Friday, June 28, 2013

Surfing the Web for the Good Stuff Again :)

When social media becomes part of your job, all the fun gets sucked out of it. So as part of my "Take Back Control of My Life Mission" I've been blocking out time purely for the sake of surfing the web and finding fun, funny, funky stuff. It reminds me of the good ol days when social media was a 'new phrase' and stumbling didn't feel like a waste of time. My new "policy" (I do love my policies) is that when I work, I work. No personal Facebook, endless StumbleUpon or compulsive Pinterest in between emails & editing. No TV shows in the background or multi-tasking. One task at a time. Work gets done faster & all the good stuff is saved for the evenings + weekends. It's so fun to sit down with tea (or cake) and read blogs — not to analyze marketing or brainstorm design, just for fun. Try it out + Enjoy!

Have you played this game on your phone yet? it was my bedtime lullaby throughout the winter & now i only let myself play it when I'm in a waiting room or somewhere equally eventless CandyCrush = so addictive...


You can flip a toaster on its side and grill cheese in it. 

Have a fabuloso day! :)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I Miss You #LillyTheGlamourKitty

My heart is sad to announce to the world that my gorgeous #LillyTheGlamourKitty has gone missing.
We haven't seen her in days and she doesn't leave my side for more than an hour — so I knew instantly that something was wrong. 

We live out in the countryside so chances are the best explanation behind her disappearance is the circle of life in this wild forest full of bears, coyotes & mountain beavers. I feel like my little shadow is missing. She followed me everywhere, waited for me by the door, helped me dig in the garden and stood beside me in the shower (avoiding the waterdrops of course). She never missed a photo shoot and everyone who met her fell in love.

I spent the weekend crying and now my heart just aches. 
I'm really sad that Miggy never got to meet her in person because this little friend became such a special part of my life.
I miss her so much.

Monday, June 24, 2013

So...What's Your Cancer?

"You have cancer," is the dreaded sentence. The sentence that makes you slow down and re-evaluate your priorities. The sentence that reminds you why you want to be alive and what is worth living for. 

I used to have more hobbies & interests than I could keep up with.
Gardening, paper-making, guitar, yoga, dance, crochet, reading fiction, writing fiction, awesome TV shows + movies, cooking, baking, juggling, painting, drawing, board & card games, Spanish language, sewing dresses, ice skating, Women for Women Int., creating interesting varieties of popcorn & homebrewed tea, spiritual exploration, meditation, letter writing, collecting postcards, poetry....

Then I discovered my passion for photography and it took over like the lovechild of blackberry bushes & ivy. I was giving it fertilizer 24/7. After two years, my passion has become a cancer — an uncontrolled cell of my life that divided & spread until it squashed out every other part, consuming all my time, energy and attention. 

In "Crazy Sexy Diet", wellness guru Kris Carr writes,

"So...what's your cancer? Are you overweight, depressed? Do you have heart disease or diabetes? Is your cholesterol too high? How about regret, procrastination, or maybe even a crazy (not-so-sexy) divorce? What the shit pickle happens to be doesn't really matter; it's what you do with it that will transform your life..."

Kris planted this seed in my head and maybe saved my life. The workaholic track I was on was leading me headfirst into malnutrition, physical decay and divorce. Diagnosing this workaholic lifestyle as a "cancer" helped me approach my little "work-life-balance problem" in a new way, take it more seriously, and combat it more strategically.

Three weeks later I feel like a new me. I have green smoothie stuck in my teeth, dirt from the garden all over my knees, the highest score in family Rummy so far this summer, a new hot pink glass water bottle, a handful of letters to drop in the postbox, an AWESOME new recipe for plant-based Alfredo sauce, a newly designed bedroom (that's a soporific sanctuary if I do say so myself), AND I'm REALLY EXCITED to see Miggy in less than 2 weeks (after 10 months apart!) and take a week off work to go on our "Better-Late-Than-Never Honeymoon"!

So I ask you now... do you have a cancer in your life right now? 
What are you doing about it?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Norman Rockwell Inspired Glamour Photo Shoot

I grew up with a GIANT book of Norman Rockwell paintings. A few months ago I was tucked in bed with this ENORMOUS book squishing my legs and I was struck by a bolt of creative lightening. "I'm going to do a photo shoot that blends my photography style with Rockwell's painting style." I had weeks to prepare but like most things I do, I improvised moments before picking up my camera. Here's what I came up with...

