Monday, April 29, 2013

Photography Tips :: Angles, Angles, Angles — Shoot at Eye Level

If you're looking for a way to instantly make your photos stand out from the crowd, bend your knees, climb on chairs and lie on the ground. Do whatever it takes to get your lens eye-level with your subject. Eye-level is my favourite shooting angle and it has the potential to take your image to the next level of awesomeness. Seriously.  Check this out.

I photographed my friend Alena's cute yellow shoes last weekend. Which image do you prefer? 

Photo A) I'm standing up normally and looking down at her feet.

Photo B) I'm squatting and still looking slightly down.

Photo C) I'm squishing my face against the pavement. 

Ask yourself what your primary subject/focus is. Get eye level to that. When I'm shooting portraits, my focus is the woman's eyes so I'm approx. eye-level with her eyes. Duh, right! When I'm shooting a child, I will spend the whole shoot on my knees so I can be at their eye level. A flower on the ground would make me lie down. You get the idea. 

Go experiment for yourself & have fun! :D And remember, don't let that fear of looking silly  stop you from getting the shot!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Overcoming the Fear & Stress of Making Decisions

"So often in life we have TWO GOOD options to choose between." 
— Adrien Craven

My new friend Adrien Craven and I went out to Zoka Coffee in the U Village this week. The Seattle sunshine poured down on us as we chatted outside on the bench (shockingly beautiful weather) and we met a friendly wee dog named Phoebe. We talked about the, our handsome husbands, and places we'd like to travel to. I mentioned that when it comes to traveling...I'm really not your first pick for a back-packing buddy. I'm much more into settling down and becoming a local for a few months. 

Adrien took my little comment & launched into a beautiful explanation of how we approach life. So often, we are stressed about decisions...afraid we'll choose the wrong option and regret it. BUT if we stop looking it things as "right" and "wrong" choices and start viewing life as a path that we're walking down, each decision becomes a fork in the road — one fork leads to one adventure, the other fork leads to a different adventure. Neither path leads to where the sidewalk ends ;)

So whether you're a backpacker or a lover of being a local, don't get stressed about the forks in the road.... get excited about the adventures that await you regardless of which direction you head. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

30 Days with Chamonix :: Day 13 — Don't Let Fear Slow You Down!

I, Chamonix Thurston-Rattue, am overcoming my fear of publishing videos on YouTube & Vimeo by recording & uploading a new short video everyday for 30 Days! Welcome to Day 13!! (I think we skipped 12 lol)

Sick of being slowed down and having your path to greatness blocked by fear?
Here's how I'm dealing with it....

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

30 Days with Chamonix — Days 8-11

I, Chamonix Thurston-Rattue, am overcoming my fear of publishing videos on YouTube & Vimeo by recording & uploading a new short video everyday for 30 Days! Welcome to Day 8!!

Here I am getting all excited about a shoot in the UW cherry blossoms.
Funny how it didn't really turn out the way I dreamed....

Day 8 — Cherry Blossoms

Day 9 — I forgot.

Day 10 — I got lazy.

Day 11
Apologies & One-on-One Photo Shoot Joy!

Friday, April 19, 2013

The More You PUT OUT, The More you get IN!

Do you have a dream?! A goal? A vision? 
But are you struggling to make it happen? Are you afraid? Is something slowing you down and getting in your way?
I understand. You desperately want to move forward but you just can't seem to figure out how to MAKE IT HAPPEN.

This month, I've been living by a new motto...

The more you put OUT, the more you get IN.

Genius, right?! I've just reversed the age old mantra that's meant to inspire kids to try harder on their homework. Simple BUT it seems like every day this month it's proving truer than the day before.

-I publish a video and BOOM I receive an inquiry from someone who wants me to make a video for them.

-I share a project concept with a new friend and BOOM now they're my partner the project is moving forward again!

-I "put myself out there" and go to networking events and BOOM I've got new clients who are referring new clients!

So here's the golden egg....STAND UP. Shake it out. Stop sitting around and hoping. Stop planning and brainstorming. Put one baby foot in front of the other and then take a GIANT LEAP. Stick your tongue out at fear and start to MAKE STUFF HAPPEN. That simple. Just Make it Happen! Put yourself out on a limb. Put your work out into the world. OUT OUT OUT. and before you know IN comes the clients, IN comes the connections, the money, the referrals, the confidence, the success! 

