Friday, March 30, 2012

Heart and Soul

Recently I was able to participate in a photography workshop with the renowned Sandy Puc'.  She said this, and it really struck me.

"We don't just take pictures, we capture art.  Inside of this image is the magic.  It is my heart and my soul..."

I love it.   

That's exactly what it is.  We're not selling paper.  We're selling art.  We're selling ourselves and our time and our talent.  A successful (and fiesty!) photographer said that when she has someone say, "Why can I get an 8 x 10 print from the machine for $1.99 and you charge $150 (yes--that's right!!), she says, "Would you like a $1.99 print?  I'll get you one."  And she goes to the back, gets a blank 8 x 10 piece of photo paper, and hands it to them!  Her talent ON the piece of paper is what the client is paying for.  I don't think I'd have the noive do that--but she made her point!  

These days anyone can purchase a good dSLR camera.  However, a custom photographer not only has a good camera.  They know how to make the human form look its best.  They understand lighting.  They understand posing and grouping people in a manner pleasing to the eye.  They understand the technical aspects of photography and how to maximize their equipment--they switch off auto! They're constantly working and learning to develop their craft and creativity.  They know how to work with people to make them comfortable in front of the lens.  They give their individual time and attention.  They have experience using post processing editing tools to reduce blemishes and make clients look their best.  They use technology to create fine art pieces from the images by working with colour, textures, overlays and more.  They use a quality lab so portraits are printed on the best paper and mounted to ensure durability and beauty for years to come.

Yes, going to a custom photographer gives you a completely different experience than going to a chain.   

Does a chain  studio go out with you to a cool location like an old train?  
Then spent the time adjusting the colour and texture  to make a work of art?

I came across this blog post that puts it into words way better than I can.  The writer says it beautifully, and I hope anyone who has questions about cost will read it. There are a number of photographers in this economically depressed area, and we're aware of the limited financial means in this town.  It's like walking a tightrope to determine how to meet costs to stay in business with what is happening economically here while not undermining what photographers do as artists.  As such, photographers here are not nearly charging the international standard for photographers---not even close.  As for myself, when I reviewed my pricing this week I realized that I'm charging just what I need to to make what I do worthwhile and still cover the costs of equipment, software, time, lab, travel, and the other expenses associated with running a small business, not to mention what my talent and skills are worth.  I certainly don't come remotely close to charging $150 for an 8 x 10!! 

I'm passionate about what I do.  I love it!  It gives me joy.  But if I'm going to do this, I have to guarantee a certain return to keep going and growing and sharing what I love with others.  There are amazing photographers here, and it saddens me that people would think that the phenomenal, artistic work of a custom photographer is only worth $1.99.  It saddens me even  more to think that perhaps due to their own insecurities and/or negative feedback regarding pricing that some photographers might think their talent and time and experience is worth less than it really is.  It saddens me to know of photographers no longer doing what they love to the extent that they could be because they've either devalued themselves or have been devalued by the perceptions others.  

So--remember that when you hire a custom photographer (ie. not a studio department store chain and not Uncle Joe who happens to have an expensive camera), you're hiring someone who is going to give you their undivided attention, their talent, their knowledge, their individual style, and hours of their time to work with your portraits to make them unique and beautiful.  

Indeed, custom portraiture IS a work of (he)art!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Silhouettes and things

A few weeks ago I decided it was finally time to paint my stairwell and entry and put some photos up.  Since I'm frugal (read:  cheap), I went to Goodwill and bought frames there, then spray painted them black, since most were pretty putrid looking.  Gag.  A coat or two of paint and they got a whole new lease on life.

Since I had a few left over, I decided to use PSE to make some custom art the right size for some oddball frames.  I thought it would be fun to try to make some silhouettes of the kiddos, so I did!  Took forever since I couldn't make the selections tools work properly, so they're kinda rough.  I'm just going to say I meant to make them like that.  Yuppers!

Then, courtesy of Pinterest (my new love) I came across this nifty Flickr collection of letter photos.  Quite literally hundreds of each letter.

So I made a sign.  

And now they've been sent for printing.  I'm excited to have new inexpensive wall art!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A little of this and a little of that.

Our house was full of land mines--leprechaun traps--this weekend.  For the last three years at least the kids have made traps, and most of the time I forget and end up racing around in the middle of the night or heading off to an unearthly early  morning Walmart run to get something for the trap.

This year hubby was home, so he got involved and between Adam making traps ALL over the house, and Mommy having to go on a moss hunt whilst walking the pooch, our house was a veritable obstacle course of sticks, boxes, water, styrofoam, dirt, and moss.  

Here's Julia's:

The sign says, "GOLD in the hill!"  The unlucky leprechaun climbs up the ladder and onto what seems to be a solid, moss covered roof, only to discover that there's nothing under the moss, thus falling through and into the wooden box.

Adam had a number of traps set about the house.  This is the one he made for school:

He was convinced that he would actually see  a leprechaun, due to the anti-magic electrical field, but unfortunately the leprechaun somehow escaped--although he did leave a mint thin behind.

In other news.  I made chocolate pudding from scratch for the first time in years.  And it was so good I made it again.  And THAT was so good I made butterscotch.  It's a sickness, really.  

I tried to take some shots, but it's hard to hold the camera steady in no light with one hand while stirring in the other.  So I'm not going to show them all!

So.  Here's how to make chocolate pudding.  J said it smells out of this world and tastes like melted brownies.  So check it out!

