I’ll be honest, I’ve been having a really hard time with motivation lately. This time of year is just kind of slumpy for me: the joyful holidays are over. I’m back home in New Mexico, but very far away from my closest friends and family. It’s been cold and/or windy, which means my exploration/street photography around Clovis has been minimal (okay, realistically none at all). I’m trying to get back into the swing of my usually work/home schedule, but with some (a lot of) difficulty.

So how do you get your motivation back? How do you move past a creative slump?

Get out of your own head.

Seriously. And I especially have issues with this. But the reality is that your own mind created the slump, and it’s the only thing keeping you there, and sucking you into a creative black hole. You need outside input.

Google your favorite genre of photography and find articles about the most famous photographers who do it. Look at other people’s work until you feel like your eyeballs will melt. Analyze the works you appreciate the most, and really think hard about why. Maybe even write it out and contemplate about how you might have done things differently.

Reach out to other photographers or artists. Meet up and talk about your mutual passion, your favorite photographers, gear, and methods. Plan a shoot together, or assist on someone else’s shoot. You are bound to discover new ideas, tips, and things to try.

Try not to worry too much— slumps happen to everyone. Just remember: you only need that one idea, just one thing, to reignite your imagination and motivation, and help you find your way out of that slumpy, uninspirational fog.

Playing around with different lighting techniques helped light my way out of my photography slump this week. (See what I did there?)


Here we are, ten days into 2019.

It never ceases to amaze me how much faster the years go by as I get older. Where did all the time go?

This year will mark the end of my twenties. Honestly, I don’t mind one little bit. My twenties haven’t been nearly as fun and interesting as sitcoms would have had me believe. I’m ready to move on, and hopefully onto something better.

This end of an era has also encouraged me to seriously reflect on the past year, and on my twenties as a whole. Most of my twenties have been about merely surviving. Just getting through to the next day, the next week, overcoming the next obstacle, etc. It’s an utterly exhausting way to live and I’m definitely over it.

So, for 2019, I have decided on a yearly theme (rather than resolution): Be bold.

It’s a little vague, I know, but it suits me. But what exactly does it mean?

This is her bold face.

For me, first and foremost, it’s a reminder not to get complacent. In order to be bold, you have to put yourself out there, push yourself out of your comfort zone. You can’t just sit on the sidelines, or in the back of the class, hoping the teacher won’t call on you. You have to be proactive, have an active role in this life you are given, and push yourself into the unknown— as opposed to merely reacting to the things passing through your life.

It’s also a reminder that it’s okay to stand out. Generally I don’t like to stand out too much. I’m an introvert and prefer to fly under the radar. But as an artist, I need to stick out more. I have a unique style and I need to accept it, instead of trying to tone it down, or wishing I was more like someone else. To be bold is to embrace your differences from others, instead of trying to conform and I personally have come to think it’s necessary for artists. You have a different and interesting view of the world, so let it out! As a creative, in order to find yourself and your style, you have to follow what inspires you, what interests you and what you are passionate about, regardless of what others think.

Lastly, for me, ‘be bold’ also means ‘get comfortable with being uncomfortable.’ I know it might sound a little weird, but being uncomfortable really is good for us. It’s the only way for us to expand our horizons, to learn. I can hardly learn more about my craft if I just do the same old things that I’m comfortable with. We need to be more like Ms. Frizzle (90’s kids know who I’m talking about): Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!


In my last post, I talked a lot about storytelling. Stories engulf and inspire me. I gave a few examples of situations that could easily tell a story of their own: family outings or special events. Memories with an obvious beginning, middle and end.

But I also have a passion for portraiture— a shooting situation where there is no action to follow, only the subject in front of the camera. It’s a unique and delicate type of storytelling. Or perhaps storyhunting is a better term. The patience, the attention to detail, careful coaxing of the subject out of their comfort zone— it’s all done with the aim of glimpsing, even for a second, the authentic story guarded by each individual. Everyone has a unique and interesting story to tell. You just have to hunt for it.

