I am hanging a fine art photography show today at our local gallery, B and B Booksellers Gallery, a great book and gift shop it is too! This will be my third show there. My first was watercolor. It has taken me longer to choose my few pieces than to put them together and frame them. I settled on pieces that moved me. Being an ex agent I know I have no business choosing my own work. I am too close. I know how to edit an individual piece, adjust it to the way I saw it, but choosing from a body of work that amounts to thousands of shots is overwhelming. I shot my fingers to the bone this year. I hope I chose right.
Studio and Location in minutes
I just shot Camron on the meadow and in my studio tonight. I love my location because I have the best of both worlds in seconds. I can do 2 looks 2 locations in one hour. I think we were both pleased with the outcome. I especially like getting people out of their comfort zone , but keeping them comfortable. My comfort zone is the location. I have to struggle to synthetically create the light the creator gives me at dusk naturally. Camron's comfort zone is camo and the meadow. We both did our jobs in a timly manor and ventured out of the comfort zone to gain some fun pictures.
Necessity is the mother of invention and my life and how to make a Cassoulet
It's one of my very favorite sayings because I know it is true for me. When I have a need, I hit the books to create or become something different. My husband and I had a need to have a marriage and raise our children together. We were living what I like to call the American nightmare back in 1993. Living in the Bay Area, me working in San Francisco on Townsend commuting from Sonoma everyday. I never saw him or the children. After the children turned 6 months old they would have to go to Ian's mom's daycare. I took them to work with me until they started crawling and I then began to wean them from day nursing. Even though I felt fortunate to have my mother in law, who loves my children, caring for them, I still felt a deep sense of something being very wrong with the picture and it was. For me, I felt, I needed to raise the children I chose to breed. After some very series soul searching we made our way to Lake Almanor to manage the Bidwell House. I left the modeling agency and we became modern day pioneers. We left our families, jobs, house, friends, town and settled on a job that grossed less than 1/2 of what we were accustomed to taking in. We made the financial sacrifice to have our family again. We are also both romantics (I am not sure I am anymore). We moved into a 100 year old one bedroom barn that used to be a slaughter house, with no insulation at 4500 ft. with snow on the ground 5 months out of the year. It reminded me of the 70’s movie “The Wilderness Family”. It wasn't what we had expected when we chose to make the 250 mile trek north, but we signed up for it and it created many necessities. The barn was the innkeepers’ unit on the Inn’s property and the owners didn’t count on settling for a young family they had their sites on a retirement couple. But we were the most qualified. We needed to create a home out of the barn, fix the Inn and the surrounding property, plant gardens. We signed up for a Martha Stewart lifestyle without the kind of resources she had to make it happen, which created much more necessity. Hence need to reinvent ourselves. We become educated in all aspects Inn. I learned about high mountain gardening, green houses, starts, composting, creating weddings, opening a restaurants, deep cleaning an antique home, decorating, entertaining on a grand scale and a pure work your fingers off work ethic. Running an Inn is an 18 hour day, minimum. Nothing romantic about it, but certainly fulfilling and delicious. I am also a wiz at getting out any stain (don't wash it what ever you do, just hand it to me.). I could write a memoir that would fill a 1700 page novel on our life at the Inn. We eventually fixed that barn to have 3000 sq ft of living area, 5 bedrooms, a dinning room, kitchen, gym, office, living room and a few hidden lofts. We had to settle on one bathroom though, no way to run plumbing really on a building with no foundation. 7 people one toilet. That need created great timing in our very large family. 