Dear Photographer feature by Erin Witkowski Photographer

Dear Photographer feature by Erin Witkowski Photographer
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circa 2010 
A Letter to my past, present and future….

Dear Erin (past)
You don’t know it yet, but watching your dad struggle with alcohol your whole life is going to help you see the world with compassion and strip you of judgment in a glorious way. Just wait. You don’t know it yet but your baby boy born with an extra chromosome is going to help you paint the world with more color, joy, and patience. Just wait. You don’t know it yet but the pain of losing parent will catapult your heart into a state of grief that will rip open your desire to reach deeper into meaningful connections with those you photograph. Keep Listening and Just wait.

 
Dear Erin (present)
Vulnerability and business is a fine line, you know this well by now… but don’t stop giving it your all. Your heart is thankful you use all its pieces when you’re documenting even when its tired and raw afterward, the risk is worth the reward. Be easy on yourself and continue to seek balance always and never ever stop listening. Never stop listening to those who trust you to photograph them, to your family who needs you and your heart who leads you.

 
Dear Erin (future)
I am sure your greatest struggle remains to be the inner critic, your vulnerable heart and your constant pursuit of meaningful work… well I hope these are still your struggles because without struggle comes complacency and that means you’ve stopped growing. So here’s to hope you’re still struggling in all the right ways and somewhere along the way balance has found you in every way….I can’t wait to see what you are doing now.

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ABOUT THE ARTIST :

I am traveling family photographer, visual poet, and mentor based out of Hudson Valley, NY. I’m raising up & wrangling four wild babes alongside my husband in my childhood home, rediscovering life with a side of nostalgia. My passion for art is strongest when standing alongside others in their most authentic state & when trust is handed freely to me, it’s there I am home.

W E B S I T E | F A C E B O O K | I N S T A G R A M  

 

 

BE INSPIRED Session | At home newborn lifestly featuring Ashley Gardner

BE INSPIRED Session | At home newborn lifestly  featuring Ashley Gardner

 

Tell us a bit about your approach to the work you do, your time in the business and a few personal facts about you.

I started my business in March of this year and it has grown faster than I ever imagined it would. I truly love capturing the heart and souls of families, couples and new parents and I believe my work shows just how much I love photography. I go into every session excited to create memories that will last a lifetime. I’m a mom of two kids (and currently pregnant with my 3rd!) so I know how fast time flies by and just how important it is to have beautiful photographs of your family to look back on.

What about this session was most memorable?

This session I had worked with the family for their maternity photos as well as the birth of their baby girl. I was so excited to be able to do their newborn photos as well. I love being able to be apart of so many beautiful memories.

 Were there any hurdles?

The session went pretty well! Big brother was still getting used to his sister, but it worked out and we got some cute photos of them together!

Your best photographer/session advice?

Have fun! Don’t stress out about sessions too much. Go with the flow. Especially if you’re doing lifestyle photography. Not everything will go as planned, but those usually always turn out to be the best photos.

What gear was used to achieve these?

Canon 6D
Canon 35mm lens

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ABOUT THE ARTIST : 

I’m a military wife, a mom of two rambunctious kids and currently pregnant with my third little one as well! I was born and raised in beautiful Northern California and have lived here all of my life. I’m blessed to live in a state that has stunning mountains and beautiful beaches all within a 2 hour drive. When I’m not out scouting locations, taking photos or editing I spend my free time with my husband and kids! I’m also a huge reality tv junkie, coffee addict and wine lover. I’m a pretty outgoing and talkative person, so a good majority of my clients end up becoming great friends I’m absolutely blessed to be able to do what I love so much and it truly lights a fire in my soul to create beautiful images that people can cherish forever.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM 

 

#P52RADNESS JULY- MONTHLY SELF -PORTRAIT PROJECT

#P52RADNESS JULY- MONTHLY SELF -PORTRAIT PROJECT

One thing I didn’t want to do was to get behind on posting these. My reasons are the following ;

  1. this is my favorite group and they deserve better.
  2.  so much goes into self-portraits and feelings need to be fresh.

