Day 365 of 365

Wow, it’s been a while since my last blog post! I have been SO busy working on so many amazing photos! In advance, I apologize for the HUGE photos. Something has happened to the blog, and I have no idea what, but it’s made photos 3 or 4 times bigger than I’d ever posted them :(

I finally finished my second ’365 project’ last month, and I couldn’t be more proud. If you have been following my project, you know that I started the whole thing off with a hilarious photo of me holding my cat Mango. I was surprised he didn’t loose his patience with me during that ridiculous situation, haha.

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I wanted to post the original, sooc version of that wonderful photograph, so my fans could see just how much editing really goes into the majority of my work. I also wanted to show you all the original files from which I constructed my final photo on day 365! As you can see from both shots, there was a LOT of editing to do. I shoot this way often, especially when shooting self portraits. I try to be a little more accurate when it comes to paid client work, but my personal and TFP projects are always so exciting because I have so much to work with. I generally shoot with the finished product in mind, but the editing process nearly always has something to say about it ; )

This final 365 shot (first photo above) was inspired by my ‘Day 1′ shot (obviously), mostly because of the full-circle concept. I did something similar for my final 365 photo the last time, too. I really love the idea of looking back and taking a little bit of everything in. Maybe that’s why I can get lost looking at my 365 photos, remembering exactly what I was doing and feeling on each one of those days. While the inspiration was suggesting I go this route for my final photo, I had not yet realized that I was already wearing the exact same pj pants and a perfectly matching top! After that realization, coupled with the fact that my new bedroom has a red wall, my color-senses were tingling. It had to be done.

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It was quite a job, lemme tell you. The first time, all I had to do was take the shot and calm the cat. I don’t even think I used flash.
This second time, I decided to use my new softbox above the camera, because this very red room is also very dark, unlike my  previous bedroom. I REALLY hate how that light is reflecting off of the paint and the wall behind me. One of my biggest pet peeves in photographing people involves the walls being too close to them wile I use flash. This was a headache and a half. I couldn’t avoid it, so I eventually just went with it. Bouncing light off of the few white walls I had was just disgusting and off. Thank God for editing.

Another thing I tend to do a lot of is correct the perspective, particularly when I am shooting in situations where I don’t have many options. I love my wide angle lens, but I also love stability, safety, and good timing. Sometimes (often times) you just can’t have straight lines along with everything else. It’s so easy to correct (and I’m so picky about it, I’d have to ‘correct’ a seemingly good shot anyhow), that I really don’t mind shooting this way.

Another thing I’ve been getting into a lot more lately is manipulation. Making people look ‘better’ is always a great skill when you make a living from this work, you know? Especially when you love self portraits as much as you love food… In this final shot, I decided that Mango’s tail deserved to be fancy, the way it was in the original. The very last photo I took for this shot ended up with a faaabulous tail, so I simply cut and pasted it into the main photo I was using. Presto!

He was quite unhappy with this whole remake. He’s too good to me <3

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Whew! I just finished up a lovely batch of wedding photos, and I must say I am rather proud of myself!

I usually consider wedding photos my easiest work. Not only do I feel completely confident during the event, but my editing process has grown to the point that I am never really worried about those small mistakes that just have to happen on such a crazy occasion (crazy flash mishaps, sudden situations requiring the use of the less-than-ideal equipment, etc). It is not my easiest work as far as how much of me I put into it (not to mention the months of editing afterwards!), but the appreciation I get from the clients who really put their special memories in my hands really makes my job important and worth it. The fact that most of my income comes from weddings really helps, too : )

However, there comes a point in every wedding’s editing process where I have to really get down on some serious photoshop to fix the otherwise unflattering circumstances that can never completely be avoided. Awkward poses and skin coloration due to crazy lighting (which is GREAT for the mood, but difficult to make up for in photos) along with tons of other situations can make for some long nights in front of the computer. And then there’s the repetition…Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Regardless of the things that I can poke holes through (and let’s face it, what career doesn’t have them?), I love my job and I would never trade it. I look forward to evolving just as fast and just as smoothly as I have been so far, and I have no reason to really feel like I am anything less than successful while I’m at it. There are endless techniques to learn and develop further, on top of applying them to my already unique vision that grows with each snap of the shutter. I get so giddy when I think about how much there is to live in this life, especially with my photography!

