Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Arizona High School Senior Photographer - J

This was another high school senior session - the results of which are some of my favorites. This young man was an interesting fellow who photographed so well! I love Downtown Gilbert as a backdrop for portrait sessions. The architecture and various elements offer so many fun ideas for photography.

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Arizona Event Photographer - An Open House

I love it when people gather together. There are so many different perspectives to be captured. From children to parents to grandparents to aunties and so forth, the possibilities for capturing a fun candid are endless. This particular gathering was no exception. These are from Easter weekend (as I mentioned in the previous post - I'm trying to catch up on blogging) and the group was diverse in many ways. Here are just a few of my favorite moments.

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Arizona High School Senior Photographer - S

July is not as busy as June so I can dedicate a little time to catching up on the blog. This is a high school senior shoot. I love photographing high school seniors. They are on the cusp of their whole lives and pretty beautiful to boot. The energy they possess is awesome. This young lady graduated from high school early and is really planning to take the world on by storm. It's uplifting spending time with people who are so eager to take on life!

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Monday, June 27, 2011

June, Jaime

I am way behind on blogging but it's only because EKP has truly been rocking and rolling of late. Where we expected June to be the start of slow slow slow season, it's been our most productive month yet. We are at 84 shoots now, with 7 more on the books, since we opened for business last fall.

In May I photographed a high school senior and her family and the sessions were amazing...such beautiful people and some of my best work. Unfortunately, they requested that their images not be shared. Much to my great disappointment, the world won't get to share in the delight of seeing their awesomeness. What I learned from their sessions were the following tidbits:

~No matter how much money people have or don't have, people are always still just people, with cool kinks and quirks, no matter their financial status.
~When it comes to doing something they don't normally do, people want guidance. As a photographer, I need to be prepared to create not only an experience during sessions but a journey. This requires both forethought and spontaneity.

I can blog about some other sessions...I'll start with Jaime. Jaime volunteered to be a model and together we broke free of some of what had been holding us both back. I hadn't explored Roosevelt Row with my camera and she hadn't explored how awesome she would be as a model and we both made amazing strides! Here's proof:

I really enjoy working one on one with people on their portraits - we both have creative control of what images we're producing and it really is a team effort. I love what Jaime and I produced together! Thanks Jaime!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Arizona Commercial Photographer - Commercial Shoots

Running a photography business is educational and incredible in so many awesome ways. We are in our 8th month and have completed 67 shoots. This post is dedicated to what I've gotten out of doing commercial shoots thus far.

I did a commercial shoot for GE at the end of April and it was a great experience. It was my third commercial shoot since EKP has been operating. The first was for an airplane company in Florida and I shot one of the Cubs' pitchers during spring training for them. The second was for an alumni magazine at the University of Texas, San Antonio and I photographed a leader in our community. Commercial shoots are unique experiences that, for me, have brought new opportunities to expand my skill set and comfort zone with photography and people.

Here are some of my take aways:

1. Stay committed to your vision. My goal is to "capture the love and energy of the good life" and while circumstances beyond my control (time to shoot, time of shoot, quality of environment, celebrity status, purpose of shoot) dictated these shoots, I eventually realized that my vision must always be the priority. I wasn't able to fully grasp this until the third shoot. I was star struck with the baseball player and mired in the hiring group's details with the community leader but finally found my groove with the GE employee. I spent 10 of the 20 minutes I had with her doing what GE wanted and then 10 doing what I liked. It wasn't long enough to achieve total perfection but I walked away feeling as if I had created some images that made her feel beautiful AND I accomplished what I was hired to accomplish.

2. Read the contract - not just the summary - but the whole darn thing. I read the summary of an 11 page contract and it matched my proposal so I signed it. Later, I learned that I signed off on some very basic things that you sinply don't sign off on...sigh - live & learn - and read every word.

3. Be quick on your feet and be flexible. For each of the shoots, I was fortunate to have access to open shade even though 2 of the shoots were at high noon, per the subjects' schedules. I arrived early to each shoot (on each subjects' home turf) to scope out available light, available shade, mood of the space and prospective backdrops. The extra scouting gave me a little more room to be flexible and fast with whatever circumstances presented themselves.

4. Gather & Disperse: Aside from the fact that commercial shoots can be more lucrative than highly personalized portrait sessions, another bonus is that commercial jobs have inspired a new level of spontaneity that I've been able to apply to all types shoots. This level of spontaneity is truly a gift!

5. Clarity matters. For each shoot, the subject was not interested in being photographed. I had to elicit something from them to get something in the images. In each shoot, I spoke with each subject maybe 3 minutes prior to clicking the shutter so I had to develop rapport AS I shot which is not always easy. Being clear in my direction and secure with my vision allowed images to emerge that met the demand of the project as well as my own aesthetic demand.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Arizona Event Photographer - A Film Premiere

I was privileged to photograph the film premiere event of _Afghanistan: Between Light and Darkness_ directed by Dr. Penelope Price. Held at Filmbar Arizona in downtown Phoenix, the middle eastern decorated venue was intimate and artful. As far as photography is concerned a theatre is, of course, a challenging place to shoot with its lack of light. The images turned out rich and dreamy with the glow from ornately colored ceiling lanterns.

