52 Weeks Of Photo Challenges

A theme based photo blog


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12. Fences and/or Rails

I just returned yesterday from a trip to Indiana to visit family and friends. While I was there I spent some time alone driving around to photograph the fall colors. During my travels I visited Pokagon State Park located in the northeastern part of the state, near Fremont Indiana. One of the winter activities they have is a toboggan run. I regret that I never tried it. I visited the park in the summer but somehow never made the time to go in the winter.
When I was leaving I stopped by the run, climbed over the chain and up to the top! I thought the photos would be perfect for the 52-week photo challenge. Click here if you’d like to see a short youtube video I found about the toboggan run.

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3. Backlit

I love the Muhley Grass that I have planted in my backyard. In the fall and winter the purple haze that the plumes give off is mesmerizing, especially when the sun highlights them. This native grass can get about three feet tall and tolerates salt, cold, drought and cold weather.

In the last few days as the weather has started to change  the color has begun to burst out. I went out two different days so I could catch the sun a little bit different each time. Today was earlier and there was no wind. Yesterday the sun was a little bit higher and there was a pretty good breeze.

I like them both for different reasons so I decided to include them both…

Muhley Grass 1

 

Muhley Grass 2


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45. Statues

While vacationing this summer I photographed a lot of statues with this theme in mind. It was the last one I took in Venice that is going to make the cut and be included here. It’s a statue dedicated to Bartolomeo Colleoni by the Florentine artist Anrea Verrocchio.

Colleoni, appointed lifelong captain-general for his military service to the republic, led Venetian forces successfully in campaigns against neighboring city-states, beginning in the 1430s and ending four decades later.

Colleoni died in 1475, leaving his property to the republic of Venice with the condition that a monument of him be erected in St. Mark’s Square.  Our guide gave us several reasons why the Venetians wouldn’t allow that… The Venetian Senate found a loophole and were able to come to a compromise. The Republic got the money and Bartolomeo could have his wish. They erected the statue in another square,  the Campo Santi Giovanni of Paolo. There technically IS a statue of St. Mark over looking this square. But not the one Colleoni had in mind…

Bartolomeo Colleoni Monument

Scuola Grande di San Marco

 


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40. Simplicity

Last week at our regular LWRDPC (photo club) meeting, a local photographer named Mac Carraway, was our guest speaker. He demonstrated a photoshop technic called ‘Focus Stacking.’  I had trouble reading the chicken scratches I took during the meeting so I did a youtube search to find instructions. Click HERE to see the video I used.

As part of Mac’s demonstration he used photos he had taken of a moonflower vine. I have that same flower growing in my yard. In the past I have taken photos of the flower all opened up. I had never seen the beauty in the half open/ half closed flower until I saw his photos. I decided this morning to give it a shot. I had noticed when I let the dogs out that the flowers were all in various stages of closing for the day.

My photo is a stack of 5 different photos. I followed the instructions from the video then used the quick selection tool to move the flower from the photo to a black background.  I wanted to use a stroke line to frame the flower but white seemed harsh. Instead I chose a color with the color picker in photoshop. It’s a very light green color from the inside of the flower.

It’s not perfect, but I’m happy with it being my first try! I thought it was perfect for the ‘Simplicity’ theme.

moonflower

 

If any of you local bloggers would like some moonflower seeds let me know.  Click HERE to see how to grow them.


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20. Interpretation Of Art

While visiting Venice recently I noticed 2 women setting on the sea wall near Piazza San Marco. They both had their water colors spread on the ground and were staring off at San Giorgio Maggiore.  I walked up behind them with my camera several times to watch their progress. I’ve painted a bit in the past but have never had any luck with watercolors. I never could get the just right balance of water and pigment. All my work ended up being a muddy puddle of brown/gray. I think because of that I really appreciate someone who can master that medium.

I thought it might be fun to use a couple photos I took of that artist and show you what her view was. And then I found a photo that I took while coming into port on the cruise ship of the same building. I tinkered with my photo and did my own “Interpretation Of Art.” I did a little split toning in photoshop to give it a little more depth, a little straightening and cropping and Voilà!

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San Giorgio Maggiore Painter

My InterpretationI think we are all artists. No matter what our tool of choice, we are all creating and experimenting. All to show the world how we interpret art through our eyes. And trust me, the world is a better place because I chose a camera for my tool and not a box of watercolors!


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36. Right Place At The Right Time

As I write this blog post I am vacationing in Venice, Italy.

I am still sorting through photos… I thought this pair of photos would fit my theme this week and maybe give you all a chuckle. I know I laughed a LOT while I was taking the photos.

