Working with Mannequins

      When I was working on Mannequins: Stories of the First Supermodel, I purchased these two busts for an idea I had for an artistic photoshoot. I have not yet finished this project, but I have worked frequently with these two beauties.   As someone who likes to try new ideas with lighting, I like the idea of being able to practice before experimenting at a photoshoot. When I’m working with a model, I like to be fully prepared. It doesn’t mean that I’m not making adjustments during the photoshoot, but I don’t want to waste precious time. If I do want to try out an idea, I’ll wait until the end of the shoot.   Mannequins are great because you can practice your photography whenever the mood strikes you. They can’t talk back or complain that you’re taking too long. They are very patient and forgiving models. đŸ˜‰ The names of these two mannequins are Melina and Monique.

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 […]

Tarot Cards

I love working with themes. Because I’m interested in so many different artistic styles, I enjoy immersing myself in a particular style for a period of time and then switching it up to do something else.   Many years ago, a friend introduced me to her Gilded Tarot deck, designed and written by Ciro Marchetti and  Barbara Moore. I immediately fell in love with the colorful artwork. Each card was packed with symbolism and meaning. Since then, I have purchased a few of my own decks, one of which is the Gilded Deck. Each deck has its own theme, whether it’s fairies, cats, Steampunk, or collage. I do go through periods where I use one particular deck because the artwork resonates with me at that time. In fact, the photo I’m using for this post is from The Steampunk Tarot deck illustrated and written by Aly Fell and Barbara Moore. I immediately fell in love with this deck because the cards look dark and mysterious, and I love anything that is Steampunk.   One of the most recognized decks is the original Rider-Waite Tarot Deck. In 1903, Arthur Edward Waite, who wrote the booklet, hired a young artist named Pamela […]

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 […]

A Year in Review

  At the end of the year, I take some time to review my work and reevaluate my goals. I’m certainly not one of those people who does New Year’s Resolutions, but I do like to hold myself accountable and make sure that I’m using my time wisely to accomplish everything I want to do. During my review, I list what I think went well and what I would like to improve in the future. When I was a graduate student, I worked with Susan Griffin, a writing mentor and renowned feminist and author. Every time she looked at my writing, she would first tell me what I did well. She explained that it’s just as important to know what you’re doing right because you want to build on that.   Looking back at the past twelve months these are some of the strengths and weaknesses I found in my own work.   Strengths 1.) An education in self-publishing: I had to wear many hats this year because I had to learn about the process of designing, printing, selling, and marketing my book. I’m by no means an expert, but the education I got this year will be extremely important […]

Liliana

    While working on my book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, I met many incredible people. I first met Liliana at a photoshoot. When I saw her amazing ink, I asked if she would be a part of my book. Since then, I have worked with her on other projects.   Last week, I did a photoshoot with Liliana, and she shared her new tattoos with me. Her latest additions were Gypsy tattoos, beautiful women adorned with elements of nature. Until I saw her new ink, I didn’t even know there was “Gypsy” style. It still amazes what artists can do with tattoos. Body art has grown and expanded so much in the last decade that it will be interesting to see how it continues to evolve in the next ten years.

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. Today 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 […]

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 […]