Joy

Trying out a few new things. Finding a fitting theme, model and makeup that all work together can be challenging, but I think I did ok.

Model: Joy Johnston | MUA: Amanda Abajian |Styling done by myself

{For more of my work, visit my Instagram}

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Quirktastic

 

There’s something I’ve always loved about weirdos. They’re unique. Not afraid to be themselves. I know I can be pretty weird myself, so naturally, I like to  show it in my work.

I love the idea of beautiful people doing weird things. Completely opposite of what the general population would find attractive. I suppose it’s what I find attractive. I feel it adds something different to your average portrait of someone. A portraits purpose is to show the person how they are, so why not add a few of their personality traits?

{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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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

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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Sisters

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As a photographer, I’m constantly bombarded with my own ideas. Ideas that I may or may not be able to execute due to budget, lack of location, models, etc.

There are times though when the mood strikes that I really just need to get an idea out. It’s not always a large production with professional models, makeup, hair, wardrobe. And to me, I feel like that’s what gives it character. I don’t want to always see models. I want to see people. Real people.

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Meet Siobahn and Anstiss. Two close friends of mine that are always down for a spontaneous photoshoot, even if it requires standing in the southern California sun in a blazer. I love the idea of shooting siblings with a little bit of a twist, and their unique looks both bring something extra to the images.

This particular shoot was a bit of a struggle for me. I will admit, shooting in natural sunlight has never really been my strong suit, (as odd as that seems), and I’ve been making an effort to practice more. It’s difficult for me to even out the contrast of dappled lighting and capture lens flare in a way that doesn’t wash out the image. It’s something I’ll need to work on I think, so I’m sure there will be more of these spur-of-the-moment shoots to post about in the future. As they say, practice makes perfect.

Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection. -Kim Collins

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

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