Devon is “In a Relationship” with Lightroom 4

I’ve flirted with Lightroom for years, but it’s always been that one-off kind of flirting, like when you’re bored at a party and decide to bat your eyes at someone even though you know it’ll never lead to a real date.  Five minutes of experimenting with LR here and there over the past few years led to frustration and me deciding to just stick with Bridge and Photoshop since I already knew what I was doing in those programs and had a comfortable workflow for my editing.  It wasn’t until friend and photographer Pixie of Pixie Vision Productions said she was trying Lightroom and forcing herself through the obnoxious hiccups of learning new software that I really decided to sit down and give it a go.

Lightroom properly came into my life about a month and a half ago and with the help of Adobe TV’s awesome tutorials, I cut hours (literally, hours) out of my editing.  I was pretty quick with edits before, but now I’m lighting fast and find myself sitting around thinking, “Hmmm, I wish I had some edits to do!” instead of, “OMG I’m SWAMPED, I’ll never be able to leave my editing desk again!”

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Saying Something

A lot of thought that goes into a good piece of art.  What you do, how you do it, and where you let it go says more about you as an artist than about the actual art, which means there’s a lot of thinking to be done and choices to be made.

For instance, I decided I didn’t want to have burlesque and boudoir shots on the same website as newborn and family photos, so I separated my photography into two names, Devon Rowland Photography and Silly Human Tricks Photography.

I also decided against trying to get into stock photography because I have no idea where my images will end up, and as cool as it would be to see something of mine on the cover of a book, it would be a lot less cool to see it as part of an ad campaign for something I don’t agree with.

This morning I made a decision about posting an image from a family shoot (check it out here).  You probably don’t think of family photos as being controversial, but this family consisted of pink-haired Kat, her two sons, and Kat’s tattooed/pierced/purple-haired girlfriend.  Unless you live in a hole and completely avoided the 90s, you’ve probably seen colorful hair and body modifications before, but as the great marriage equality debate rages on, it’s more than obvious that LGBT couples are still not fully accepted by society at large.  I knew that adding these photos to my family-friendly website would be making a statement stronger than pasties and boas ever could, and I decided that I was 100% OK with that.  There are a lot of issues where I can see both sides of the argument, but family is about love–period.  By posting images of an alternative couple, I’m saying that I will photograph love in whatever shape, size, color, or attitude it comes in, and anyone who has problems with that is more than welcome to find another photographer.

 

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Art Show Revelations

When I first picked up a camera, I was shooting for the sake of shooting. Then I started shooting for other people–events, shows, portraits, etc. I think I’ve trained myself into shooting for someone else; obviously there’s my own take on a thing, but at the end of the day, no matter how happy I am with a photo, I am not 100% satisfied if the client doesn’t also love it.
I think this is why I’ve had so much trouble with art shows. I’ve come at them trying to figure out what a random audience of strangers will want to see, which is impossible and leads to frustration and insecurity.
I just dropped off my pieces for Art Libs, a show in Fort Washington, MD that combines art and Mad Libs. I had no idea what to put in, but the idea sounded too cool to pass up. As I put my pieces on the floor next to the others that had been dropped off, I felt an internal slump. I was thinking, “These aren’t good enough,” and “I should’ve used this other piece instead.” And then the lightbulb came on.
Doing a show isn’t about pleasing an unknown viewer. It’s about taking something you love and are proud of and showing the world. It’s about shooting for you and saying, “This is what I’ve got, take it or leave it.”
I’m glad I had this realization…I just wish I’d had it a day or two sooner when I still had time to swap around artwork.

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We’re All Screwed

Sometimes it feels like the photography world is one giant shark tank, with everyone out to get each other.  Mostly though, I think people just assume that’s the case, which is almost worse.  Photo subjects assume their photographer wants to make millions without giving them a dime (really guys, very few of us are making millions, and 40% of what we do make is going to taxes and health care).  Photographers assume everyone wants to use their image without paying or crediting them (most people don’t even know that cropping out someone’s watermark is at the very best disrespectful).

There’s no way around it, sometimes you do actually come across someone who wants to screw you over.  But I try to work off the premise that people are generally decent…it’s too depressing to do anything else.