1993 to 2006 managing the 14 room Inn with it's 2 acres created a pressure cooker of needs and in the pressure cooker of my mind and my husbands that created many solutions to our needs. I can cook. I love food done well, growing up in San Francisco and living in Sonoma gave me that. I worked for Harry Marsden (he will go down in history as one heck of a chef and a really tough employer) at the Au Relais in Sonoma, authentic French cuisine. It was M K Fisher’s favorite place, she came often for his Cassoulet. Here is Gourmet magazine's redition. Cassoulet Bean Mixture: 2 quarts chicken broth 2 quarts water 2 pounds (4 cups) dried white beans, picked over, soaked in water to cover by 2 inches overnight, and drained 1 (1/2-pound) piece salt pork, simmered in water to cover for 15 minutes and drained 1 pound smoked pork sausage, such as kielbasa, in 1-inch pieces 3 onions, halved lengthwise 3 garlic cloves, crushed lightly and left whole 1 teaspoon crumbled dried thyme 1 bouquet garni composed of 4 parsley sprigs, 3 celery tops, the white and pale green part of 1 leek, and 2 bay leaves, tied in a cheesecloth bag 5 slices lean bacon, chopped fine 1 pound boneless pork loin, in 1-inch pieces 1 pound boneless lamb shoulder, in 1-inch pieces 1 cup finely chopped onion 1/2 cup finely chopped celery 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic 1 cup dry white wine 1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, drained, (reserve 1/2 cup juice) and chopped 1 (4-pound) duck, cut into 8 pieces About 3 cups fine dry bread crumbs Make the bean mixture: In a large heavy kettle combine the broth and the water and bring the liquid to a boil. Stir in the beans, the salt pork, and the sausage and bring the liquid to a boil, skimming the froth. Stir in the onions, the garlic, the thyme, the bouquet garni, and pepper to taste and simmer the mixture, uncovered, for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, or until the beans are tender. Discard the salt pork, the onions, and the bouquet garni, strain the mixture through a colander set over a large bowl, and in separate bowls reserve the bean mixture and the broth. The bean mixture and the broth may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled. In a large skillet cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until it is crisp and transfer it with tongs to paper towels to drain. In the fat remaining in the skillet brown the pork and the lamb over moderately high heat, turning the pieces once, for 8 minutes and transfer the meat with a slotted spoon to a large casserole. In the fat remaining in the skillet cook the onion, the celery, and the garlic with salt and pepper to taste over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened. Stir in the wine and boil the mixture until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in the tomatoes with the reserved juice and the bacon and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the casserole and braise it, covered, in a preheated 325 degree oven for 1 hour. Arrange the duck pieces, skin sides down, on a rack in a roasting pan and broil them under a preheated broiler about 4 inches from the heat for 10 minutes. Turn the duck pieces and broil them for 10 minutes more, or until the juices run clear and the meat is cooked through. Transfer the duck with tongs to a cutting board and reserve 1/4 cup of duck fat. In a 6-quart casserole layer 1/3 of the reserved bean mixture, 1/2 the braised meat mixture, 4 pieces of duck, 1/2 remaining bean mixture, the remaining braised meat mixture, the remaining duck pieces, and the remaining bean mixture. Pour 6 cups of the reserved broth, skimmed of any fat, slowly over the mixture, sprinkle the top with 2 cups of the bread crumbs, and drizzle it with 2 tablespoons of the reserved duck fat. Bake the cassoulet, uncovered, in the middle of a 325 degree preheated oven for 30 minutes. Press the crumb layer lightly into the cassoulet, top it with the remaining 1 cup crumbs, and drizzle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons duck fat. Bake the cassoulet for 1 3/4 hours more, until the crust is golden brown. I was 18 and I was sometimes MK Fisher’s lunch time server. She and Harry and the staff at the Au Relais taught me about food and service. Living in Paris and Manhattan didn’t hurt the development of my palette either, but it killed any hope of exciting my already jaded palette when we moved to the Chester/Lake Almanor. I could cook before. I know I can really cook now. Even some Chinese and Thai. I fell in love with art, but couldn't afford the pieces I found exhilarating to my senses, so I committed myself to study art and learn to paint for myself. I chose watercolor because of the way it made me feel when I looked at it. If applied well, it glows. Also ignorance is bliss, watercolor is by far the hardest medium to learn and master, I found out later. I had no idea what I was getting into when I committed myself to learn watercolor. I had an inkling by year 2 that I may have overreached. 