One of my most recent and proudest moments in editing development history came to me just a day or two ago, when I edited these wedding photos. As you can see from the un-edited RAW files, my shadow was among the many prominent figures distracting from the beautiful moment. While I really don’t think anyone will care so much about the normal shadows (seeing as the ceremony was scheduled at that time by the couple), I really couldn’t handle the sight of my own, hogging all the attention. Then again, I had very few other options! Without my lights on stands bouncing off of walls and ceilings, I really had no use for more than my one flash. But it needed to be off-camera! So my shadow looked ridiculous, seeing as I had to be right in the center, as per my obsession with symmetry.

I made the split-second decision to just try and remove the shadow via some tedious cloning and brushing, and I could hardly believe how much my efforts paid off! I immediately knew I was in for a long day of doing this to quite a few photos, pretty much for the first time ever. Don’t get me wrong,  am no stranger to the techniques. I just…don’t ever use them in this way these days. The last time I had to put gas in a car, I felt like I’d never seen a gas pump before. That’s kind of how it was to edit with these extraction techniques again. I do it often for model photography, but rarely for weddings, and rarely for things like these shadows, which required several tools and several hours all together.

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These last two were really tricky. I can’t say I’m satisfied with the results, but I definitely preferred them to the alternative. In the first of the two, the girl’s foot was caught in the shadow. Her other foot was a bit too strange to just copy over (though now I think it may have been better). It still looks like a weird shadow is on her toes, but if people actually noticed that to the point that they called me out on it instead of dismissing it…I think showing them the original could take care of any issues : )

The second one involved that little guy and his pants. I was able to copy his pants form a different photo, make the two colors work together, and eliminate my shadow from everywhere else! His lack of a shadow really botheres me, but it was a completely natural situation. His shadow was behind him completely in every other photo from this position, so I went with it. I am so impressed with myself, which is cocky but oh well. I have been experimenting with a ton of different techniques, and while I have yet to really post much of anything, I look forward to learning and growing and excelling and inspiring!!!!!

Katie Hey fans!

Holy cow, what a DAY! I am SO excited! It’s 7am and I’ve already been officially awake for an hour (unofficially for about three!).

KatieYesterday, I was casually creepin’ on my friends via Facebook (as usual), and found an event that I had not heard about before. The awesome part was that it was to be a fashion event, with models getting hair/make up and even a bit o’ modeling!!! The clients/participants include fancy names like White House/Black Market, Mark Pardo salon, and even Scalo (who’s food I’ve yet to have the privilege of enjoying!)!

The not-awesome part…was that I had less than a 24-hour notice, no money to pay for a ticket, no transportation, AND the event was fully-registered and closed to further participation. I was SO SAD! I took no time to actually feel like I was seriously missing out on something. Normally I’d just move on, but something kept me on that Facebook event page. I proceeded to leave a comment on my friend Mara’s event advertisement (from a few days ago) just to leave my mark, saying too bad I couldn’t make this happen. Immediately she responded, and within a few incredible, fast and exciting minutes….I was IN! We worked it out so that she could graciously pay my way in, and I would be the/an event photographer in return!!!!

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This is exactly what I first thought would be fun, if ever I could be involved in said event. I could not BELIEVE it was happening!!!

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us As most of you know, I have a huge place in my heart for fashion photography. I love my weddings and engagements, and they do keep me employed very happily, but I can hardly WAIT to be in magazines, solicited for my awesome fashion work and not the other way around where I’d have to beg for exposure. I’m taking my time and doing it right, of course, and that means laying low until something really captures my interest. I don’t normally do anything for free, and I rarely attend events with my camera and an intention to load myself up with work that no one is paying me for. Nelida This one was different, from the minute I knew about it. I don’t know why, and I don’t care to figure it out, either. I just know it is where I need….NEED to be today. Maybe I’ll meet someone important to my future. Maybe my photos will reach the right audience to boost my business. Maybe I’ll get in with the right crowds and become the photographer i have always wanted to become, involving fashion and homeless youth and confidence! Maybe…I’m in for the greatest morning! Maybe it’s just gonna be a simple event that doesn’t really alter my perception of reality. Maybe I’ll get home and wish I’d taken less photos. All I know is that I couldn’t sleep this morning, and it took about 10 hours for me to calm down and actually get any work done yesterday. That is more than enough for me, for now ♥ Katie

Katie
I LOVE photographing models. It is by far my absolute favorite type of photography.

