Back in January I wrote a paragraph down on a piece of paper, folded it up and stuck it in my wallet. About once a week or so I would take that piece of paper out, read it and stick it back in my wallet and ponder what was written for a short while before returning to my everyday craziness. I'm sure you are wondering what the note said and I will get to that shortly but the idea to do this came from from watching a little video that Marcos Avellan, a well known MMA instructor based out of Miami, had recorded late one night. The video, in a nutshell, was about goal setting and how, by setting goals and by the way you perceive these goals, you can increase your chances of success exponentially.
Now let's fast forward a bit to the present. In one month, I will be showcasing my work at my first gallery exhibition. Now keep in mind that a year and a half ago, if you would have handed me a DSLR and asked me to take a picture of you, I would have embarrassingly had to ask you to turn it on for me first because I had never even thought about using one before. But yet here I am already achieving something that a lot of photographers spend years hoping to get this chance and even more never do. The piece that is to be exhibited is entitled, "Believe," (shown above) and couldn't have been a better fit for this event. The concept of this piece was derived from a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that says, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." Within this quote is the key to having or achieving anything your heart can possibly conjure up and it's something that every successful person know to man, throughout history, has been fortunate enough to have grasped. Once you are able to grasp this concept, you are able to unlock an entire universe that is ready, willing and able to be at your service whenever it is needed. But it all starts with believing. When we are able to fully believe, without conviction, in ourselves, the possibilities are endless and there is absolutely nothing that can stop us from achieving what it is that our heart desires. As for what was written on the piece of paper, it was a very simply put statement of gratitude that said, "Here I am in January of 2015, and this past year was one that I cannot express enough thanks for. My photography has improved drastically as I hoped it would. I was featured on many different sites and blogs all over the world but most importantly, I achieved the lifelong dream of mine to have my art exhibited in a gallery. So thank you for turning my goals and dreams into a reality!"
Now, when I wrote this paragraph, I had no clue what I was really doing and really didn't completely understand why I was even writing it. I was just following the directions of Marcos's video that told me to write the statement like it was the future and what it was I was desiring had already happened and to take a few moments to really reflect on this. Turns out, this was a very important element because what happened over the next few weeks was amazing. At first I didn't honestly believe anything that I had written. But I'm sure everyone has heard the phrase, "Fake it til you make it." Well this is how that works. When you keep telling yourself the same thing over and over, eventually there are little shimmers of hope in what you are telling yourself that start to reveal themselves. When this happens, that's your sign. Take it, run and continue to do what you are doing and more will be revealed. I promise. It doesn't happen all at once. It's small baby steps that eventually lead to a much, much bigger path. It's almost like a seed that you plant and begin to nurture. Before it sprouts, you are just watering it everyday on blind faith until that one day when it decides to sprout that little tiny bud out of the soil it is being grown in. Surely you wouldn't just stop watering it because you now have something tangible in front of you and it is no longer a leap of faith. It has manifested into something you are able to perceive with your five senses. But it all started with knowing and believing that that seed would eventually sprout up. If you didn't believe it would happen you wouldn't have continued to water it. You would have just given up hope. Life is the same way. When we don't see proof that our dreams are manifesting, we give up hope thus eliminating the chances of that dream happening. Call it God, call it nature, call it the universe, it makes no difference what you call it. It always answers! But you have to believe that it will and nurture it constantly by envisioning that it has already happened for you. By doing this you strengthen that belief almost like adding fertilizer to the soil for that seed you planted. You also have to start taking action toward that dream. It doesn't just fall in your lap. You have to put in the blood sweat and tears for it to manifest. But again, baby steps. Small increments eventually turn into longer strides and before you know it, you will be trucking along at a nice and steady pace. I think too often we want what we want but don't have the patience to wait for it so we just give up. It will come but patience is key. This also strengthens that belief because patience is just another form of trust. It's this trust that will set you free. It's a trust in a universal law that has no flaws when you realize the potential that it carries and realize that you are a catalyst to an unlimited source of power. All you have to do is trust in it and allow yourself to tap into it's power.