July is my birthday month, and this summer has been a hell of a lot to manage. We’re currently sitting on short, chilly fall October days. I am able to be a bit more focused. But I am a true believer that you make time for the things that are important to you, so posting these, should be at the top of my priority list. Coincidentally that is what you need to do to make sure you set a little time a week to sit in front of the camera. All I have to say is thank you for continuing on this self-portrait journey with me.

 

Words by Adri De La Cruz

 

“I see myself through others eyes and I am made anew.” 
― Molly Moore

 

 

ADRI DE LA CRUZ chicago newborn photographer (1 of 1).jpgERIN BROOKS IMG_0383

JEN SMITH

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JADE LYFT IMG_8610web

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DANIELLE NAVRATIL IMG_8032

LANI HOLMES sepia

KERLYN VAN GELDER Kerlyn-Van-Gelder-Photography-Corpus-Christi-Photographer01

APRIL CHRISTOPHER 

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SAM HANCOCK

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ASHLEY MARTSON AshleyMarston

 

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COLLABORATION |Keziah Kelsey + Lauren Wright, Photographing a Mom and baby

COLLABORATION |Keziah Kelsey + Lauren Wright, Photographing a Mom and baby
Tell us a bit about your approach to the work you do, your time in the business and a few personal facts about you.

KK – I’ve been in business officially for a little over 3 years but have been photographing for over 20. I began when I inherited a Zeiss from my grandfather, a world war 2 veteran who documented the medical camps with it. I approach my work with a sense of empathy and love as I enter people’s homes, families, and hearts to make honest portraits of the truth of this season of their life. I try to be very present with them; attentive to their ways, their affections and the moments that count.

LW-I’m a dream catcher, not only in my personal approach to life but in my professional world of creating images as well. I live for catching moments that disappear all too quickly, for somehow capturing a moment that only those involved actually felt, unaware that others saw it. Small tangible details that I first see through my lens, then get to see again when editing is what excites me. This is why I make photographs. I’ve really only begun to find my voice and I think that my daughter helps bring this emotive and nostalgic side out in me. I see me in her. When I see her joys and remember my own growing up, it makes me feel what I am seeing through my camera. I want others to see it as well.

 

Tell us about your feelings regarding community and other photographers?

KK- I love our community; I have many very good photographer friends, they make up the majority of both my friend group and my client group! With any large community, there can be difficulties and conflicts and photography is not immune to that. I’ve experienced troubles in our community as well but overall I believe in a surplus mentality. There’s always enough to go around so we can all afford to share. I love connecting with people who get the ups and downs of being in a small business and also being an artist. It’s a unique set of joys and woes and having friends who really get it can really make life easier on tough days.

LW- What a community I feel as though I have found! I have my niche. I have my small group of photographers I know and can turn to for true advise, free from judgment and free from fear of competition. I think that is hard to come by in such a large pool of talent. I’m somewhat of a guarded person, I hesitate at first to share but the overwhelming support & truth of this community has amazed me (and pulled me out of creative blocks many times :)). For this I am so thankful.

What was the experience collaborating with another artist?

KK- Lauren and I have collaborated together before so we didn’t really find too many difficulties in setting this up. I adore Lauren’s photographic voice; so based in sensation and detail. I found shooting together to heighten my own awareness of the textures and details, while also enjoying the camaraderie that having a friend along lends. Shooting together helps the whole session feel more like a coffee talk with friends, relaxes the subject and gives a sense of intimacy that can be hard won sometimes.

LW- This isn’t the first time I have shot with Keziah, I took her on as a mentor last winter and she arranged a learning session that we shot together. This was SO hard for me, I was completely out of my comfort zone but also eager to learn. One of my most favorite images ever created came from that session!

Were there any hurdles?

KK- We definitely wound up cropping each other’s arms and toes out of a lot of frames! HA! I think the biggest hurdle was definitely just the physical space. We are both close shooters, so there were moments in the session where we’d be shoulder to shoulder working. Our other major hurdle was scheduling; we both book out fairly far in advance and are working moms juggling school runs and households so finding a date on both our calendars with good light was a super challenge!!

