“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. “
Why are you passionate about this topic?
Why is anybody passionate about art?! I pour my emotions, my hopes, the beauty I find in the world, all into my work. I feel that applying soft focus and utilizing objects to shoot through calls to the senses and evokes more emotions by adding texture. I am a hopeless romantic and am really drawn to the dreamy, enchanting, mysterious, and whimsical form of art. Practicing the two techniques allow me to express myself and how I see the world.
I tend to skirt around the rules in photography. So, one more reason why I am passionate about this topic is because there are no rules!! :) They allow me the freedom to create anything I want – based on any sort of mood I’m in or to create a any random idea that pops into my head :)
When did you first learn this technique? Or, when did you first realize you liked this topic?
I first learned and realized I loved soft focus late last winter/early spring. I finally took out my 50mm 1.4 lens and experimented and started to feel alive! After I had purchased this lens I was afraid of it because it was so different! I wasn’t used to the softness. I am a self learning photographer so when I read about photography I always heard about having sharp focus and images. I would get so frustrated if my photos did not get as sharp as I was aiming for. There was seriously a few months where I did not even touch this fantastic lens!
Then I discovered a few photography communities on Facebook (–if allowed to mention: Distorted Beauty and Fantastically Flawed). Man, these sites spoke to me!! The shouted deep into my soul!! They asserted and encouraged finding beauty in the “flawed” and the “distorted”. This opened a whole new world!! A whole new way! I felt more ME! I knew with every fiber of my being that this felt right; that this is what I wanted to create.
I was thirsty for more… I was discovering phenomenally inspiring photographers to follow. Over this past summer all were bringing to light new ways to achieve this look such as Free-lensing, using objects to shoot through, and Lensbaby lenses! All of my love for this look and feel of photography led me to purchased my first Lensbaby lens, the Velvet 56, over Christmas :)
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique? (aim for at least 5, but any are welcome)
- First of all, THERE ARE NO RULES!! :) Create from the heart. Create what speaks to YOUR soul and how you interpret “beautiful”. Forget all about the rules!!
- Don’t be afraid of a wide open aperture! With my 50mm 1.4 my sweet spots are between 1.4 and 2.8, depending on the lighting. The more wide open your lens, the more bokeh and blur you get. If you cannot afford a 50mm 1.4, the 1.8 is MUCH cheaper. But really, any prime lens should do!
- I will manually create a photo on Blurpose–purposefully cause a little blur by adjusting my focus ring. Give it a go!
- Some tips for soft focus I haven’t tried yet (but plan to): Stretching a pair of stockings over any lens and securing it with a rubber band–brown gives more of a warm look where as white or black are more neutral. Another inexpensive way to achieve either of the techniques is to use a cheap UV filter on any lens and smear Vaseline on it! You must use a small amount and you can smear it over the whole filter or just one side to get more of a free-lensed look! :)
- There are endless of other objects to shoot through to give your photos a dreamy and/or texturized look: I have used umbrellas, sandwich baggies, leaves, glass doors, bubbles, curtains, and any reflective surface!
- Experiment and have fun!! It’s important to remember to never stop experimenting. If you are not successful the first time, keep trying new things until you discover a trick that works for you! Don’t be so quick to discard a photo; take another look at it and see if you can discover beauty in it’s flawness :)
- Lastly, be kind to yourself as you learn :)
What were the challenges for you in the beginning?
GETTING OVER THE RULES!! Ha! Getting over having sharp and noise-less photos. Getting over what I felt others wanted to see in a photo.
The trial and error was a bit of a challenge too… but once I accepted that, it became part of the fun!
Learning to accept and listen to what I felt was right, to what felt good to me; that is all that mattered :)
About the photographer:
Shannon Kathleen O’Malley is my name I am a single mother of a wonderful, imaginative 11 yr old boy and a self taught photographer. I am bound to photography by feel… I am deeply emotionally connected to each photo I take. Outside of my passion for photography, I work full time as a CMA in a Dermatology office. I love to read and have an obsession with super hero movies!!
Like many, photography became a passion of mine after having a baby. My passion for this immortalization of our memories deepened as I began to more deeply see the fleeting nature of the things that make each of our lives so uniquely beautiful. I didn’t want one moment or memory to pass or fade away. I began to realize the significance of the “in between moments of life”. Special moments, certain looks or smirks, time spent playing… these were to not be missed OR forgotten. To me this was documenting life. That’s what I wanted to do. That’s how I could relive those memories with more than just my imagination.
I’m a sucker for a great moment. I’m pretty good at living in the present, but I constantly find myself wrapped up in my favorite nostalgic moments of the past… not entire days, or weeks, but those split seconds that make you smile from the inside out. I love anything real, raw, and unfiltered.
I opened my business to others 15 months ago and never imagined I’d be where I am today. I am loving every moment :)
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