Behind the Lens

My sister-in-law drove down from her Indiana home last month so we could play makeover and dress up and take pictures. Allegedly we were taking the pictures for her next CD, Crawl, but it’s hard to call it work when we’re both making faces and goofing off. Of course, it’s not all making faces, either.

Jenn Cristy

This is not the first time I’ve taken Jenn’s picture for promotional purposes or even for her CD art. I’m really lucky that she trusts me enough to let me play photographer for a day or two, and then play graphic designer and put together the CD packaging. It’s fun to dip my toes into my former life, without all the stress or pressure. And with Jenn, it never really feels like work.

Jenn Cristy

We decided to hire a makeup artist this go ’round and it was a terrific decision. If you are in the Atlanta area and looking for someone to do makeup, you must check out Lindze. Awesome gal, so sweet, professional and talented. She even helped with photo styling, which you will see on the CD cover…eventually. (Yep, keeping it under wraps until it’s out.) But these little sneak peeks give you an idea of what we were up to. You know, minus the giggling and singing and my occasional cussing at my camera lens (my 35mm lens only focuses sometimes-ugh).

I seriously think the photos from this shoot are among the best I’ve ever taken.

Technical details: Shot with my Canon 30D and a mix of lenses (Tamron 28-75, Canon 35mm) with natural light and a Canon 580ex Speedlite with Gary Fong Light Sphere to diffuse the bounced fill light.

‘Tis the Season

This year’s family Christmas card was inspired by a photo I took in August of Miss L with her cousins. It was such a fun shot and seemed well-suited for our card.

Of course, actually taking the photo was more of a challenge. The oldest was home for the blink of an eye over Thanksgiving, spending most of the visit with his friends. I quickly set up this shot and fired off the camera maybe 15 times before he bolted out the door, back to school. Harrumph.

Lucky for me that I ended up with several contenders for our card. Honey and I picked this one and I set off on making it into a card. That turned out to be the biggest challenge. Everything was too…something. Too busy. Too sweet. Too wrong. I played around with it on and off for about a week before I stripped out all the elements and started fresh, just the black-and-white photo. Added a wide border of white. The scalloped circle in red. And I knew: This was our card.

Sometimes, simpler is better.

Don’t miss the blog tour stops that have already been posted (Lisa, Susan and Jessica) and be sure to comment for you chance to win a copy of Little Girls, Big Style!


Miss L’s sixth birthday fell on a Saturday this year. Between Halloween, Quilt Market and bad weather, I didn’t get around to taking her birthday portraits until last week. Exactly one month after her birthday, to be precise.

It’s amazing how much she’s changed in only one year. Two new teeth. Less of that baby face. Reading. (Reading!) And much better at taking direction during these little photo shoots of ours, which has made them far more fun for the two of us.

The weather was a little on the cool side and a wee bit drizzly, but it also made for some nice light conditions so I’m not going to complain. The skirt is made with the Dr. Seuss fabric line from Robert Kaufman; the pattern is my On-the-Border Skirt, sans the ruffle. Basic Target white tee paired with a too-small denim jacket from Gap that L refuses to give up. Dr. Seuss Converse that I bought in anticipation of putting them with something I made from the fabric (oh, like you wouldn’t have done the same thing).

I’ve already printed about two dozen of our photos from that day and have plans to blow up a couple for the house and give some to grandparents as Christmas gifts. And loved on that model a whole bunch, since I know how fleeting these moments are.

Faces and Places

Sometimes I forget how much I enjoy playing with my camera. Weeks pass without me even touching it, much less thinking about it. We’ll be somewhere and I’ll think “Oh, I should have brought my camera,” using my iPhone instead.

And then those times that I do pick it up, I remember why I love it. How natural it feels, like an extension of me. Seeing that moment captured in an instant — and a lifetime.

We drove eight hours Saturday, to Tennessee and back, so my husband could see his brother for the first time in 18 months. Our little kids played together, sussing out quickly the roles that cousins play.

And I brought my much-neglected camera, forgetting it in the car for most of the day.

