Mother Nature Just Rocked My World!

 

 

The day was one of those super exciting snow days you had as a kid... at least that's how I felt. It hasn't really snowed much in New England as of Feb. 1st 2016 so I just knew this was going to be a whopper. 

When we woke in the morning it was a beautiful dusting of glittery white powder... that never stopped... and the snowflakes were ever growing... and growing... and growing. We took a hike through the woods and threw our selves around in winter's soft blanket. We built a snowman and went sledding... it was such a fun day, definitely one for the books.

Finally as dinner time approached, I quickly ran to the store and on my way home... the heavens opened up in a way that was, the most visually euphoric experience I've ever had. After mother earth gave everything a 2 foot covering of sparkling white pow, the sunshine showed her lovely face and lit up my little corner of the world. 

My Quick Trip to Austin

Austin... it's a weird place, man... but it's a cool place. A place to just let your creativity and own thoughts flourish. At least that's how I felt! My friends and I had a great time visiting, being crazy and whoopin' it up! I'm so happy I brought my camera with me. My wee Nikon D700 with a 50 mm 1.4 lens, did just the trick. Small enough for my bag and way lighter than the D3s. 

So... this is how the trip started off... picked up from the airport by some real Austin folk...

the tone was set! {obvi I was there to party...NO KIDS) 



p.s. that pregnancy test was our sick joke on the boys! no one is having a baby :)

absolute black & white | a personal project | 1/1

I have always loved black and white photography even more than color photography... yet I always opt for color while editing client photos... for some reason I have in my head that people don't like it as much as I do and they'd rather see color, since it's available. Is this true?

If you're a blog stalker then you'll know that my photography journey started in Tyler Hall at SUNY Oswego... (yup, I'm a state school kid, suckaaaas) I spent many hours and days in the dark room (not digital, I'm talking chemicals to the skin) and really learned what it took to make the perfect black and white photograph. Absolute black and absolute white... I had test strips coming out of my ears. I loved it, every stinking second. And yet, when digital took over my life, suddenly I had pushed my love for black and white photography to the side to perfect my color mojo. 

...12 years later...

I have started a new project I have called (simply to myself... and now whoever is reading this) "absolute b&w". It has been my dream to fill my home with beautiful photography (that I've taken)... and to me, black and white is so classic and timeless... so I am on the hunt for perfect blacks and whites in my personal photographs. 

Here is the first (of hopefully many) that I'll be sharing with you. My beautiful Sienna Gray, who rarely gives my Nikon a smile let alone the tiny yet sweet smile that usually only I see. This photo captures her so sweetly.

If you're a photographer and have any critiques, I welcome them with an open mind!

xo

The Nifty 50

Just sticking my head up out of the water to say hi!

And also to chat about something real quick... my favorite lens. So, I've given this a lot of thought and I can't seem to find another lens that I feel this way about. My good old Nikkor 50mm 1.4... It has my heart and here's why. 

It's as simple as just wanting to grab my camera, shove it in my purse and walk out the door. I often times find myself in situations where I don't want to be bogged down by a lens bag or the weight of a bigger lens... (pretty much all of the time). I know for professional shoots I need to have a few options with me, but for my own personal projects, I just want the ease and simplicity of one camera body and one (small) lens. 

When I first started it was the only lens I purchased (because it was the cheapest). I bought a 50mm 1.8 which only cost about $120. I had SO MUCH FUN with this lens. Because it wasn't a zoom lens, it taught me to move around the room instead of being lazy and standing in one spot. It also taught me to break down the wall that is sometimes created between photographer and subject with a tighter lens. 

I have shot entire weddings with this lens (in the early years of April K Photo, see examples below). It was wide enough to get family and group photos and tight enough to get details on the bride. It worked for portraits, details, on the dance floor etc... It works in so many situations for subjects near and far. 

I have since purchased quite an array of lenses (and other equipment that I may or may not use). I have used each lens intimately to really understand what I can do with it... and although I prefer certain lenses for certain situations, the 50mm is my all around "show pony". 

What is your favorite lens and why?

The Nifty 50 in action, close enough for portraits and far enough for the whole crew... (the first wedding I ever shot, solo back in 2010).

What makes you, you behind the camera?

please note: I resurrected this article I wrote back in 2012


I taught myself how to snowboard (after years of skiing) when I was 23 years old. I was out of college and living in the Adirondack's (of Upstate NY) so I learned on the steepest in the East, Whiteface aka Iceface Mtn.  It is hands down the most courageous thing I have done besides bowing out of Corporate America.

