Here comes Santa Claus…

Oh for the love of hot chocolate and snowflakes…. OK, whatever. I live in Texas. We have hot chocolate, but rare snowflakes…and even those rare snowflakes usually fall as gorgeous ice things…but I digress.

I’ve been working for the past couple of weeks getting ALL the Santa stuff together for Santa day. He visits my studio on November 3rd this year….and ohhhhh my my…. the fun we are gonna have! THIS YEAR will be a Santa’s workshop theme. The past few years have been more of a “living room” look. Some fancy and some cabin-y…all sorts of looks, but this year? This year? We make TOYS! Well, we’ll LOOK like we’re making toys! LOL! Then after you sit and play and talk with Santa….if you’ve been GOOD, you get a personal invite to his after party…. so while he talks to other kids, you get to get into the coolest Claus after party in Gunter! There will be snacks, hot chocolate, games, crafts and ALL SORTS OF FUN!!!!! I mean….can you hardly STAND IT!?

AND….we’ve got GORGEOUS photo albums this year! YES WE DO! Still have folio boxes, photos, custom framing, ornaments and ALL THAT….but we added two album choices! I added photos of them here…. CHECK THIS OUT….

Look at THIS coolness!

So as we skootch ever closer to November 3rd….I’m going to be getting ALL THE THINGS ready for the best time with Santa, the MOST FUN with Santa, the MOST INCREDIBLE after party AFTER Santa…..ahhhhhhh……

have I mentioned that I love my job?

SANTA!!!!!!!!! (Said as Buddy the Elf!)

One of my favorite days of the year is Santa shoot day. FOR REAL. I get to watch children absolutely LIGHT UP as they walk in and get to talk to Santa! We do SUCH fun shoots! We’ve had snowball fights, looked at the nice list, read books, eaten cookies….you name it!

This year, as I was realizing HOW FAR people drive to come see Santa at the studio. (I’m in a teeeeeeeny town….a teeeeeny town that doesn’t “get me” so people DRIVE to me)…When I say people drive…I had a family drive TWO AND A HALF HOURS to come here to have 15 minutes with Santa. Yes, yes they did. The majority last year drove an hour or longer to see him. Keeping this in mind, we are shaking it up a bit this year.

I like the 15 minute time with Santa. It keeps it all magical and mysterious and I don’t want to forego that. So it’s still a 15 minute shoot….only this year, Santa will present you with a ticket to the after party! THE AFTER PARTY!!!!!!!!!!

Santa won’t be at the party, but when you’re done with him and get your invite, you’ll go straight to the party! There’s gonna be games and prizes and snacks and all sorts of fun stuff to keep the magic going! Weather permitting, it will be an indoor AND an outdoor party! Have I mentioned HOW MUCH FUN this will be!?!?

Other fun part. I only opened up registration today for Santa….who will be here on November 3rd….and within two hours, we were almost 1/4 of the way sold out! I AM SO EXCITED! So….I’m going to share with you some of the photos that we captured last year! Each year is a different look to the photos, and last year was more of a log cabin feel. This year will be completely different!

I AM SO EXCITED! If you are in our area and want to book a Santa session, here’s the link to do that…  Book your Santa Experience Now!

and if you want to see what last year looked like, it’s this!

Some of last year’s photos

Oh, I am just over the moon, Buddy the Elf, wicked giddy stupid crazy excited about this year!!!!!!!!! SQUEEEEAAAAAL!

 

Location, Location, Location

Yeah, yeah. We’ve all heard it. Location, location, location. So when I decided to own my own studio and NOT be an “I can shoot you at ANY PARK YOU WANT” photographer, I was an ego driven If I build it they will come kinda girl. I looked for a cheap place. I looked in the town that I lived in….I could walk to work, I’d be on the square, I’d totally be Meg Ryan in every 1980s movie. Bliss. But “my” town wasn’t really workable. Nobody would call me back, things on the square weren’t up to code, electrically speaking, and their ego was bigger than mine (expensive). So I looked.

I happened upon a little place in a little town of less than 1500 people. It was CHEAP and it was on main street! SCORE! I got my little place. It was city hall AND the police station and was soon to be Flyhippie Photography! That was 3 years ago. I redecorated it, I saged the ever loving hell out of it to rid it of that “city” energy and usher in creative energy! My first month, it got back to me how the mayor said I was “stupid for even trying to have a studio here.” oh. There was another studio already here….I reached out. She didn’t want to be friends. It’s okay….Not everyone wants to be friends.

