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  • Welcome to my blog!

    This blog contains updated content about pretty much all the coming and goings of the studio. It also may contain some rants and raves depending on whether there is a full moon. Feel free to leave me a comment. You can also pass these images onto Facebook or Twitter if the spirit moves you!

People ask me frequently how do I come up with ideas for portraits.  Questions like “Do I ever get in a funk?”  Well the obvious answer is “yes, of course”!  How long does the funk last?  That remains to be seen!  Funks have no timeframe.  For many artists, it can be a week, a month or even several months.  I think all artists are the same.  Trying to remain creative every day of one’s life can be exhausting.  Sometimes you just have to let your brain go on a mini vacation.  For me, once the fog is clear, I come back stronger.  My work during these funk times are just as beautiful as all my other work, but my brain hits a brick wall when trying to create something different.  If you are in a job that requires you to do the same thing every day, day in and day out, you only know boredom.   But, if you are in a job that requires you to come up with something new, every time you have a client, it can be a bit daunting.

So, how do I crawl out of a funk?  Simply by going back to simpler roots.  Perhaps take in a museum exhibit that deals with painting.  Dive into a course that does not have to do with portraits.  Listen to some motivational speakers or podcasts.    Then slowly, I will switch over to listening or watching some You Tube videos of well known photographers.  Slowly, the air clears… like daffodils in the spring.

The one thing about photography is that if you don’t evolve, you die.  Staying above the education line is an ongoing process.  New techniques, new software, new editing, new lighting…. all of which has to be learned are always on the front burner.  I am sure that if you ask any photographer in business full time, he or she will also face the dreaded funk period.  It can happen once a year, twice a year or maybe every other year.   Staying around motivated associates, friends and family are the key.  Within any business, you have to distance yourself from the nay sayers.  Find people that will lift you up.

Bottom line… I love what I do.  There are definite hills and valleys.  Knowing how to drive through the super highway of these hills and valleys is the key.  Funks never last long with me thankfully.  I am thankful to be doing something that will give joy for people years and years.  I treat the funk times as re-fueling the creative spirit in my brain.  My energy level upon returning from a re-fueling time is over the top.  So, if it is a day trip to the city, shore or just binge watching something on You Tube, we all benefit… from photographer to client!

  • John Cordes - One of the most helpful insights shared with me by an artist and very spiritual person is the idea of rational thinking and creative thinking. Though the idea of specialized brain anatomy has been discarded — the idea that one hemisphere or one section of the brain is dominant over the other — it’s true of our thinking in general. For me, I need to be in a state of creative thinking in order to create. I find that the same mode of thinking is necessary for spiritual experience, though that’s a slightly different topic.

    My professional work requires me to do both. Most of the time, I have to be an administrator. Organizing, measuring, planning. But, my work also requires creative writing, and I have built in photography to back it up. It takes time to make the shift from rational thinking to creative thinking, and I’m easily interrupted! For me, being in a “funk” usually involves being stuck on the rational side of things. Volunteering as a photographer at two zoos often helps me to break that stalemate. Just making eye contact with an animal can be an experience that is nothing less than spiritual. It may seem odd, but a slow walk through a cemetery, reading the grave markers, can also add a perspective that breaks the funk.ReplyCancel

    • Donna Lere - John:
      Having an outlet that spurs the creative side outside of your daily work routine is one of the best ways to avoid the fog. For me, it is the opposite. Being creative is my main objective with the business of photography appearing just as important these days. Sadly, the business end sometimes takes over the creative side. In a perfect world, the idea of just waking up and spending all of my thoughts to being creative would be joyful. However, a good portion of my day involves participating in the business of photography. Turn back the clock 20 years and it was totally different. I don’t see it ever changing. Thanks for commenting!ReplyCancel

 

 

It’s Wednesday.  It’s snowing out.  My neighbor’s dog has been barking for almost 20 minutes.  I thought it was a bark of a frozen dog.  However, upon looking outside, I noticed that the dog was actually playing in the snow with his dog partner.  We are approaching the middle of January and I have cabin fever.  Perhaps I should up my dose of vitamin D!   So, I headed out to run a few errands to break up the day from editing.

Standing in front of the supermarket flower section, the women in charge of flowers pops out of the back room and sees me staring at the wall of flowers.  “Looking for something special?” she says.  “No”, I say quietly.  After a few minutes of inhaling the smell, she says to me, “Special  occasion?”  I say…. “Yes, it’s Wednesday.”  I take a long breath and then add… “And the sun hasn’t been out in a week.”  She nodded and then disappeared in her secret room behind the fruit.  She came out with this cute bouquet.  “How’s this?” she said.  I looked at her face as she presented the flowers to me.  She had that look that women get when they “get” each other.

Needless to say, the flowers were arranged on my desk first… way before the milk was put away.  Sometimes you have to stop and pause.  For me, it’s standing in the flower section and finding my extra bit of sunshine.  What is your way of bringing your core back to center?

 

 

Is there a difference?

 

It seems like every day, I encounter a new photographer in the area.  Sometimes they come and go before I even recognize they had a presence.  In their quest to take start their business, they usually offer everything and the kitchen sink for next to nothing in order to fill their portfolio up with images.  I remember when I first started, I would do shoots for free at first.  Then, slowly, started charging.  As I got more educated, more experienced and wiser with business sense, I realized that I had to treat this as a business and not as a fun hobby in order to make it.

The days of taking portraits and giving the clients a DVD of un-edited images, un-color corrected, un-retouched portraits are over. Why?  Because I believe that the work that hits the street that I call “Mine” should be nothing but the best.  Everything is finished.  From retouching to printing, the image is a prized possession that will last the test of time.