Learning how to snowboard took many seasons of getting the $h!t kicked out of me…and learning... here's how it all went down.

IN MY FIRST SEASON:

All I could do was fall… if you're not falling you're not learning…fall fall fall…. Fall 15 times get up 16 times was my motto for life at that point. I really didn't mind because I was determined and focused to achieve my goal.

Before I sent myself plummeting down the mountain I wore thick volleyball kneepads on my knees (under my snow pants), wrist guards (def. still wear those) and tons of padding on my butt.  Helmets were too expensive so I did without (bad idea). One night, after a few days of snowboarding relentlessly, I had one of those funky dreams where you actually feel what you're going through physically. I felt the way I was supposed to stand on the board, I felt what it was supposed to feel like to race down the mountain, without ever having done it. It was probably the most incredible yet odd dream I've ever had. Anyway, it worked and after that point I could link my turns and stay up for almost the entire run. Every little achievement was all I needed to keep me going (and to suck it up when I got the wind knocked out of me for the 5th time). Ouch!

I smartened up and got a helmet after a severe concussion that put me in the hospital not once, but twice.

This was also the same time in my life when I picked up my first DSLR, a brand new Nikon D200! I worked weekends as a photography assistant turned second shooter. 

IN MY SECOND SEASON:

In my head I was pretty good by now...I kept up with seasoned skiers and killed it in the Glades. *I upgraded my equipment and that made a huge difference because I was finally on a woman's board and it was *almost my size, bonus! (yes, I was on a mans board that was way too big).

This season was when I shot my very first solo wedding, which happened to be a snowboarding wedding (coincidence? I think not) at Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville, NY. The bride and groom got married in the lodge and afterwards, still dressed in wedding gear, took it to the mountain! Thus plummeting me into booking my own weddings (and not just working as a second shooter). This was a huge turning point in my photography (and snowboarding) career. 

IN MY THIRD SEASON:

I was introduced to the man of my dreams on the slopes at Jay Peak Vermont! Because of learning how to snowboard and having 2 seasons under my belt, I was in a position where I could impress the boys, haha. But seriously, if I wasn't comfortable snowboarding and loving it, I definitely wouldn't have paid all that money to drive from Albany, NY to Jay, VT and thus wouldn't have had the pleasure of getting to know Justin.

Naturally, an aggressive progression took place while I was trying to show off and I signed up for as many ski trips as I could. I also got promoted at my corporate job and was moved to Boston, booya!

My photography also progressed naturally as I ran around this brand new city (to me) shooting everything and anything. I started shooting events and getting more connected to the social scene. 

IN MY FOURTH SEASON:

My first time shredding out West and holy cats batman!!! They were right, if you can ski the East you can pretty much ski anything. I learned that all of my hard work on the icy slopes of the East Coast paid off. I was flying past most of the other riders on the mountains, which naturally felt incredible! I had never experienced powder that weightless and deep. The feeling was really that of surfing across air.

My hard work and dedication to snowboarding was paying off in a big way...

Because of the life lessons that snowboarding taught me over the years, I was confident about jumping ship on my corporate job and committing to the double black diamond of going full time with wedding photography. 2011 was when I cut the cord with my corporate gig and jumped into a fully booked wedding season, and never looked back. 

IN MY FIFTH SEASON:

When I wrote this back in 2012 I had just gotten 2 beautiful new/used v-rocker decks that are funky and fresh. Although I haven't skied fresh powder all season, I did get to ski out west on the ice (during pre-season). It's probably a good thing because before my wedding all I could think about was me walking down the aisle in an upper body cast (think rookie of the year). 

I had just completed my first full year of weddings and was happily exhausted! What a success. 

MORAL OF THE STORY:

I find great similarities in building and running a successful brand on my own & my experience of learning how to snowboard. Like any new business owner I know I'm going to fall, but there is no doubt I'm going to get right back up… I'm comfortable knowing that it's ok to make mistakes because I've learned {physically} first hand that making mistakes leads me to new ideas which sets me apart from most of the world… and your traditional wedding photographer!

Learning to snowboard gave me such a confidence boost too. You know the jitters you get before shooting a wedding? I would relate them to the same jitters I'd get when I was about to take a super steep, icy and narrow slope... it's all about commitment and confidence. Knowing that you have learned so much up to this point, telling yourself that you know what you're doing and executing the best way you know how. 

