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Alethia Rains

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Deconstructed

I envied her. Her ability to escape. She was able to leave and head toward the light. While my strength kept me behind I still felt the pull of that long warmth. Begging me to reach out for it. Would that be the only thing to come? Days pass, time goes by and nothing changes. It’s all still the same. I envied her. She got out. Everything stopped and she was finally free. Free from pain and doubt and self-loathing. I envied that.

I envied her. Her ability to escape. She was able to leave and head toward the light. While my strength kept me behind I still felt the pull of that long warmth. Begging me to reach out for it. Would that be the only thing to come? Days pass, time goes by and nothing changes. It’s all still the same. I envied her. She got out. Everything stopped and she was finally free. Free from pain and doubt and self-loathing. I envied that.

An adventure…

Some lovely ladies asked that I work with them on creating images inspired by a theme. All of us create our own versions of the theme independent from one another and wait for the results. I must say this has been an amazing experience for me as it really shows how creative each of our minds truly are.

Please check them out:

Miranda with Pixel Perfect Memory  Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pixelperfectmemory   Website:http://www.pixelperfectmemory.com

and

Stephanie with Stephanie Petra Photography   Facebook: Stephanie Petra Photography    Website: http://www.stephaniepetra.com/blog/

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Legacy

I think that more than anything, what drives my mind is the constant swarm of thoughts. While the majority of the issue is probably my extreme aversion for being like everyone else, it is also from a life long battle with feeling like I was different. Part of me wanted to fit in, but there was and still is that little fire that burns inside that told me no. It may have been from growing up watching all of my friends with their normal lives, or what I perceived as normal, while mine was anything but. Perhaps my aversion developed as my mind’s way of saying F*ck it….

I have this grossly fairytale mindset of what life is suppose to be like. You grow up… you get married, you have kids. Mom is in the kitchen baking cookies… the kids are watching the black and white TV while dad sits on the couch reading the newspaper. That is what I try to provide for my own kids. Normalcy. While we have had a lot of set backs in our tiny little family and life events have kicked us in the teeth numerous times, if anything, we have always provided a united front for our kids. Our kids know the life isn’t fair, that at times it even sucks. It sucks so bad sometimes that you just want to throw in the towel. Give up. Cease to exist. But, we always dust ourselves off, get up and move forward. Our kids have watched us fall, then get back up again. Through it all though, they have also had what I would call “normal.” There is no abuse in our home, no lack of love or support. While we may not be able to provide them with the latest and greatest, it makes me feel good to hear them complain about something as dull as a cell phone. Or ask why all their friends have the latest game console and they don’t. Why? Because they aren’t afraid to come home. They aren’t afraid of either of their parents. They don’t lock themselves in their bedrooms at night and cry themselves to sleep asking why this was happening to them. Their ambitions aren’t hindered. Their social and spiritual growth has not been tampered with. They are everything I couldn’t be and that makes me happy. Happier than one could ever explain.

My latest set of images are almost a release of emotion from myself. My kids are happy to pose for the images and often just say “oh cool” and head back to their video games or tv shows. That sloughing off of mom’s “art” feels good to me. It tells me they don’t know, they don’t get it and I am happy to say I hope they never do. It means I’m doing a damn good job and they will succeed where I failed. If there is anything I can leave behind its the knowledge that I did it. I stopped the freight train.

 

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Getting it right in camera…what is that anyway?

I’m a post it then forget it type of girl. I’ll sometimes post images on the photo pages, but really after I post I’m usually done and over it. I’ll sometimes look back and see how far I’ve come but really, what I’m doing now, in this moment, is what usually has my attention. Even with that said, I still know where my weaknesses are and I try to push myself harder and harder each time I shoot. One of those areas is getting it right the first time around…

Get the image right IN camera.

