Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My job is weird

The other day, I dressed up like I worked at a winery like so....

And started photographing a wine bottle and glasses like they were for a promotional shots...

So that I had a cover for why I was sitting outside taking pictures so that I was in place to capture a SURPRISE PROPOSAL! (The boyfriend/fiance hired me)

She said yes :)

Later that day, I was having boyfriend spot check my newborn blankets for, um, bodily excretions and when he pointed a particular spot out I said, "Oh, that's just umbilical cord blood." His face reminded me of what a weird job I have.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Last Halloween Post

I bet I'm the only blogger still writing about Halloween but I just had to belatedly share my sibling's amazing costumes!

Brutharr went as Finn from Adventure Time!

Littlest-Little went as Sage from The False Prince...

Here's The False Prince for reference...

Bigger-Little went as ....

A carrot!

(My costume is in this post)

Also, you guys saw my finished pumpkin but not the one I wanted to carve ... I drew this out and then realized it was kinda impossible to cut without being really creative and having more precise cutting tools...

What I actually carved...

Much more simple!

What did you guys dress as?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Random Pictures

I don't often take random pictures since ya know, taking pictures is my full time job. And I kinda miss it so here are the three random photos I took in the last month

Boyfriend-Fellow's Dad's Cat

Boyfriend-Fellow's mom washing dishes

The chandelier in our dining room and our bookshelf

Friday, November 1, 2013


Happy Day-After-Halloween! I'm the worst blogger...

On Wednesday night, [Lisa] came over and carved pumpkins with me!

I don't know about you guys but we both love the oopey goopey mess of carving pumpkins...


This was her pumpkin...
Pinterest-worthy, right?

And this was mine...
Brutharrr described it as 'derpy'
Last night, I actually baked the seeds for the first time using [this recipe] and they came out GREAT! 

We had 3 friends that joined us for passing out candy and the seeds were all gone by the end of the night. 

I don't know why but staying home, passing out candy was a built up fantasy in my head. I always used to Trick or Treat and when I grew out of that, I was going to Halloween parties. It feels very adult to get to pass out candy and we turned down other plans to do so. Apparently our neighborhood is notoriously lacking in children trick or treating and it was drizzling last night but we did get three groups of kids and I melted every time! It was everything I dreamed it would be.

I didn't have a costume as of yesterday morning so I just picked up some wings and antennae and when I got home, I realized I had the perfect skirt!

And a throwback to a costume of yesteryear...
Looks like I've been doing the same eye makeup forever!
How was your Halloween? What did you go as? Did you get a lot of Trick or Treaters?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Awkward/Awesome - vol 91

Happy Halloween! 
The Halloween post is tomorrow. Today is awkward/awesome time!

Awkward: I fell down the stairs at a client's house.
Awkward x 2: I couldn't catch myself because I was holding my lighting equipment.

Awkward: A week later, while taking high school senior portrait pictures, I was hopping from rock-to-rock in a creek and fell.
Awesome: I did NOT fall into the creek (holding my camera).
Awkward: I DID fall onto a rock and ripped my jeans.

Awesome: Netflix has these neat little bundled playlists of related TED Talks.
Awesome x 2: I just watched the 'Life Hack' themed TED talks and it was super cool so when the 'You might also like this TED talk list' suggestion popped up, I automatically clicked it and then realized it was a TED Talk playlist on 'Sex, Love and Relationships.' 
Awkward: I am using Boyfriend-Fellow's mom's Netflix account so everything I watch (or start to watch) goes into the shared 'recent history'

Awesome: Usually, for simplicity's sake, Boyfriend-Fellow's mom refers to me as her daughter-in-law. So at a social event I was the photographer for the other night, someone asked how I had gotten connected with the group and I said, "My mother-in-law is [Boyfriend-Fellow's mom's name here]"
Awkward: Turns out I was talking to her second cousin who then was so freaked out that Boyfriend-Fellow had apparently gotten married without her knowing, etc and I had to explain the whole thing sounding like a ring-grubbing liar.