Shooting models who know how to model makes it so much easier to focus on the rest of the variables involved in my photography. I love the abundance of gorgeous people we have here in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

A huge part of my dream project is centered around this general type of setting, and while I’ve been in love with it ever since I’ve known my calling,  I have not had much practice in this category.

Nelida I started my Albuquerque photo-networking as a photographer with a point-and-shoot camera. When I was showing my prints at a local gallery, I was asked to model for a few designers who were also exhibiting their goods at the show. That started my modeling hobby with a BANG! I was all over the place, being photographed by all sorts of photographers! I was thankful to have so many opportunities to pick up tips and tricks, along with learning what results to expect from different types of equipment I didn’t even know existed! Being so short on money, that really helped fast-forward my learning experience!

Now that I feel accomplished as a beginning professional in general, I feel comfortable tackling more of the art I want to create. I still love weddings and more traditional portraiture, but getting to be on the other side of what I loved so much a few years ago is exactly where I want to be in the end.

While I generally stay away from free (TFP) photo sessions, it is rare to get a paying gig involving the type of model I can really get creative with, especially in editing. Lately I’ve had a lot of success, though! I was so inspired by and excited about the higher volume of models I was shooting for pay, that I decided to contact a couple of my favorite models from my moBrittany Daledeling days and such, just for some TFP work :) My business has not been exceptionally boom-y, but I can spare a few hours a week for some good times and experimental fashion work!

The beautiful models who have hired me or allowed me to cast them in my own projects recently keep me up at night, editing like there is no tomorrow. I LOVE these photos! Editing is even among the first exciting thoughts I have when I am trying to think of a good enough reason to wake up in the morning!

I know that fashion photography involves…well, fashion. I look forward to incorporating local goods such as clothing and jewelry, along with local hair and makeup work! I know we have the models, and I have the skill. Now I just need the exposure…

PerlaI am really excited for my upcoming model session next week! I am also really excited to get paid by my past/current clients, so that I know I can afford to keep this up while still making rent! I’ve been contacted by a few clients a few weeks ago, so here’ hoping for an abundance of fun AND money! For now, it’s fantastic knowing that I am able to take the initiative and take advantage of the lovely models who inspire me and love my work! It all serves to benefit my future clients, no matter what type of shoot it happens to be! I’ve incorporated some part of just about everything I love, into most every type of edit, be it a wedding photo or a model! Even photos from the garden are getting edited like the beautiful models they are ; )

Cher

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Hey everyone!!!

It’s been quite a while since my last blog post! I’ve been extremely busy shooting and editing my best photos so far!

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Today, I am pleased to bring you Will and Sonya’s engagement session!!! Taken back in April, these photos really showcase the beautiful love between these two lovely people. They also do a great job of showing off my constant improvement as far as editing goes. In just 2 months, everything can go from great to even better! I love my career, and I love learning and growing both as a person and as a professional. It never stops happening, and I cannot WAIT to look back at today’s Minie some day in the future when I’m even greater : )

For now, enjoy the progress of my illumination <3

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I’ll admit I’m incredibly annoyed with the way this blog displays photos. I don’t know if I have it in me to re-vamp the entire thing yet again…so for now I hope it’s not too annoying. I am planning on re-vamping my website (TheMinie.com) now that it’s back, so stay tuned for more news when that’s happened!

See ALL of the photos from this beautiful session on my Zenfolio:

http://processofillumination.zenfolio.com/willandsonya

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Earlier this week I was contacted by the lovely Bella Robles, a local photog who really loves my work :) She wanted to have a meeting to discuss hiring me for a future session, so we booked the meeting without me having any idea whatsoever what this could be about. I really don’t like to book meetings without knowing what for, because I could easily save my clients the trip if they just explain the gist of it so I can let them know if I am even available for such a thing. Needless to say I was pretty nervous making this exception…but I knew Bella was familiar with my work and some of my pricing, so I figured it was safe. And probably a secret? I didn’t wanna be pushy :)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWell, it turns out, the lady is PREGNANT! MASSIVE CONGRATS again, Bella!