I always thought that meant nailing each and every detail perfectly. Now I’m not so sure. I no longer linger over images that are not perfectly in focus, nor do I fret over blown highlights or something that is underexposed. I do shoot in RAW all the time so that helps if I do need to tweak anything. However, I am no longer wasting my precious time worrying about the little stuff. I had somewhat of an epiphany during my latest shoot. I really just wanted to get out and shoot some pics of kids other than mine. I planned on shooting in the rain but the weather…actually cooperated to my distain lol While I was shooting, I noticed that I was thinking about each shot before I clicked it. I framed them as I would have wanted them in the end and watched my backgrounds. I made sure I was exposing to my liking and found something strange happening. I was doing it without really thinking.

I get it now.

Getting it right IN camera doesn’t have to mean perfect shots. It can mean perfect for YOU. You know what you want, so why not go shoot it. After time you begin to do it without thinking, it becomes second nature.

Here are a few of the images I took. All of these were only tweaked in ACR and converted to black and white using my own ACR preset.

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Retaliation Reporting

A lot is being said about the over-reporting of images lately. It has been covered in the media such as Fox and Friends, The View and even Good Morning America. Some speculate the reports are from jealous followers, over zealous religious groups or just a group of people who are “trolling.” Babies bottoms, baby nipples and kids in bathing-suits being the favorites to report. Many of the reports are targeting very specific people. Some of these I speculate are “retaliation reports.” People are accusing each other left and right and some are even posting their “report” page from their Facebook to prove their innocence. Some people have multiple profiles, one or more to serve as a backup for their business page. A few even go so far as to create a fake profile with a fake name, but make the mistake of using images of their own children to make it look legitimate and report from these or even report themselves from these fake profiles.

Here is the problem though, you can delete your reports! 

I purposely reported an image just to be able to show this. Obviously it didn’t show anything bad and it wasn’t removed.  Once a person reports an image and receives the results, they can DELETE this from their Support Dashboard. So yes, anyone who is actually reporting, can “prove” they aren’t. Here is the other scary part, you see the second arrow? The one reporting a profile using MY name? It wasn’t removed. I have a VERY unique name (as you can see my current ‘name’ is not my own, I did that as part of an inside joke lol). The really funny part is after I mentioned this publicly, the profile disappeared. This led me to believe that someone created the profile to try to cause problems for others using my name. You can also see I had reported a page that I felt was harassing people, it also was not removed. Why? Probably because as Americans we are granted rights under the first amendment.

 

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 Is this a growing trend? I hope not.

Retaliation Reporting

Retaliation Reporting is the purposeful reporting of people’s images in an attempt to either get their page removed or as payback for an assumed “slight.” Not long ago, I was accused of reporting a person’s profile pic. Soon after the person laid out the accusation, I had 2 public images reported and removed of cats. (Granted they were funny pics of male cats that were NOT neutered lol)  Can I prove it was them? No, but I also don’t believe in coincidence. People have all sorts of reasons for behaving the way they do. Some lash out because they are hurt while others might lash out because they feel they are being gossip’d about. Others are just down right crazy and have nothing better to do. I often tell these people to take up knitting, or wood working…..

I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. One of the things that truly gets under my skin is being lied about. Usually I find out and instead of publicly calling the person out, I resort to sarcasm as my way of dealing with it. Some people report images, but they don’t realize the damage this is doing to the person being reported. Fan pages are also a lot of people’s business pages. When you spend YEARS building up your fan page, it can destroy you to have it removed. This not only affects you personally, but it can affect your family and their well being.

So I propose this:

Instead of reporting the images why not…GO OUTSIDE. If you’re having an issue with someone …. REACH OUT. Nine times out of ten, you can resolve your issues with people. Sometimes, it’s just best to walk away. Stop following the person or persons annoying you and remove their page from your feed. It’s much easier not to see what offends you than it is to sit around letting it bother you. Hopefully we can work together to put a stop to this trend and make it a thing of the past.   ❤   ❤

 

 

Hard Knock Life of an Introverted Photographer

This all started when the immensely talented Katy Tuttle of Katy Tuttle Photography posted on her personal page an article from The Huffington Post entitled “23 Sign’s You’re Secretly An Introvert.” (For the full article click here.) Well, since I already knew I was an introvert, I thought I’d go give it a read and see how accurate it was. Man…it was dead on! I’d like to share some insights to being an introverted photographer though. People assume photographers are all extroverts, but you may be surprised! I wont go over all 23 things but here is a nice summary of the important ones. Since I’m not into the small talk…(tee-hee-hee) Lets dive in!