So why am I sharing all of this with you and why should you believe me? Well, first of all, let me just say that I have nothing to gain by sharing this. I'm not selling any products here with this info so it's not for any financial gain. I believe the world as we know it is crumbling right before our very eyes and there are far too many people standing dormant and doing nothing about it but then even more people are taking advantage of this fact and fueling the fire by profiting off of it and glorifying things that are so unbelievably detrimental to our survival that it's doing nothing more than speeding up the process. I made a pact with myself that if I were given the tools and they did in fact begin to manifest, that I would make it my mission to use it in a way that would benefit the world that I am a part of. Anyone that knew me personally a few years ago, knows that I was leading a life of hopelessness, full of self doubt and regret. Without going into details of the miserable and self destructive ways I was choosing torture myself with, I will say that I wouldn't wish the life I was leading upon my worse enemy. But when you are stuck in that mindset, you are constantly coming up with excuses and trying to justify the course of actions you are taking which does nothing but feed and strengthen this mindset and you fall further and further down that hole. The problem with this is the further you allow yourself to fall, the further you have to climb to get yourself out of that hole. I just happen to be the type of person then, that wouldn't even attempt to catch myself until I had already hit the bottom of that hole. When you loose everything, including yourself and there is no further to fall, you have two options. You can either end everything or start climbing back up and I wasn't ready to end everything. Ever since I was a child, I have always felt that was put here to accomplish something big and I hadn't done that yet so that only left me with one option. Needless to say, I got busy climbing. That climb was not an easy one and never is but it is always possible. ALWAYS! Makes no difference how bad you think you have it. There is always a solution and trust me, there is always someone else that has completed that climb under worse conditions than you have. That, I can guarantee! But there is one more thing that I can guarantee with absolute certainty, and that is, that somewhere along the course of that climb, something miraculous happened for them and it's the very point of this entire lengthy read you are undertaking right now. Somewhere along the way, they started to believe in themselves and believe that that climb could be achieved. They started to feel in every inch of their bones that they indeed did have the power within themselves to figure out the course of action that they needed to take to get themselves out of the hole they chose to allow themselves to fall into. I can also guarantee that that climb began to get easier as they got higher because once you start to nurture this belief it strengthens and starts feeding upon itself. But always remember, this law has no flaws, it works in the negative aspects the same way that it works in the positive. So you must keep in mind that at any point if you start doubting yourself or your abilities this will also feed upon itself and usually that is a much quicker decline. It's almost like gravity. It takes will and effort to climb but to fall, all you have to do is simply let go and before you know it, you will be right back at the bottom where you started. So keep pushing and always remember you have the power to keep going and there is nothing here that can stop you. There is always a solution. Always! I know this because I have experienced it. Sure, I had heard people preaching about this stuff all the time. I knew there was truth to it and on certain levels, I was even practicing this principle before I was fully aware of what I was doing but it wasn't made clear until I wrote that paragraph on that piece of paper and things started happening that I then made the conscious choice to start applying it in my own life. From then on, my awareness began to shift. I have used this law in my own life and am living testimony that it works if you choose to let it.