IF YOU'RE A PHOTOGRAPHER... OR IN ANY PROFESSION REALLY... WHAT IS YOUR UNIQUE DIFFERENTIATOR IN THE MARKETPLACE? 

In my 5th season I was also picked up by Nokia as an ambassador at the Burton U.S. Open. I received a VIP all access pass, free condo, food & booze for the weekend, a free phone and a bag full of free Burton goodies! It was such an awesome experience that was very unique to my situation. Hard work pays off, follow your heart!

Goals for 2015

{Audience: Photographer, mother, taker of pitcha's}

While my husband {who's very business saavy} asked me what my 2015 business goals are going to be my reply was... to survive. hahahaha, no seriously! With 2 young ones around here I have no idea what my life will be like. I'm certainly prepped for the shoots I've already taken on, they're in my mind, I'm prepared to execute perfectly... but bringing on new jobs is not in my wheelhouse at the moment... in turn I'm coining this year my "discovery year"... I want to have a more open dialogue with other photographers so we can learn and grow together. In my discovery year I want to discover new parts of photography that i've never explored and push myself to learn new tricks. Most importantly, I want to share it all here on my blog with you!

...so here we go! Below are my 2 top priority goals for 2015 that I want to share with you...

1. Perfect my personal photo filing system 

of course I have my own unique workflow in order to run my business efficiently, but what about my personal life?

{my goal} - have a beautifully archived year in photos printed, album style. So my files need to be easily accessible and organized in one place so I can dump them into my album builder at the end of the year. I'd like to curate this selection more over the years... but for now, she's growing so fast I want them all!

{how I plan to achieve} - I just updated my external hardrive with another trusty (so far so good) Guardian MAXimus so this is perfect timing. Here is the path I will use to keep everything easy to locate and in order. 

 

2. Try having a newborn shoot at my house

{my goal} - I am creating a trustworthy and quality brand which means my work needs to be on point (as always). To have consistent work my lighting needs to be consistent and I need to know it well. I know the light best in my house and even more so in Sienna's sun filled playroom {which I've strategically purchased all furniture to be white so it bounces light even more :)} I think it would be the perfect location for a newborn studio but the thought of having customers in my home freaks me out a bit... mostly because I'd have to clean 24/7!  So maybe I can test it out to see what in all needs to go into having a home studio and will it be worth it to me financially. 

{how I plan to achieve} - well what'dya know?! I'm about to have a newborn here 24/7 so I can test the lighting out on him... if it works then I'll invite a client over and see how it goes!

That's all for now folks, stay tuned and check in with me to see my progress... until next time,

AK-47 {what my old field hockey teammates used to call me, hehehe}

 

 

 

 

whats.in.my.bag

WHAT'S IN MY BAG?

My main camera is the Nikon D3s and my back up is my trusty Nikon D700 which I love to pieces (it's so light weight compared to the D3s). 

MY FAVORITE GLASS?

Over the span of my career I've really gotten to know (pretty intimately) my lens collection. As a professional it's very important to know your arsenal like the back of your hand and know exactly what each lens has to offer in what types of situations. For fine art portraiture, I love the Nikkor 85 mm 1.4, for journalistic documentation the 50mm 1.4 is my choice... both produce such magically delicious bokeh . I use the 85 + 50 lenses interchangeably quite frequently depending on how tight of space I'm in. I also use the Nikkor 70-200 f2.8, Nikkor 24-70 f2.8, and for very detailed shots I use a macro, Sigma 105mm 2.8

WHAT DO I USE FOR POST PROCESSING?

I ALWAYS shoot RAW images in manual mode! All of my post processing is done in Adobe Lightroom and if additional touchups are needed, they are made in Adobe Photoshop. All processing is done on my 27 inch iMac (I could never process photos on a macbook, it's just too small for me) using my Wacom tablet.  I use various other plug ins along my workflow to make getting photos to clients as quick as possible. Oh, and a lot of people ask me about actions... All I can tell you is there are A LOT of options available these days, I think the most important thing here is to find the tool that helps portray your style the best (even if you have to make your own actions, hint hint).

HOW DO I CARRY MY GEAR?

Well it depends on what kind of job I'm going out on. I have an array of gear carrying vessels... my favorite & most versatile camera bag is my Burton Zoom Pack. I can fit most everything in it and  throw it on my back which is easy for walking around the city and of course, snowboarding with my gear safe and sound. For weddings and traveling with my gear I prefer to use my Think Tank rolling airport bag which meets all airport carry on requirements. Lastly, I use the shoot sac when I need to carry one or 2 extra lenses with me.