2014 : The Year In Review

It was a year of study and growth. In an effort to define my style and find my niche, I decided to explore new areas of photography, while continuing in the areas I already love. I’m much better at the quick Facebook, Instagram or Google+ post than I am at actual blogging. So I thought I would record my 2014 triumphs here, on my own blog, where they belong. Just in case social media implodes or something. ;-)

In February I started an eight week Creative Portraiture workshop with the talented and fascinating Ken Merfeld. This guy stretched my brain and got me out of the preverbal box when it comes to portrait photography. Here are a few of my favorite images made during my time with Ken.

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Throughout the year I continued street shooting. My friend Gail and I met up several times in 2014 and we’d jump on the Metro. We both like shooting solo so we’d meet back at a designated time, share our tales and ride to the next stop in search of THE perfect street moment.

In April, one of our adventures took us to the annual Blessing of The Animals on Olvera Street. I captured this photo, Bunnies and A Bird, which resulted in my first Los Angeles Times feature.

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Also in April, I participated in my first curated gallery show, Poetic Perspectives – An Exhibition of Hollywood Photographers at The Perfect Exposure Gallery where my photograph, Birds On Broadway, was part of the show.

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At the end of May I was invited to join a very cool new mentorship program dreamed up by photographer Trey Radcliff called The Arcanum which is based on a Master & Apprentice philosophy. My first “Master,” Doug Kaye asked me to join his general photography cohort. It was there I met fellow street shooting apprentice and blogger Joe Newman, who took a liking to my Wigging Out photograph and blogged about it, which resulted in a feature on Huffington Post.

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I worked my way through the introductory levels of the Arcanum and was then invited to join the street shooting cohort of “Master” Valerie Jardin (don’t miss her Street Focus podcasts!) to work my way through Sphere 1. The cohort includes roughly 20 fellow apprentices from all over the world. Connecting with these talented people and sharing our work is pretty incredible. Assignments, challenges, and peer critiques all build up to one-on-one Google+ video critiques with Valerie herself. Damn, the internet is a beautiful thing!

I’m also an ongoing member of the LACP Street 3 group. It was Julia Dean who got me addicted to street shooting and taught me not only her technique on the streets, but in Street 1 and 2, the history of street shooting was studied as well. We meet up to shoot once a month for a few hours and generally hit a local wine bar after to talk about what we saw or didn’t see and talk shop. On this particular August day it was excruciatingly hot and we all agreed the photo pickings were slim. On the way back to my car at sunset I happened upon this scene which truly hits home the saying, “you just never know.” This photograph, Yes, Chef!, resulted in my second Los Angeles Times feature.

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In September my photograph, Venice Beach Serenade, was a winner in the VOICE digital print competition in the street photography category. From over 8,000 entries, the judging panel selected 268 images for the collection. The collection was displayed at ClickAway, a conference for the modern photograp(her) in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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And what a conference that was! After a few days of incredible workshops I left so impressed and inspired by the Clickin Moms organization, I decided to apply for CMpro. A portfolio of 150 images must be submitted and is judged blindly based on their evaluation rubric, which is broken into seven categories with six levels in each category. Not only was I accepted but I was thrilled with my scores. Receiving detailed feedback on both the technical and creative sides of my photography is so important. Being a CMpro will offer me some nice opportunities going forward.

On a whim, I decided to submit to the Life Framer International Photo Competition where October’s theme was LOVE. This competition was to be judged by Peter Dench and I’m a huge fan of his work, so I went for it. I had a photograph, Hollywood Freeway Love, I worked hard for that I felt fit the theme well. I was pretty much speechless when I got the email informing me that Peter had awarded me third position. And in this very expensive world of photography this was also my first “cash” prize. But I have to say, Peter’s words about my photograph (see below) were the real prize.

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December was a fabulously busy month. I learned I was named as a Winner of the 2014 International Street Photography Contest sponsored by YourDailyPhotograph.com and juried by Magnum Photographer and 2013 Guggenheim winner Bruce Gilden. I love this guy’s work. This dude is fearless, he holds nothing back. Watch this and you’ll see what I mean. The fact he selected my photograph? Honored is an understatement.

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In December I also attended a weekend workshop at LACP, Sharpening Your Photographic Vision, taught by National Geographic photographer Sam Abell. I signed up for this workshop almost a year in advance, and let me tell you, it was worth the wait. Two of my photographer friends who had already attended his workshop had been urging me to sign up. These ladies are very selective where they put their photography dollars. The words “life changing” were used. How could I not? Well, they were absolutely right. What I look for and how I approach a moment has definitely shifted. Pardon the cliché, but a lightbulb (energy-efficient, of course) went off for me. Sam is the man. Here is my favorite photograph, Union Station, captured that weekend. I can honestly say I would have missed this moment prior to the workshop.

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And a few behind-the-scenes workshop shots…

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Every year I say I am going to photograph SantaCon and every year it seems I’m so busy during the holidays that I just can’t make it happen. Same thing happened this year, the Los Angeles gang of Santas were starting out at the Pig & Whistle right here in Hollywood at 11am and I missed it. So imagine my surprise when I ran into this rowdy bunch of red suits later in the day, completely by accident! Thankfully, I had my camera with me. I seriously would have cried if I had left it home. I could hear Sam Abell in my ear as I photographed this event. I think he’d be quite pleased with my use of layers.

And once again, Los Angeles Times featured my photo. The third time is definitely a charm and a wonderful way to wrap up 2014. Thank you Santa(s).

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2014, you were really good to me. Thank you. Okay 2015, here I come! :D

Mommy and Me : Aurora + Halia

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Mom’s need to be in more pictures. But usually it’s Mom behind the camera. And that’s especially true when Mom is a pro photographer. And homeschooler… and homemaker… you get the point. Life is busy, but it only happens once.

You might remember these cuties, they appeared in my very first family photo session. Brave souls they were!

My goal here was to capture the bond between mother and daughter, at this age, right now. No husbands, no pets, (we’ll include them next time) no posey-posey stuff. Just them. Doing what they do, which I have to say make for some pretty fine photographs. Pretty fine right now… absolutely priceless a few decades from now. Yessiree.

Tomato Month at Maude

Last night I dined at Maude for the first time. This tiny restaurant located in Beverly Hills is the creation of celebrity chef Curtis Stone. The restaurant is named after his granny who opened his eyes to cooking and food. As the website states: “Each month a single ingredient inspires a menu of nine tasting plates, and this celebrated ingredient is creatively woven, to varying degrees, through each course.”

I love tomatoes. I mean I REALLY love tomatoes. And when I heard September was tomato month at Maude I knew it was high time I check this place out. Happy to say I tucked my camera into my bag “just in case.” It’s fun to photograph restaurants, especially what happens in the kitchen. The flurry of activity. The syncronicity of movement. The plating creativity and precision. I found this tiny elegant space with an open kitchen impossible to resist and had to capture just a few photographs.

The tasting menu is meant to be a surprise. It’s so exciting to see these gorgeous plates set in front of me not knowing what to expect. That said, you will only see one food photograph below since September is far from over and I refuse to spoil any surprises. A listing of courses is presented to each guest at the end of the meal along with a special take-home gift made with the star ingredient. The three hour dining experience did not disappoint, absolute tomato-y heaven!

PS: In case you missed me bragging all over Facebook last month, another one of my kitchen photographs was featured by the Los Angeles Times. :D

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