LW-  I felt an initial uncertainty how the session would flow, not wanting to step in the way of her thought or vision and visa-versa. Scheduling was a little tricky too:)

Your best photographer/session advice? How would you approach sharing the same subject with another artist?

KK- I think, like any session, approach with a combination of planning and intent ( what do I want to make today?) and the openness to feel inspired by your subject, the light and locational details. I am always very inspired by water and Lauren rolled with it, she was taken with some fluffy dandelion bush things and we shot there for a while as well. I think allowing yourself the flexibility to just be like, ‘oh I love that, lets try and work with it!’ lets you break your own boundaries and create something amazing.
Sharing a subject is kind of a moot idea, we all share basics. It’s fun to work side by side and see another person grind their gears as they think about the same set of information as you but differently/ It’s inspiring to try and expand as you incorporate their want list and your own into a session.

LW- Know what you want to get from your session. I truly believe that sharing a client with another artist will be difficult for some, but for others, if you can find a complimentary voice in this crazy, creative field then you are fortunate. Collaborate as much as you can when you find that.

What gear was used to achieve these?

KK- I shoot with a Canon Mark3, sigma 35 ART 1.4
LW- I use a Nikon D750 with a Sigma Art 20 mm 1.4

Will you collaborate with more artist in the future, if yes Who would be on your list to work with?

KK- I would definitely do it again!! A dream list of collaborators? hmmmmm, that’s a super tough one! I’d love to work with Justyna Butler, Devon Hall, Tatum Pfieffer, Candice Zugich.. I could go on!

LW- I have not yet considered collaborating with other artists , I think i would need to have an existing relationship with that person, as I do with Keziah. I think to have another intensely creative individual work along side you in your coveted space requires deep trust and appreciation for the other and what they create as well. I believe that is rare. I would certainly collaborate again with her!

K E Z I A H ‘S  G A L L E R Y

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L A U R E N’S  G A L L E R Y 

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ABOUT THE ARTISTS : 

K E Z I A H  K E L S E Y 
Keziah Kelsey is a former art educator, an artist, and fine art photographer, in 2014 she pivoted from high concept styled shoots in the fashion world to intimate, raw, and real portraits of family, motherhood, and childhood as she began her own family journey. Her photography business has grown from a side hustle to full time and has deepened in tune with the seasons in her life. She now offers full service, end to end professional photography as well as mentoring, classes, and workshops for budding photographers.

She has recently been honored with 1st place in the 2017 Shoot & Share competition and is a member of NAPW, the Motherhood Society, PPA and a Click Pro. Her work has been shown at multiple, international galleries and published extensively in the last few years.

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L A U R E N  W R I G H T  

I am a Mother, a Wife, and an Artist. I love each hat I wear equally. They each teach me something new every day, and what I learn I like to bring into my work.
I struggle and dig deep every day for what makes me happy with my art. I actually crave (in a weird way) the struggle of keeping my mind feeling creative and heart filled with joy from my work. I want to constantly create & feel the rush of seeing an image perfectly depict a moment or intimate detail that only those in the image experienced but now is tangible and felt just by viewing it.

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BE INSPIRED Session | Feature by Brittany De Jesus

BE INSPIRED Session | Feature by Brittany De Jesus
Tell us a bit about your approach to the work you do, we recently saw that you reach out to strangers, share more on that. 

As of right now,  I’m trying to find what I want to specialize in, I’m out here finding my niche;  to be honest I really just want to be able to do it all in this big beautiful photography world. I’m currently shooting family sessions and swooning over couple sessions, I have been known to walk up to random people on the beach and hand them my business card, or in this latest series where I brought two complete stranger together to create magic and connection. I guess you can say my approach as a photographer is unpredictable- I’m faking it till I make it. 🙂

 What about this session was most memorable?

