Proms, Seniors and my crazy life…

Teens.  I’ve got two of my own.  And probably hundreds of “adopted” ones.  They are in my house, in my car, at most of the places I go these days.  Between my own kids’ friends, theatre kids, sports kids, I get to photograph a lot of them! In some cases, I have had the opportunity to watch them grow over the years and it is truly a pleasure to have them come to me for the important shoots before they are unleashed into the world as adults.

When a teen (or their parent) contacts me for their senior portrait shoot, I bombard them with questions.  What are your interests?  Your hobbies?  Your future plans?  What are the things you want to remember most from your high school years?  Sports?  Band?  Drama?  Where would you like your photos to happen?  Inside?  Outside?

I then start to compile lists and researching the local area for locations.  The wheels in my mind start turning and I start to picture in my head how to incorporate all those things.  Then I start sending lists to the teen AND the parent.  Because after all, it’s usually the PARENT’S wall that the finished product is going to end up on!  Sometimes there is a HUGE difference between what the teen envisions and what the parent wants.  I ALWAYS do both.  Well, because I used to BE a teen.  And now I’m a parent!

What I’m hoping that I convey about each teen is their own uniqueness.  Their own style.  The things they love.  At the same time, I want to make sure Mom and Dad have something they are happy to share.  Here’s a quick look at some of my senior shoots that we did our best to do both:

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We’ve traveled to ball fields, theatres, downtown, overgrown fields, and even a vineyard!  We’ve done some studio work, I’ve climbed up on and over things I probably shouldn’t have been climbing on (as accident prone as I am).  All in all, we’ve gotten some great shots.  And had a lot of fun in the process!

Most recently, I had the honor of photographing one of “my” 2015 seniors, prior to his prom.  Alex just happens to be dating one of my son’s best friends, Emelissa (who I also had a chance to shoot at Christmas with her mom!). CK2_7021

While yes, I wanted to be sure to capture them with their friends in a group, I also wanted to create some fun memories of the two of them, so I asked them to stop by my studio before we headed to the waterfront to meet their friends.

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Once I had finished “torturing” them with lots of laughs and some AMAZING shots, we drove down to the waterfront to join in the festivities there.

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Even prom pics need their own “vibe”…

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It is so much fun to get these kids laughing and enjoying the last few bits of high school, right until I have to do this with MY kid… Class of 2016!

Feeding Frenzy – SHOULD be Feeding FRIENDLY.

I’ve been talking about doing a public breastfeeding project for a while now.  I’ve even gotten some shots and edits done.  I’d like to do an exhibit or SOMETHING the first week of August, which is National Breastfeeding Awareness Week.  However, this week, I saw the most beautiful photo ever of a woman breastfeeding her newborn.  The woman had undergone chemo and a mastectomy and it was AMAZING that she was feeding her baby from her remaining breast. Unfortunately, some people found this offensive and not only were the photographer’s (Kate Murray Photography) photos taken down by Facebook, her entire Facebook business page was blocked.10891822_10100856993046379_6430374824021353770_n

To delete the photos and her business page disgusts me.  There is absolutely nothing “sexual” about this photo.  Nor is ANY photo of a mama feeding her child.  This is an incredible gift.  To first bring life into this world and then be able to sustain and nourish that life with your own body?  AMAZING.  I was never able to do that for my children, having adopted both of them.  At the time, I didn’t even know it was an OPTION.  It was taboo. Not talked about.  No one even SUGGESTED that I might be able to breastfeed my adopted children.

So why am I all up in arms and determined to proceed with a currently controversial subject?  Because I am a mother. Plain and simple. Although I did not actually give birth to my children, I am their mother.  And mothers of any kind, birth, adoptive, step, “like a mother”, should be a united front.  A group of women (and sometimes men) who believe strongly in the nurturing, protection and RIGHTS of their children.  Get me a soapbox, I know.

One of my amazing models had this to post today:

“I’ve seen pictures of skanky girls wearing less fabric on their chest and on their butts than that which could cover my big toe! And those don’t get removed. Why are images of a mother feeding her child removed while nasty pictures of girls allowed to remain posted? Is that really the kind of society we live in? What a shame!

