REDEFINE | VISUAL ABSTRACT INTENTIONALITY FEATURE BY JONYA STREEPER

REDEFINE | VISUAL ABSTRACT INTENTIONALITY FEATURE BY JONYA STREEPER
Tell us about what drives your work, How did you get started?

I started shooting in high school and because I was desperate not to be there, I enrolled in college photography and darkroom classes. I applied my new skills to what I loved and took photos of punk bands through the 90’s. I didn’t really pick up a camera again until I had my first child.

My work is driven by a desire to contain life’s chaotic day to day energy and anxiety, and to channel it into visual expression. Photography can be a powerful tool for processing loss, love, and things beyond our control.

Your images have a very retro and minimalistic feel, do you aim to capture that in any way?

I’m not deliberately seeking a retro feel in my work, but my subject matter and locations may invoke a sense of nostalgia. I’m usually creating photos of my children in a minimal environment often devoid of any information that may ground the image in a contemporary context. I am drawn to minimal and abstract imagery and love capturing weird liminal spaces that may exist only for a moment.

Would you say that is your desired style of shooting?

Experimenting with double exposure and out of focus imagery is where my interest is right now. The layers and oddness I can capture between making lunches and dropping off kids at school etc is very satisfying for me.

We also see a lot of architecture environment in your work, can you share more on that?

We live in a Rummer, which is basically the Oregon version of an Eichler. We fell in love with it all the way from California and decided on a whim to move even before really knowing much about what we were in for. As we’ve grown from two adults to a family of four, we’ve really enjoyed adapting to living in a minimalistic environment, and we love how it contrasts so dramatically with the beautiful landscape of the Pacific Northwest. My photos document the growth of our family in the same space as it has evolved to meet our needs.

What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve your desired style of shooting? (aim for at least 5, but any are welcome)

I don’t know if I have any tips! I shoot from instinct influenced by my daily life. Just find a subject matter and technique that speaks to your heart. Play and explore until it feels right because there really are no rules to self-expression. Also, much can be said for the confidence gained by putting yourself and your work out into the world.

Share an artist who inspires you a photographer or otherwise?

Oh man, this is a tough one, though I’d have to say my husband Bradley, whose paintings have been used many times in my photos. I sometimes use his work to add texture to my double exposures. He pushed me to move beyond just taking a photo and into a state where I’m creating something personally meaningful. He has helped me open my work to be different and by adding layers that may not always work together to create something visually interesting. He inspires me to embrace my awkwardness and use it to make something different. Watching his creative process inspires me to try and spark the imagination and provoke an emotional response in the viewer.

 

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ABOUT THE ARTIST :

I was born and raised in San Diego. I received my BFA in art history from San Diego State University. The continuous perfect weather of Southern California drove me to move to the PNW. I currently live in Portland, Oregon in a glass house full of wonderful maniacs. I am available for commission portraits and other fine art projects.

 

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REDEFINE | DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY FEATURE BY KATIE WALLS

REDEFINE | DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY FEATURE BY KATIE WALLS

“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. “

 What makes a strong Documentary photograph in your opinion?

Such a good question! Magnum photographer Eve Arnold said, “If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.” So, what makes a strong documentary photograph, in my opinion, is a strong documentary photographer. Obviously, we all have access to the same super talented teachers and mentors – and social media gives photographers access to one another, for learning, growing, and friendships. Because of this wide access, I think we all know the elements: light, composition, moment. We know that a strong photo tells us more than the facts recorded in the image: it reveals the connections and relationships between people (or things) in the photo, it reveals the emotions related to those connections and relationships. I’ve really loved what Kirsten Lewis Bethmann has had to say lately about photos showing us how something feels. To come close to doing that, we as photographers have to also FEEL a way about the things we’re photographing. It’s so easy as working photographers (and here I really mean working moms because SO many of us in this family documentary genre ARE working moms) to focus on business, on delivering a quality product, on providing our clients with excellent experiences, all while maintaining the elusive work-life balance. But all that stuff crowds into the space that we need to BE and to FEEL. I’m awed by how many of the great artists, photographers included, had really messy personal lives. I say that not to imply that we working mom artist/photographers should throw our lovely lives on the trash pile and rush into Diane Arbus level craziness for the sake of our art, but I DO think we might need to embrace a little bit of selfishness in order to let our feelings surface more, and work from that place – the place of having an emotional perspective. If, as Eve Arnold suggests, the photographer, not the camera, is the instrument, then we should give our inner lives as much attention as we do to the gear and we choose for our work. We should spend as much time knowing ourselves as we do watch live critiques and taking classes and commenting on each other’s photos. Because a strong documentary photograph makes you FEEL something.