Awesome: I finished Book 4 of Game of Thrones 10 days ago
Awkward: That was 8 days before Book 5 came out in paperback
Awesome: I downloaded a free iPad Kindle app and then got a free-first-book download of Book 4
Awkward: It was only after I got to the end of it that I realized it wasn't a free first book download, it was an excerpt from the book and it jumped around so I just spoiled a ton of the plot for myself.

Awesome: Getting a repeat client family and having the sweet little girl remember me.
Awkward: She remembered me because I had brought her stickers before...
Awkward x 2: I hadn't brought any this time.

Awkward & Awesome: Our mailman has been arriving increasingly later and later. As of this week, he has been dropping off mail at 6pm. Great for if I'm late getting a letter ready to post but awful if I'm waiting for a package.

Awkward: Eating more candy than I've handed out.

Tell me YOUR awkward and awesome moments!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall Fashion Week 2013 - Day 7 - Finale

Wah wahhhh... Fall Fashion Week 2013 ends today.

A HUUUGE thank you again to our fabulous host [Deanna]! We wouldn't have had fashion week without her and she has got such an inspiring, fabulous style!

Yesterday was full of inspiration for me - from [Jessica's] whole series of outfits, [Carolynn's] dress refashion to [Samantha's] flannel... I love it! And [Melinda] is just a doll.

I went with my signature wear-something-inappropriate-for-the-season style for my last day...
dress - gift from Boyfriend-Fellow's grandma
shoes - payless
jacket - bunny's in santa cruz, ca

Crazzyyy eyes time :)

Thank you for all of the kind words over the past week. Fashion week is so great for just re-reminding me how many awesome and supportive people there are out there. In a world of ridiculous YouTube comments and people tearing each other down on Twitter, seeing a supportive community online is just refreshing.

If you haven't already, go check out everyone else's finale outfits [here]!

Until next time....

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fall Fashion Week 2013 - Day 6 - Pockets and Stripes

Wow! This week has flown by! And so have I... I went to California (for the fourth week-long trip in 2 months) and just got home late last night.  I'm excited to NOT be getting on a plane in the next 7 days.

And on to yesterday's recap:
[Rachel's] outfit just blew my mind. So amazing. [Judy's] cowl + layered skirt + simple white shirt was a model in balancing fun colors and textures with neutral ones. And [Carolynn] has mastered the pop of color, plus her photos are so artsy!

As for what I wore today...

dress - j.crew (or banana republic? I can never remember... It was on sale at a fancy store).
spaghetti straps - f21 probably
shoes - payless

This is a work dress for me usually.... I need a dress with pockets for my spare batteries, cards and lens caps. I splurged a bit on this dress though it was on sale and it was super, super worth it. The fabric is really nice and hangs well and is thick. I'll be able to wear this through the winter for sure.

Now come to [Deanna's] to check out the other ladies with me!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fall Fashion Week - Day 5 - Dress like a dancer that nobody's watching

...Isn't that how the saying goes? ;)

You guys are just so cool... Did you see [Melinda's] tights? And [Deanna's] UNICORN HEAD? Speaking of accessories are, [Charlotte's] smile makes her outfit even better. On a more holistic level, did you SEE [Joanna's] greek goddess thing going on? Swoon.

dress - h&m
leg warmers - american outfitters?
hat - ?
I don't know about you guys but I've always been drawn to dancers styles - you know, what they wear when they're warming up and totally in their zone. The leg warmers, ballet flats, tights, big loose sweaters.... I love it all. I may not be a fancy dancer but I can channel a little bit of that admiration into my outfit, right?