Everything you need to start creating the life you want is within yourself. That is the very reason you willed yourself to take on the physical form you are in this very moment. You are here to create and also to experience that which you are creating. It doesn't always have to be about money, fame or power either. The external factors are nothing more than a source of fuel but the true measurement of success is within ourselves in terms of personal achievement, satisfaction, self love and also love for others. I have had a dream since I was a child that I was going to use my artistic talents to paint a vision of hope in the world that I am living in and when I picked up that camera a year and a half ago, I knew exactly how I could achieve this dream and I have been sent little pieces of this puzzle ever since. The last six months have blossomed into a complete sense of awareness of who I am and where I am going and more importantly, what it is that I need to do to get there and it all started with a spark of hope and belief that I may actually be able to turn that mess of a life that I was living into something that I wasn't embarrassed to portray. Anyone and everyone has this exact same potential inside themselves. The only requirement is choosing to look for it. That's it. It may even be something you have yet to discover you were even capable of, just as it was in my case. But you will never know if you don't take the risk and try. Sure, taking risks and trying new things can be scary and uncomfortable but just know and start associating that uncomfortable feeling with growth and you eventually start getting excited when this feeling surfaces because you know something great will come of it. No pain, no gain right? Right! :)
I could honestly write a book here on this topic but being this is a blog entry, I need to wrap it up here. If you would like to learn more about the law of attraction, the internet is slammed full of useful info but you don't need to study it or be an expert by any means to have it work in your life. It is absolute and it is at work already. It's just a matter of realizing this and understand how it works and using it to work to your advantage. Everything I have talked about is something that everyone on this planet already knows at some level or another. Unfortunately a lot of people choose to not pay attention to what's going on inside themselves and their realization gets shoved down deeper and deeper but whether it be positive or negative, you are already manifesting things at this very moment and that manifestation has brought you right here right now reading this. Let that be your sign. Always remember, whatever it is you are channeling your energy towards, you are creating. So if your energy is focused on the negative aspects of your life, Shut it down! Right now! Find something you are passionate about and love and focus everything on that. Your life depends on it! What are your goals? Your dreams? These are the things you need to start figuring out and channeling your energy towards. Do this and the universe will start bending in your favor. Stop thinking about what you don't have and focus on what you want and how you are going to get it. It's really not as complicated as we make it. Start simple, just like I did and write your goals down like they have already happened for you and carry that piece of paper around with you and whenever you think about, take that paper out and meditate on it. You do this enough and you will one day get a flicker of hope that this may not be as far out of reach as you thought. Build on that and I promise before long you will have no doubt whatsoever that these goals are obtainable and that you are in fact the creator of your own destiny. The difference now is you will actually understand exactly what that means because you will have shifted your awareness and outlook on the world that you have created around you. I'm not going to brag about everything I have achieved but I will say this, all of the goals I set for the year and much more have already been accomplished and the year is only half over. Why? Because I believed they would happen and because my passion and my vision were rooted enough to make them happen. It works if you have faith in it and allow it to work. Now it's up to you to decide if you are ready to let it work for you. :) Until Next Time...
Would you like to help save a little girl's life? Here's how you can and become the owner of my latest work, "Anti-Gravity." Anyone I've ever worked with can tell you that I don't do this for the money. I do it because I love it and because it gives me a voice, a voice that enables me to evoke positive and joyful emotions inside the people that view my work. I have always said that if one of my images is able to put a smile on just one person's face, then that image has fulfilled it's destiny. Now I've been given an even greater opportunity. The opportunity to save a life. Some of the biggest names in the photography business have teamed up to help raise money to find a cure for a little girl named Eliza, who is fighting a rare terminal illness called Sanfilippo's Syndrome Type A. Her family is desperately trying to save her life and is doing everything in their power to find a cure and time is running out. So for a very limited time you can purchase one of my prints and all proceeds will go towards helping to find a cure for this deadly disease and save little Eliza!!! For more info you can check out:
To purchase a print please visit, http://savingeliza.smugmug.com/Featured/i-W8v7w98/A or click the image above.
Thank you and I hope everyone has a great weekend!
Hello Everyone! I have been promising that I would eventually start releasing tips and sharing some of my techniques with everyone but time has just never liked me for whatever reason and I stay constantly busy so I hadn't been able to do that and I apologize for that. But about a month ago, I was approached by 1X.com to write a tutorial on one of my images they had published on their site for one of their tutorial books that they will be releasing within the next few months. Naturally, I was honored and agreed to do so. Whether or not the tutorial will actually be published or not remains to be seen but I thought I would share the tutorial with my followers (All 6 of you) here. :) In the tutorial I was asked to share a little about the concept and execution, as well as any post production. In my case, being this image was a very advanced composite, there was a very long post production section so if you are new to Photoshop, you may wanna open up Google in a new window in case you are not familiar with some of the terms I may have used. Other than that, I hope this gives you a sneak peak into some of the many techniques that I use to create these elaborate works that I have come to be so passionate about. So without further ado, here is my contribution to 1x...
