youLOVE: MILF in the running...

While I have had the pleasure of photographing three equally gorgeous ladies who had entered the K97 MILF contest, unfortunately only Sarah made it through. Aside of some crazy 80's modeling she did for the 1st year DLS project back in 2008, we hadn't done pictures of just her in a few years and thought we'd better get some post (3rd) baby shots to prove she's still smokin' hot. She picked her favourites to send in to the station, but the fun part about being the photog is that I get to pick *my* favourites to share on the blog!

And in case anyone thinks I went all Photoshop crazy makin' this look pretty, we all know how I feel about that. These pictures were shot in Sarah's basement on a paper backdrop using my on-camera flash and my oh-so-sexy vintage 1967 Berkey strobe. She had carpet. 99% of my photoshop time was dedicated to removing the holes she poked in the paper backdrop with her heels... (And really, who else but a true-blooded Canuck would have milky white skin like this in January? ~smirk~)
While there are definitely some beautiful ladies in the running, if y'all want to do some good go vote for Sarah. If she makes it to the Top 8, I will donate $50, and if she wins 1st place, I will donate $500 to my friend Sharon's 2010 Hair Massacure in honour of our friend T and her brave, handsome little man A who has been fighting Stage 4 High Risk Neuroblastoma since September 2009. (You can make your own donation here.)




So... y'all should do me a favour and head on over to K97's site and vote Sarah a 10!






(Come on - not everyone can rock the side pony...)

iLOVE: housekeeping

A few people have asked for an update on the Great Cleanse. A couple of people have actually asked to join in the fun, so while you only have a week to catch up your January, I'll kind of do a summary each week of a) what was completed the week before and b) what's on the horizon for the next week.

The last 3 weeks have been very freeing. Not only have I successfully cleaned out and organized my pantry, soup cupboard, fridge, and spice rack, but I've managed to unearth several missing items that were lost in the clutter. The top of our fridge is bare, we have a new shoe tree/coat rack thingy that doesn't block have the kitchen window AND looks pretty, and have decided it's time to officially kill the microwave that since we're not using to heat water for warming up bottles is really just a popcorn maker. Microwave popcorn is bad for you, and I don't even really like microwave popcorn, so adios, microondas! The hot air popper has been unearthed and life goes on.

We've amassed all the papers and odds and ends into one box, which will be sorted out when we get to the Office Cleaning Month. (March, I think.) Before January is out, we have only one cupboard to clean out (under the sink) which is a whole nightmare by itself - a toxic mess of garbage bags, dishsoap, tools, cleaners, plumbing parts, and other miscellany... But I can do it, yes I can...

In total, we've removed about 6 garbage bags full of garbage (handle-less mugs, old tea towels, ancient spices, expired condiments...) and taken a carload of donations in (the old dishrack I bought when I was married to my first husband, the mugs with handles that we never use, the extra 58 bazillion water bottles and travel mugs we never use, the duplicate and/or unused cookie cutters, can openers, garlic presses...) In total we spent about $250 on organizers - canisters and tubs for the pantry, the new shoe/coat stand, a dishrack, and the bamboo utensil tray and spice rack.

We've known since we moved in the kitchen needed renovating. part of what we did was do an Ikea kitchen plan, just to get a more concrete idea of where we wanted to go when we actually started doing the work. We discovered that while we would love to do a major overhaul, the most pragmatic thing to do was to actually just replace what we have with more space-efficient cupboards, and add a dishwasher. In the spirit of moving ahead, we decided to go and look at some cabinets, in person. And while we were out and about we managed to find some bamboo flooring for cheap cheap cheap - enough to do both the kitchen AND the main living room at the cabin, for under $500 including taxes. SCORE!

Moving forward is kind of scary, I admit. It's not just letting go of the past, but making plans for a future that is completely the opposite of predictable and comfortable, which is what the mess and stagnancy provided. The kitchen feels clean and fresh; I have great trepidation. And excitement, too. February is bedroom month, and I'm already looking for the perfect closet shoe-organizer... and Lord knows, if there's something I need help with it's my shoe problem...

