The Secret Garden

Wow, it’s been forever since I’ve written in this wonderful little blog that I have. It’s not that I haven’t had much to say, because I have. It’s the fact that I literally have been so busy I’ve had to find time to have a solid shoot.

In a perfect world, I’d be shooting every single day, editing every single day, and writing about what I’ve learned. I’ve started a new job, which I am so so SO thankful for. Going to work is something I look forward to these days, and although I am not utilizing my photographic abilities on a daily basis….my work is fulfilling to myself and to others as well (I hope).

Anyways, I was given the opportunity to visit with one of my fellow photog friends, Leda the other night at a pre- Fourth of July party. We got to talking about where we were in life and what we had been doing photographically. She informed me that she was housesitting at a spot that had amazing light, and was surrounded by a garden of sorts. Leda expressed that she would even model for me as this was something she had done before but not very often. We made plans for the weekend and we continued our celebratory evening.

I didn’t think much of the shoot because I was simply thankful for the opportunity to work with another photographer I hadn’t previously shot with, and was excited for shoot day.

It was sweltering, soon to be evening time and I was running late. I packed my things in the car and drove over; and…WOW.

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I wish I could put into words how lovely this place was but I cannot, so I will show you some pictures instead.

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Everywhere was natural light peeking through the archways of the patio and the trellis’. Suddenly, the heat of the day was forgotten and I got to work. Leda warmly greeted me into the space and let me set up the one light I had brought with me. We spoke about school and photography life pre and post education, about other photographers’ work we have seen and who we had found inspiring as of late.

Saint Augustine, Florida
Leda, Summer 2016

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When I wrapped up and I took in my last few moments in the beauty of this space within the flowers, the brickwork and the bees; we went inside to cool off with some water. We continued talking about our thoughts on photography (Leda is quite an accomplished Camera Obscura maker) and the rest of our summer plans. I hope to photograph with her again.

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I had such a wonderful comfort return to my life that I want to share while looking at these pictures. When I am let into a space that I am about to photograph, I am treated like the guest of honor at a great event that has been scheduled just for me. It’s like the stars align and anything and everything is possible. Hopefully, my enjoyment/luck/appreciation for these moments can be seen through these photographs. With the way the world has been lately; full of hate, violence and pain…as an artist I want to show others that there are still some good, beautiful places and people in this world.

Till next time and best always, Readers.

The Secret Garden

The Preservation of History

Happy New Year! 

Oh wait; it’s February, almost March….

I figured by this time I would have some new work to share with you all, but I have been distracted yet again. In a good way I promise! Here’s how my latest adventure started.

My parents have talked and talked for years about how they would like to find a way to archive some of the family photographs that they have accrued during their lifetime together. I never thought anything of it since I was more of the creating type not the preserving type. My train of thought is that for some reason I wasn’t capable of having the patience to sit and work on a batch of old pictures for a long period of time.

I think the most motivated I’ve been to finish an image was probably for my Nana when she passed. We always spoke about her time in the Coast Guard and how great of a time she had while she was enlisted. This woman has had an impact on me as an artist, and a strong woman. When she died, it was a given that one of her service photographs would be used. Unfortunately, they had a little wear and tear on them.

Saint Augustine, Florida
Anita M. Seiler

I never imagined that such an image was going to propel me into the world of restoring images.

My dad began to send me more images through the email. Soon, I was asking to have him scan more images and email them as soon as he had! There were images from the 1800s, Images of family members that I had never even known; images of my Father’s first immigrated relatives from Austria.

Saint Augustine, Florida
(?) Luckenbill and Helen M Seiler c. 1885

My feelings about retouching old imagery started to change. I was on fire to pay homage to my family’s history. Using my technical skills in Photoshop were helping me contribute to others in a way that had never felt so right.

Dorthea Lange was quoted once saying that:

“Photography takes and instant out of time, altering life by holding it still”.

I would have to add a follow up to Lange’s thought by saying that Photography also allows future and past generations to extend that memory with others that weren’t present at time of inception.

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Myrna and Calvin Hagen 

Pretty soon, I started on the Hagen side of images (my mother’s side of the family). This picture above is my grandparent’s wedding photograph with their siblings who eventually got married to each other as well. My grandparents were married for over 60 years.

