The Shrine of Saint Anthony

Two weekends ago I had the unique and fantastic challenge of taking fall photos for a family that celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas. The photoshoot location was change at the last minute (luckily) to a beautiful location picked by my client at a Catholic Church called The Shrine of Saint Anthony in Ellicott City, MD. The client wanted to ensure that no religious imagery appeared in the photos due to the diversity in their family. This request forced me to be creative with positioning. It was also my first completely posed shoot and approximately 95 percent of the poses were my own creation. I loved getting out and enjoying the beautiful fall weather.DSC_0052DSC_0032DSC_0082 (1)

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Change and Renewal

Fall is a season of change. It is appropriate that its color’s are similar to that of the phoenix as it bursts into flames to be born again, renewed. Maryland is a lovely place to watch the leaves change and to change with them. As of a few days ago I am officially the proud owner of Alicia Kohler Photography LLC.  This is a big change for me, and although I still hold my day job this past year has proven that photography is my passion. I’m nervous about all of the things I still don’t know and in may ways still feel like an imposter. Did anyone else experience this?

I had the pleasure of conducting two shoots at Rockburn Branch Park in Elkridge, MD this weekend. For the first, I wish a very a happy birthday to this energetic three year old and thank the parents for choosing me to capture these fleeting moments.

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Hampden: Take 2!

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Today, I traveled to the Hampden Neighborhood in Baltimore, MD for a Portrait Photo Session with a good friend. You might recognize the backgrounds from a previous shoot. It is amazing what you can find just walk around the city.

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The Outdoors

These images were captured in my mother-in-laws garden in Lemont, Pennsylvania and at Patapsco Valley State Park in Ellicott City, Maryland. I used my Nikon D5300 and 18 to 300 mm lens.

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The Candidate

About a month ago, I had the opportunity to perform my first political photo-shoot. Chris Gill is running for City Council in College Park, Maryland. You can find more information on his platform on these sites:

https://www.gillforcouncil.org/
https://www.facebook.com/chrisgillcp/?hc_ref=ARTDyxCfUd2sFF4ZGqpZ-QUCqyvfKnbgjy4Ey9PYrKWiKX6oeB7mjMmTZ8raUKo3vd4&fref=nf&pnref=story.unseen-section

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Chris contacted me to acquire some images to use on his website and we decided to make it a family event. Chris and his wife Emily are the parents of adorable twins and we were lucky enough to capture a few shots with the whole family. This shoot was fairly straightforward. My husband and I traveled to the Gill home in College Park and decided to take some photos at their local park and in their own backyard. Choosing this location ensured that the twins would not be overwhelmed by traveling. More importantly, I thought it was vital that we try and capture the charm of the district Chris hopes to represent. When we were walking to the shoot location, we walked by some of Chris’s neighbors who he easily exchanged friendly banter with. I don’t know Chris well but have played several board games with him in the past. From what I’ve seen and the passion he demonstrates daily on social media regarding current events, I have no doubt he will make his district a better place to live for his family and his community.

This shoot proved challenging for me for several reasons. The location provided a nice green space which played well with the dark blue, magenta, and pastel green/blue color scheme we crafted for the photos. There were some issues though. The first was that a large playground area was under construction which result in a large orange net being visible in background of several shots. Additionally, the lighting at the location was problematic and it took significant effort to locate areas that did not overshadow or overexpose the family.  I learned a very important lesson about color changing lenses and to ensure that I ask clients who wear glasses about them before planning an outdoor shoot. As a personal criticism, I should have focused more on getting usable pictures of Chris and gotten family photos as an after thought. I believe I was distracted by the power of twin adorableness. We did capture one excellent head shot that I am very proud of (below) but I do wish I had gotten a few more for variety. I wish the Gill family success in their campaign and all future endeavors.

