Monday, January 20, 2014

on the fictional; // today is my birthday

On the fictional;

We change who we are for different people, and as the separative self emerges, the chasm between who we truly are and our societal self becomes a river. Every drop of water has the kinetic energy to change our lives. Or this is our desire to please everyone. It stretches the self thin and shallow, but wide enough to cover those who don't care whether they are warmed by our blankets or not. When will the edges begin to fray?

On the reality; #1

People hide emotions. You never know what demon is haunting a stranger you brush shoulders with. One escaped word is a drop of water to change a life, either to create a chasm or fill a hole.

On the reality; #2

Years pile upon one another in a disorganized mess, but it is in cleaning up that we see each little drop of water shaped us. What could have been different? How might have life been life if? No matter. We control the effects of the water. Baptize us and make us better people.

Today is my twentieth birthday. I have taken photos for my birthday for the past several years, and it's a simple way to see not just how much I've grown physically, but photographically, technically, and so on and so forth.

On turning seventeen, I was in the height of exploring myself. I cut all my hair off, listened to weird music, and took even weirder photos. I was struggling to know myself, experimenting with art, and learning about everything I could.

On turning eighteen, I didn't know what I was doing, didn't know the direction I was going to go, and was scared of the future. I was dreaming of new opportunities and new adventures.

On turning nineteen, I was on the verge of those dreams, excited and confident in who I was, feeling like I had finally found my place in the world. I was seeking and growing and stretching myself like I never had before.

And on turning twenty? I find myself in a place of contentment, but also a place at the base of a mountain, gearing up to trek to the top. Twenty is a strange concept to me. Now I am no longer a teenager, and when I was younger, this was the moment I was supposed to have my life together. But I am still just as fragmented as ever, only now I realize it's okay. I don't even have to spend my life trying to put those pieces together, because maybe instead I'm meant to give them away.

But now we are going to switch gears a little bit, because an unspoken resolution for this year was for me to show you guys more behind-the-scenes and tutorial type things for every one of my personal photos.

These two photos are straight out of the camera, aside from a little bit of RAW processing. Though it appears like I shot in a fancy studio with fancy lighting, I actually shot this simply in a dark room with my laptop as the only light source. My laptop is fairly lightweight, so it's easy to move around and hold up for a photo. Alternatively you could use a cell phone light. It's a simple solution to the never ending problem of adequate lighting.

Other than that, I blended together the faces in photoshop, added the drops using a combination of the smudge tool, the paintbrush, and lots of curve adjustments. Then it was just a matter of adding the perfect amount of contrast to make the message come through.

Mouseover to see the before and after:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

family shoot // anchorage, alaska

On a crisp Saturday morning, this adorable family and I had a little adventure in one of the many parks surrounding the city. I am always so thankful for clients like these, because not only do they show me great locations, but because they are easy, stress free people, and share a beautiful love for one another, which I think is pretty obvious in these photos.

Thank you so much to the family for allowing me to photograph a small portion of your lives, and to potential clients, you can always check out my work and pricing information on my website.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

for study // all things grow

(the moment I knew what I wanted to do with my life)

I've actually been writing this post over several months, and requiring it for class only gives me the push to actually finish.

It's so strange and beautiful to me how little, inconsequential things in one's life can build up to giant things; how little actions you took as a child transformed you into the person you are today and prepared you for opportunities and challenges that you could have never dreamed up. For everything that I am passionate about, there was great influence to culture those passions from my childhood--specific, perfectly timed things that are only labeled after looking back.

For photography, I never considered it a possibility for someone to have a job taking photos until I was a junior in high school (about halfway through my first 365 project). I never imagined that the photographic medium would mean so much to me in my "adult" years, and yet I can see so many things leading up to this moment. I can remember spending summers in my grandparents' town when I was in kindergarten and first grade. We would go to the local walmart so I could purchase disposable cameras, and then I would consequently go home with literally hundreds of photos of the alley cats that I sought out. Hundreds. And of course there were the typical junior high dressing room photos and camp photos, and I loved making ridiculous videos with my friends and siblings. It wasn't until January 1st, 2010, that I thought, "I think I'm going to start a 365 project!". It was that insane, impulse decision that changed my life and sparked a passion that I'm seeking to exploit forever. Who knew that the crazy cat photographer would end up being a real photographer? It was because of other photographers who I met in real life after following online for years, the magazine publications, the clients who trusted me to take photos of important events in their lives, and the biggest Triple "S" Award that showed me that maybe I could actually do this. And in this day where everyone is a "photographer", encouragement is absolutely necessary. Photography is for the special few; it is a unique and beautiful opportunity, but it also is a great responsibility to bring along the people who can't be there in person. I want to have that responsibility.