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Bella!

The reason she was contacting me about a vague session in October was because that’s about when she’s due, and she wanted ME to shoot her baby’s newborn photos! Now, I don’t normally shoot newborns/babies. Especially now that I have changed my rates and narrowed down my target client-base. However, this is easily one of the greatest parts of my joblife! I love it when a client knows and loves MY own style of photography, and hires me to apply it to a category of photography I don’t normally shoot. I still won’t advertise as a newborn/maternity photographer, but if it pays the bills AND is an exciting new adventure…you bet your ass I’m there!

When she showed up, I knew it was her 23rd birthday, and I already had a (very vague) plan to grab my film camera for a couple of random ‘I know you’ve been dying to shoot with me and haven’t had the money yet’ birthday shots while we had our meeting on my beautifully lit porch. Of course, once she busted out the news, I knew I HAD to grab my digital and make this happen. Especially since my film might take as long as that fetus to develop, haha. Well, it turns out that she was gonna ask me to photograph her ‘announcement’ photo for Facebook anyway! Now, normally this would have made me uncomfortable. I wouldn’t want to do free work, but I wouldn’t want to charge her on the spot (even though it would have been fair, since it was an on-the-spot request). Luckily the universe is always on my side, so my instincts kicked in well before any awkward conversation about an un-official session, or payment. It just needed to happen, and I am so happy it did! And of course I can always sell her the high-res files if she wants to use them! So no regrets ;) In the end, it was a lovely afternoon filled with photos, sunshine, and happiness!
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Thank you again, Bella, for letting me be a part of your magic! I cannot WAIT for October!!!

227/365
I was waiting to hear back from a friend earlier, so I took advantage of the fact that I was dressed up and ready to go out! I wanted to get a photo involving this AWESOME afro I have goin’ on these days.

Of course, my attempt to make it bigger resulted in disaster, and by the time I actually started taking pictures, it was lookin’ pretty lopsided. No matter! I conquered the problem with a little bit o’ Photoshop!

It was also 4pm, and the sun was just staring me in the face, not going anywhere, anytime soon. It was really warm, at least! I made a whole production out of it, by bringing my two lights and stands along. It was just outside of my window, but enough cars passed by to make it interesting…

I think I managed my fill-flash pretty well, despite having to fix a few shadow lines that I found too harsh on the face. I also suck at keeping both eyes open, as you may remember from my last Photoshop before and after

I went ahead and re-shaped the ‘fro and fixed my eye, as you can see. This is the sooc version, followed by the liquified version:

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I don’t normally do this much Photoshop at all, but I’ll be shooting a lot more of this sort of thing with models now, so I wanted to brush-up on my skills. I’m really stoked on this photo!!! I did a lot more of this type of thing for my last 365, while this one has been a little more mellow and simple. It’s great to do this every now and again :)

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We all knew SOMETHING was coming, but I don’t think most of us saw THIS coming!

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI had a lovely last-minute shoot booked for Sunday. The weather channel gave us a forecast worth canceling over, coupled with a day hardly worth wearing a sweater during. I was pretty bummed. However, it’s always nice to not have to shoot last-minute sessions. I plan ahead of time so that my time can be fairly divided between myself and my booked clients. Adding things at the last minute totally upsets the balance. I can’t complain :) On top of that stress being removed from my week, the shoot is still on for Thursday! The one day it’s supposed to be nice. Let’s hope the weather gets all of itself in today and tomorrow, for clear skies during my shoot!226/365

I woke up for a drink of water. After getting up for that, I needed to use the bathroom. Once I got back, for some reason I decided to look through the window before going back to bed. It was raining all night, and I wanted to see what the scene was out there. I really was NOT expecting snowflakes! Normally I love to take photos of anything and everything exciting. Today, I am covered in photo opportunities, and just can’t be bothered. Perhaps because I went to bed late and got up extra-early. Perhaps because I just froze off my digits taking a couple of self-portraits. Perhaps because I’m so bummed my stupid rain-protector broke on this, the first time I ever used it :(
REGARDLESS, I definitely got my portraits in! It took me just enough time to get ready and set up my shot. There was snow falling when I got up. By the time I’d picked out my afro, tossed on some makeup, and grabbed my rain-protector for the camera…there was snow sticking to the ground. This was exciting, even though I wasn’t planning on the ground being in the shot. I wanted the afro to catch flakes. Little did I know it would be THIS awesome! The ground, trees, and cars are now covered in snow :) I’m sure it will all melt away before anything else goes down today, but it’s really nice to sit here with my cup of hot tea and my snow photos. What a perfect morning <3