Keeping this in mind, I’ve really been trying to work on my portaiture. I’m lucky enough to have good friends who model for me, and inspirational photographers to practice with. But this week, I had the opportunity to work with a different type of fellow creative than I normally get to work with— not a visual artist.

It was refreshing, fun shoot, and I will admit, I have a soft spot in my heart for the artists and creatives in the world. I’m a strong believer that as member of the unspoken worldwide artsy-type club, we should strive to work together— supporting each other and helping one another expand and grow. Because if we don’t support each other, why should anyone else?

So, I would like to introduce you to the subject of my recent shoot, Rafael. Rafael is an aspiring writer, who publishes his short stories and traveling adventures on his blog, The Things That Get Away. Check out the image below and some snippets of what he has to say about his writing.

 

 

“I write to set my world on fire, to give meaning to the in-between, to those moments so gray we sometimes don’t even remember.”

 

 

“We are all Poets in our own right, we are all survivors within our own existence, and I feel that I am simply a man who chooses to voice those things that are caged within.“

 

 

“Deeply, we are all just storytellers, and I write to not only tell my story but to shine light on the stories that I uncover and move me to a stop”

 

If you’d like to check out more of his work, head on over to his blog!

lifestyle photography clovis nm
documentary photographer clovis nm

I always love a good composition. Who doesnt?  A good compositions is intriguing, interesting, and purposefully leads the viewer’s eye throughout the composition to the focus of the image.  There are many tools a photographer can use to emphasize their subject, but in this post we’re going to focus on what I believe are the most crucial: light and lines.

I love lines. Like super loooove them. And out eyes love them, too. Eyes will automatically find lines to follow, anywhere and everywhere.  The lines provide paths for our eyes to follow, and it is no different in photography. If you use the lines in your environment when you frame an image, they will help the viewer’s eye enjoy the image, like walking along serene paths in a park. And of course, lead them right where you want the viewer to look.

There is no photography without light. No image can be created in a camera without light embracing the sensor or film. For me, using the light and shadows (there can’t be shadow without light either), strategically in a photograph to bring further focus and meaning to the image only makes sense. And I enjoy it. There is something magical about interesting lighting, and even more so when it’s used to create an interesting image.

Below, I have included some examples. The red circles indicated what I wanted to bring to the attention of the viewer. On the other hand, the arrows show how the lines (including edges and implied lines), light, or shadows, work together to emphasize and continually guide the viewers eye to the subject. I hope you enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This industry can be a tough one, and often an overly competitive one. I am extremely lucky to be apart of a community that encourages collaboration and such inspiring support. I firmly believe that working together and highlighting each other’s unique strengths helps everyone grow and succeed.

For me, photographer pow wows, with wonderfully talented and inspirational artists, breathe life into me. There is such a unique magic in watching talented minds come together to capture a situation, and then compare how differently each artist sees the scene. The world is always a little different through each person’s eyes, and there is always something to learn from a new perspective.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to participate in one of these uplifting get togethers, and let me tell you, I had a such a blast with Cristy and Michelle. Cristy is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, and such an incredibly talented and well-rounded photographer, serving the New Mexico and West Texas regions. While Michelle is a wonderfully fun and kind soul, as well as an amazingly skilled photographer who’s made it her mission to capture the beauty and love in all of her clients. They are such talented and fun women, and I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to work with them. So please enjoy some of the images from our fun shoot!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shooting, photographically speaking, is a kind of meditative practice from me. I know meditation is generally helpful, but I’ve always found it kind of cheesy. So using photography in this way works for me. It helps my get out of my own head and appreciate the world around me. This all sounds pretty peaceful and relaxing when I say it like that, but I think it’s a wee bit different from what you may be picturing. When I grab my camera and jump in my car, I embark on a hunt: the hunt for eye candy.

It sounds a little goofy, I know, but it doesn’t make it any less true.  It’s like playing a game of Where’s Waldo? with my real world surroundings. I have a mental list of things to seek out to photograph, and it plays constantly through my mind as I drive or walk, relaxing me and forcing me to focus on making good images.

It’s all about finding ways to create photographs that are pleasing to the eye; things that will intrigue the viewer, make them think or feel something, and things that will guide the viewer’s eye seamlessly through the composition.