This session was most memorable because i had these two people who never met, never saw a picture of one another who instantly gave off this undeniable connection. It was truly pure magic. As a photographer, I still can’t believe that I got to capture it.

A little backstory;

The guy in this series is actually my husband’s cousin and the girl is a model I met through the Instagram community. Since I am trying to build my portfolio to showcase what kind of photographer I am, I set them up to meet for a shoot at 7am.. normal right haha. I think helping clients get comfortable in front of the camera (especially strangers) is very important. I knew I wanted to showcase love that was undeniable, and to do that there had to be some sort of connection. So, they went for it. But First, I told them to walk around on the beach and get a feel for one another while I set my settings on my camera. Then Secondly, when we started shooting I asked them if they were comfortable touching and getting super close for detail shots because you should always ask first just in case they have boundaries, ya know. lol. As you can see they had no problem with boundaries. So hot!

 Were there any hurdles?

The only hurdle I had or ever had (so far) is learning to get over my self-doubt. I second guess every single thing I do, and it can be detrimental to my entire soul, to my entire brand, really. So since I know this, I know how to deal with it.  Doubt is usually perceived as a negative, but it is a feeling anyone can turn into a positive.

 Your best photographer/session advice?

There is always an element of fear when you put your work out there for the world to see. My advice to someone like me “the doubter” is to always strive to learn and not hesitate, remind yourself that art is too fickle of a thing and some people will like certain things and some people won’t  like them at all. But you should never be too self-satisfied that you quit being a doubter altogether. Because doubters are the ones who are constantly pushing themselves to achieve more, pushing themselves to learn more and most importantly experiment more. Do what you are afraid of, and watch that shit blossom! Xoxo

 What gear was used to achieve these?

I’m not too fancy yet,
but I achieved these photos with my Canon 70D,

The lens I used was a Canon EF wide-angle 28mm f/1.8

 

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ABOUT THE ARTIST :

Brittany DeJesus is a thirty-year-old lifestyle photographer based in South Florida. She is married and has two wild boys whom she says, will always be her very first muses.

  Her portraits of people are often innovative and raw, her style provokes love, which is often embraced by human connection and the pursuit of the intangible feeling of home”

 

Dear photographer |An artist self relection post, Feature by Melisa Gorman-Walkup of Walkuptome Photography

Dear photographer |An artist self relection post,  Feature by Melisa Gorman-Walkup of Walkuptome Photography

 

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Circa 2014, One of her first images.

 

 

Dear Past Self,

Oh, Mel how much you have changed. Three years ago you weren’t even a shadow of the photographer that you have become. When you bought your first camera, the Canon 6D, you were intrigued by the prospect of your first full frame camera that did well in low light. You were still under the impression that the camera had a lot to do with the photographs that you could take. Soon you discovered that the photographs that would fuel your soul, increase your heart rate, and fill you with joy, would almost never happen in that low of light. In fact, your life, and your photos would happen all day long. If I could tell you to erase everything that anyone had ever told you about photography and just shoot the beauty that you notice all around you, this is when you would grow the most. You would not have believed it. Getting your camera to see what your eyes saw was the hardest part. Who would have thought that an art book on your idol Norman Rockwell, given to you by your boss would ignite a passion in your gut that was all consuming? That and a super wide angle lens, with a bit of distortion, would get you giddy inside, and help you make a name for yourself. This would change the entire scope of your photography. You will take a class and learn all the silly “rules”. You would dispute them in your head. You would throw light to the side, in trade for the most dynamic cloud formations. You were on a mission to show people that even with the distortion of a 15mm fisheye lens, art could be created that was so vivid that you would have them feeling like they were experiencing your life from afar. You were always a different sort of story maker. While your photography crushes would consist of photographers who would create the most beautiful photos, with the softest light and even softer colors, this was not you. Your photos would be enriched with the most vibrant and lively colors that people would notice from a mile away. You couldn’t help it. You always thrived on center composition, wide, wide angles, and everyday moments that were masterpieces in your mind. You wouldn’t care what others thought. You kept telling yourself “Anybody can duplicate what you do, but nobody can duplicate who you are”. You will always continue to encourage, support, and inspire other photographers as they had done for you. The photographs that you would soon take would help you in the most desperate of times. They would be a constant reminder of all you have to be grateful for. They would bring a smile to your children’s face and start conversations with strangers at any given moment. Your photography like your children would soon become the best reflection of your life and how you see it!

