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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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

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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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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The Photographer’s Dilemma

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The Idea: The Main Vision

Any creative person would agree that sometimes ideas just kind of pop in your head.  It can be triggered by pretty much anything; a thought you had, something you saw, read, felt, etc. Half the time, the idea is unexplainable to the general public and then you have to try to come up with something that they’ll understand, but really, you saw the image in your head and thought it would look cool. I feel like a lot of people want to know exactly what the artist was thinking when they created their masterpiece, or the reasoning behind it, what they were feeling. Personally, I lean more towards art that I can interpret my own meaning from, and hope that the people who view my work do the same. Yes, there are times when I do have a specific meaning or mood behind my work, but ultimately, I don’t want to have to explain myself, because not everybody is going to understand. Why do I put facial hair on my models? I dunno, I just like to.

The Inspiration: The Problem With Pinterest

Once the idea hits, now you want visual stimulation to keep you on the right track. This is where Pinterest usually comes in. Problem no. 1 with Pinterest: what the hell do you type into the search bar? ‘Edgy models with moustaches,’ ‘fashion editorials with shoulder epaulettes,’ ‘naked women touching themselves, but not in a pornographic way?’ Not everything comes up the way you want it to, and there’s no real saying you’re going to find what you’re looking for to keep your inspiration going. And you HAVE to keep the inspiration going.

Problem no. 2 with Pinterest: the inspiration you need pops up, but so does a lot of other cool stuff. This is where the inspiration overload comes in. This is where your ideas change, and evolve into what you will eventually attempt to create.

The Idea: Again

After way to much inspiration, you kind of have to start at the beginning. The idea has become something different, but relatively along the same track as where you started.

The shoot: Technical Difficulties

As with everything else in life, things don’t always go as planned. Don’t worry, you’re still going to get your vision out there, it just may not be as easy as you planned. Or maybe it will, who knows. I find that about half of the shoots I plan out, I have one idea in my head, but when I get there and I’m shooting, it doesn’t quite look the way I imagined. This is where you kind of have to just roll with it.

I’ll admit, I’m kind of an unusual artist. Most artists go with the flow of life. Their creativity comes easily and they can just create, create, create. My process is actually quite structured. I have to really think about what I’m doing and plan accordingly. That being said, this step in the process is where I’ve had to really learn to let go. Instead of getting discouraged when something doesn’t quite look the way I plan, I have learned to alter my process as things come up. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my moments of frustration, but in the end, I know I’ll still have workable images, even if it’s not what I originally pictured in my head.

The Post Production: The Part the General Public Pretends Doesn’t Exist

This is the most painstakingly slow part of the process that a lot of photographers hate. This is also the part of the process that the general public likes to ignore. “You can shoot this event for me for $50 right? I need 150-200 images.” Do you know how long it takes to do the post production for that many images? No. Absolutely not worth it for that price. But at the same time, fashion magazines and celebrity photographers get so much crap for the amount of retouching they do. Let me tell you, EVERYTHING is retouched. If you’ve had your portrait taken, and it looks like an unretouched version, it’s not. You just went to a really professional photographer. You have wrinkles, but they are lessened. Your skin looks clean and not to shiny, that would be the patch tool. The idea is to give you the best version of yourself. It looks untouched, but it’s not. That beautiful photo of the Scottish countryside that must have been just that gorgeous? The saturation has been brought up, maybe a different sky put in, the random person in the background with their hand in a cows backside has been removed completely.

It’s tedious and time-consuming, but for me personally, the retouching is the therapeutic part. The part I’m most proud of. Look how good I made this photo look! Please don’t ignore the fact that I spent six hours making it look perfect so you can criticize how much I pushed someone’s arm in so the proportions look the way they would in person.

The Final Product: Completely Different From the Original Vision

No, it’s not ALWAYS different, but sometimes it is. And that’s ok. The point is to get your creative idea out there. You still have a beautiful piece that showcases your talents and gives you an outlet to express yourself.

The Submission: Picking the Magazine

In the end, we all want to get our work out there. Most of the personal work I do, I try to get published. It’s hit or miss, and more often than not, ends in disappointment. But I keep doing it, because there’s no point in not trying.

A big part of submissions is picking the right outlet for your work. If you shoot landscapes, don’t submit your photos to a fashion magazine and vice versa. Common sense really. That being said, I shoot fashion, and there are a TON of different styles and magazines that showcase different types of fashion. Picking the right magazine is very important, so study them all, and pick carefully.

The Waiting Game

The last part of the process, waiting  to see if your work gets picked. The tricky part is how long do you have to wait before trying a different source? Most magazines want exclusive editorials, and if they don’t decide to go with your work, they’re not going to take the time to tell you, “sorry, we’ve gone with another candidate at this time.” Some websites will have a submissions section that will say that if you don’t hear from them in about a month, then they probably haven’t picked your work and you can submit to somewhere else. Others don’t, so you just have to use your best judgement and hope that you’ve waited the proper amount of time.

The hardest part, is that during the time you’re waiting, you can’t post the images on any social media outlet or even your own website/portfolio. As I said, magazines want exclusivity, so if people have already seen the work, it’s a no go.

All in all, the process is long and tedious and sometimes frustrating, but every part of it is another push forward. Take your time, don’t get too attached to the work and just let your creative process flow naturally.

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