For writing, its always been in my genes. My mother is a freelance writer (and on a separate thought, I recently learned that photography is in my genes as well--my late grandfather was a film photographer), and my little sister is also a writer. It's in our family and was a profession I always dreamed of doing. I've told this story before here, of when I wrote my first "story", but the answer to our assignment is this: I've always wanted to be a writer, and no matter how much I run away from it, it is in my blood. There was the typical elementary school writing assignment, and my teacher was so impressed that she had me read it in front of the class (that is the story I am still dreaming of to this day), then there was a different teacher in seventh grade who encouraged me to submit poetry (and then a short story) to an anthology book, then magazine publications, scholarships for writers conferences and specifically Caleb Breakey, who was one of my mentors and greatly influenced how I write, and the list continues ... Everything is a stepping stone, building up to this moment in life. Everything I've ever done builds up to the moment that I am living in now, and then that moment becomes a stepping stone for the next moment. It goes on and on until my life is complete.

Even with things like graphic design, blogging, and social media that I'm interested in today were stemmed from designing birthday invitations on Microsoft Publisher and creating Neopets layouts with HTML (ten year old Lauren was really popular, let me tell you), and keeping random diaries. Everything I've grown up doing has just been cultivated and honed into what I currently want to do--and what I hope to do in the future.

Recently I had to "defend" my two majors of English and Art in order to get financial aid (it was accepted, just for the record), and every day it seems, there is just one more thing that makes me realize that these two things of Writing and Photography are the two things I'm meant to be doing in life. From teachers and editors and colleagues and publishers and photographers and artists encouraging me, especially in times when I've doubted myself (and trust me, that happens nearly every day), I am reminded that everything in life happens for a reason, and my experiences and struggles and crazy hobbies all have a purpose.

I am so thankful that these things I am interested in are intricately connected. I need writing to portray my photo concepts, discuss methods and give tutorials, let people know about what I'm photographing, email clients, etc.. I need photography to help visualize writing concepts, for cover design, for description. I need blogging for both, to market myself, to show my work, and social media also helps in this way as well.

Okay, well I want to keep talking about this subject of growing passions from childhood, but I'm done talking about myself. I really and truly want to hear about the little things that brought you to this moment in life right now. From you bloggers and fashion people, to the scientists and writers, and everyone in between, let's continue this conversation! I know we've talked about passions before, but now I want to get into everyone's beginnings. Since we are all human and have a story to share--and deserve to have it be shared--let this be the place where it's shared. I would love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

my winter break

with iphone photos

This morning found me waking up in a groggy haze, as I usually do when the buzz of my alarm goes off. Snow was falling as it usually does, and a cat was purring at my feet as he usually does. Only this morning I pulled a suitcase behind me, wore a new hat on my head, and kissed the head of every furry creature and loving human in my house. It always feels weird coming back home, like everything starts up again right where I left off. Who knows if hopping off the plane in Oregon will feel the same way, even though I've done this many times before. I'm always nervous-excited about what the future holds, even the immediate future. Especially the immediate future, when I know that one action will lead to the next one, then the next one, and before I know it my entire life will have passed by.

This upcoming semester I'm taking more classes for my majors, Intermediate Ceramics and Intermediate Photography, Studies in Writing and Writing Fiction, and then a Psalms class and Philosophy of the Arts. I'm also meeting with professors to hopefully audit (or do an independent study of) a Portfolio Development class, which I really hope I'll be able to do. I am always so excited to go back to college, but there is a part of me that will miss the mountains, the fresh salmon, and the ever changing northern lights. So many kids can't wait to get out of Alaska, myself included, but once you get out, there's always something that draws you back, and you begin to wonder why you ever wanted to leave in the first place.

This has been a good break though. I felt comfortable with being alone, kept myself busy at home, and was excited and engaging when I hung out with people. It's been a time to simply relax and renew, to take a deep breath before plunging into another semester and another year. Though I say it all the time, I am very excited to see what this year holds, and where my photography will take me.

For now it is taking me back to my beautiful state of Oregon, with its rolling hills and tall trees and perfect, perfect beaches. I am a hopeless romantic with everything in life, locations probably most of all. I am in love with every tree and mountain and vineyard we drive past, and being reunited with it all is one of the best feelings ever. Stepping onto the airplane in Alaska is sad, because I am leaving part of myself behind. Being in the air is pure bliss, because I find part of myself within the clouds and the unsheltered sunlight. Stepping off of the airplane and taking those first steps in Oregon is like falling in love, because part of myself is there as well, among those pine needles and ocean waves.

Honestly, I fall in love wherever I go. And though I am sad to leave my family and friends and state, I am very happy to be back in Oregon.