This is the second image in a mini-series entitled, "Pneuma." This series is my artistic representation of the spirit being reborn and revitalizing its beauty inside the innocence of a child. I have always believed that there is much to learn from children. They are by far the closest representation of pneuma that we have before the effects of a harsh, cruel and unjust world take its toll and that innocence is masked to adapt to a desensitized environment. Before this happens, the series of events that take place are the greatest gifts that any being in this universe can have. To watch a soul take human form and become a life, slowly realizing and evolving its true inner beauty is something that the English language is far too limited to give justice to the true miraculous nature of this extraordinary event. So the concept was to convey this transformation, and the glorious nature of it, while at the same time evoking some of the emotions of fear and vulnerability that the spirit may experience during this process. If you can imagine being thrown into a completely new environment and being totally helpless it would seem like a very cold and dark state, which is why I used an entirely cool color scheme. It also added that other-worldly, dreamlike feel that I wanted in the image. The snow is also used to portray this harsh, cold environment while bringing a certain sense of wonder to the scene. Despite being exposed to a cold climate, the subject, who happens to be my daughter, is wearing nothing more than a dress. This is leading the viewer to feel that vulnerability described earlier. We think of clothing as a means to cover up and protect areas of our body that we would like to keep private so I wanted her flared dress to symbolize the mask that, as humans, we begin to develop slowly, over time that grows and flows in direct relation to the environment around us and the individual experiences we encounter.
Finally, and the most important elements in this image, were the butterflies. The butterfly is symbolic of transformation and was also in many cultures said to be symbolic of the soul. For example, in Ireland in the 1600's, it was prohibited to kill a white butterfly because it was believed to be the soul of a once past child. White is also used to convey purity and a child is the best representation of the pure and innocent soul. In this image, the butterflies have attached themselves to the child, while the child stands with an element of surprise and wonder on her face. The transformation has taken place, the soul awakened, and there lies a beautiful and innocent child in all her glory, her dress and hair flowing in the wind, ready to fulfill her destiny.
While the concept and idea of this shoot may seem intriguing, the execution of the shoot itself wasn't so graceful and rarely is when you are attempting to photograph a two year old. But I honestly feel that the biggest reason I chose to gravitate towards children's photography was because of the challenges it posed. It's one thing developing a concept, and directing an adult model to achieve the desired results. But it's an entirely different beast when your model has no interest whatsoever in helping you do this and in some instances, doesn't even understand what you are telling them to do anyway. This adds an entirely new dimension and level of difficulty to what you are doing. It used to involve me chasing them around the park for hours just praying I got what was intended. However, after much trial and error, I have developed a slight method to this madness and learned a few small tricks to aid in delivering decent results. The most important thing to remember, for me, was that a child does not want to be told what to do and the minute you try and direct that child, you are going to lose any connection or interest they may have had resulting in poor images. Natural reactions are your friend and those are achieved by letting the child be themselves. If you need them to do something specific, you need to think outside the box and almost "trick" them into doing what you would like them to do. For example, the look of surprise and wonder my daughter had on her face in this image was created by alerting her of the rather large dog that was passing by as she was walking away from the camera. Knowing she would turn and look, I sat ready to capture that specific moment. When you know what you want them to do you can create ways to get them to do that without specifically telling them what to do thus creating a more natural reaction as opposed to ending up with something that looks completely staged.
