The Most Important Message From WPPI For Photographers Is… (D194)

FOLLOW YOUR PASSION.

A close second is… JUST BE YOU.

Among all the seminars, workshops and rockstar photographer presentations and events at WPPI 2010 in Las Vegas, the overriding messages I heard were the ones above. Yes, lighting, technical skills, framing, composing, marketing, and social media are all important pieces of the puzzle. But the picture of a life and living that you’re putting together is about your passion and YOU.

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Each piece of equipment you add, every blog post you write, every marketing message you send, every contact you make, are all just pieces you need to complete the puzzle you’re creating with your life as a photographer. Forget about copying anyone else or trying to be a rockstar, if you’ll just be authentic, tell your story and share it with the world, that’s where success lies.

As my friend Dane Sanders said in his presentation on The Anatomy of a Creative, what matters is what happens at the intersection of who you are and what you do. Who you are needs to affect everything you do. So while it’s great to listen and get ideas from other creatives who have paved the way, there is no “right” way for you to become a successful professional photographer.

And while we’re talking about that, can we just scrap the words “successful” and “professional” and just be photographers?

Can we get rid of the divisions that keep us apart and find the connections that bring us together—for support, courage, and change?

Can we just be creatives who see and interpret the world through a glass lens… then share that view with a world dying for true connection?

Today’s image: I love the way that Pictage captured that message in the bracelets they handed out to everyone that visited their booth… and what fun, bright colors to boot! Such a great way to remind ourselves to follow our passion! And can I just say that we had an absolute blast at the women’s panel at the Pictage booth on Wednesday? So many talented, brilliant and creative women came out to chat with myself, Mary Marantz and Jules Bianchi. I’m telling you now that you will want to join us in New Orleans at Pictage PartnerCon in November… we have got something absolutely amazing up our sleeve!

Manual: Page 99

Images: Photo Trekking… I love this book!

Photography Convention Wrap Up – Day 3 Highlights (D191)

tasra365-wppi-2010-bandWhere do I begin? Today was filled with such different events and people, it’s hard to even describe. So, I’ll just give you the brief highlights and fill you in on more details next week when I’ve returned home and processed it all.

ShowIt Sites meetup led by David Jay with guest speakers Dane Sanders and Jasmine Star. Got to chat with Scott and Adina Hayne, who are some of the greatest people around.

Pictage Women’s Panel with Jules Bianchi and Mary Marantz, with an intro by CEO Jim Collins and a drawing for a free iPad (I got to choose the winner!). What an amazing group of women who came to listen and share… I LOVE creative women pursuing their passion… whatever that passion might be.

After-panel coffee break with Annette Biggers, Colin, Annie, and Ruby… one of those impromptu times that seem unplanned, but really end up being exactly what you need and could only have been planned by the ultimate Creator.

Rockin’ Jam Session with Jerry Ghionis, Jay Lawrence Goldman, Tony Corbell, Mitche Graf, Josh Haftel, and Robert Hughes. Ron (my amazing hubby) was asked to film them to create a music video. So much fun! Jay stole the show and had his bandmates bowing down to his genius on the keyboards.

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WPPI 2010 Awards Ceremony with a special appearance by the kids in the boys and girls club that were part of the Pictage charity shoot on Saturday that we filmed. Always so cool to see Ron’s work on the big screen and always impressed with how Jim Collins, CEO of Pictage honors and gives credit to those he works with.

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Congrats to the impressive print competition award winners this year, including Louis Pang, Int’l Portrait Print of The Year and Jennifer Hudson for her amazing, quirky prints. And huge congrats to our friend and Orange County photographer Joe Photo who was honored with the humanitarian of the year award!

Manual: Page 54
Images: Clearly saw a ton of images today.

Dancin’ the Night Away at Studio 54—WPPI Day 2 Recap (D190)

What a day! I got to see and listen to Jay Maisel live. I seriously felt like I was sitting in the presence of photography greatness. I mean, I just discovered his work and quoted him in a post about carrying your camera with you everywhere you go. And now, just a few weeks later, I was able to listen to him say that very thing along with some other incredibly poignant thoughts. I will definitely share what I learned from him in a separate post once I have time to process it all!

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Right after listening to him, I headed down to Studio 54 to party with the people from Pictage, Shoot Q and KISS Wedding Books. So much fun!

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I’m not really a party girl (actually not at all), but I do love to dance. So once everyone got out on the dance floor, I had a ball! It’s been way too long since the hubby and I got to dance together. And fun to watch the other photogs cutting the rug… Mark Adams from LaCour Photography and Carlos Baez even got up on stage to shake their groove thing!

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Very long day and now it’s already early Wednesday morning. I forgot to eat dinner so I’m eating fig newtons and orange juice from the hotel store. Yum. Such a glamorous life I lead (not really).

Once I get some shut-eye, it’s time to head back to the tradeshow floor for the women’s panel I’m speaking on at Pictage. I’m so excited to be on the panel with such amazing women like Mary Marantz and Jules Bianchi… and to connect with other women photographers. Watch out world, here we come!