To sum up (if you want to catch up) here's a The Method: eliminate, categorize, organize. (seriously, this is the most amazing phrase I've ever heard lol)

Apply The Method to:

  • spice rack/cupboard, pantry, fridge, dishes - eliminate duplicates, expired goods, and stuff you can no longer identify. Also ditch the busted, broken, chipped, stained things unless you really can't afford to replace them, in which case, make sure they are washed and put away neatly (you don't have to alphabetize, but you can put your baking good in one place, and your canned goods belong with your other cans instead of mixed in with the instant porridge, see...)
  • remove everything from under your sink and replace it with only dish-things, and your garbage/recycling (this one is going to be tough for us... ~sigh~)
  • Store the toxic things (silver polish, Drain-o, etc.) in a safer place - in a locked room or on a high shelf in the basement - and put all your bathroom, kitchen, floor, furniture, silver cleaners in the same place, preferably in a storage closet or similar space.
  • clean off the door of your fridge except for important numbers; get a corkboard or something to hang your kids' artwork on in your family room or something.
  • clean out the junk drawers, baskets, piles on top of the fridge or countertop, and create new spaces for them - put your papers to be filed in a single box, get a jar for your pencils (make it a pretty one - you want it to look nice!), put tools in the garage, etc.
By the end of this week my kitchen will be done save for the major renos. Even after the first week I found it easier to keep it clean and organized. If it worked this well for the kitchen, which gets used more than almost every other room in the house, I can hardly wait to see what happens by March or July let alone December...

Week 3 DLS Exercise: Sensitivity (ISO)

Hello, everyone! Now that we've covered the F and A in the FAST formula, we're going to try our hand at playing with our ISO [S]ensitivity. This one is super simple, and you get to play with your 2-second delay timer, to boot! You do not need nice daylight for this exercise - you can set up next to any light source you like.

Set your camera on a counter surface, and make a mark so you know where to set your camera down for each shot. Next, pick a single object to photograph - might be an apple, a doll's face, a set of keys - whatever you like. Get fancy or keep it simple - the choice is yours - and focus your image so you know you are not inside your minimum focussing distance. Once you have your camera focused and your spot marked, you will need to pick it up and set it on the 2-second timer. (If your camera only has a 10-second timer, it's just going to take you a bit longer to do this exercise...) Next, set your aperture to 4.0 and your ISO to 3200.

From doing Week 2, this is a good opportunity for you to take an educated guess at what your shutter speed will need to be. When you have your shutter speed guesstimated, fire a test shot and see what your exposure looks like. If you think you got it, great - you can move on to doing a shot at ISO 1600, 800, 400, and then 200. If not, try again until you get an exposure you think you like. You will have to adjust your shutter speed each time to get an exposure you are happy with - listen to and take note of your shutter speed (good practice for next week.) Do you understand why I suggested using the 2-second timer?

Once you have completed a set of 5 images (one at each ISO) that you think have the same/similar exposure, using either your camera or your computer scroll in and examine the difference in the texture and/or clarity of the image. What do you see? Do you like or dislike the effect? If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you may consider converting some to B&W - does that change how you feel about the texture? And if you're feeling curious you may consider making actual 4x6 prints at WalMart or someplace else inexpensive just to see what the printed images look like - it's $1 that's well worth spending. (Feel free to bring your in to class to share on February 7th!) Be sure and post your pics to your blog and send me the link so I can see them!!!

Chicks Who Click (and a few brave boys) PROP SWAP March 7, 2010

Yup, you read it right - PROP SWAP! Thanks to Tammy of Smiley Eyes for her fabulous suggestion!

Are you bored of your props? Looking to mix it up a bit without breaking the bank? Not sure what to use next? What better time than spring to clean out those cupboards and closets and freshen up your picture-takin' goodies? Join us from 4 to 6 pm on March 7, 2010 for a Chicks Who Click and Brave Boys gathering dedicated to refreshing and revitalizing your photography props. How does it work?

Bring the props you're willing to swap, and barter yourself up a deal. Simple as that. Trade a basket for a basket, a blanket for a blanket, a costume for a costume. If you don't have something similar to trade, perhaps you want to trade a bouquet of flowers and a set of plush elf hats for that miniature wicker chair. You are also welcome to bring backdrops, lighting, storage, travel, etc. equipment.

This is not a licensed trade show or sale so vendors are not invited but MAY be permitted to attend and network not sell, only on approval from the organizers. If you are just starting out and/or really have nothing to trade you are welcome to come and bring some alcohol, chocolate, or priceless family heirlooms to barter with, or you may arrange to pick up your goods privately.