You have it in you! Let it out!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

30 Days with Chamonix - Day 7

I, Chamonix Thurston-Rattue, am overcoming my fear of publishing videos on YouTube & Vimeo by recording & uploading a new short video everyday for 30 Days! Welcome to Day 5!! (In case you're wondering, Day 6 was not published because the video was tragically lost in a harddrive crash.)

In this episode...a big shout out to my brother Ian who turned out to be not so bad after all ;)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

DOVE Real Beauty Sketches

"Women are their own worst beauty critics. In fact, only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. Dove is committed to building positive self-esteem and inspiring all women and girls to reach their full potential. That's why we decided to conduct a compelling social experiment that proves to women something very important. You are more beautiful than you think."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

30 Days with Chamonix - Day 5

I, Chamonix Thurston-Rattue, am overcoming my fear of publishing videos on YouTube & Vimeo by recording & uploading a new short video everyday for 30 Days! Welcome to Day 5!! (In case you're wondering, Day 4 was not published because the video was tragically lost in a harddrive crash.)

This little episode is ALL about Lilly the Glamour Kitty and her adventurous story to become the mascot of my portrait studio!

Have a beautiful day full of sunshine!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Before & After Editing :: Akari Beauty Shot with "Adobe Photoshop CS6" + "Alien Skin Exposure 4"

Zooming down I-5 and I was struck with inspiration! I want to photograph the pink cherry blossoms! 

"You better make it happen FAST because they'll be gone in a week," said Cheryl - I scheduled the shoot for the next weekend. Hanna Mazur did hair & makeup as we watched the rain slash down against the windows. At the UW, we hopped over puddles of hail. We turned the corner to the quad, I was so excited to see the orchard of pink was brown and drench. No blossoms. As the thunder boomed overhead, the lightening flashed and our team ran for cover in a stairwell. 

"Make it happen people! Remember, we're hardcore!" Cheryl and I took turns shooting our two models for this "spring time" senior girls portraits photo shoot. We shot in the stairwell using the red brick & pink stone walls. I attempted backlighting the girls through sheer pink fabric — final results of that experiment weren't that impressive lol. I left the shoot discouraged, convinced that I had totally flunked and I was embarrassed that I would have to tell the girls that I wasn't able to give them any images (because like I said...I sucked...I got nothing!) Bummer. Another rough day full of lessons learned the hardway. 

But hallelujah, when I sat down in Photoshop I found a way to save the day...all thanks to a little creative retouching and wonderful plugin called "Alien Skin Exposure 4" I recommend it 100% to anyone who loves playing with fun film-like effects and creating images that have a painterly feel to them.

PS: I probably ate about 500g of cheese last night but it was SO GOOD. A delicious combination is: BREAD + BRIE + MUSTARD + HONEY + WALNET. Stack em up and don't worry about the fact it's going to drip everywhere! 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

30 Days with Chamonix :: Day 3

Happy Sunday!

I'm hanging out in the family room with my dad today. While he watches golf, I'm culling video footage from a shoot I did with Cheryl & Hanna yesterday in the pouring rain — of course, today is brilliantly sunny ;)

If you're reading my blog for the first time today...let me get you up to speed:

I, Chamonix Thurston-Rattue, am overcoming my fear of publishing videos on YouTube & Vimeo by recording & uploading a new short video everyday for 30 Days!

Day 3 :: I totally forgot to record my video for the day until I was already lying in bed. So I grabbed a flashlight and made it happen. In this video you'll get to meet my cat, Lily the Glamour Kitty.

**In case you haven't figured it out yet...I'm publishing the videos a couple days after they've been recording. I've given myself a bumper so I have time to edit them together without rushing ;)

Have a great Sunday!!! :D 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

New Episode from thePhotoChicks (KICKOFF Preseason) + Video DAY 2

thePhotoChicks :: Episode 8 :: KICKOFF Preseason with Cindy Yetman
Cheryl & I are starting a new podcast series called "KICKOFF" that's geared towards helping newer photographers who are establishing their business. Each episode of KICKOFF is following the journey of individual photographers; hearing about their progress, goals, concerns, fears etc... Our first "player" in this fun series is Cindy Yetman! I photographed Cindy back in February when I hosted a bachelorette party in my glamour studio. She's a gorgeous woman and I'm so excited to walk beside her on this adventure!

