Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflecting Back on 2012 + Goals for 2013!

I began the year as a wedding photographer...
Thanks to the frosty Edinburgh winter, my fingers nearly froze to my camera during my first ever engagement session.
Then, I flew home to Seattle to shoot my very first full wedding.
With butterflies in my tummy, I captured a proposal on Swilcan Bridge in St. Andrews!
I shot a wedding at Fettes College — where James Bond went to school! ;)
I partied with Scottish farmers in handsome kilts in the Highlands!
I pulled double-duty & became a photographer/bridesmaid in 2 weddings.
and I experienced tropical sunlight (the real golden good stuff) for the first time in Hawaii!

I want to send a mahooousive HUG and 'thank you' to every couple that invited me to their wedding this year. I have loved becoming your friend, meeting your families and being goofy with you on your wedding day. Thank you for making it possible for me to do what I love and giving me the opportunity to create special artwork for you that will be a part of your family for generations. :)

And then life got glamorous....
Half way through 2012, I was introduced to glamour photography by Sue Bryce via creativeLIVE. 
I was an instant convert & I joined her "worldwide glamour revolution"! 
I learned basic hair & make-up skills, started playing with reflectors, & moved to Seattle to start my studio. 

From June - Dec, I photographed 40 women.
Each of their faces makes me smile because I remember each woman's story & why she came to be photographed by me. And in their own way, they each encouraged me as I stumbled and panicked my way through this early and very fun stage of my glamour adventure. 

Looking Forward to 2013...
1) Create a Flow Posing Guide by Jan 31st
2) Have Photographed 100 Women by Feb 28th — I'm feeling ambitious! 
3) Post at least 1 Video on YouTube per month.
4) Start Synchronizing Marketing Campaigns with Holidays & Seasons
5) Photograph 5 Women from Every Age Decade 
Teens, 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's etc...

I've got such a crazy long list of photography goals but I'm going to keep them secreto for now 
& then unveil them with a big exciting BANG later! ;)

I hope you have a New Years Eve full of fun dancing & singing!
See you in the New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Saving Birds with Glamour Photography

His feathers were tangled in fishing wire & his legs were rubbed raw. I'd spotted the little bird out the window and stopped our photo shoot. Bringing him inside from the pouring rain, my beautiful model Samantha cradled him in her hands and began to set him free. The little bird was so panicked; I kept wishing that he would understand that we weren't going to hurt him. We were the good guys. 

Since that day, I've spoken with a dozen women about being photographed, and at least four of them made passing comments like:

"Only if you can Photoshop 60lbs off of me...."

"You don't want to photograph me, but my daughter is gorgeous. She'd love to do a photo shoot with you."

"I don't know how to do a sexy face. I only know how to smile and be goofy."

Whatever people have said to you; whatever unrealistic standards you feel pressured to reach; whatever fear flutters through you & makes you panic at the idea of being in front of a camera... I understand. I am a woman just like you & I have all of that mess going on inside my head/heart too. 

So I have a new appreciation for the woman I photograph. She stands there staring back at me, wondering if any of the pictures turned out ok. I understand now that she may be the frightened bird in my hands and I want her to understand that I am the good guy — someone who can find her beauty.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Glamour Business Networking :: Connecting with Women

As if in slow motion, I've been sitting behind my computer, waiting for the phone to ring, watching my energy leaking out of my body, oozing onto the floor, and trickling out the studio door. But every time I've followed it out to greet the world, I'm recharged with enthusiasm & business opportunities roll in. Not surprising really, is it? I mean, a business centered around connecting with women kinda depends on me venturing out & connecting with women. 

I've been a social butterfly this week — flitting around between holiday parties, family dinners & a bumpin' End-of-the-World mansion party. Everyday, I've had a chance to practice explaining what I do and why. Watching people react for the first time as I share my wee mission and reminds me all over again why I am so in love with this journey I'm on...this journey of creativity that's empowering women; giving them an opportunity to experience themselves in a new way and learn to love who they are. I love it.