There is a $5 entrance fee to help cover the cost of the venue, which can be paid in advance via email transfer, or $10 at the door on the day of. You should also provide a rough description of all items you plan to bring so that we can figure out what kinds of areas we need to set up.

If you'd like to sign up for the first annual Chicks Who Click (and a few brave boys) Spring Cleaning Prop Swap, send an email to h dot walls at shaw dot ca!

spreadLOVE: fundraisers for Haiti earthquake relief

I have some pretty amazing friends who are doing what they can to raise funds for relief after the 7.2 Richter earthquake and subsequent 6.0 aftershock that has destroyed the lives and infrastructure of hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children in Haiti. Some of you may have already contributed in your own way, but I thought I'd tip you off to some great food and entertainment with a good cause at heart.

First, there's my friend whose name you wouldn't recognize, but whose cookies you have probably enjoyed at gathering and events hosted by Yours Truly. If you have a birthday party, anniversary, or special event, or want to give something special and edible for Valentine's Day, please consider ordering from Sherry of Sweet Temptations Gourmet Cookies, who is donating 100% of the profits from all orders placed between now and February 13th to Haiti relief. Those of you coming to the Chicks Who Click gathering on February 7th will get to sample some of her delicious and totally addictive treats!

Next we have my beautiful and talented friend Erica Viegas, who we already know donates $1 from each CD she sells (if you haven't bought one, you should...) to a beloved charity One! International. But before officially launching her CD at the release party scheduled at the Blue Chair on March 5th (I'm going - y'all should come, too!) she is performing in support of Haiti earthquake relief at the 109 street Original Joe's at 7pm on January 30th, 2010. You can check out her performance from this morning on CityTV's Breakfast TV. Amazing is an understatement!

Not convinced you can participate in either of these opportunities and feel as though you've got more to give? How about making a cash donation to the Red Cross's Haitian relief effort here or contributing to World Vision here. There is no right or wrong amount to give - just give what you can, even if it's only ten dollars. Not convinced that's a good enough number? Imagine if every one of your friends on Facebook donated only ten dollars and you'll quickly see that no contribution is too small or insignificant.

Beautiful blessings to you all.

muchLOVE,

~H.

Chicks Who Click (and a few brave boys) gathering February 7, 2010

Got some time February 7, 2010 from about 4 to 6 pm? Feel like hangin' with some other togs? Email h dot walls at shaw dot ca for details!

Can of Worms: quantity v. quality - a challenge

So, while we're talking about price fixing and other such nonsense, I thought it might be interesting to put forth an inquiry into how many of us are doing quantity v. quality shots.

I'm old-school, going on just over 3 years as a digital photographer, and I'm still stingy because developing film was damn expensive and I'm horrible at deleting images even if I think I won't use them lol. So I used to shoot once, carefully and cautiously, but nowadays I often shoot twice, and I might even review to make SURE if it's an important shot since I'm digital, but usually 3 is the max I grab. I'm patient. I like to wait for the shot instead of shooting non-stop and consecutively. Again, this is deeply ingrained - I shot film for so many years that the idea of doing what some call 'blast & hope' is beyond my comprehension, but I am sure is the saving grace of many a photographer just starting out.

That being said, there's that theory that if you put enough monkeys in a room with typewriters, one of them will eventually write Shakespeare. It has its basis in mathematical probability, and it quite smoothly translates to photographers. From talking to a lot of people, I've learned that the average number of images shot at a full-day wedding is between 2500 and 3000-ish. While I know some go as high as 5000, other are as low as 1000, which still seems soooooo excessive to me as we would shoot maybe 250 or 275 images (10 or 12 rolls of film) and anyone using 20 rolls of film was classified as the proverbial monkey in the days of film - and that was with two cameras - one loaded with B&W and the other with colour!

I think (for me personally) a lot of it is just getting lazy, but in talking to several other togs I've learned that there is a lot of 'blast and hope', not just from the newbies who are praying they don't screw up their first wedding, but from those who have always shot digital and have become accustomed to having that cushion for... lapses in technical proficiency? Boredom? Laziness? All of the above?