This image is a composite of about 8 different photos. The main image or "plate," includes the background, foreground and main portion of my daughter. This image was shot with a 50mm 1.8 lens with the aperture wide open. The lighting conditions were pretty bad at the time this image was shot between the overcast and the sun dropping below the horizon so I had to balance this out by using a slower shutter speed than I would have liked. I'm not a big fan of grain in my images so I try and keep my ISO as low as possible on most occasions. The location itself was primarily chosen because of the texture on the ground. I knew I was going to have to create a snow covered floor and the pine needles on the ground had a very nice texture to them and when I shifted the colors would create a look of snow sticking to the surface. Pulling off fake snow is not an easy task in post so I needed every ounce of help I could get and still I wasn't certain that it was going to work out as this would be the first time I attempted anything of this nature.
The second image contains nothing but snow which was shot straight up into the sky at night so that it would have a black background with a light illuminating the flakes. The black background is helpful with overlays because you can just set your blending mode for that layer to screen and everything that was black will become transparent, in this case, leaving only the snow visible.
The next three images were the butterflies which happen to be three images of the same butterfly shot at slightly different angles. The original butterfly, contrary to appearance, was a very dark brown, almost black tone with yellowish speckles covering it. The white and dark blue tones you see in the final image are a result of simply inverting the layer's colors which will give you their opposites in the Photoshop color system. So when inverted, the opposite of yellow would be blue and the opposite of black would be white.
The last three images that were used were shots of her dress taken at a later date with a remote while I was twirling the dress around. These were all taken with fast shutter speeds of 1/500 as to freeze the motion I was creating with the dress. All of the images were pieced and blended together in Adobe Photoshhop CS6.
This was definitely the most challenging composite I have tackled to date but because of this, I feel a strong sense of accomplishment and inspiration every time I look at this image and I am extremely happy with the results. This image has been a turning point in my short career and has shown me that I have the ability to turn a vision or concept in my head into something tangible and create beautiful art that is capable of touching the soul of its viewers and that, in my opinion, is one of the most rewarding feelings I know and is why I do what I do.
I use two programs for all of my editing. For my basic adjustments (ie: exposure, white balance, sharpening and noise reduction) and RAW conversion, I use Adobe Lightroom 5. Then I import my document into Adobe Photoshop CS6 for all of my heavy lifting. Composites can be very tricky; however, if you break it down into three main categories, it becomes less complicated. The three things you need to pay close attention to when you are adding elements to an image are: the light levels and direction, the color or hue and the saturation levels. If you can match these things you are well on your way to a successful composite. Your masking abilities can also make or break a composite. Masks are the most important aspect in compositing images. Masks allow you to reveal and conceal areas of a layer that you wish to either show or hide. I always start out by isolating my elements. There are many ways to do this. I tend to prefer the old fashion way by using my magnetic lasso and creating a selection around the element, in this case, the butterfly. Once I had my selection, I feathered it a bit and added a smart radius of about 1 px by going into the "refine mask" section. I did this for each of the 3 butterflies then moved them into place. Next I needed to add shadows. I knew I would be placing a light source above my subject so I had a good idea which direction I would need to place my shadows. For the main shadow, I turned the butterfly into a selection and created a new layer. Then I sampled the color of an existing shadow from the image and filled my selection with that color. I then skewed the selection of the shadow so that it was facing in the proper direction and duplicated the layer. I applied a Gaussian blur to the original layer with a radius of about 40 and repeated this on the duplicate layer with a radius of about 20. This adds a bit more depth to the shadows. I repeated these steps to all three butterflies.
For the dress additions, a precise selection was not needed as I would be masking in and out areas that were needed for each of the 3 added sections of her dress. Once I had a rough area masked and blended, I then went back and fine-tuned that masking selection, paying close attention to the outline of the dress. For areas that were not matching up well in terms of light, I manually painted in over the top with a soft paintbrush and colors sampled from the area I was blending in. Any areas that were still not matching, I corrected with a levels adjustment layer and masking in the areas I wanted this adjustment to affect. I then added a shadow of the dress on the ground using the same technique that was used for the butterflies.
Adding the snow was a simple process. As mentioned before, the image was shot so that when applied over an image, if the blending mode is set to screen it makes only the snow visible so dropped this image in, set the mode to screen and then positioned it where I wanted it.
