Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dancing Around the House at Midnight

For the next three weeks it's just me, a farm full of animals, a very loud radio with Coffee House Music, a kitchen full of green smoothies, no consequences for leaving my clothes on the dining room table or hanging bath towels on railings & freedom to dance around the house naked at midnight.

My brother (Ian) is at university. My parents are on holiday in Europe. My husband (Miggy) is STILL in Scotland waiting for his green-card (finges crossed he'll be here in July). But grandma literally lives through the woods and over the bridge so we'll hang out a lot this month.

Miggy is headed down to London today for his interview with the embassy. I'm so curious to hear questions they ask him. I can hardly believe we're been apart for almost 9 months! Crazy. We've both adjusted to living life on our own and I can't wait to see if it feels funny when he gets here and I can hold someone else's hand in public or hug him at a party. I've gotten so used to walking around in my own little bubble that nobody breaks - keep your hands to yourself and all that jazz. Anyway, I'm so excited for him to arrive to a sunny summer day in Seattle and join me in this new chapter of our lives. Plus, I'm just fascinated to see what he ends up doing with him time — he graduated from St. Andrews last year with a degree in Philosophy & Theological Studies. What's he going to get up to? No intrigued.

30 Days with Chamonix - Day 15 :: Rambling on about my studio reflectors. :P

As you know, I'm a total flunky when it comes to my "30 Days with Chamonix" video project. The goal was a video everyday. It's turned into a video every other week. lol Thanks for putting up with me. I'm thinking I'm just going to keep video diares forever and ever, embrace the fact that I have lost track of the days but keep calling it "30 Days with Chamonix" (as an inside joke with myself). ha! Enjoy lol!

Friday, May 24, 2013

To Lose Weight or Not To Lose Weight :: My Quest to Keep Everyone Else Comfortable

I'm not the skinny girl and I'm not the fat girl. I'm that girl in the middle who could lose weight if she wanted to, and I'd probably look really good if I did. So technically that makes me a little overweight. I've wanted to lose weight for many years but I never had a reason to NOT lose weight before. I never saw the benefit to staying just as I am. No, I'm not referring to surviving through a famine or having build-in collision pads. I'm worried that if I became a 'skinny' girl then the women I photograph who are overweight would be shy around me. 

Do you know what I mean? I can only speak for myself, but I know I'd feel more comfortable in a bikini if I was surrounded by overweight women. If I were surrounded by skinny girls, good luck getting my clothes off. Just being honest here. I want to feel normal or better ... not worse than everyone else. I bet most people feel this way too. And yes, I realise that this is assuming that being overweight is "worse" = not exactly the most positive attitude.

Anyway, I would love to be leaner for myself but I would never want someone to feel uncomfortable or self-conscious around me in my photography studio. If I'm slightly chubby then overweight women might feel at ease in a non-judgmental environment where we are all just 'real' women. Oh, I don't know. I'm probably just over thinking things but I wanted to share my feelings anyway because I thought maybe someone might have something to say back. Thoughts?

Thank you to Hanna Mazur for hair & makeup. :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Chamonix's Love Letter — May 2013

"As summer approaches, I'm gearing up the portrait studio, getting it prepped for an explosion of success and in doing so, I've really come to appreciate how it's ALL ABOUT THE ATTITUDE! This month I've watched friends doubt themselves, worry over the future, get paralyzed by tough decisions and generally just wonder if they've got what it takes. I know it's easier said than done, but you're never going to be able to accomplish what you want to accomplish unless you stand up and act like you have the confidence you need. Fake it till you make it, girlfriend!" 

To READ MORE Sign Up Below to Get Your Monthly Love Letter from Chamonix


— Snippet from Chamonix's Diary
— HOW TO: Why You Should Create Video Messages for Clients
— 5 Star Recommendation for a Diet Book That Will Change Your Life with it's Sassy Attitude
— My Favourite Image of the Month

SIGN UP NOW to Get Your Monthly Love Letter from ME!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

101 Years of Beauty — Lexie 1 yr

We were celebrating firsts this weekend. 
Lexie's first year of life and being beautiful.
My first time photographing someone who couldn't wait to get out of my studio!