30 Days with Chamonix :: Day 2
It's Day 2 and life is still pretty awkward here in front of the camera...but I have faith it'll get better. Thanks for putting up with me through this. ;)

Friday, April 12, 2013

30 Days with Chamonix...Action! :: Glamour Photographer Takes YouTube By Storm! :: Day 1

So we all know YouTube is genius. Vimeo is da bomb diggity too.
Conclusion, if you're not posting videos you probably aren't making much of a difference in the world lol and more importantly of course ;) your business isn't growing.

I've been wanting to make/share videos for months but of course a stupid little thing called FEAR has been holding me back...chaining me to the doghouse.


I'm still kinda terrified though so I've devised a plan...

I'm going to create & publish a video every day for 30 days, or however long it takes for me to feel comfortable with being on camera & broadcasting my face to the masses populating cyber-land.

What am I going to talk about?

No idea. I predict lots of random ramblings. Perhaps a few "Day In the Life of Chamonix" episodes. 
A bit of behind-the-scenes action and if you're lucky I'll actually cook up something knowledgable and toss some handy tips your way. 

Wish me some fabulous luck because I couldn't possibly be feeling more awkward about this whole project.

Have a beautiful day overcoming your fears!!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Oscar "Thank You" Speech :: Full Credit & Love to My CREATIVE TEAM!

Most people don't like doing things alone. No one to share the memories with. No one to laugh with you as you stand on the stage embarrassed. No one to push you into the spotlight when your knees are trembling. So we make friends and we grow trust and we build teams. Teams of wonderful friends who all have different life experience, an array of talents and a plethura (I hate how this word is overused but whatevs) of visions & ideas. 

My creative team is my rock and I love them! They are my power circle. They're ready for anything when I send midnight emails with ideas for photo shoots at 6am — when I ask them to stay behind the scenes for 4hrs they stay for 8 — when I tell them my crazy photography project ideas, they don't tell me I'm crazy (in fact, they jump on board with bells & whistles, themed outfits & kettle after kettle of hot tea). So thank you Hanna, Cheryl and Mom (oh, and of course Lily my Glamour Kitty). You four bring joy to my life and I love each of you. Not everyone is so lucky as I am to have such an incredible power circle team — I am TRULY GRATEFUL.

Hanna Mazur is my hair & makeup guru. I love working with her so much I schedule my shoots around her schedule! We met in March 2012 when I asked her to join me for a bridal photoshoot in Snoqualmie, WA
Ever since then she's been my #1 go-to-girl for every shoot! Her presence is tranquil, encouraging and soo enthusiastic about our fun ideas — I love it! Everyone who meets her loves her and her talent....well, she has magic in those brushes! 
Cheryl Ford and I found each other on the b-School in Summer 2012 — both of us searching for photography soul mates...or anyone that would reply to our emails. We met for coffee once. Then twice. We talked about creativeLIVE and how we'd both been excited to get emails back from Jasmine Star ;) She second shot a wedding for me in November 2012. Then we just dove in head first — project after project... if one of us had an idea, the other was on board. No need to ask. We'd be there — behind the scenes shooter, second shooter, partner, co-host. Cheryl & Chamonix taking on the world. Have you listened to our podcast?! thePhotoChicks
And then there's mom. Everyone thanks their mom when they get an Oscar. I thought they were just being polite until I realised that moms stay up late researching the best deals on new camera lenses; they wear fat suits so you can practice posing curvy women; they bake cookies for your clients; they let you borrow their car so you can haul giant styrofoam boards home from Home Depot. That's why we thank moms when we win awards...because without them, we wouldn't be winning any awards...we'd be sitting around wondering how to balance 3'x10' styrofoam boards on top of a VW Beetle in pouring rain. Ain't gonna happen. I'm mean really...if nothing else, I've inherited at least 50% of my talent & personality from her, right?!