I took the photos in Saint Mark’s Square. If you have been there you know that people are everywhere feeding the pigeons and trying to get a photo of as many pigeons as possible climbing all over you. And ummm no, I didn’t do it. I wasn’t prepared to take the chance of bring a pigeon present back to the hotel with me down the back of my shirt.

The photos here are of a family trying to get the attention of the pigeons while the father tried to get the photo. The youngest daughter however, wanted NOTHING to do with it! She was climbing him like a tree to get away from the birds and he was doing his best to balance her while getting the shot. The whole affair was quite funny to watch.

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5. Butterflies And/Or Bees

One of the things that I like best about doing the 52-Week Photo Challenge is how it makes me look at everything around me a little bit closer. The themes get lodged in my head and just swim around in there until I find a photo that fits.  As the year progresses it gets a little harder to do something a little bit different than everyone else. And on top of that our numbers have almost doubled this year, which makes it even more challenging. And more fun if you ask me.

I thought of something pretty quickly for the butterfly part of this challenge.  A statue in downtown Sarasota titled “The Butterfly Lady.”  She was sculpted by August Moreau and donated to the theater and arts district by Paul Passerat and Jack Wise in November 2000.  I’ve actually stopped and photographed her in the past. I find her to be full of grace and whimsy.

butterflylady2

butterfly lady-textureI found my perfect “Bee” while sitting at a stop light with my husband! I think he’s getting used to me wanting to take photos of random things while squealing about things fitting this theme or that theme. He patiently crept closer while I fumbled for my phone so I could get a couple photos before the light turned green. What a guy!

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superbee2

 


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27. Musical

When I am out taking photos I usually try and snap a few photos of textures from the area. Later I sometimes add a texture overlay to enhance the photo or even use it as an accent border. Over time I have collected hundreds of texture photos.

Most of the time I use Adobe Photoshop CS6 for my photo editing. I also use Adobe Creative Cloud and I am trying to warm up to Lightroom. Because I love to experiment with textures I was very curious about a new feature in Photoshop CC called Adobe Exchange.  There you can download actions, templates and other items. These items are created by Adobe and by members of the community. Most are free of charge. However, you may find tryout versions listed by individual developers.

Because I love to experiment with textures I downloaded Adobe Texture Paper Pro by Russell Brown. I used a photo of a man playing the guitar on the street in downtown Sarasota. I put a couple bucks in his guitar case and asked his permission to take his photo. He was very cooperative and even instructed the 2 other men playing in his street band to stop singing and just hum. It made me chuckle a little but was very helpful. It’s hard to get a nice photo of someone when their lips are moving! Anyhow, sorry, I digress.  I used the textures by Russell Brown to edit the photo. I dropped a texture behind him and 3 or 4 over the top. I used the erase tool to soften the textures over his face. I also used the dodge and burn tool so that I could try and place the emphasis on his eyes. I wanted his gaze to be the focus of the photo.

music man on main

 

 


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11. Favorite Room

I knew right away what I wanted to do for this theme. Hands down my favorite room is the room I use to take photos. It’s my happy place. I have a large window that I use as a natural light source. I love to experiment with different types of reflectors both made by me and purchased at the fancy camera stores. My favorite is my 4×8 piece of white styrofoam. I bought 4 plastic shelf brackets at Home Depot and attached them to the bottom. It allows me to bounce light when I am working alone in my favorite room. I can easily drape the styrofoam with what ever my imagination can think up to use as a back ground. Sometimes that is something as simple as a piece of black velvet. I love using the styrofoam boards as painted backdrops as well when I am taking portraits. I can easily change a whole corner of my room into a bright cheery color or a lovely neutral gray.

I love to take creative portraits. I have recruited friends to dress up in lace, silk and shine so I can experiment and grow as a photographer. I have made my own tulle skirts to go with  pieces I have found while searching through vintage shops. My shelves hold many treasures that I are available for when ever my imagination runs wild! Sparkly jewels, hats, beautiful wraps, funny glasses, pillows, baskets, stools, chairs, ottomans, a wind machine, a bird in a nest, baby headbands, a tutu, sea shells, mirrors, frames, bean bags, flash lights, wigs, a genie lamp, a tiara, christmas lights, glow sticks and of course a lot of false eyelashes….  because why would anyone want to be photographed not wearing false eyelashes?  Well other than my assistant Lola. She isn’t into makeup but she does know to sit at a 45 degree angle with her chin over her shoulder if she wants to be my practice model.