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Hagen Children c. 1930 (Calvin Hagen, far right)

 

In closing, I have to give acknowledgement to these unknown photographers that created these original images. From one photographer to another, I thank them for capturing my family’s history.  There are more images to view on my flickr site.

The Preservation of History

Shells, Scales and a Little Girl’s Piggy Tails…

Work during this time of year is grueling and tiresome. Unfortunately, my passions fall to the wayside and my projects pile up until I am not-so-busy. That being said, I will always make time to photograph, and edit/write when I can.

Before I discuss this set of images, I am going to introduce you to someone that is a very important part of my life.  This little bursting ball of energy that is my boyfriend’s niece, Marley.

Marley is the brightest and most beautiful young person I have ever met.  She is extra important because I have seen her grow before my eyes the past 3 years. Watching her really drives home the feeling of how wonderful being a child can be. To watch her learn new things and tell me about her experiences (the majority of them exciting), helps me remember how precious my memories of being a child were.

A year or so ago, I brought my toy camera (bought at a thrift store for $1.00) to a family function. I remember the day Marley bopped up to me with her Hello Kitty flashing shoes and turned her head up to me and said:

“Meal, what’s dat?!!?!” 

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Marley-Summer 2014 (Toy Camera Image)

I explained that it was a camera. I gave this tiny human a crash course in how to look through the viewfinder, snap a picture and advance the film to be ready for the next shot. Since this first camera encounter; we have moved on to shooting with an Instax mini that her Uncle gave me last Christmas. I’ve never seen someone so excited for instant film to pop out of a camera! The past few times we have had an outing, I’ve even supervised on how to look through the viewfinder of my Canon 7D.

A few weeks ago, I had the honor and privilege to go to the Alligator Farm with my boyfriend’s sister Mallory and of course, Marley. It’s always fun hanging with these two. Mallory is a bit younger than I am, and she is funny, witty, and sarcastic as all hell (which I adore).  Mallory picked me up and away we went in search of adventure and good pictures!

Saint Augustine, Florida
Saint Augustine, Florida

I always enjoy going to the Alligator Farm, there are plenty of great opportunities to make great images. Following an almost 4-year-old made for an interesting ride too! Marley ran around showing me her favorite exhibits, and asking to look through my viewfinder the whole time. From a photographic standpoint, the Farm was a perfect place to release some creative frustration that I had the past month.

Saint Augustine, Florida
Alligator Pit, Saint Augustine Alligator Farm
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Blue Hyacinth Macaw

 

Probably the one of my favorite parts was being in the same enclosure as the Galapagos Tortoises. Feeling their leathery skin was something I will never forget. The keeper informed us that even the youngest tortoises were at least 80 years old! It was neat to watch Marley with something that old as well. Her normally jumpy personality quieted to her best behavior and she even taught us how to pet them the correct way.

Saint Augustine, Florida
Female Galapagos Tortoise, Saint Augustine Alligator Farm

 

I have a link for you readers: check out the Alligator Farm images here.

I must say, that these images would not have been possible without such a neat establishment dedicated to education and the conservation of endangered animals we have here in Florida. If you have some time, and a few extra dollars, I recommend the Alligator Farm of Saint Augustine!  

After all is said and done, I am looking towards 2016 being a year of exceptional photography, and personal growth. 

 

Shells, Scales and a Little Girl’s Piggy Tails…

This Week is for Learning.

How true is that statement! This past week has been all about learning. Not only learning, but testing myself to succeed in ways that I never thought I would. I have to remember that I have abilities that aren’t the strongest, but if I really focus on them, I can go very far in my professional life. I’d like to think that I am extremely technically proficient with lighting (and I love to talk about it…), but I am now just getting to know myself as a self-marketing aficionado.

I’m going to break down a bit of my creative process for you wonderful readers. Beware because I might reveal just how nerdy I can get! OK, here we go.

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Before Homepage

The biggest challenge of 2015 was…yes… modernizing my website (including a new mobile site) that had to be built from scratch.  I had worked on updating some of the imagery about 2 months ago, but in the process, I DELETED my mobile site completely, and big surprise; my website was a Flash site, so I couldn’t redesign a mobile site from my existing site….. I was so mad at myself at what a rookie move that was; I abandoned my poor website!  