People need to grow up! Don’t like breastfeeding, don’t do it! You have a right to your own opinion. But why don’t you find something that’s actually an issue to complain about! You want me to cover my son? Good. Go cover your head with a blanket while you eat.

I’m going to feed my son whenever he’s hungry, wherever we are. And there’s not a damn thing anyone can say to change that.”

Agreed.  Anywhere.  Any time.  It should be her right and her child’s right.  She should NOT be asked by a department store employee to go to the bathroom where they’ve “put chairs for that”.  YOU go eat in the bathroom.  She should NOT be made to feel as though she should cover her baby’s head while he’s eating.  YOU go cover your head with a blanket and try to eat.

So I leave you with these photos recently taken in anticipation of CELEBRATING National Breastfeeding Awareness Week (August 1st-7th, 2015).  Will they get taken down?  Will my Facebook page be blocked?  I don’t know.  But if I don’t speak up as a mother, I don’t think I’d be doing my “job”

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Creativity and friendship.

I was in a foul mood last week, having gotten a fair share of “backhanded” compliments (you know the ones that are kind of nice, but really NOT?), and had planned on blogging that.  Fortunately for ME, I was able to spend time with a fellow photographer and good friend, Theresa Cucinotti of Bella Tessoro Images on Sunday, which completely turned my mood around!  I am SO GRATEFUL to live in a community where photographers can be actual FRIENDS and help each other to learn and grow and step out of their comfort zones.  Teri goes above and beyond that.  Although we are not very similar in style, she regularly challenges me to get out of my rut and try new things.  Granted, it’s usually 20 below and we’re shooting as our fingers freeze to camera and lens, but definitely, always a challenge.  Being as accident prone as we both are, it’s a wonder in all these years, that no one has been hurt!

This week though, we decided to celebrate both our birthdays with a craft day!  And as photographers, that can only mean one thing… PROPS!  That’s right, we broke out sewing machines, glue guns, fabric, lace, ribbon, flowers, bandanas, and everything that goes with.  Including some 40 YARDS of tulle!

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Of course, we couldn’t get started without the right kind of “fuel”….

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Let the crafting begin!

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That’s a LOT of tulle!  But it turned out STUNNING!  Can’t wait to get in on THAT styled shoot!

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I made that adorable tutu from an old t-shirt, more tulle, and some rose ribbon from the bargain bin at Hobby Lobby.  With a matching headband.  Hoping it fits a certain little girl turning 2 in May!

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With frequent breaks for food and libation, the crafting continues….

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I can’t even count the number of props we made that day, but it was a whole lot of fun and really got my creative vibe flowing for fabulous spring and summer seasons!

Sad to say we didn’t grab one selfie of the two of us, but I sure am glad we got to spend the time together creating some great props and even better memories!  Love you T! ❤

Monday, Monday…

Not really feeling “myself” today.  Or maybe I am?  Either way, while chugging my massive cup of coffee (it IS Monday, after all) and wracking my brain for a nice, fresh topic for today’s blog, I discovered I’m really kind of grumpy. There isn’t any one thing that’s making me feel that way (well, maybe the tooth I broke while eating Easter dinner), but it’s just one of THOSE days.  So I decided to make a list of “grumps” to get them out of my head and out of the way so I can move on with my week.  Here’s my top ten list of photographer things that make me crazier than I already am…

10. (I’m going backwards, I know.  Again, it’s MONDAY!)  LIVE ANIMALS AS “PROPS”.

I’m no major animal activist, that’s a given.  I wear leather, I eat meat, but my pets are my family and I have a love for animals and always have.  Whether they are dogs, cats, farm or wild, I love ’em.  I don’t want to live with all of them, but I love them nonetheless.  As a photographer, I naturally have photographer friends.  Photographers whose work I love and follow. Photographers who are my mentors.  Photographers who are just starting and need a little help from a friend. That said, there are things about other photographers (and even myself sometimes) that I absolutely detest.  “Spot coloring”.  Composite photography.  Just not my things.  But the number one thing that makes me ANGRY, is photographers who use live animals as “props”.  Easter is a classic example of photographers every where using cute little chicks, ducks and bunnies for their Easter “sets”.  I hate it.  With a passion.  Did you know that those cute little “props” likely won’t live a year after their photo shoot?  Did you know that if improperly handled, they are in danger and endanger the human subjects with them?  Tiny chicks get trampled by overly excited or frightened children.  Bunnies are very sensitive creatures and can, literally, be frightened to death.  Duckies who are “loved” so tightly that they can be strangled.  Can you imagine the horror your child might feel if they accidentally injured or killed an innocent animal?  Easter.  Ruined forever.  Or your child being bitten by a frightened animal?

