Friday, December 31, 2010

The Gleasons

I had the privilege to meet (and work with) some incredible people at PBU - Jamie and Charlotte Gleason. Jamie was a coworker of mine while I was working in Student Life. Charlotte is an English teacher at the university and has become a dear friend of mine. There were MANY times throughout my time at PBU where I went over to their house, asked for advice, shared some of my more emotional moments, and was able to celebrate special events with their family.

Jamie and Charlotte have two kids - R and M - whom I loooove photographing. They are just so precious and are hams in front of the camera.

A few weeks ago, I traveled down to PA for PBU's Fall Commencement. While there, I stayed with the Gleasons. We had a get-together with friends who worked together in Student Life the first few years. Charlotte asked if I'd take some family pictures for them too.

Jamie and Charlotte - I am truly grateful for you two in my life and am thankful for the blessing you've been. I am grateful for the many meals you've provided, the honest advice, for letting me invite myself over, for letting me be a part of your kids' lives and for documenting some of your daily activities.

You are so precious to me and I look forward to many more memories shared with your family!!

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The Upcoming Bride and Groom

My brother gets married on January 15, 2011 in Virginia. It was nice this Christmas to have his fiance - Catania - here with us for a few weeks. She's been getting their apartment ready and preparing for the wedding, while Kevin is working at Shop Rite full time.

I just bought my plane ticket for the wedding. I am praying for goof weather the whole weekend. How awful would it be if snow hit that weekend?!? UGH!

Here is Kevin and his soon-to-be bride.

Kevin and Cat, I am very much looking forward to spending your most special day with you. I am sure all the details will come together and we'll have a fantastic time!

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My Greatest Cheerleaders

My parents have sacrificed so much for me over the years; I only hope that I can show them - in the coming years - the appreciation that lies deep within. Whenever something exciting happens in my life, they are some of the first to cheer me on. When something tough happens - an unexpected event - they are the first I call to ask for advice and the first to wipe my tears.

I am so thankful to the Lord for them and for the important roles they play in my life.

I love you, Mom and Dad!!

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Last Post in 2010

Well, I thought what better way to end 2010 than with a post that truly made me feel honored to be a student at Hallmark.

About 2 months ago, one of the instructors approached me to tell me that Hallmark created a new partnership with the local paper - the Recorder - wherein they will feature a Hallmark student once a week. I was selected to be the second student featured.

The article ran a few weeks ago; it was neat to see a little write-up as well as a pic of me (my mugshot for my student ID card) and then one of the shots I've done while at school. The president likes that picture so much that when I walked by his office a few weeks ago, he has a 16x20 of it hanging in his office, along with a number of other students' prints. How cool!!

2010 proved to be a unique year for me....I was working at PBU, then resigned in June, went to Hong Kong, my back caused major issues (and continues to), came back, went to Hallmark in late August, and now am near halfway done with my journey there. I know 2011 holds a lot of exciting brother gets married in 2 weeks, some of my best friends are getting married this summer, I already have 2 weddings booked for 2011 (and hope to have many more), and I am excited to see what other exciting opportunities come my way.

Happy New Year everyone!!

(click on the picture below to enlarge it)
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Thursday, December 16, 2010


One of our 4-hr. studio blocks this week was Commercial Studio (again)....we flip-flop between commercial, portrait, and what they call "location" studio. This week's commercial assignment was still life. We had to come to class with 8 images from our Idea Book (a catalog we had to develop with - you guessed it - ideas for work that inspires us, or work that we'd like to create ourselves). The purpose of bringing these images is to give us some help when deciding what to bring to studio time...what props, what main subject, how we may possibly want to set up our lighting, etc.

I found a picture on another photographer's blog with a bowl of oranges. It looked so gentle and airy. I knew it was simplistic but I just kept thinking about the image and wondering when I'd have an opportunity to do something using that image as inspiration. So I went out and bought $8 worth of oranges (I don't even like oranges), not knowing how many I'd need for my shoot. I had some bowls in mind, but didn't know which would work best. I also knew that if I didn't have one, the prop room might. We have a prop room in the studio with all different kinds of things....from wood pieces to glassware to fake flowers, fabrics, trinkets to serve as additional props. So I was all excited to do this shoot and then go into the studio and nothing was working right. This giant camera we use in the commercial studio now is really hard to navigate. Since I wanted to get a high perspective, we had to move the camera into a position where I could look straight down onto my subject. My subject was on the floor, the lights and camera above it, and my partner (Rikki) and I were trying to navigate through the bay to figure out how to best shoot my oranges in the bowl.