Three years later…I’m still here. I’m busy and consistently booked. Money could always be better but I’m good! I teach workshops, I do photo shoots, I have hair and makeup people, I’m artsy and creative…happy. My Meg Ryan life. Only, without the walk or bike ride…or friends….I still don’t book shoots from this town. People here don’t attend my workshops.  I’ve made two friends. One owns a restaurant…no….THE restaurant in town. I love her. The other owns a catering company two buildings over. (next door is a church, an El Salvadorian church…) There’s some groovy car restoration guys….there were groovy cabinet guys on the other side of me, but their space burned down so they had to move. The car guys are cool (and actually cute) but really don’t wanna hang with the artsy chick.

It slowly started occurring to me that MAYBE this isn’t my best location? I’m relatively easy going and can make friends anywhere, but this is business. And I’m a little too hippie for this teeny town, me thinks….and so I began the search…

Because female artists are rarer than you think. I realize I have one foot in the portrait and commercial world and one foot in the art world. I’m a bit commercial for some and a bit artsy for some. I need a space in a place that can “get me” and that I can bloom…. So stand by. If you follow this blog? I’m about to blow your mind. If you know my space and town now? I’m about to blow your mind bigger. Change is comin’. Location is key. I don’t have the perfect answer for that one because location is also expensive…but know…I’m on the lookout. I might be closer than you think….and art will happen…new friends…new space…new town…give me time. This artsy chick is ready to burst open after maintaining life here for 3 years. There’s yin and yang….I’m trying to balance it out…so stay with me, friends, it’s about to be a really fun journey!DSC_4545a

PRINT THE DANG PHOTOS

I had a marketing meeting this morning. It’s a local group that gets together a couple of times a month for breakfast. I enjoy the people, I’ve gotten business from it and it’s a fun way to start the day every other week. There’s one girl that I just love. She’s young and vibrant and beautiful and she just makes me laugh. I always sit by her and really enjoy her conversations…. She’s also breaking into modeling a bit. I’ve done her photos and have another shoot planned just so we can PLAY. I follow her on instagram and see that she actually has a lot of shoots…. mostly with her pickup which is just a really cool looking pickup, so beautiful girl with a groovy pickup equals tons of people wanting to take photos. It’s a perfect “storm” that really isn’t stormy as long as she keeps her wits about her. (And she has…coz I have a momma hen complex and I watch…)

Today we were discussing her upcoming shoot and what we plan to do….when she was talking about all the photographers that she knows. This is when it becomes interesting. I know most of the photographers in this area. I’m involved in the local PPA which is professional photographers of america. I know them. We’re all friends and we go to workshops together and we learn together (even if we’re on different levels so one is learning one thing while one is learning another…) We are all in it together. We all know each other and we all respect and generally like each other. So when she’s talking about people I’ve never seen/heard of/met/nothing…I go to “person with a camera” over “photographer” which is a leap, not a full proof assumption but generally, I’m right. She knows a lot of guys with cameras. She’s explaining how they take photos and I’m “weird” because I sell prints. “Nobody else does that.”

Only, every photographer that I know, does that. It’s our work. We want it displayed and also we want it to last. It’s also how we make money. She says “my world of modeling is different than yours of photos. People only do digital. They send them to me, I put them on instagram and tag the photographer. That’s it. Always.”

OKAAAAAYYYY…..I’m not gonna hate on that. Do what you wanna do to fit the shoot. Sometimes, it’s what you do….So from a photographer’s standpoint….you do you. HOWEVER: There’s this adorable, fun, smart, vibrant, and beautiful girl who when she’s in her 40s or 50s and wants to look back or wants to show her child her photos….WILL HAVE NOTHING TO SHOW OR SEE. Nothing. No prints for her grown kids to find after she passes. No photos to show of her adorable youth and free spirit. Nothing to show of the outdated pickup that was her world. Nothing. She’s relying on facebook and instagram and her cell phone to hold her memories. Social medias change. Technology gets lost. Phones die, get dropped in water or go obsolete. She’s young and doesn’t see how “times change” (now I sound 112 years old) but they do and QUICKLY.

So I harp on her to PRINT THE PHOTOS. It doesn’t have to be an alternative process that will last hundreds of years (but if you wanna do that…I have workshops) even an inkjet print from a box store is better than nothing. Heck, go to mpix and upload your photos and have PRINTS. You can look back at them. You can show your kids. You can show your friends one day, but GET THE DANG PRINTS….

