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Monday, June 28, 2010

Heartshop Review + more rambling + pretty pictures...

Oh my gosh, could I be any wordier? Again, this is a post for photographers, but scroll down (way down) if you are just interested in seeing the pictures.

So, remember when I rambled on about education, and then when I rambled on about my heart? Well, this year's quest has been to find my heart in my work, through education. I'm taking many approaches since I am not the person who says, "self, what do you love?" and I can clearly tell you. No, I am the person who says, "this, and this, and this, oh, but this too" and I just never get anywhere with that many answers. So I needed to find focus.

I want to preface this saying this is a candid review. I absolutely adore and admire both workshop presenters, and I in no way intend for this to be a negative review, but an honest one.

When Becky Earl and Yan announced a Heartshop, I thought that it would be another good resource for me. First of all I am in LOVE with their styles, and their respective voices. Could there be a better thing? I hmmed and hawed for a few minutes, texted a buddy, she said I should do it, and since I love me some validation, I decided why not. I didn't know if it would be amazing or not. I love both of their styles, but from time to time I see things that I know could be improved technically (hey, I'm not going to nit-pick...they're more technically correct than me, of that I'm sure), but what I did know was that every time I looked at their images I sighed in happiness, and then crawled into a hole feeling sad for myself since I don't produce images that have that much heart. Maybe they could teach me a thing or two about shooting with my heart?

-Two day workshop in Provo, UT
-June 4 and 5
-$825, including three meals

The claim?
-"A two day exploration of who YOU are as a photographer" with the focus being on helping us discover what makes our "hearts beat fast, goose bumps rise, and passion ignite." Helping us find our "unique photographic voice."

What I expected/hoped:
I hoped that they would help me navigate my heart a little more clearly. I was a little worried that it would be more for brand-new photographers. Although I still consider myself relatively new, I have been around the block and feel pretty darn comfortable technically with my camera.

Were my expectations met? Yes and no.

My thoughts:
Overall it was a good experience. Becky and Yan worked REALLY hard to put this heartshop together, and even put up an online forum ahead of time so that the attendees could get to know one another. This was nice, although I was so busy ahead of time that I just didn't have the time to get on and get to know the other attendees. I was a little surprised to show up and find out there was such a BIG group of people in such a small space (I think the small space made the group feel even a little bigger). But all the attendees were really great and I enjoyed getting to know them. When we got there, there were these adorable hand-made bags full of goodies and a workbook that went over everything we'd talk about during the presentations. I thought that was a really nice touch. And nice to have something to refer back to.

We started out talking about their journeys. Becky got teary-eyed, and Yan was adorable with this huge baby-belly that I just found myself in awe over. They both had stories I could relate to. We played a little 'ice-breaker' which was fun, getting to know the girls at my table a little more. They were sweet hearts. After we talked about journeys and did all the intros, we went over the basics with technical shooting (how ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed relate, reading a histogram, etc.) We spent a good while on this, and while I didn't feel I needed this at all, there were several that did have questions on this aspect of photography. I felt like we went into more detail than I would have liked since I already understood all of this, however, I understood that it was important for others to have their questions answered. Becky and Yan did work hard to keep us on track. And I did end up learning how they shot, which is different than how I've traditionally used my camera. It was interesting, and something I played with during the shooting portions of the workshop. I'm not 100% convinced it works for me, but I do like my exposures better, they just have more grain. Still figuring out if I'll change the way I shoot.