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GEAR USED :

Canon Mark IV, 24-70ii, 15mm fisheye are

always with me.

 

ABOUT THE ARTIST :

Melissa lives with her high school sweetheart, and three little humans in a small country suburb east of Denver. She loves capturing every moment of her babies lives and rescuing as many animals as her husband will let her. She is mesmerized by her children and believes there is so much magic in the chaos. She shoots mostly her family but can be talked into a client session every once in a while. She loves to explore, go on adventures with her family, and show her children all the beauty there is to be seen in this world.

W E B S I T E | I N S T A G R A M | F A C E B O O K 

REDEFINE | DAY IN THE LIFE -DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY featuring Thomas Laskowski

REDEFINE | DAY IN THE LIFE -DOCUMENTARY  PHOTOGRAPHY featuring Thomas Laskowski

“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it. “

We love the honesty in your photographs, how do you go about to capture it?

I think it all comes from the belief that real is better than pretty.
I have so many portraits of my kids, and I know that in a world of smartphones every parent does as well. And as much I as love beautiful portraits they almost never make me stop and think. Or reminisce about anything. But I do that a lot with honest documentary images. Candid family photographs bring memories and joy and yeah..sometimes a little sadness as well.

I try to make sure that I’m not affecting the scene. It’s easier with my kids because “ahh…Dad is always with a camera” Nobody cares anymore. My kids just go on with their lives. Is a little tricker when it comes to my clients. Kids stop doing what they are doing when they see me taking pictures, or they sometimes start to do a show for me. Eather way this is not what I want. It’s great to have images of two brothers messing around but not if they do that just for me. So I just don’t photograph them when they do that. I go somewhere else. They very quickly realize that I don’t take pictures when they show off or look at the camera. Plus my session is usually at least couple hours long. So after the first one, no one is usually noticing the camera anymore.

I approach every scene like a puzzle. I know there is a picture somewhere there and I just need to find it. Plus I want to make sure that the image is not only about how the scene looks like. I don’t want to photograph my son running at the beach at sunset. I want to photograph how it feels to be a little boy running on the beach at sunset. I try to look beyond the obvious.

What were the challenges for you in the beginning, in your journey?

I think that beginning of any road as actually much simpler than the rest. We are passionate about what are we doing, have a lot of energy and ideas, and because of that things go rater smoothy. I just use to photograph my kids. Everywhere, doing everything, all the time. Things get a little harder down the line. One you photograph every corner of your house and every possible activity things get a little trickier. (To the point that it’s now sometimes easier for me to get an image that I love when I’m with a client. It’s a new environment, new people, new activities. It’s simpler. )

Also, it’s not easy to be a parent and a photographer simultaneously. When trying to focus on spending time with my kids and photograph them and the same time, I sometimes end up doing none of it. Images are not good enough and I’m not good enough father.

Why are you passionate capturing an honest image?

There is more than one reason. It started very organically. I’m a photographer, I have a camera, due to the nature of my work I spend a lot of time working from home and with my kids. What else is there to do if not to take pictures of them. Couple years ago, I was at my folk’s place, and I somehow gravitated towards to that old green box full of pictures. Going through them I had realized that the photographs I have the most connection to, the ones that mean something to me are not the perfect ones when my family and I stand in line in front of a camera but the ones that my dad took with his old Zenit camera when no one was looking. Not the “stand here sweetie, look at me for a moment” vacation pictures, but the ones where I can see my old home, the old garage in the backyard that no longer exists, the way my old room looks like and my family looking a behaving…normal. My pictures are not the same at that moment. I decided to step away from the traditional family portraits for myself and my clients as well and move to a documentary style photography.