It’s my service announcement for the day…print the phone photos. Print the cheap photographer photos. BUY the prints from the more expensive photographer but GET THE DANG PRINTS….THESE ARE YOUR MEMORIES FOR POSTERITY!!!!

GET. THE. DANG. PRINTS!DSC_0349a

WORKSHOPS!

Oh wow, things have been busy! Portraits are going strong. Lots of makeovers and photo shoots and darkroom time, too!

Last spring, I taught two classes for PPA (Professional Photographers of America) and it re-sparked the love of teaching in me. I taught a class on how to shoot on manual. Such a range of people came! From a teen to the wife of a pro and a mom and some others in between….we learned. We learned every camera, we shot outside and shot chickens and sheep and goats and longhorn cattle….then we learned about depth of field and shot wildflowers! We had lunch and came back to the studio and learned to redo all those settings in order to shoot inside! THEN? We went into a dark room and shot long exposures of industrial glow sticks! yes, yes we did. We started off in a camera obscura and went outside, inside and dark after that! hahahaha

I also taught a class on art…taking a photograph, making a digital negative and creating with the gum bichromate process. It’s a 19th century printing process that uses water color and light sensitive chemicals (and gum arabic, hence the name) to create one of a kind art blending photography and painting. I had students that were SO inspiring with what they came up with! It was a day of absolute out of the box fun!

So what now???? Well, coming up in August, I have a gum class again and I have a shooting on manual class again! I’m going to redo those classes for those that couldn’t make it the first time. I will add some in Sept, also. In October, I will be teaching at the studio for PPA again and will teach two other art classes. Kallitype and Ziatype. One is an iron process and one is a silver/palladium process. These are incredible processes and another way to blend one of a kind art with your photography.

This blend of art and portrait is right where I love to be. I love shooting portraits of people and watching them come alive in front of a camera….and I love watching people come alive in the darkroom as they explore their artsy side. THIS is the mix that speaks to me. I am living my best life right now for sure!

If you’d like to join us at the studio for a class….I am providing links to the website. All the details are here…and if you have questions, by all means, let me know!

For the gum bichromate workshop:  http://flyhippiephotography.com/marketing/gum-bichromate

And for the shooting on manual workshop:  http://flyhippiephotography.com/marketing/shoot-on-manual

I will keep updating as more workshops are added!

Enjoy a few snaps from the workshops! Explanations starting from top left and going clockwise:

me and a gum print…then two mouthy gum prints…a shoot on manual student, then three gum prints…then a phone pic of the camera obscura (this upside down view is from across the street and projected on a wall. We stand INSIDE the camera and learn about the camera AND why the image is upside down and backwards!) Then, a grape gum print. Above that are students creating their gum prints, then students learning to shoot on manual, another student learning to shoot and then back to ME!

COME JOIN US!

 

Ohhh…the education…

“Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know…” ~ Daniel J. Boorstin

 

Well, isn’t THAT a fact!? I’ve often laughed that when I first really began focusing on photography was when my youngest son began to play sports. It freaked me out. I didn’t want that precious baby to get hurt in any way, but there I was, watching balls get hurled at him or kids trying to tackle him. I was a mess. To “rewire” my brain, I started shooting all of his games. In support, my husband bought me an amazing lens to shoot with. In complete ignorant bliss, I walked straight down to the sidelines and stood on the field to shoot. I sat and shot baseball up against and through the fence. Basketball was tougher for me, night games were impossible, but that was okay…because I was getting AMAZING photographs that EVERY parent loved. I started getting hired. My ego was in full bloom. I’d found what I was absolutely naturally GIFTED at doing…  I. Was. Amazing.

Fast forward a couple of years and I decide that since I’m “so naturally good” at this thing, I should go get a degree in commercial photography. It’d be easy because I knew my stuff and I’d have “my own thing” to really flourish at. (Do you see my downfall coming? I didn’t.) So I enrolled. My first professor was a man named Byrd Williams IV. The first day, I confidently stride in, take my seat on the first row and grin. He looks around the room and starts asking us what we like to shoot. It was a photo 1 class, so all “beginners” to this craft. Everyone took turns answering. He got to me. I proudly said “sports!” and grinned. He looked at me like I was crazy, announced, “that’s not photography”…and moved on. I stopped him to argue. HE DIDN’T EVEN UNDERSTAND! Later in the class, he explained that we’d be shooting on manual (ON WHAT!?!?) and we were not to photograph: kids, sports, sunrises, sunsets, pets, barns, windmills, etc.