We had lunch and then the chaos of breaking up and shooting began. The group shooting was fairly organized (I was truly impressed...they brought in a TON of models and did have a good rotation schedule, although it did get messed up at one point and my group (and I'm sure another) missed out on shooting one of the sets of models, which I was bummed about). There were four stations and they brought in two mentors to help out. The idea was that we would be guided by our mentors in helping us see new ways of shooting, or just doing what we wanted and trying new things. There were stations for different types of lighting, but it was primarily urban and natural light studio locations.
I was with Becky first and she mostly just let me go off and try my own things. I would have liked a little more help (really wanted more instruction on SEEING the light, and camera tilts and angles), and the time I asked her to come help me she did run off to do something else, and I never did get her help. I was a little disappointed, because I really would have valued her feedback. I think that perhaps she might have though I was comfortable and wanted to give me the freedom to explore. I did end up just trying some new things on my own, and was happy with what I got.
When we shot with Yan, I felt almost opposite in that she was doing her own thing, and I didn't really have room to get in and try the shot from the correct angle. However, it wasn't a bad thing since I was able to see how she did it, and it was interesting.
After shooting we met together again and had dinner and then went over what worked and what didn't. For some reason I felt very intimidated to say anything. I was afraid I was going to sound really rude, and I didn't feel mad about it, but didn't know how to word it without hurting feelings. So I just let it slide. I think it came out from another person and we talked about what we'd like to see the next morning. We all agreed that we wanted to see the way that they shot so that we could have a better idea of what we are doing wrong. :)
The next morning they took us all up to a gorgeous meadow to shoot in and split us up into two groups and we photographed families. I was put in Yan's group and I loved watching her photograph this family (my images below). It was fascinating to see how she interacted, and the angles that she would shoot from, as well as the lens choices for certain situations. I found that some of things she did was already what I do, and some very different. I felt like I did learn a lot from this set up.
During this session, Yan pulled me aside and said some things to me, and I was grateful for her noticing that I was struggling getting some things out of myself, and for making the effort to talk with me for a minute, one-on-one.
After this we went back to the studio, had some lunch and finished talking about branding, identity, structuring your portfolio, and ended again with shooting from the heart. (Side note: the food was beyond amazing.)

In the end, I didn't get the a-ha moment I would have loved to have during the Heartshop. In fact, I felt like I left the workshop a little confused. But I don't consider that a bad thing. It made me think about things. I'm still thinking about things. What direction I *really* want to take my business, and my art, instead of just what other people have classified me as, or told me I should do.

Would I recommend this Heartshop?
Yes, I would. But if you are technically accurate, or very comfortable, I think you need to adjust your expectations to realize that will be part of the time taken (as well as a lot of the feedback during the shooting). I thought perhaps we'd have more talk time or activities that helped us find our hearts, but after it was done I realized they were coming at this from a different angle than I'd thought they were. This did not leave a bad taste in my mouth in any way. I still felt it was a good experience, and the fact that I left re-thinking my approach was what I ultimately wanted to leave doing. So, goal accomplished!

Now, since I have so many images from the Heartshop, I've decided to break them up in several posts. Today I'm showing you what I felt fulfilled my heart most. The field, the sun, the relationships. This is me. I love green. I love nature and how it relates to who I am, who we are. I love back-lighting. I love little girls with long hair. I love pathways and trails and trees.

P.S. I just got a new computer, so if my coloring seems off, please email me and tell me what you are seeing (joannataylorphotography at gmail dot com).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It must be summer

...because I'm going out of town again this weekend for a family trip to Southern Utah. I'll return all voice-mail and email next week when I return. In the meantime, here's one of a little cutie I got to meet with for a set of mini sessions recently. Yep, heaven on Earth, isn't she?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rhonda and Milan Wedding | Utah Wedding Photographer

You know, when you make a connection with someone, being part of something special in their lives effects you that much more. Remember Rhonda and Milan? Remember how lucky I was to take part in his surprise proposal? They got married recently, and I was honored to get to take part in a small part of their day. I was driving to the Logan Temple and the skies were amazing. A storm was threatening, but hadn't yet broken, and the clouds were brushed across the sky so incredibly, that I couldn't help reflecting on life, and love, and how we ALL have a story. Plus, I was so excited to photograph this incredible sky for Rhonda and Milan. But wouldn't you know that as soon as I took the Logan exit, the clouds released their fury and we wound up having rain (good luck, I hear) for their grand exit from the Temple. And although our Temple time was fast and furious (and soaking!), I still think we were able to capture some wonderful memories for this strong, beautiful couple.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gorgeous little details

While I am downloading a program to my computer I have been browsing etsy, and I came across this. Isn't it down-right amazing? Someone, please, do me the favor of buying it and using it for your wedding, will you? I'd be forever jealous that you got the chance. :)
(this is not my image)

Amber | Utah Maternity Photographer

First, if you are interested in my casting calls, I'm still looking for a maternity, an interesting couple or three sisters, and a child with curly hair. Please email me at joannataylorphotography at gmail dot com if you are interested in a complimentary session and fit into one of these categories.

