Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kelly Park Engagement Session :: Ricky & Nozomi

Rain, Rain, Go Away Coming Again another day! The clouds didn't listen to us but we ventured out anyway. We hopped into their car and took the long way back to the spot where Ricky proposed. I haven't properly driven through Seattle, in 5 years (perhaps ever) and it was captivating! We passed the red brick townhouses, sat in traffic in the shadows of the glass skyscrapers, zoomed under the tunnels of orange leaves, and stared out through rain-speckled glass as the markets. The misty scenery had my attention all the way to Kelly Park in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. With the famous view of the Space Needle behind them, Ricky & Nozomi danced in the rain, spun around street signs, and cuddled to keep warm.

These two are massive Seattle Seahawks fans! Their home is covered in footballs, jerseys, flags,   blankets and scarfs — all green & blue! 
Satisfied with the view and freezing from the chilly weather we ran to the warm car and drove home, but not before a quick little visit to one of their favourite beaches. The daylight was sinking away and we had just enough time to be a little goofy on the dock.
There were "No Diving" signs everywhere so of course, instead of diving down into the water, we jumped up into the air. Makes perfect sense :) We've decided we'd return to this spot next summer for some real diving pictures to celebrate their 6 months anniversary!
"No lifeguard on duty" wasn't really an issue for us considering the autumn weather in Seattle is rather intimidating to wild swimmers. But in just 1 week there will be lifeguards EVERYWHERE because Ricky, Nozomi and I will be lounging on the beaches of Hawaii & snorkeling in the waves trying to spot a humuhumunukunukuapua! That's right folks, we're heading to Hawaii to celebrate their wedding with all 3 of our families!!! Yaiwoo! Seriously can't wait for that warm weather and the chance to photography my first tropical wedding! 

To see more photos from Ricky & Nozomi's Seattle Engagement Session, feel free to watch their slideshow below:

Congratulations again Ricky & Nozomi! You two are so sweet together. It was a pleasure to get soaked in the rain with you and I can't wait for our amazing holiday together!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Women Helping Women :: 31 Bits

Hooray for companies that are using their power for good! Recently, I've stumbled across a few beautiful businesses that are helping women. That's a massive soft spot for me so here's a little BLOG love for 31 Bits, one of these awesome crusaders of change....

An organisation founded by women for women — after my own heart!

During their senior year of university, 5 women (Kallie Dovel, Alli Swanson, Brooke Hodges, Anna Nelson, and Jessie Simonson) dreamed of giving Ugandan women the opportunity to help their war-torn communities recover & live sustainably. 

Their dream became a reality as they created 31 Bits, utilizing fashion to empower these women in Uganda, giving them a platform to re-purpose paper waste into beautiful jewellery that can be sold worldwide! 

I encourage you to hop on over to the 31 Bits website right now, find a piece of jewellery that makes you smile, and choose to be a part of this amazing movement. Be the kind of woman (or man) who stands up to help women when they need you most.

PS: 31 Bits campaigns always include the most gorgeous images! I can't wait to shoot a campaign for them one day. Ah! I just had an to pursue some dreams now. Have a fabulous day!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Playing with Portraiture :: Re-Retouching Images

Finally, I'm seeing some sort of progress towards my goal of creating porcelain smooth skin. I'm still no expert but after a year of struggling with presets I'm celebrating a little breakthrough! It's all thanks to the Imagenomic Portraiture Plugin for Photoshop (recommended by Sue Bryce) and a few handy Photoshop tips I picked up from Lara Jade during her creativeLIVE workshop Fashion Photography 101!

I'm a lover of looking back at my older work to check my progress, so I grabbed an image from my very first glamour photo shoot and re-retouched. :D Check it out...

Please forgive the awkward hand. I know better now ;P
Yaiwoo for retouching tricks! Have a fabolicious day!

Monday, October 22, 2012

From the Model's Perspective :: Sylvia's Portrait Session in the Park

"Here I was, excited to meet Chamonix for my photo shoot. I was soooo much looking forward to it, soooo curious what’ll happen, but also a tiny bit nervous.

"Just a couple of weeks ago I had replied to Chamonix’s post, willing to volunteer for one of her glamour photo shoots. Of course I was up for it. A make-over, a photo shoot and plenty of pretty photographs? That’s a no-brainer!

But who would give something like this away for free? Could that be genuine? I checked Chamonix’ website and it took my breath away. She had already taken a host of wonderful photographs, weddings, still lives, glamour women ... why on earth would she need guinea pigs?
Here she was. Cheery, welcoming, friendly and soooo young.

She started by taking my ‘before’ photograph, well, two for good measure. I had made sure that I looked presentable as I didn’t want such a big difference between my ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs. Not sure if my effort will be noticeable, though.

