Thursday, December 9, 2010

Friendship and Inspiration are EVERYWHERE!

Do you ever have your head down, intent on getting your list done and without a lot of time for distractions?  In this busy life it is all too easy to rush through our days without our heads up nor an openness to what is within reach...that special and unnameable 'thing' that provides richness, wonder and excitement in our lives.

The biggest example of this elusive and wonderful 'thing' is 'people'!  There are an abundance of people out there who share our personality traits, our passions, our pursuits, our burdens, etc. but, if we have our heads down with only our sight on check-marking that last list item, we risk never meeting them, we risk a life that is 'less than'.

On a late summer evening, nearly two years ago, I hosted a pre-school board meeting.  It was as much a meet n' greet as it was a meeting!  That night I chanced to spend a few minutes chatting with the 'Treasurer', who was lovely and I remember instantly thinking "cool, I'm glad she's on the board!"  Fast forward a week or two to when we were again at a meeting and were trying to organize the 'staggered entry' for our eldest kids who were to be starting pre-school...she approached me to see if we could share babysitting for our youngest kids so that we each, as moms, could attend the first day with our older kids.  And so began our friendship and the friendship of our four children.

Very early in our conversations we discovered a shared love of photography and, even more amazingly, an interest in operating businesses in the realm of visual art!  This meeting has led to such an abundance of friendship, inspiration, and goodwill that I tear up just thinking about it.  Our kids interact like cousins and have learned so much from one another.  Jill and I have attended photography workshops and classes together and are constantly running ideas past one another and tips on how to do this or that.  It has all been so easy, so good, so rewarding.

I am busy...trying to keep a house clean (within reason for it has little ones running through it daily!), trying to keep my family on time, trying to create a successful small business, and trying to stay connected to the family and friends that I sincerely admire, love, and appreciate.  I know it is hard to remain open to what 'might' be out there, around the corner, but I feel that the friendship described above and the countless others that I hold dear (new and old) are testament to doing our very best at paying attention to what is out there waiting and available to us.

May this holiday season give you time to ponder what might be waiting for you around the next corner...I wish each person reading this a life filled with new people and experiences to enjoy, together with the pleasure derived from having people in your life who have always been there and shall always be there.

Friendship, kindness, consideration, generosity...may we each give freely and receive even more abundantly.

Life is good,


Friday, November 26, 2010

Passion is Magnetic...

We arrived home late last night from an amazing 2 weeks in the was full of the kind of adventure that can only come from travelling with little ones - simple pleasures and the hillarity found in crazy conversations with a 4 and 5 year old!  

Family times aside, I was struck this trip by a few separate incidents that left me even more convinced that passion is magnetic in that the Universe undoubtedly recognizes passion and rewards it.  A few of these experiences were in the photographic realm, but one story, that left me teary eyed, was not...

We were a day or two into our vacation and I was committed to making sure that our WHITE skin was lathered in sunscreen...the problem was that the sunscreen was mucking up my wedding ring and it was driving me crazy.  So, whilst sitting by the pool, I removed my wedding ring (stupid, I know!) and set it on the towel beside me.  Later, I wanted to reapply the kid's sunscreen and so I had my husband put my ring in his pocket.  Later still we decided to go check out the beach and do some body surfing, which saw me slather on even more sunscreen onto the kids.  We were about ready to pack up and head back to the pool when I realized I didn't have my ring, and neither did my partner.  My heart stopped.  I have never misplaced my ring and this was WAY worse than that!  I ran back to where we'd been at the pool (we couldn't remember if it had been in his pocket, or if I had gotten it back and set it down myself) and started searching the area we'd been...some new friends we'd made and some total strangers were quick to help me look, and the rest of my family soon arrived and they got on goggles to start searching the pool.  I decided that we hadn't spent enough time scouring the beach...if that might have been where I'd taken it off?  I headed back with one of the kid's sand sifters and got down on my hands and knees and started carefully sifting the sand around the lounge chair I'd been at.  It was incredibly difficult to not move too quickly as I was feeling a little frantic, but I knew that sand would be unforgiving with dramatic (flailing) searching and so I was careful.  I spent about 15 minutes and was feeling as though I just wasn't going to find it.  I sat back on my heels and wondered 'am I actually going to stop looking, what if it IS here?' was then that the sun came from behind a cloud just as I turned my head a little and saw a slight glimmer in the sand...and there it was!  AMAZING!  I still can't believe that we could be so unsure of where it had been lost - between a huge pool, a pool area, lots of people coming and going, and a beach full of sand and folks - and still find it.  This wasn't about the price of the ring, this was about finding the ring that my husband had made for me and that has accompanied us throughout our marriage as a symbol of our commitment and love.  I truly believe that given a different demeanour, a different relationship, a different desire, the ring would have been lost.  Isn't the Universe amazing?!

The second story was photographic, sort of!  We had employed the resort photog to do a family portrait session for us and he did the most beautiful job!  We LOVE the photos he did for us and I was especially  excited as the only family photos we ever have are ones that I take via timer!  It was so nice to not worry about the technical stuff whilst still being 'Mom', I could just concentrate on being the client :)!  What made the experience infinitely better was that I really liked our photographer...Tom, is a young photog from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and he is equally talented as he is kind.  Tom spent lots of time with us both during our family shoot and when he came around the pool and beach each day for photos with an assortment of animals.  His photos were all terrific but we'd invested in art and the CD of our family session and so we didn't have enough cash (we had mistakenly assumed we could use credit cards more!) to buy any of the kids shots with the animals.  On the second last day, Tom took some photos of the kids with a snake and they were phenomenal.  When I saw them I really wanted to buy them, but we didn't have cash and they wouldn't let me use a card for less than US$100 (and the hotel imposes a high tax on credit card purchases anyway).  So, I had to try to put the photos out of my head.  Tom was unaware of us visiting the shop and seeing the photos, or my disappointment at not being able to bring them home. The next morning, at breakfast, I lamented to my husband and sister that I was sad about not being able to bring home the photos.  A few hours later, with only a few hours until our departure for home, we were chillin' at the pool, soaking up as many rays as possible before heading for the snow, when Tom arrived for his daily walk of photos with animals...he had a cd with him of the images he'd taken the day before as a gift for us!  Amazing!  (I know, I've said AMAZING alot...but it fits!)  My husband and sister are both considerably more 'black and white' than I am, but I think it is safe to say that we were all three pretty astounded by the gift!

