Before you plan your photo shoot, there are some factors that you should keep in mind.   Time of Day The mornings or late afternoons tend to offer the most flattering light. The sunlight is not as intense and it’s not directly overhead, creating distracting shadows on your model’s face. I have done shoots in the middle of the day, and you can make it work. The most important thing is to be aware of the shadows. Shadows can create a cool effect. Just be patient with yourself and get creative. The second photo is from a shoot I did at a junkyard. It was the middle of the day, and I was really struggling with the shadows. Eventually I made it work, but I […]

Zach, US Navy: Tattoo Interview

In the past decade, tattoos haven’t just artistically evolved, but they have become so popular that many industries have changed their policies regarding body art. The military is no exception. In honor of Veteran’s day, I’m posting a portrait from my book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. Zach got his tattoo in honor of his time in the Navy as well as his love for the sea. The tattoo on his chest is the Greek God of the Sea, Poseidon. Zach also enjoys snorkeling and spear fishing.   I’m always grateful to have the opportunity to speak with soldiers and veterans. I know that as a civilian much of what veterans experience is outside of my paradigm. Nevertheless, I think it’s important for me as well as everyone else to be a good listener and honor what they have done for this country. Thank you for your service, veterans!

Tattoos: Art for the Masses

  Body of Art Even though I’ve always appreciated body art, I realized there was a lot I didn’t know about the world of tattoos. While interviewing people for my tattoo book, I developed a deeper appreciation for tattoo artists. Reality shows and social media have done a lot to share the work of these incredible artists, but sometimes these platforms glamorize the industry. I learned about the sacrifices these individuals make to be a part of this industry and community. For example, I never really thought about the fact that they have to work very different hours than most people. In order for them to be available to their clients, they have to work when most people are off work. That means weekends and long nights. Sometimes they have to miss out on family events and vacations. Sometimes their marriages suffer because they have to spend long hours at the studio. Despite these challenges, however, these tattoo artists remain passionate and dedicated to their work. They continually push themselves artistically, and they create amazing art for the masses.   There’s also another aspect about tattoos that I’ve learned to appreciate since studying this burgeoning art form. Over the past […]

My Top Five Favorite Places to Photograph

In the past, I’ve been very grateful to other photographers who have shared locations they have used for their photoshoots. Location shoots are a lot of fun, but they do require some planning. For me, I’ve always looked for places that offer a variety of different looks. I also wanted to find locations in different parts of the greater Phoenix area, so that I could more easily accommodate the models or clients. So without further ado, here are my favorite places to photograph. Downtown Phoenix     I have say that Downtown Phoenix is my favorite place to photograph people. There are so many cool graffiti and other textured walls that make for some awesome backgrounds. Since there have been a lot of construction and changes to the area, I do scout the location before a shoot. For example, there was a really cool graffiti wall and, shortly after I did a fashion shoot there, the art had been painted over. The area that these photos were taken were around Roosevelt and 5th street. This is one area where I haven’t really worried about it being too crowded because there’s a few blocks of nice photographic spaces. If you’re creative […]

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. […]

Concert Photography: Heavy Metal vs. Classical Music

My first foray into photojournalism was concert photography. Because I was a heavy metal musician for many years, I got assigned to a lot of metal concerts. These were some of the toughest assignments because heavy metal bands like to create an ominous, theatrical atmosphere with red, purple, or blue lighting. It took me a while to adjust to such low lighting. Even though it was a challenge, I still enjoyed the process and in the end I became a much better photographer.   Recently, I was hired to photograph the East Valley Youth Symphony. From a photographer’s perspective, this environment is very different from rock n’ roll and heavy metal. At a rock concert you have the photo pit and three songs to get all your photos. However, with the symphony, you have seated guests and the musicians sit close together. Being discreet and quiet is of utmost importance. Most cameras make a noise when the shutter is released. This means you don’t want to shoot when the music is really quiet. Following a dress code is also important. Wearing black or dark colors is advised so that you don’t stick out and distract the audience from the performance. […]

Project Zodiac

Every year since I was a child, my mother bought Llewellyn’s Astrological Calendar. Besides being interested in astrology, my mother referred to the calendar to know the dates for cutting our hair. For example, if you cut your hair on the full moon in water signs, which is Cancer, Pisces, and Scorpio, it’s supposed to promote thickness.   Several years ago, I became friends with a woman who studied astrology and even worked for the renowned Mountain Astrologer Magazine. Through my friendship, I gained a much better and deeper understanding of astrology. I learned that it involves much more than our sun sign, which is the sign we’re born into. I love talking astrology with other folks. When I decided to embark on this photography series, my two main goals were to use models that were actually born in the sign they were portraying and to create my own interpretation so that I wasn’t merely replicating the imagery that I’ve seen so many times for each sign. Of course, like with Gemini, which I have pictured above, there are some elements that I had to include. Gemini is about the two sides of the coin, the twins. However, Gemini is […]

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 […]