It's Friday!

I've learned that Fridays are still exciting here in Missoula, but if you're going to RMSP, not so much. At least, not in the way that it is if you're leaving for the day from a boring, tedious 9-5 job. There are often optional lectures, Field help classes, free time that you feel guilty about if you aren't taking pictures, and the desperate need to catch up on sleep. How to juggle all of that is often the tricky part. Somehow, I manage to always have a good weekend. It's kind of hard not to do. I can't say enough, how much I love this place.

Today I had Visual Studies, my favorite class. Color, composition, creativity, expression, history of photography, writing, etc. None of the technical bull on how to work a camera, or how to create the exact exposure you want. No computer talk. What's not to like? :-)
We had to turn in a photograph that conveyed a mood or emotion. Don't all photographs do this? I used one I took at the Missoula Made Fair about two weeks ago. (I'll post more on that later..) If you can't tell, she's reaching for a bubble. :-)


Sunday is the Augusta Rodeo. It's a big deal around here. There's a reason why I've ever gone to a Rodeo back home. I'm not typically a rodeo person. Things like that in Duncan are "redneck" and very very country. The unattractive side of country. However, this one I have the feeling will be different. I've seen a lot of pictures and the town it's held in is supposedly very artsy and quaint. A lot of students from the school are going to take photographs! I'll be sure to post some pics. I need to remember to pick up a cowboy hat tomorrow. :-)


Julie :-)

Well, it's been one long week. But a great one! A lot of studio lighting, new class assignments (they just keep piling up), and a lot of night photography. And because of the night photography, not much sleep. I've always been one to find sleep very important, but lately, I find it extremely exhilarating to jump on every opportunity to get a good picture, or at least have fun trying. There's an energy and rush inside of me while I'm here, and it seems to magnify with every picture I take. I used to get a "photographer high" when I did portraits back in Duncan. I loved making people feel beautiful and getting creative with color and location. My fascination in night photography has completely taken me by surprise. I see myself completing an entire night photography project, if not for school, then in the near future. Okay, so due this week were two photos using a "creative technique." This could include anything from panning, rotating your camera during a long exposure, light painting, ghosting, night lights etc. I went kind of crazy with this and took a lot of pictures. Here's just a few:

Okay, the following two pictures I can't take complete credit for. The idea was mine. It's part of a whole series I want to do on night photography. I went to the grocery store and got a bunch of cardboard boxes, cut out stars, covered them in foil, and painted them with pearl blue paint and glitter. The dress, I found at Goodwill. (which btw Missoula thrift stores are soooooo much more amazing than the ones back home.) The first picture you see I completely composed, including painting the stars with light. It was very hard to do though and also try and get into the picture. Finally, I had my night painting pal, Chad, (he's such a trooper) run around me and paint the stars (second picture.) The effect worked out great, however, It never would of worked without his help. Thanks Chad! The effects were awesome. It was quite the experience however, and very cold. lol

One night after night class this week, I walked outside and found the most amazing sunset. A group of students were going to go to the top of a parking garage across the street from the school to try and get pictures. They weren't in my group and I didn't have my tripod with me, but wanted a good view of the sunset. I often find myself lately thinking of Jim Carry on "Yes Man." At every opportunity I'm almost always saying yes. Look at all that I'd miss out on if I turned anything down? This applies to anything in life. Think about it. The sunset faded fast, so instead, I found the light on this old building quite beautiful, and photographed it instead.

This is Mindy. She's in my group. I admire her a lot. She's from New Hampshire (and she's got the accent to prove it!) She shocked everyone when she left her high-stress job of 20-something years at a soup kitchen and just up and left and went to China. She continued to travel in an RV for a year or two and while she was on the road took a lot of pictures, and fell in love with it. She changed her name years ago to a word that means "to change." I like that. :-)

We had an assignment in studio lighting to photograph a "traditional head and shoulders portrait" and exemplify techniques of lighting. They assigned us someone to photograph from our group. We had fun. This is Broad Side lighting.

Butterfly Lighting.

Split Lighting.

Alright. I had something neat happen tonight that reminded me a lot of my sister, and a lot of the reason why four years ago I decided to become a photographer, with an emphasis on people. During the summer of 2005, I took my first photography class and for practice, took my sister out for a "photo shoot."

We had the most amazing time together. She wasn't used to being in the spotlight, lots of encouragement, or feeling confident about how absolutely beautiful she is. After only a couple hours in the park, I could see a difference in her perception on herself. A light inside of her that was dim before, was bright, glowing, and radiant. The thought that I had done this for her changed me. I remember telling someone that night that a light had gone off inside of me as well. I had always loved photography, and dreamed about being a photographer, but it wasn't until that defining moment that I knew I wanted to do it for sure. And I wanted to photograph people, especially those less confident, and make them feel beautiful. Yesterday in class, we each got assigned a partner to photograph. (the pictures my friend Hal took of me will be posted later. They turned out amazing and so fun. I'll just say one thing: go go boots. lol) Anyway, I got assigned to photograph Julie. If you meet her, she's not shy to tell you she's 45 and deals with the effects of Ausburgers every day. She's brilliant however, loves photography and I'm sure could kick my ass at Trivial Pursuit if the opportunity presented itself. Everyday faces us with challenges, and from those challenges we grow. Julie helped me to remember why I want to be a photographer. The assignment was a contemporary portrait (and you could be as creative as you wanted.) I went with the (very lost) "80's American Tourist." We had fun. :-)

This is a shot of the studio we use in class. The only thing I can afford in this picture is the piece of white foam board. Aka, reflector. :-) I can't wait to see everyone's photos. It was a fun day.