  1. Rockwell painted scenes of everyday American life => everyday life in my portrait studio
  2. He often painted a person with some props on a completely blank white background 
  3. His subjects are always in the middle of doing something => my model will act out the stages of a photo shoot
  4. His work was often on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post => my "magazine" with be called "Behind the Scenes WITH Chamonix" and I'll include the credits on the 'cover'
  5. in my GIANT book, these magazine covers are presented together in an awesome collage => i'll make a collage of nine images like the type I love to create for my clients

Hair & Makeup by
the Fantabulous Hanna Mazur 

Special Thanks to My Fab Behind the Scenes Photogs + Assistants: 

Round of Applause for My Sexy Model
Stephanie Molta

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How to Prepare for Your Photo Shoot with Me (Chamonix!)

After a woman books her photo shoot with me, a billion questions come flooding into my email. 

"What should I wear?"
"How long will the shoot last?"
"Can I have directions to your studio?"

So one day when my tired typing fingers were scratching my head, they whispered into my ear... 
"Why don't you make a PDF guide for your clients?" Yaiwoo for moments of genius! 

My "Pre-Shoot Preparation Packet" has 5 segments:

"Tis the Season to Pamper"
I want women to enjoy the whole experience of being photographed, starting days before their shoot and dragging it out as long as possible. I encourage my clients to treat themselves 
before the shoot so they arrive feeling their best & then treat themselves again after the shoot so they can really get the most out of their gorgeous makeover!

Some women bring one blouse. Others bring suitcases bursting at the zippers. 
Clothes, Shoes, Accessories, Jewelry — what girl doesn't need feedback!? I give as much guidance as possible so we can play dress-up successfully!

"Meet the Crew"
I want women to feel super comfortable when they arrive. People feel most comfortable when they are 'in the know' and surrounded by the familiar. So I devote an entire page to introducing my clients to every person, animal and piece of photography equipment that they might encounter at my studio.

"Where on Earth..."
Some of us want more details than Google Maps will give us. 
My clients hit the road with my address and descriptive landmarks.

"You Can Get Excited Now"
I include my contact details EVERYWHERE! 
Again with helping women feel comfortable. I want to make it soo easy for them to find my number or address that there's no chance in the universe they'll arrive with even an ounce of frustration. 

Check it out for yourself! 
Click here to view my Pre-Shoot Preparation Packet

Have a fab day! Treat yourself to something special :D

Monday, June 17, 2013

Make It Happen | Take Action While Enthusiasm is Still Fresh

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with a GENIUS idea but by breakfast that idea suddenly seems kinda dull. Beneath the moon the idea sparkled like it was going to be your big break or change the world. Over pancakes though, it seems like hard work and all the discouraging voices convince you it's not worth it. 

This happens to me ALL the time and I've realized that if I take action RIGHT AWAY. Like start to make it happen right then and there. I'm in my pajamas, retainers on my teeth, nightlight still glowing and I send emails, draft up Word documents, draw brainstorming maps & project outlines. By sunrise the chances of this idea blossoming into reality have skyrocketed! Not all ideas make it, but I bet you anything more of my ideas make it because I  take immediate action. 

You must act while the enthusiasm is still fresh! Enthusiasm will propel you forward and give you the headstart that you need. If you wait, your fears will start to talk you out of it and suddenly that great idea (which really was great) will seem dull, too much work and not worth it. Start to make it happen while that idea is still sparkling! When the tough logistics start to settle in you'll have a strong foundation to sit on while you deal with them.
Has this ever happened to you?
Do you loose enthusiasm for your ideas?
How do you stay excited & make it happen?

Friday, June 14, 2013

How to Retouch Eyes in Adobe Photoshop CS6 Tutorial

Fresh, young, healthy, glossy eyes — that's what we want. 
Glowy, overly saturated eyes that look like a cat on Halloween moonlight — no thank you.
Here's my technique for 99% of the eyes I retouch....