She screamed her way through our photo shoot (we found out later that she had a fever ..poor thing). She wanted mommy to hold her the WHOLE time and she was content as long as she had a lollipop in one hand and a piece of bread in the other. One minute she wanted to wear a hat...the next minute she threw the hat to the floor. One minute she wanted to wear pretty shoes; the next minute shoes were abandoned all together. But of course, like any woman, she was temporarily mesmerized by the jewelry department. ;) 

Not my typical behind-the-scenes images. haha!

Last week I published portraits of Four Generations and the great-grandma was 101. 
It dawned on me this morning that Marie is 100 years older than little Lexi! How incredible is that?! 
Just look at these beautiful women...a whole century between them.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Rick + Anna Photography :: 2013 Promo

So there's this new thing called VIDEO and apparently it's changing the world...and my life AND my business. I love it. Cheryl Ford & I decided to dive into video at the beginning of April. Kinda scary because we thought YouTube had such high-standards (which newsflash.... it doesn't — have you seen the crap people are willing to watch?!). For quality control we gave ourselves a rigorous video training schedule and nearly two months later we've both been hired to make videos for people - insane! I'm no Spielberg but apparently I'm not completely terrible, which is a relief. ha!

I met Anna (of R+A Photography) at a ReStart networking event in West Seattle. One month later (literally to the date) we were in a lush green field in Snohomish, WA filming a promo video for their business. Their promo is a love story; a voiceover poem sharing their beautiful relationship with the world; a day in the beautiful life of R+A Photography. The sweet connection that Rick and Anna share is so genuine and I hope it comes across in their video. I just love how when we were in our consultation meeting, brainstorming plotlines and music options, Rick would rest his hand on Anna's knee as she spoke, listening with such care. There is a softness between them that I think appears quite naturally in the photographs they take. Being around them reminds me of how special a relationship can be when you care for it. Rick + Anna inspire me to treat my husband with greater love, understanding and respect. It truly was a delight creating this mini film for them and I'm honoured that they trusted me with this task (still in disbelief that this all actually happened lol).

So without further delay, I give you the great and miraculous 2013 Promo Video for R+A Photography!!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

My Studio Got a Boutique Makeover :: 360 Panorama

When I was a little girl I would rearrange my bedroom at least once a month.
Nothing's changed. 

I love spicing up the scenery around me — makes everything more interesting and fresh. So as my little photography studio grows from a "photographing friends of friends" kinda business to a "welcoming in truck-loads of strangers" kinda business, I've been making an effort to step up the glam a notch.

I'd been starting to feel like the studio was really a wannabe studio — always in transition; stuff hovering around waiting for "a place"; not yet official.

But the time has come for it to blossom into the boutique it is destined to be. 
Moving all the heavy furniture across the cement floor sounded like a cat being skinned but it was worth it. I'm feeling very inspired, comfortable in the spaciousness, and organized. Good feeling, don't you agree? It's still a work in progress but I'm getting warmer!
PS: This panorama makes the room look ENORMOUS! It totally isn't this big in real life - promise. It's really cozy.

Beauty & Love :: Congratulations Amanda + Larry!

Amanda & I sat together in high school Philosophy. All that deep thinking somehow bound us together for life. 

They say terrifying and exciting experiences also bond people together, so we sealed the deal when we jumped off rocky cliffs into the Mediterranean sea together. Then she helped me drag four wheely garbage bins across St. Andrews, Scotland (packed full with all my belongings) from the storage unit to my new house. We died our hair 'Cherry Red' in my bathtub and she was the first person to know that Miggy and I were getting married. 

So you can imagine my utter excitement when I found out last weekend that Amanda and her beau, Larry, got engaged!! To celebrate her new adventures I'm sharing her portrait with the world. Amanda is so important to me and I've always known she was beautiful, but like usual, my camera has made it possible for me to see EVEN MORE beauty in this special woman whom I can call, without question, friend.

Congratulations Amanda & Larry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love you.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Di Vinci, Obama, Schwarzenegger....Thurston-Rattue — One Name Wonders!

Di Vinci, Obama, Schwarzenegger....Thurston-Rattue.
No, it just doesn't sound right to me. haha 

This afternoon I was reading an article on PetaPixel about my "101 Years of Beauty" project and the author referred to the photographer (me) as "Thurston-Rattue". I did a little double take — it sounded so formal and made me feel all famous – like a great painter who everyone knows by one name lol But I'm the friendly neighbor girl who invites you over for tea and gets really excited to swap books with you. I run around barefoot (sometimes in public) and I walk around the supermarket in my pajamas and Birkenstocks (or on a fancy day I'm wearing yoga pants & zebra patterned pumps). You can call me Chamonix. Most people end up calling me "Cham."  Nope, I don't think I will ever get used to being referred to by my last name, like a fancy artist or politician. It just sounds so funny. 