Tell us about your documentary work, how did you get started?

I was always drawn more to candid images than posed ones, but for a long time thought I needed to shoot what people want, in order to have a business. That’s not a bad way start out, because it’s good to learn to deliver, and it’s good to learn to build a business. And you need some money coming in. So my family and children’s work was “lifestyle” and “candid”, but it was still really mainstream. At the same time, I got good, I built a solid business, I made a comfortable living doing work I enjoyed. Then, (again, like many of us!)  I noticed a Creative Live course on natural family photography with Kirsten Lewis… and realized there was this whole approach that was sort of the opposite of what I’d worked really hard to get good at. And I WANTED IT! I say “sort of opposite”, because it wasn’t entirely opposite: all the great lifestyle work I’d learned to shoot, all the great natural light skill I’d developed, all the ability to make clients comfortable was VITAL to making a successful switch to a documentary approach without hamstringing my business in the process. I definitely started with my son – he was around 3 at the time I started looking at Kirsten’s work and learning more about documentary family photography. The summer that he was 4 years old, I did a summer-long photo-a-day project with him, and that really supercharged my passion for the approach. I made a LOT of photos and a few of them were good. I started giving my clients more and more freedom in our sessions in order to capture authentic moments. And I started suggesting to them different types of sessions that would give me more chances to shoot documentary images, even while still delivering the more directed images they were used to. Little by little I’ve invested in mentoring both in how to SHOOT documentary work, and how to MARKET effectively, and I’m so happy to say that I’m gaining more and more documentary clients, and bringing past clients along helping them love it too.

And then in fall of 2016, I also started shooting street photography. At first it was just as an outlet to counterbalance all the “cute” and “ideal” images I took for families. I wanted some grit, some weird, some hard, some ugly. Turned out, what I also wanted was some REAL and some CHALLENGING. Not only has my street photography work become a fully developed aspect of my art, it has become a pretty amazing training ground for family documentary work! And at this point, which you’ll see in the images I’m sharing with this feature, is now actually informing and influencing the way I shoot families! I’m working right now to develop a particular approach to family documentary photography that is informed by street photography – even to the point of actually getting out in the city with families.  

What were the challenges for you in the beginning?

 

Oh Lord. Everything. I wasn’t that good. I mean, I wasn’t awful, but all that stuff I said about what makes a good documentary photograph – yeah, I had none of that. And obviously I was also trying to cultivate a desire for documentary photos in my clients – all while producing really mediocre images. I’ll never forget a particularly hard critique at the end of a group mentoring class I took. Of the 50 or so images I submitted, most were completely ignored – the only comment being just, “No.” The ones that got feedback got mostly, “There’s no moment here,” and “Close but not really right,” and “If you had only just…”  I think maybe there was some positive feedback but it was lost in the painful truth that my best images were mostly just so-so. But – ugh – I NEED to hear stuff like that. It pushes me. I’m the kind of person who cleans my house when I get pissed off. I’m the kind of person who needs to get pissed off to push past my own comfort zones. So I was motivated, but I also felt lost as to how to improve. Fortunately, a fellow photographer offered her first workshop a few weeks later and it was JUST what I needed to push past some of my blockages. She excelled at pinpointing ways for me to expand, and she’s the one who helped me realize that my path lay in integrating my street and family photography approach.

The other challenge is one I think we all know well: connecting with the people who want this kind of work. I’m more convinced than ever that real connection happens when you start shooting from your gut and sharing that gut-level work. Some people will always just want a pretty picture that shows an ideal version of their family they can feel happy to see. But there ARE people who want something more. They want to see their families through the eyes of someone who really gives a fuck. …I’m working hard to make sure that not only do I truly give a fuck, but I also can make someone else give a fuck when they look at my picture.

 

Why are you passionate about your work being strictly documentary?

 

Full disclosure: I’m in the middle of the fall season shooting golden hour mini-sessions in parks for families in coordinated outfits. I’m not yet “strictly documentary”. But, I hope next year I’m not shooting these because I can feel it when I’m shooting: I don’t love them. On the other hand, every opportunity to put a willing human being in front of my camera is an opportunity to practice something, and right now that means practicing how to create images that have the feel of my street work, even when I’ve just got nicely dressed siblings in ideal light being a little too posed for my taste. Recently, a dad emailed me upon receiving his mini-session gallery and told me, “That black and white photo of my sons in the tree made me stop in my tracks. I like a lot of the other pictures of them, but that one is art. It reminded me of photographs I’ve seen in museums. You made something really special and I can’t stop looking at it.”  I learned that a documentary approach isn’t always limited to documentary sessions. When you shoot and process from your gut, that comes out whether you’re getting a kid taking a clandestine pee in their backyard, or a couple of nicely dressed boys in a tree in the park. And when you shoot from your gut, it gets noticed.