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Artscape and the Fear of Rejection

Artscape is the largest free arts festival in the United States and is held annually right in my own backyard. A six-dollar Uber ride from my home in South Baltimore brings me just outside of the entrance to this wonderfully eclectic festival that brings out some of Baltimore’s most creative people. It takes me to a part of town that I may sometimes feel uncomfortable visiting, which is unfortunate considering that it has some of the best Korean food I have ever tasted. The festival features hundreds of artists, live concerts, street theater, children’s activities, and best of all it is completely free.  This year the theme was “Camp Artscape: Adventure Awaits.” There were volunteers wearing shirts adorned with the word Counselor to really push home the point.  It had been a while since I pull out my camera and I was excited to capture the essence of the day.

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There was one problem that I didn’t realize I had at first. I saw three people who I can remember vividly that I wish I had captured. The first was a spectator at one of the free concerts. She was wearing bright green, shiny, leggings with a print that made them look like a mermaid’s tail. Her half shirt was purple and sequined. Her long red hair cascaded down her back and her face was shaded by a pretty paper yellow umbrella. The second was a man with a long tail clipped to his loose, stripped, pirate pants. He was wearing a leather vest, his hair was in dreads and his yarn hat was slightly askew on his head. The third was a man with a chest tattoo with exposed underwear, spinning a basketball on his ring finger. These people were all different but had one thing in common for me. I was scared to approach all of them and ask for a photo. The concept of this seems ridiculous to me in retrospect, especially because they were all clearly trying to make a statement. Maybe they even woke up that morning hoping that someone, anyone really would notice them. I contended myself to admire their uniqueness from afar. The problem was that seconds after I convinced myself not to approach the third man another photographer asked for a shot and even posed the man. I missed my chance and felt silly approaching him after because I didn’t want to be a copycat.

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I am not by nature a shy person but for someone reason I fear approaching people with a camera in my hand. I think it is possible that I am afraid of rejection. A while back, someone I don’t know was at a friend’s barbeque. She and her husband spent most of the party tending to their four week old baby. She was precious and I noticed that she and her mother were dressed alike. I asked the mother about their outfits and was informed that she was hoping her husband, who is another amateur photographer would take a photo. I was immediately excited because I’m interested in newborn photography and informed her that I was providing free photo shoots at the moment to practice. They lived further south then I would like to drive and her husband is probably equally if not more talented than me. The problem there was I didn’t know that. I had never seen his work. I told myself that I wasn’t worthy and thusly lost myself a potential client.

Just a few days ago I set my rate for a possible paying photo shoot. The lovely athlete pictured performing Lyra stunts recommend me to a friend at work. I was so excited by her interest that I started crying, because for the first time I felt worthy of calling myself a true photography. Unfortunately, it’s been a week and I haven’t heard from here yet so maybe I set my rate to high, she wasn’t that into my style, or she was just too busy. However, these events didn’t stop me from doing my last photo shoot, which I will post about soon. It won’t stop me from doing my next either I have the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” tattooed in a mirror on my shoulder and still sometimes fail to remember it.  I think we all have self-doubt, but the question we need to ask ourselves daily is will we let it define us? For me, at least for now, the answer is no. I still managed to get some pretty good shots at Artscape and am looking forward to comparing them to the one’s I capture next year.

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The Aerialist; This was Worth the Bug Bites!

Hello All,

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently opened myself up to challenges to build my portfolio. Part of that challenge is never saying no to the opportunity to photograph a friend. A friend of mine contacted me and informed me that she wanted photos to showcase what she had learned during here six and a half months of circus training, specifically on the Lyra. She is a student in the Beginner Lyra Course at Baltimore’s Mobtown Ballroom, which requires no previous experience. Although, judging by her moves I’d say that flexibility is a must. It was clear that this practice takes an enormous amount of strength, flexibility, and balance. To me, it also equates to what I could see as the dictionary definition of grace. The practice is centuries old, and although there appears to be conflicting reports on its origins, the use of hoops for aerial dance seems to date back to around the late 18th century. Steve Santos (2014) noted that in 1893 a performer named “Caedo” performed an act which featured a Lyric Hoop for an advertisement for the New York Clipper. It was also believed to be one of the first aerial apparatuses built by Edward Wyck, a famous equipment rigger who seems to be a household name for those who study the art (Santos, 2014).