Happy Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Photography Portrait Lighting :: Natural Window Light vs. Indoor Lighting

Apparently this will be the last blog post I ever write because the world is ending tonight! But please keep reading because I'm sure this nifty wee lighting technique will be applicable in the afterlife. ;) 

TURN OFF THE LIGHTS! That's the first thing I do when I'm shooting indoors. Even the most gorgeous natural window light is overpowered by that nasty orange indoor lighting (time & place my friends...the orange light is PERFECT for a cozy evening sipping tea and snuggling). But when you're shooting, the minute you flick the light switch, pow! It's like Cinderella... the hazy pumpkin glow is gone and everything is crisp & everyone's skin is a magically cream fairytale.
For the first 10 minutes of Kaitlyn's bridal prep at Inglewood Country Club, we shot with the indoor lights ON. Suddenly, I realised why I wasn't loving the images on the back of my camera. I raced to the light-switch (asked the Make Up Artist if she'd mind if I turned the lights off — of course not, she says — FIY: in my experience they always say 'yes'. MUA's also like working in natural light), FLICKed the switch and BOOM POW KAZAAA! The quality of the images skyrockets and I become a very happy photographer for the rest of the day. :)
The other benefit to turning off the indoor lights is the gorgeous contrast that results. As you can see in these example images, when the indoor lights are ON (photos on the left) you can see the room behind Kaitlyn. When the lights go OFF, the background disappears into darkness and now my beautiful bride is grabbing all of your attention in front of a clean, crisp, black background! Love it!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nutcracker Inspired Photo Shoot :: Behind the Scenes

There's a mysterious gap between the reality we experience & the final images we create. Inside this gap "the everyday" is sculpted into "art". Rather than attempting to understand this magical process of creation & transformation with words, we seem to appreciate it most through the use of Before & Afters and Behind the Scenes Images... 

Last Sunday, was my first day shooting in my new glamour studio and as part of our celebration I invited along my friend & fellow photographer, Cheryl Ford, to capture behind the scenes moments. To my delight, we managed to synchronise a few "Same Moment Behind the Scenes" shots for you (enjoy below) so you can experience the everyday reality that was in the room side-by-side with the final image I created with my camera/computer.
Same Moment #1: Shooting through the tulle....
Same Moment #2: Tulle Turned into a Veil...
Same Moment #3: Down to the Floor
Check out Bethany's cute fuzzy slippers peeking out from the gown. You'd never know, would ya?! We did the whole shoot with her in these frumpy little slippers so she could keep her toes toasty warm. 
It was our little secret (not anymore lol) — it's kinda like wearing sexy underwear beneath frumpy clothes or flip flops beneath a prom dress; gotta love it.

Anyone else getting a vintage circus vibe from this image? I'm seeing visions of Bethany riding elephants & twirling a batons. :P I think it must be the hair feathers (which FIY were designed by Serephine)
Same Moment #4: Nap Time...Classic Hollywood Style
And then we got sleepy and sprawled on the floor with Christmas lights :D — Such a fabulous way to finish our first day in the glamour studio — snuggling in piles of tulle!
This final image seems to be everyone's favourite so far — What do you think?
Have a gorgeous day!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Nutcracker INSPIRED Glamour

After weeks on Pinterest, braining storming ballerina fashion, sewing 10 yards of tulle into a puffy skirt, and investing in pots of golden glitter, Hanna {my lovely make-up artist} and I were finally bringing our Nutcracker visions to life. We pushed play and Tchaikovsky drifted through the studio; Hanna drew a beautiful wooden nutcracker out of her bag and he sat on the floor nearby as we threw fabric into the air behind Bethany.

I had envisioned our final image as a grainy black & white panorama filled with waves of tulle and golden glitter. Something kinda like this Photoshop-ed rough draft [me thinks we need more glitter next time!]... 

But in the end, I fell in love with colour...

One of my very favourite things about photography is being able to plan out an entire shoot but never really knowing what the final product is going to be until it's suddenly unfolding before me.

I knew it wouldn't work for me if our shoot was Nutcracker "Themed" — for some reason that word made it feel too rigid and I'd have to include scary giant mice and Christmas trees or something. Change "themed" to "inspired" and boom!; I felt liberated to seize any whim that came my way. 

Nutcracker ballerinas led me to grungy black and white panoramas which led me to a porcelain doll with what I suppose is essentially an exploding tulle skirt that turns into a super cool background while she stands there looking gorgeous. The end — I love it! :D 

I hope you have a fantastic day that brings you inspiration that will set you off on a creative adventure!

Hair & Make-Up :: Hanna Mazur
Hairpiece :: Serephine
Photography Assistant :: Cheryl Ford Photography

Friday, December 14, 2012

How to Get More Twitter Followers :: Tips from a Former creativeLIVE Social Media Assistant

For the past 3 months, I was working as a "Social Media Assistant" at creativeLIVE. Sure, I got to meet some totally rad people, eat delicious catered food every day, and experience a taste of life in the "big" city (coming from St. Andrews, Seattle is HUGE lol) but I know what you're really interested in hearing to get more followers in Twitter, right? I mean, seriously... 90 FULL days on Twitter & Facebook has driven me slightly crazy BUT I went from 130 followers to 1,300 followers in 1 month by picking up & applying these strategies....