And we mustn't forget the little one that brings us joy and brightens up the studio. Miss. Lily the Glamour Kitty. She's learning to wear pearls and she sharpens her nails on fancy furniture. She lounges on sparkles, chases satin ribbons and nibbles on tulle. She never misses a photo shoot and she always makes us smile. We love you Lily. You are a beautiful lady with leopard spots and a fur coat. ;)
Get ready world because this team is unstoppable!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Starting My VIDEO Adventure :: Behind the Scenes of Edmonds Engagement Session

I'm a lover of recording data...especially when I can start recording right from the very beginning of a project. After every ice skating session & squash lesson I would race home and write down what I did, what I learned, what I sucked at & what I'll work on next time. Reading back over the notes means I won't forget how far I've come AND I get to watch the things that used to be under my "Sucking At This" category eventually graduate to my "Nailed It" Category = Feels Great! 
Cheryl workin' it on an alleyway staircase that gave me the most awesome aerial views (later on).
So here I am at the beginning of a new adventure. I'm diving into videography for 3 reasons:

1) Because video is freakin' amazing & fun.
2) I can use it to promote my photography business.
3) It can help me capture & tell beautiful stories better than I could with only still photos.

So, here's what I'm packin' on this new journey: 
My first day of video adventure...

I joined my friend Cheryl Ford for an engagement session in Edmonds, Washington. I was the behind-the-scenes girl. I HAD A BLAST taking pretty pictures without the pressure of directing. I probably looked like a spastic race car driver as I ran to and fro across the beach with my funky new Fig Rig. I bet all those spectators thought I looked reeeal profesh!
This is my favourite photo from the day. I just LURV it.
Photo 1: Cheryl & Moi Chillin' on the Curb
Photo 2: Back of the Camera Goodie
Photo 3: In the video editing room! ;)

Friday, April 5, 2013

What Am I Afraid Of? :: I'm Sharing My Fears with the World To Help Me Overcome Them

Me? Afraid? Paaaalease!
99% of the time I feel invincible — I do what I wanna do — full speed ahead!!!!
1% of the time I'm in denial. I make excuses like "It's really not necessary after all to contact the head marketing offices at Victorias Secret. Working with the small local boutiques is the way to go," and "That big genius project idea that I had last night before I fell asleep really isn't that amazing after all. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing."

Sometimes, my reasoning is sound. For me, small boutiques instead of big franchisees could be a very good strategy. But other times it's fear convincing me that I've just changed my mind. Today I was listening to a podcast (Jonathon Foust) about meditation & fear. Jonathan asked us to mediate on something we fear. At first I drew a blank. For a moment I entertained the amusing possibility that I could in fact be...fearless. haha But then I really thought about it and realised I have just as many fears as the next invincible 24 year old... but my fears hide from me...or maybe I hide them from myself?

I LOVE singing but I'm afraid of singing in front of other people.
I LOVE dancing and I LOVE the idea of dancing down the street but I'm afraid of that too.
I'm afraid of going to a CrossFit workout.
I'm afraid of my workaholism ruining my marriage.
I'm afraid of approaching large businesses I want to work with and looking ignorant & underprepared.
I'm afraid I'll never feel confident in a swimsuit and I'll never get to experience feeling carefree at the swimming pool / beach.
I'm afraid of Miggy getting hit by a car when he walks around Edinburgh (and dying).
I'm afraid of Miggy getting into a car crash when he starts driving in Seattle (and dying).
I'm afraid of amputation.
I'm afraid of getting cavities or my teeth breaking/staining.
I'm afraid my business won't be as successful as I hope it will be.
I'm afraid of having children.
I'm afraid of not having children.
I'm afraid that when Miggy grows out his beard he'll love it, and I wont (and he'll be disappointed).
I have a problematically low sex-drive and I'm afraid it will never get better.
I'm afraid of getting old and regretting all the time I didn't spend with Miggy because I was working and updating Facebook & my blog.
I'm afraid of photographing photographers.
I'm afraid people won't like the images I create for them.
I'm still afraid of looking "stupid" in front of boys I find attractive.
I'm afraid of what certain people think of my work, if they think I'm trying too hard or not qualified.
I'm afraid I won't be able to pay my bills next month.
I'm afraid I'll have to get knee replacements in the future.
I'm afraid I'll loose touch with my best friends who live on the other side of the world.
I'm afraid my phone/computer radio waves will make me sick over the course of my lifetime.
I'm afraid of losing my vision or mind.

