Don’t Be A Negative Nancy!

  When I’m working on my books, there is a lot of pressure to make sure everything is perfect. A lot of research and marketing/advertising experiments are involved in self-publishing. Last year, there were so many days that I just came home and sat in front of the television because my brain felt fried. I missed being creative, but I didn’t have the energy to do anymore.   This year, I’m trying to allow myself a little more time to work on my personal projects. So far, it’s been a challenging balancing act, but one that I feel is important to maintain.   The Women Series One night, I asked my mother, “Where did Negative Nancy come from? What did Nancy ever do to deserve that title?”   In fact, the Negative Nancy meme goes back to the 1960s when President Lyndon Johnson called his critics of his Vietnam War policies “Nervous Nellies.” The name caught on and soon people were applying the idea to other names, such as Debbie Downer, Chatty Cathy, ect.   I thought this was comical, and I decided that I was going to challenge myself to find a name for every letter in the alphabet […]

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Shoots

Whether you’re hiring a model or someone has hired you for a photoshoot, efficiency and time management is extremely important. You want to get the most from your shoots. With digital cameras there is no excuse not to get more than what you actually need.   As a musician, I’ve been to my fair share of shoots. Some photographers were so unorganized that I spent an entire day sitting around just to be photographed for a few minutes. They were horrible experiences. No one likes to have their time wasted. The biggest reason that photographers have stressful shoots is that they don’t do enough planning ahead of time. Obviously things may happen on the day of the shoot that are not within your control. However, if you put some thought into what you want to get out of the shoot, you’ll be able to adapt more quickly.   I’ve listed a few tips that other photographers have shared with me. It may seem like common sense, and that’s because it is. There’s a lot to think about when you plan a photoshoot, and sometimes certain logistics get lost in the planning. It happens to everyone. That’s why it’s helpful to […]

Getting the Right Pose

  When I first started doing fashion and artistic photoshoots, I struggled with posing the models. If the model was experienced, I didn’t have any issues because he/she already knew how to use her body to create certain looks. Personally, I have a difficult time posing in front of the camera, so it would also make sense that I would have a hard time explaining what I wanted from the model. This was especially true in the case when I worked with people who were uncomfortable being in front of the camera.   In a boudoir photography workshop I participated in a few years ago, the teacher showed us a notebook that was filled with different types of poses. The notebook was divided into categories, such as sitting, standing, and closeup poses. I thought this was a brilliant idea, so I created my own notebook. The next time I had a shoot, instead of describing the pose, I had the model look at some examples. It worked like magic. Since then I have always brought examples to my shoots.   My goal with poses is to find something that looks “natural” for the model. We’ve all seen those awkward photos […]

How to Create a Silhouette Photo in the Studio

  I had an interesting and unusual assignment of creating a silhouette photo for a string quintet. Silhouette photography is beautiful, but it requires planning. I have seen photographers do a few silhouette shots of their clients if they’re doing a photoshoot and the sun is setting. There is usually a short window of time while the sun is setting to get that perfect silhouette look.   Since I knew it would be virtually impossible to have 5 people available on the same day and time for a photoshoot, I decided that I would have to re-create the silhouette look in the studio. The process turned out to be much easier than I had thought it would be, but there are some factors to consider before you plan your shoot.   Background and Composition Before I contacted any of the musicians, I spent some time thinking about how I wanted the final product to look. The client wanted the photograph to be artistic and fit the personality of the quintet. Because I was working with 5 people, I needed to know ahead of time, how I wanted to position them. I also looked for possible backgrounds, so I could make […]

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!

Gatekeepers Talk About Tattoos

The Gatekeepers is a neutral motorcycle club of professional and retired fire fighters who frequently host fundraising events. Five of their members were kind enough to come down to my studio to talk about their non-profit organization and how tattoos have evolved in the fire department.┬áToday it’s so common to see fire fighters with tattoos, but there was a time when tattoos in the fire department were not as accepted as they are today.   “There was one point in the fire department you couldn’t have any. If they showed, you had to cover them,” says Rob. “Now it’s a matter of what it is. If it’s offensive to anybody, you have to cover it.”   When I interviewed each member, I was amazed at the different styles of tattoos and how varied the stories were. While all of them had a Gatekeeper emblem tattoo, each of them had ink honoring what was important to them. For example, Bill (red shirt) got tattoos celebrating his family’s Scottish heritage. Pappy (far left) explained that the Celtic Crosses on the inside of his forearms were to remind him of his own inner strength when times got tough.   My interview with the […]

The Enchanted Pumpkin Garden

A couple of years ago I read an article about the talented and world renowned sculptor, Ray Villafane. In 2016, he transformed 24 tons of sand into a realistic sculpture of an elephant playing a game of chess with a mouse.   Villafane’s work is ephemeral, which means that his sculptures don’t last for a very long time. The elephant sculpture exhibit lasted for six months. I was intrigued by the idea of someone creating art that would only be temporary. I thought about all the hours that must have gone into the sculpture, only to eventually be eroded by Mother Nature. At the time, I was working on Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. When I saw that Villafane had tattoos, I decided to reach out to him for an interview.   Villafane explained that most art is essentially ephemeral. For example, tattoo artists create art that leaves the studio once they’re done tattooing their client. The tattoo may be permanent, but for the tattooist they will probably never see that piece again.   If you’re interested in checking out Villafane’s amazing sculpture’s, The Town of Carefree is hosting it’s annual Enchanted Pumpkin Garden from October 18 – 27. […]

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 […]