favorite room

favorite room collection


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26. Masked

Today I took a stroll through the farmers market in downtown Sarasota. That is one place that you are sure to find a photo or two that will fit one of our themes.
It didn’t take me long to notice this very cheerful woman walking down the street with her market purchases. I loved her brightly colored umbrella that she was using to shade herself from the bright sunshine. I imagined that she bought herself fresh flowers every week to brighten her downtown apartment. Next to the vase of flowers I picture a wooden bowl filled with fresh fruits.
I chose to do a layer “mask” on the photo in hopes to show others what a scene looks like to me when I am holding my camera. Sometimes it feels as if I have tunnel vision. My eyes dart from person to person, place to place. My mind imagines what people are thinking, where they are going, what they are feeling.
I saw this video post recently on a friends Facebook page. I think about it a lot when I am out walking around taking photos. You just never really know what’s inside others’ hearts.
masked


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38. Selfie

I’ve needed to do a new head shot for awhile now. But I’ve made a bunch of excuses why NOT to do it.
1. I didn’t want to waste all the time is would take me and not get several uses from it. If I did it before August 1st I wouldn’t have been able to use it as a theme.
2. I’ve been trying to grow my hair out… But as anyone knows, hair can go through a lot of ugly stages before it gets to an “ok, finally” stage. That explains why I have been wearing it in a pony tail for awhile now!
3. I have 1 business card left.
4. I have had to apologize to the last 2 people I handed a business card to because it looks nothing like me on said business card.
So today I finally did it. I set my camera on my tripod, unpackaged my new wireless remote trigger (thank you Liesel Walsh for recommending a good one), curled and puffed my hair and propped a mirror on the wall across from me.
This is as good as it gets…. I’m sitting in my Indiana t-shirt and sweat pants now. And the florida humidity has already flattened my hair. I will probably still get funny looks when I hand someone my business card. Oh well, I tried!Mindy Towns


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Happy Photo Blogging!

Hello all you 52-Week Photo Challenge bloggers! It’s finally here, day 1 of our new challenge year!
For anyone reading about us for the first time let me tell you what we are all about. We are a group of photographers of all skill levels. We use our cell phones, point and shoots or digital cameras to take photos that fit into a list of 52 predetermined themes. You can see them listed in the tab at the top of my blog page titled 2014-2015 Themes.
Once a week we post a photo to our blogs and give a brief description of why we think it fits the theme. You can blog about the themes in ANY order. Our only rule is that you can not use a photo that was taken before today, August 1st.
If you look to the right hand side of this blog post you will see all the other bloggers that are currently participating. That list is growing every day. If you are interested in joining us let me know in the comment section below and I will send you a pdf file that tells you step by step how to set up your photo blog. Before you know it you will be looking at everything around you and trying to match it to a theme. It IS addicting!
We love to see how each other interprets the same theme! We encourage each other by following, liking and commenting on each others photos.
If you would like to read the article that our local newspaper, The East County Observer, did about the 52-Week Challenge click here.

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43. That Reminds Me

Last night I was fortunate enough to be able to watch a beautiful sunset over the water. The reflection of the setting sun reminded me first of an abstract painting I saw once in a gallery. Then as the sky changed so did the water. It reminded me then of a river of molten lava, then of an artists palette of paints. In the end it mostly reminded me how lucky I am to live in a place that I can watch beautiful sunsets over the ocean.

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9. Foggy

Going to the dentist for anything other than a regular cleaning can be a stressful thing for me. So my visit to the dentist this morning to have a wisdom tooth pulled was not something I was looking forward to. I managed to help lower the stress level by thinking of ways to turn the whole thing into a photo post!  Yes, I am not normal… I accept that. I’m using the theme “foggy.” Because of the skills of my wonderful dentist the whole experience is already just a foggy memory.

Afraid?! Yes!

Afraid?! Yes!

Goodbye Wisdom!! Wimpy Version

Goodbye Wisdom!!
Wimpy Version

 


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13. Hearts

While visiting Sedona recently I decided to make a little photo blog game out of looking for hearts.  I managed to find several in just one day!

A coffee shop door

A coffee shop door

A cute little gift shop...

A cute little gift shop…

...that happens to be on the National Register of Historic Places.

…that happens to be on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Mexican Sacred Hearts

Mexican Sacred Hearts

and a little heart wish hanging in a tree!

and a little heart wish hanging in a tree!

All proof that photo blogging may become addicting. It may cause you to take photos of things that make no sense to anyone other than another photo blogger!


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A3 I Saw It On Vacation

My husband surprised me for my last birthday by taking me for a short mini vacation to Clearwater Beach. At first I hesitated to include a photo taken so close to home under a vacation theme. But then I thought about how many people spend time planning a vacation to a place right in my own back yard.