I won’t do it. Ever. What I WILL do, and happily, is photograph your family with your family pet.  Bunnies, chicks, ducks, dogs, cats, horse… whatever.  As long as YOU are in control of your kids AND your animals, I’m happy to do it.  Like I said, my dogs ARE my family.  And I am a FAMILY photographer.

9.  “YOUR CAMERA TAKES GREAT PICTURES.”

Why yes, it does.  I taught it everything it know.  Good GRACIOUS people!  Just because you own a race car, doesn’t make you a NASCAR driver!  Yes, I have a nice camera.  But more than that, I have spent over a decade LEARNING that camera and photography in general.  And I never stop.  I try to pull at least one educational video, article, book or class a WEEK and never stop learning or attempting new challenges.  Some of you may have seen my recent (albeit pathetic) attempts at composites.  Or shooting the moon.  I consider both of those things HUGELY DIFFICULT, but hey, I’ve learned some new settings (those things you use when that “nice camera” is in manual mode) and some new computer skills and eh, I’ll keep trying!

8.  “YOU MUST HAVE AN EASY JOB, JUST CLICKING A BUTTON ALL DAY.”

Um.  I WISH!  If you are having a session with me, I have likely spent literally HOURS preparing for it, before we ever meet in person for that shoot.  I have probably spent time asking you questions, preparing a “set”, researching poses and yeah, if I don’t know you very well, I’ve probably stalked you on Facebook to see what you like and don’t like.  Then, I’m spending a good amount of time actually setting UP the backdrop, lights, camera settings, and props.  So, we have a session.  Sometimes it’s quick, sometimes not so much.  I constantly continue to check the lighting, the set, my camera settings (that really NICE CAMERA doesn’t do that itself, you know!), and try to make you as relaxed and comfortable as I can.  But it doesn’t end there.  You head home (hopefully smiling at some silly thing I’ve said or done) and I REALLY get to work.  I need to download.  I need to cull (more on THAT process later in this list).  I need to upload to an editing program.  I need to edit those photos so you look and feel your absolute best.  Then they need to go to a proof site.  And then I hold my breath.  Waiting.  Hoping you love the images as much as I do.  Nope, still not done.  Now we need to spend some time and decide the best way for you to display those images.  We need to order prints.  And products.  And then when they come in to me (I RARELY will ever have them direct ship to you, I’m too picky, too anxious), I need to package them up and make arrangements to get them to you.  None of these things I MIND doing, it’s just time consuming.  All in all, of COURSE, I’d rather just be pointing and clicking… but then it would just be my “NICE CAMERA” and not my art.  My passion.  My love.

7.  YOU MUST MAKE A TON OF MONEY. PHOTOGRAPHY IS ALL PROFIT!

OH heck no!  Some weeks I take home nothing. Zip.  Nada.  Zilch.  Surprised?  Well, there are taxes to be paid.  I have insurance that covers not only my equipment, but YOU.  Yep.  YOU.  And it’s not cheap.  And the constant learning I do?  Also rarely free and usually not cheap.  Oh, and props.  Yep.  I make some of them myself.  But heck, I’m no miracle worker either!  I still have craft supplies, backdrops, pillows, chairs, baskets, equipment and a million other expenses.  Shipping.  Packaging.  Editing programs.  Yep.  All cost $$$.  I’m not in this to become a millionaire (but heck, wouldn’t THAT be awesome!), but because I love it.  And yes, I love the flexibility it affords my own family.  Not always though.  Those times you are “free” for a shoot, are usually the same times MY family is “free” so I’m also giving up my family time to spend time with yours.  That I can’t put a price on.