The film was incredibly beautiful capturing a side of Afghanistan I've rarely seen depicted. From the wide and peaceful snow covered mountainside imagery to smaller scaled details of every day life, the film offered a glimpse into the culture and country that seemed fresh and pristine on one hand and also heavily encumbered on the other. I was struck by the child throwing a rock at a donkey and the sense of danger that emerged in stories about the pursuit of education in a Taliban run society. I was captivated by the careful stitching of imagery, sound and storytelling. It was a well paced 22 minutes offering a wealth of information in both image and narration.

From the Q&A, I learned a little more about the sense of hospitality demonstrated toward the filmmakers by the Afghans. I was left inspired to share more of what I have with those around me and I was inspired to learn more about what motivates people like Mary MacMakin and Marnie Gustavson to make a difference in our world through organizations such as The stories of Yasin and Palwasha were somewhat inaccessible for me, not sharing the same social and cultural history, but their visible courage and perseverance were universally recognizable.

I was left with a sense of gratitude for the abundance in my life and with a strong sense of humility about my place in this world.

Elaine Kessler Photography - Arizona Event Photographer

Arizona Event Photographer - A Baby Shower

My friend is having a baby and she asked me to take a few pictures at the shower. It was a mid day event and it was held outside on the patio at a restaurant. The light was harsh but I think the overexposed background looks kind of interesting with Kim in the foreground. She had a mountain of gifts to open - she and baby Trevor should be all set!

Elaine Kessler Photography - Arizona Event Photographer

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Arizona Event Photographer - Kids at Play

We hosted a kids' dinner party this weekend where my 5 year old created the guest list, the menu and decorated the parting gifts. We opted to have dessert outside and the kids played for a little while before we served them. As it was close to sunset, the light was "sweet" and I grabbed a few moments with the camera. I really enjoyed how the essence of the kids playing was so niftily captured in these images. The kids had a ball and I think the parents enjoyed themselves too!

Arizona Event Photographer

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Arizona Family Photographer - The Mabees

The Mabees were a lovely family to photograph even though the enthusiasm for having pictures taken wasn't exactly evenly distributed. :) There were 3 generations present and as with all families - their histories with each other showed up in various ways. My favorite way it showed up was when I asked them to talk about their day so I could take some candids. After one person shared about a routine dental visit from that day, a plethora of memories showed up in the conversation. The three sisters reminisced about having to be all dressed up in their mother's best homemade clothes for a trip to see the dentist. The 2 grandkids listened intently and with amusement. There was laughter and warmth shared and it made for some interesting captures. To level the playing field of enthusiasm, I also asked them to play a game so I could try for a few more candids. They got quite into the game and seeing them enjoy themselves made not only the shooting part fun for me but made for some great images as well. By the time we were to take posed portraits, I think everyone was on board with the plan for the day! What worked for this group - 6 people - 3 generations - their home turf - was the following:

1. Having a plan. I cant say enough about having a plan for a shoot. Of course, there's always improvisation that goes into photo sessions but having an outline of what to do sets a tone and pace that I think makes or breaks a great session. I started out with the kids outdoors then moved to their parents and then got the matriarch involved. I knew various generational configurations were anticipated so we knocked out many of these in the lovely late afternoon light.

2. Giving them a topic for conversation (share what you did today) and letting the energy flow from there for about 15 minutes allowed them to loosen up for each other and for me

3. Requesting that they play a game (they chose cards) and capitalizing on the momentum generated from a little competitive fun gave me access to who they really are for each other.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Arizona Portrait Photographer - Rachael

Rachael is a pro at modeling, for real, so I was grateful for her volunteering to sit for me for an afternoon. We headed to Downtown Mesa and a nearby overpass to get these shots. Her expertise in front of the camera made my job so much easier. But here's the thing, not being a natural in front of the camera doesn't mean you can't or won't look glamorous. I will always do my best during a session (and in post production) to bring your fullest you to the image. I understand that it's hard sometimes to have a camera documenting your every move so I will do what I can to make the process one of ease and enjoyment. We do offer custom touch up services but if you enjoy yourself during a shoot, it's almost a sure thing, the images will be a hit!

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Arizona Family Photographer - H, J, M & Some Tips

H, J & M were a fantastic family to photograph! Not only did they arrive beautifully clothed (not matchy matchy but in a perfectly compatible color set of creams, beiges, and browns), they were happy to play together! It is such a joy to be able to spend time with happy people. I realize we can't all always be happy but when it's time for family photos, taking the strides necessary to keep each other in good spirits, will clearly show up in the images captured. I'll do my best to make you look as great as I can but whatever good mojo you can bring to your shoot will make a world of difference. Some tips on keeping spirits up:

1. Make a day out of the photo shoot. You're looking good - why not plan to go out somewhere after your shoot - maybe for a meal or to a show?

2. When toting little ones, have their favorite toy/s, drinks and snackies available.

3. For that matter, have a few of your favorite snacks waiting in the car for yourself!

4. Arrive to your shoot well rested and well fed. I will do everything I can to help you be comfortable in front of the camera but hitting the basics for yourself is a simple way to optimize your photo experience.

5. Collaborate on your clothes and have fun picking out what you'll wear. If there's a theme in your color choice, the pictures will have an interesting and rich continuity.

6. Be present for each other during your session so that you can help to create not only some amazing images but some fantastic memories too!

Arizona Family Photographer

Arizona Portrait Photographer - Kina

Kina and I became friends about 2 years ago. We started out as running buddies and have become a bit more like family as time has gone on. For this session, she volunteered to model for me and, despite being nervous, she was a complete natural!

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