Reaching, Stretching, and Accomplishing Goals! | Orlando Fine Art Photographer

I've been reaching a little lately. . . trying new things. . . seeking to stretch my artistic vision a bit. One thing I do when I want to bust out of a creative rut and see things in a new way is break out the Lensbaby lens. On Saturday, I walked through the garden shop at a local home improvement store. 

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Now I'm not sure if I'm really allowed to shoot at the home improvement store or not, but I just acted like I belonged, and decided beforehand that if an employee asked me to stop, I'd promptly put my camera away. But from doing street photography, I've learned that when you act like you belong there, most people assume you do belong there. A couple of teenage employees asked me if I was getting good shots, but that was it. 

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Lensbaby lenses are manual focus, so I have to really, really slow down to get good images. But it's just that slowing down that allows me to see, and think, and compose with intention. 

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I pulled out my Lensbaby again last night while I waited for my kids to finish soccer practice.

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Ordinary things can look magical. That Lensbaby blur caused the colors and light in this landscape to take center stage. 

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And then, today I crossed one of my 2018 photography goals off my list! I had a black and white editing tutorial posted on a major photography blog. If you've followed my photography at all, you know I love black and white, but what most people don't know is that it takes a lot more than just pushing a button to make a beautiful black and white image. If you'd like to read my tips and tricks for editing high contrast black and white images in Lightroom, head over to Clickin Moms to read my post. There's even a video demo where I walk you through an edit, start to finish.

Reaching, stretching, accomplishing goals. It's been a good week so far.

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Shoot and Share and Why I Submit My Work | Orlando Fine Art Photographer

I submit my work. I submit images for critique to online professional forums. I submit work to online magazines. I submit work to competitions. Getting feedback and seeing how my work resonates with viewers - both other professionals and just the general public, pushes me as an artist. Sometimes I even tag a lens company when I get an amazing shot with their product. 

This spring I submitted 50 images to the Shoot and Share Contest. My 50 went into a pile of over 1.1 million submissions. For several weeks, people from around the world voted on these photos. Anyone, anywhere can vote in this contest. Professional photographers, for sure, but also kids and grandmas and lots of ordinary people. Voting is anonymous and super simple. Four images appear on your screen. You click your favorite. That's it. You can vote as many times as you'd like. And with 1.1 million images, there's really no way to rig the contest. I could get all my friends and family to vote for hours, and they might never see one of my photos.

In the end, over 81 million votes were cast, and 17 of my photos received awards. Two were even finalists.

Finalist, Creative/Personal Projects, 13,502 total entries

Finalist, Creative/Personal Projects, 13,502 total entries

Finalist, Passion Projects, 1,998 total entries

Finalist, Passion Projects, 1,998 total entries

This is a different kind of contest. It's not necessarily the most technically correct or the most artistically amazing photos that win. No one is evaluating them that closely. It's just 4 photos. . . Click. . . four more. . . click. In the end, I call it a "first impression" contest. You just have a few seconds to wow the viewer, and beat out the other three photos for that click.

Because of that, it's important to choose photos with a "Wow" factor or images that evoke strong emotion. Color seems to win over black and white. Images that require some analyzing to truly appreciate them often get knocked out in the early rounds of the contest. 