So, what exactly do I mean by that? What specific things do I keep an eye out for?

Honestly, when I first started this, I didn’t realize the full extent of my internal creative list. So this will be the first of a few posts about discussing what details I look for in the world around me, that help me see the magic in everyday life.

Lighting

First and foremost, lighting is critical to photography. Without getting too technical, the light in the scene has to hit the film, or nowadays, digital sensor in order to create the image at all. All cameras, from cellphone to Polaroid instants to medium format cameras operate this way. I’ve studied the science of it before, but there is still something magical to me about creating a tangible image, just from light.

Aside from the magical mechanics of photography, the lighting in a scene is also super important in affecting the mood of an image— and not just the Golden Hour. Each different lighting situation creates a different mood, and it’s important to make sure it’s compatible with the mood you are trying to convey in your image. Check out the images below for examples.

 

documentary photographer clovis nm

A nightscape may not come to mind when you think of lighting in photography, but it is just as important in this context. The light from inside the drive though illuminates the window and asphalt below. Almost everything else is engulfed in darkness, emphasizing the drive through and making it feel like a life raft in a sea of shadows.

 

The combination of the soft lighting and dreary fog was perfect for this setting. Also take note of the leading lines in the of the dirt that guide you to the old car.

 

The barely rising sun works together with the airplanes in the distance to ellude to the beginning of new adventures. And also it’s just pretty.

 

documentary photographer clovis nm

In this photo, the light leads our eyes to the brown couch inside this store, and next to it, my shadow on the wall. The use of light and shadow almost gives the illusion that I’m sneaking in to the shop to sit on the couch.

 

The soft lighting in this scene reflects the peaceful, calming feeling I got when I glimpsed this church. I made my poor mother pull over and let me take a few pics in 20 degree weather.

 

The effect of the reflected light hitting the tent, and accompanying shadows, creat a beautiful curvy shape that leads your eye nicely throughout the image.

 

Using the light you find, is a wonderful way to create a composition. The use of colored lighting in this bar was too wonderful to overlook for me.

 

The bright, midday lighting in this photo adds to the lighthearted nature of the photo and event I was photographing. But also note I took advantage of light reflecting back into the subjects face too ensure the shadows didn’t obscure her face. I also love the light catching the spray in the air, which helps bring your attention to the subject and what she is doing (no bug bites for her).

 

documentary lifestyle photographer clovis nm

The lack of lighting in this photo clearly emphasizes my daughter’s face, and also gives the sort of eery illusion that she is floating in space.

 

When I see the term ‘travel photography’, I think of bright images of tourist attractions, or serene scenes of perfect beaches with crisp white sand and sparkling water. This kind of travel photography is beautiful and feeds my wanderlust, but it isn’t what I mean when I talk about my own travel photography.

For me, my travel photography acts more like a photo diary of my trip. A record of my adventure. A glimpse of life in that place, at precisely that time. And I’ve gotten in the habit of doing this just about every time I travel.

But why?

I’m not sure how much of my site you’ve perused, but I’m somewhat obsessed with documenting life. Hence my meticulous documentation of my daughter’s childhood (here’s to hoping I don’t scar her for life). But my documentary obsession doesn’t stop with her.

It has spilled over into the surroundings I witness everyday. The places we shop or eat, clothes we wear, and the way interact with others. I try to document almost everything I observe. Because I know that what seems like ‘life as usual’ now, won’t always be so. Everything we see is temporary. The details distinguish us from our ancestors, but they also are usually the first to quietly drift away into oblivion.

Do I look like a crazy person whipping out my camera in the grocery store or in a restaurant? Probably.

But one day, perhaps, I might have a grandchild who will want to see what life was like for me as a young woman, long before she existed. One day, she might be just as fascinated looking at my old photos, as I once was, thumbing through my own grandmother’s cracked leather photo albums full of vintage dresses and long forgotten friends.

I watch, notice, and photograph, for this future; a future that may never be, but motivates and inspires me nonetheless. A future that enables me to see life through a different lens, with the same wonder and fascination we with which we often see the past.