Chamonix continued by getting the make-up out, removing mine, and happily making up my face. ‘Big make-up’ she explained. How did she learn that? She went on a course on how to apply make-up for photo-shoots as this is quite different to your – or my – normal, understated bit of colour on my face. More like stage or film make-up. I only had a pocket mirror on me, and it looked fine.  I found it really relaxing: Sitting there and being pampered as we talked about our lives.
Then the hair. I had no idea what she had in mind, but her super-gadget – a gas-powered – curler did the trick and she a good job. I’ve always wanted curls, now I had them. After about an hour – dear who would have thought it needs so much hard work? Chamonix eventually started shooting.

I was told that she’ll be directing me a lot, which was OK with me, but I had no idea what that would entail. It was a bit like a yoga session and I found myself sitting on a bench, cross-legged and stretched out like reclining on a chaise lounge. Then she showed me how she wanted me to cross my arms and turn my body round. Or to put my hands on my hips and move them down my thighs. Or twist my legs and make a hand stand ... alright, OK, I made the last one up.
I had read articles about professional models and photo shoots and I knew it was hard work, but I had no idea how artistic and bendy the models have to be in order to display their curves elegantly.

What I have now learned and definitely won’t forget was Chamonix’ standard ‘and move your chin forward’. A classic! After a few times she only had to make a gesture with her hands and I knew in which direction to move my chin and how to tilt my head.

It felt quite weird and although I’m convinced you won’t see these turtle-like movements in any of her photographs, I’m still curious to see that for myself. If they are as stunning as the ones she took of the other women, I’ll have an amazing reminder on what I could look like which is brilliant for anybody’s self-confidence – especially when the majority of snaps on ones Facebook page are pretty unprofessional and pretty awful. 
But will these snaps be awful in future? Don’t think so, I have high hopes and it’s easy, I’ll just move my chin forward like a turtle!
Anyway, thanks again, Chamonix for a fun afternoon, I’m so grateful for the session, especially being lucky enough to be your last ‘Scottish’ model, I’m so impressed by your skills, and still find it hard to digest that you are entirely self-taught. I’m sure you’ll have a big, creative career ahead of you. Mario Testino? Move on ... Also, all the best for your imminent move and for kick-starting your American career. You’ll make it. Big. I don’t have a shadow of a doubt.
A big hug"

— Sylvia

Friday, October 19, 2012

Top 10 Tips (from a Bride) :: How to Create a DIY Wedding

Today, I'm handing the mic over to a DIY wedding mastermind! Holly, one of my beautiful brides (check out Holly & Laurie's wedding here), spent months preparing for her wedding on Excel spreadsheets + sewing over 100 meters of purple bunting. She convinced her fiance to craft paper flowers (Laurie's such a good sport) and she saved up a small archive of jam jars! When I walked into their marquee on their wedding day, I was blown away by her creativity, style & sheer ability to pull it all off. So now I invited you to buckle up for this special blog feature...Holly's Top Ten Tips on How to Create a DIY Wedding! Take it away Holls!
1) Firstly (and probably most importantly) make sure you have a small army of friends and family who are willing and kind enough to help out and don't be afraid to ask for help. In his speech Laurie described our friends as the 'games makers' of our wedding and they really were- we couldn't have done it without them! In preparation for the wedding I spent many an afternoon sat on our living room floor with one of my friends making paper flowers - it's amazing what people will do in exchange for tea and cake or a test run of your wedding picnic!

2) Make sure you have a willing fiance! 
Laurie helped me out so much with all the preparation! He put up with me spending hours reading wedding blogs, chugging away at the sewing machine for days on end, spent a whole weekend printing out and tying up invitations and didn't bat an eyelid when I casually said 'I want to base all the tables around wedding anniversaries and make different decorations for each one'
3) Spend some time working out what is really important to you and know what you're willing to let go. However hard you work you wont have time to do everything. I had big plans for a box full of confetti and vintage hankerchiefs at the castle for our ceremony but just didn't get round to it in the days before the wedding and I don't think the wedding was any the lesser for it.

4) Spend time planning, budgeting and sourcing. 
DIY doesn't always mean saving money but it will if you do your research and source things wisely. With a bit of Googling I managed to find binding tape for my bunting for about 15p a metre - it's nearly a pound a metre in John Lewis! I know it doesn't sound like much but with over 100m of the stuff it made a difference. We created quite an elaborate spreadsheet to keep track of planning and budget and I set goals for what I needed to achieve each month. This really helped to keep me focussed and meant that I didn't leave everything to the last month.

5) Jam jars are your best friends 
You can use them for everything from flowers to tea lights to containers for straws and they're free! You'll be amazed how many you can collect in the months running up to your wedding. 

6) If you have time scour ebay, charity shops and car boot/yard sales 
You can pick up lots of pretty things for a fraction of the price they cost in shops.

