Friday, September 18, 2015

Mindfulness. A Maine Photographer

Mindfulness is the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment,...

Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.

Mindfulness.  Buzz word for 2015,

I am a Wife
I am a Mother
I am an Employee
I am a self employed Professional
I am a Teacher
I am a Volunteer
I am a Daughter
I am a Friend
I am a Woman
...and I often feel like the photo above
...and the one below...

I know I am not alone in the feelings I experience this time of year.
For me, it's because of what I do and who I choose to work for.
September through December.
Year after year.
I bring myself to this place.
I carefully choose which plates I knowingly can keep spinning in the air without compromising my health and well being.
I schedule carefully.

I now know what I can handle... is the unexpected...the unscheduled that I struggle with...

The unexpected care taker issues of a parent.
The death of a friend...

That email, the one addressed to 100 other people, begging for parental participation in order to keep the program your child is involved in going...
that one little additional guilt trip email...the one that I see as though it is addressed to just me...

and I start to sweat...

...and then I literally feel short of breath...

like I'm crazy close to the sun...

...and I just need to breathe!

...and not take the world around me too personally.

...get things in focus...

...slow down...

...say "no" when necessary...

and remember to be mindful of myself.

fair warning...I have found lately that I am incapable of finishing a sentence.

...that is what happens when I fly too close to the sun...or in other words...get too many plates spinning at one time.  No one wants to see me crash and burn...including myself.

Be kind to one another.
Be kind to yourself.
Please do not judge.
Some of us are are beginners at this mindfulness stuff.

Live in the moment.
Live for today.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Taking Your Own High School Senior Portraits. A Maine Photographer

A few years back a friend of mine asked me to take her sons' senior portraits.  She shared with me that when referring me to her friends she was kind of shocked and saddened to find many families were forgoing the past tradition of having senior portraits done professionally and were doing it themselves.  This friend viewed senior portraits as a right of passage, something you do with your child prior to their senior year, no matter what.

I'm grateful that some families still think this way, a little job security for me :)

But I also know, for many reasons, why some folks choose to do it that is why I thought I would publish a few DYI tips right here on my blog.

Last month I talked about photographing your child in good light...not too much sun...avoid dark shadows and squinting, and best of all make sure you can see their eyes.

Today I want to offer a few more basic tips.
If you find a nice shady spot, be sure you don't have sun speckles all over their face.  These can be fun, but personally I believe in keeping the senior portrait a bit more sacred.  So, although this example is a nice photo of my son, he does have distracting sun spots on his face.
Big advice next.  Pay attention to your background.  I think this was one of the hardest things for me to learn.  When I first started taking photographs (for money) I was so focused on my subject and making sure I got that part right, I may not have noticed the tree branch going right through his head. Some backgrounds can be distracting and compete with your subject.
See what I mean?
Doesn't it look like that door hinge is about to stab him in the head?

In the next photo below I pulled him away from the background, I also centered him off the backdrop so he wasn't near the distracting hinge, and I opened up my aperture to blur out the background a bit.
I do teach all about aperture in my digital photography class starting September 16th, so please, if this is something you are interested in, sign up at this link!

if you don't know how to use the aperture on your camera yet, you can use the little portrait symbol on your scene mode.

 the scene modes on your camera are there to help your camera understand what type of photo you are taking.  If you pick the portrait mode...that's the lady with the hat, then the camera knows what is most important in the photo is the person, and the settings used in the scene mode soften the face and blur the background, as much as is possible with the lens being used on the camera.

In my first example below I have moved my subject away from the background and blurred it out a bit to emphasize my subject.
in the next example there appears to be a branch traveling through his head...but because it is blurred, I think it looks kind of cool :)

A couple more notes about backgrounds.  Be careful of brick walls...unless you move your subject away and blur out the background, there can be some pretty good competition between your subjects face and the lines between the bricks.

