Sunday, November 22, 2009

Amanda Nemec - Photography 'Teacher'

Look at me! Don't I look like I'm saying something smart here? More then likely I'm not actually saying anything of consequence, but at least I LOOK like I'm saying something brilliant. :-)

(taken by my 'student' Alyssa Olson, who I also share a cube with at work)

We had a GREAT time in the workshop yesterday! My students came ready to learn, and their spouses came ready to be photographed. I figured this way, we'd all learn, AND everyone would get some good photos of themselves. Here's a few I took along the way:

I'd love to do this again sometime. I like that it wasn't really anything formal. I came with a few talking points, but they came with lots of questions. Then I broke them off into groups and had them practice on each other. I saw a few lightbulbs going off yesterday, so I think everyone got something out of it.

Oh, and they bought me beer and a chimichanga as 'payment'. Sweet!

Today I did 2 photo sessions already, and they couldn't have been more different! The first was a family I've known forever, in fact I grew up living across the street from them. Their girls are all grown up with families of their own, and this large group was a challenge at 9am when the light was really giving me problems. Darn that Arizona sun! I'd give up my favorite lens for an occasional cloudy day! This session was a tad nerve-wracking because John, the dad, is a great photographer and I was so honored they asked me to take their family photo. But also, Janet, the mom, was a dear friend of my mother's. I'm so lucky that so many of my mom's friends keep in touch, and Janet is just such a special part of my life...

Right after that I met with this little family. Funny, small world story here. This mom's mother babysat me when I was in preschool and elementary school. This was the house I got sent to in the hopes I'd rub on Lori and her sister Lisa when they had the chickenpox so I'd get it. Didn't work! But, Lori's a MOM now, which makes me feel super old. And her hubby Josh was friends with my brother in high school.

Thanks everyone from my workshop for making it so fun, and thanks to both of my great families today for braving the frequent location changes in the search of scarce AZ shade.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Photography 101: Outdoor Flash

I've been a busy girl! I've got so many great families getting pictures done for their holiday cards, and needless to say, I'm behind on the blogging.

But, today I'm taking a break from photo jobs, and I'm holding a mini workshop for some of my friends on people photography. I like to think of it as me 'hosting' the workshop, because really, I'm hoping it's going to be more of a discussion and practice session. I can always learn too, and I hope we all learn something today.

One of the things I've been asked to lead a discussion on today is outdoor flash for portrait photography. I almost always do sessions completely using available light, and where needed reflectors. I spend a lot of time during sessions looking for natural reflectors as well (light colored walls, the gorgeous desert ground in Papago...). But, I do know that a lot of photographers depend on flash, even for outdoor photos, and in Arizona where our sun is so harsh, this is a necessary skill.

So to prepare for my discussion, I just went out on my back porch where Mika was sunning herself and snapped a few photos for reference. Let's start with the 'before':

This photo has a few good things going on for it. First, you can see I've kept her face in shadow and used the sun as rim lighting. I've also set my camera to manual so I can have more control over the exposure for her, and I still kept the background from getting blown out (although it is partial shade on that wall behind her, so not the best example). BUT, she's got horrible shadows on her face. This is the 'raccoon eye' effect you get when you take a picture of someone outside in the middle of the day. Not attractive at all.

Well now, aren't you looking pretty! You can see a complete change between this picture and the last. In this one I've put my camera in 'manual' mode and exposed so that the background was a tad darker then if it were the subject. This helps make my puppy 'pop'. Then I used a flash (SB600 for my Nikon with a Gary Fong 'cloud' diffuser) to expose Mika. Doesn't she look much prettier in this picture? And you can see, I've actually got TWO light sources that I'm taking advantage of: the flash to expose her face correctly, and sun which is providing some very nice backlighting.

Voila! You can practice this yourself at home if you have an external flash by making your own dog sit with her back to the sun, or you can always set up a stuffed animal on a chair. One more thing to remember: I sat myself in the shade so I wouldn't have to contend with sun flare, but you can definitely use a lens hood as well. I was just too lazy to go find mine. (although you can see a tiny bit of flare snuck into the second picture, and that's not necessarily a bad thing!)

If you have any people (or dog!) photography questions, I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Weekend Off - with pics

I've been so lucky to be busy with photography this fall, but I realized about a month ago that I had almost every weekend in November booked with jobs. And with my hubby in paramedic school and working shifts, things have been a tad crazy. So I saw that this weekend was suspiciously empty, which I took as a message from the universe that I should just set it aside and make it ours.

(this was taken by a stranger who may have left drool
marks on my new D700. good thing I brought business cards!
they were looking for a wedding photographer for their son.)