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My subject had a clear passion for her craft. We discussed her attire at a friends birthday party the weekend prior. I suggested a jewel tone leotard as I thought it would look lovely on her complexion and could easily be manipulated in Lightroom to best reflect the light. She went searching online as the only leotard she had was black and I was unsure if she had found one she liked. I was pleasantly surprised when I showed up and she was wearing a purple leotard and had taken the time to get her nails and toes done to be the same color. She had also taken time to carefully do her makeup in way that was both flattering and would easily pop on camera. This is a skill that as a 27 year old woman I have yet to master. She is lucky enough to live right in front of a rather large field that can be accessed from her yard. I asked her to send photos of various locations and we found a lovely area at the edge of the field which created a dense background of trees. My subject had a indoor rigging system which allowed her to practice at home. It consists of metal polls, a center bar to connect them, a clip to attach the ring, and the ring itself. This thing, especially the ring is not light. It took a bit of assembly but she was a pro and we were able to start the shoot pretty quickly after getting everything outside.

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We started the shoot around 1840. My subject had planned ahead deciding to do her most difficult poses first to avoid exhaustion. I do not know there names and will not attempt to name them here as I’m sure each and every successful execution of these poses is a major milestones in the life of an aerialist, but lets just say they were impressive. In between poses I was able to get some lovely portraits and at rest photos. Well…as least as at rest as you can be while straddling a metal hoop. We captured a few shots of her stretching as well. As for my part, I utilized my new 18-300 mm Nikon lens, which gave me such incredible versatility I didn’t need to change my lens once. I brought a step stool to me a slightly higher vantage point, but ended up spending the majority of the shoot on my belly in the grass. I was attacked by nats but it was worth it to get the shots I wanted.

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As far as the picture composition goes, it was difficult in this case to follow the rule of thirds. In order to get her full body and see the details of the moves I stood close, and she was largely centered. I could have stood back farther to get this vantage but largely I felt that this would take away from her moment to shine. Overall, I’m happy with my decision. I was also happy that I choose to shoot into the light, as the sun was low falling into sunset. It’s presence made her hair shine which added to the overall ethereal feeling I was hoping to capture. I hope you enjoy these photos. I certainly do 🙂 Goodbye for now!

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DSC_6566References:

Santos, S. (2014). Introduction to Rigging: Aerial Fabrics. ISBN:978-1-304-76403-4. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=msNCBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA17&lpg=PA17&dq=%22Caedo%E2%80%9D+performing+a+lyra+hoop+routine&source=bl&ots=VlSCkB1drd&sig=V2wPWmvoNHvbwFN8c6-2gxDyjMU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiJhp7SmOjUAhWFOj4KHYbrDyYQ6AEIPzAF#v=onepage&q=Caedo&f=false

 

The Engagement, I Might Be Able to Do This!

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A little over a week ago, a friend of my husbands and I contacted me via Hangouts. This was a little strange because we had never talked outside of a group chat. I knew instantly something was going on. I figured he was going to ask me to go ring shopping with him for his long time girlfriend, another close friend. Well turns out he already had the ring! She had seen it at a local antique shop and feel in love. He went out the next day an bought the beautiful orange sapphire pictured below. He wanted me to photograph the event, a request I happily replied yes to. We then started making a plan!

Last weekend, while meeting up with a group for Baltimore’s Hon Fest, at which the soon to be bride was in attendance, I floated the idea that I needed models to practice photography.  I had already set the stage by posting the message on Facebook I described in my last post. I told her specifically that I was looking for couples and I thought they would be perfect for it. The soon to be groom had picked a local arboretum as the possible venue. Stupidly, when I was telling her my plan I said conservatory. Her eyes lit up! She was super excited about visiting Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens of Baltimore and stated that she had been wanting to go for so long. My misstep ending up working out in our favor! The arboretum didn’t live up to expectations but the conservatory far exceeded them.