7) There is so much inspiration out there for DIY weddings 
I became (and still am) slightly obsessed with Pinterest, it is full of beautiful images and ideas. There are also a few blogs I would recommend for inspiration; 'The Natural Wedding Company blog' for ideas and wonderful suppliers (this is where I found Chamonix's competition so it has a very special place in my heart), 'Junkaholique' for gorgeous vintage styling (and their wedding is one of the loveliest I've ever seen!), Green Wedding Shoes, Ruffled and A Beautiful Mess provide a daily dose of crafty goodness. Spend some time gathering inspiration before you start planning so that you know the kind of wedding you want and you have an idea of how it will all tie together.

8) If you see something you like give it a go 
I didn't really follow instructions with my craft projects- I just look at photos of how things were made and tried out ideas. Sometimes projects didn't work out quite as I'd hoped but more often than not they did - so just have the confidence to give it a try.

9) If you're making something yourself make sure you think about how many you'll need and how long they'll take to make. 
I made little lavender bag favours for all the ladies at the wedding and I'll admit now that making one was quite fun but making 50 took AGES!

10) My final piece of advice is to enjoy it. 
You're creating a day that is uniquely yours, a day when all the people you love will be in one place and a day that you'll remember forever. DIY weddings are definitely not an easy option but can make a limited budget go much further and creating something with the help of your friends and family is lots and lots of fun!"

To check out more of Holly & Laurie's wedding, feel free to swing by their wedding photography plus site or check out their blog post here!

Oh and did I mention that they had hand-wrapped cheese in twine with hand-written labels? I mean, really?! I melted like fondu when I saw these (and then took about 500 photos of it!) LOVE! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My First Glamour Portraits :: Jan, The Woman I Want to Photograph

Jan is the woman I want to photograph; the reason I want to be a glamour photographer. Jan arrived on my doorstep for her photo shoot on a cold rainy summer morning in Scotland. She seemed a little nervous and perhaps a wee bit shy. 

"Why did you respond to my advertisement for models?", I asked her. She said she'd wanted to model when she was in her 20's but never did and she figured it was about time she gave it a go. 

"How did she find my advertisement?" Apparently, her teenage son had been searching for jobs on Gumtree and seen it. She told him he should apply but then he noticed I was only asking for women. "Maybe I'll do it then," she said. "Who'd want to photograph you?" was his response. I understand that he's a teenager and thus prone to harsh criticism of his parents but it broke my heart to know that any woman would feel or be told that she was not worthy of having her portrait taken. 

Clearly, Jan's son had simply not yet had the opportunity to realise how stunning his mother is. I made it my mission that day to show him. For the moment I heard her story I've been more convinced than ever that I want to photograph Jan and every woman out there just like her. I want to create a safe space for her, where she can be accepted for who she is, however she is, and together we can find, emphasize & celebrate everything about her that is beautiful.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Welcome to creativeLIVE! :: My First LIVE Week in the Studio!

Everyone keeps asking me to explain what creativeLIVE is. Here's your answer....

I've been watching creativeLIVE for a year now and voila miraculously my dreams of being here have materialised. I wrote down my goals one day and then BOOM - manifestation! Now I work in this cool joint with a bunch of funky artsy funny & freaky people. It's Seattle's finest, me thinks :D

I still can't believe I'm becoming friends with some of these people that have been like celebrities to me  up till now. Every now and then I stop to just stare at them (creepy, I know :P) and try and process that they're real & 3D. It's trippy.
BONUS: I work beside the Space Needle! So cool to finally be working in SEATTLE (like downtown in the city itself) and not just hovering nearby on the East Side (of Lake Washington). 

WEE DOWNER: There isn't a single window is this massive creativeLIVE warehouse (apart from the studio windows that are all fuzzied out). So, I reserve my needle observation time to coming, going & lunch breaks :) I'm still oogling at it's spacy coolness.

PS: The cL building is awesome! Apparently, it used to be a recording studio. Rumor has it Nirvana recorded an album here :) No need for me to exclaim just how cool that is, right?!
I love driving up to this each morning. Makes me feel very cool.... (I'm saying "cool" a lot today apparently.)
THE creativeLIVE studio A :) So surreal to be here in person. It's a bit smaller than I imagined it to be but so much more fun than through a computer screen :)
Behind-the-scenes goodness. These are my favourite parts of it...seeing what the camera doesn't show to online viewers.
I arrived here LIVE just in time for "The Doug Gordon Photography Project." Fun week! That man is a crazy goof and I really like him. The icing on the cake was the wrap party because I got to spend the evening with the cL ladies (+George) & Doug Gordon & Sue Bryce! Yaiwoo! :D Can I just say that Sue Bryce is even more beautiful in person, she's frickin' hilarious, and she has some insane flirting skills that she tried to teach us — we're not as good as she is...yet. :P