The next step was not so easy. Making the ground appear like it was covered with a layer of snow was done by using a series of luminosity masks and curve adjustment layers right above my background layer. The luminosity masks allowed me to isolate the darks, mid tones, and brights all separately and use curve adjustments to tone and adjust areas I needed to brighten and darken. Although, I am limited in this tutorial and cannot go into great detail of this process, I urge you to research luminosity masks and become more familiar with them as the possibilities are endless with what you are able to accomplish by using them.
The light source above my daughters head was created by sampling a light color from the image, and creating a solid color fill adjustment layer. I then applied a radial gradient to the mask and using the "apply image" command with its default settings, to blend the light in better. I repeated this a few times using a bigger gradient each time to add more depth to the light. Finally, I grouped all these layers together and reduced the opacity on the group so it wasn't as strong.
A light from overhead would obviously illuminate everything underneath it, so to create this effect; I used a series of Curve adjustment layers. In the first one I wanted to darken the surrounding areas so on my curve graph, I created a point right in the middle of the graph (my mid tones) and pulled it down. This darkens the entire scene, so I went into the mask of this layer and with a black soft brush and my opacity and flow set to 100% , I painted out the area that I felt would be lit by the overhead light source, which in this case was my daughter, and a circular area on the ground below her. I then changed the opacity of my brush to 50% and began feathering out the ground area a bit more as to not have such a harsh line on this area. The next curve adjustment layer I did the exact opposite of this by dragging my mid tones up slightly. Again this effects the entire scene which I didn't need, so for this layer. I inverted the mask (CTRL-I) and with a white soft brush and it's opacity set to about 20%, painted areas on my daughter and the ground, I felt would be further illuminated by the above light source.
Once I had the entire image looking believable, the final steps involve the toning of the entire image. I wanted a very surreal atmosphere and cool tones so to achieve this, I started by creating an Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and going into my red channel (any channel other than the master channel will work) and then dragging my hue slider until my ground was the blue tone I was looking for. I then inverted the layer mask and masked only the ground area in. I wanted this image to have a sort of hazy, milky look to it. I achieved this with curves and pulling up on my shadows, reducing the contrast. I then went into each individual color channel and added blues, reds and a touch of magenta to my shadows and yellow to my highlights and masked this slightly off of my daughter's skin in areas the yellow was too harsh.
Shoot what you love ALWAYS! Never limit your creativity for financial gain. If you are passionate about what you love the rest will fall into place. So stay true to your vision and follow it. But most importantly, always be willing to help others succeed and success will find its way back to you!
2013 was great year for me in my photographical and artistic development and I can only hope hope that this year I can transcend what I have been able to accomplish thus far. I have many goals for 2014 but all of them require hard work, dedication, and me, stepping up my game a notch so I wanted my 2014 debut to reflect these transformations in certain aspects and "Transcend" was the result. Thanks for viewing and I want to wish everyone a GREAT year!!!
Well, another year has come and gone and it has been one to remember for sure! Last year this time I was still trying to figure out how use a DSLR and knew very little of photography outside of how to over-edit an HDR image! Needless to say I grew out of that horrible phase real quick, thank goodness! No offense to anyone who's passion lies in HDR. It has it's place in the photographic world, but can very easily go from a beautiful masterpiece to a sight for sore eyes very quickly, and in the short time I practiced this widely used technique, I would usually tend to lean more towards the later. Lol! However, without HDR, I would have never picked up a camera in the first place. So it has played a big role in my rather short but amazing journey. One year later, I couldn't be more happy with what I've accomplished thus far. I am constantly learning and trying to improve my work with each image I release and I'm super excited to see what the new year will bring! All that being said, I wanted to end 2013 with a bang and I managed to get one last fine art piece in before the year's end. This image is titled, "The Altruist" and portrays a young girl with her little bird cupped in her hand, getting ready to set it free into the world. She has a look of sadness on her face because she loves her little feathered friend, but at the same time she knows that her kind act will be for the best. Birds were meant to fly. We are faced with tough choices everyday and some of them require us to put our own personal interest aside for the well being of others. This is the message I am trying to convey through, "The Altruist." I couldn't have asked for a better message to end the year off with and carry over with us to 2014. Put others before yourself and good things will find their way back to you. On top of that, you will feel great about doing it and when you feel great about yourself, you maintain the confidence needed to accomplish great things. You can't go wrong here and it all starts with a simple act of kindness towards someone else. Selflessness brings about self worth! And on that note, I'm going to end both this post and the year. But with every closed door, a new one opens, and with every newly opened door, an opportunity for greatness opens along with it. So lets seize this opportunity together and never pass up the chance to help someone else along the way. It just might be that little extra boost of self worth and confidence you need to achieve those dreams you never thought were possible! So have a Happy New Year everyone and I wish you only the best for the new year! Until Next Time...