But as to why I’m passionate about shooting documentary work, I was about to say all that stuff about keeping it real, and capturing life honestly, and giving my clients beautiful images of their actual lives… and that’s all true. I DO love seeing the real, the raw, the true – kids are just fascinating and beautiful and crazy and parenting is a big messy, emotional, gorgeous process. Photographing that is AWESOME. But deep down, I’m passionate about shooting the way I want to shoot. About being free to grow and develop as an artist, about doing what makes ME happy. About pushing myself. About creating something that only I can create in this world.

I can’t say I’ll always shoot this way – I think I might, but the day may come that I want to create elaborately controlled images like Annie Leibowitz does or studio portraits like Irving Penn’s tradesmen series. I want to always be able to shoot what I want, the way I want.

 

What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to start shooting documentary? 

 

  1. Henri Cartier-Bresson said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” He said that while working with an 8×10 field camera on individual sheets of film. So I guess probably multiply that number by 10 for the digital age… So: shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot and when you’re sick of it, take a nap, and get up and shoot some more. You’ve got to get those first hundred thousand worst images done.
  2. Invest in yourself, but be picky as hell. There’s literally endless content and classes and mentorships available now. Selling stuff to photographers is a bigger business than photography will ever be. You need to learn/study/practice, but you don’t need it all. Be super picky and do the BEST classes – save up and put the money into one or two very high-value learning opportunities rather than every $30 breakout and $50 download. As much as possible, find the opportunities that put you face to face and one on one with people who inspire you, and who get good reviews from other people who inspire you. If you have a hero you’d like to learn from, skip a step and find out who THEY learn from, then go there.
  3. Learn about photography in general – that is, get past the big names in “family documentary photography” and learn more about the masters of photojournalism and the men and women who shaped the early years of photography. Look at contemporary photography. Don’t limit your education to the genre you shoot. I’ll never forget when Beyonce released her “maternity photos”. Family photographers all over the place were losing their shit over how “tacky” they were, I included. Until a photographer with more exposure to the modern photography world shared more about the artist who created those images – and I realized my mockery came from a place of ignorance. The more I learned about the artist the more I understood the meaning of the photos he had created – and the more I learned about Beyonce as a human being – AND the more I learned about my own cultural awareness and feelings about race and power. My point here is this: don’t be a dummy like I was. Expand your mind!
  4. Shake things up and try something new. For me, it was street photography. This is where I learned what it feels like to be completely “in the zone” as an artist. It helped me overcome fears about boundaries, and hone the ability to make lightning-quick decisions about light, composition, and moment. As well as teaching me patience and pushing my own work ethic. It also opened up a whole new sense of understanding myself and being bold enough to make work look the way I want it to look. All these things stretched me and brought me new insight. That makes me a better photographer of families too.
  5. I just read this quote from photojournalist/documentary photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith: “Think about what you want to say. Think about what you care about. And then photograph that.” Which reminded me of another quote from David DuChemin (I think – he might have been quoting someone else), “If you want to be a better photographer, read a book.” These are reminders to me that what I shoot comes from my perspective on the world. The more I develop a perspective, the more I know myself, the better I can convey something in my photos. And we all want to see photos that convey something – no one wants photos that leave us feeling nothing. So take a walk, meditate, tap into your views, get a great therapist, talk with people, get sure-footed about what you really think. Give a fuck.
  6. Be kind to yourself and surround yourself with people who believe in you. Have buddies you can troubleshoot with. Give as much as you can, and take everything you need.

 

Has there been any education that you have done to further your work? 

 

Definitely!
Marie Masse’s 12-week Moment Seekers course on business/marketing and group mentoring.
Kirsten Lewis’s CreativeLive courses and group mentorships.

Stacey Ilyse Craft’s workshop and group mentoring.
Eric Kim’s extensive free content and in-person street photography workshop in NYC

Lots and Lots of great photography books and museum exhibits and gallery talks

Michelle Morris’s material on school photography which led to me shooting AND writing an ebook on DOCUMENTARY school photography which just released!!