But if you must call me by my last name only then please at least make sure you're doing it in a sweet article that's being published and promoting my photography because then I'll feel really cool and I'll get REALLY EXCITED! 

Thank you to PetaPixel for sharing the "101 Years of Beauty" Project with the world today and for making me feel like a one-name wonder!

Oh, and they tweeted it out too! So exciting to have my work shared with the masses ;) Woohoo!

Have a gorgeous day my friends :D I dare you to meet someone new today and introduce yourself with JUST your last name haha Let me know how it goes ;P

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How I Got Involved with Women for Women International + My New Sponsor Sister!

I was 19.
It was summer.
I was sitting on the floor with my back to the couch - my laptop on my lap.... Google was waiting for me to type. (cursor blinking...cursor blinking....cursor blinking....)

I had decided it was time for me to take action — to make my contribution towards world peace. 
I wanted to help a charity. 
I wanted to commit myself to a cause.
But which one? There were thousands!

Whatever it was....I had to be really passionate about it or I would lose motivation. 
Just giving money wouldn't be enough — I wanted to get my hands dirty and feel compelled to shout from the rooftops.

I thought and thought and though... tick tock tick tock tick tock.... 
I could only be passionate about something that I could intimately relate to.
I can only relate to something that I am. What am I? 
Lots of things but the first word that came to mind was....
I am a woman. I wanted to help other women. 
I loved the idea of sisterhood, feminine strength & beauty, and women helping other women. I wrote essay after essay about all things related to femininity during university — now it all seemed so obvious.

So that's what I Googled.... "WOMEN helping WOMEN"
No surprise when the #1 search result was....

Five years later I've sponsored multiple women in the DRC, Bosnia, Kosovo & Nigeria. I started a Women for Women club at university and as a result multiple women were inspired to start sponsoring too! Last year, I even figured out a way I use my photography to help (more on that exciting adventure coming soon!) 

So today, as I sit at the dining room table — beautiful Washington rain pouring down onto the deck outside, I'm so excited to start learning about my brand new sponsor sister! The introduction email arrived today! Her name is Cordelia and she lives in Nigeria. This afternoon I think I'll make a cup of tea and write her a letter :) 

(Ouuu... thunder just rumbled across the valley :))

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"101 Years of Beauty" Project :: Featured on SLRLounge!

Yesterday, in honour of Mother's Day, SLRLounge published an article about my "101 Years of Beauty" Project! So excited to have people talking about it! Thanks to Hanna Mazur for her beautiful hair & make-up and to Marisa, Barbara, Carolin & Marie for spending the day with me in my studio celebrating how beautiful they are! We had so much together and I'm SOO happy that now they all have a beautiful portrait hanging in their house!

In case you haven't seen the Four Generations Video yet, check out right now...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tips for Creating a Sameday Slideshow at a Wedding

The wedding guests have all sat down to dinner and you've got 30 minutes to make a same-day wedding slideshow. You've taken 3000 images already and you're only going to show 30 in this sneak peak. Don't stress! These handy tips will help you survive with flying colours!

Here's the basic strategy....
Run away from the busy wedding. Plug in your card reader. Open up your pre-made "Sameday Slideshow Folder." You're going to zoom through your images and drag over your 25 quick-picks! Then those images will be imported to Lightroom. Run your fav. preset on the images OR stay safe and turn them all black and white! Run back to wedding, plop your slideshow in the corner and prepare yourself for lots of praise & joyful faces :D

Let's break it down....
1) Find a quiet corner or room. Calm the nerves and focus. Don't worry about rushing back or missing a moment. Rushing will only slow you down by making your hands shaky and your decision sloppy. I was so panicked at my first wedding while making the slideshow — I think I actually had a panic attack — like a real legit one. Oh, and do this during dinner — when everyone is stuffing their faces a.k.a not wanting their photos taking.

2) PREpare As Much As Possible
Make your life easy. Have a pre-made slideshow folder on your computer. Have your slideshow Lightroom Catalogue made & the slideshow settings chosen. Also have your logo slide uploaded beforehand. All you have to do at the wedding is import your chosen images and you're good to go!