Don’t get me wrong…had I a model I’d be all OVER this weather (and I’m sure there’s still time! Hint, hint). However, self portraits in the snow, with a weather-shy camera body, are just not the same. I’m really glad I did it, but I’m done for the day.

Let’s see if anyone I’d love to work with calls me up for an adventure! Fingers SO crossed!

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I am SO excited!

All night, and ever since I had the pleasure of attending that incredible business seminar last week, I have been thinking non-stop about my beloved, photographic life goal.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you may have heard about it…

I come from a pretty intense background. I was raised by a single mother in Compton, California, until I was about 10 years old. My sister was born into an emotionally abusive relationship, after which my mother and I fled, little sister in-tow. We lived in numerous homeless shelters, slept in military armories and camp-grounds, and here and there found housing programs that re-introduced some form of stability, if only for a year or two.

During that time, a California newspaper was running stories on disadvantaged children like myself, and the dreams they wished to achieve. My dream was to be a professional photographer someday, and with that tell my story  and give back to the homeless and disadvantaged community in some way. I wasn’t sure how, but I knew I wanted that more than anything. Except, maybe a home. Haha.

Well, it’s amazing how much you can grow from talking things out with other like-minded people!  I learned and realized so many brilliant things that I can start taking advantage of immediately, instead of hoping I win the lottery one day to be able to completely fund everything on my own. I don’t know why I was so stuck on that idea. I am SO happy I was un-stuck!

So now, I’m gathering ideas and trying to figure out which move to make first.

I really want to specifically tie my love and passion for fashion photography and model photography (even without a product being advertised) in to this project. My experience as a model really helped open my eyes to the different worlds photography could take me to. I got into photography because of the feeling of freedom and control I was in behind that lens, capturing what I wanted, how I wanted it. I stayed with photography later in life because of the amazing confidence that came with having a passion and being talented enough to get the reactions I love with it. When modeling came along, I was again swept up by that confidence, only this time it was from the other side. I knew it was up to me as a model to BE the photograph, no matter how talented the photographer was. It was my job to show off the clothes, or emote the essence of what we were trying to convey, to tell the story I was on-board to tell. And MAN did it feel great when other people loved it, too. I want to show more people like me, who understand where I come from and have similar backgrounds and experiences, how that feels.

Even typing this blog, the ideas are flowing more and more specifically!

I was not set on any particular age group at first. When I first thought of this, I wanted to stick to children and young teens, not necessarily involving fashion or modeling, and perhaps some homeless adults, too. I just wanted to give them photos that they would love. Once I started concentrating more on WHY I was interested in this project, I realized I would not only need to have a clear idea of exactly how to approach these sessions, but I would have to find a way to tailor it to my own needs and interests. That’s when it hit me: I wanted to shoot models. It really is the most exciting thing for me. And I know both sides of the game pretty well. And I really believe I can easily convey the confidence and motivation and zest for life I want to spread to my models by giving them something SO many young people crave and deserve. Modeling is a pretty big deal in our world today, and even people who don’t believe they are interested can appreciate a beautiful piece of art and the experience that comes with them making it. Imagine getting a day out of the youth shelter, free from chores and rules and reminders, to spend it getting pampered by a hair and makeup artist (in a salon, even!), and then be whisked away to a shoot location with a professional lighting setup and a photographer (and assistant!) who really understands a lot more than you were aware they would!  Imagine getting to have lunch with the crew later and be asked about your experience, because you are not just a model, you are a guest and a respected member of the amazing project. Imagine the recognition this could potentially bring you, as a spokes model for disadvantaged people.