Top 10%, People Portraits, 14, 733 total entries

Top 10%, People Portraits, 14, 733 total entries

Top 10%, People Portraits, 14, 733 total entries

Top 10%, People Portraits, 14, 733 total entries

Top 10%, Teens & Seniors, 29,460 total entries

Top 10%, Teens & Seniors, 29,460 total entries

Top 10%, Creative/Personal Projects, 13,502 total entries

Top 10%, Creative/Personal Projects, 13,502 total entries

Top 10%, Travel / Landscape, 16,373 total entries

Top 10%, Travel / Landscape, 16,373 total entries

Top 10%, Pets / Animals, 14,426 total entries

Top 10%, Pets / Animals, 14,426 total entries

Top 10%, Pets / Animals, 14,426 total entries

Top 10%, Pets / Animals, 14,426 total entries

Top 10%, Creative/Personal Projects, 13,502 total entries

Top 10%, Creative/Personal Projects, 13,502 total entries

Top 20%, People Portraits, 14, 733 total entries

Top 20%, People Portraits, 14, 733 total entries

Top 20%, Teens & Seniors, 29,460 total entries

Top 20%, Teens & Seniors, 29,460 total entries

Top 20%, Pets / Animals, 14,426 total entries

Top 20%, Pets / Animals, 14,426 total entries

Top 30%, Teens & Seniors, 29,460 total entries

Top 30%, Teens & Seniors, 29,460 total entries

Top 30%, Travel / Landscape, 16,373 total entries

Top 30%, Travel / Landscape, 16,373 total entries

Top 30%, Pets / Animals, 14,426 total entries

Top 30%, Pets / Animals, 14,426 total entries

The voters have spoken! Over 81 million times! I probably wasted way too many hours voting, and probably obsessed just a little too much while waiting on the results. But it sure feels good to see which images the voters liked the most. And that some of my personal favorites were their favorites too is just icing on the cake!

Top 30%, Pets / Animals, 14,426 total entries

Top 30%, Pets / Animals, 14,426 total entries

Stormy Beach Day - Impromptu Shoot | Orlando Senior and Fine Art Photographer

One big plus of living in Central Florida is proximity to the beach. A quick 40 minute drive, and we are feeling the sand between our toes, meaning we don't have to wait for perfect weather. We can enjoy the beach on cold, stormy days, and we mostly have it all to ourselves.

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We always, always, always take a soccer ball to the beach! Always.

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That sky. Moments after I shot this, the heavens opened and poured rain. I grabbed my camera bag, wrapped in a beach towel for extra protection, and headed for the car -- leaving my girls to gather up the beach blanket and chair and other bags. Beautiful stormy beach day.

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Morning Light - The Seeing Series, Part 1 | Orlando Fine Art Photographer

The biggest gift that photography has given me is the ability to "see" in a way that I didn't see before. Now I stop and notice light and color and patterns that I previously just rushed past. This "seeing" causes me to slow down and enjoy the beauty that is all around me, and for that I am grateful.

How many years did I fail to enjoy the beautiful light that pours into my house each morning? It streams through my not-so-clean windows spilling little splashes of beauty everywhere.

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Growing up, I didn't consider myself to be artistic in any way. I didn't really draw. I didn't paint. I couldn't create something from nothing. I had no idea where to even start. But I was quiet and observant. I did "see" to a certain extent. That "seeing" just needed to be encouraged and stretched and developed.

I took my first photography class in 2013 and learned to shoot in manual mode. For the first time, I had command of tools that would help me create art from the things I observed. The art was mine, not because I drew or painted something that wasn't there before, but because I noticed and "saw" something from my unique point of view and created an image that allowed others to see it too.

Like that amazing morning light.

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Now I see it. I notice the dappled shadows that appear on our homeschool art cabinet for a brief time at the start of each day. 

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I drink steaming coffee, dark and strong, in that hazy, beautiful light.

I wouldn't be a photographer today if I'd never taken that first class and learned to use my camera. And I've worked hard ever since to master the technical parts of photography. But it takes more than technical mastery to create art.

It takes seeing.

The light in my home each morning is worth a closer look. 

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Oh, and here's a link to the photography class that started me on this journey. It's the perfect way to learn how to use your fancy DSLR. 

 

Simple and Fun Teen Mini Shoot | Orlando Teen and Senior Portraits

I LOVE photographing teens and high school seniors. Especially the girls. The recipe for magic is pretty simple: an outfit she loves, golden hour light, and simple backgrounds. Most teenage girls enjoy being photographed once you show them how cute they look on the back of your camera.

I shot these photos this week right outside my front door. We kept it simple and fun, and I love the images we got.

Is it time to get some new photos of that beautiful teen in your life? Let's talk. You can contact me here.