I was in my mid 30’s before I saw the ocean for the first time…. maybe that is why I love being near the water so much. I don’t think I will ever tire of it’s beauty.

Clearwater Beach


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31. Out Of Control

At a 4th of July cookout we tried to work together to paint the numbers of the current year with the light of our sparklers. Our “Out of Control” laughter was probably heard by neighbors several houses away.

2014


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44. That’s Dangerous

I spotted this sign at a rest area near Phoenix, Arizona. Anyone who knows me will tell you the only thing I hate more than a snake is a scorpion. When I lived in Panama I had a couple near misses with them. It still gives me shivers to even think about it! ACK! I read once that a black florescent light would make a scorpion glow in the dark. I was creeped out enough a couple times that I actually bought a battery powered, hand held black light. A few times I lurked around the house with my light checking doors, windows and floors to see if I could spot any of the little devils glowing but never did. The heart attach I would have had if I did would have REALLY been dangerous!

That's Dangerous


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20. I Wish I Could/I’m Sorry I Did

While visiting Sedona, my friends and I sat our alarm clocks for very early each morning. We wanted to be out and about before the sun rose. On the advice of another photographer part of our adventures included a pull over half way up the airport road. The first morning we only climbed half way to the top. But on the second day we climbed all the way to the top to enjoy the sunrise. My friend Julie snapped the first photo of me setting up a shot. I have to include it to set up the second shot. On the decent from the summit I found a little tree growing sideways out of the rocks. So, with a small tilt of the camera we created the perfect shot for my “I Wish I Could/I’m Sorry I Did,” theme….

I Wish I Could

 

I'm Sorry I Did


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33. Over The Hill

Today while driving to pick up my friend Patricia for a lunch date I couldn’t help but notice this little lawn display. In the past I have seen lawns covered in pink flamingos to celebrate a birthday but a lawn covered in cows is a new one for me.

I used to think any birthday after 39 ending in a zero was considered an “Over The Hill” birthday. However my next birthday is one of those ending in a zero. That would explain why I no longer think if those birthdays as Over The Hill! I have a lot of climb left in me before I start down the other side!

over the hill

 

tip the cows come home


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17. Holy Smoke

Driving into Sedona I stopped by one of the visitors centers to pick up a few maps to help me get the lay of the land. Right next to the front door was this handsome fella just screaming to be included as a photo blog post. Immediately I thought of Holy Smoke. I am giving it an original Mindy twist by calling it Holy Smoke(y)!

Holy Smokey


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24. It’s a Mail/Male Thing

I wasn’t sure what I was going to use for this theme but then like manna from heaven the door bell rang this morning and there he stood, the mailman! The delivery that was being made was our twice a year delivery of Panama coffee.

My husband and I are admitted coffee snobs. We spent a few years both vacationing and living in Panama. Friends from Boquete own a small coffee farm there. When we get down to just a few bags a new order is just a Facebook message away. Trece and Paul roast it at that time just the way we like it, very light.  The lighter the roast the better the flavor and the higher the caffein content! If someone tells you they don’t like coffee because it tastes bitter  it’s because they are drinking dark roast, burnt coffee beans. Thanks again Trece… I will be enjoying my giant cup of Joe every morning for another several months! I’ll be in touch when the supply starts to run low… 😉

Mail Thing

 

Panama Joe


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15. High Key

Yes, I am the crazy lady who was sitting on the floor of the Sea Hagg today taking a photo of keys on a string! I wanted to do something other than the obvious for this theme. I’ve been looking for keys hanging from a high place for several weeks now. So, when I noticed these keys hanging today they were not quite as high as I would have liked them to be…. that explains why I was sprawled out all over the place. I wanted my keys to be REALLY high!

High Key

 

Thanks to Diana Broda for sending me a copy of the photo she took of my getting my “High Key” photo! That will teach me to be silly in a store full of other photographers! HA

Mindy IMG_0124


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6. By Candle Light

I have been wanting to experiment with light painting  since I watched my first Ben Willmore workshop on Creative Live. I have been scouring the racks at Lowes, Home Depot, The Dollar Tree, Staples etc for quite awhile. I’ve collected a lot of CANDLE power and finally started to play around with many of his technics. I have little lights that you can have attached to your keychain that are only a few candles bright all the way up to one I am hoping can light a car with a few swipes out doors.  I have a long chain with a jump rope handle on the end that I’ve made small orbs with indoors. I’m still waiting on just the right no mosquito night to try it out doors!

Below is my best indoor experiment to date. When I showed the picture to my husband I told him with a lot of excitement that I sat up this shot and then photographed it in a pitch black room. I told him the only light was a flash light I used to “paint” the photograph. After seeing the look on his face I reminded myself that I really need to stop telling him these things. The only painting he wants to hear about is when I tell him I’ve repainted the bathroom! HA

Light Painting


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Getting ready for next years 52 week photo challenge!

