Monday, August 30, 2010

FAQ: The Beginning

I believe that the most frequently asked question I get is, how did you start shooting? It varies depending on the situation, but the point is that people want to know did it all begin. I never really know how to answer this question. Mainly because I don't ever know what they are exactly asking. So I will break it down into possible meanings:
When did you start liking photography? This is the easiest one. My mom says that I have been modeling forever. I would always pose for a picture as a kid. Now, as far as taking the picture... I would say ever since I had a camera.. 8 or 10 years old. I took pictures of anything and everything. My mother would complain because back then you had to develop film... take it to Winn-dixie and wait 7-8 days (because mom would pay for the cheapest option) to get your pictures. I would then take my pictures and cut them up and put them on my walls or on the back of my door. I till this day still have the entire strip that used to hang behind my bedroom door. I was the family member with the camera in her purse at all times. Every occasion was a perfect setting for pictures. Going to the movies? Time to take group pictures. Eating at Denny's? I've got you covered. BEACH? Oh you know I am bringing it. Strike a calendar pose. Work it... School? Finance class to be more specific...? Always. Seriously, I bet it got annoying to my friends to have such a documented life. So, liking photography? I believe I have always loved everything about it.
What did I start taking photos of? My favorite subjects are still are my kids. I am not their mother, not even close, but mentally they are like my children. I'm talking about my brother Samuel and cousins, Jael and Joel. I didn't have a fancy camera but I did have willing subjects (Jael being the most willing ;)><). They would do whatever I asked and I would take advantage of their patience. Sometimes I had to bribe them... (cough cough Samuel cough cough) but generally they cooperated. People started to notice my interest in photography by looking at the pictures I had taken of my family. This is while I was working at a doctor's office, being drowned in paper/phone work. Then when I was ready to get more serious, my first ever shoot was a newborn session. It was for this family- click here. Word started spreading from there on. [Correction for sentence above... my kids are my favorite subjects OTHER than Coco. He was starting to give me the look.]
What was my first camera? The first first one? I am not sure what it was. Film, plastic, $20 probably. (My dad is proud to say that he bought me my first camera) Then as a teenager I had two different kinds of Canon Power Shot Elf's. My husband bought me my first SLR Canon Rebel little after we got married. All the pictures on today's post were taken with either one of the elf's or the rebel.
Did you go to school for photography? No. I went to school and studied finance. Photography was a hobby, a means by which I was able to scrapbook. I enjoyed being on either side of the camera, period. I thought I was going to be a broker or lender, something in that field. How did I learn? By reading and trial & error. I feel that there is just so much more for me to learn. Every shoot teaches me something. I have learned from watching others and from trying to fix my prior mistakes. When it comes on posing or vision... that's all in my little head. I have never studied that side of photography, just the camera and photoshop basics. I love it, so it comes natural to me to have a camera at hand. Everything else just falls into place afterwards.
Are you ever nervous when shooting? I half the time when I go to a session, I am doubting myself completely. I leave the session feeling like I am worthless for charging people for what I do. It's not until I get home and load them on the computer that they come alive to me and I realize that I didn't do half that bad. When I am done editing, I love them. Showing them off is always very nerve racking to me. That's because I feel I am being judged as a person when you are looking at them. I know that the ones I love won't necessarily be the ones that my client's pick as their favorite. I have learned to be OK with that. Ultimately it just matters that you are happy with them and then I will be happy too.
[The picture above is one of my favorites. Not for any of the reasons that qualify a professional picture to win an award, not at all. My cousin Roly took it of Rex & I in our favorite spot back in 2003. This was a normal day for us. You can't even see my face... but I know why. We were both single and splitting grass for fun talking about teenage nonsense. Drama was just something we talked about. We only really worried about what we were wearing to school the next day. I loved our evenings in the park. Then she moved away and broke my heart. But that's a different story. ;)]
Did you ever think about being a photographer? Yes. My best friend, Rex, and I used to have all these plans about how 'once we were older' we would do business together. I still think that one day we will, some kind of version of our childhood plans. In high school I had to work on a senior Capstone project. My project was a photography business. And soon enough after high school I did everything in real life. It was totally unexpected how it all worked out. I actually even thought about the birth sessions in high school... it's a dream come true to be doing what I love now. I pinch myself after every birth session. Love it that much.
Have you ever thought about nature photography? Like landscapes and animals? Yes and no. I am a people person. Even though I do enjoy taking pictures of such things I focus primarily on emotion. I love pets. I love pretty surroundings. I like to place people around those things and then voila! I've got a perfect subject/setting for my kind of session. Only exception would be travel photography. Now that is my dream job.
What do you shoot with now? I have a Canon Mark II. It's my baby. I tuck it to bed every night and sing it lullabies. I'm joking internet. My favorite lens could be the next question... 50mm 1.2 - until the day I trade it for the 1.4. I like zoom but for some reason I am very comfortable with this little buddy.
I will answer more FAQ's soon. If you have any related to what I just talked about, comment below. It's Monday folks!!! Although I usually dread Mondays, today is totally different. This week is going to be busy for me. I leave to Louisiana in just a matter of 2 days... uh-oh... that means packing. I HATE packing. I should start doing that today. If you were thinking about having a session with me while I am visiting let me know SOON. I still have openings. Can't wait to shoot what I have planned over there. As for now, time to work on my fitness - heading to the gym. I should bring my camera... that would be one interesting post! I rather not get knocked out before 12 pm, thank you very much. Scratch that idea.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Birth Session Preview | Alex & Shaleen | Part 3