So, the question is, do you consider yourself the monkey, or Shakespeare? If you're the monkey, do you feel justified in charging people for your luck within the parameters of the law of averages? How often do you rely on the fact that if you take 500 pictures in an hour you'r sure to get at least 20 you can deliver to the client? And where do newbies fit, if we're all delivering say 500 images from a wedding, but even the old hats are relying on the same philosophy that if you take enough pictures you're going to get something worth using? Do you think you could shoot an entire 14-hour day with just 250 exposures, 200 of which you must deliver to the bride?

If you want a challenge, ask a friend to be your model and see if you can get 20 decent images out of a portrait session in 27 exposures or less, WITHOUT reviewing or deleting a single image...

Week 2 DLS Exercise: Depth of Field

I hope everyone had fun with their manual focus exercise from last week! Those of you who shared with me did an AWESOME job!!! The rest of you are slackers. A plague upon you. (Kidding.)

This week we're going to essentially do the exact same exercise, only we're going to explore Depth of Field or "DOF" as it's commonly referred to. This is the "A" in FAST, being of course your "aperture" which in addition to adjusting the amount of light that comes into the camera the same as your pupil, will affect how DEEP your focus is. So, here's how this works.

Your challenge this week is to create images that demonstrate a variation on your Depth of Field. Once again I'm going to ask you to set your camera to M(anual) F(ocus), in M(anual) mode. Select 5 similar or same objects and set them in a row along a flat surface. Make sure you pick someplace that has good natural light. You may want to use the same objects as last week so you can compare and contrast, or you may want to explore your options and create a new scene. Again, as long as you've got good daylight, be as creative as you like.

Once you have your still life setup, set your ISO to 400, your aperture to 3.5, and adjust your shutter speed accordingly to get an exposure you like. Get as close to your still life as you can and position yourself so that you can see all the objects, either slightly above or to one side, and focus on the third (centre) object only. Take your first image, then adjust your aperture to f5.6 and take a second shot. It is going to be underexposed, so you will have no choice but to adjust either your ISO or your shutter speed in order to get a proper exposure. If you were on film I'd feel bad about letting you all figure it out on your own if you've forgotten, but since I know you're all digital... figure it out! ~smirk~

Keeping your focus on the middle object repeat this process at f8.0, f11.0, and f16.0. What do you notice about your ISO? What do you notice about your shutter speed? Is the relationship between aperture, ISO sensitivity, and shutter speed starting to make sense as it applies to the Law of Reciprocity? What do you notice about the foreground and the background of your images?

Upload the images to your blog and either post the link in the comments here or send it to me via email to h dot walls at shaw dot ca. If you are having problems, PLEASE do not hesitate to send me your questions. I am happy to walk you through the process so you aren't lost when we get to the next workshop!!!

Happy shooting,

~H.

bellyLOVE: beautiful light, beautiful love, beautiful friends

There's not really any need to say more about my amazing Jamaica couple and their lovely Jamaica-made baby bump. I'm totally smitten - with them, with the lighting in their house, and with their baby-to-be. I can hardly wait, guys! Loads and loads of love to you both,

~H.





meLOVE: letting go

This is in response to this post by my beloved soul sister which includes Johnny Cash's cover of the NIN song "Hurt." Frankly, I'd been wanting to write this post but was having trouble working up to it. Thanks for the kick in the pants, Christine.

The song reminds me of my Daddy. Johnny Cash and my Dad had a lot in common. Musicians, recovered addicts, married to their singing partners until their dying day. This NIN song is something my Dad never would have heard if it hadn't have been covered by Cash. In my Daddy's repertoire of music, I had my favourites. While there are some songs I just associate with him (On the Wings of a Dove and Will the Circle Be Unbroken) and I wish he had recorded or at least written down the words and chords for the song he wrote about me and my sisters that I only remember says he's not a hero, he's just a daddy of 3, and that we're asking for dollars not dimes. There are others that are indelibly "him." One of these is "I'll Fly Away" which I usually can't listen to without being reduced to a blubbering idiot. And, he did a fabulous cover of Tennessee Flat Top Box, which when I'm missing Daddy is always a surefire way to make me smile and snap me out of my funk.

For Christmas my stepmom brought me my Dad's bible. Now, I'm spiritual, not religious, but I know how much the bible meant to my Dad, and it was a grand gesture. BUT. As much as it meant something to my Daddy, it means nothing to me, because I didn't share his love for the church. The ONLY thing of his that I want, I don't have, and I realized that I have been spending the last 3 and a half years blaming my return to work for the clutter, disorganization, and stagnancy in my home and my life. I realized that I have been holding onto virtually everything, from the 5 boxes of old-man clothes and the solidified model airplane glue and cracked rubber tires to socks with holes.