1. Small talk. Not our thing. <—- Very true! I try so hard to small talk and end up sounding like a bumbling fool. I have no clue what to talk about so I ramble. I really prefer to have deep conversations and will often revert to tech talk about what I’m doing when doing a session. Yup…and clients get that glazed look on their face. On Facebook, you’ll see me give paragraphs as replies or essays for posts. When its a subject I’m into, I tend to over do the responding.

  • Try finding a few subjects you know your client will enjoy. Its easy with photographers …. chat about photography! With clients ask questions and let the client talk. I’ve always found that by letting them do most of the talking, I can better interact with them and they enjoy having someone actually listen.

2. Social events ( & Workshops!). Yes, we go but not to meet people. <—- Seriously, do they have tiny cyborg gnats hiding in my house? This is hard for an introverted photographer. The second a friend introduces me to a potential client as a photographer I always say.. “I just dabble.”  Its hard for me to initiate those first meetings because its something I like to do from a distance. Meet online….then in person. Let me send out my feelers before we meet.  This is also why I avoid workshops…attending or hosting. I prefer to just do it on my own or online.

  •  If you encounter an introvert at a workshop, give them some space. Say hi when they are away from the crowd. We really enjoy one on one interactions. For the introverts: Keep your business cards at the ready and leave them in businesses that cater to your ideal client. That way you can get your name out without having to encounter strangers.

3. Networking (to further our careers). Makes us feel fake. <—— Again, stop with the mind reading! I’m all for the mingling, but really trying to “promote” myself and network makes me feel like I’m trying to fool people. I want a direct connect.  I rarely post on my page any accomplishments. When I do, I feel like its bragging, it doesn’t make me feel good. I always feel very happy for others when they post their accomplishments so it may be hard to understand this unless you experience it. I’d like to be more out there and forward about features or magazine publications, but its just not my personality.

  • This is really a personal preference. If you recognize your difficulty, you might try having someone else network for you. Be it a relative or assistant. Many introverted photographers have someone do all the “dirty” work for them so its not so personal.

4. Combo punch: Intense, easily distracted.<—– ERMERGERD! If you get to read the article you’ll see an image of a man with all these words around his head. That’s me! Except I’m not a dude. I have so many thoughts going on at once that I jump around a lot when I’m over stimulated.  I call the distraction issue my “Squirrel!” syndrome. If too much is going on I’ll get distracted. I often have to wear headphones and play music to work on the computer or even clean my house! Example: When shooting multiple people, I get distracted and forget what I’m doing or forget poses. This is why I stopped shooting families. Its too much and too many people so my work suffers. The intensity comes when we are talking about a subject we really enjoy. We like to dive right into the deep end. This again is where the conversations with clients can turn sour because that involves small talk.

  • I can only really say that by finding people who have the same interest as you, you’ll find yourself able to have those meaningful discussions you crave. Start a blog. This can help get all of those thoughts out in the air. For distractions, just try to take a deep breath. I find myself over stimulated when too many people are talking. Take a step back and re-group, then come back in.

5. This is huge: Shutting down” if  we are too active.<—– Has nothing to do with working out. Say I do a newborn session. Its 5 hours. I get home and I feel like crawling into bed and turning off everything and just being alone for a week, ok not a week more like the rest of the day. So, I make excuses. I say I no longer do newborn sessions because “I’m no good at them,” truth is I don’t want to sound like a weirdo by saying its too much “people” time.  I have a hard time thinking straight and feel as though I’ve ran a marathon after shooting for so many hours. Its literal “people” exhaustion.

