Sunday, May 24, 2009

Patrick, you're a handsome (Blue) Devil

I'm in London this weekend, visiting my brother-in-law Graham, but I couldn't wait to share these pictures with you.

The weekend after the photography workshop that I attended in San Francisco, my little brother Patrick graduated from Duke. With a Masters. In Computer and Electrical Engineering. With a 4.0. After finishing his undergraduate degree in 3 years.


And he still manages to be cool. Check it out:

We spent the weekend wandering around the lovely Duke campus. So gothic and so beautiful.

There are some places on campus that hold great memories for Patrick, including his fraternity.

And Patrick showed me some of his favorite spots on campus, which included the Engineering buildings. (Show off!)

And then he graduated! And this time it didn't rain!

Patrick at the same tree as last year, only drier.

We had a great time spending the day together as a family.

And Alex showed us a little bit of what it would be like to be a history/international affairs major.

That is, if he was our professor.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

The rest of the portraits

Let's see, where was I?

Oh right: and a couple! (A couple of professional photographers - yikes!!)

My second photoshoot on Day 3 of the amazing photography workshop that I've been writing about here, here, and here was with a couple: Matt and Laura, who were among the group teaching the workshop.

I have another story about how not inside-of-my-element I was, but first, a picture, just so you know it all turned out ok in the end.

Oh wow. When I was told I would work with Matt and Laura next, my stomach turned inside out. Doubt started to creep into my mind - I mean, I had seen their self-portraits. What did they need me to take pictures of them for anyway? :) And they know what they're doing! What if they think what I'm telling them to do is stupid? What if they know what I'm photographing won't work? What if...

Fortunately, I didn't have too much time for self-doubt because I was thrown into a group where shooting was already in progress. A couple of snaps of the shutters and the group turned to me as
Matt and Laura asked (very nicely, I might add), so what would you like us to do?


I was a deer in headlights. And here's something you may not know about me: I have a quirk. Probably more than one, but one in particular that came to light here. When I'm nervous or don't know what to say, I crack jokes - weird jokes, inappropriate jokes (not in the risque or dirty sense,
just simply not germane), anything to distract people from my unease.

So I asked Matt to twirl Laura. I meant spin. In the dancing sense. But that's not what I said. So I explained what I meant and then somehow decided it would be a good time to start in on the weird jokes. Frolic like bunnies! I said. I was kidding, but no one laughed. So I kept going: If you don't want to spin her, you can both hop around like bunnies - that might be nice!

I hoped they knew I was kidding. I really think they looked nice spinning!

And then they did this at the end, making it all worthwhile. They are a gorgeous couple.

I think at one point I even asked them to talk to each other as they walked away from me. The topic? Why you aren't bunnies. Totally weird. I know. I cannot believe I'm even telling you this.

Fortunately for me, you don't need to tell Matt and Laura too much to get a beautiful picture.

You guys were wonderful and wonderfully patient models. Thank you!
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

More adventures in actual portraits

After surviving the experience of my first real photoshoot on Day 2 of the San Francisco workshop, I assumed the rest would be easy. But Day 3 arrived with a whole set of new challenges. New kinds of subjects - a family! with kids! and a couple! (A couple of professional photographers - yikes!!)

Taking pictures of people who do what I tell them to was still new as of Day 2 - one day does not an expert make, apparently. But I had amazing subjects who made it easy to take these pictures.

First was the beautiful family:

Smiling faces,

laughing with dad,

and doing what little boys do best

I had a great time photographing them.

I'll tell you about the couple next time.
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wait, you want me to take an actual portrait?!?!

I spent the first weekend in May in San Francisco, trying to discover whether I truly could capture someone, really show who they are in a picture or if I was just destined to simply push the shutter and get lucky (sometimes) with my photographs. And while I cannot say that I emerged completely transformed into an artist, I did return home having made steps in that direction and with a roadmap to get there.

The photography workshop I attended in San Francisco was a three-day affair. Day 1 was about self-portraiture, artistry and learning who we are and how that impacts our art. Now, I'm an analytical number-crunching nerd, so to say I felt a bit out of my league is a true understatement. Fortunately for my self-consciousness, everyone else seemed to be (for the most part) new to the exercise too, and so we all stumbled through the day together. It was great.

On Day 2, we did something completely different. We headed to the lovely town of Stinson Beach, where the uber-talented Rick Chapman had recruited a number of locals to be portrait subjects for us. We were paired up with another photographer, given a subject and sent out for two hours to learn about the person and capture them on film (or SD/CF card, whatever).

As the time for our assignment approached, nervous energy filled the room, and my classmates, who take portraits of babies/children/families,wondered how different it would be to take an adult's portrait. At the same time, I stewed over how different it would be to take a portrait of someone (a real one), how I had never in m
y life given instructions to the person on the other side of my lens, and how I had no idea what I had gotten myself into! What had I gotten myself into?

This first portrait assignment pushed me. My subject was an amazing woman.

We went to a place that was very special to her, a place of remembrance.

And we celebrated those memories and looked forward.

And I think I captured a little bit of that. And a little bit of me. What do you think?

I'll tell you all about Day 3 later.
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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Last Weekend

Last weekend, I flew to San Francisco to participate in this - another photography workshop with Me Ra Koh.

The view from my room

Wow. Just, wow.

I was so out of my element, but I loved it! The workshop pushed me in a new direction and I'm a more well-rounded person because of it. I push myself intellectually at work, I push myself physically in the gym, but I pushed myself artistically this weekend. And it was weird. And amazing. All at the same time.

Learning from Lesley Ehrenfeld, Garrett Burdick, Me Ra Koh, Brian Tausend and Rick Chapman,
all of whom are amazing

The last workshop I took with Me Ra was in Chicago (home) and we learned about the technical (up my alley) aspects of photography - aperture, shutter speed, ISO, flash, shooting in Manual mode. I really enjoyed it and came away with a view that the world was my oyster. Technically, I could take pictures, now I just needed to take those tools and compose great photographs.

When I first read the description for the workshop, it sounded amazing. First, Me Ra and Brian (her husband) would be there, but they would be complemented by Garrett Burdick and Rick Chapman. Second, this workshop was about artistry, not necessarily about building a photography business (I'm not) or about how to shoot a wedding (I don't). While it sounded a little over my head, it also sounded like something I could really benefit from. Time, and my pictures, will tell...

Rick Chapman at work

So I signed up.

And waited.

As I got ready to fly to San Francisco, my mind was in a totally different place. Work w
as busy. Life was busy. Artistry was not at the top of my list.

And when I met the other workshop attendees, the vast majority of whom had their own photography businesses (all but 2 or 3 of us!), I was afraid. I was petrified.

But I survived. ;)

And then I grew, I had fun, and I met some amazing people. What an incredible weekend!

Who wouldn't want to learn from this group?
Brian Tausend, Me Ra Koh, Rick Chapman, Garrett Burdick, Laura Reoch and Matt Reoch

I'll post some more images once I finish editing. We did a few portrait sessions over the weekend, which really pushed me. I've always been an observer. I've never told anyone to smile, much less how to pose for a picture! It was scary at times, but I'm going to work on trusting my judgment, giving myself authority and believing that I know what looks good. In fact, I just may subject someone who is graduating this weekend to a little portrait session...

Look out Patrick! :)
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