The kids accommodated me for only a few minutes, but that was all it took. Giggles and smiles and little faces captured just so. Personalities shining through.

People who don’t know me very well have accused me of hiding behind my camera, using it as a means for avoiding interaction. They don’t see what I see through the viewfinder, the enduring connection made with a particular moment and person.

These pictures remind me life is too short to trust every moment to memory. Some just need to be photographed to endure.

Dance, Ballerina, Dance

Can it really be that another year of ballet lessons is coming to a close?

Miss L’s annual ballet recital is upon us. This year I see more little girl than baby, another one of those bittersweet changes.

I decided last week that I would shoot her recital portraits myself this year. There’s nothing wrong with the ones done through the studio; I just wanted something more “me” this year. After the dress rehearsal, we had a little photo shoot on the grounds of the performing arts center. It wasn’t all roses, tulle and smiles; copious amounts of pleading and bribing took place, in addition to abandoning one location in favor of another that wasn’t housing a colony of chiggers. (I’ve been itching and scratching ever since; I’m hoping it’s psychosomatic.)

It was certainly worth it.

What’s Your Confession?

Last month, my sister-in-law and her band made the trek down to my house from Bloomington, Ind., for a photo shoot. The occasion? Her next CD, Hotel Confessions, which will be released Oct. 23.

Jenn and I had been talking about doing these pics for several months and one thing we’d agreed on very early was not to share any of the photos before the CD release so the impact would not be diminished. What we really hadn’t counted on was how tough that would be!

The photos turned out even better than I expected. She’s so fun to work with and needs very little direction. My biggest challenge was to make sure I left myself room to crop the pictures properly for the front of the CD. Normally, I crop in nice and tight with the camera, which does not lend itself to that fabulous square format.

I was glad to have some time to hang out with the guys in her band before I threw them in front of the camera. I think it gave them the chance to relax so being photographed wasn’t as heinous an ordeal! It really helped me get the kind of pictures I’d hoped.

Of course, I can’t show them to you. Yet. Well, except that one up there. Which is similar to the photo I used for this promo poster. So you’ll just have to believe me when I say we made something amazing that day, something perfect for the music it accompanies.

Just wait and see.

ETA: I updated the link to the poster, since it apparently was done wrong the first time. Sorry!

Girl on Film

We were blessed with the most fun houseguests the past few days: My sister-in-law Jenn, her husband and their daughter. Oh my! What fun we have had. They are so awesome and we always have the best time when we’re able to visit with them, although I think we’ve all been a bit sleep deprived from staying up too late talking and laughing!

The big reason for the trip was so that Jenn and I could shoot some new promo pics. I’ve mentioned before that she’s an insanely talented singer/songwriter; recently she’s been picked up by a digital distributor, so her music is now available on iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody, Yahoo! Music and even Combined with a very successful workout regime, it was obvious that new photos were a must. (You know, because we need an excuse to spend time together. 😉 )

I rented some studio space at Studio Space Atlanta, which opened not that long ago. What a cool place! Because I pretty much exclusively shoot on available light, I opted for the small natural light studio and its three-hour minimum. It turned out to be perfect, although it would have been much more comfortable if it had been warmer. The natural light comes in via two loading dock doors, which is great — except Monday’s high was around 43 degrees. I took a small space heater with us and, boy, was I glad for that because it was COLD! LOL! We lowered the doors whenever we weren’t shooting, which helped. And laughed a lot.

In spite of the frigid temps, it was just so much fun and we were so excited to see even the tiny previews on my camera’s LCD. The time just flew! I think we could easily have filled another hour or two, especially after my friend/assistant, Michael, arrived to lend a hand. (Seriously, he was such a great help and great company, too.) By the time it was all done, I think I ended up with nearly 200 photos, which I think I managed to narrow down to around 80 really strong images Jenn can use for her promotional stuff (mostly ads, posters and the like). But I think the best part was just having some great bonding time with my little sis.


Now that’s a genuine smile …

Come a little closer, brothers …

Those wandering eyes …

Finally! Success! (Card template by Shabby Miss Jenn Designs.)