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bakersfield

Project waiting in the wings – if I ever get a break between shoots here in Bakersfield, and working on my main website and photoshop skills (ha ha) – Figure out how to synchronize my Facebook – Blogger – My Space blogs so I don’t have to bounce back and forth between them all the time! There is syncing working now with Twitter to both My Space and Facebook, but sometimes I need more text than just a line or two!

It works but sometimes the updates are slow.

Then of course I have all my other sites to maintain as well – Model Mayhem, Flickr, Zenfolio (with my other domain name – http://www.karenengel.com) – which if you haven’t checked out, is a great image hosting site which I still use for my client proofing since it has a super fast and easy “drag and drop” Mac style interface. They have free trial accounts but also several levels of higher services you can subscribe to – 

Save some cash on new paid accounts with this – Zenfolio Referral Code: ESB-HVJ-QZR http://www.zenfolio.com/

Q: Do you like to talk about yourself or your pictures? If yes, about what aspects of photography? If no, why?
A: I don’t have a massive ego so I prefer to talk about my images rather than myself.  Generally, there is a really interesting story behind every image I create – and every person I shoot.  It’s a lot of fun and very entertaining to share these things.
Q: How would you describe your attention span?
A: In my art and work I am extremely focused to the point that I sometimes forget even the basic things in life – like eating!  ha ha  But the creative side of me is a dreamer – and there are no limits to what I can dream up!  Integrating the concepts I dream up into my projects is what keeps things new, fresh and unpredictable.
Q: When did you decide to become a photographer?
A: Probably when I was given an antique bellows film camera as a child…I was fascinated.
Q: What does photography mean to you?
A: Fun, friends, life, memories, communication – it’s so much more.  Really the only one truly universal language.   Bakersfield = home = memories… it’s what we all treasure.
Q: Can you recall the first photo you took that made you go WOW!?
A: A black and white film image that was worthy of a magazine cover – the problem was – I was 10 year old!
Q: Do you have any formal training regarding photography?
A: I formally taught myself, but I do keep up with publications in print and online.
Q: How technical is your photography?
A: I know what I’m doing, but am more enamored with the emotion of an image as opposed to technical perfection… there’s always just more feeling in it.
Q: How do you feel about cropping?
A: Good – for sake of universal things like frames etc.   Bad – because one is forced into cookie cutter sizes and shapes to fit “standard” formats.  One size does not always fit all.
Q: Where is your favorite place to live and work as a photographer in the World and why?
A: California, because it’s a place where I know and love the area and it’s people.  There are endless possibilities her – even in just one day – from skiing in the mountains to surfing in the ocean, all within a couple of hours.
Q: Define the word “beauty”!
A: BE An Unbelievably Terrific You 
Q: What is your most favorite and least favorite word in photography or life? How do they make you feel?
A: Most favorite – Yes!  Least Favorite – Can’t.  There is nothing that “can’t” be done.  Either someone doesn’t want to do it – or they don’t know how.
Q: How does your personality change when you look through the camera?
A: I become more focused, when generally I’m not.
Q: How do you feel about missed shots which cannot be recreated?
A: No worries – life is filled with endless opportunities – create new ones!
Q: What is your favorite image, either your own or someone else’s or both? Describe its creation or meaning to you?
A: I wouldn’t be able to choose a single one other than personal family images in general – the things everyone want to have close.
Q: Describe a day in your personal or professional life.
A: Caffeine and emails first thing, then usually get into post processing, web development, other business things, and shoot in the afternoons on an average day…then catch up on emails at the end of the day as well.
Q: What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
A: Young adults and kids for the fun, families for the friends, models for the high energy and bands for the craziness!
Q: Tell your funniest, scariest, most bizarre story from a photo shoot!
A: Um, I had a model cancel on me once because her boat sank…  Serious!  LOL
Q: What types of assignments are you attracted most?
A: Super artsy high fashion types of shoots with a full staff and lots of money.
Q: Describe what black and white photography means to you?
A: No color.  DOH
Q: Do you think of yourself as an artist and what do you think of the word artist?
A: Yes because my work in photography is mostly creative art – not an assembly line.  I’m also a musician and multi medium art “artist” too.