  • Take breaks. Change locations. Take that time in your car to unwind, especially if its a long shoot. You can even bring along some tunes and just tell your client you need a “creative” moment. Arrive at your location early. This gives you time to soak in your surroundings and mentally prepare yourself.

6. We like to have a focus. <—– I felt 100% times better when I decided on a focus or in the photography world a specialty. We like to be really good at one thing rather than everything at once. My ambitions get in the way here. I have a lot of interests. So I try to be an expert in them all but I lose focus. When I focus on one thing I can stick to it for lengthy periods of time. That is why I can knock out a brand new logo within 2 hours or if I have a prop idea, I like to do it RIGHT now!

  •  Get a specialty. If you don’t like shooting groups or families then DONT! STOP letting yourself get talked into it. If you don’t feel good doing certain sessions then stop it! Focus on the ones you like. Isn’t there a saying? “Jack of all trades is a master at none?” For introverts this could not be more true. Instead of trying to do everything, get a specialty and you’ll shock yourself at how fantastic you’ll be at it!

7. We notice the “little things. <—- This gets me in trouble! I notice a lot of little things and I remember peoples faces very well. So if I see someone in person I saw on Facebook, I’ll smile or wave like some sort of stalker. Now I just get this look of  shocked recognition on my face and then I run because last thing I need is a cop at my door for being “weird.”

  • Take notice and use it to your advantage. Instead of going to someones page (like I have) and saying “oh I saw you at the gym!!!!”, let it be. lol Notice the details in your photography (you probably already do…each and every little thing too huh? and that of others as well!) This can be hard. We might immediately notice the multiplied leaves on a tree, a pimple, cloned parts and missed hairs. Yeah, it can be that bad. We have to learn to let it go and just focus on those things for ourselves. The bright side is we end up with nearly flawless work because we put so much focus in those little details, or we recognize our own faults and aren’t afraid to point them out.

8. We are writers. <—- Anyone who has sparked my interest in a subject can tell you, I’ll write a book in reply. I prefer to write to people than to actually talk such as on the phone. I sound like a jumbled mess in person, but get me in front of a keyboard and my thoughts flow in a far more structured manner.

  • Get a blog, I promise you’ll feel better. ;)

9. We have social periods and downtime. <—- Yeppers! I can go to a social function, but I may stay away from my friends for a week or more afterwards. In photography this translates into space between sessions. If I have multiple sessions in a week I will need to spend a week or more away from doing any sessions because I need to recharge. I’ve learned to space out my sessions and I typically will only book them once a week. The idea of a “mini-session marathon” makes my skin crawl.

  • Again, setting your limits is important. Instead of avoiding people, just say hey, I need a little time to myself. With clients who may be hounding you day and night, having your turn around time posted on your page or in your contract etc.. will help here. Take advantage of your social periods to get your networking or mingling done. It will be time well spent.

10. We screen our calls….all of them. <—- Sad but true. I really don’t like talking on the phone. This is not good when dealing with clients. I usually have them text me, email me or message me. Its just the way I prefer to do things though. I already know that if I get on the phone I’ll start messing up the small talk and scare them away. I can focus better when I’m writing it out.

  • If you list a phone number, ask that you are texted first or let clients know to message you for inquiries. That way you can call them back if necessary on your terms. Consider writing out a dialog. Yes, I mean typing out a client dialog to keep you focused on what you need to discuss with your client. Keep this handy for when you do need to call or when you receive a call.

Growing up I always thought I was a freak. I felt out of place. Even now at 33 years old, I can stand in a crowd and feel completely alone and out of place.  In the photography world where many of the groups are like social clubs, it can be very difficult for me to “fit in.” People don’t understand it so I get called names like “stalker,” ” snob,” “judgmental” and “crazy.”  The thing is I’m none of these. I’m actually very “observant,” “opinionated,”  “outspoken,”  and “sarcastic.”  Yes, introverts are probably some of the most opinionated people you’ll meet and because we spend so much time in our own heads, we know ourselves very well. This doesn’t apply to all introverts. We are all individuals.

