The Importance of Trying New Things

Visiting The Mediterranean I’m not a landscape photographer. I’m much more comfortable photographing people. Landscapes are challenging for me because it’s hard for me to capture the enormity of what I see. I have to select which part I want to put in the frame. However, I admire landscape and architectural photography, and when I travel I experiment and give myself the opportunity to learn and make mistakes.   In September I went on a Mediterranean Cruise and visited Italy, Greece, Malta, and Turkey. I used the time to experiment with landscape photography, but I didn’t put any pressure on myself to get the perfect photo. I simply wanted to use the time to break out of what I usually photograph.   My biggest fear as an artist is making a mistake. Striving for perfection often prevents me from stepping outside my comfort zone and trying new things. The reason I’ve grown to love travel photography is that I don’t consider myself a travel photographer, so it’s okay if the images don’t meet my expectations. There is something therapeutic about picking up the camera and exploring new places.   Every place I visited felt magical to me, but, if I […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

Tattle Tales: Victor

Even though I have completed my first book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, I still like to collect stories of people and their ink. I met Victor while he was working for my parents. Of course, I immediately noticed the art on his sleeve. It’s no surprise that  Alice in Wonderland is one of his favorite movies. However, one thing that I was surprised to learn from my conversation with Victor is how tolerant religious communities have become in regard to tattoos. Victor is very active in his church, and he has not encountered negativity towards his tattoo. During my interview with Victor, I came to realize that tattoos give people the ability to keep their artwork and memories with them no matter what. In the past year, we’ve seen horrific environmental disasters affect many cities all over the country. Sometimes, in a matter of a just a few hours, people lose everything that they own. People with tattoos don’t have to worry about losing the art on their bodies. As tattoos have become more mainstream, our idea of art has evolved. Art is no longer exclusive. Art belongs to all of us.

Wanderlust

Before I became a photographer, I thought I wanted to be a full-time writer. In 2012, I graduated from California College of the Arts with a Masters in Creative Writing. I do love to write, but I found it could be very lonely work.   After I wrote my first novel, I decided I needed to take a break. During this break is when I started interviewing and photographing people with tattoos. I loved combining my passion for writing with photography because it gave me the best of both worlds. I’m an introvert, so I don’t necessarily hate sitting in a room by myself for hours working. However, I like how photography allows me to collaborate with other people. Plus, the process of photography is generally much faster than writing. For example, I spent three years writing my novel, whereas I could photograph and interview someone and see the results within a few hours.   Patience is indeed a virtue when you’re an artist, but sometimes it’s nice (and perhaps necessary) to see something to completion. It makes you feel like you’re moving forward in life. I still love writing fiction, but these days I’m more focussed on photojournalism.   […]

Cathy Rankin

I have had the pleasure of working with Cathy on a few shoots. This shot was taken during a shoot where we were trying to get as many different looks in one session. In just a few hours and using only natural light, we were able to get many different looks. Being resourceful is an important skill as a photographer. I chose to shoot at my parent’s house because their backyard has interesting walls and lots of greenery, which is rare in Phoenix. Overall, the shoot was a success and we both had a lot of fun.

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 […]