I'm off to get inspired by the other ladies linking up at [Deanna's] and like Deanna, I'm linking up with What I Wore Wednesday on The Pleated Poppy (button below).  You should come too!

pleated poppy

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall Fashion Week 2013 - Day 4 - Urban fairy

Somewhere yesterday, we crossed into the official 2nd half of fashion week. Dun dun dunnnnn... Booooo!
But at least some good came out of the day ... [Deanna's] perfect blend of comfort and stye, [Charlotte's] AMAZING vest, [Sarah's] professional color-blocking and I'm SUPER jealous of [Samantha's] chambray top. I'm loving it!

jeans - marshalls
cardi - bunny's in santa cruz, ca
shoes - payless (spray-painted with glitter by moi)

Gotta love adding in a gold headband to a regular outfit... It makes me feel like a fairy no matter what I'm wearing.

Now go share the love and get inspired from the other ladies [here]

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall Fashion Week 2013 - Day 3 - Trail Blazer

Only two days of outfit posts so far and I'm already inspired! Did you see [Judy's] pretty purple ruffles? Or [Sarah's] brilliant recreation? I loved the pockets and boots in [Modest Momma's] outfit! [Katie] has the work-appropriate fashion style down pat and [Charlotte] has the perfect long cardi!

Here's my day 3....

shorts - f21
scarf - ???
boots - DSW
blazer - bunny's in santa cruz, ca 

(if I had an official 'theme' it's that every sweater, cardigan, 
jacket and blazer I ever post on here is from bunny's)

So these shorts have sadly died. The zipper up the front broke (before I took this picture, believe it or not). I'm probably the only one buying shorts on the east coast in Fall but I wanna wear tights under 'em all winter!

I LOVE the fitted waist and the ruffled sleeves on my blazer :) I can wear it with shorts to dress it up or with a nice dress to compliment my fancy.
Now I'm off to [Deanna's] to check out what everyone else is donning!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fall Fashion Week - Day 2 - Fall, Schmall. I wear what I want.

Ah! You guys! I LOVE Fashion week! Everyone has such a different style and I love them all! And just as inspiring as the outfits are the kind words that everyone is sharing so freely.

Without further ado... Onto day 2 (my rhyme for the day)

I call this my yes-it's-a-spring-dress-but-i'll-make-it-fall-ish-by-wearing-a-jacket-and-boots.

dress - kohls (i think). straps sewn on by me
boots - hand me downs from lil' sis (same as yesterday)
jacket - bunny's in santa cruz, ca

Wow.. I just realized that's almost word-for-word of yesterday's outfit description)

Obligatory hand-in-the-hair-shot cuz I don't leave you hangin'

Thank you guys for all the sweet comments yesterday! I loved getting inspiration from everyone else and can't wait for it to be cooler here for fall!

Now I'm just dying to see what everyone else is wearing so I'm heading over to [Deanna's blog]. You should come too!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fall Fashion Week 2013 - Day 1 - The Launch

That's right! It's officially FALL FASHION WEEK 2013!!! Wooo!

First off, thanks to Deanna for hosting this amazingness and secondly, JOIN IN! It's so fun and you wont regret it... You basically feel great cuz you actually took time to get dressed up and then you feel great x 2 because all the other participants are so nice!

Today's post is brought to you by the letters SelfTimer and Privacy

dress - thrifted (straps sewn on by yours truly)
boots - hand me downs from my 13 year old sister (yes. you read that right)
sweater - bunny's in santa cruz, ca

this was me realizing that the camera somehow only 
focused on me (and thus, took a picture) when my arms were raised

Now head on over to Deanna's and check out the other awesome ladies (and maybe gentlemen?)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fashion Week is Coming!!!!

delirious rhapsody

Ahh! You guys!!! I may have been AWFUL about blogging recently but I will never miss a fashion week and the Fall 2013 fashion week is coming our way!!!

It's once again hosted by the amazing Deanna from Delirious Rhapsody. More info about Fashion Week is [here].

Who's in!?

Past fashion weeks...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Awkward//Awesome vol. 90

Awkward/Awesome time!

Awesome: We live in an age where I can rent & download a movie right onto my computer
Awkward: I can almost never sit through a whole movie and by the time I come back, my rental period has expired. DOH!