6.  I’D LIKE TO INVITE YOU TO MY PARTY (WEDDING, EVENT, REUNION, FILL IN THE BLANK), YOU’LL BRING YOUR CAMERA, RIGHT?

While I’d like to think that I’m THAT popular, chances are that I’m not.  Sure, we’re friends and I think your kids are ADORABLE, but I’ve got teens now.  I don’t really NEED to attend the crazy free for all children’s parties any more.  I appreciate that you’d like my presence, but no, my photography is not your PRESENT.  It’s my job.  And if I want to attend a party, I certainly don’t want to work!  Same goes for your cousin’s best friend’s husband’s sister’s wedding.  Or class reunion.  I probably remember so and so, but that doesn’t mean I want to come hang out and work while y’all socialize.  Don’t take it personally.  And I’ll try not to when I’m no longer invited.

5.  CAN I EDIT MY OWN PHOTOS?  WOULD THAT BE CHEAPER?

Well, I’m sure you can.  And heck yeah, bring your point and shoot, I’ll point it, shoot it and charge you less.  But no.  Not really.  Editing the images I take is my art.  That’s like asking Andrew Wyeth to paint Christina and then saying you’ll just paint the rest of “Christina’s World”.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.

4. WHICH IS BETTER CANON OR NIKON?

I never know how to answer this question and I hear it a lot.  I shoot Nikon.  I shoot Nikon because I learned on film Nikon (yes, I’m THAT old).  All my lenses were Nikon.  That’s a big expense.  When I switched to digital, it only made sense to switch to a DSLR that was compatible with those lenses.  Why Nikon in the first place?  It was comfortable.  Literally.  It felt good in my hand.  Is Nikon better than Canon?  Probably not. Depending on the model, they are probably pretty similar.  It is REALLY a comfort thing. And I don’t really know the answer because I have never shot Canon.  I likely wouldn’t know where to find ANYTHING.  Honestly?  One of the best cameras I ever had was a Fuji point and shoot.  I won two national contests and was published in two national magazines with that camera.  A point and shoot.  Film.  Go figure.

3.  CAN I HAVE ALL THE REJECTS TOO?

Aw, sweetie, you don’t trust my judgement?  No.  Just no. I am the QUEEN of the OUTTAKES!  I love to give you the random photos that are silly and fun and not what we were going for…. but will I give you sub par photos?  No.  I’m not going to give you the shot of Uncle Bob inappropriately scratching himself  that I caught by mistake.  I’m not going to give you the shot that was really at a bad angle and makes you look like you have 5 chins.  I’m not going to give you the one where your daughter’s underpants are the main focus of the photo.  Again, (sorry to be sounding like a broken record) but my images are my art.  I won’t give you anything I would not be proud to say is hanging on your livingroom wall.

2.  YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

I hate when I hear “I found someone else that will do it cheaper.”  I am always, ALWAYS willing to listen and attempt to give you a customized session and/or package.  But I won’t demean myself by getting into a situation where I am not earning my worth.  If someone is willing to give you unlimited photos, unlimited time and everything on a CD for you to print, edit, whatever for a cheap price, you need to be cautious.  It is highly likely that you will not be getting the family memories preserved in the way you deserve.  EVERYONE is a photographer these days.  It is so easy to go buy that “NICE CAMERA”, put it on automatic and shoot away!  BAM!  You’re a photographer!  But honestly, I took a lot of time, energy and money to become certified, insured and experienced.  It wasn’t easy, nor was it quick.  And I am still my own worse critic. And I am completely fine with hearing “we went with someone else because their style was more in line with ours”.  Really.  One of my best friends is a photographer.  We collaborate and shoot together on occasion.  You could never find two more different styles!  We can be in the same position, shooting the same subject and our photos look nothing alike.  But to go with the cheapest because they are the cheapest is not a good choice.  Not at all.

AND MY NUMBER 1 GRUMPY ANGRY COMPLAINT OF THE DAY??!!!!