So, the question that always swirls around in my head is two part.  First, why do photographers or so called photographers under cut other photographers by giving out a ton of images on a DVD, or a download that have blinks, are not color corrected, bad lighting and in general look horrible after being in the business of photography for a few years?

And secondly, I often wonder does the client really know the difference between a properly lit image, a properly color corrected image or are they just price shopping?

As part of all my portrait sessions, I explain to the client that their session does not end after I click the shutter.  He/She is invited back to my studio where I will personally sit down with them and teach them what to look for in a great photograph.  Mind you, this is not done by putting images in an online gallery.  The next step is retouching and color correction with the chosen images.  This is huge.  Lets say that on the day of your session, you woke up with a blemish.  Why would you want to see that on your final image?  Was there lint on your clothing?  Does your skin color look normal?

And lastly, the print.  There is definitely something to be said for having that final image to display.  And yes, on archival paper to last for years and years.

So, while it seems like I am on a tangent about other photographers, I am not.  I just wish that everyone would do their research.  I guess it always boils down to that old saying… “You get what you pay for!”

 

When I was a junior in high school, my mother insisted I take typing.  She used to say “No matter what, you can always get a job typing!”  So, my first class was filled with much anticipation of learning how to master this weird looking machine.  Now mind you, the photo above looks nothing like what I started with.  My typewriter was a manual version.  Yep, the kind without electric.

As I took a seat in the third row back (I always sat in the same spot), a man entered the room who literally was close to 100 years old (or so I thought being the ripe old age of 16 I was.  He shuffled into the room with a pencil in his hand and pulled down the typewriter chart in the front of the room.  After taking role and scratching his grey hair several times with the eraser part of the pencil, he made everyone sit back in their seat and put their 8 fingers on the center row of keys.  Slowly, we all pecked at two keys at a time… “A,S…. A,S, A,S….S,D….S,D and so on and so forth.  By the third week, I was on to this party and knew I was well on my way to an A in this class.

In my senior year of high school, I moved onto the heavier stuff… Typing 2!.  It was there that the electric typewriter was introduced.  This was the big leagues and we were all timed and graded on how fast we could type.  I never understood why we had to type fast.  If it was correct, who cared how fast I could get it done! For one straight hour, nothing possibly could enter your mind because the screaming of 30 other electric typewriters working at Daytona speed drummed into my eardrum. It wasn’t until I went for my first office job interview that they put me in a room with an electric typewriter and timed me for 5 minutes of straight typing.

Learning to work a typewriter seemed to be quite an accomplishment.  If only learning to use a computer, a camera, a flash meter, Quick Books, fixing a printer jam, designing albums, uploading to labs, and on and on… would be as straight forward as Mr. Keller’s first semester typing class.

As I write this blog, it is 9:30 at night.  Most people are relaxing in front of the box watching their favorite shows.  Being in business for yourself is a constant dive into “how to” books, manuals, podcasts, networking and so on and so forth.  I wish it was as easy as just learning how to type.

Sometimes you just have to keep pushing forward and learning new things to keep your head above the crowd.  I do yearn for those younger years when the phone was attached to the wall, no one called after 9:00 p.m. and no one worked on the weekends.  But, we all must rise with the tide.  Hopefully, I won’t have to read any more manuals in 2017!

Stay well.

donna

P.S.  I made both my kids take “typing” in high school as well!  By then, they called it “keyboarding”.  No one finger typers in this family!

High school senior photographs are one of my main stays of business.  The conclusion of 12 years of schooling is a big deal.  A whole new chapter is beginning for the student as well as the parent.  Although everyone at their home school gets an opportunity to be photographed by their school photographer, why would you as a parent ever want to take the time and have additional photographs taken of your son or daughter?  Well, lets just say in reality, that stiffly posed photograph in a cap and gown that 400 students have worn that day really doesn’t capture the true soul of your graduating child.  Is that snap taken by the school photographer memorable?  Hmmmm… maybe.  Though, is it really who they are?  That’s where my job and my passion come in.

Meet Emma.  I had photographed Emma’s sister a few years ago so I kinda knew what Emma’s family wanted.  However, if this was a cold call, my questions would be more about Emma herself, her personality, what she likes and dislikes.  In this case, I knew that Emma loved the outdoors and that was where her parents felt Emma would shine.

Once we establish a place, then I walk through with Emma and her mom what kind of clothes to bring.  I strongly suggest bringing 3 total looks.  Two of them should be slightly dressy and one should casual.

There are two times a day I love to do outdoor photographs.  Early morning and then again about an hour before sunset.  This is obviously because the light is so beautiful at this time.

I always start out with the dressy look.  It can be a sun dress, a party dress or just a regular fun dress.  This is because I know that in the beginning of the session, the client’s makeup is fresh and hair is perfect.  Sometimes when it is humid out, by the end of the session we are all a sweat mess.

I always love to have the subject look away in the beginning.  They are always very nervous as we start out.  This nervousness lasts about ten minutes or so.  As you can see by her body language in the next two shots, she started to open up and feel comfy.

I am a strong believer of just looking deeply into the camera.  Yes, we all know she has a beautiful smile, but I believe in looking into her soul.    The next photograph was taken when she changed into her casual clothing.  I had her sit down and photographed her through some foliage.  You can see the foliage in the front of the lens.  Notice that her body language is more relaxed.  This was about 30 minutes into the session.

The very last series of photographs I shot were on the deck near the water (see above).  I saw the sunlight highlighting her hair and could not pass it up.  This is one of my favorites.  My super favorite though is the one of her looking away (see up).

Every high school senior session is different.  As a photographer, I pride myself on listening.  It takes ears as well as eyes to capture one’s soul.  Knowing what the client likes is one step closer to creating amazing portraits that will be treasured for years to come.

Joy!

donna

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