I finally gave up on the bowl, changed my background, and started from scratch. Rikki had brought some flowers with her, so we tried using those as an additional prop. We finally got something I was pleased with....although really simplistic, it took me almost the entire 4 hours of studio time. Good thing Rikki had shot hers the night before.

So here are my little oranges...

And in case you're curious, this is what the camera looks like. It's called a 4x5 large format camera. Imagine this accordion-looking contraption sitting on a larger-than-life tripod....oh and did I mention that this little piece on the back of it, called a digital back - so crucial to the functioning of the camera - is near $11,000? Yeah, so imagine having to move this thing at ALL....we near die every time we need to make a major adjustment. And then today to shoot straight down means moving the camera into a very vulnerable position. Oh, the nerves!!

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Portraits at the Airport

A few posts ago, I wrote about our trip to the Northampton Airport to do aerial photography. Of course, while we were there, we were tasked to do other things than just fly. We were asked to take portraits of our classmates using a new strobe (a type of flash). Essentially what the strobe does - what we were trying to accomplish - is to measure the ambient (available) light and force what was daylight to not look so much like high noon. When this happens, the strobe is putting a highlight on our subject, making them stand out against the background.

Garrett, whom I've photographed before, was working alongside me, so I got some good shots of him.

Then Gregory Heisler, our artist-in-residence, asked me if I wanted to go shoot an idea he had. He led me to the little "lodge" where the airport does business. It was our "home base" for the day, and also the place that provided warmth on an otherwise cold day!

Anyway, he showed me how if you put the strobe outside the building and have a model inside looking outside (through mini blinds on the door) that THIS is the effect you can get:

AMAZING, right?? He is a genius!

We had a fun day and at the end of it all, we were cold through and through. Afterwards my roomie Julie and I stopped by the Yankee Candle flagship store and took pictures of the lights. They have this fantastic display of lights (pictures to come soon). Then a bunch of us went out to eat...what a good way to end a good day!
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My Little Loves

My sister asked me to take pictures of her three boys for their Christmas card. I was home this past weekend assisting my friend Lori at a wedding, and stayed at home before coming back to MA. My sister came over and happened to bring all the outfits for the boys, so I quickly tried to grab the shots before heading back.

Here are my precious, precious buddies:

Dean (he's 8)

Here's Grant (he's 6)

And Gavin (he's 4)

Aren't I so blessed to have such cute looking nephews? They are such hams!
Don't they look so similar?
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PR Shots

In Portrait Studio last week, we had to do 2 different pictures - one was a PR picture, so it was to be more formal and the subject was to wear business clothing. The second shot could be more creative - unique lighting patterns and posing the way we felt would fit our subject best.

My classmate was Peter. He was a good sport, holding his pose and letting me move him just slightly to get the "right" shot. I'll post in a little bit about another shoot where Peter was in my group for high key portraits.

Here's the "official" picture:

Here's the more creative one. Peter likes baseball and wears his hat all the time:

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It has been a buuuuusy past few weeks. We have been in the studio 20 hours this week. I am exhausted and cannot wait for break to begin tomorrow. But.....we have over 10 assignments to do over break, most of which need to be submitted the week we get back. It's going to be a little rough doing so much work and trying to relax as well.

We were in the commercial studio last week shooting glassware. The way that you light glassware is very different than the way we lit the silverware. We had a lot of fun mixing different gels to create some colorful images, as well as keeping it simple and getting some solid glassware shots. It's incredible to think about the endurance that's needed when in the commercial studio - especially - because you have to be so meticulous with details. You could get a shot all framed up and then look at it on the computer and everything needs to be adjusted by the tiniest bit. It can be maddening sometimes, but it's much easier to do it "in camera" than to resort to "simply retouching in Photoshop."