Next, I'm booking a few more sessions in August and then into September and October. If you are interested in fall family portraits, please schedule now!

Okay, so I might just say that I ADORE photographing pregnant women. I know not every photographer does, so maybe I'm weird. :P But I can't deny, I find the pregnant form such a beautiful thing. The creation of life is a miracle. A woman is pregnant so few times in her life, and the changes she goes through physically and emotionally are astounding. I know, I've had four babies of my own. So when I get the opportunity to photograph a pregnant woman, I feel such a sense of satisfaction. And when they are beautiful as Amber, well, it makes things even more fun. But you know, not every pregnant woman feels attractive. In fact, even Amber struggles with feeling "too big" (clearly she is not). And some women are self-conscious about having their photos taken when they are pregnant because they worry about how big they are, or the extra weight they've put on, or stretch marks, etc.
But I want to say that those things don't matter!
They really, truly don't. Because pregnancy is such a limited miracle you get to experience, it's a wonderful thing to be able to capture it. (Besides, I can get rid of stretch marks and tuck that extra fat in just a little if needs-be). I always find it fascinating to see images of my mom when she carried me. What she looked like at the time. I'm guessing your own posterity will feel the same. It's one of those natural curiosities of life (where did I come from, etc.?)

If you are interested in scheduling a maternity session, contact me! Not all sessions have to be in studio, or even in 'wraps' like some of these. But we did have fun with Amber's session and she was totally beautiful and willing to do whatever!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Q&A Friday

I'm getting some good responses for the casting calls, but I'm still looking for some more! Please check the requirements and apply! See this post for details.

Time for another Q&A
Q: Photographing rooms. Sooo frustrating. I'm thinking my main problem is metering. The light coming from windows is just messing me up big time. How can I get a great, well lit picture? How can I specifically get a great picture of a whole window, without having my camera expose to the light coming from it and darkening the whole room? Arrrr.
A: Well, I won't claim to be an architecture or product photographer...there are things I do well and other areas that I'm not so polished in, but I do think I understand your overall question, probably because I've seen your awesome blog, so I know what you are trying to do! :) When you meter all over the room, your camera will likely try to meter off that window because it's so bright, so don't point your camera at the window. Instead, what you want to do is spot meter one of your walls, and then take your shot. If the whole room is overexposed, you'll want to adjust your exposure accordingly (up your shutter speed most likely so that you can keep your aperture to a good depth of field). This will blow out your window, but expose well for the room. It is OKAY to blow out your window if you are just trying to show off the decor in the room. If, on the other hand, you want to expose correctly for the window AND the room you will need to either bring in external lighting, and this gets more complicated. Or, you could take a couple of shots with different exposures and combine them in Photoshop.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Casting Calls

First I want to thank you for the kind words so many of you offered from yesterday's post. It just shows me that I am on my right path and that even though I've felt sometimes out of sorts, I have been putting my mark on your hearts already. Thank you!

And now for some casting calls!!

Let me preface this by saying that these are all for me (yep, I'm being greedy for a minute). I am building a new website and working on putting out work that will reflect my heart more. So first, if you'd like to apply, you MUST agree for me to use them publicly (on my website, blog, marketing, etc.). Second, we'll talk more details, but you must be willing to comply with my vision for the session (this may mean outfits or locations). Now even though this is all for me, I hope you'll get something out of it too. A beautiful piece of artwork or two that touches your heart.

Now, here is what I am currently looking for:

-twin newborns (in the first two weeks of life). If you are expecting twins, contact me. This will be held most likely in your home.