Manual: Confession… I didn’t read my manual yesterday. I’m hoping I can get a pass since I’m at a photography convention and learning from a master like Jay Maisel. Today, page 39—ISO.
Images: Tons of Jay Maisel’s images in his presentation.

Las Vegas or Bust: WPPI 2010 Here I Come! (D188)

I’m running out the door realizing I won’t land in Vegas in time to get today’s post up… but don’t worry, I’ve already fulfilled all the daily requirements. I shot some images early this morning, read page 99 in the camera manual and looked at images in Rangefinder Magazine.

Tomorrow starts bright and early with a seminar by Scott and Adina Hayne… from there it’s lunch with the amazing peeps at Pictage and more seminars tomorrow afternoon. I’ll keep you updated each day on what I’m learning.

Anything you want to know, wish you could see at WPPI? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do!

Until then, stay focused and live creative!

5 Unforgettable Lessons From a Middle School Teacher (D186)

That’s right, middle school. You remember those years and your teachers, even if you pretend to have selective amnesia. You do know I taught junior high, or middle school as some call it, for almost five years, right?

Me + 36 teenagers + 5 years – Sleep = More life lessons than you can imagine

As I prepare to speak at the women’s panel for Pictage at WPPI 2010 in Vegas, my thoughts have returned to those years of teaching and the lessons I learned. I thought I’d share them with you, because unless we learn the lessons, we just keep repeating them. And who wants to spend the rest of their life repeating junior high?
tasra365-teacher Lesson 1: Don’t get too comfortable.
One day you can be in the popular crowd thinking life is grand. The next moment you’re an outcast making amends with the kids you previously tormented. Don’t get too comfortable where you are because it could all change in a moment.

Lesson 2: Listen to your gym teacher.
In gym every day, we had to do stretches, cherry pickers, and running the mile. Since everything is constantly changing, you must be flexible and quick on your feet. Assuming things will remain static, either for good or bad, leaves you unprepared for the inevitable change that will come your way. Teens often don’t have enough life experience or perspective to realize this, which is why everything is a crisis. Listen to your gym teacher, do your stretches and be prepared to bend, not break when the winds of change come your way.

Lesson 3: Do your homework.
As much as we all wish we could be known for our best intentions, it’s just not the case. We are known by our actions. In junior high, if you have a new girlfriend every week, you’re establishing yourself as a player… if you always do your homework, you’re establishing yourself as studious. Decide what you want to be known for and do it… consistently.

Lesson 4: Eat your breakfast.
Literally. My students who thought it was cool to not eat breakfast either fell asleep from exhaustion or got so snarky they were put in time out. Figuratively. Don’t forget to feed yourself what you need to keep going. This is absolutely critical for creatives… make sure you’ve filled up before you go out into the world.

Lesson 5: Choose your friends wisely.
Experts say your future and your success are largely determined by the people you surround yourself with. Nowhere is that more clearly seen than in junior high. One person in a group makes a bad choice and takes down three other unsuspecting “friends.” Consider whether your friends inspire and motivate you to be better, or to focus on things that are either unimportant or damaging to your esteem. Then be willing to make the hard choices to rid yourself of people who bring you down.

tasra365-classroom There you have it. A journey back into the recesses of your mind to remember the lessons you learned in junior high. Put them in practice today and watch yourself graduate into a whole new world! What other lessons would you add? Any funny stories from your junior high years you want to share? Come on… you know you do.

Image of the Day: These two shots are of a model classroom I built while getting my Master’s degree in Education. Fun, huh? I had to represent how I would set up my classroom to be inclusive and conducive for education. The crazy thing is that when I got my first classroom, I set it up almost identical to this model. Goes to show the power of pre-planning and preparation!
Manual: Page 106
Images: WPPI 2010 Faces Competition

D81: It’s Time to Let Go

Remember that famous line in “Finding Nemo.” Dorie is trying to tell Marlin that it’s time to let go of the whale, but we all really know it’s about so much more than the whale. It’s about his whole life, his need for control, his fear of the future.

Today my image is about letting go. I didn’t plan it, but when I was reviewing today’s shots, I saw it in the series. That’s why I decided to do more than just select one image. I wanted to tell the whole story.
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I’ve also been thinking a lot about album design since Gary Fong’s talk at the Pictage User’s Group in Atlanta. His storybook strategy that he used to build his wedding photography business is one that he swears by. It sets you above the average photographer, differentiates you from the shoot and burn crowd. But it isn’t effortless. It’s taking more time pre-designing a personal album and less time editing every photo to death. It’s more about relationship and knowing your client, than taking the most technically sound images.

His entire philosophy got me thinking. I’ve been looking at albums online and trying to wrap my head around the idea. Wondering how to implement it in a portrait business. What are your thoughts?

Manual: Page 111—Speedlights. I really want to try one out or at least see one in action. Has anyone seen a helpful video tutorial online that I could check out?

Images: Looked at completed albums online at Pictage.com. They have a free album design service for members which I’m going to give a try to see how it works. I’m thinking that if they can do the basic pre-design, then I could follow up and personalize it.

D72: Creating a Short Film

If you asked me what I did today, that’s what I would tell you. I created a short film.

