Aviphile

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My latest shoot. The idea was there. I know the images are interesting, but I’m still not satisfied with them. Not because of the model, Jacqueline Tatum, her 11 birds, or the makeup artist, Natalie Moreno. It’s the lighting.

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Sometimes I make the mistake of being lazy. I’ll admit it. I love the way natural window light looks, so even though I’m in an environment that I know doesn’t have sufficient window light, and I have my strobes with me, I’m stubborn. It’s a flaw I think I’ve always had, and still proves to be something I need to overcome.

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Setting up strobes can be a huge pain. On top of that, I was nervous to use them around live birds for fear of frightening them off. The result, poor lighting. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the images, I just wish they were….more.

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More impactful. More dramatic. More inspiring.

There’s always something to improve on as a photographer. I think laziness is my latest goal.

{For more of my work, visit my Instagram}

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Art is Subjective: A Conversation With Kathy Tackett

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted, I know. Work has been pretty hectic the last few months and I haven’t had the time, (or motivation, honestly), to shoot outside of work. But rest assured, I have more photo shoots planned in the next few months and will hopefully have something interesting to post soon. But for now, this will have to do.

A while back, I was asked to participate in sort of an “artist feature” blog post for ViewBug, and gladly obliged. It’s a bit of a filler blog, but I felt they asked some pretty interesting questions that my followers here might be interested in knowing. So enjoy!

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What inspired you to be a photographer?

Definitely my Dad. I grew up developing photographs with him in our garage or bathroom. His passion eventually became my passion. On top of that, I have an uncle on my Mom’s side who is a very talented nature photographer.

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What was your first camera and what do you shoot with today?

Oh, I think I started with a Canon EOS650 and progressed to a 30D and eventually a 40D. That being said, the camera I use at work went from a 7D to a 5D Mark III, and for a previous job, I used a 1D X Mark II that I absolutely loved.

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When someone looks at your photos, what do you want them to take away from it, what are you trying to communicate?

Honestly, if I can get them to feel anything, I’ve reached my goal. I don’t want them to feel what I feel, because they haven’t experienced what I’ve experienced, (or maybe they have, but in a different way). I want them to feel something that’s meaningful to them specifically. Relate it to their own memories and experiences. The work sets the mood, but what the individual experiences is on a more personal level.

What is it that you love about photography?

I love that I can manipulate the world around me. Yes, I do a lot of commercial work that shows the subject as it is, but my real passion is manipulating the images into something completely new. I’m one of those people who get disappointed when I’ve finished a book because for the time being, I can no longer live in this fantasy world that I’ve been sucked into. But with photography, I can create my own fantasy worlds, even if it’s just retouching a model to be the best version that they can be, to me, it’s still an altered reality.

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What has photography done for you?

Photography has allowed me to be creative and express myself. Some people can draw, some paint, some make beautiful music. I manipulate what I see the way I want to see it.

Do you try to be conceptual or do you prefer to show the feeling behind a photo?

Definitely feeling, unless I’m doing commercial work. I was once told by someone that successful art is supposed to make you feel something. Most of my personal work has my feelings put into it in a way that people can still relate. For example, I recently did a digital manipulation series called “Blue swept,” that specifically targets certain emotions for me. “Blue Swept #1” is my interpretation of social anxiety. But depending on the viewers experience, maybe it represents something else. Either way, It’s more of a feeling than a concept.

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Blue Swept #1

How do you describe your style?

For my personal work, I’d say quirky is a very fitting verb. The weirder the better. I love portraiture and fashion, but everyone has such different personalities, so I try to get my models to open up and really be themselves. It results in some really interesting photos.

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?

85mm f/1.2 because, (to quote a teacher of mine), “it makes the background like butter.”

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What are your 3 tips for others who want to become better photographers?

1. Art is subjective. Don’t get discouraged if someone doesn’t like your work.

2. Creativity is amazing, but technical skill is also important. There’s no shame in watching instructional videos online to improve your work.

3. Keep yourself stimulated. The more photos you look at on a daily basis the better.

Have you received negative feedback from your work? What did you do about it?

Absolutely. As I mentioned above, art is extremely subjective. Not everyone is going to feel the same about it as you do, and that’s totally fine. Just try not to take it personally.

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Where did you learn to take photos?

I learned a lot from my Dad when I was young, then a high school photography class, then college. I was lucky enough to attend and graduate from Brooks Institute before it shut down and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. No matter how good you think you are, there’s always room for improvement, and without proper schooling, I know for a fact that I would not have made it as a professional photographer.

Raw vs jpg and why?

Always raw. I do a l lot of post editing, which degrades the image, so I’ve got to start with as many pixels as I can get!

What do you carry in your camera bag?

I have a decent collection of lenses that always travel with me along with spare cf cards and of course, business cards! You never know when you’re gonna need ’em.

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If you could have the gift of a great photographer who would it be and why?

I’d love to meet Jerry Uelsmann. Surrealistic photography is one of the things that I’m still trying to learn, and have always wanted to do and he is a huge inspiration for me.