My heart is beating a little faster just writing these down - probably because Im afraid to share these so publicly  I'm sure I could unbury more fears if I kept searching. I've just realised that maybe the reason I don't FEEL these fears until I really meditate on them is because for most of them I know I can do something about them. I may be afraid but I'm not helpless. Because I'm not helpless, I don't classifies these things as fears but rather as obstacles (that I know I can overcome, if I choose to). For those things that are out of my control, like Miggy being hit by a car, well those are real fears that I think I can only face by acceptance.

What are you afraid of? Which fears can you turn into obstacles to overcome?
Try writing a list for yourself. You might just realise that you're not helpless & you're not alone. :)
PS: I wrote this blog post about a month ago but I've been too afraid to publish it until today. What's different about today? I'm tired of being's exhausting. It's been consuming all my energy, like a flame hungry for oxygen, leaving me fatigued, banging my head against a brick wall, wondering why I'm not moving forward as quickly as I'd like to. I'm sick of it. I'm ready for adventure & creative greatness. I'm whipping out the snuffer and putting out that pathetic little flame of fear (it's like a weak little dictator man trying to take over the universe for goodness sake - scary until you look over your shoulder and see the empowering army that's on YOUR side) so that I can burst into a powerful flame of freedom and joy!  Take that, fear! BOOM, you are not the boss of me.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Beauty Sleep & Efficient 4hr Work Days

I disappeared for 1 week. No emails. No phone calls. No editing. I read 3.5 novels, tried cross-country skiing, sat in the hottub and walked until my knees ached. I finally watched The Hunger Games, found a new BBC show called "Seven Wonders of the Industrial World" (which rocked my socks) and  launched attempt #2 at following the Candida diet (a no sugar, no yeast etc.. diet but makes me feel awesome!). 

My grandma told me I look rested. Miggy told me I have my sparkle back.
I can't wait to wake up, eat spinach & go to the gym! Sounds like a miracle happened!

This was the first "vacation" I've taken since Summer 2010 when Miggy & I worked at a yoga retreat in Portugal. Since then, I've come home for Christmas (but I was studying for exams); I went to Portugal, Seattle & Hawaii (but I was shooting weddings or getting married myself); I've taken one day off here and there or even a rare...get ready for it....weekend!! I thought these breaks counted as rest because I wasn't working at full speed...well it turns out, they don't count for much. Day by day I was working myself to the bone without given myself sufficient time to recover. My youth & enthusiasm blinded me to how unhealthy I was being.

Then finally, last month...BOOM! I crashed. I tried all sorts of little tricks to boost my energy. Nothing worked. So I went to Whistler with my mom for 1 full week of unplugged bliss. I didn't even want to see a computer.

When I sat down at my desk yesterday morning, ready to get back to work, I made a to-do list and instantly, like evil evil magic, I felt this sick feeling burst into my chest and I felt stressed & rushed. 

So I scratched out the to-do list and decided I'm going to simplify. Instead of working full 8hr days, I'm going to try out half days — 4hrs of MORE EFFICIENT work per day. If I can complete the same amount of work in less time, I'll have 4 extra hours of play & rest time each day! That sounds amazing. I'll keep you updated on how it pans out!!

Oh and GREAT NEWS UPDATE: Miggy got a letter from the Visa Center today saying we've completed the application paperwork and he can now proceed to his medical & interview! Woohoo!!!!!! I'm so excited we're making progress & I hope he'll be here by June/July to enjoy the Seattle summer with me :D

Treat yourself to something fun today! It's the first day of pretty April, afterall!!!

PS: April Fools Day is my least favourite holiday. I'm nervous all day long, worried about seeing gullible written on the ceiling. I do enjoy fooling other people though, but I'm a "switch the salt & sugar" kinda trickster. Play nice, people. ;)