Q: How do you describe your photographic style in one word?
A: Fluid
Q: What has been the most surprising or most predictable reaction to your photographs?
A: When people that have known me for some time see my images for the first time and are overwhelmed.  What did they think – I live under a rock and only come out to see them?  LOL
Q: Tell a little secret about yourself that no-one knows …
A: I don’t cheat at golf as much as my husband does – and the only time I do, is against him!
Q: Who or what would you love to shoot that you haven’t already?
A: Speaking of golf – I would love to shoot in the 60s one day (71 is my low so far).  In photography – shooting celebrities would be a blast.
Q: What would you have done differently during your photography career so far and could this be an advice to others?
A: Stuck with it at an earlier age instead of moving around from art to music and beyond.
Q: What are your thoughts on the paparazzi and their effects on photographers and photography?
A: It’s their job, but I don’t really care for it at all and never look at that type of thing.  The effect is minimal as it is not artistic work at all, just snap shots in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting paid for it.
Q: How do you feel about digital manipulation and to what extent do you utilize it?
A: It’s part of the modern day darkroom and is used by anyone who is serious.  The question is – how far?  “Manipulation” is a word loaded with bad connotations.  “Enhancements” is a more appropriate term for the traditional sense of using post processing.  True masters of digital work have taken it to an entirely new level, and it has become an art form unto it’s own beyond photography.
Q: What other thoughts would you like to share?
A: What are you reading this for?  Give me a call or email and lets get shooting!  πŸ™‚

I can’t believe I did it – added a MySpace…..what’s next?  Facebook?   Uh oh.  And just a day later I added the Facebook page as well, although their system is very strange to deal with if you are not creating a personal page… in fact, one is forced into creating a personal page even if they don’t want one!  ha ha

I did have a moment of serendipity in the whole experience however, in meeting a brilliant photographer from the UK named Cecilie Harris http://www.cecilieharris.co.uk/about.html –  I ran across her by chance while researching “how to” put a photography Facebook site together.  Do take a look at her work… it’s quite nice and she keeps a very engaging blog as well.  OK Cecilie – how did I do?  Is that enough links for you?  πŸ™‚  If you ever make it out to California, you have a standing invitation to visit if you like.

Now the only thing about all these social networks and photo sites is running all over the web trying to keep all these places current…I should be out shooting instead!  LOL

Speaking of social networking sites, rumors from high sources indicate that Microsoft is going to buy You Tube, MySpace, Twitter and Facebook and combine them all into one new Microsoft branded social networking site called “You-My-Twit-Face“.

You heard it here first.


A brand New Carl Zeiss 24-70 f2.8 had just been added to the lineup…
See sample results in Kristin’s Portrait Gallery – (our first shoot with this lens).

Just thrilled and mortified with the expense of such an item is a strange combination – very Yin Yang, but we were looking forward to it nonetheless.  Lens in hand and ready.


Then out of the blue came Kristin!  She came over after briefly participating and bailing out on a big group shoot over at the local Bakersfield park – just 5 minutes away from us.  How perfect!


We exchanged a few calls and accelerated the timing a bit which was fine by me as it was a day of mostly finishing work for me and I needed to take a rest from it regardless.  She arrived with a full bag of model goodies, wardrobe and accessories – COOL, and very pro, plus, a model that had her makeup on and ready to go – perfectly!  (Advice to the modeling interested – hire a makeup artist or learn how to do it for yourself – and makeup for camera is not what you wear to the grocery store!!!)
  
We got right into it quickly and knocked out some great images in no time flat!  She has an amazing and inspiring back story which I will not go into here, but suffice to say, I was thrilled to do this shoot and create the results for her we did!  Mega Kudos.  A job well done!



Great model – yes I would shoot with her again, no question.

As we learned from the previous blog entry back in July, Abby is a young, up and coming model here in the Bakersfield area.  I thought she did brilliantly in our first session together so I rang her up to return for a second set, and she happily agreed.  Since our last shoot I had made some considerable improvements in the studio itself, the gear and with my techniques as well so I was enthused to try and improve upon the first shoot with these new things in hand.