We arrived at 10 am on Saturday morning. The soon to be groom and I had already worked out a signal. We used the symbol for “Ok” used by scuba divers. After getting some lovely photos inside the conservatory, we stopped under a pretty archway, surrounded with greenery. I was using my portrait lens so the archway isn’t pictured but the couple loved it. A nice gentleman, a tourist from North Carolina, offered to hold the door for us and waited for his family who were in another room. Just as his family came in, our friend got down on one knee. Her reactions were absolutely priceless. With tears of joy she said yes! The tourists also got a great story to take home.

I had the foresight to instruct him to bring her makeup to touch up so we could continue our session. We managed to capture some gorgeous shots near the coy pond. The fish were nearly identical to her Citrine colored Sapphire.  We captured a few more shots and led the couple outside. Her best friend, and the couples friend and roommate were waiting outside to congratulate them. She rushed to her friend with open arms, and they had a beautiful moment together.

We captured some photos outside, most of which didn’t pan out because I had my camera set on manual rather than automatic and didn’t know enough about it to understand why my images were blurry. Luckily, lesson learned. It wasn’t a total loss, my husband figured out the issue and we still managed to capture a few of my favorite shots of the day. Our other friend even got some aerial footage with his camera equipped drone! Afterwards we went to lunch at Hampden’s Rocket to Venus. The soon to be bride was in shock, the groom was hyped because everything went perfectly!

I learned that I need to get to know my camera better. I had to foresight to bring an extra battery, but my camera could have easily died mid-shoot had I not. This was my first time shooting in raw and it seemed to drain much faster. I also learned that props don’t matter is you have a great environment to shoot in. I wish all the love and happiness in the world to the new couple.

 

 

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My First Portrait Session, I Might Have Bit Off More Than I Can Chew

I purchased a new lens last week. It’s Nikkor AF-S 85 mm. I also finally invested in Lightroom 6. If you are into photographing and not using it, stop what you are doing and get it. It makes all the difference in the world for post processing. I started getting familiar with its mechanics through various Youtube videos. I was super giddy when I was able to figure out how to do simple edits, like removing bag under eyes, brightening skin, and removing unwanted objects from my shot. In order to learn anything you have to practice right? I think so, so I made a post on Facebook stating that I was really interested in learning more and offered some free shots to my friends and family.

Almost instantly after doing so I had responses from several of my friends. Some wanted pictures of their children, mostly around their birthdays. Others wanted pictures of them doing circus arts, some just wanted new pictures for use on social media. Within a few hours I had six tentative sessions booked! Obviously, I’m not getting paid yet but it was a rush to feel wanted.  Additionally, a friend hooked me up with an invitation to a Facebook photography group, and another provided my name to his father, who is an avid photographer. Something else really exciting happened but that will be in my next post.

My first session was with a close friend of my husbands and I, who wanted additional photos to choose from for social media. He didn’t have any updated pictures so we decided to do a shoot on Friday night in Hampden, a local neighborhood of Baltimore, famous for the Hons. I mostly shot with my 85mm, and used lightroom to enhance the images in the slide show below. I learned a few lessons from this shoot. The first was that I don’t need a tripod in most instances, and if I do want to use one it should not be a cheap one I bought from Amazon for $16 dollars. The second was that posing someone in position that isn’t natural for them results in awkward photos. The third was to dress appropriately for the weather and to account for the extra heat added by carrying around heavy equipment. Overall, I ended up with about 150 shots, out of that I loved about 13 of them. This is pretty par for the course from what I understand, and it taught me that about 10 percent of my shots will turn out the way I desire. As I learn, hopefully that ratio will increase.

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