10 years later I am still learning. I might have a shot at being a master if I don't give up, continue to study daily and live into my nineties. I still love the way watercolor makes me feel and when one of my pieces makes me feel that way it only reinforces my I need to continue to feel that way, so I don’t give up. I need beautiful things around me. I need nature so I live on the edge of a vast meadow loaded with wildlife and I get to be in it everyday. There is much necessity in my life and the antidote, for me, is always to press forward, learn something new, fulfill my own necessity. I feel very blessed that there is so much, has always been so much I want to do, to learn, to create. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the darkroom. But today I need to finish the weddings I am editing, study a little more in Photoshop, walk Kira (she’s having 8 - 10 Neapolitan mastiffs in the next 8 days), Titus and Argus. I will be doing a senior portrait session this afternoon after I figure out dinner for the 7 of us. I will paint with Nancy Collins (fabulous watercolor artist and my favorite teacher) in 8 days for a workshop Debbie Grosser (another fabulos watercolor artist) is bringing her in for. I must prepare my watercolor palette. I will be uploading a few new pics on the blog and sites today, (here’s the Martha part), my son and I will finish pulling the gardens, harvesting some apples, leeks and carrots. I need to clean my bathroom (we have 2 now, one is all mine) and in-between I hope to practice some strength building with yoga and make some calls. It is just gorgeous on the meadow this morning I can’t wait to get started if only my computers would move faster with the burning of the DVD-Rs of the weddings I am editing.
My workflow style
I am in the heat of editing a few weeks of weddings. After I shoot a wedding, I see peoples faces I've photographed in my dreams. Still images of them in perfect detail. I wish I were only able to remember my grandmother's face so well. I run a typical workflow...All images from my chips are loaded into an Epson 4000 (on site as back up) If I am traveling I take it from there to my laptop...When I get home to my studio computer, burned DNGs,transfered to 800 GIG Box, then edited in Lightroom 1.2, the edited version burned again to DVD-r, one for me one for my clients. In between all those steps are their faces and emotions. My priority in editing the images is easy. After all images are backed up and I have had a quick overview I dive into the body of the work, hunting for raw emotion and beauty. The emotion is not one dimensional...I am looking for all range of emotion joy, fear, intimacy love, lust, confidence, overwhelm insecurity. There is no emotional category I wont shoot, but there is many I won't show. When I edit I am editing for 2 people, me (what I want to add to the body of my work) and my clients. Coming to know them I have an inkling of what they want to see. I look for light behind the eyes a glowing from within. On the exterior my priority is light that accentuates their beauty, makes the skin glow and pulsate, blows out circles and blemishes. Once I crop and adjust the image for white balance and saturation I am usually finished. Because I am looking for the truth in the shot touching it up beyond recognition for me isn't my fancy. I paint in watercolor and if I want an image not to look like the photo I took, I will opt to paint it. I don't paint on my computer but in my studio, on a table, on a giant peice of 300 lb Arches Rough with lots of water and pigment and big sable brushes. I long to move water and paint, but if I choose take that path I have committed 20 hours to an image (at least). If shoot for an hour I edit for an hour, if shoot for 10 I edit for 10. If I were to work some magic is Photoshop CS3 (which I have and use rarely) that time would be tripled. In the middle of that I am also on Neapolitan Mastiff puppy watch. We took in beautiful Kira who is 5 weeks pregnant and expecting her first litter in a few weeks. We find out Tuesday how long and how many. Pictures and puppies lots of beautiful imagery coming on, as well as editing photos.