Plus we also live quite a distance from the rest of our family, and as much as we try to stay in touch they don’t really know how our lives look like on the day to day basis. It’s really easy to feel the distance when you see Suzie hugging a laptop while talking to her grandma on Skype or Kostek kissing a webcam. So photographs exist partly because of our family. It’s a way to show grandparents something that they cannot experience. The normal life of the grandkids.

But the main reason is: I take pictures because I believe it’s important. I strongly believe that life is made of regular days. Annoying Monday mornings and busy evenings. And I think it’s incredibly easy to ignore those times. To not pay attention to the boring, regular and mundane but focus only on big family events. But how many weddings, Christmas days and family trips do we really have in our lifetime? Life is what’s happening here and now. There is way more Mondays than birthdays. When you take your kids to school, and you missed the bus or when they leave smudged fingerprints and toothpaste on the clean bathroom mirror. Sundays when they wake up earlier than on school day and won’t let you sleep. Or that split second when they love each other just before they start fighting again, This is what I want to remember and more importantly what I want them to remember. I have a box of pictures from my childhood, but besides that, my memories from when I was a child are really foggy. I don’t want that for my kids. I want them to remember those days in 50 years. So I try to take pictures all the time. Of everything. When they brush their teeth and ride a bike. Playing a board game with mum and doing homework. Sleeping, eating, crying, dancing, reading. I have pictures of them sitting on a toilet, licking a shower curtain, covered in chicken pox, at the doctor’s office, and so on. Basically all the time, every day and everywhere. But only a handful gets published.

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What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to capture their children or subject with a more honest candid way (aim for at least 5, but any are welcome)

Try to think why you are taking a picture. I know we sometimes just want to save the moment, but think about “why”? What is the thing that brings your attention? When your daughter is playing in the sand, don’t just point at the whole situation and shoot. Decide what do you like the most. Is it her feet covered in sand? Her hair being tousled by the wind? The look on her face? Have a strong point of focus and then shoot. Know why you are taking a picture.

Remember what it was like to to be a child. How it felt to do what they do now. With the image of my son on the beach, I have mentioned above I want to capture the feeling of being a four-year-old boy at the beach at sunset. – It’s not every day that he does that. It gets a little dark, he has a lot more freedom the usual, The beach is empty and wide, the sun is slowly hiding behind the horizon, and the waves make this calming sound. I believe it was special, little magical and quite unreal for him. So that’s the image I have tried to take. It’s not about how it looks like.

Get to their eye level. We always look at kids from one perspective. Looking down. And when we take a picture that way, we are just looking “at the scene”, plus we usually end up with photos of the top of their heads. Get down on your knees or crouch down to their height. Don’t just point and shoot. Get to their eye level or even lower. Not only your pictures will be more interesting; as this is not our normal way of looking at kids and it gives us a unique perspective, you also will become more approachable, but more importantly, you will be a part of their world. You will see everything from their perspective.

Just do it more. Funny thing about a photography is that the camera can show you things in a way that you can’t see without it. When you try to take the picture that describes the moment exactly how it is you need to really focus on what is exactly going on. Not only how it looks like but how does it feel. To you, but more importantly to them. And that requires attention, and that allows you to see more. You dedicate this moment to solely looking at them. Nothing else. And that is not something that we usually do during busy days. It definitely allowed me to be more present, to be more in the moment with them and understand them, not only when I’m taking the pictures but also when I put the camera down.

Shoot through moments Do not stop taking pictures simply because you just took one or two. When your daughter is drawing a firetruck on the kitchen table being completely focused on what she is doing, and you want to save that moment; do not take just one photo ( or even just 3) Stay with it. Keep shooting. She may stick her tongue out in a minute or scratch her nose or make that face that she always makes when she is thinking. The photo will be infinitely better, and it only takes a minute of waiting. Shoot through the moment. Take the “safe” shoot and keep shooting for the better one.

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ABOUT THE ARTIST :

Thomas. Father of two. Dublin based documentary photographer.

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