 

On my bucket list:

a David Allen Harvey workshop, some kind of overseas street photography experience

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ABOUT THE ARTIST:

Katie Jett Walls is a documentary photographer, specializing in family photography, and street photography in the Washington DC area. With over 12 years of professional experience in the family and children’s photography field, her photojournalistic approach is supported by technical expertise and an easy rapport with adults and kids alike. She is the author of a book for photographers on shooting documentary school portrait photography. Her street photography work is a personal passion, and has been included in group shows throughout Washington DC, and was recently selected for the annual Best of IGDC Exhibition. Buy her new guide: Shooting + Selling documentary school portraits 

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REDEFINE | THE ELUSIVE MOMENTS OF MOTHERHOOD featuring KASIA HOLOPIAK / Love and Other Stories

REDEFINE | THE ELUSIVE MOMENTS OF MOTHERHOOD featuring KASIA HOLOPIAK / Love and Other Stories

“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. “

Tell us about you, and what moves you to capture the images that you do?

I am a mother and an artist, creator of things and manager of chaos. I can’t imagine a day without good coffee or without photography – be it taking photos, admiring them at a gallery, or sifting through tons of albums stacked at home. The art of portrait has been my focus since photography school. I fell in love with fashion photography and chased in pursuit of beauty that came along with the feelings expressed on people’s faces. Human faces are in my opinion most intriguing and captivating. My journey as a photographer changed recently when I became a mother. I became more interested in showing natural, raw emotion. My son now is my main inspiration and my teacher. He makes me see the world in a fresh and exciting way. I am also very inspired by light itself and its endless possibilities during the creative process. Natural light is what I love most, because of the power and honesty that comes along with it.

What is it about motherhood that you love to capture? 

Intimacy, pure love, closeness, connection.

Do you prep your mothers? We know it’s hard to sometimes get a genuine reaction?

We talk a lot before the session. It’s important to discuss the setting, clothes, and how the session will proceed. I help my clients pose during the shoot and make them feel comfortable. However, the most interesting and genuine pictures are those taken somewhere in the mix, when least expected.

What were the challenges for you in the beginning?

Definitely the lack of eager cooperation on the part of children. They do not like posing. They do not wait until I get the composition just perfect. They don’t work 5 hours straight during a shoot like a professional fashion model. Yet they are always natural and unposed. This is exactly what I love capturing.

What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique? (aim for at least 5, but any are welcome)

Always look for the best quality soft light. It is beautiful and flattering for your subjects. Light is the second most important aspect of the photo. Experiment with it. See how the mood of the picture changes as it shifts.

Make the color narrative cohesive and the setting minimalistic. For me, less is more.

Experiment with aperture. The magic starts happening around f1.4 Pictures gain an amazing, dreamlike quality. I find it very appropriate when taking pictures of children.

And most importantly, be vigilant to capture the decisive moment during the shoot. I believe that without emotion, there is no photo.

Can you name a photographer that inspires you?

I have always been in love with the intimate, beautifully lit portraits of Peter Lindberg. He is a true master photographer. I am also very much drawn to Paul Jung’s work, his minimalism and sophistication. As far as lifestyle photographers are concerned, I adore Nastia Vesna’s photography. The emotion and poetry of her work are amazing.

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ABOUT THE ARTIST : 
Kasia Holopiak is a portrait and lifestyle photographer based in Warsaw, Poland. Minimalism, elegance, and emotions are core to her portrait work.

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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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REDEFINE | Freelensing feature by Carrine Powers of Jupiter Hue Photography

REDEFINE | Freelensing feature by Carrine Powers of Jupiter Hue Photography

“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. “

When did you first learn about freelensing? Or, when did you first realize you liked it?

The first time I came across the term “freelensing”, I was reading a comment in one of the photography groups I had just recently joined in February of 2016. In situations like this, it would have been nice if would have made note of the artist and the image that inspired me to google how to do it, I would love to give them credit right now. It would also be nice if I could say I read a few things online and went out and created magic right then, buuut that’s not how it happened. In reality, I was scared to even try. As with a lot of things you read on the internet, the scary accounts of possible damage, to my camera and lens, stuck out and didn’t seem worth the risk. However, I kept seeing these dreamy OOF bokeh-holy images, the creation of such beauty being credited to freelensing. Soon thereafter, I was happy to have found and enrolled in an online course that focused on using tilt-shift lens and the freelensing technique to achieve a dreamy, painterly look. I learned a lot was so inspired by the artist, Justyna Butler, and her course that I can honestly say both were a huge influence on how I capture images today.