Here are the images I submitted for glassware:

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Monday, December 6, 2010


Today we wrapped up with the final studio time from lectures we had the past week...and we were in the commercial studio doing our first metal shot - of silverware. There are many challenges when photographing silverware. There is a very specific set-up with lights and how you arrange your silverware to make everything even and smooth. Did you know that if you photograph it wrong, it can look like plastic? Or that the spoon's "bowl" can ruin a silverware picture? And what about making sure the blade of the knife is shiny, as well as the "bowl" of the spoon, and the "tines" of the fork? Yes, they are all very key things to consider when taking pictures of these precious utensils.

Oh and then add into it that you want to have it look nice and pretty...and have a placemat or nice background. Oh and throw in a flower or some berries or some brush to make it look inviting? And what about a folded napkin and a plate/dish or bowl?

Then imagine getting it all set up and the background being uneven. It's not as easy as moving the background. Because of the complex nature of it all, you may as well start over from scratch. Oh, it's soooo tedious!

But today I worked with a great partner - Rikki - and together we photographed some pretty good-looking silverware. This is the final shot I got:

Now tomorrow the cycle all starts again. We have a commercial lecture tomorrow where we're going to learn how to photograph glass and before the week is out, we'll have commercial studio again to shoot glassware.

And....believe it or not, next week our section has FIVE different studio times....that's a total of 20 hours in the studio (out of a possible 40 hours), before Christmas break begins!!

I'm praying my endurance is UP and my creative juices get flowin''s going to be a whirlwind of a week next week!!

Stay tuned!!!
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I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane (or a little Cessna)

One of the little field trips we get to take is to the Northampton Airport. We had an Aerial Lecture a few weeks ago, where we received instruction about our aerial trip and the "target" we had to take a picture of. Then on our fly day, we drove to the airport, had a specific fly time, boarded the plane, took our shots, landed, and had another assignment to do while on the ground as well.
Of course my section went on Friday, one of the colder days we've had so far. I think it only got up to 39 degrees and we were outside for the majority of the day.

Our target building was in Springfield, MA. The plane literally circled the building...and you either got the shot or didn't. Then the only other picture we had to get was of something we found interesting while in the air. It could be patterns of the fields or an interesting row of buildings we saw, or the mountain ranges we passed, or trees and how they were in a formation.

These are the two shots I got. It was hard, since we were taking pictures out of plexiglass. Our pilot was nice. His name was Paul. He said he likes to try and fly every day, so long as the weather is cooperative. I sat in the "co-pilot" seat, right next to him. The plane was only able to hold 4 people total, including the pilot, so it was tight....And believe me when I say you could feel every bump that plane took. It was one of the more nerve-wracking flights I've ever taken.

But all in all it was a good day. I have yet to edit the pictures for the other assignment we had to do that day, but here are the two pictures I got from the air. And I'll also be posting some other fun ones we got during the day, while we learned about a one-head flash kit that we used to shoot our other assignment. It was such fun!!! Everyone got some awesome pictures.

So this is our target - Monarch Place - and the other businesses that surround it.

Then below is the "other" shot I submitted....I thought the arrangement of these homes was unique and made my eye keep going back to shapes and lines, both surrounding the oddity of homes and within the homes themselves.

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The current trend is that we have multiple lectures, then multiple studio times wherein we practice the procedures we were taught in the lectures. Two weeks ago our Portrait Lecture focused on learning the "accent light". It's a light that accents our subject. Pretty obvious, right? Well, you'd think......but, it's a little more tricky than that. Think of what we do as compared to riding a bike. For most, first comes one of those battery powered 4-wheeled cool things we rode as kids. Then you upgraded to a tricycle. Then you learned on a bike with training wheels. Then you got a bike that was a bit bigger and the training wheels came off. Then you got a 10-speed bike. Next came a mountain bike. Then - if you got really serious - you could get a trail bike or one of those fully customized bikes.... but in reality, you didn't start off riding a mountain bike, did you?

No, likely not. You had to take what you knew and expand on it....prior knowledge. Scaffolding. Building blocks. Call it what you may.

This is what we do in the portrait studio. First it was the key (or main) light. Then it was the fill light. Next the accent light. Then the hair light. Now we're getting more into posing, and instead of head and shoulder shots, we're doing 1/2 to 3/4 length shots. So when I say we learned about the accent light, we not only had to get that down, but use all the other knowledge we've received to come away with some stellar images.