1) Create 'Gray Layer' [Color: Gray] [Mode: Soft Light]
2) Dodge (midtones [30% opacity]) in white of eyeball 
3) Dodge (midtones [30% opacity]) light in iris — only where the light is catching
4) Burn (midtones [25% opacity]) around the dark circle around the iris 
5) Burn (midtones [25% opacity]) over eyelash line

*Brightening the midtones of the eyeball = glossy (NOT glowy)
**Darkening the dark circle around the iris makes the eye look young and healthy
***Darken eyelashes helps the eye 'pop'
****ALWAYS compare your retouching to the original image to make sure you haven't gone overboard! The change should be so subtle you hardly even notice it — you've gone too far if someone else can guess what you've done to the photo. Less is ALWAYS more with retouching.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Happy 90th Birthday Grandma!

You may recognize my grandma from my Instagram feed or from her replies to everything I post on Facebook. Just watch out world if this feisty fireball from 1923 joins Twitter — we're talkin' retweet central!
Back in the day, grandma picked me up almost every day from school with a peanut butter sandwich and a fruit roll up in the front seat for the ride home. When I learned to drive, grandma's house was my first destination to showoff my new wheels and I spent every Tuesday night during high school at her house so we could watch TV, nibble on happy-hour snacks and play Rummy. When I lived in Scotland she was my faithful penpal. Now I'm home again and she delivers hot tea to the side of my computer while I edit photos and when I sell portraits & make money she does a happy dance around the kitchen.
So many wonderful things about my grandma skipped a generation and landed in my lap. I love seeing how similar we are. Most special of all is that her relationship with my Papa reminds me of my relationship with Miggy. Grandma Pat is not only my ride home and my role model, she's one of my best friends and I am SO EXCITED to celebrate her 90th birthday with her today!
My brother (Ian, 20) is coming over this afternoon and the three of us are having a backyard BBQ. I also baked grandma a rich chocolate walnut cake with raspberries that we're going to each tonight :D I might suggest a game or two of Rummy.
For this big birthday celebration, my mom organized a photo shoot earlier this month with grandma and her best friend, Dorris, who is also 90. Grandma & Dorris met when they were my age (approx. 24). I'm so happy to showcase their lifelong friendship in this beautiful picture that both of them now have framed in their homes. 

(Grandma is on the LEFT, Dorris is on the right).

Happy Birthday Grandma! Let's get our party on and start workin' towards 100! ;)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Great Artists Steal | Charmaine Olivia's Roses

"Good Artists Copy. Great Artsits Steal."
This Pablo Picasso quote has been on my mind. I'm branching away from my role models, inspiration & muses and instead I'm searching for something new, something more original...all with the hopes of getting my brain to explode with creativity! Then it hit me. I've been resisting the urge to COPY but I haven't even tried STEALING yet! Genius. So, I took my favorite painting from one of my favorite artists (Charmaine Olivia)and STOLE a piece of it! I cut out the rose in Photoshop and pasted it onto one of my photographs, played (it was so much fun to just play with my art! I haven't done that in soo long) with it for about 4 hours while grandma & I watched The Big Bang Theory and BING BANG BOSH!!! Something new appeared before my eyes....... 
The painting on the left is Rose Study 2 by Charmaine Olivia.
The photograph in the center is a portrait I took of my friend Rhiannon last year.
My 'masterpiece' haha is the image on the right


Watch a screen recording of me editing....

Thank you to the beautiful Charmaine Olivia for painting a rose worthy of stealing! 
Everyone, please go admire her GORGEOUS paintings now.
CLICK HERE to Visit Her [Beautiful] WEBSITE! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Unique & Fun Bachelorette Party Idea :: Glamour Photo Shoots (My First Trial Run)

You're taking your girl out for one more fling on the town before her wedding day.

Option one: dress her up in plastic penises, a cheesy tiara, and a hot pink thank you. 

Option two: do each other's makeup in the bathroom, squeeze into a taxi, party with margaritas and wake up the next morning with blurry photos on your camera....not ideal. 

Option three: surprise the bride with a whole day of dress up and makeovers, champagne, strawberries, chocolate and chocolate and chocolate and a glamour photoshoot. You'll hit the town that evening like supermodels & wake up the next morning with gorgeous photos of a day you'll remember forever!...Now, that's more like it!
But before offering this photo shoot bachelorette party experience extraordinaire to brides across the nation I figured I should probably have a trial run. I mean who knew if I'd be able to handle the hormonal chaos of seven girls prancing around my studio and squealing with the girly joy that only comes with weddings & babies. 