-three sisters, age range 10-25

-Child with lots of curly hair, boy or girl, age range 5-7

-A single parent with his/her child(ren)

-A couple with interesting faces/interesting style/confident and unafraid to get emotional and work it.

-A group of really good friends (up to six) with a STORY. Tell me your story.

-A fit pregnant lady (i.e. a dancer or yogi) must be comfortable with your body, willing to maybe do a little hiking to get to some good locations, nothing too strenuous.

How do you enter? Email me a picture and which category you would like to participate in. My email is joannataylorphotography at gmail dot com . Tell me about yourself. Unfortunately I will not be able to provide sessions for all that apply, but I will be selective depending on the look I'm looking to show in my portfolio. But I certainly encourage you to apply if you are interested. I'll discuss all details with those that are chosen.

Last of all, here is a sneak peek of a recent Beloved Session

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Heart on a Tree

I'm a rambler, so if you don't like my wordy posts, please just enjoy this image of my sweet Sophia. Her smile brightens my day. Every day.

My whole life I've either been too connected or too disconnected from my heart. Something inside me either feels too much, or nothing at all. I've been good at building walls around my heart when I've "needed" to, and I've accused myself of falling too deeply in love when I shouldn't. But as I've grown older and observed more about myself throughout my life, and the way I react to certain things, I have realized some truths, the most important being:

I am who I am.

I am:

And I can't change who I am and feel like I'm being true to myself, or to those who have invested their heart and soul into my life. Because isn't that what happens? We invest in those we love. Time, heart, money, and so on.

And I can't change the way I see the world, or the way I feel it. And what I've come to realize is that I don't need to. My vision, my interpretation of what life means and looks like, is wonderful to me. It brings me comfort and peace, and most of all joy.

As a photographer I have come to think that I need to photograph in a certain way, and while still infusing some of my style and vision, I've let that overrun me and the way that I've been functioning for the past several years. But it must stop! Why?
Because my heart is on a tree.
What does that mean? It means I am hanging myself out there for the world to see. I am putting my heart on a branch and waiting for it to ripen, and I can't do that if I've buried it. I can only do that if I feed it.

I got into this business for many reasons, but the biggest was that I've always appreciated the emotion and connection in particular photos, in songs, in books. I've always felt this innate desire to create, yet a complete inability to do so. Until I found that I had a knack for photography, and for connecting with people, and helping people to feel beautiful and connected. This industry can be completely competitive, and it's easy to feel like you are not enough when other photographers seem to have it all under control, or seem to be more creative, etc. It's hard in the state I work in sometimes because it's an over-saturated market. It's hard justifying spending all of my time away from my family when I'm not really making money (just re-investing it all back into my business and learning).

But I do have something unique to offer.

So with that, I am hanging my heart on my tree, and letting you know that the way I approach my work will be as honest as I can muster. I want to show you love and connection in the way that I see it, because I think some of you will like what I see.

Stay tuned for some casting calls later this week.

Much love to all my friends and readers. You inspire me every day to work harder, and to be better.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gone, but come back.

I will be out of town this weekend to attend my Grandmother's funeral. I'll return all emails and calls when I return.

Next week I will have lots to talk about and will be announcing some special casting calls, so come back!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Over and Out

I will be gone over the weekend attending a workshop. I am excited to learn how to better capture you with my HEART. I will return all emails and phone calls when I return.

Baby M | Utah Newborn Photography

I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Provo a few weeks ago to capture baby M before he left on a summer adventure with his parents. I'm thinking that all the grandparents and aunts and uncles will be especially happy for that, because a few of them were there doting on him during our session, and by the time M gets home, he will have changed so much!

It was easy to see why they were so in love. This little guy was amazing. His spirit so strong. And he might have possibly been the best little sleeping baby I have ever had the pleasure of photographing.

Photographing a newborn is one of those things where you'll look back and be amazed. Amazed at how they've changed, how they've grown, how much you didn't see when you were holding them in your arms. Newborn photos are best made in the first 10 days of life. If you are interested in setting up a session, do so while you are still pregnant, and we'll accommodate our schedule!