This may sound problematic enough, but then you realize that I have a family of 6, so everyone assumes we are in want or need of something, often their cast-offs, which may or may not be a) of use or b) serviceable or c) intact. "I thought maybe you could fix up this broken lamp..." Oh my, yes, thank you for thinking of that - I'll try and find some time to get after it any day now.... "You sew, so I thought I'd bring over all these pants that need repairs so your kids can have clothes; the ones with stains are good play clothes, too..." Of course, yes - we trip over the piles of clothes the kids use, and find articles of clothing they've outgrown but never worn in the backs of their drawers, but how could we refuse and not seem ungrateful? "Here's my old collection of romance novels with Fabio on the cover..." Oh, well - I've never read a romance novel in my life and always thought Fabio kind of looked like his mother procreated with a horse, but I'm sure by the end of these first two boxes I'll learn to love them. WTF, right?

Now. The average person would just go ahead and say, "No, thank you..." Or, at the very least, "Thank you..." and then quickly take the stuff to the Goodwill or the dump. But not me, nope. I can't get rid of anything. I'm terrified to let it go, because WHAT IF. There are two WHAT IFs. The first is, WHAT IF I get rid of something and then the person who gave it to me finds out I've gotten rid of it and they are angry or hurt I didn't keep it, or even worse, they want it back and I no longer have it? (Yes, this has happened to me - my fear isn't unfounded. I've been called everything from irresponsible to an ingrate for not accepting and keeping everything given to me.) While I've always had an overly healthy sense of sentimentality, it was pretty well under control until right around the time I went to work. Which I forgot was a month after my Daddy died. Coincidence? I think not.

The second WHAT IF is a direct result of WHAT IF I get rid of something that was given to me by someone I love, and then they die. WHAT IF I got rid of something and they were disappointed or angry or hurt by me before they died? WHAT IF I give away something and don't realize how important it is until after and it's too late?

Enter the little orange and pink plaid dress. It wasn't Serejane's birthday. It wasn't Easter or Christmas. It was just a regular day and my Dad stopped by with a little sundress with matching bloomers and hat. It was a little big on Serejane, but oh, so adorable! He had said to me when he stopped by to drop it off, "We were shopping for groceries when I saw this, and knew my granddaughter needed it." The next summer, when she was 2, it was too small, and while cleaning out the closets I put the dress and hat in a give-away bag, but forgot the bloomers. About a week later, my Dad died, and when I found out that the woman I'd given the bag to couldn't track down the dress I was devastated. I have the bloomers. They're in the odd-sock pile now. They have been getting rotated through the laundry for 3 and a half years now, because I don't know how to deal with them.

My great epiphany - the sight I have gained since Christmas - is that I CAN let go. Not only CAN I let go, but I NEED to. Serejane has her Grandpa Bear. The boys have other things of his as keepsakes. My sister has my Dad's goofy hat. And while I don't have my Daddy's guitar yet, I do have his bible to tide me over, and until then I can let everything else go. I have to. Call it closure, call it purging, call it whatever you like, but I need my chi to flow.

I'm starting small. I'm not ready to go through the boxes of my Daddy's things yet, but I will be. I just need a few (read: many) warm-up rounds. Next week I'm tackling the cupboards and the fridge. This week, I think I handled the spice cupboard and the pantry rather well. I was pretty OK throwing out the can of mustard powder from 1979, and found the can of allspice from 1984 amusing. I was fascinated by the fact that I had kept a can of Watkin's powdered custard that was given to me when Wil was born. If y'all know me even a little bit, you know porridge, custard, bananas, overcooked vegetables, and other like-textured things DO NOT get eaten by yours truly. ~insert gagging noises here~ Why did I still have it? Who knows... It's gone now, along with the mustard powder, the spices I took from my Mom's house when I moved out back in '89, and an assortment of expired things that were all squirreled to the recesses of the cupboard as if putting them in shadow would somehow make them take care of themselves.

Someone once told me that we need to view our lives as a glass of water. It's not about it being half empty or half full - your life is always filling up with people, experiences, knowledge, things, and since you can't pause, stop, or control the flow, you must empty from time to time. So long as we allow our cup to runneth over, we are not even aware of what flows in or what flows out. When we make a conscious commitment to knowing what is in and what needs to go out, we cannot drown.