Imagine only being in middle or high school when this all happens. Imagine telling your friends and mentors ALL about it, and re-living the details each time. Imagine the confidence that you already achieved just by being noticed, and acknowledged, and praised, and appreciated, and respected, AND dolled-up and photographed! And you haven’t even seen the photos yet…

That’s it. That’s exactly what I want. Teens from youth shelters and rough situations, speaking out for others in those situations by telling a story through their eyes, and their body language. It doesn’t have to be a sad story. That’s my favorite part. When I was there, I didn’t realize how my life was perceived by anyone else, because I wasn’t anyone else. Homeless people have good times, too! And it’s a beautiful thing. Beyond that, I was young and the whole world was in front of me. Nothing was impossible. I want to work with youth who understand this, and can easily embrace it.

And who knows? I could help launch careers or inspire these kids with my project, much like I was inspired by the brilliant minds behind the newspaper’s wishlist I was published in.

Did I mention it would all be free? This means I will probably be depending on local merchants and artists to help out! I don’t think it will be hard to find people interested in being a part of this once word spreads. Donations will probably be easy to come by, too! I am thinking of having the wardrobe for each shoot provided by local merchants who would like their clothing showcased, even if only in the credits. I won’t be doing this to make money for the merchants, so I wouldn’t expect there would be a problem with making the person my main subject, as opposed to the clothes :) I would also need hair and makeup artists interested in TFP work, as I plan to deliver approximately 5-10 final photos. And hopefully I can eventually get some exposure in the media, maybe show the photos in a gallery or two, and make some money back for myself, my crew, and more importantly, the models!

I think I will contact the same youth shelter I stayed at during high school, as a starting point. I’ll have to get everything else in place first, of course, but I just can’t WAIT!!! I’ve raised my regular prices for my clients, so my hope is that I will have more money and more time to concentrate on this project and it’s photos, while still delivering top-notch photos and experiences to my paying clients <3

It feels AMAZING to know exactly what I’m doing. Now I just gotta figure out where to start!

I’m thinking of interviewing my little sister as soon as possible. Since she was homeless along with us, she is the PERFECT guinea pig for this experiment. I started photographing her as my very first subject, and now I still photograph her often, especially when I have new equipment I want to play with! Knowing how she feels about the idea of using modeling and photography as a confidence boost is important to me. Huzzah! I guess I know where to start!!!

218/365

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usEarlier this week, I shot the last of my roll of 35mm black and white film. I normally have my film processed by some place like Target, but this roll would have required more of a specialty place with a specialty price. I was willing to pay upwards of $12, but it was definitely a bummer since I really didn’t remember what was on that roll. I knew it wasn’t that important, so I was willing to wait.
I called up my buddy Aaron, who loves shooting film and is currently a photo student at UNM, to ask him if he had any future plans to take a trip to Picture Perfect. I still don’t have a car, soImage Hosted by ImageShack.us tagging along on one of those trips would be perfect. He unfortunately wasn’t planning any trips in the near future, since he was sending his 4×5 film out for processing elsewhere, but he said he was happy to develop my film FOR me at UNM’s photo lab! I’m certainly not one to say no to that! A few drinks at the bar here and there are much cheaper than a few trips to the photo lab, after all!

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Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI got to go with him and watch him process it, which was awesome. I brought my DSLR (thank god), so I was snappin’ away all over the lab. Chemical-covered floors and all. It was quite a thrill. I was also pretty fascinated with the scanners! I have always been intrigued by film scanners, and would probably be able to save quite a bit of cash if I had one of those myself. I was stoked to see them in action! They really were fantastic :) Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

I’m a little bit bummed because I was clearly not aware that this was black and white film for every shot… Then again, whatever film I have in my camera is the film I’m gonna shoot with, regardless of how many colors are in front of my lens. I am excited to finally sit down and look through the photos anyway. I haven’t really had the chance just yet, but I’m sure I will upload them once I do!

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I am so excited to shoot more film, this time color! Of course, I am also extremely excited for my upcoming digital shoots! I have quite a few sessions lined up this April, and so many more bookings in the works! There’s an Easter wedding, a sunset engagement, and more fantastic shots with Cher! I can’t wait :D

I have SO many photos to edit, and I am especially stoked about the mother-daughter session I posted about last time. That’s the next batch of photos I will be editing today, and they are gonna be beauuuutiful!!

Stay tuned!!!!