I was assigned to a group with Garrett and Justine. We had a really fun time with one another, and worked really well together. But the assignment was cumbersome and we went right up to the end of our studio time (and a couple minutes over) trying to grab the last shot. I felt a little rushed, and got some lens flare in my shot, so I asked Garrett to stay after with me so I could reshoot one of my frames. We ended up shooting some awesome pictures, since we had extra time to mess with the lights and try some different lighting patterns.

These are some of the shots I submitted for the assignment. I haven't edited the ones we did as an "outtake" but they turned out pretty awesome. I'll be sure to post some of those soon.

For each one, we were asked to do a different lighting pattern. I'll spare you the details, but for each one as well, it's advantageous to change the pose.

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Self Promotion

Not only do we learn actual photographic skills, but we also have multiple classes in learning how to run a business. We have classes in Recordkeeping, Finance, Marketing, Web Design, Personnel, and a host of others. One of the classes we've had is Design, where we learn about InDesign and Photoshop (two programs available on the computer). We got an assignment where we were asked to create a 6x9 self-promotion piece, using a picture (or multiple pictures) to convey our business name and contact information.

Since I was really proud of my silhouette shot of Kayla and Bucky, I decided to use it for my promo piece. I then got the idea to use the picture for the whole piece, and capitalize on the black space at the bottom of the frame to write in my information. I used an "eyedropper" (a tool in the computer programs) to select a yellow hue that I liked from the sunset in the picture to be the base for my text at the bottom. I wanted it to be read easily and be simplistic.

I got my grade back today and scored excellently. I really love how it came you?

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Monday, November 29, 2010


For those who don't know, I love to clean. I sometimes have been called Martha Stewart. I wear yellow gloves to wash dishes. I spend a long time cleaning the tub, and sometimes say to friends, "It's so clean, you could lick it." Laundry (esp. folding it) is one of my favorite things. My car is always tidy; I hate garbage in my car. I don't mind piles, but even they have organization to them.

I don't know why I am this way. And no, I'm not opening it up for discussion....haha! So keep your comments to yourself. I already know I'm special.

So when it came time to pick a product for a commercial shoot we had last week, I thought: DUH! Use a cleaning product. As I mentioned in a previous post, up until this week, we avoided shooting metal or glass, so oftentimes people would bring shampoo bottles or lotion. I opted for something close to my heart...Fantastik.

The assignment had us using new equipment - a medium format camera. I don't have a picture of it, but will be sure to get one. It's bigger in size and bulky. The mechanism that sits on the back of the camera (one of the essential pieces) is worth $17,000. Liken it to the engine of a's crucial and extremely delicate.

And, the most crazy thing is this: When you look through the back of the camera, the image you see (your subject) is upside down and backward. So we tether to a computer and don't see what it "really" looks like until it shows up on the screen. It's weird, but way awesome!

The assignment called for two pictures: one of the product by itself, and then one with the object plus props (but NO over-propping). I thought, "what better prop than paper towels?"

So here's the ones I submitted for this assignment:

Doesn't it make you just wanna go buy some Fantastik and clean?
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Weir Family

While I was home, I had the opportunity to head back to PA for the day. My friends Steve and Sarah were hoping to get a picture taken for their Christmas card. They have an almost 1-yr. old cutie named Reilly. Seriously, he is going to be a little charmer; he has the most beautiful blue eyes.

It was fairly cold on Saturday. We tried to get some shots outside, but the cold - coupled with an energetic little one - didn't really give us any great shots, so we headed back inside. Steve and Sarah both love to read, so they have this awesome brown bookshelf filled with books. I thought it might be good to take some pictures there, then also wanted to isolate Reilly in some pictures too.

Here are some shots from my time with them:

Sarah and Steve - I am thankful for your friendship and just think Reilly is so precious. Enjoy your first Christmas with him!
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Much to be thankful for....

The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving were busy. Quite a few assignments were handed out since I last posted. Then the week of Thanksgiving, we had two fairly quiet/easy days before I headed home to NJ. Surprisingly we only received one assignment to do over break, and it wasn't even a photographic assignment. It allowed for a relaxing break, not one consumed with the overwhelming feeling of having to get assignments done.

I got to spend time with my family and see many friends. I had a photoshoot with some friends, ate good food, and even attended my 10-yr. high school reunion. But Sunday came too quickly, and I got on the road to head back to MA.