What were the challenges for you in the beginning, in your journey or figuring out freelensing?

When I first unmounted my lens, which was a brand new Sigma Art 35 1.4, from my brand new Nikon d750, I was a nervous wreck. I didn’t have a second body, or at the time, any other lenses. I had zero extra money to even buy a cheap nifty 50 use just for freelensing. I reeeeally wanted to try freelensing so badly that I was risking what seemed to be EVERYTHING to do it (without our gear we are dead in the water, no?). And boy, was I awkward it at first trying to hold the lens and camera, but I practiced and practiced and soon I got comfortable shooting. That part wasn’t really tough compared to letting go of the rules. It was one thing to admire that dreamy look in another’s work, but in my own, I was frustrated and hard on myself about nailing focus. During these first attempts at freelensing I found standard objects flowers, weeds, leaves to capture. And doing so I learned and became more comfortable holding my lens. Looking back it took longer than I would like to admit to free myself and go for it with moving objects. Once I was able to let go of the constraints of the “perfect focus” I was able to cross the freelesning technique from still-life into my documentary work, capturing my children.

Why are you passionate about this topic?

This technique crossed my path during a rut. Ya know, the lulls and dulls of inspiration. When all the every day, daily images have been taken, all the light of that season explored, and you’re sporting the “been there done that” attitude that kills your drive to create anything. For me, freelensing was a gateway to a creative place where I have been able to breed ideas and techniques together to continue to manipulate my craft, as a way to keep thing fresh and new. Being able to embrace distortion and OOF, slow shutter, in camera double exposure, tilt-shift lens, vintage film lenses, the list goes on – and hopefully, will continue to get longer, I enjoy exploring. When you find that something that really speaks to you, whether it is a project, an online course, another creative mind, a workshop, or a technique (or all the above) it becomes part of your journey and who you are as an artist. Not to say I wasn’t passionate about photography before freelensing, but I can say without a doubt, freelesing bore passion into photography, for me, in such a way that was not there before.

What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique?

If you are just starting out or you have been inspired to come back to the Art of Freelensing a few tips that I feel are pretty fundamental in achieving success are as follows: Unmount your lens from your camera body, set your lens focus to infinity – if your lens does not have an infinity symbol shown – turn the focus ring all the way left. I like to put my camera on live view, for one bc it a larger (= easier) viewing screen and for two the mirror is put into a flipped up position, out of the way so not to hit the end of my lens (especially when I use my Helios; which has a longer contact ring). Position your lens so close to the camera that it IS touching the camera body, most of your image should be in focus when you look at the LV screen, then every so slightly tilt the lens, you will notice the focus changing, added blur and hopefully some light leaks. Because your focus has been set to infinity you will need to move yourself and your camera around to find the slice of focus or light leaks or flares that you desire. The only time I need to adjust my focus ring after it is unmounted is when I want a closer crop of my subject. There is no one way to freelens, these are a few tips that I use that I hope will help you get started. The more you practice the more you will find what is best for you and your art.

CarrinePowers_dearphotographerblog_1CarrinePowers_dearphotographerblog_2CarrinePowers_dearphotographerblog_3CarrinePowers_dearphotographerblog_4CarrinePowers_dearphotographerblog_5CarrinePowers_dearphotographerblog_6CarrinePowers_dearphotographerblog_7CarrinePowers_dearphotographerblog_8CarrinePowers_dearphotographerblog_9CarrinePowers_dearphotographerblog_11ABOUT THE ARTIST

Carrine Powers is a daily life photographer living in Central Florida. She is a momma to 2 daughters, 2 sons, and a step-son. Currently, her work centers around her family, and the occasional client. She enjoys being involved in communities of interest, Photography, school PTA, and other Moms. She and her husband love to travel by road as often as possible, the mountains being a favorite.

I N S T A G R A M 

REDEFINE | THE MAGIC OF COLOR FEATURE BY DANA NICOLE PHOTOGRAPHY

REDEFINE | THE MAGIC OF COLOR FEATURE BY DANA NICOLE PHOTOGRAPHY
Share with us a bit of your approach to the work you do. How long you’ve been shooting + future goals.

As long as I can remember, I’ve always been attracted to vibrant colors. I love all things that glitter and sparkle because they add a bit of magic to everyday life. This is how I approach my photography. I feel like color can transform an ordinary moment into an extraordinary one. I’ve been shooting professionally for about seven years now and have always strived to push the boundaries of color in my images.