"The Totem (As The Crow Flies)" In some tribes the crow is viewed as a sign of protection. They are known to guide the way and become our light in the dark. If a crow is near you know that the path you are on is clear. In life, we are only able to use whats behind us, our past experience, learn from it, and use it to guide us on our journeys into what the future holds for us.
Exactly one year ago... almost to the day, I picked up a DSLR for the first time ever. This image is the product of one year of hard work and dedication. At times I would almost call it obsessiveness, but it is finally starting to pay off. My images are starting to reflect the vision I have had for years and I am starting to grasp the ability to turn this vision into something tangible and I couldn't be more happy!
I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and I hope everyone has a wonderful day!
As anyone that has ever visited this site knows, this was formerly my graphic design site. And although it has never been a very popular site by anyone's standards, (630 hits a month) I hope to progressively change that. In an attempt to sharpen my skill set and evolve with my craft, I accidentally acquired a new found passion in the process that I never, in a million years, dreamed I would be pursuing. I know if someone came up to me a year and a half ago and said, "Hi, I'm from the future and three years from now, you will become a well known children's photographer," I would assume they just escaped from the loony bin. First, I'm horrible with kids! But more importantly, I've never used anything other than the camera on my smartphone before. And although I am far from being well known, the rest has fallen into place, and rather quickly at that.
It all started less than a year ago. I was surfing the web when I ran across a photo on one of the sites I ended up on. Not even sure what site it was or how I ended up on it but I do remember the photo. It was a picture of two Thai boxers. But it didn't look like any image I had ever seen before. It had a very unique quality about it. The subjects almost looked as though they were characters in a video game but the image was far too detailed to have been created from nothing on a computer. I thought to myself, "Wow, is this something new? Maybe a new filter or technique designers are using that I haven't heard of? And if so, this could add a whole new set of possibilities to my skill set!" I had to find what this was.
To make a very long story short, it turned out not being anywhere close to a new technique at all. It was HDR or High Dynamic Range, a technique photographers use, which combines multiple exposures into a single image in attempts to bring back more detail in the shadows and highlights of an image. Many photographers get their start through HDR and I was no exception to that. But fortunately, I didn't stick with HDR long at all. When I dive into something I become very passionate, almost obsessive, about it and the more I learned, the more I grew to appreciate other styles and other processing techniques of which I soon started incorporating into my work. But the biggest reason I transitioned from HDR was a little 3 foot tall, ball of energy, that I couldn't get to stay still long enough to take 3 exposures if my life depended upon it. Her name is Rhyme and she is my 2 year old daughter. I quickly learned that if I could photograph her, I could photograph pretty much anything. So she became my new practice subject and I eventually became halfway decent at photographing her. So decent that, before long, I had people requesting that I photograph their children for them. To which, I had to respectively decline, I must add. It was one thing chasing my own two year old around the park in search of that" perfect shot," looking like a complete fool! But someone else's child? Uh, no thank you! I was no where close to being confident enough in myself to take the chance of completely embarrassing myself in front of complete strangers and not being able to produce a single usable image for them on top of it. No way!
