Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Field of Dreams

Recently, I got tickets to a Washington Nationals baseball game. I couldn't think of anyone I'd rather take than my "heartbeats" Adam and Noah. These guys are my cousins, but I look at them more like little brothers. This was their first MLB game and mine, as well. Joining us also was one of my bestest friends, Shanelle; it was her first MLB game too. We all had a blast!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Oklahoma City Memorial

This week my travels took me to Oklahoma City, OK. Being the ever curious traveler, I made it a point to do several things on the Oklahoma City “must do” list. I visited the zoo (one of the top ten zoos in the country), had a steak at Cattlemen’s Restaurant (as seen on the Travel Channel and in the travel book “1000 Places To Go before you Die”), saw a movie at the luxurious Moore Warren Theater (heated seats…wow!), and, perhaps most memorable, visited the site of the Oklahoma City bombing.

As you know, on April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed. 168 people were killed during this senseless act of violence (the details of which I will not describe here so as not to give more power to the perpetrators). The memorial consists of two twin gates with the moments before (9:01am) and after (9:03am) the bombing etched on each respective gate. Between the two gates lies a serene reflecting pool that pays homage to the devastating moment the bomb struck. Facing the pool are 168 small and large empty chairs, which represent the children and adults who lost their lives.

What struck me most about the memorial was that it was not only moving but also conceptually brilliant. The feeling of gravity and serenity is captivating. I lingered near the empty chairs and reflecting pool longer than I planned but my spirit was revitalized by the meditative moment. It may sound trite but the hour I spent at the memorial truly reminded me that our next moments aren't promised . . .

- S. Christine

Sunday, September 12, 2010

9-11 Day of Service

September 11, 2001. We all remember where we were when we learned that terrorists had attacked our great nation. After being in the hallway at my locker, senior year of high school, I walked into my classroom and was frozen by the image that kept replaying on the television screen. No one was working. My teacher wasn't teaching. The bell that would normally ring, was silenced. Every television in the school was on, and the only sound to be heard was the echoes of news reporters, speculating as to what we were witnessing. We didn't understand. Even those of us who had never seen the Twin Towers or the Pentagon or who had never visited Pennsylvania, mourned the loss of those whose lives were so quickly taken away in callous acts of what boiled down to a lack of respect. In that moment, everyone realized that our lives would forever be changed. We also knew that September 11, would forever be a day of infamy.

It's been nine years now, but when I hear "September 11," my heart still drops. I am reminded of how the acts of a few can impact so many. This same realization, that "The acts of a few can impact so many" is what led me to volunteer this year on September 11. I joined forces with volunteers, mobilized by Greater DC Cares, to tackle one of over 50 projects throughout the D.C. Metro Area. At the Ayrlawn YMCA Program Center in Bethesda, we, persons from all over the country, who now reside in and around DC, pitched in to complete a variety of tasks ranging from repainting the outside curb and staining picnic benches and classroom furniture to replacing moldy ceiling tiles.

May we never forget how we felt nine years ago, and may we memorialize the lives of those who lost theirs in the tragic events of 9-11. May we respect others and allow our differences to unite us instead of dividing us. May we realize that life is about service and there are many ways, large and small, to serve. May we forever remember . . . .


Saturday, September 11, 2010

141 Thomas Street

One of my favorite neighborhoods within DC is Ledroit Park. Ledroit Park was one Washington's first suburbs. The area was developed in 1870 and dubbed the "romantic neighborhood" for its narrow, tree-lined streets and Victorian inspired homes. During the 20th Century, the neighborhood became the residence of many elite African-Americans such as Paul Laurence Dunbar and Duke Ellington. Although the area has undergone many changes, one can still sense the romance of this historic district.

