In the flurry of New Year’s resolutions, photographers and artists of all stripes are set to question if they will do a 365 project of some sort. When I was faced with this question last year, an unfounded wave of optimism swept over me and I decided that yes, I would do one. I would work on a project that inspired and motivated me; something I’d been thinking about doing for years.
I started working on The Goddess Project.
I’m photographing goddesses and mythical creatures. I have a list of some I want to do, but I’m also just asking people who or what they identify with, and working from there.
A rush of creativity had me photographing four goddesses before all of a sudden… I wouldn’t be able to work again for quite some time.
In a sentiment that I can only characterize as hubris, I’m hopeful to finally be able to add to the small collection of images I managed to shoot last year. I have so many images planned! I’d love to execute even half of them this year. And maybe the other half next year!
This project is important to me, I hope to work on it for many years to come.
The first image I want to share with you is the goddess Strenua. She’s a Roman goddess of the new year, purification, and well being. On the first of the year, twigs from her grove were carried in a procession to the citadel. In my depiction, Strenua is a young woman, indicating new beginnings. She holds a glowing staff aloft, a magical offering from her grove. A wish for good fortune and optimism in the coming year.
While I had these kittens in my care, I made them several crowns. They’re so fun to make! Most of them were made with lace, or trim, or ribbon. Or whatever shiny/cute thing that seemed like fun. This one is a combination of lace, ribbon, and twine. A little eye strain is worth it. This guy had just the saddest little grump face!
I think it’s fair to say that this year has not gone as I had hoped or planned. But, this is what I’m doing now and it helps.
I’m going to confess something here: I did not set out to be a photographer.
I studied painting for years and years. I dabbled in sculpture, pottery, illustration, and all the usual suspects. But never a photography class. I know, it’s strange. The thing is, I worked in the photographic industry since high school and my ego insisted that I didn’t need to learn anything else about my job. And, to be honest, I loved school, I didn’t want to bring things that felt like work into that.
I worked as a custom, fine art printer in an up scale photo lab as the film industry died. I processed a lot of medium format negatives and printed with massive enlargers. I was really good, and I loved it.
As the world of film printing shrunk to only the select few, I shifted to doing digital post production. I’d been using Photoshop for most of my life, so it wasn’t too hard. Finding clients was a pain, but I made it work.
One day a friend of mine begged me to cover a wedding with her. I did not want to do it. Photography was something I did for painting. I took photos to paint from. I did portraits for friends, sure, and I was competenet with a camera, but I never considered doing anything as intense as a wedding. She pleaded with me and I, of course, agreed.
I loved it. The chaos, the intensity, the creativity, all with the fun of telling people what to do!
The first one, I really just helped and did what I was told. The second, I paid close attention to everything. I wanted to learn everything I could. A few years later, I started booking my own weddings and subcontracting from bigger companies. Soon, it was my full time job.
As much fun as it was, my creative license at weddings was often quite limited. Having been an artist my entire life, I wanted to push the limit, see what I could do.
I absolutely loved it. There’s an intersection of my painting talents, my post production skills, and my growing photographic prowess. I learn new things and add them to the process every year.
Recently, someone tried to explain to me that digital photography wasn’t art. Film photography was art. Digital cameras, he asserted, were incapable of producing art because they were simply machines recording pixels. He argued that the process of importing files through programs was somehow cheating, muddying the purity of the artistic process. I’ve heard variations of this argument before, of course. The presumption that Photoshop has somehow destroyed photography as an artistic medium.
Can images be overly post processed? Of course. I’ve seen images Photoshopped within an inch of their lives. However, any tool can be misused.
You know what we used to do before we could retouch out blemishes in Photoshop? We painted on prints. Yes, really! In my darkroom, I had a painting station with a palate of colors and some of the tiniest brushes you’ve ever seen. You know how those muted colors and tones in pictures, or selective colors were achieved then? I painted on black and white prints. And it was fun!