I focused on what I knew. I had a few shoots with local artists around town; I am continuing my series with Movement , all the while internally having mini panic attacks about how I am going to solve my web problem. Well, I resolved that my website needed an update, so I set about finding a better layout to showcase my imagery. In college I had ONE website class, so I relied on what I could remember. If I remember correctly my instructor told us the age old trick of keeping it simple! Neutral background, logo, contact info., most importantly, IMAGES!

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After/ Home Page

This time around, I also decided it was time to cut ties with a few sections on my new site. I got rid of the Video tab (click here to view some shorts I did in college), and I merged the “About” section with the “Contact” section. I also linked more modern tech things like this blog, my instagram, my flickr and my facebook page  in this section. I was so stoked that someone out there had already though of social media buttons that I literally dragged and dropped with the click of a few buttons!  This section was the most fun to put together; to finally link all I have been working towards since graduating college. I typed in some basic information about myself and will probably re-edit 103,938,584 times after this is posted.

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Contact/ About Section Revamped

Basically, each section has a carousel of images that loosely falls into said category. I added a new section that I think is a subcategory of previous projects; Living. This living category chronicles the last 3 years of my life. Things pertaining to life and death ie; food, animals and documenting other living things (or dead for that matter). I hope this evolves into a much larger project that extends to the other side of life; I’ve been obsessed with the podcast, Criminal, and am gaining interest in forensics and death culture. My only hope is that my photography skills will assist me in documenting some more taboo subject matter in the next year or so! If I can design a website, maybe I am capable of bringing such opportunity to the forefront of my life.

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Living Section

At the end of the day, there is still a ton of work to be done. I have the option to do some more tweaking to my homepage, and to create variety in each album. Tomorrow is a day for revisiting, fine tuning and reaching out to professional colleagues for feedback!

Please visit and enjoy, I worked my tail off for this and am excited to share with you.

This Week is for Learning.

Pause.

While I am taking pause from editing my most recent photography session, I think it’s time I share a bit of some old work that outwardly may not seem important, but has huge personal value. There is a fair share of breakfast posts on Instagram that have hashtags like #breakfast, #yum, #coffeeplease, etc etc which I also use from time to time (who doesn’t, right?). I’ve got some too, but I have a story to tell you.

Last year, there was a time in my life that I was stuck at a standstill… getting older, needed a career shift, underproductive and simultaneously melancholy about simply everything. I craved an artistic community to be a part of and I needed to use my skills. I began thinking of how I could make opportunities for myself on a daily basis with ease.

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The Eggs-periment with a side of Sriracha

Now, I am and always will be a morning person. Nothing jumps my day off like a bit of sunlight and of course, coffee.  So I started there! I worked at a place that didn’t allow photography so it was easy for me to keep my camera near the kitchen, and I also was teaching myself a few new things in the kitchen. No way in any means am I the world’s greatest chef, but I’d like to think I could be left to my own devices in the kitchen and not burn down the house.

Some of the images created weren’t so much about what I was eating but more about who they were with.

Breakfast with Dad
Breakfast with Dad

At the time, I was living with my parents after college, needing to find my place in the world, and not finding it. I was fortunate enough to have shared many a morning with my Dad, Frank, and hearing his wisdom about his life as a young adult, how to balance my finances, and our shared love of debate, politics and movies. I have plenty pictures of what my dad looks like, but I think this project gave me a way to remember those conversations that we had. Even looking at this image, it reminds me of how he would often lean over the table to tell me that coffee and spicy things were going to come back and haunt me when I get older, and to not sass my Mom…..

Photography is so personal to me and I often look back on my work as a way to remember. Observing past projects (finished and unfinished) reminds me of how far I have come, and how far I still have to go. It’s fun to see how much one’s photographic style evolves as time goes by. During this mini-series, I learned a good many things about myself.

Personal Day
Personal Day

One of those things I will share… in order to make myself happy, I require balance. Balance of every kind. If that balance is, off, I suffer creatively. Without creativity, it’s hard to get back on my balance beam. I’ve come to realize that in order to maintain balance, I need to photograph on a regular basis. It’s a way that I can process my own emotions and actions of other people.