My guinea pigs arrived one morning ready for their close-ups, Starbucks cups shuffling in through the doorway, clothes thrown ALL over the couch. Flashback to junior high slumber parties! As luck would have it, my makeup artist had to cancel last minute so it was just me and my trusty sidekick Miss. Cheryl Ford With full fore we took on hair & makeup AND photos for 7 women from 8am - 5pm. PHEW! Needless to say, I'm a proud mama of these photos....

Thank you so much Cassie for bringing all these ladies together to help me practice and thank ALL of you ladies so much for being patient with us throughout that whole day, so enthusiastic and fun, and  for graciously waiting for your images that took a little longer than usual to create! You're all gorgeous and it was a treat to  spend the day with you. :) xoxo Cham

Friday, June 7, 2013

Watch Out World, We're Taking Over

When the studio doors close & we send all the beautiful women home with pretty pictures, Lilly and I crack our knuckles, brew some tea and dive in heads-first to our plans for world domination. ;)
"“Who are you?" he asked.
I am the future queen of this world, at the very least."


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My First Green Smoothie

Yesterday I visited my old blog, the one I started when I was 18 as a journal that my family & friends could read while I was at university. I was sitting in Starbucks with Cheryl & literally laughing out loud. Not at my hilarious writing but rather at the all the fun memories that I found buried there. It reminded me how much fun I had in Scotland with Miggy & our friends. It made me realize that although I share a lot of personal feelings on this blog, I don't publish enough of my life — just the day-to-day pass-times & fun. I feel like I've been so focused on diving deep into my psyche I've totally neglected the light-hearted simple pleasure of life that I also want to share with you. So from now on, I'm throwing that into the mix too. Let's start with breakfast...

Kris' Go-To Green Smoothie
-1 avocado
-fresh mint
-1 cucumber
-a bit of kale
-coconut water (or purified)
-stevia to taste

Blend ingredients in a high-powered blender. If you can’t get mint, try adding lime – awesome!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Raw Vulnerability + Keepin' it Real :: You Are Not Alone!

I recently posted a blog about my insecurities regarding my weight and my concern whether women would feel more/less comfortable being photographed (for a boudoir/glamour portrait sessions) by someone who has, what our society considers to be, a better/worse body than their own.

I had a little feedback from women out there....

"This day & age when we push equality, a question like this gets posted. What does size have to do with anything? #ridiculous & #pointless." 

At first this comment hurt my feelings because I wasn't trying to be judgmental & sizeist — I was trying to be honest about my feelings. So now I'd just like to clarify where I'm coming from... I'm not saying size SHOULD matter. I'm saying that for most of us it does, regardless of whether we think it should or not.
I am 100% supportive of living in a world where size doesn't matter, where women love their bodies and don't judge & compare so harshly. BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? Until that utopia arrives, we DO live in a world where women step onto a scale everyday, cry in the mirror, starve themselves and listen to the nasty little voices in their head telling them that they are NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

I've never been to an AA meeting but I hear the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. I believe the first step towards self-love is admitting to yourself, openly & honestly, what you don't love about yourself. Then, all your cards on the table and you can do something about it — accepting or changing.

I want to be carefree about my body and bubble over with self-love but I'm not there yet. I'm working really hard to have a more positive perspective of myself and part of that process is sharing my REAL feelings with the world via my blog. Not saying what I maybe SHOULD say but rather what I REALLY feel. Maybe I'm saying what YOU really feel too but you aren't saying it out-loud even to yourself. I want to speak up for all of us — all of us with negative voices in our heads & fear that stops us from exposing this side of ourselves. We all feel the same way. Let's be honest. Embrace RAW vulnerability so we know we aren't alone. That's what I want to offer you. It's not offensive, it's empowering!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

NEW EPISODE from ThePhotoChicks :: Photography Equipment We Adore, Abhor, & Lust For

"What lens is worth saving from a burning building & which should be chucked into the trash? In this episode, Chamonix & Cheryl discuss the photography equipment they love, hate, recommend, travel the world with & never want to see again! This ain’t your typical boring conversation about gear and techniques."

That's right! We're gettin' geeky! Prepare yourself for 35min of hypothetical situations and laughter with thePhotoChicks!

And to get you in the mood.... here's a little behind the scenes action from a styled shoot w/ my friends Rick + Anna Photography — it just screams DIY gear all over it lol We're creative people...that's how we roll.