Awesome: The aisle seat on a plane.
Awkward: A sick seatmate
Awkward x 2: When the stewardess came by with the trash bag, my seatmate kept prematurely extending her hand full of trash over me towards the aisle. Normally I would take the trash from her and hold it until the stewardess arrived but not from Mrs. Germs. So on multiple occasions, her trash filled fist would thrust out mere awkward inches from my face and slowly droop in front of me like a wilting flower.

Awesome: Fitting all of my delicate camera equipment into my carry on - carefully wrapped in clothes and positioned just so. This is one bag the attendants will NOT get to man-handle.
Awkward: As the gate-keeper scanned my ticket, she said, "This is a small plane, you'll have to check that."
Awkward x 2: Trying desperately to empty my bag of all things fragile or necessary for the flight (lenses, camera, harddrive, laptop, book, wallet, phone, latte I had just purchased, lunch...) and holding said things in my measly two arms.

And... for the doozy...

Awesome: I left home just in time to not be late to a photoshoot (I normally try to leave a buffer of 15-20 minutes but I was still happy that I wasn't actually leaving late).
Awkward: The road had tolls. Unexpected tolls.
Awesome: I had a debit/credit card as well as cash. Booyah.
Awkward: I somehow ended up in the coin-only lane. You know, the one for people who are prepared for tolls and want to move quickly through this thing.

I. Panicked. I did NOT have $1.75 in coins. I had just cleaned out my car and purse of everything - spare change included. I frantically scoured the floor, the glove compartment, the cupholder. Here, a nickel... There, two quarters. I had finally made it up to $1.10 when I literally had exhausted my hidden coin supply. Now there were 10 cars behind me.  Every other lane is zipping by. The bright red stop light and the coin booth both reminded me that I had not yet paid my dues. I got out of my car, walked to the car behind me and offered the lady $5 for $1.75 in quarters. She took her time but gave the coins to me. Upon returning to my car, the machine said I owed $0. But the light was still red. I put the coins in. Nothing. No change on the machine, still a red light. Ughhhh. I am not sure what happened but I am so hoping I  will not receive some sort of ticket in the mail because contesting it would most certainly involve watching some sort of security tape of myself begging coins off of the cars behind me.

Anyways, share YOUR awkward/awesomes in the comments below! I love reading them!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Awkward/Awesome vol. 89

I interrupt my new small-business-owner series to bring you this week's installment of Awkward/Awesomes!

When given a chance to pose in a photobooth, 
this is what my friend and I did after about 15 photos

Awesome: One stall open in a crowded airport bathroom
Awkward: It was open, but there was an old lady in it and when I pushed the door to open it, I slammed it into her forward-leaning head.

Awesome: How GPS can take us anywhere now, without having to look down at a map or remember directions
Awkward: It still tries to take me right to the center of everything, for example, to the CENTER of the airport, not the airport parking. So I find myself in some weird back country road, circling the airport and arriving at a locked chain link fence before I realize I've followed the GPS too far.

Awesome: Seeing a movie with Boyfriend-Fellow
Awkward: Everyone else seeing my underwear after ("Excuse me miss, your dress is tucked into your underwear")

Awkward: Speaking of which, does anyone else have the same problem where whenever you sit down on an airplane, the arm rest catches your dress and exposes you for the few seconds it takes to remove it from said armrest?

Awkward: Leaving my favorite thermos in a bus stop bathroom
Awesome: Realizing in time and rescuing it.
Awkward: Leaving my favorite thermos in a cafe in San Francisco
Awesome: Realizing in time and going back for it
Awkward: I lost my thermos somewhere on the flight home.

Awkward: A baby crying on your flight
Awkward x 2: A baby crying on your flight that's barely talking but can say, "I gotta get out of here!" over and over.

Awkward: Putting the wrong contact in the wrong eye and having no time to fix it before heading to the airport.

Awesome: The public transportation in San Francisco that allows you to get anywhere without a car....
Awkward: ... As long as you're okay standing next to human feces or sitting next to a puddle of urine.