Speaking from the point of view of an introverted photographer, it can be a very difficult road if we do not understand ourselves and realize that we are not weird, we are just a different kind of personality trait.

The Road

 

 

 

 

The Road

They say it was the Railroad that conquered the West. I’ve always loved the West and its stories. I am originally from Nevada and remember traveling to these amazing places that captured my imagination as a child. As I’ve gotten older, of course, the real stories began to fill my head. How the West was conquered, how the new settlers and the government pushed out the Native Americans and how we now look at the old West as a novelty. For this shoot I wanted to represent that. The quintessential blonde haired blued eyed girl wearing her “costume” showing the conquest of the “whites” over the American West and the Native Americans.

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Musings of a typical day….

As I sit here typing, my daughter’s friend is dragging Miss Diva across my freshly swept floor. She is running her dirty hands across my just wiped clean walls…… They are laughing and playing. But those noises are not joyful to my ears, they are irritating. In my mind I think “man, I JUST wiped those walls clean, I JUST swept that floor.” My oldest son is out in our backyard making a mess of a wooden pallet by cutting the boards up with a saw. Yeah…a f-ing hand saw. He is about to be 13 and quite bigger than me, already 5’9. I told him not to, but does he listen, no. He has that same stubbornness I was born with. That need to do shit on my own on my own terms. My middle child sits in front of the TV playing his games while I struggle to wash 15 loads of laundry, clean 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, a living room, a kitchen, a dining area, a foyer and a make shift office.

Yes, I’ve downsized so much of our crap, but despite not bringing in anymore, we still seem to have piles of it. I plan on ditching even more. I’m tired of cleaning. I don’t mind it but when it takes 8 hours of my day, I grow weary especially after 13 years of it without a vacation. I still have to help them with homework, get the meals done, get them to and from school and maybe take a shower if I’m lucky. 

Then to add more strain I decided I wanted to do photography. So then I have a page to run, blogs to write, a group to run and a creative page to monitor. I don’t get paid for these things. I do them because I love it and because I hope that one day my efforts will be rewarded. I enjoy receiving the thank you’s from people who I have helped, even if it was just getting them to shoot what makes them happy. Maybe deep down I do these things because I actually get a thank you, a job well done and some sort of acknowledgement for my hard work. I finally feel like something I do..is appreciated. 

If that weren’t enough to drive anyone to the loony bin, I still have a 50 page thesis to write and do research for. I have cities to call and data to collect. I chose to pursue an education because I knew photography would not pay the bills. An education that has still left me jobless as I have no experience, so it too…does not pay the bills.

One day though, I know it will all pay off. I have faith. I know I would not be on this path for nothing. 

Each day is a struggle. Balancing that globe on our shoulders. It can be too much sometimes and we fall to our knees begging for mercy, but somehow…somehow we get back up, reposition that responsibility and drive on. We drive on because of we didn’t, our lives would be meaningless, we drive on because somewhere we decided we enjoyed the pressure and the constant strain. Perhaps it makes us feel alive. Perhaps it reminds us how human we really are and its just another day in our own paradise. 

 

The Goddesses… A Satire

Dun Dun DUUUUUUUNNNN!!!!!!

*Disclaimer: This is meant to be satire.

Ok, in my head that was the little sloth dude from the “Croods” singing.

The Photography Goddesses or better known as “Goddess-ographers”…oh yes, we know all of them. Usually by a first name basis. They all live on Mt. Canikon and have a collection of designer camera bags in every color of the rainbow.