The last photo post for this year will be the end of July! We will begin again the first week of August. The themes felt a bit tougher this year we’ve tried to make next years list a little easier. Some of you may not want to continue for another year and that is ok. This is a big commitment! Personally I love that I get the themes stuck in my head and am always looking at the world trying to frame up a photo!

If you are currently blogging this is time to count up how many themes you have left! This week you should have 44 for the current year. You don’t need to panic if you are behind, there is still plenty of time. How many photos have you taken thinking you just might find one better? Well it’s time to be happy with that one, a better one isn’t coming along! Also, don’t forget we have 6 more themes listed than you actually need to use. If you forgot about that you can already breathe a little easier!

If any of you are following our photos and would like to get involved beginning the first week of August just leave me a message. Those of you who are currently posting along and would like to continue please let Mary Nell or I know so we can keep you in the loop. We usually send out the themes the second week of July. That gives everyone a little time to add a tab with the new themes to your blog page and to think about the new themes before we begin.

Some of you who are currently posting might have other photographer friends who might like to get involved. This is the time to let them know what we do!

Get snapping! 🙂


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18. I Had A Dream

We have all been woken in the night by dreams of loosing someone close to us. For me, usually with tears streaming down my face. I’m always so relieved to realize it was only a dream.

I took this photo Memorial Day Weekend, while visiting a family member’s grave, at the National Cemetery in Sarasota. I’m sure everyone who saw them could relate to how they were feeling as they sat in silence. As aware of them as we were, they were totally unaware of anyone around them. I’ve titled this photo, “Colorless World.” While feeling the loss of their loved one their lives must have felt very colorless. The world around them was full of color, they just couldn’t see it through their grief.

Colorless World


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A1 Black and White

I know, I know I am about to post yet another photo of my dog. This week I learned about the smudge tool in photoshop. I’m showing what a rookie I am in photoshop by admitting that I didn’t know about this tool already. I found a really cool tutorial on Facebook that taught how to do a painterly effect without needing to buy a software package or some fast app. I’d rather learn how and why things work and not just take the short cuts all the time. At times it can be very frustrating but in the end I feel better about it.

If anyone is interested in learning more about this check out Gavin Phillips on Facebook. He does some free brush downloads and has short videos demonstrating his technics. I’ve had a lot of fun learning some new things from him this week!

Lola in black and white


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52. What’s Cooking?

Tonight it was apple crisp! My husband hates apples so since he is away I made the house smell like warm apples and cinnamon! The recipe I followed belongs to my Aunt Lois who is an amazing cook. I love to use recipes given to me by people I love. It gives me an opportunity to remember that person as I am cooking a dish that reminds me of them. My second favorite apple crisp was the one the lunch ladies made when I was in elementary school. Isn’t it amazing how a certain food can bring back a flood of memories? Aunt Rosie’s Taco Salad, Aunt Alice’s left over pork roast stew, Grandma Vinson’s frozen chocolate chip cookies and german chocolate cake, Grandpa Vinson’s chicken and dumplin’s…. Yummy!

Apple Dumplins


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A6 Animals At Play

This is only meant to be a joke! But it fits a theme for my photo challenge so I am going with it! We have two dogs that think they are little people. When I am in the studio setting up for a shoot they like to follow me and try to get me to take their photo. They always go straight for the ottoman… When I tell them to sit down and smile I really think they know what I am saying! For me and my dogs that is just one of the ways we “play.” I thought I’d show you a photo of each of them “At Play” with me in the studio this week!

This is Louie!

This is Louie!

Louie always tilts his head to the side just a little bit. It’s his go to pose. And Lola can be a real glamour girl! I had my box of silk flowers out as part of a shoot I was planning. I was giggling because I told her lay down and she let me lay several of the flowers around her. She wasn’t thrilled about it but she knew that she couldn’t leave until I got a shot! I can’t help it, they make me laugh…Glamour Dog

 

 


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“Hair” It Is

Yesterday I did a photo session with real sweet heart. Lada is one of the kindest most gentle women I have ever met.  I asked her to let me photograph her wearing black on a black back ground so I could emphasize her fair skin, beautiful green eyes and her rockin’ red hair!  She was afraid she would look pale. I was like, “Are you serious?!” Who wouldn’t love to have that complexion!? Oh how I wish I could show more women all the beautiful things about themselves through the lens of my camera… Time to start focusing on all the positive, wonderful things about one another.

"Hair" It Is