The results were excellent – She was much more relaxed this time around (though still quiet as a mouse) – she got right into it  and we developed a very good flow during the session- so we managed to get a very high percentage of “keepers”.  It was very clear that she was confident and improving her skills in addition to being more comfortable.   She had also grown her hair out and had a little different look than before with the style of wardrobe she brought – all things that added extra elements of interest to the end results!  One thing that I had not anticipated however, was not one – but two surprises arrived on my doorstep as she did…

She showed up with her entire family!  Dad, Mom, multiple sisters, multiple brothers, a friend of hers and maybe a grandma or something, I can’t recall now as I was completely overwhelmed as it seemed like about 10 people to me at the time!  ha ha  Her friend, Lorena added to the confusion on my part as it was clear she wasn’t a sister (by lack of resemblance), but also because she was dressed in a cheerleading outfit and had these captivating, large amazing eyes!  In the back of my mind upon seeing here I was thinking I would really like to shoot her too, but was not sure how to go about asking as this was Abby’s session time and I am by nature not a pushy person.  Luckily I didn’t have to ask, as they approached me to see if it would be permitted for her to have a few images created as well.  She was very nervous and I had to work hard to keep her from looking that way, but we did get some very nice images in the few we shot!

Abby is however, still so young and new at this – for the first time ever I offered for her to come back another day and view the entire shoot on my Mac in Lightroom so she could see the things that are working for her, and those things which are not and learn from it in order to improve.    The side benefit of this was that she actually helped me rate them and cull through them to a select, final group of images.  It’s not something I would ever normally do, but she is very nice and I really want to help her learn, and find the success she’s looking for!  Happily, the whole family did not come back for this as I would never have room for them all in my office!

At some point in the future, I’m sure we will work together again.  I would not hesitate to ask her back for any fashion/catalog/commercial work that comes along down the road.  She arrives on time, does the job well and sometimes even brings along a few surprises!

TWO FOR ONE

The very first time I worked with Abby, she arrived with her dad Pete at my studio ready to work.  This was particularly impressive as she was only 15 years old, but very dedicated to making a success of herself in modeling – and it showed.  In fact she was currently a student at a fashion/modeling school so much more serious about it than one would expect a 15 year old to be.  

She has an amazing and exotic look and was quite versatile – going from looking her age to well beyond her years with the simple change of a pose or facial expression.  I wondered for a while if she even spoke English as she barely made a peep!  ha ha  But of course she was just very shy and wide eyed.    Like a pro, without instruction, she brought several outfits along and had plenty of moves without needing too much direction, which was good as my skills as a director were not particularly stellar at the time, though have seen massive improvements since.

They had driven down from a very small town 1/2 hour north of Bakersfield called Delano, which is by reputation, primarily a farming community.  Delano is a town so small in fact, it makes Bakersfield look like a booming metropolis – which it most certainly is not!  While this is probably the last place on earth someone would expect a model to appear out of – there she was – a pleasant and unexpected surprise.  The place where she found out about me was also a bit surprising – on Craigslist!   I had a casting call posted there looking for something new instead of the usual repeat model hopefuls a small town like Bakersfield produces regularly…when I got her reply, I had a feeling there was something special in the offing.

I was experimenting mixing studio strobes and hot shoe type flashes together – something I discovered was not always the best idea in the world without a very specific lighting design – but part of the way I work is to change things up on every shoot, to make sure I do something that pushes the limits beyond what I already know how to do, into places I’ve never gone before.  It keeps me fresh and different in every shoot instead of being a photographic chimpanzee – mimicking my own shots/setups and going through the motions to produce the exact same thing over and over again with different faces.  How unimaginative and boring would that be?   Might as well get a job shooting pics a JC Penny.  blah

In the end we had a great session and managed to pull off some excellent images together.

  There was some real magic in some of the images, especially for a first time session with a new model. Without question, we wanted to work together again.  
And we did.  See Part II for MORE!