While walking the neighborhood with a friend of mine, I met a former resident. Caleb Thomas moved to Ledroit Park in the 1960s after serving in the United States Army. He spoke reverentially of the era as he proudly stood in front of his former home, 141 Thomas Street NW. We were captivated by his stories and pleased to hear that Ledroit Park lived up to its remarkable reputation. I was also thrilled that Mr. Thomas allowed me to snap a few shots of him in front of his former residence. I absolutely love it when life gives me these moments!

- S. Christine

Monday, September 6, 2010

Getting Jacques to Smile

Toni and Jacques are like twins. They look alike, act alike, and they both have a great sense of humor. However, Toni likes the camera, while Jacques does not. Jacques has been out of the U.S. for the last year. He just received a Masters degree from London School of Economics (yes, he's a braniac). On their way out to dinner, I thought I'd snap a few pics of the "twins." However, getting Jacques to smile for the camera was quite a challenge. In the end, he said that he finally posed because he wanted to make his sister happy. However, I'd also like to think that my photographer's persistence (also known as nagging) had something to do with his change of heart.

- Marie

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Congratulations Christa and Julian Thompson!

I recently had the privilege of shooting one of my favorite couples. I introduced you to Christa and Julian back in June (See post titled: "Dressed in Love"). They are two awesome people who are about to embark on a lovely journey of love and commitment. I am so happy that they have found each other and that they have made one another so happy. So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to not only shoot their engagement photos, but to shoot in the Bahamas!

The day was hot and humid. Due to the weather, humidity, and time constraints, there were many challenges to overcome. But in the end, I was able to capture some great moments of the two. And I must say, Christa and Julian truly are troopers for remaining pleasant and playful in grueling weather during this shoot!

- S. Christine

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First Photo Shoot: 12 Lessons Learned

As some of you may know, I recently finished shooting my first official photo shoot, and more specifically, my first engagement shoot (a teaser for this shoot can be seen in the previous post). Christa and Julian, the affianced pair, are close friends of mine. I will post photos as well as more background about the shoot and the models later. Today, I wanted to post a few lessons I learned from this experience that I plan to apply to my next shoot. These lessons come from mistakes I typically make. Some of these may apply to you and your subjects while others may not. But feel free to borrow any of my lessons if they do apply!

Shooting in RAW was extremely helpful as I was able to focus more on composition and inspiration. However, I must remember not to completely ignore Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed…and not be crippled by them either.

2) Planning photos beforehand worked very well. Even though I only shot 70% of my planned photos, preplanning kept me organized and freed me to veer off the beaten path without worrying about forgetting crucial shots.

3) Remember to pay attention to details that may be out of place (bra straps/lines, underwear, hand placement, wrinkles, hair strands out of place, etc).

4) DO NOT GET DISTRACTED BY BACKGROUNDS and forget to pose and, more importantly, to light your subjects.

5) In hot weather, NEVER shoot at a beach unless it is during sunrise or sunset. The weather left us with no choice but to shoot at high noon and, although it worked out, it was absolutely grueling!

6) Begin with standard portraits (and close-ups) and save purposefully blurred and faraway shots for later. The model’s makeup, clothes and hair tend to become less “picture perfect” as the day goes on.

7) Don’t be afraid to re-compose a background.

8) In engagement shots, in order to get an authentic moment from the couple, sometimes getting the man to tell the woman how he feels about her often works better than vice versa. This is because most men tend to be “touch oriented” and often romantically caress the woman while he is speaking to her. Many (certainly not all!) women tend to visibly swoon before the camera when this happens.

9) Sometimes it works well to pose one model and let the other think you forgot about them so that they naturally respond to the posed model. This sometimes creates a more authentic appearing moment.

10) It sometimes works well to give the male a task or “something to do” while shooting.

11) Be aware of where the sun is at ALL times!

12) When torn between working with minimal light or a higher ISO, in post-shoot editing it was easier for me to correct for a high ISO than not enough light.

I am happy to have learned and grown from this experience…and from my mistakes! I hope you find this helpful. Feel free to post your own most common mistakes and significant lessons learned.

- S. Christine