3) When picking images quickly, DON'T OBSESS! 
Open up your images in a folder and make the image icons BIG so you can see the photos without having to open the files. Scroll through and when you see an image you like, preview it big — if it looks good, take it and move on! Don't worry about culling THE BEST image from a series of 5 similar images. This will save you so much time! Culling perfectionism didn't receive an invite to this wedding!

4) WHICH PICTURES TO SHOW....Emotion, Emotion, Emotion + Groups!! 
We are all in LURV with detail pictures BUT nobody is going to melt over that gorgeous picture of the shoes. (sadly). You want to tug at their heart strings and make them say "This photographer is AMAZING. HOW DID THEY CATCH THAT MOMENT!!" So throw in a couple pretty detail shots BUT overload the show with tears, tight embraces, kisses and cute glances. ALSO, pick images of moments that the guests witnessed in person because it will bring back their memories and make them feel involved. A couple images from before the wedding or from the first look are also fun because it's a part of the day they didn't get to see and now you're sharing it with them. FINALLY....include as many people as possible. We're all vain, let's face it. More people in the photos = more people watching the show = more people talking about the show. AND MAKE SURE IF YOU SHOW ONE SET OF PARENTS THAT YOU ALSO SHOW THE OTHER SET! I've made that mistake before :/ 

5) Show your images on your laptop. 
This will cause a little hub of excitement in the corner that people will find and pull other guests over to see. If you project it big on the wall then everyone will sit it easily and the buzz of a secret surprise will be lost. You want to make people talk!!

6) Have cards beside your computer that people can pick up.
Your business card can look tacky (like you're advertising at their wedding). So don't do that. Instead, have a card that says...

"Want to see more images from Sarah & Mike's wedding? 
Visit their wedding photography website
Thanks so much!
Enjoy the party :)

This way you get to advertise but it's tasteful and helpful. People probably won't pick up your business card (unless you wooed them with your charming personality) but they WILL pick up this card because you're really offering something they want...PICTURES! 

I design my slideshow cards in PhotoShop using a photo from their engagement shoot. I print them as 4x6 floppy prints from a pharmacy. I print off enough for about 40% of the guests. 100 guests = 40 prints. 

7) Not everyone will see the slideshow...
THAT's OK. Deal with it. Accept it. Make sure the bride & groom + their familes + wedding party see it. Everyone else is bonus. Your MAIN goal here is to make sure that your clients and their closest loved ones know what an amazing job you did so they'll talk about you the next day and rave about this awesome slideshow and feel good about the money they spend on you!

So good luck my friend! Have fun showing off your gorgeous pictures at your next wedding. You're going to blow off their socks!

Friday, May 10, 2013

101 Years of Beauty — Four Generations (29, 57, 79, 101)

I had just launched my "100 Years of Beauty Project" when my friend Cheryl Ford asked me... "What are you going to do if you find a woman who is 101?" Well, then I would change the project to "101 Years of Beauty" (duh!) Little did I know what was waiting for me less than 24hrs around the corner. 
The next day, Cheryl & I were in Seattle at a ChickChat networking. We moseyed over to the staircase and listened to the speeches from behind the crowd. As the applause faded away we bumped into a couple women and a little small talk dug up a golden sentence....

"My great-grandmother is 101."

SERIOUSLY! Are you kidding me? When Marisa told me that she was the 4th of FOUR living generations we practically booked her photo shoot on the spot! One month later, all four women (Marisa, Barbara, Carolin, & Marie) were sitting in my studio enjoying make-overs, nibbling on chocolate shortbread, and telling stories. 
There is a soft spot in my heart for each of these beautiful women and I am so excited to finally share their portraits with the world. You will see them all together in my "101 Years of Beauty" Project representing ages: 29, 57, 79 and 101.

After the shoot, we all sat together - the video camera rolling - and they reflected on their lives & ages. I was so excited to surprise them with this video when they came to pick up their prints and as I watched the happy tears flowing I couldn't have felt more grateful for that spontaneous decision I'd made to attend that networking event and for that impulse I'd had to waddle over to the women sitting on the staircase.

Huge THANK YOU to Hanna Mazur for Hair & Make-up!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bring Your Ideas to Life - MAKE IT HAPPEN!!

When I was working at creativeLIVE, I learned one very important lesson:

Successful people are do-ers. They make stuff happen.