And one last trick.  Sometimes a photo might seem completely ruined by a distracting background.  Before you toss it out...try making it black and just might be surprised by the results.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Senior Portraits Chelsea. A Maine Photographer

I recently posted on my Facebook page Minor Moments Photography that I would start a blog series here about how to take your own High School Senior Portraits.  Over the next few weeks I am going to share some easy, very basic tips on how you can take a better individual outdoor portrait.  I also want to share with all of you who may be interested that I am going to teach another basic digital photography class this coming September, for 5 consecutive Wednesday evenings beginning September 16th at the Westbrook Community Center.  Lastly, I want to let you know that I would love to photograph your high school senior for you if this is a subject you have absolutely no interest in at all :)

First basic tip.  Avoid photographing in the hours the sun is the brightest.  Best time to photograph is before 10am and this time a year I would hold off until after 4pm.  Find some shade.  Watch out for sun speckles on your subjects face.  Make sure you can see your subjects eyes and that they are not hidden in a shadow.  Don't make your subject squint.  If it's overcast outside then rejoice and go out and take photos...that kind of light is the best!  No squinting and no harsh crazy shadows :)

So, today Chelsea and I had a date to do her senior photos.
We were so happy the weather was going to cooperate.
When you do this for a living you can't reschedule because the sun is too bright...that would be crazy right?
I told her to bring a variety of her favorites to wear.  We were photographing at her grandparents house.  I had been there before and I knew it was a photographers dream...

but...I was breaking so many of my own rules!
We started our session at 9am...but already the sun was so bright.  There was not a cloud in the sky, and shade was hard to come by.

We had a blast.

Chelsea, thank you for being such a good sport as I fiddled with my cameras, my flash, and my reflectors all morning long, conquering the sun and searching for the perfect shot.  I hope you love them as much as I do!

Beautiful location, beautiful Chelsea, happy happy I could do this all-day-long Joanne :)


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Color Games and Seeds of Peace. A Maine Photographer and Mother

Today I want to share a story with you about my son Joshua.  He's packing today, readying himself to attend a 17 day experience at a little camp in Maine called Seeds of Peace.  Joshua attended two summers ago, and to say the experienced changed his life may seem a bit overstated...afterall...he was just 15 years old the first time he went, and his life was not particularly difficult...but...this two week experience from the summer of 2013 set him on a new challenge on how he can change the world...or at least his town...or just maybe his attitude at a time.

Josh was offered the opportunity to go to Seeds of Peace as a student of Westbrook High School, not because of his grades, but because of his community service.  As his parents, we filled out the application, applied for scholarships, and wished him well, not really comprehending how this two week experience would change his outlook...change his life.

Josh's favorite part of the two week program was how the experience ended, with an event called "the color games".  He talked about how much fun it was.  How everyone participated...and I can't even recall if he was on a winning side or not, I just remember how he smiled talking about it.

Fast forward to Westbrook High 2014.  Bad press.  Student parties.  Suspensions.  School officials and school staff and elected officials in the press.  Lots and lots of negativity.  Joshua believes his school could benefit from a day of color games.  He brings the idea to a few key people at the school. It's a no-go for 2014, just not enough time to pull it off, however they give Josh the green light, if he can raise the money for it and plan all the games, they'll give him full cooperation and an entire school day to hold the games in 2015.

And now here we are...on the eve of Joshua's return to Seeds of Peace.  The Westbrook High color games have come and gone.  Hours and hours of meetings, planning, and business door to door fund raising.  He surrounded himself with a core group of friends who stood by him throughout the planning.  He pulled it off, despite numerous set backs.  He never gave up.  He is an inspiration.

...and yes...I am his very proud Mom :)

He invited me on game day to document.  Here is my 4 minute recap.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

My Anniversary Celebration! A Maine Cat Photographer

I like to photograph Everything.
Let me make that clear.

But, this blog post is all about the CATS!
This month marks 5 YEARS I have been photographing the cats at the Animal Refuge League.

I have photographed 1000 cats per year.
This month marks 5000 cats.
That's a pretty impressive number don't you think?

So, I wanted to throw myself a party!
But, what kind of party does one throw for oneself to celebrate the photographing of my five thousandth cat?
One thing is for sure, it must include cake!

Soooooooooo, help me out!  Let's celebrate.  Any cool ideas out there?  I'm listening!

Until then, I invite you to share a photo of your cat over on my facebook page.
It's a business page, so you don't need to be "on" facebook to visit!
I'm going to start a post and I want you to share your cat photos in the comments!

Here are a few photos of current cats available for adoption at the ARL.  Check them out!  Then come visit me on my Minor Moments Photography Facebook page!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Welcoming Summer, a Maine Photographer

Every once in awhile it's good to do "nothin"
For me that was last night.
Last year on summer solstice eve a group of us got together and just hung out at Pine Point beach and enjoyed each other's company along with a variety of comfort food.
This year we planned to do the same.
I did grab one of my camera' that I am not afraid of taking to the beach, even when I am consuming adult beverages and kicking up sand.
I enjoy playing with my camera.
That's what I do.
Here are a few of my favorites.
Welcome summer!  It was a long time getting here!


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