{Apparently having a black & white profile pic helps cuz it makes you stand out from the masses.
*Special shout out to my buddy Monte, aka the cutie smiling back at you right now ;)
I think Monte needs more followers. Go get him at @jmonteLIVE 

Follow 80-100 People Everyday 
Don't just follow all of Justin Beiber's fans. 
Follow people that you actually have something in common with — then you'll want to share each others' tweets. To find people worth following, search for hashtags & look at people's followers.
I follow creativeLIVE fans, Sue Bryce fans and people who like yoga, John Mayer & fashion illustration.

Unfollow 100-200 People Everyday 
Only unfollow the ones that aren't following you back or providing you with useful info — they're deadweight. Unfollowing is easy if you use a cool website called:

Don't Worry about Your Ratio
It's OK to have less followers than the # of people you follow.
Following new people & raising awareness about yourself is more important than "looking" popular. Besides, this high ratio "problem" sorts itself out naturally when you unfollow people regularly. 

Join the Conversation
Rotate your tweets to spice things up. 
Use the rule of 3rds: Retweet (include your own comment), Reply (get little convos going) & Share (your own content: quotes, photos, links, blogs etc...
Repeat this cycle over and over all day long: Retweet, Reply, Share — Retweet, Reply, Share — etc.....

Don't Go Crazy
FIY — you can be put on Twitter's naughty list if you spam — so don't follow/unfollow massive amounts of people everyday. It looks bad.
Also, don't tweet more than 1 time / hour — MAX. Much better to send 1 tweet every 4-5hrs or so.
I automatically unfollow people that tweet more than 5x/day.

Use #Hashtags!
YOU might not search for #hashtags but #thousands of #people out there are doing it all day long.
Start including #keywords in your #tweets and #people will find you, #retweet you, & #follow you!
1-2 hashtags per tweet — MAX — or else it looks like spam.
Hashtags I use regularly include: #photography #glamour #WfWI #fashion #beauty #portrait #quote #creativeLIVE #Seattle

Right, enough for now. Happy tweeting!
Thank you creativeLIVE for helping my social (media) life!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Letting the Story Be the Hero

My first shoot in my new studio — I was surrounded by fabulous women and struck by silent panic. It was my first time shooting in Seattle's winter light, let alone in a basement studio, and I hadn't photographed a woman in over a month. My reflector boards were too tall to fit beneath the lowered ceiling beside the window. My model was staring at me waiting for direction and my camera settings just didn't feel right. I was trying to capture a beautiful portrait of Natalie but I knew I also had to feature the dress she was wearing for Kim McCormick — the designer who had contributed her clothes to our shoot. I was struggling to do both and then I realised why. 

Every shot needs a hero and I had two that were battling for my attention. I didn't want to focus on one and lose the other so I decided to blend them together into one hero. I created a story... Natalie became a hispanic bride waiting at the court house for her groom. The year was 1889. (Totally random, I know. it was the first thought that flew into my mind). For me, the story became the hero and it made it possible for the woman and the dress to function together as a single unit. That got me through my "photographer's block". Then, once I was sitting behind my computer I was able to separate them again — one shot that was all about the dress and another that was all about Natalie.

Hair & Make Up :: Hanna Mazur
Headpieces :: Serephine
Photography Assistant :: Cheryl Ford Photography

Monday, December 10, 2012

Welcome to the Family Lily!

"There is a dog loving cat at Denny's Pet World. Tabby short hair named Jetta Berlyn."

Okay, first of all....what on earth kind of name is "Jetta Berlyn"?!

Moving on...
Last Thursday, my mom decided there was no time like the present and she enticed me down to the pet store to adopt a cat. I wanted a cat but I didn't expect to get one for another year or so. So, as I left creativeLIVE for the day and zoomed down the freeway there was a pit in my stomach as I realised the high likelihood that I was about to commit myself to being an animal carer. Ahhh...responsibility.

And then there she was sitting in a sad little booth in the pet shop — face pressed to the glass.

"Well....what are you going to do?" Asked my mom.
Geez...No pressure or anything, right?! The weight of the next 20 years of my life (cats live a long time!) felt very heavy and I was slightly horrified that this cat would probably still be with me when I was 40! It made 40, an age that usually seems far away, seem just around the corner!

I turned back to look at this brownish little kitty — our eyes locked and only one thought went through my mind. It was a heartbreaking mental cartoon in which I said "no" and as she watched me walk out of the pet shop she thinks.... "She didn't want me."