Thankfully, we had the first 2 hours off this morning; I took the time to sleep in a bit. Then today we had three different lectures (each two hours long): a portrait lecture, location lecture, and commercial lecture. Over the course of the next few days, we will be having studio time to take pictures related to the lectures we had: using the accent light in the portrait lecture, doing aerial photography in Springfield, MA, and doing our first shoot of reflective metal (silverware) - which is a lot harder to photograph than items that are non-reflective. Sidenote: thus far in Commercial Studio, we've been instructed to avoid using products with metal or glass, as these require specific tricks and techniques.

Here are a few pictures of my time at home, celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. My mom had the Thanksgiving day meal at our house, and my grandma (mom's mom) came, as well as my dad's brother and his family. My sister, husband Dave, and 3 boys, my brother Kevin and his fiance Catania, mom, dad, and I were the others, bringing our total to 18 people. We had lots of yummy food and plenty of desserts to go around.

My mom used to always make the lemon meringue pie; I've never made one. But this year, I attempted my first one...and think I succeeded. This picture was taken before we stuck it in the oven. I had fun making the little peaks with the meringue.

This is our 27lb. turkey, carved by dad:

And this is a picture of the pretty:

On Friday, we went to Lancaster for the day. We did our shopping at our favorite stores (Harry Goods, Flower and Craft Warehouse), and ate lunch at Palermo's - this pizza place we go to whenever we're there). We also stopped by Achenbach's, one of THE best bakeries. Oh, so yummy!

Today in class, one of the instructors asked a question of the day as he was taking attendance: "What was the worst part of Thanksgiving?"

My answer: It was too short.

I hear these next few weeks will fly, and with all these new assignments we have, I'm sure I'll be kept busy. This weekend there is an open house I am helping with, so that should be fun. I never got to come to an open house here, but I hear it's quite fun.

Oh, and this week starts the parking ban on the streets. Beginning on Wednesday, we need to find alternate parking for overnight. This should be interesting. I'll be sure to post when our first big snowfall hits!! Yikes!
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kayla and Bucky:: Engaged

Dear friends of mine got engaged on November 1st. I was going to PA to assist a photographer with a wedding a few days after they got engaged, and Bucky asked if I'd be willing to take some pictures of them while I was in the area. I assisted at the wedding on Saturday, then went to Princeton with Kayla and Bucky on Sunday before heading back to MA. The day was nice...a bit windy, but relatively warm (considering) for a November day. Stephen came along, too, and was my "light boy". He did a great job metering and helping with the reflector. I couldn't have done it without him.

Here are a few favs of the day:

And as we were driving home, the sun was setting beautifully. I have never taken a successful picture of a silhouette and just begged them to let me try. All of a sudden, the curved road became straight and there was a tiny slope at the entrance of a local middle school. I pulled in quick, told them to get out fast and run to the slope, got my gear, and desperately tried to pull it off. I can't believe I kinda pulled it off. I know it's probably not done technically the way that most would set up a silhouette, but I was beaming even getting something remotely close with a gorgeous couple.

Congrats again, my friends!! I cannot wait to stand beside you on your special day!!
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Portrait Lighting

In this post, I talked about how we had this assignment in the portrait studio where we had to create these different lighting patterns. I gave you a link with this hideous mannequin head. I also promised I'd put up the pictures I took for comparison.

Here are the ones I submitted. My model is Megan, a classmate of mine.

SPLIT LIGHTING (see the split down the middle of her nose?):

Then we had to do split lighting, but this time with the use of a reflector, making the picture have a 3-stop difference between on the highlight and shadow sides of the face. Notice how the pictures differ; the first one is darker and the second one is brighter, allowing you to still see the split, but also more of the shadow side of her face.

REMBRANDT SHORT LIGHTING (see the triangle under her eye? It's the technique that Rembrandt used in his portraits):


For this one, too, we had to make use of the reflector for the 3-stop difference, either doing short or broad lighting:

LOOP LIGHTING (see the nose reflection?)

And same for this one....loop lighting with the reflector and 3-stop difference:

BUTTERFLY LIGHTING (see the shadow that the light makes under her nose? It looks a bit like a butterfly):
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