1.  I’M TOO FAT, TOO UGLY, TOO OLD, TO HAVE MY PICTURE TAKEN.  JUST TAKE PICS OF MY KIDS, PLEASE.

Mamas.  No.  You don’t need to wait to lose that 20 lbs.  Or put on make up.  Or go get a new outfit.  Or (if you’re me) take a shower.  My mistake when my children were younger?  Not passing the camera to my husband.  We have a decade of photos of my husband and kids at all the “important” events – holidays, birthdays, sports, theatre, etc.  None. Of. Me.  I think my grandchildren will some day think my husband was a single parent.  I have changed my way of thinking.  Guess what?  Your kids love you.  Just. The. Way. You. Are.  And they will be sad someday to not have those memories of you captured. Even if our session is for the kids, whether they are babies, littles, bigs or senior photos, I am inevitably going to ask (and probably try and sneak in) for a photo of you with them.  In this case, thank GOODNESS for cell phones and selfies!  I try to get one every so often with me and both kids.  And sometimes the dogs.  And on Mother’s Day every year, I pass the camera to my husband.  Just one shot, I say.  And I barter with my photographer friend, I’ll do their Christmas photos, if she does mine.  It works.  And I even sometimes pass the camera to a friend and say “just one, please?”  379116_2886582970128_1126572092_n

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Special Announcement!

One of the best things about my job (Job? My love, really.) is forming lasting relationships with clients that become more than clients.  Sometimes more than friends.  Sometimes clients become family.

For instance, Amber and A came to me years ago, for some mother/son portraits.  A is an absolute sweetie.  Rambunctious.  Loving. All BOY.

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A bit later, we did some awesome photos in the park with A and his new puppy….. (I wish I could find these!  But a computer crash and a faulty external drive make it tough to find some of the “older” stuff).

Christmas rolled around, and Amber called to have me do some holiday photos with ALL the new additions to her family!

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So imagine my excitement when she contacted me with a secret.  Not just ANY secret.  A REALLY BIG secret.  I’m not a great secret keeper, but I agreed.  If you know me at all, if it’s in my head, it’s likely to come right out of my mouth…

We scheduled an afternoon session to take M & M, A, Amber and Russ to Generations Boutique for a painting session with the kids.  They thought it was just a fun thing to do for an afternoon…..

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Little did they know, Momma was making her OWN special painting….

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So honored and excited to be included in this special day!  AND to be planning Gender Reveal, Maternity, Fresh 48, and a full year of adorable new baby and family photos!

Congratulations Amber, Russ, Madison, Mallory and Aidan!  I look forward to the next exciting session!  Much love!

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Birth Story – Evelyn Moira, with flashbacks to Molly Gael.

No stranger to this adorable family, I was please and honored to be in attendance of their 2nd baby girl.  Birth stories are a VERY personal thing and I am ever so grateful to the families that invite me to be a part of their special time.  With M & A’s first child, I was nearly as excited as they were when A went into labor.  Such that it is, I probably arrived WAY too early… but was able to capture a lot of little moments that sometimes go unnoticed.

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Miss Molly made her arrival, oh, about 8 hours after I arrive and I can’t even begin to describe the excitement in the room!562387_10201102847279778_767894835_n

The second time around, I think we were all a little more prepared. For Evelyn’s arrival, I probably cut it TOO close!

Timely Manner

Oops.  But I still got AMAZING shots of this beautiful family.

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Mothers are my heroes.  What a truly incredible gift to the world.

Light and Love, Tricia

New Year’s Resolutions…

Ha!  My New Year’s resolution for the past, oh, I don’t know, 3 years, has been to start blogging.  I set it up, I sit down, get ready to type and……… NOTHING.  My head empties like the drain in the tub.  So, here it is, attempt #9,457,339,205.

Let’s start with “About Me”.

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Hi, I’m Tricia.  Mom.  Wife.  Photographer. Sports Mom.  Drama Mama.  Theatre “People”. Dog Mom.  That pretty much sums it up!  I spend my days forcing the people in my house to do things they don’t want to (get out of bed, go to school, go to work, do homework, do chores, etc.), setting up for shooting, shooting, and editing.  Throw in some driving and cooking.  Sounds busy, right?  It is.  But I wouldn’t change any of it.  The days are long, but the years are short.