First off let me say this, I am not saying they haven’t worked hard to get where they are today, all I’m saying is that they have a leg up on the situation. Its kinda like those “children of actors” who have a shoe-in for acting while there are hundreds of other very talented actors who have to climb the mountain to stardom. Or say that great singer who you find out came from a wealthy family and therefore already had the right connections to drop that infamous first album. THAT is the plight of the “Goddesses.” Yes, I snoop….perhaps more than I should. I have cut back on my stalking snooping a lot in the past few years. “Research”……is a better word.

Ok so my “research” has brought me to the conclusion that the “Goddesses,” while highly talented, are also highly privileged. Who else gets 15K worth of camera equipment for Christmas without having to refinance the house, take out 6 credit cards and sell their first born child? I have found that many of these Goddesses were already well off. They already have the “success,” but the personal success of their business is just the cherry on top. You won’t see them selling their camera equipment to pay the rent or feed their kids.

Let me give you a run down of these feme crème de la crèmes….

#1. APHRODITE: Cascades of long wavy perfectly elegant hair…mixed with a brilliant bright smile and a sharp tongue. She not only does picture perfect weddings, but she has the most profound portfolio of what looks like a bunch of models who pose for every engagement shoot instead of the real couples. The weddings are always exotic locations and look like they had a budget of a few 100K just lying around under their mattresses.

The rest of us: Backyard budget weddings and a mop of messy curly hair that looks as though the humidity fairy was hovering only over our heads. Our sharp tongue is misconstrued as being rude and our brilliant bright smile is missing a few teeth due to the lack of funds to see a dentist in time after that last root canal.

#2. HERA: The epitome of motherhood. Her newborns are always flawless. Not one cries, or stays awake the entire session.  She too, always looks perfect with her hair in slick pony tail and her yoga pants that fit her athletic bod like a glove. She usually has had multiple children with the littlest strapped to her back. No, you can’t tell if she ever even had them, you’d even wonder if she used a surrogate if it weren’t for the album full of her perfect, stretchmark-less maternity pictures. Her kids are all perfect little creatures that never seem to manage to stain anything…..not even the house full of white walls, white carpet and white furniture.

The rest of us: We have the 6 hour newborn session with the only newborn on the planet that is wide awake the entire time and wont stop crying. We look like a busted biscuit can in our yoga pants and we can’t NOT pee when we laugh. Our kids write on the walls, look like they were raised in a backyard dirt hut and refuse to eat anything healthy we stick on their plates. Did I mention the smell? No not the kids, its us. Due to before mentioned kids we rarely get to shower and we always look like we just got ran over by the very ice-cream truck we just bought 4 Choco Tacos off and snuck behind the house to eat.

#3. MINERVA: Ahh….Minvera. She loves the model session. She herself, looks like a model. Much like the models she photographs. If there isn’t an album of models, there is an album of her. She is always perfectly dressed in her riding pants and boots with the anthropologie catalog hanging in her closet. You won’t catch her walking through a Wal-Mart. Her kids are models, her husband is a model, even her home…is a model. Her sessions always go as planned and are always perfectly styled. She doesn’t have to buy props, they fall from the sky as a gift from the prop God. If there is anything she loves to talk about, its herself.

The rest of us: If we are lucky we will get a few model sessions, however our models won’t take direction. Their sexy face looks like the “ERMEHGERD” girl. Our model kids….yeah they like to run off  and stick their tongues out at us while we try to get the shot. Their parents are behind us screaming: “Smile! Smile! Say Cheese! Do your favorite pose!!!” or worse “If you don’t smile you WONT get McDonalds on the way home!!”

So there we have it, three of the most infamous Goddess-ographers. Now for the rest of us mere mortals, the messes, the missed shots and the frumpy hair keep us grounded. It reminds us that we are human. The nice thing is, we can and will mess up, but nobody really cares. The second a Goddess-ographer falls off her pedestal, EVERYONE notices and that fall from Mt. Canikon is a long way down. So instead of worshipping them, we should learn from them and be grateful for our humble beginnings because its really what makes us appreciate the journey that much more.

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