What is the most common mistake you see people making when shooting these days?

One of my teachers used to tell us, “get close, then get closer.” I feel like a lot of photographers just take the photo and think they’re done without  examining all the angles.

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What is your dream location to shoot?

Scotland! So much history, and everything is green!

How do you decide on where to shoot a photo?

Location scouting is very important. Unfortunately, It’s not always easy to picture the final result, so sometimes you have to just pick a spot and work with it.

What is next for you? Any planned adventures with your camera?

At the moment, I’m trying to concentrate on moving up in the workplace so I’ve been doing a lot of more commercial shoots outside of work to build a portfolio. That being said, I’ve been trying to gather more stock images from previous shoots to practice more digital manipulation.

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What is your goal with your photography?

I want to be able to work within the art world, but I also want to continue my own personal artwork. Someday I’d love to be featured in a gallery or museum.

Original Post Here

{For more of my work, visit my Instagram}

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The Polaroid Project

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I decided to do something different this year, and document all of the significant photoshoots I’ve done. (I say significant, because as a professional photographer for a wholesale clothing company, I frequently shoot throughout the year for our online catalog. I don’t include these as they are not creative or big productions whatsoever.)

I meant for it to be more like private research so that I can kind of keep track of my productivity, and use it as a way to keep myself motivated to shoot more. But somehow, it turned into a project by itself.

As I collected more images, either behind the scenes, or photos of the models, I noticed that when the photos were grouped together, they almost look like one piece. Each image has its own feel and mood, but because they’re shot the same way and have a cohesive look to them, they all fit together.

It’s like looking through the history of my work, in a more creative and interesting way. Not at all what I had expected. But beautiful on its own.

{For more of my work, visit my Instagram}

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Blue Swept Visions

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You can’t unsee what you’ve done. The train wreck in your mind, torturing you like a million ants climbing up your spine, just out of reach.

You can’t take it back. You can’t move on. You’re stuck in your head, sucked down by regret. The darkness leaks in like oil. You can’t unsee it.

It stays forever. Burned into your mind, you can almost hear the searing flesh.

You can’t unsee it. You can’t unsee it. You can’t unsee it.

{For more of my work, visit my Instagram}

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Blue Swept Lies

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Someone is talking to you. They’re talking and talking and talking and you’re suffocating. You’re drowning in a sea of words and all you want to do is scream and run and fight and you can’t take it anymore, so you push back.

You push with words. You push with what you know will strike at the heart. You push with evil. You take the closest thing to them and transform it into a negative, breaking them down. Breaking them into tiny fragments, sharp like glass. You push harder and harder, the words falling out of your mouth like vomit and you can’t stop. You can’t see what you’re doing.

You’re destroying them with words to get them to shut up and you know you’re losing them forever….

{For more of my work, visit my Instagram}

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Feel Something With Me

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Photography has always been a way to capture the world as it truly is; vivid colors, beauty, devastation, culture, etc. It tells no lies and makes people feel like they are there with the photographer, standing next to them as they adjust the shutter and f/stop of the camera. They see what the photographer sees through the lens of the camera, and nothing more.

This is not what I want to bring to the world of photography. I want people to not only see what I see through the lens of my camera, but I want them to feel something. Anything. I want to use my photography to bring people to think beyond the image itself and into their own interpretation of the work and how it makes them feel. I want my photography to inspire people.

When I look at the world around me, I don’t just see the surrounding scenery. I see shadows, light and detail that can all be transformed into something else, or manipulated in a way to make your eye jump from one part of the image to another. I guess you could say that my mind works for the camera. I have an image of what the final piece is going to look like before I have even captured the first image.

I want to be able to dedicate my time to photographs of the world as I see it, or as I dream it. I believe that my photography can transform simple objects into dramatic displays of light and dark, color and black and white, beauty and despair; I want everyone to witness the images my mind produces for me before a camera is ever raised to my eye.

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I was once told that art isn’t really art unless it makes you feel something. Feel something with me.

{For more from this series and others, visit my Instagram}

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On Levitation

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Surreal art, and specifically surreal photography, is something I’ve always wanted to get into. I love the idea of transforming my fantasy land into a format that other people can see, and hopefully get sucked into the way one would with a really good book. As far as actually being able to produce such surreal pieces, it requires A LOT of practice and experimentation, which I, unfortunately, don’t always have time for with a full-time job.

Levitation photography is a form of surreal art that’s actually really popular right now, which is great, except I feel like there is a lot of it out there, so it doesn’t necessarily make my work stand out as much. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, and I love having a lot of inspiration to look at, but it does make getting noticed a little more difficult.

That being said, it’s a perfect way to practice some of the more complex Photoshop skills that I would need to move forward with other surrealistic work. So naturally, I went for it.

My first few attempts weren’t bad, (if I do say so myself), though they were a bit complicated to put together as I was unaccustomed to shooting the base images the way I should have. Some were more simple than others, where I could just shoot the background and then shoot the model, but others required a little finesse, if you will.