Lastly, I'm going to start documenting our pub trivia team name here every week. We always try to incorporate top news stories - like this week we were, "Miley's laid it on too Thicke".

Previous ones that I've come up with...
When Mexico surpassed America in largest human beings, we were "Mexicobesity"
When the actor from Glee passed away, we were "Rest in Gleece"
When Snowden first started hiding out in Russia, we were "Don't bother Russian, we're Snowden"
And we had a good one for Carlos Danger but I'm going to refrain from putting it here ;)

Share your awkward/awesomes with me in the comments below!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Part 1: Starting Out

Today is day 1 of my series documenting what I learned and what I wish I'd known starting my own small business in photography. I hope this is helpful to some and interesting to others. I am happy to answer any additional specific questions you may have if you don't see it covered or would like another post about it. Just let me know in the comments!

shameless selfie

Part 1: Starting out
Before you quit the job you have to become a photographer (or any small business owner), I've heard it's good to have 6 months worth of wages (the minimum recommended is 3 month's wages but of course, 6 is better). I have to say 'I've heard' because when I left grad school, I had no savings. I definitely wouldn't recommend that. 

Licenses and Registration: You'll want to get your business registered where it needs to be registered, whatever licenses your state may require and figure out how much to put aside for taxes (usually between 25-30% of everything you make). Do this early. Avoid late fees or worse.

Health insurance: There's not much I can say about this except get some. And take care of yourself. Know where the nearest hospital that takes your insurance is and make sure to be aware of that even when you're traveling. And again, take care of yourself. It helps to have dentist in the family :)

Retirement: Start saving for retirement NOW. No one else is doing it for you.

To be a professional outdoor (i.e. not getting into studio portraiture) photographer, you'll at least need...
1) A professional camera body (expect to pay between $1500-$3000 for a new camera body)

I'm a Nikon girl but more by inheritance than anything else as I always got my dad's old cameras growing up and they were always Nikon. If you're going pro, Nikon or Canon are the most popular and probably your best bet. There's lots of competition between them but I doubt that if anyone showed me a stunning shot, I'd be able to tell whether it was taken with a Nikon or Canon. Buying a used camera body is not a bad idea but always read the description (why are they getting rid of it? How long have they had it? Did they use it professionally (if so, it's probably been used more but taken care of better)), look at the pictures carefully (are there any scratches, does it look worn?) and ask the seller what the actuation count is (which is the number of pictures that camera body has taken because believe it or not, every camera does have a lifespan. You can look up the expected lifetime of each type of camera online). 

2) Professional lenses (expect to pay between $1200-$2400 for new lenses) 
For every single job I do, I use my Nikon 85mm, 1.4 fixed lens.
my baby

It has an exceptionally narrow-depth of field, which is what makes those images where a person's face is in focus but the background is delightfully blurred. To answer your question in yesterday's comments Jessica, this is definitely what I'd recommend for adding to your lenses. If you're wanting to get pictures of your kids as they play, this is best. If you want to get pictures of your kids up close, you may want something closer than 85mm.
In addition to this staple lens, when going to a newborn session, I also bring a macro lens (pictured above) - for getting their little eyelashes and fingernails! - and a standard 24-70mm (pictured below) -for getting pictures of more than one subject like mom and baby or little brother and his newborn sister). 
24-70mm (i.e. standard)
For weddings, I bring all three of the lenses I just listed… Macro lens for the wedding ring shot, 24-70mm lens for the group/family shots, fixed 1.4 lens for most everything else and I also bring my wide angle lens for the fun dancing shots!
16-35mm wide angle

3) Memory cards (expect to pay about $50-$100 depending on the brand and storage size, per card)
I feel nervous deleting photos off of a card before I've delivered the photos to the client so I generally have about 5 memory cards (between 16 and 32 MB each) that I rotate through. I would be able to get by with 2 or 3 and anything more than 8 would be superfluous for my needs.