You'll need:
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 squares unsweetened chocolate OR 6 Tbsp cocoa and 2 Tbsp shortening (which is what I used, since I didn't have any unsweetened chockie.  How is that possible?)
2 cups milk
1 beaten egg
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla

Put the sugar, cornstarch, and chocolate (or cocoa/shortening) in a heavy saucepan.  Be sure to sift the cornstarch and cocoa to minimize lumps.  You're welcome!  OK.  Gradually whisk in 2 cups of milk (preferably whole milk).  Cook at medium temp stirring constantly until comes to a rolling boil.  Don't be tempted to do turn up the temp or stop stirring.  You'll end up with curdled milk and/or lumpy pudding.  Not so good.  Just be patient.  Grab a book and read while you stir, if you must do anything at all other than daydream.  Once it's boiling, cook for 2 minutes longer.  

At this point, you'd drink it, if you could.  Thick and yummy...  Mmmm...chocolate.


Next is important.  Gradually pour a bit of the hot mixture into the beaten egg and mix well.  

If you miss this step in tempering the egg, when you pour the egg into the pot it'll end up scrambled.  Not so appealing.  OK.  So you've tempered your egg.  Now pour the egg/choc mix into the pot and cook another 2 minutes. 

Add the butter and vanilla. Stir well.  Pour into dessert bowls. Done!

For butterscotch, omit the chocolate of course.  Reduce sugar to 3/4 cup and use brown sugar instead of white.  Add 3 Tbsp butter instead of two.  I found the butterscotch pudding to be a bit too sweet--but it was still good.  

For plain vanilla, do as for butterscotch, but use white sugar and only 2 Tbsp butter at the end.

So--go try it!  If you haven't made pudding from scratch before, it will completely spoil you from having it any other way.  Which reminds me that there's still some left over whole milk in the fridge, and I'm feeling a chocolate urge coming on...

So see ya!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Little textured pretties

Just messing around with adding textures to photos this morning.  Grabbed the little white flowers (what are they?  Snowdrops? Not sure.)  from the other day.  Added a free texture by Shadowhouse Creations.  And voila.  If you want to download lots of free textures, go visit Jerry.  His place is a texture treasure trove--and it's all free!  Gotta love that!

Here's before texture:

Here's AFTER, at about 10% opacity:

Kinda fun!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

It's done!

The video of the photos of hands that I've been taking over the last couple of weeks is done, and the ladies viewed the video on Tuesday night.  It was fun for me to see it up on a large screen--but I think I'm done with it for awhile.  After listening the song over and over and over while working on it, I've been seeing hands and humming the tune in my dreams!  Faith W sang it on Tuesday and did an amazing job.  I wish we had a recording of HER singing it on the video!  Thanks to Bonnie C for making everything look so pretty on Tuesday as well.  You have such an eye for making things lovely.

When I was working on the piece, there was a painting that I wanted to use at the end.  Since I wanted to credit the artist, I had to do some digging around to find out who it was.  The painting was posted on plenty of blogs without his name attached.  Finally I found out who it was, but the painting was copyrighted.  The artist's website advised to write for permission and that a fee would be assessed for its use.  Makes sense.  Of course, I didn't have dollars for any fee, but I didn't feel right about using the painting without permission, either, and I searched for hours and couldn't find anything else suitable for that spot.  So I thought, "What the heck."  Sent the artist an email explaining what I was doing and that I'd like to use a detail from his work.  He graciously gave permission, wished me luck on the video, and thanked me for asking him before copying it. He even said that if I wanted a higher resolution file to let him know!  How generous is THAT?!  I didn't want to bother him with the file, since he'd been so kind anyway, so what you see on the video is a copy from his website.  So, lesson here folks--don't steal copyrighted works from the internet (photos, paintings, words...anything!).  Chances are, the author of the work will be happy to allow its use.  You just need to ask first!  

Thank you, Stephen Gjertson, for your generosity in allowing your work to be shown on my little video.  

Here it is.  And I'm not taking hands photos for a loooong time!  LOL  If any of the ladies would like prints of  your hands, please let me know.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Although I've done umpteen hands in the last week, this is the last one I'll post here--I promise!  

But I like it.  So I'm going to share it.  So there!

One of just a couple that I kept in color.  The contrast looks so much better this way, I think.

Nighters.  I actually went down for a nap at 5, if you can believe it,  leaving hubby to take care of dinner.  I've got a good one, because he was sweet enough to do without hesitation (oh yeah!).  Woke up at midnight--but I'm still ready to go back to sleep, so I'm going to toddle off now.  *yawners*

Have a good week!

Friday, March 2, 2012


Today I hopped in the car and headed over to see a lady that I haven't seen in ages.  I wanted to take a photo of her hands for the "Hands of Heaven" project.

She has become the foster mom of 4 cats.  Each one has a story.  This little guy (almost a year old now) was found when he was just a few weeks old in the woods north of here.  A friend called J and asked if she'd please take him.  His eyes were all crusty and he was in pretty bad shape, but he was nursed back to health and look at him now!

The only thing is that he's completely deaf, and they suspect he has been since birth.

But oh--what a love he is!

He was playing with my camera bag strap and I moved it with my toe, which is why he looked up at me.  Clicking and calling certainly wasn't doing the trick!  J is trying to find homes for the cats, and I wanted to scoop this guy up and bring him home.  Considering how noisy our place is most of the time, he'd probably be the happiest of all of our pets!  But I think the others might object...

Here are the hands that rescued him.