My first mistakes forced me to adjust the way I shoot the images to give me more options and range of motion. I now shoot separate images for different sections of the body, hair, fabric, etc. And when the final images are taken into Photoshop, I glue my model back together in the position I want her to be in.

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Learning to cut bits and pieces off of each image so you can put them together into one final image forces you to see the work differently. The part of the dress that’s on her chest can also substitute for a piece that’s floating in the air. Or sometimes you need to paint in a section for it to look like it’s naturally floating. As time went on, I learned to see what needed to be added or removed to give the image the illusion I was looking for.

I generally felt that levitation was my stepping stone to more complex art, and in a way, it is. But I’ve also started appreciating it for what it is, even if everyone else is doing it too. Not only that, but I was recently lucky enough to be hired for a specific job solely based on my levitation work! (Yay me!) And with the right connections from an amazing model, Janelle Allisa, I was able to shoot the album cover for Electric Century, (by Mikey Way), for their debut album “For the Night to Control.”

With some graphic help from my boyfriend, Amir, we made a successful album cover that was exclusively released via Kerrang Magazine all over the world.

Hopefully soon I will be able to put together some more surreal work and post it for you all to see, but for now, practice makes perfect!

{For more from this series and others, visit my Instagram}

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Creative People in Public Schools: An Essay

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Ok, so it’s not really an essay.

Look, here’s the deal…

I don’t really like venting to the general public, but there are some things that really just need to be said. Today’s topic: creative people in public schools.

Now, I’m sure many of my fellow creatives have been told the same thing as I have: ‘art doesn’t pay the bills.’  As a young student, generally grades K-12, kids are encouraged to take “elective” classes: art, photography, ceramics, etc. And that’s all those classes are. Electives.  But to some of us, they’re not just electives. That’s what we want to do with our lives. Only problem is, nobody tells you about art schools in high school,* it’s like it was forbidden or something.

*Yes, the is a generalized statement, there are some schools that do mention art colleges, but the majority of public schools in this country like to push people more towards academic schools. (Especially after they cut major funding to the arts and physical education departments nation wide.)

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For the longest time, I never wanted to go to college. There was nothing there for me. I’m not good at math, I’m ok at english but I don’t want to be a teacher or journalist, science is cool and all, but it generally involves, you know, math, and electives are just for funsies, right? No. Stop telling people this.

There was a teacher I had in high school, Brett Tujague. who always supported my love for photography and was the one that convinced me, in the end to go to college. Not necessarily for photography, mind you, as he was in the same boat the rest of them were with the whole art thing. But never the less, he encouraged me to go to a 4 year college to ‘see what I liked.’ And I will admit, the two years I spent at CSU Monterey Bay weren’t completely wasted. I took some amazing classes that I feel made my education a little more rounded. Feminist theories, beginning business, communications, science, and of course, photography. I definitely enjoyed my time there, and had a really fun job as a CSO Officer at our campus police station, which also broadened my horizons as a person.

At some point during my time, I was doing some photography research online and found this school, Brooks Institute, that specialized specifically in commercial photography. I sent out for a course packet to see what they were all about, and that was that. I was a Brookie from then on.

The point is, you can be a professional photographer or artist. Instead of telling people it can’t be done, you really need to get into the reality of the situation here. You just have to be smart about it. Don’t get in the mind-set that art can’t be taught, because believe me, it can. Especially with a technical medium like photography, it’s really important to go to school and learn all you can about your art form. Brooks Institute and the amazing teachers there* taught me more about photography than I had ever hoped to learn. It’s a difficult, (and expensive) road, and you’ll get a lot of rejection and struggle along the way, but you can, in fact, be an artist for a living. You’ve just got to look at it a little differently. 

*Shout out to Ralph Clevenger, Paul Meyer, Eliot Crowley and Bill Robbins!

There are a lot of artists who won’t sacrifice their vision for money, and I get it, we’re usually a pretty stubborn bunch. But for the rest of us who don’t want to be stuck at a desk job, or customer service knowing we will never be passionate about it, we’ve got to find a way to do what we were meant to do. It’s ok to gear yourself towards a commercial form of art. The way I see it, commercial art is still creative, and it pays the bills. You can always do your own art along the way, but at least your day job isn’t slowly killing you inside.

“Ignoring your passion is slow suicide. Never ignore what your heart pumps for. Build your career around your lifestyle, not your lifestyle around your career.” – Kevin Claiborne

{To see more of my work, visit my Instagram}

**On a more sad (and horribly ironic) note: About 2 minutes after posting this blog and tagging my totally awesome teachers in it, Paul Meyer replied back saying they just announced TODAY that Brooks Institute is closing for good on October 31st, 2016. After being open for 70 years of higher education, I am proud to say that I am one of the ones who graduated before it all ended. I would not be the same person I am today without the inspiration and knowledge given to me by the wonderful faculty of Brooks Institute. It saddens me to know that future generations will not be able to experience Blue Spheres, 6 Pack, Grey Box, Black Glass, (whispy-dos and whispy-dont’s included), and many other tedious assignments that turned people who like to take pictures into professional photographers. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

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