This all changed, however, after producing an image that I titled, "The Curious Companion." It was a composite of Rhyme facing with her back towards the camera walking away from it and right beside her was a little white duck. It's head cocked slightly to the side as if it were trying to emulate her every step. This image opened the door to so many possibilities for me. I had played around with a few composites before but upon the completion of this image, I proved to myself that not only was I capable of producing a composite, but I was also able to make the image believable. In case you are not familiar with what a composite is, it's an image that is composed by using elements taken from numerous photographs and arranging them into a single image. Composites are not easy to do, in fact, they are quite difficult to pull off correctly because there are so many variables working against you. For example, images taken at different times of the day will pose two color casts that are completely different from each other, not to mention the direction that the shadows and light are falling upon them will vary. And while we are talking about shadows I should mention that every element you bring into another image, needs shadows added to it that must be created from scratch and this is not an easy venture to tackle either. Those are only a few of the many problems you will run across. The list goes on and on. Trust me! So for me to produce a composite that was believable was a major step in my career. It meant, for me, that I didn't need to have everything "perfect" all in one click of the shutter. If there was something I didn't have right then, I could just shoot it at a later time and then add it in via photoshop. I know, I know, this is cheating and I can hear traditional photographers from all walks of life shrieking through my Ethernet! But here's the thing, I'm not, nor have I ever labeled myself, a traditional photographer, I'm an artist. And yes, there is a big difference. A traditional photographer captures while an artist creates. And that's what I am doing... I'm creating. That's what I have been doing ever since I was old enough to hold a crayon. Art is, and always will be, my my biggest passion. I cannot remember a time in my life that I wasn't in some way, shape, or form, creating and I firmly believe that deep down, we are all artists in some way. They say we are made in the image and likeness of God, or our creator. If that is so then it is inevitable. Creation is in our DNA and it's a part of who we are and how we evolve. I just believe we all have different ways we tap into this. But we are all creative and are always creating in some way or another. That being said, who's to tell me that I can't place an added element into my image for the purpose of creating a work of art? Not that I really care what anyone one has to say about this. It's my artwork, I am free to create what I want for a purpose that suits me, my style and my needs and there are many paths you can take as a photographer. It was for this reason I chose the path of Fine Art Portrait Photography. It gave me the freedom to produce beautiful works of art that both capture and add elements of mystery and fantasy into them and at the same time, tell a story. Everyone has had their picture taken at some point in their life. But not everyone has had themselves placed into a gorgeous, fairy tale like, fine art piece, that can be hung over the mantle and still admired twenty years from now. People like things that are unique and it's this rarity that I seek to produce through my skills as both and artist and as a photographer. This is only the beginning of my journey. I will always be striving to improve and my motto will always be, "I have yet to produce my best work," so that I may bring my followers and fans fresh, innovative and beautiful work.
Now that the new site has launched, I will also be making a point to share with you some of my tips and tricks of the trade, so to speak, for everything from the shot all the way to the editing. I have been fortunate over the last year, to have had some really great photographers that were kind and willing enough to share with me some of their processing "secrets" so it's only right that I pass that knowledge on to others as well. To often, artist won't share the things that they have learned out of fear that someone will produce work that surpasses theirs. I do not share this mindset for the simple fact that it is limiting. If I am sharing my tools then this only challenges me to find new and more creative ones and that is always the goal. Everyone wins and in term, the work produced by everyone does nothing but improve! So I invite you, if you haven't already to follow me on Facebook and follow this blog as well to see all of these tips and tutorials. You will also get to see newly published work as it is unveiled and hear about giveaways as they happen. I will be starting up an email list shortly As well to keep everyone updated on future plans, blog posts and promotions. So I hope that everyone welcomes this transition and many thanks to everyone that has followed my work thus far. It will only get better! Until Next Time...
My Facebook is: http://www.facebook.com/ShaunPostonPhotography