Baby Grace was ready to meet the world. She almost didn't wait for her grandmother to make it to the hospital. Literally. To know more about this family you can head over to either one of their blogs. Shaleen keeps a personal blog (click here) and Alex has his photography business blog where he posts his latest work (click here). Shaleen was so sweet to mention me in her latest post about Grace's delivery. How sweet! The truth is that I feel very honored to be part of this with you guys and just so so happy to give you something that I know you will treasure for many many years. I know that when I received my wedding pictures I was so excited and loved all the moments that you captured. Moments that I myself didn't get to see. When I look back at all the pictures I relive them and become filled with emotions inside. That's what I wanted to give you. I feel that I succeeded. These pictures of baby Grace make me relive those moments in the hospital room with you. And I want to thank you both so much again for letting me share it with your family.
Alright, I will go on with showing you all the rest of my favorites... Gracie meets her parents and grandparents too (one side). The rest of the family was coming later once they all woke up...
Daddy is in awe with his little girl. This type of bond is one that I am very familiar with. My daddy and I are super close. I already see that forming here... watch out Alex she is gonna be a looker!
I was having trouble picking a favorite with this session. The baby first coming out is usually my top pick, simply because it's the look on the parent's faces that I most enjoy seeing. But this next one has just got something so natural about it that has won me over. I love it. I love everything about it. ESPECIALLY those little feet.
This last one is another one I love. Shaleen - you are such a great mom. I can so tell even by just the way you look at your baby. Your strength during labor amazed me and has given me a totally new perspective on natural childbirth. I am so glad that I am back in Miami so that I can tag along with Alex on more shoots and see both Caleb and baby Grace grow. You guys are great!
Ahhhh and so ends another wonderful birth session story. Oh how I love those. If you live in South Florida and would like to know more about having birth session contact me through phone or email to get full details. I have recently relocated from Louisiana back to Miami and I am currently accepting bookings for all kinds of sessions. For my Louisiana peeps, you know I can't totally abandon you either! I travel periodically and would have an even better reason to visit if I had a mom wanting to do a birth session. We can always work something out. The weekend is here friends and it's time to unwind. I am hoping that the weather cooperates to go the beach maybe. There aren't many days left in summer... let's enjoy. :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Birth Session Preview | Alex & Shaleen | Part 2

I was amazed at how fast everything happened for Shaleen. There was really no time to sit around and wait. Baby Grace was here before you could say "Push! 1,2,3....8,9,10". This is the arrival of baby Grace... enjoy.
Such a cute pink tiny little human. She was born at 6:29 am... which makes her my quickest delivery to date. Even when I have shot scheduled c-sections I have been there longer. Gracie was in a rush to meet the world... especially Mommy & Daddy. And they were oh so happy to see her.
Up next, we will see baby Grace up close and so will the rest of the family. Stay tuned. :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Birth Session Preview | Alex & Shaleen | Part 1

"It's 2:56 am and I am trying to get some shut-eye when all of the sudden my phone starts vibrating. Alex is calling, it's time - he is a cool as a cat & I hear Shaleen in the background, very calm as well. This one is going to be special and I am so excited. Thank goodness that I didn't actually fall asleep early tonight, or take a pill to make me go to sleep. I've had to fight the drugged feeling before and it was AWFUL. It's my first time going to Baptist Health Hospital and at 3:30 am nonetheless, so I don't want to get lost. But there is no traffic and I make it there actually before they do. I'm trying to not feel overwhelmed, so far so good. She just finished triage and guess what? Already 6 centimeters! It's going to be a wonderful night." That my friends, was live blogging from Baptist Hospital as I sat in the waiting room while Alex and Shaleen were in triage. Turns out to be the only live blogging of the night since it was such a quick delivery. Shaleene has had no meds (total rock star). I was almost in shock that she was even in labor because she appeared to be in total control and very collected. Don't get me wrong, she had her pain spurts where she would breathe heavily and shift her weight from side to side. But if that's what labor looks like, it seems to be easy. Shaleen is a pro.
Why do I consider this one special, versus every other that I've always said the same of? Alex & Shaleen were my wedding photographers, Candidly Elegant Photography, and they simply rock. I was quite nervous to shoot another photographer's birth experience, and especially more so it being for someone I knew. They did such an amazing job for us that I could only wish to give them something similar in return. Trust me, the pressure was on. I realized that although I have talked about my wedding on here before, I never have posted any pictures. What a better time to do so? Almost four years ago now... these are some of my favorites. [BTW: Our reception was at the Flamingo Pavilion inside Hialeah Park and Race Course.]
Yes, that's me with blonde hair. Such a drastic change that it's hard to picture myself that way anymore. I am definitely sticking with the natural dark color for now. I've worn my dress a second time (click here to see pictures). James and I had such a perfect day. We loved having Alex & Shaleen around. It seems that now we have gone in a full circle, and it was my turn to photograph them in my favorite thing. They intimidated me though... so not fair. How did I do under pressure? Check back tomorrow to see more of their birth session story. :)