Maybe food photography isn't for me...

Okay, so last week, we had our first few classes on studio lighting. Naturally I was very intimidated at the thought of using the equipment, but very very excited to learn more about an industry that has always fascinated me so much! Joe Lavine is our lighting instructor. He's been a professional commercial photographer for 20 years. (check it out: Lavinephoto.com) Once you see his portfolio, you quickly realize you're standing in front of somebody pretty great because you can recognize his images from looking through magazines or simply walking down the cereal isle at the grocery store. Next time you buy Bisquick, you'll probably see his photo on the box. After listening to him talk, I started to wonder if maybe I should be a food/set stylist instead of a food photographer. Either job is strenuous, but i think the food placement, choice of plates, etc. is what's so fun and creative. This was all confirmed after we actually tried studio lighting...
The first day wasn't so bad. The assignment was pretty broad and loose around the edges. We all had plenty of time to play with the equipment and just have fun. I thought my subject turned out looking pretty cute. :-)

The second assignment was where it all went bad. lol We didn't have to photograph food, that was just my choice. And what better as a subject than my favorite recipe for homemade biscuits! I think making biscuits was a subconscious excuse to get in the kitchen and cook. Cooking=therapy for me. So, that's what I did. Poured me a glass of wine and cooked. I wish I could say it made my time in the studio better, but, no. We were all under a huge time crunch to get 4 different shots using multiple lights. It was very stressful, to say the least. And I was left with only maybe one or two decent shots.

Let's just say it was a learning experience. Hopefully next time will be smoother. The images are due tomorrow. Hope that goes alright.

On a lighter note, this was what I turned in for my visual studies assignment last week. My teacher called it an intimate portrait of a pine cone. I liked that. It goes back to my fascination for all the small details in life that make it so beautiful. I found this little fellow outside my house. I think he's beautiful. :-)


Welcome to Missoula: my first blog.

Well, I'm a little late on starting a blog. I wanted to begin this when I arrived in Montana or when I started school. Now, 4 weeks later (has it only been 4??) I'm just now getting around to it. My intent with this is to have a great way of showing my friends and family what I'm doing with my photography and reveal the daily adventures I encounter along the way. Lets just all hope I can't find the time to keep up with it and follow through. School is strenuous, tiring, and very time consuming. It's also an unusual mix of getting you inspired, and sucking all your creative energy away at the same time. Frustrating to say the least. Common phrases I've heard so far:

"It's like drinking from a firehose."
"You are going to learn so much, that the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know."
"Oh, don't worry about that, you'll be a PRO at it by the time you leave." (sure..)

I've taken more pictures in the 4 weeks I've been here than I think i've ever taken in my life. Shoot,shoot, shoot. It's so fun to not have to go to a meaningless job and instead totally immerse myself into what I love the most. It's going to be hard
to return to a "normal" life. And that, is why I plan on not leading a normal life. Normal is boring. RMSP is the beginning of a whole new life for me. I feel one of my favorite quotes fits well here.

"If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space." Amen.

So enough gabbing. Pictures! (I've taken so many, lets just say it was very hard to pick a few for this first sampling...)

Well, this is Missoula. Before school started, I climbed the "M" trail at Sunset, this is what you see.

Beautiful, right? Yeah, I'm in a LOVE affair with this town. It's beautiful inside and out and there's no limit on things to do. A few things I've noticed about Missoula :

1. bicyclist EVERYWHERE.
2. Pedestrians EVERYWHERE.
3. To a vehicle driver, both come first. (this would not be the case in Oklahoma.)
4. People are not at all judgemental like they are back home.
5. One way streets are the devil.
6. There's a sense of "community" I've never felt anywhere else.
7. You can often get somewhere by bicycle a lot faster than by car.
8. Garage sales are in the alley behind the house, because garages are behind the houses. There are no driveways.
9. There's a bike lane on nearly every street.
10.A vegetarian option is at every restaurant because so many people don't eat meat.
11. Children are cuter. By far. lol
12. Most people use push mowers, you know, the ones that require elbow grease, not gas.
13. They eat a lot of huckleberries. (I actually just bought some jam yesterday at the farmers market. See photo below) I'm trying to find the best place that serves a
homemade slice of huckleberry pie. :-)

Speaking of farmers market, I've been three times now and LOVE it. It's only in the summer and it happens every Saturday until 1:00. I went yesterday, this time, I took my camera.

After the market, my friend and I from school rode our bikes all over town and up and down alleyways to see what we could find to photograph. Twas a fun day. It ended in night photography. I suggest everyone try this, and bring a friend (preferably male. lol) Expect to encounter many drunks, homeless people, and creepy shadows that are all just a part of your imagination. :-) But it's worth it!
I was so excited to find these poppies! (I love poppies!)

This is my friend Chad. Don't be afraid. He's actually a really nice guy. He was patient enough to try all my crazy ideas until they turned out just right. Just whatever you do, don't let him hold your camera.

Self portrait. I can't hold a serious face, even if you bribed me with chocolate.

Chad, meet Chad.

Well, thats all for now folks! Hopefully next time you see my night photos they are of star trails and light painting! I'll post more next time on assignments I've been doing. Trust me, I have plenty of photographs to share.