I don't know when I will get to my Daddy's stuff. There are many places I've made recesses and shadows in which to hide the things I cannot deal with in our home and in my heart and mind. The backs of the storage cupboards, the spare room downstairs, and even the garage have become so stuffed with WHAT IF? that I cannot physically (and mentally and emotionally) handle it anymore. Maybe in February, maybe not until the fall - who knows? But even if progress is small, at least it's still progress.

me(gusta)LOVE: a Spanish lesson to share

Hoy, este cancione fue utilizar en mi clase de español. La clase estó sobre el verbo 'gustar.' Yo te le reparto porque en el video están... LOS CORAZONES!!!

(Today, this song was used in my Spanish class. The class was about the verb 'gustar.' I'm sharing it with you because in the video there are... HEARTS!!!)


Can of Worms: facebook photography price fixing groups FAIL

In the past 5 days I've seen a rash of photography support groups pop up on Facebook. I don't know if it's because they know lots of folks got that DSLR on their Christmas Wish List or just coincidence, but I'm finding it pretty funny. Because I have no intention of supporting the groups, I'll make up pseudonyms for them. There's one called "Tell all new photographers they have to charge the same as established photographers because we don't like any competition" and another one called "I'm terrified I'm about to lose all my clients because I charge a high price for my services and some of these newcomers who charge less are actually better than me." There was also this little Craiglist advert that has been circulating for a wedding photographer, which while humourous, also seems a little bitter and cranky.

Photographers: It's no wonder the general public is so disenchanted with so-called professional photographers. It's one of the only professions besides being a painter or an actor that really (seriously) has absolutely no rules, guidelines, or standards. You can charge whatever you want for your services, shoot however you want, be educated or not... and the toughest part of our job is figuring out how much people are actually willing to pay us. So what are you complaining about?

The only way you build a business is by attracting and retaining clients, and when you have no portfolio, you're going to be giving it away for free or cheap, at least for a little while. Consider that as you raise your prices and become an established photographer, you are going to have clients who quite simply cannot afford you anymore. But theoretically, if you won your clients who can afford to move up with you, and you have some decent skills, you will be working less, and making as much or more money, so it shouldn't really affect your income if you're really that awesome, right?

Snobbery abounds. When you enter higher levels of photography you run into all sorts of people who have become a brand instead of a human being and spend as much time promoting themselves as they do shooting. While I see nothing wrong with this, it's not something I personally aim for. They whine and snivel and complain about the new photographers and how everyone and their dog has a camera without considering geez - some of these people are going to be good, and one day, they might be the ones deciding if *I* win an award.

A word on memberships to the umpteen professional organizations that are out there. If you pay, you can say you are a member. Being an 'accredited' or 'famous' or 'award winning' photographer means you have spent enough money promoting yourself to enough people within the organisation that have bestowed upon you some kind of peer recognition, usually represented by a piece of paper. This has not got a damn thing to do with my clients. While it's nice to have a fun group of people with similar interests to hang out with, bounce ideas off, and learn a few marketing tips, mostly what happens is everyone sits around oohing and ahhing about who got famous that year and was able to enter the echelons of the togs who charge more than brain surgeons.

The only way you get true respect is to earn it, and being well-known (even if you have amassed 2000 fans on Facebook) doesn't mean you are respected. Even if you get paid substantial sums of money it doesn't mean anyone respects you (think reality TV stars.) In exchange for accolades and fame amoungst my peers, I prefer to be valued for who I am, not what I've accomplished. Some call me a rogue, others call me a hack, and I am probably referred to as completely unprofessional by a few, but when it comes right down to it I would rather have a 4 year old I've known since they were in their Mom's tummy sitting by the doorway waiting for me to arrive than have peer recognition from people I barely know. That validates me more than any piece of paper ever could.

Here's what happens when lots of togs hit a certain point in their career. They call each other down based on what camera they use or how much they know their way around photoshop. They are cheerful and loving while they attend conferences and enter competitions, then bash their colleagues behind their backs. They equate what you charge with your level of professionalism and for many, it becomes the primary measure of success. They look down their noses at those who charge less for their services and, on occasion, look down on the clients who are unable afford them. They don't see the value of upstarts taking on the task of providing something other than department store photos for the biggest demographic in existence.