HOLD UP. Everything in my life was ripped away…and I had to shoot HOW!? (On manual). Yeah, I’d never ventured that far…hence, why I could never shoot at night or a basketball game. I came home almost in tears. I didn’t like that man that didn’t get my flavor of genius and I knew I was going to fail. (I mean, REALLY….he didn’t GET ME!)

It’s been a decade (a bit more) since that happened. That man is still a friend and mentor, and I’ve laughed to him about my first impression. I’ve also laughed to myself, about HOW LUCKY I was to have him as my first teacher. (I took many classes from him…and have since even gone to hear him speak. I’ve never left not learning something from any conversation with him.) Actually, he has a book out now… did I mention the greatness that I fell into way back then????  Click here to see Byrd’s book

Even now, after taking every photography class that I could in college, I still love to learn. I’m often at workshops, weekend workshops, lectures, meetings, hands on classes, the works. My mentors span from the incredibly artsy, to documentary, street photographers, portrait photographers…you name it. Heck, in a week, I’ll be learning to shoot the core of the Milky Way with an amazing friend and mentor. I want to learn it all.

I now see why I was told that my “love” of sports photography WASN’T photography. It is. Those memories are incredibly valid. It’s more timing than lighting, so I get it. I still shoot sports. If I have a free time where I can do it, I’m on it. I love it. What I’ve also learned is that I will never know it ALL…but boy, being a sponge is much more fulfilling than simply thinking “you just know”…

I’m writing this one for all of us…who thought we knew. Learned we didn’t know. Fought like a champ to fix that. Keep learning. Never quit. Keep your mind open to all of it. Absorb it like it’s the holy grail of knowledge… and keep upping that bar for yourself.

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Take a minute…And just LOOK UP…

Boy, has it been crazy lately. I listen to people, I read what they write, I try to balance it all with what I think. It’s overwhelming.

I’m in the Dallas area. This means that hurricane Harvey didn’t do anything to me, but really affected people I know and don’t know that live just 4 hours from me. I did what I could to help, as most people did. My heart broke as I saw the photos, heard fellow photographers worry and watched friends endure Mother Nature.

Then, she struck again. Devastating islands, hitting Florida…same thing. I have Puerto Rican friends (I’m married to one) and they are still reeling from the devastation, as are many, many others.

I have a relative that plays for the NFL. Boy did they make the news this week. I don’t know his stance on ANY OF THAT, but just know it’s such a pivotal time in history, and he’s in it. I’m near Dallas and we braced ourselves for what the Cowboys would do. I have people I love on both sides of the belief system and many in the middle…so it’s been interesting to hear and read their thoughts.

So, here I am. A little artsy hippie chick in a very religious and conservative area. So I listen. I learn. I absorb it all. I’m a photographer. I’ve wondered how this career could contribute to helping any of the things people are feeling and going through. I’m not a big one for making waves, usually. Sometimes I make small ones, sometimes I don’t say anything. Probably par for most of us.

So during all of this…I was scheduled to do a photo shoot. Two adorable kiddos. We shot at a pumpkin farm not far from my studio. The kids were wired and tired after a day of school and now being on a farm where they had room to run and play… and we wrangled kids, we did all we could do to get those gorgeous fall photos and have these little people actually enjoy it. AND, get it done before the sun was gone.

And then we looked up.

DSC_4729aWM

And that, my friends, is the key. When we were absorbed in child and puppy wrangling, we fought time. We raced the sun. We bribed, we begged, we were focused on those little things that seemed to be everything.

We looked up. We stopped hyper-focusing. Why? Because the sun we were racing was giving us the most gorgeous gift. None of us had seen it because we were focused on minutia.

We told the kids, “LOOK!” and they were also in awe. Not of the pumpkins or the room to play or the miles of freedom around them, but the colors…the beauty. We embraced the sun going down, which was our nemesis not two minutes before. We used the gift of the sunset. The kids settled. The most amazing photographs happened with the offering of the sunset behind them. We all relaxed into the “change” that was what we were battling.

So….I think this was my sign and my metaphor. Look up. Look to the change we WANT to see. Embrace, love, help, relax and appreciate…. be grateful, open and understanding. Sometimes, when it seems dark, you can look up and see that there’s a gift in there…

but you can’t see it unless you look up.