Tell us about your use of color in images?

I live in Tampa, FL so I shoot at the beach frequently. The sunsets on the west coast of Florida are nothing short of amazing. I love how the sky can so quickly fade from turquoise blue, to purple, pink and orange hues. Pastel colored skies are my favorite! I am so inspired by those colors that I just love to enhance them a bit to make my images look as magical as it felt to be there at that moment.

Is there a specific color pallet you love? Do you seek out specific colors in your environment?

I also love to play with contrasting colors. For example, I purposely put my daughter in this red dress because I new she would be surrounded by the green grass and trees. I really wanted her to pop! When you look at this image, your eyes will go directly to her. This is an easy technique for playing with colors in your work and I would recommend it to anyone just starting out. Look for bold colors around you and play them up by using a contrasting color.

In the future, I hope to teach my techniques for achieving vibrant colors in my work. I used to teach elementary school before I took up photography full time, so it feels like teaching about photography would be a natural next step for me. Until then, I’ll continue being inspired and embracing the beautiful colors found all around me!

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ABOUT THE ARTIST :

Dana DiSalvo lives in Tampa, FL with her husband and three daughters. She is a natural light photographer specializing in family, children, and maternity sessions.

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

P I N T E R E S T 

 

REDEFINE | Underwater Photography with a GOPRO featuring Tessie Wallace Photography

REDEFINE | Underwater Photography with a GOPRO featuring Tessie Wallace Photography

 

“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. “

When did you first learn about underwater photography? did you first realize you liked this topic?

I was first attracted to underwater photography a few years ago, when I saw the work of Lia Barrett online. She works with a family friend of mine and I was blown away by her images. I don’t think I even owned a camera back then but once I got on Instagram last fall, I started seeing underwater images and thought it would be amazing to try it. I also took Summer Murdock’s Magic of Light class and her underwater photography definitely got me researching what type of housing I could purchase for my own camera.

What were the challenges for you in the beginning, in your journey or figuring underwater photography?

I just started underwater photography mid-July, so I’m still learning something new every time I get in the water. I have been using my brother-in-law’s GoPro Hero 4 and I purchased a dome attachment for it. Figuring out the best settings has been a huge challenge for me since you can’t really control the shutter speed and ISO. I did turn on the Protune feature, which gives me some control. But the biggest issue so far has been water clarity. It makes such a difference as to whether your subject is sharp or not. And clean, clear water gives you more options for editing. The light and time of day is also very important since I am using a GoPro. I can shoot on a cloudy day, but the sunlight (or underwater pool lights at night) makes a much more dynamic photo. I just did a shoot at sunset and it was amazing because I was able to get sun haze and major flare, which I’ve never done before. So I’m definitely still learning!

 Why are you passionate about this topic?

It’s just really fun to let go and see what you can capture underwater. There’s a freedom to it because I don’t have to tell anyone what to do. I just play with my son and take a lot of photos. He has finally started swimming on his own and it’s his favorite thing to do, so capturing his joy gives me tremendous pride. I love documenting him on his journey and he loves to see the photos I take, which has driven my passion even more. He is also an amazing subject because he doesn’t blow out bubbles and he swims with his eyes open.

What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve underwater photography?

Just go for it! It’s really fun. You will need to lay flat so your feet aren’t in the shot and wear goggles (even though you can’t always see what you’re shooting if it’s really sunny). Also be aware of your light source and use it to your advantage. Backlighting is hard for me with the limitations of the GoPro, so I usually place subjects looking towards the light. You also need to be closer to your subject than you think – especially with the dome attachment. Editing is where the magic happens. I use a lot of contrast, clarity and some dehaze in Lightroom and then take it over to Photoshop for the skin tone corrections. Clean, clear water is also much easier to edit than cloudy water. But you can get a beautiful ethereal effect from cloudy water as well. I do prefer a moody, dramatic edit, which takes time to do on my computer. But I also really like documentary style photos and so I always edit some of my underwater photos close to the SOOC. They don’t have as much drama, but they capture the connection between my son and me. So many options, just enjoy it!

 

 

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ABOUT THE ARTIST 

Hello! I’m Tessie, a Charleston, West Virginia based photographer who craves color, light, beauty and magic.  I specialize in lifestyle and documentary photography, which includes various portrait sessions as well as labor & delivery, fresh 48 newborn sessions, and underwater mini sessions.  My goal is to capture real moments and connections in an artful way.  I also work alongside my husband as an artist-blacksmith and welder.

 

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