I have cut out negatives and taped them together with pieces of other negatives. I’ve printed three negatives at once. And you know what? Printing a negative is in no way a “pure” process. Even if it’s printed by hand, and not through a machine; how it is exposed to paper, how it is run through chemicals – all of that changes the outcome.
None of these things are really new. It’s only the tools that have changed.
I became an art photographer in a somewhat backwards way. But, I think the journey gave me a unique approach and understanding to the process.
Art is art no matter how you get there.
I’m thrilled to announce some of the changes coming for Umbrella Studios here in the new year!
I will be drastically reducing the number of wedding clients I take on per year. Trust me, this is a good thing! Instead of trying to manage 40 weddings in a year, I will take half as many. This will allow me to focus more on my clients and provide the individual, boutique experience you all know and love.
Did you get engaged this holiday season? I have a few dates available so contact me right away if you’re interested in having me cover your wedding! Email me!
I am also going to be posting more instructional information to share some of the knowledge I’ve gathered over my years in the photography industry. I’ll teach you the importance of calibrating your screen, principles of composition, lighting techniques, and light painting, and so much more!
This also means you’ll be seeing a lot more artistic projects from me. I’ll take you through my process too! Sometimes it’s hard to see a project through from concept work to finished product, but I can show you how.
Finally, you’ll be seeing more of my volunteer work! That means more puppers, doggos, kittens, and cattos available for adoption!
I’m so excited to share this all with you!
It’s that time of year again and I seems like a lot of us have simply forgot to plan fall family pictures. I know I sure did! I think it’s the weather. It certainly doesn’t feel like fall out there when we still have temps in the 90s!
We’ve decided to run a small promotion for fall mini sessions for everyone out there who’s as surprised as we are that September is almost over!
Free mini sessions!
How does that work?
– it’s free! There is no sitting fee. Sign up for a time, come to your 20 minnute session, and have fun! When images are finished, go to the gallery and pick what you want.
– Pay for only what you want! Only want that one perfect picture to share with friends and family? Just pay for one. Can’t decide between two? Get them both at a discount. In love with the whole set? Buy them all at a fraction of the price!
$75 – One file
$110 – Two files
$250 – Whole session (5)
Location and schedule
– Long Lake Park in New Brighton
– Saturday, October 27th 11:00 – 6:00
11:00 – OPEN
11:30 – OPEN
12:00 – OPEN
12:30 – OPEN
1:00 – OPEN
1:30 – OPEN
2:00 – OPEN
2:30 – OPEN
3:00 – OPEN
3:30 – OPEN
4:00 – OPEN
4:30 – BOOKED
5:00 – OPEN
5:30 – BOOKED
That first year goes by so fast! It’s a truly special occasion to mark. Doing a cake smash is so much fun! Is it a giant mess? Oh yes. Very much so. But fun is often quite messy!
The Stone Arch Bridge is always a popular location for portraits, and with good reason! It’s an absolutely stunning location. There are so many different options with both urban and nature scenery. Check out the love between these two at their engagement session! It was all smiles, sun, and joy.
This wedding was super fun with lots of intimate details and an abundance of casual elegance. It can be difficult to get enough time for pictures when the couple chooses to not do a first look, but the day went perfectly and we got everything we wanted! The ‘around the corner’ first look is so fun! On the way to the reception, the party bus the wedding party rode in broke down! By the time they arrived at the reception, everyone was starving! The bride was absolutely stunning in her gown and I was so grateful we were able to capture a cinematic sunset portrait for them! I did some experimenting with my lighting and for even more drama and it was fantastic! Thanks so much to L and J for having me be a part of your day!
There were so many elegant and touching details at this summer wedding. The ceremony was in a lovely little church and reception was held at the Golden Valley Country Club. At the reception, they made sure to get a special cake for their grandfather to celebrate his birthday. It was so sweet! The couple were so obviously in love, it was beautiful. It was a great group of people to work with and I was really grateful to be a part of this special day.