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WHY I CAN NEVER SHOOT GOOD PHOTOS AT COMIC CON and THE FUZZ IN MY CAMERA

Photos taken at San Diego Comic Con 2015, on a Thursday. One of the highlights of the day was going to a panel by Jim Lee, a world-renowned comic book artist. He was hilarious and is an inspiring Master of his Art. I am stoked that Comic Con calls its home San Diego.

Ok, I will start with why I have been to San Diego Comic Con 4 times in a row, I have been a professional photographer (trained as a photojournalist) for almost 15 years, and I cannot seem to get epic shots at this event. I don’t even need to get “epic” shots, just get more of a full story of the day. I don’t think that Comic Con is the craziest event of the year. I have been around the block few times in this world and there are other gatherings, or even cultures, out there that are non-corporate and are visual highs and the cream of the crop for a photographer who is into photographing Human shit. But I love Comic Con! Comic Con is super special and  good one as far as people as characters – a bad one as far as awful light in the Expo Hall and a lot of distracting backgrounds. It doesn’t present the best “scene” for the characters.

But this is off my point. The real reason I ache in my heart when I don’t get great photos at Comic Con is because I am there as a participant and not a photographer. I have come to accept the reality that unless I remove myself as a participant and get into my “world observing from the outside” photographer zone, it is impossible for me to shoot to my fullest potential. Until this year, actually, I was there with young children – possibly one even on my back in a baby carrier. One year I even had to go to the premiere of the My Little Pony “Equastria Girls” movie for my 3 -year-old daughter at the time and she fell asleep throughout the first 3/4 of the film. I wondered what the hell I was doing sitting in this theater with a bunch of Bronies who cheered when Rainbow Dash appeared on screen like she has come to save to save the world or something.

So this year, the day at the Con without our girls, I had a plan to split off from my gang (husband Pete, brother Mike, and friend, Chris) and take shallow depth portriats with my 50mm lens. That whole plan went to shit. I took about 10 minutes to myself at high noon. At one point I had to frantically switch my lens to a wide to get the cute Storm Trooper kids… which I didn’t do successfully. There were 6 of them! And crap light. My photos shows only  3.

For a few weeks now I have had a black mass showing up in my wide photos. I figured my lens was dirty and rubbed the smears off of it. That black blob showed up again and I thought that my camera really must be messed up! Getting old! I must have treated it too hard. . . I took off my lens, put my camera on Bulb and looked into to see the hard truth, a black ball of fuzz was stuck in there, hanging by a thread to my mirror. It had been pulled and stretched with every click to do a dance and freeze in a new pose on every frame I took. You can see it clearly in the photo of the woman in green. I don’t have the Photoshop skills to do anything about that.

I am super lame and happy to report that the fuzz is gone.

MY SECRET SONOMA STYLE SHOOT (that I snuck in on)

These shots are taken in Sonoma County when I jumped in on my friend, Allyson Wiley’s, styled photo session.

I flew up to Sonoma this past spring to teach a beginning photography course with my friend, Allyson Wiley (Weekes), who is a photographer extraordinaire up in Norcal. But the day before we taught the course in her beautiful studio in the Sonoma Square, I met her mid shoot at Chateau St Jean winery where she had some beautiful models, an awesome stylist, makeup and hair artist, and a wedding coordinator as a part of a styled wedding inspiration shoot.

I’m telling you, I don’t get to work much in a group yet where there are other artistic professionals around making sure things are in place and looking pretty. I have rarely done a styled shoot and I am telling you that I LOVE IT. LOVE IT! As much as I am super big on real moments, I appreciate the other side of the coin, too. When it comes to commercial work, I cannot wait to work with a team of pros.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LIGHT

Shots of plants from my front yard in San Diego, CA. I usually take photos of people but wanted to show that a good photos is usually all about “seeing” the light.

CANDICE HAD CANCER

Candice is a mother, a wife, and at 36 years old she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She asked me to take portraits of her after completing 5 rounds of Chemo.

I found out Candice had Breast Cancer when I answered her phone call while I was worlds away mentally in work mode shooting a conference in San Francisco. I remember thinking ” And so it begins. . .here we go” As in, all our girlfriends approaching or around 40 and now this is where cancer starts coming in and getting us 1 in 4 by one. Of course, I didn’t know what to really do for her to help. She has plenty of friends who rank higher on the totem pole for her who were already at her side. A wonderful supportive husband, too. And although my gut feeling was that she was going to make it through – I felt so sad for her and her family because she was a young Mom to  her only 5 year old daughter. She had to live for her! The thought of her missing her daughter’s life – or her daughter having one without her mom to lean on or witness or be part of- to be honest not only broke my heart. But it scared me! This was the first one in my life that was like “This could be any of us” And the bullet hit her, not me. This time at least. . .

I was secretly hoping I could take photos of her journey. But when I missed the beginning  of the story because of my busy life and wasn’t able to document it the way the photojournalist in me wanted to I surrendered to the fact that I missed the boat. As a mom of two young kids myself I don’t have the freedom to shoot a photo story of any kind properly. I was also hesitant in what my motives would be to make photos of her through this hard time in her life. Was there a point?
I took few shots of her in her bathroom before Candice had even decided what procedure she was going to take to rid herself of the cancer. These were taken solely for her as a record of what her body looked like before she had surgery on her breasts or lost her hair. It was all still up in the air.
Many weeks later Candice asked me take portraits of her. She had lost all her hair, she had undergone surgery and had a chunk cut out and had her breasts  lifted to make up for the possible deformity. Symmetrical scars ran across the side of each breast and if you look closely you could see scars around her nipples where the surgeons had removed them to use it as the entrance into her breast.  She had already healed physically from that. Her hair was just starting to sprout up again. She looked different.
She looked different. And she was different.
She walked into the studio and she emanated a strength and positivity that that was contagious. Or I wanted it to be. I asked her what it was like to go places in public and if people stared at her. Knowing that she was going through something, staring but not asking any questions. She told me that when she goes to Yoga, she usually wears her knit cap. She sets up her mat and looks around the room. She catches someones eyes, slowly takes off her hat to reveal her bald head, and gifts them with the biggest smile.  
Although she still had radiation to endure, her diagnosis was good. Before, I had sensed a lot of worry in her. And now here was a woman who was in a much more “Be here Now” state.. She was candid, as always, about her entire experience. She looked mother earthy beautiful! There was no lack of laughter or smiles. I felt she had truly turned into a symbol of authentic strength and a lesson in the power of choosing your attitude and outlook in life creates how happy you are in life. A lesson to me if or when I am faced with, in her words, my own “life explosions”.
So I learned what the point of taking photos of my friend Candice who had cancer was.
Gratefulness, without fear, and Faith.

MY NEW BLOG

A shot of my reflection in a display at the Exploratorium in San Francisco while on assignment for Accenture this past May.

It was time for a change.

I need a place to express myself when I get those strikes of inspiration from the Universe. You know what I mean. Some say it’s just “great ideas” or maybe ignore them all together. Some call it guidance from God. I personally think don’t know where it comes from and prefer to just recognize when that THING bubbling inside you. I think that especially artists, writers, lyricists, musicians, photographers???. . . all make their best work when they are open to these moments of clarity that strike them at unexpected moments. This is why songs are written on bar napkins, and why some jot down notes in a journal next to their bed as the best ideas come at night. Lately, I find myself texting myself ideas so as not to forget . . .so that maybe I get to create it. Maybe it’s a good idea I shouldn’t forget in the chaos of all the STUFF we have to do to maintain in life. Because getting what inside out is what makes me happy.

Losing those moments are terrible waste of ART.