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Note to Self: (lessons learned about photographing newborns)

1)  Baby just spent 9 months at 98.5°.  Baby doesn’t care how cute they look barely covered, they just know this world is cold and they don’t like it!  Another photographer said she always brings a space heater to her newborn shoots, and I should’ve taken the time to pick one up, but as the date approached and I had more and more other things to do, I just didn’t get around to picking one up.  Definitely a mistake, and I’ll certainly be nabbing one before my next at-home newborn photos.

 

2)  Wet-wipes need to be in my bag right next to a spare battery and extra memory cards.  No matter how easy the edits are, taking eye boogers and dried milk out of 50-some photos gets old quick.  And I knew I was going to have to do it while shooting, but I didn’t want to spend too much time futzing about with the baby since all that tends to do is make for a fussy baby.  Now I’ve got a fussy me, thinking how these photos would’ve been done yesterday if I had just wiped away the schmutz.

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Adventures with Pixie

Assisting another photographer is a difficult gig. I’m not talking about the minute adjustments, the impossible task of trying to read the photographer’s mind, or the exhaustion from constantly moving. This may be a bit selfish (and very obvious), but the hardest part for me is not being the one behind the camera. It’s tough to see someone else hit their creative stride while I’m hauling bags and holding the reflector, and seeing the excitement of both client and artist when they look at a great shot makes my shutter finger ache, but at the end of the day I think about how much I learned and the awesome people I worked with, and I know the experience was worthwhile.

Over the weekend I was able to assist the fabulous Pixie of Pixie Vision Productions during several family shoots at the Spoutwood Fairie Festival. Pixie’s work explodes with joy and personality, so it should come as no surprise that the woman herself does the same. I first met Pixie a year ago and since then I have helped her with travel + been around while she was shooting, but this was the first time I was properly assisting her (and hopefully not the last).

One thing that’s always drawn me to Pixie’s work (which I’d been seeing for years before we met) is her ability to pull a person out of their shell and show off who they are, not just what they look like. I can find that when it pushes through during a performance or in candid moments, but Pixie knows how to ask for–if not downright demand–that connection. As she said on Saturday between shoots, “I’m going to get the shot. I’m going to reach in and pull out the emotion, and I can do it with scissors or with kindness.”

The last time I saw Pixie I learned a lot about the business side of things as she graciously answered my thousand-and-one questions during our car ride from MD to PA, and while I still need to do a lot more on that front, she gave me some solid advice and direction to build on. I feel like this adventure’s lesson is about connecting with the client and not being afraid to push them a little (and push myself a lot). I can’t wait work with Pixie again and see what I pick up next!

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The Ever-Surprising Holga (Analog Ambassador)

The Holga has a way of constantly surprising me.  At first I didn’t think I liked her all that much.  I was proven wrong.  Then I didn’t think I liked her with black & white film.  Again, I have been proven wrong.

About 10 days ago I took a trip up to Boston and decided that if b&w in the Holga was ever going to stand a chance with me, it’d be in one of my favorite cities in the world on a gorgeous spring day.  So I loaded her up and wound the film in (and wound, and wound, and wound…I feel like loading/finishing a roll on the Holga takes forever just in winding the film), then set off to Central Square and the Red Line!

This gorgeous boy was hanging out in front of a bakery…

I don’t know what it is about fire trucks in cities, but I always want to photograph them.

Sitting in the T, facing the window behind me, I decided to try for a self-portrait but since I was shooting with 100 ISO in a dark metal box underground, there was nowhere near enough light.  Solution?  Set the Holga to Bulb, try to hold my arms as still as possible, and keep the shutter down for a while (wish I could tell you how many seconds…more than 1 and less than 10 is about the best I’ve got).  The blur is from me rocking back and forth slightly as the T got moving, but I think I like it.  Hooray for experiments!

 

And hooray for Old School Photo Lab!  My New England adventures included a quick jaunt to Maine after Boston, so I decided to swing through New Hampshire on the way back so I could drop off my film in person.  Jake (@jbphoto on Twitter) was kind enough to chat with me about film and show me the lab where all the magic happens.  It was nice to put real faces to digital voices, and makes me even happier to have found Old School Photo Lab for future analog development needs–like the slide film I picked up while there!

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