One day we would be sitting around the lunch table and someone would casually toss out a clever idea that had just landed in their brain. We would all joke about it and stir it up into a bigger and bigger idea. I went home and forgot about it. The next morning, I'd be making myself a cup of Jasmine Green tea and there they all were, sitting around the table on a conference call planning logistics to make that funny little idea a reality. One month later, it was hard to believe that whatever BIG production we were currently pulling off had been no more than a whim over lunch.

Then I went to a networking event. I sat there listening to these new photographers, desperate for success but unsure of how to move forward. They brainstormed plans, changed their minds, tried to improve their plans again again again. They all went home and they're still planning. They're still waiting for good things to happen to them. They're frustrated that they aren't as successful as they want to be.

"Make it happen." is the attitude of successful people. They don't let good ideas die before they've had a chance to take flight. They don't sit around and "plan" for weeks until everything is in place. They start doing it, right then and there. So change your attitude. Yes, you'll have to take risks. Put yourself out there on that uncomfortable little branch and reach for the sweetest berry! Adopt a "MAKE IT HAPPEN" mentality and watch what happens!
Thank you to 
Hair & Make-Up: Hanna Mazur
My Faithful Assistant: Cheryl Ford Photography

Monday, May 6, 2013

"101 Years of Beauty" PROJECT

Over this past year, my first year as a woman's portrait photographer, I have come to REALLY appreciate an important fact of life...

There is beauty in every woman. 

My camera and lens seem to be my rose-tinted glasses. I lift them to a woman's face and just like that her beauty becomes so apparent and I never forget it after that. And it's not just the fresh young faces that amaze me. I've also learned that

There is something uniquely beautiful about every stage of a woman's life.

When you're six, it's the goofy smiles that are so big your cheeks hurt; at sixteen it's skin that glistens so smoothly in the light; and at sixty, it's a seductive sophistication that's hinted at by silver strands of hair. Each age offers something special we can look forward to with anticipation, enjoy fully, and remember fondly.

So, a few months ago, I launched a project... "101 Years of Beauty"

Over the next year, I'm photographing women ages 0-101 and I'll be publishing the images together in a beautiful book. I've also been collecting video footage to help bring the project to life. Thanks to some handy paint swatches I  'borrowed' from the hardware store, I'm keeping track of all the women I'm photographing and how many ages I have yet to check off. 
The best part, is that each colour has a name and somehow they all seem to fit perfectly (with a good sense of humour). For example...
4yrs =  "tutu"
6 = "eraser pink"
59 = "hopeful"
90 = "egg yolk"
101 = "spoiled rotten"

The project is well under way and I invite you to follow along as I begin to share the images on the BLOG and celebrate the beautiful women that I meet. I hope this project encourages you to see the beauty in yourself and those around you. 

Have a BE-YOU-TIFUL day ;)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

30 Days with Chamonix :: Day 14

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 14 :: We're in the car on the way to my mom's birthday party! Woohoo!

Friday, May 3, 2013

How to Arrange a Series of Dancing Portraits

Dancing is the perfect way to create a series of images that flow together and can be presented as one unit of artwork. Sometimes, I hold down the shutter and shoot like crazy...fingers crossed that I'll catch something worth keeping. Somedays, I get really picky and aim for a particular movement/shot. Either way, the images can be put together like a short stop-motion film OR they can be arranged in a way that makes them "suggest" movement. 

You can arrange the images randomly BUT it's really fun and much more powerful to intentionally present them in a chronological order. It works like a flip your eyes zoom across the images, you can almost see the motion.

Read the images Left to Right, Top to Bottom. It looks like she starts standing still, reaches down to grab the fabric, pulls it back, turns and then throws it back across her body and she finishes with a curtsy ;) Fun, right! 

To help these images come to life, I created a wee stop-motion film for you! Check it out ;)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

101 Poses in 1 Hour

How many poses can you do in 1HR? 
Try this fun little challenge to push your creativity to new levels of greatness & find out if you've got the skillz ;) ha! Nerve-racking, fun, and totally worth it. Up next... 101 STANDING poses in 1hr.... 101 SITTING poses in 1hr...101 RECLINING POSES in 1HR etc.... Bring it on!

Videographer :: Cheryl Ford Photography
Hair & Make-Up :: Hanna Mazur
Model :: Shannon a.k.a. Faith
Music :: Who's on My Rocket by Miss Amani