Yesterday we took the doggies up to Sedona to hike the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon. It's one of my favorite hikes in Arizona and we haven't done it in years. Bonus: the leaves are changing! Yes, we do get changing colors in the Fall in Arizona. You just have to search them out. Luckily we found some.

We did about a 2.5 hour hike and were pooped out by the end. We were thrilled to find a bar and grill with a lovely patio to have a late lunch and an Oak Creek Amber to replenish our fluids.

(hand-held, btw, at 1/20s)

We took Schnebly Hill Road to get home (it's a dirt road that the Jeep touristy companies take) and check out our view from the top:

Overall, an awesome day with my family. Much needed. And another bonus: no photo gigs this morning so we got to sleep in! And watch cartoons...

I've got a few weekends in December open if anyone is still considering family photos. My turnaround is about 3 days, so you still have plenty of time to get photos taken for holiday cards. Contact me if you're interested!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Ellis Family - Phoenix, Gilbert Family Photographer

Man oh man, so much for keeping up on my blogging. I read so often about how networking (including blogging) is so important for a small business, but blogging on a regular basis is so much easier said then done. I do READ blogs on a daily basis, and I get so much inspiration from other photographers who do happen to blog on a daily basis. One of those people is Jasmine Star. She's so compelling, her pictures are breathtaking, and there's days where I laugh out loud at the things she writes. One of the things that keeps me coming back to her blog is the fact that she combines business with real life in her writing.

My blog used to be only my personal life, and I've noticed that even my Flickr account, which used to be all photos of things I wanted to take pictures of, is filled with work now. Don't get me wrong, how could I not love doing photography as a job when I get to photograph families like this:

But this, actually, is a case where work meets my real life. I'm so lucky that most of my clients are people I know in one shape or another. I think that's what makes this job so much fun! This particular family is one I've known for a long time...

OK, truthfully I haven't known this little guy for a long time, but I knew his parents before they started dating! When I was younger I went to church camp every summer, and most winter breaks too. Julie (Jack's mom) was one of my best girlfriends back then. And by 'back then' I mean junior high!

Of the friends I had when I was young, Julie was the first to find her life's love. I remember Jeremy as being thoughtful and a little quiet, but totally brilliant. He was the perfect match for Julie who is so sweet and kind. The result is Jack.... who has such an amazingly zen personality. This little guy is full of chatter, but he's completely well behaved and an angel. Not to mention the fact that he's pretty easy to take gorgeous pictures of.

Thanks Ellis family! It was so much fun getting to know Jack and to spend time with you two again. Can't wait to do it again when Jack's a little older!

Phoenix Weekly Event Planner - TOO HOT!

*every week I send out a Weekly Planner to my friends and coworkers. now I'm putting it out to the blog world too!*

Sad that it's November and it's too hot to enjoy the Valley. Come on 'winter'!

Brewfest - Tempe Marketplace, Nov 7 & 8 (but they have lame-o beer and it's $35)
Swan Lake - AZ Ballet Company, all weekend
San Tan Apple Festival - Saturday
Phantom of the Opera - Gammage
Scottsdale Fashion Week - Many different things going on all weekend
Kelly Clarkson - Saturday, AZ State Fair
LeAnn Rimes - Saturday, Wildhorse Pass
Pet-a-palooza - Peoria Sports Complex, Saturday
Festival of Greece - Sunday
Music in the Garden - Friday night, Desert Botanical Garden

Free cheese pizza at Papa John's if you become their Facebook friend
Plan ahead: veterans and active duty military get a FREE MEAL at Applebees next Wednesday!
Use code TEGJ6FD code for a free RedBox movie rental
Buy 1 get 1 FREE burger and fries at Denny's until Nov 23

Restaurant of the Week
Oh boy. I took Ryan to Fogo de Chao for his birthday yesterday. Let me tell you, if you want to impress the man in your life, this is the place. It's all-you-can-eat MEAT. They have a salad bar to start, then when you're ready you flip your coaster from 'red' to 'green' and the meat carvers DESCEND on you. They have 15 types of meat, cooked Brazilian steakhouse style. Food was fine (not worth the price, in my opinion), the service is insane (a little TOO attentive), but my husband adored the experience. He deemed it the best birthday dinner ever!

Take a Hike!
Wow! Someone took my Hieroglyphic Canyon suggestion.... and sent me pictures! How fun is that??
This week: I know I've put it up before, but Ryan and I love the West Fork of Oak Creek in Sedona. It would be great for fall colors right now!


about me

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    Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

    I'm Amanda. I'm an engineer in an industry full of men, a professional wedding and family portrait photographer, a firefighter's wife, a traveler, and a dogMa.

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