I could go on and on about my family.  They are actually pretty awesome.  I am a military spouse.  DH is pretty cool and has a pretty cool job.  My blurbs about him will be cryptic at times, as I have been “raised as a wife” to believe that OPSEC (security) is of utmost importance, but our “personal” stuff is fair game!  Teenage son, Conor.  Super funny, sings, acts, DJs, works and in the process of getting his license.  Never a dull moment with him around!  Teenage daughter, Carli.  Also funny, does every sport imaginable, is my “bookworm” and certainly keeps us hopping!  Two dogs, Jack & Annie (named after the characters from the “Magic Treehouse” books) who are 8.  Basset/beagle mixes.  Sweet, loving, but LOUD.  They cause more trouble in this house than I care to mention.

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Photography.  I’ve had a camera in my hand since I was 10.  Oh, to have that ole 110 film camera now!  But I REALLY got into it when we became parents.  Moved up to a Fuji film point and shoot.  Another camera I wish I still had!  I took SO MANY photos of the kids that I started submitting to contests.  And won.  I’ve been published in American Baby magazine and Parenting magazine.  That’s when it started getting S.E.R.I.O.U.S. I started reading, taking on-line classes, local Adult Education classes and “graduating” to film SLR cameras. And then, digital age was upon me!  WOO HOO!  The FREEDOM to shoot as much as you want and not be limited to 24 or 36 shots!  AH-MAZING.  People started to notice that I was never without my camera.  Started asking me to take THEIR photos.  For MONEY.  What?!  So I dabbled.  Did a few family shoots.  Did a few family weddings. Started shooting my kid’s shows and sports events. I was working in Family Services on base at the time, so it was strictly part-time, “advanced” hobbyist at that point.  Then I was laid off from my job.  Hubby suggested it may be time to make a go of it and here I am!  I completed the Professional Photographer Certification course with the New York Institute of Photography, was mentored by some fabulous local photographers (for both shooting AND business side) and started to build my portfolio and clientele.

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It doesn’t end there.  Photography and the digital world are constantly changing.  I continue DAILY to learn new things and to perfect my craft, if that is even possible.  The longest, hardest part of creating your “own” art, is finding your style, your niche, what you are better at and what you enjoy.  One day I love babies best.

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Then I shoot a wedding, which I used to HATE, and think “oh, I love that!”

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Then a really fun family will come in and I think “yes!  THAT’s it!”

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Or theatre.  I could shoot theatre every day.  The magic that happens on the stage.  Ahhhhhhh.

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Then it’s acting head shots.  Theatre people are SO FUN and easy to direct!  Schooling with NYIP, totally took me out of my comfort zone. One section was really difficult for me, but I did a series on Geaghan’s Pub when they first started brewing their own beer, and yep, hooked on THAT.

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So I still dabble in all of it.  Maternity.

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Babies.  Families.  Theatre. Sports (still not my favorite, ALWAYS a challenge). Commercial.  I recently did some work for my aunt of her products for her Etsy shop.  And ENJOYED it.

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The one thing that continues to challenge me and I like least is landscape.

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I just don’t “see” it like others “see” it, I guess.  To me, landscapes are backdrops for people.  I am fortunate to have a good friend, who is also a photographer, who forces me out of that “people comfort zone” and we take random road trips for landscape photos.  I appreciate it.  I enjoy our trips, but I still don’t “get” it.

In all my years as photographer, from amateur to hobbyist to semi-pro to professional, my style has changed.  And changed again.  And is still changing.  I will, however, admit to this.  I love to laugh.  I love when clients laugh.  I want every shoot to be relaxed, comfortable, and fun. I don’t like to “force” a shoot.  If the feeling is not right, the photos will show that.

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It is not beyond me to shoot for a bit, find it’s not working, and suggest another session maybe at a better time.  Maybe the client is nervous.  Maybe I am.  But either way, it SHOWS.  I prefer candid over posed, but enjoy creating little scenarios for posed photos too.  And I always, ALWAYS include the “outtakes”.

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Sometimes they are the best memories. And ultimately that is what I am trying to convey with my art.  Memories.