Listen up, and listen close. There is always going to be someone coming up behind you. When they're first starting out, they are probably going to be cheaper than you. Whether they are going to be (or already are) better than you is a matter of personal taste that the open market will dictate. You can either help them to raise you up or try and beat them down so they can't step on you as they climb past. The choice is yours whether you want to live in fear or celebrate the fact that photography is accessible to everyone, not just the elite. When a computer replaces human interaction, that's about the time to really poop your pants.

Last thing - but it's a biggie - before you start joining PUBLIC groups and whining about your poor underpaid photographer self all over Facebook and blogs, maybe stop for a second to remember that some of your past and/or potential future clients and colleagues are on your friend list, followers, or fan page, and it's likely that the vast majority don't feel sorry for you or your poor underpaid photographer friends (who are, by the way, usually the ones agreeing or suggesting that you need to raise your prices...) When it comes right down to it, a photographer has the ability to make more than a brain surgeon. No one feels sorry for you. No one should. I sure as hell don't. Quit whining and go take pictures.

Week One DLS Exercise: manual focus

For those of you not in the workshops and looking to feel inspired, you are welcome to play along. Those of you in the workshops, as promised, here is your challenge for this week. Rest assured, the exercises never take more than 1/2 an hour to complete, but most people have so much fun they keep going anyways...

We are going to practice using our camera to understand the Law of Reciprocity as we make our way down the FAST list between now and the next workshop, starting with F - focus. Over the next 4 weeks if you practice lots, you will be surprised at how good you get at guesstimating your settings. Frustrated? Feeling like cheating by setting your camera to an auto-mode? Remember that the meta data embedded in each file can't be erased or altered. So really, the only person you're cheating is yourself.

Your challenge this week is manual focus. Set your camera to M(anual) F(ocus), in M(anual) mode. Select 5 similar or same objects and set them in a row along a flat surface. Make sure you pick someplace that has good natural light. For example, you may want to make a row of apples on your coffee table, set up some stones on your windowsill, or put a set of Little People on your kitchen counter. As long as you've got good daylight, be as creative as you like.

Once you have your still life setup, put your ISO to 400, your aperture to 3.5, and adjust your shutter speed accordingly to get an exposure you like. Get as close to your still life as you can. Your first picture should be taken from the minimum focusing distance. (If you forget what that is, remember bringing your hand towards your face until you can't focus anymore and remember the lens works the same as your eyes in that regard...) Position yourself so that you can see all the objects, either slightly above or to one side. (If you have your objects on a glass surface you could even try shooting from below!) Manually focus on your first object and take a picture. Then manually focus on your second object and take a picture. Repeat for your third, fourth, and fifth. Upload these to your blog and either post the link in the comments here or send it to me via email to h dot walls at shaw dot ca.

Get creative, have fun! Looking forward to seeing what you all come up with!!!

tubeLOVE: Veggie Tales - RAWK ON!!!

This makes me laugh and laugh!!! I LOVE the Veggie Tales shows - they are clever, funny, and not completely choke-you-with-Jesus weird. If you have a minute, go find the Bellybutton song. Or the Lips song. Or Barbara Manatee and Cebu... Priceless!!!

Happy Weekend, all!

youLOVE: something new, something fun for 2010!

Didn't I tell you I would forget something when I prattled off my 2010 announcements? Well, here's one I definitely forgot!

Looking for a fun way to spend time with your friends? How about a pictureLOVE party?

Whass iz zeess, you ask? Here's how it works:

A pictureLOVE party is suitable for ANY camera and ANY skill level. The FUN part is, your hostess and I will choose a theme that's perfect for your group, which might be anything from pin-up to newborns! Get a minimum of 4 people together and I will come and do a 3-hour hands-on workshop that covers the basics of composition and portraiture as it relates to your theme, plus a 15-minute demo on retouching images using Adobe Photoshop/Elements and Picasa. $600 first 4 participants, additional participants are $100 each to a maximum of 8. Please note that each additional person adds about 15 minutes to the overall amount of time required to cover the material.

Want to book your pictureLOVE party? Send an email to h dot walls at shaw dot ca!!! Find complete details of available themes under the Dirty Little Secrets tab on the website!