Or at least was an integral part of the creation. I came up with the concept, set up the background, starred in it, and then left the editing to the experts.
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The result? A short film that introduces me and my blog. It’s a fun little piece that was inspired by a challenge (hmm, I’m realizing I just said challenge, I’ll come back to that). Today, thanks to the graciousness of my husband being willing to humor me in my project, we shot and edited this little intro. Watch it and let me know what you think!

I’m part of a great new community of Shopkeepers at The OpenSky Project. Their purpose: bring humanity back to shopping. They are providing a place where experts who are passionate about a certain topic or idea can connect to the people who share similar passions. And in the process find products you love. It’s taking Main Street online. They challenged the Shopkeepers to create a video intro of ourselves so that we could get to know one another better. This is my submission.

Back to the “challenge” thing I mentioned above, I’m seeing a pattern for what it takes for me to get things done. I need someone to challenge me. I’m going to think about this some more, but I’m wondering if that’s a lifelong pattern as well. Definitely food for thought.

Today’s image is a self-portrait I took with a tripod and self timer shortly after the shoot. I figured since everything was set up and I was already dressed it was a good time to take a shot. Not thrilled with the coloring or focus of the image. If I’d had more time, I would’ve taken more shots and really gotten it right. Next time.

Manual: Page 114—Filters. Learned what type of filters I can and can’t use with my camera. They recommend a filter to protect the lens. I don’t have one. Do you?

Images: Went to a Pictage User Group (PUG) meeting in ATL tonight and Gary Fong was the guest speaker so I looked at his images in his preso (even though he isn’t a practicing photog anymore – he was for over 20 years). I’ll write more about what I learned tomorrow.

D68: Special Feature—Scott Bourne Photowalk

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I did something different. After reviewing the 545 images from the French Quarter Photowalk with Scott Bourne, I decided to tell a story with the images. Not just a slideshow of pretty pictures, but something that meant something, if only to me.

So I ask you to sit back and watch this show…what does it say to you? What patterns, themes, message do you pull from the images? Look at the piece as a whole and in parts. Look at the images as a set and as individual shots. They were carefully chosen, processed, and arranged with a specific set of meanings in mind. I’m curious to see what you take from it. What message jumps out at you?

I’ll post my thinking behind the show in a few days, after I’ve heard from you! Enjoy!

D63: Livin’ Loud in the French Quarter

One of the first things I noticed about The Big Easy is the volume. Seems everywhere you go, there’s noise. Whether live musicians on the street, Saints fans celebrating victory, or party people on Bourbon Street, seems there is something going on everywhere you look.

Tonight was the launch of PartnerCon and it started off with a bang…hangin’ with my friend Rachel LaCour, dinner and great conversation with Scott Bourne, walking down Bourbon Street with Dane Sanders and Mike Colon.

Not to mention meet and greet with so many other amazingly talented photographers—too many to even mention! There are nearly 500 photogs who have descended upon NOLA to dream, create and inspire. I’m thrilled to be part of this amazing group. Honored that Jim Collins, Pictage CEO, entrusted Ron and I to create 3 films to kick off the entire event tomorrow morning.

It’s such a gift to have someone believe in your work, your vision, and your talent enough to give you the creative freedom to move mountains. I strive to be that type of person, that type of leader. Do you?

Want to follow what we’re up to the next few days? Look for hashtag #partnercon on Twitter. Want to connect to the community? Check out Pictage.com. I’ll do what I can to give you an inside look each day. Bottom line: Dream big. Create joy. Inspire others.

Manual: Page 124—Troubleshooting. Read through the manual page, but have to admit I’m so tired at this point I’m not sure it really sunk in.

Images: Viewed images in a fine art gallery today. Was great to see images “live” rather than in a book or online.

D60: Doing the Work

Some days are all about just doing the work. Whatever it takes to get things done, that’s what has to happen. This whole week has been like that. “Git ‘er done,” as one of our wedding clients likes to say.

Point being that the excitement and energy for anything other than the work becomes secondary. I can see and feel it in my photography. (No need to agree with me.) Intellectually, I know this is okay. Life is about seasons, ups and downs, highs and lows. Why would my 365 be any different?
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But on a deeper level, I feel guilty, dare I say like a failure. But I haven’t failed. I haven’t quit and yet because my heart hasn’t been in it, I “feel” that way. Scott Bourne, when issuing this challenge, didn’t say anything about being excited along the journey or even liking it for that matter.

So, maybe this is a good thing. Maybe pressing through and doing it anyway when the “good” feelings aren’t there is really more powerful than the serendipitous moments when everything clicks.

What do you think?

This image of a worksite grabbed me because it resonated with how I was feeling. Something barren and stark to the scene. I grabbed it on one of my many trips to and fro picking up and dropping off equipment for the 3 films we just wrapped shooting in prep for Pictage PartnerCon in NOLA. If you’re not going, you’re missing out. This event is going to be fantastic! We’ll post the videos online when we return.

Manual: Page 110—Speedlight Features and Functions.

Images: Looked at images of fellow 365-ers by randomly selecting from the 365 list of those who’ve joined. Have you checked out some new photogs on the list yet? We’ve got some real talent on this journey with us!