My husband Ian as second shooter
I discovered my husband cooking pasta at Mary's Pizza shack in Sonoma. I went in for my favorite Marina pasta. Ironically our 16 year old son works for our friends that have one in Redding. There he was. All 6' 1" of him and I knew he would be a perfect model in the San Francisco Market and he was. He become a Mervyns, Macys and Ross's favorite and he modeled in tough markets like New York and Japan. He knew his way around a studio. It was not my intention to date him when I discovered him, infact he was not my type. Dark was my fancy..His was blond..niether one of us are that, but here we are together after 20 years. Ian has been great at everything he does. I work at a restaurant on the peninsula part time and on Wednesdays they do a special sushi night (Gamboni's peninsula grill). Ian was a chef for many years, he is a deputy sheriff now and concrete contractor. I suggested he come and help John roll since we were going to be busy and John was on his own. Ian had never rolled before. I didn’t tell John that part because I knew Ian would have it in minutes and he learned to roll in 10 minutes. You rollers out there know that's not easy. He's been like that with everything. Things come easy for him in his concrete business, raising children, helping with childbirth, (we had 2 home births) and handling animals and all sorts of people with problems, even corners cases, so when I started looking for my second shooter I didn't have to go far. He loves it. The only issue I have is he'll probably get way better than me in no time then I'll end up becoming his personal secretary, setting up a website for him and I'll end up holding the reflector and meter and being lead Sherpa for the equipment. I am so grateful he'll shoot for me on my weddings. I just hope he doesn’t read this blog and is content with being 2nd. His eye is impeccable and he is great with people. I am really lucky to have him as a life partner as well as 2nd shooter!!
Definitions of the wedding planner and thoughts
I am a wedding designer, planner and day of coordinator as well as photographer. It's confusing to people, as Danny Straolzini of TSP dj.com said he had never met a Planner / Photographer before. It's true I do both, but not together. If I plan a wedding I don't shoot it. I shot 4 weddings so far this summer and coordinated 2 weddings and am Co planning one. I will shoot for fun, for any bride, for free, the weddings I am day of coordinator or planner for, but I don't take shots lists. I shoot what I can when I can if I am the coordinator or planner. Any shots that come out of it for me or the bridal party are icing and it's a perk I offer. Shooting is a whole different stress than planning, coordination. Both are LIVE Broadway shows and hard in their own unique ways. I was grateful not to be the shooter on a couple of weddings and really happy not to be the planner coordinator on the others. It's been working out really nice. If there is one mistake I made on this wedding, I find that most people don't know the difference between wedding designer, event planner and coordinator. I probably should be laying that out to the mothers fathers and self appointed cheifs. Even though the bride is in charge and she's the one I work with and answer to, there is usually one who wants to be in charge as well and they usually have an agenda about my job description and what I should be doing. I am so grateful I had this wedding because now I am working on the descriptions as handouts. I understand that no one would really know the differences anyway and why would they for the most part, they are only marring once, so unless they are in the business they wouldn't know what the difference between a designer, coordinator and planner is. A very short discription follows. The designer is the concept person. Imagination and an artistic point of view with a strong grasp in the elements of design is required, as well as how to entertain on a grand scale. The planner chooses vendors, negotiates contracts, sets up the timeline, choreographs the event (so the crowd isn't board to tears and are having fun and refreshments) and makes plans and implements them from tiny details to the big stuff. Day of coordinator makes sure that all those elements come together the two dasy of the wedding. Most brides willing to do most of the work and on a budget will bring in a day of coordinator keeping the design and planning aspects to themselves. I think any bride doing the planning / designing should probably consult and a seasoned designer / planner so they don’t run into vendor and venue nightmares and attain knowledge in entertaining a 100 + people. Seating charts, mailings, programs, favors, delegation, timimg, ecetera....... I was booked for 2 days of wedding coordination at the Country Club in Lake Almanor for a couple that did all of their own design and planning (nicce job too)...My job, jump in and coordinate their vendors, implement their agenda, make sure the set up and details go their way for the day of. The package I created for day of coordination is 2 meetings prior, unlimited phone and email access, on site day of. I usually set up 2 meeting for this, and I had 4 meetings including rehearsal day of and 15 calls and 25 emails. I was on site from 1 30 pm to 11:44 (this is a time I always notice because in Cop talk, my husband is a deputy Sheriff 11 44 means dead body). What I learned from this wedding was, create a description and full definitions of Designer, Planner, Coordinator and pass them out to the folks that have an agenda for how it should go, mothers, fathers, self appointed cheifs etcetera…. Definitions of the wedding planner and thoughts.