Chicks Who Click (and a few brave boys) gathering January 10, 2010

Got some time January 10, 2010 from about 4 to 6 pm? Feel like hangin' with some other togs? Email h dot walls at shaw dot ca for details!

iLOVE: Lhasa de Sela

If you've been to my website, chances are you've heard some Lhasa de Sela before. She lost her battle with breast cancer on New Year's Day this year, and her future music is already missed. Thank you, Lhasa. May you soar with angels.

Just a reminder that there's a reason I do Clickin' Cancer's Butt every year.

iLOVE: youtube HAHAHA!!!

Happy New Year, all!!!

meLOVE: ringing the New Year in, Hope style!

It's been lovely playing slacker for the last several days, being with family and taking goofy pictures.

First up - we have my precious Art, so regal, so photogenic, so... ridiculously cute...


I went to the Muttart with my Mom, sister, and Serejane to beat the winter blues during our last little cold snap, and came across this holly leaf and thought fondly of my Jamaica bride who is expecting her daughter Holly in a few short weeks.


We rung in the New Year at la cabaña, replete with sparklers and poo-swirl cupcakes.


This is my favourite board game on the planet, a New Brunswick game called 'Pok' which is kind of like a cross between Trouble and Crazy Eights. Best played with people who will forgive you later.


(love)


To see more picture love and read the story, check out the Picasa Album!!!


festiveLOVE: Happy 2010! ¡Prospero año!

Hello, all, and a VERY joyous welcome to 2010!!! To ring in the New Year, I thought I'd prattle off the newsreel for y'all regarding what's new and exciting for 2010 here at pictureLOVE.ca!

Pricing: I've put new pricing on the website, but the new stockroom isn't up and running *quite* yet. I promise I'll work on it, but to sum up, ALL sessions (except boudoir and baby) are $175/hour, and by popular demand, you now get your COMPLETE set (not just 20) of your 4x6 webshare and printables with the discreet new pictureLOVE watermark on them. And destination weddings are back to being FREE!

New lab: After a year wrought with printing problems, I have found a new print lab that is simple to use and promises to eliminate some of the previous problems by providing both professional print quality AND superior customer service. For unwatermarked prints or enlargements, I have relocated my print services to Canadian-owned and -operated zoomphoto.ca for all your ordering needs, which actually includes LOWER print prices AND delivery right to your door!!! An extra special Thank Thank Thank You to my clients whose valuable feedback helped me design the new pricing and packages! (link to new sample gallery coming soon...)

www.pictureLOVE.ca: I'm in the process of migrating to what I'm referring to as a new Super Site - a single site that houses the entire pictureLOVE™ family. www.pictureLOVE.ca will be the place to find the info and blog updates for:

Hope Walls Photography: where I practice my photographilosophy that pictureLOVE doesn't know age, income, weight, race, or gender.
Dirty Little Secrets (about photography): learn about pictureLOVE from the picture part (turning off the focusing beeps and understanding light) to the LOVE part (connecting with your subject so that the photo has as much meaning to YOU as to its viewers)
[pho·tog·ra·phi'lan·thro·py] : providing opportunities for individuals and service organisations in need to hook up with photographers who feel like spreading a little pictureLOVE
Chicks Who Click ™ (and a few brave boys): a network for photogs suffering from pictureLOVE to get together and talk shop, swap stories, and be geeks without anyone rolling their eyes at them when they say, "This one time, when I was taking pictures..."
ticdesign: a sweet merging of industry veterans suffering shutter cramp and 'tog squint with newbies itching to take on the world of photography

Trademarking: yes, you did see a little tee-em there in a couple of spots. Very exciting stuff is in the works, didn't I say?!

Out with the old... It's official - I'm kicking Heather of PixelPie to the curb like a pile of dirty laundry. She's joining her ticdesign official apprenticing alumni Laura of The Photography of Laura Jane and Tasha of Fresh!, and my unofficial stalker Tammy of Smiley Eyes in being sent off to tackle the world of photography without my hawklike eyes boring holes in the backs of their skulls...

In with the new... It's my pleasure to announce that Helena of Knittig Photography will be joining me, and that Reanna of Blackbird Photograpohy has also been partnered with an apprentice for 2010. More on that to come when the pictureLOVE site/blog launches!

I'm sure I've forgotten something, but for now, that's all I can remember. So, here's to a wonderful 2010 from my family to you and yours!!!

¡Prospero año de mi familia a tu familia!