That being said, no matter how arbitrary these images may seem, they are some of my most favorite. I’m reminded that I’ve had an amazing journey both in photography and life; concurrently, I’m surrounded by my loved ones. What more could I ever want?

Pause.

Movement

I’ve had a most interesting month. I find myself drawn to photographing things that I haven’t previously learned about as a way to understand how it effects myself and others. I photograph to discover new ways of living; documenting how external factors vs. conscious lifestyle choices affect me as a young woman. Part of my personal journey about discovering day to day activities is learning from other women that inspire me. I’m constantly surrounded by strong women and I have made a promise to them and myself to dedicate my skills capturing their already beautiful personas and talents.

King Cobra Pose | Raja Bhujangasana
King Cobra Pose | Raja Bhujangasana

These images are of my dear Sydney, as she shared her yoga knowledge and provided me and my lens a glimpse into her dedication to practice of physical fitness and movement. This month has taught me not only to be patient, but to remember that if you are surrounded by others who inspire you on a daily basis creatively, you will be successful in the creation of new work.

Now, I am one big sucker for social media. As you may have noticed, I always try to cross post my images, via Flickr, Facebook, Instagram and this here WordPress. The other day I was perusing my News Feed on Facebook and one of my friends posted this quote by Picasso:

“Inspiration exists,
but it has to find us working.”

Eka Pāda Ūrdhva Dhanurāsana
Eka Pāda Ūrdhva Dhanurāsana

How true and what a reminder that was. For this specific shoot, I went in with my camera, a loose plan of what Sydney and I wanted to create, and an open mind. I knew that I wouldn’t have the normal use of my own lights, so I decided that that wouldn’t be a hurdle to get over…rather a fun challenge to work with. Working with individuals on a repeat basis can be so rewarding too, because the verbal communication takes a backseat so the shared creativity of the participants can drive. 

Learning of a practice one does in their daily life can be so inspiring. I agree with Picasso’s statement and I would like to think that when he said work, that is was of course about art, but also more all encompassing about how one leads their life. For me, this shoot was so beneficial on both ends. To me, that is one way to create a successful image. I am going to continue to create images like this, and continue to make a series that pays tribute to the human form, and life. To view my complete work from the studio with Sydney LaFaire, and even more budding projects please click here.

Movement

Studio Lights Keep Me Alive!

“If you are mean, you belong in a garbage can”

I need to post about these images because they are some of my most favorite (recent) work. In school, I found myself drawn towards the studio/ studio lighting because of how contrasted my work ended up being. Now, that being said, photography with ambient light can of course be full of contrast. 

I noticed my images with studio light drew not only my love for cinematic imagery and unique subject matter together, but that I honestly could become a wizard with studio (variable) light. 

The most seasoned of a photographer that I became, the more I realized that natural light images are beautiful. Images made with studio lighting are beautiful. Such a basic observation, right? In college, we were taught to be able to talk photographically with meaning; the basic idea of  “beauty” shouldn’t be the first thing you mention when talking about an image. Some would argue that making such a simple observation isn’t thinking critically enough.

I think that for the most part, beauty is thing the majority of humans can define. For me, I finally came to the conclusion that the most “beautiful” images I can make are a culmination of not only documenting that natural, existing light in the atmosphere but also to add artificial light (using studio lights).

This is an image set of my friend, Katey, at a local bar/eatery Planet! Sarbez. She’s wearing some of the retail items that Sarbez sells, and is sharing her life with me, frozen in time on the bars’ stage. The disco lights already were on by the time we got there so there was no avoiding using them! I tend to use what is already present on location and it completes this image. Seeing them gave me an idea to light her body with my studio lights, and tripod my camera and let the environment take over. Being technically proficient in lighting is necessary for making successful “beautiful” images.

Every single time I look at this collection of images, I think YES! I also am reminded that life is too too short to be taken advantage of. I’m thrown back into remembering that as an artist, I have an obligation to make a loud statement of  LIFE  (with the help from the principles of design) that emanates from my imagery. As I sit here, I often wonder of the images I will create and have created… I’m excited to finally write a bit about my work and share them with those willing to read and view! Please click here to view Katey’s Album.

Studio Lights Keep Me Alive!