Three seconds later I said "yes", signed my name on the dotted line, and carried her out to the car (hopefully she's forgotten that I totally crashed her crate (with her inside) into the pet shop door on the way out. oops :P

On the drive home I knew just what I wanted to name her...Daphne.
A couple days later, I finally had a chance to Skype with Miggy and inform him of our new family member. I was outside a bar in Seattle standing in the pouring rain, straining to hear his reaction over Skype....

His reaction.... I LOVE the cat. I HATE the name.
I don't think I've ever heard him so adamantly oppose anything as he did that name.

Oh panic at the disco... Major drama over a name...both of us growling into the phone defending our opinions on the matter.

Finally I burst out.... "Well what do you suggest we call her, then!?"
"I don't know," he said, "how about...Lily?"
"I'll think about it..."

I hung up and went back into the creativeLIVE wrap party. I shed a couple tears of frustration (weaksauce..I know — I was tired.). I asked my friend Bethany for cat name suggestions. She brainstormed for a minute and then suggested....LILY.

Weird. Then, I remember that I actually have a close family friend called Lily. And guess what? She's pregnant. And guess what... two months ago her dad told me that Lily's considered naming her baby... Daphne! Weird again.

So I send Miggy an email informing him that the universe has apparently named our cat Lily.
Everybody's happy and now Lily is livin the life in my glamour studio. She loves stretching up the wall, dragging ribbons under the couch, climbing under tulle dresses, nibbling on spools of thread and having her tummy rubbed. She sleeps with me and follows me wherever I go. I can't wait for the day when Lily and I get to drive to Sea-Tac Airport together to pick up our Miggy :D

Thanks for taking the time to meet Lily! Have a wonderful day! :D

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Inglewood Country Club Wedding :: Kaitlyn + Michael

Crouching behind the cake table my heart stopped as the father-daughter dance music started skipping. "Oh dear..." Hundreds of people watched on as Kaitlyn and her dad looked nervously over at the DJ. And then suddenly, the room was beaming with smiles and laughter as the music changed and the pair broke into a choreographed dance routine! Michael sat back in his chair at the sweetheart table, watching his new bride and father-in-law flashing their groovy moves and fully living out their family motto — Fun is Good! Having known Kaitlyn for over a decade now it makes me so happy to see her marrying a man who shares her playfulness and love of life. All day long I watched them gravitate to each other with such beautiful smiles on their faces and a shared attitude of calm confidence that they'd found the love of their life. 
Michael had given each of the men in his wedding party a handsome pocket-watch the night before the wedding. :) 
I remember months ago when Kaitlyn first texted me a photo of her dress. My mouth dropped open when I saw all of the delicate lace. It was such a perfect fit for her. I loved seeing her looking so gorgeous and hearing everyone whispering about how beautiful she was all day long. 
The Inglewood Gold Club was such a perfect place for these Tiger Woods fans to celebrate! Ha!
Oh my goodness... I love shooting family portraits. It's pretty much the only place in my life where I get to be the boss and tell everyone look silly...and they actually do it! :P Obviously, I take well behaved portraits too but goofiness is where it's at!
Kaitlyn & Michael's slow-tempo candlelit ceremony in mid-November was like romance wrapped in a big bow for these two — it was so peaceful, full of prayer, and of course, laughter.

Some of the best dancing at a wedding I've ever seen! Of course, I'm slightly biased since I got to dance the night away on the dance floor with my friends :P Oh, and did I mention that I caught the garter? I was standing on a chair when Michael accidentally shot Kaitlyn's garter in the wrong direction and wacked my camera in the face! (He took a mulligan :P)
Here's the awesome father-daughter dance I mentioned before :)
There they go! How cute, right?!
A fireplace full of cathedral candles....ugh! I just died a little from happiness!
And of at sunset made everybody happy. See what I mean about their smiles for one another? It's infectious! I LOVE it!
Thank you so much Michael & Kaitlyn for asking me to photograph your wedding day. It really was an honour being your honorary bridesmaid & photographer. I am so happy when I see you two together and I can't wait to hear about all of your exciting adventures on the East Coast! Love you so much :) 

To view more images from Michael & Kaitlyn's wedding, check out their slideshow here:

Ceremony Venue :: Northshore Baptist Church in Kenmore, Washington
Reception Venue :: Inglewood Golf Club in Kenmore, Washington
Dress :: Casablanca Bridal Purchased at Cinderella's Closet
Bridesmaid's Dresses :: Anne Taylor Loft
Flowers :: Family Friend
Bride's Bouquet & Flower Girl's Basket :: Therese White
Cake :: TM Dessert Works
Cupcakes :: Taylor Frazier (Family Friend)
DJ :: Steven Bolt —The People's DJ