4) Camera Batteries + charger (expect to pay around $35 for each battery and $20-$60 for a charger)
I think I have 3 but I only know where two are at any given moment and that's all I take with me for any job. If it's a wedding, there's always somewhere to plug in the battery I'm not using and I've never had a family or baby session go so long that I run out of even one battery.

5) A flash (expect to pay between $400 and $800)
While I much prefer natural lighting, eventually the dancing starts at a wedding and the lights go dim or you're working in a home with very few windows or it's a dark and stormy day. Or sometimes, you need a flash to counteract the shadows that the midday sun will cast on someone's face. You can be a natural light photographer all you want but you should still have (and know how to use) a quality flash. And NOT the one built into your camera. Those are always so awful! It's like the peanut butter & jelly mixed and sold in one jar. 
*Always keep spare AA (or whatever your flash takes) on hand. And I mean literally on hand. I ran out of batteries during an awards ceremony where I was instructed to take a picture of each person receiving their award. Thank goodness I had spare batteries in my pocket, instead of in my camera bag across the room (or not having any at all). It was already painfully awkward to hold up the awards ceremony for 15 seconds while I switched out the batteries, I can't imagine if I had to run across the room to my camera bag (or not had any at all!).

6) A computer (price varies)
I'm Mac all the way on this one. I have worked with PCs at various jobs I've had and consider myself proficient in using them but Macs are just so easy to work with and I don't need extra hassle when I'm editing. Plus, they've been really geared towards the artsy types with many of the best music, photo and video applications designed specifically for Mac. I have a laptop now, which is great for getting to take my work on the go (I edit while Boyfriend is driving and while on the plane, bus or train) and also it allows you to have a moveable office (sometimes it's so nice to work at a coffee shop to see other people and just get out of the house). Someday, I'd love to have a desktop. I dream of the big screen for editing blemishes and having an actual mouse instead of just dragging my finger around. 

7) Editing software (expect to pay around $500 or more if you're not a student)
I use Lightroom and Photoshop. Both are pricey but both will pay for themselves when you've gone through a few photo sessions and you won't make it far with any free editing application. There's just no comparison.  

There isn't a category I've made in this post for this nugget of wisdom but it's applicable to editing so I'll say it now… SHOOT IN RAW. It makes a WORLD of difference having the option to edit a RAW photo instead of a JPEG. Even the most professional professional has taken directed and composed a 'perfect' shot, only to find that their settings were not changed from a previous lighting situation. With a JPEG, that's a live-and-learn moment. With a RAW file, that's a live-and-learn-but-you've-still-got-that-photo! moment. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? So let me show you an example…. When I arrived at a client's house, I had not yet changed my settings from the last photoshoot so one of the first photos I took looked like this…

For the sake of this example, I converted that RAW image unedited into a JPEG and tried to fix it. This was the best I could do.

Now, this is what I could do with the RAW file...

Note: It's not the world's greatest photo in any which way but I didn't want to use one that shows anyone's face.

8) External Harddrives (expect to pay between $125 to $300)
Do back up everything you do on more than one harddrive (I don't always save the RAW files from every shoot, but I do always back up the edited images in two places)
Don't keep both hard drives in the same place (best case is to keep one at home and one at work) 
I get mine at Costco and they're extremely reasonably priced.

9) A hosting website (I pay $120/year)
If your business website can host all of your client's galleries, great. If you're like me, you'll have one website for showcasing your work, etc and another that's for hosting the finished images for the clients. Each client I work with gets their own password-protected gallery of images where they can order prints (or in some cases digital negatives) from directly without me lifting a finger. Once they place their order, it goes straight to MPIX (my favorite online printing company) and it's delivered right to their door. The hosting site I useI use Zenfolio which allows me to set price lists (pick and choose which prints and products are available and how much they're marked up), create coupons/discounts and create slideshows from (there are many more features but those are the most useful for me). 

Whew! That's a lot. It's definitely an investment and I'm not even listing off things like lighting equipment and backdrops for indoor studio portraiture! If you're interested in that, I'd be happy to get into it, just let me know!

Stay tuned! Tomorrow is about establishing your pricing!