My point in these, seemingly simple, daily experiences is that the Universe seems to rise up and greet you when you are full of desire, love, and passion.  I am still on a journey of fulling giving in to this mentality, but the more I practice living this way the more I am experiencing the terrific benefits!

Hope you are having a passion filled day and life, and that it is drawing in amazing experiences for you!

Life is good!


PS Photos to follow when I get organized! ;)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lighting For a 'Form' Shoot

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of doing a shoot for a fitness model.  When I posted some shots from the session I had enquiries from friends and fellow photogs for what the lighting setup was...see below if this is of interest to you.

She had spent months in preparation for a competition that was held in Calgary on October 23 and she thought her hard work merited being captured in photographs - and I couldn't have agreed more!  On the day of the competition her muscles were at their prime (that process is an entirely different discussion, but I will say - MAN, it takes dedication!) and so we wanted to make sure we fit the shoot in between the early judging and the main show that evening.

My client was keen to achieve a few different types of shots: gym shots for her portfolio, shots of her in her competition bikini (for her portfolio and for her), and some classy, form shots.  Let me stop here to describe what I mean by 'form', as I am not sure if anyone else uses this as a description!  When I say 'form' I envision that we are going to display parts of the body...these aren't boudoir shots, in my opinion, but rather an opportunity to capture images of the person's physique in an artistic way (well, that's the hope!)  I have nothing against boudoir (think it's pretty coo actually!) but I think there is a differentiation.

In the gym, I wanted to make sure that any other gym members weren't going to 'appear' in the shots - better for everyone - and so we introduced a flash, which my assistant held, and which was being triggered remotely by a set of Pocket Wizards.  This allowed us to capture the client, highlighting her toned muscles and virtually eliminating background distractions.

For her model and form shots I chose a low key approach by using a black seamless paper backdrop and side lighting (side lighting helps accentuate texture by creating shadows).  I thought this lighting and black paper would provide a level of sexiness to our shoot and I also thought that her physique would show up really well against the dark background.  The lighting (all set up on camera right) included a strip light (16"x48" soft box that modifies a strobe) set beside the backdrop and pointed toward the subject's back to create side lighting.  Another strobe with a larger, rectangular soft box was used at about 45° to the subject (as we moved through the shoot the positions varied and, therefore, so did the lighting angles...we used light angles between 30° and 60° to subject and we also varied the height of the light).  Because the subject's hair was very dark I knew that we would want to use a light to help separate her hair from the black backdrop, for this we used a flash which was held above her (above and toward the back of her head so as not to fall on her face at all) by my assistant on the shoot.  Lastly, I did use a large soft gold reflector on the opposite side of the subject to help fill light a little...this technique did not work as well as I'd hoped, but it did help.  In the future I would use a third strobe on low power to do the fill lighting.  The lights were all triggered using a Pocket Wizard on my camera with another on the 580 EXII flash, and the two strobes fired as slaves.

There are many ways to light and I am definitely still on the journey of learning lighting techniques...but if what I tried is of help or interest to you, I'm glad to share!  Please have a look at a few more shots, below, from this session.

Life is good!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

General Goodwill...

As this blog-thing is new to me, I have spent a lot of time over the past week or so contemplating just what to share, and the possibilities are, obviously, limitless.  So, I've decided on some parameters which, when written down, seem to be best encapsulated by 'general goodwill'.  I want to share what I am learning, to show what I'm working on, and to elevate the conversation (hopefully) to a tone of positive attitude and caring.  So, we may go on tangents (Lord knows I am good at that!), but you may rely on this being a place you can spend a minute during your busy day without hearing me whine, complain or lay blame.

So, with that thought out there...may I say what a privilege it was to have a maternity session with some new friends.  Oswaldo, the dad-to-be, and I were on an intensive photography workshop together last spring and his wife, Janeth, was able to join us on a couple of occasions for socializing.  They are WONDERFUL people, full of laughter and joy (the kind that seems to be in South Americans' genes!).  When they arrived at my home-studio for our session, they came with gifts for the kids and desserts for all of us!  They are smart, generous, caring, and enthusiastic people and they are going to be the kind of parents every kid deserves!  Please visit to see more of the shots from our session.

I am so grateful to live in a place and in a family where I have the opportunity to pursue this love of photography....I am so grateful that this passion has allowed me to meet new people with whom I hope to share lifetime friendships...I am so grateful.

Happy Sunday, folks!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

WooHoo! A New Blog Spot!

The past year has been quite a company, new website, new thoughts and ideas!  I have been contemplating creating a blog for a while and, after speaking with a photog friend, I was convinced I should jump on this here blog-wagon sooner rather than later!

In this blog I hope to share what I am up to, of course, but I am also hopeful that this will be a place that we can learn from each other...photographers chatting gear and set-ups, clients chatting with photogs about a myriad of topics (from planning your outfit to why colour management is critical).  

I was late to facebook, but I now see, and know, the absolute benefit of being able to share with many in a quick and concise way.  I also believe that the act of sharing (info, advice, thoughts, etc.) is a liberating and creativity inspiring act!

So, hope you'll follow along as I travel down this new path.