New Website…New Name?

I made a new photography website for my HTML5/CSS class that I’m still tinkering with but wanted to show it off: Vintage Vixen Photography. I’ve been thinking of changing my Blue Lux Photos name to something else and came up with this for the class, BUT, then I saw there are at least 4 or 5 variations on this already out there, though most are makeup, clothes, etc. I’ve also got a co-worker who put together a nice logo for me based on Blue Lux Photos. So…I’m not sure which way to go now!

Anyhow, I’d appreciate any feedback on the site or the name…let me know what you think!

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Where to Take it From Here

I just visited my website and saw that I have over 67,000 hits, but I’ve never made a single sale off of it. That is something to think about.

Sometimes I get really down about photography and wonder whether I should call myself more than a hobbyist. I think over time, I’ve sold three photos at art shows and been paid maybe five times. But that’s over, like 10 years.

I work on becoming a better photographer every day, but I guess I don’t know how to market. Or maybe the market is too oversaturated, especially where I live. Or maybe I haven’t narrowed down my goals. Maybe if  I don’t plan on doing weddings I shouldn’t expect to get paid. Why am I really doing this, what’s the most important thing to get out of it?

I know if I go too long without a photo shoot, I feel antsy. It’s something I have to do. So whether the money comes into play is beside the point. But it would be validating if it was more of a regular thing.

I do want to focus on portraits. Shooting pinup and anything with a vintage style is really my favorite thing to do. So I’ve been practicing my lighting. I’ve got a studio area set up at home with my AlienBees. I feel like I’m doing pretty good work right now. But I guess there is SO much good work out there now, you have to be even better than that. Or your work just has to speak to the right person.

Just thinking out loud.

Here are some images from my last couple shoots. Last weekend I did a Twin Peaks-inspired shoot at this Airbnb room in Sacramento. This is Vanessa – we’ve worked together three times now.

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This is from a shoot with my photography group. Leslie Ann is one of the best models I’ve ever worked with – her poses and expressions are so cinematic.

 

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So, I’m taking a studio lighting class in a few weeks at Action Camera. I’m hoping to get my practice area at home all set up and start inviting people over here when shoots come up. Is photography your full time job? How did you get started? Did you decide on a “niche” to focus on, and how do you market yourself? I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

La Isla del Encanto

You wouldn’t know it to look at me, because I am pretty much the whitest person there is, but I am Puerto Rican on my dad’s side. So I was very excited to finally visit right after the week we spent in New York. The first thing we saw when we arrived at the airport was a chihuahua in a pink tutu peeing on the floor. Walking through the airport I noticed how many signs you would see with the Spanish versions next to the English versions. This was comforting but made me wish we’d kept up on our Spanish lessons!

We were going to rent a car but didn’t realize the rental place closed at 8pm. Our flight came in a little late so we had to take a taxi to the hotel, the Gallery Inn in Old San Juan. It was only about 9:00 by then but the streets were totally deserted so it felt like the middle of the night. This place was incredible! It’s a 17th century boutique hotel owned by an artist who’s been there since 1961. It was so humid you could feel the moisture in the air, and lizards ran around everywhere and exotic birds perched in the reception area said “hola” as we walked by. Here is the door to our room – I just cannot say enough about how beautiful it was there:

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One of the lobby areas:

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Since New York was so fast-paced we opted not to get the car and just hang out in Old San Juan. We walked everywhere! Mostly we hit a bunch of different restaurants – my favorite place was called Cafe St. Germain. They have an excellent brunch on the first floor and a bar with 20s style cocktails on the second floor. On our last day, we ate there in the morning then stopped by for drinks towards the end of the night. They were playing lots of New Order songs and it really made me miss going dancing. For dinner on our last night we visited the Parrot Club. Definitely more pricy but well worth it. I’ll be daydreaming about the banana chocolate empanadas we had for dessert. Excellent food and great customer service. Most mornings we had breakfast at the hotel – they had coffee, cereal, bananas and small pastries with nutella. So we’d sit out there and watch the birds before venturing out for the day.

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We also did a tour of the Bacardi factory. We went to the port and took the ferry for around $1.50 each. I’m not normally a rum drinker but by the end of the tasting (you try 4 different kinds) it starts to taste a lot better.

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While we were walking around we visited the Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery at sunset, which is just amazing. We were trying to figure out how to walk down there, but it looked like you had to take the road through La Perla in order to get there. La Perla was just right across the street from our hotel – we were kind of intrigued by the area but had a strong feeling we’d probably get robbed if we went down there. So I took some pictures from a distance – here you can see the cemetery on the right side, La Perla below, and across the street on the left is around where we stayed.

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Oh, I got a pretty cool shot of a lizard when we visited Castillo San Cristobal. He didn’t move at ALL so I kept getting closer and closer.

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Anyhow, we also visited the contemporary art museum there, and on our last day we swam in the ocean off a little beach area we found across from the Capitol. You can see the rest of the photos on my Flickr page here. Thanks for reading!

Shall We Take a Trip

My husband and I just returned from a week in New York and a week in Puerto Rico. This was the first two-week vacation I’ve taken in ten years, and back then I just stayed in Sacramento because I was making $13 an hour and couldn’t afford to go anywhere. So this was a big excursion!

In New York we went to three art museums, the Met, the MOMA and the Whitney. We saw a jazz show in the Village, visited the 9/11 memorial, had pizza in Little Italy and saw “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” on Broadway. I also really enjoyed shopping at H&M at 12:30 at night. It seems like there’s an H&M on every corner! We also walked through Central Park and up through Strawberry Fields. I wanted to see the Dakota where John Lennon lived but the building was covered in scaffolding. Still, I got a shot of some of the architecture outside.

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We went up to see the Empire State Building too. That was mobbed! It was about $80 for the both of us, and we could’ve paid another $40 to go to the very top but figured we were good. Here’s outside the Dakota:

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and from the Empire State Building:

empireIt was really cold and rainy the last couple days we were there. I didn’t really mind – since it’s been so dry in California it was nice to see some rain! When we went to the MOMA we saw the Bjork exhibit, where they played a song, Hyperballad, that I haven’t thought about in at least 20 years. I was surprised at how it made me tear up! When I was in my early 20s all my friends listened to the Smiths and the Sugarcubes, so it brought back lot of memories. When we stepped outside to leave it was pouring. We ran through the crowds in the thunderstorm and ducked into a little Chinese restaurant where we had wine and dim sum.

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Oh I also finally got to visit the B&H super store! That was one of the best parts of this trip for me. I bought a couple flash triggers there and a 35mm lens that I used throughout the trip. The lens was a cheap one – I couldn’t tell the difference between that and the expensive one in-camera, but I definitely could once I uploaded all the files into Lightroom. Still, it seemed to do the job okay! Here’s an example during our walk through Chelsea:

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The full New York album in on my Flickr page – you can see it here. Next, Puerto Rico!

 

 

Three Years, Two Cameras and 3,378 Photos Later

This is from my first modeling shoot with a photography group in 2012.


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Before this, the only pictures I took were at live music shows. That’s why I had my camera at ISO 3200 for this entire shoot! Because of going to meetups, I learned:

1. How to start shooting in RAW instead of JPEGs and why that was important. I’d never edited a photo in RAW before.

2. How a speedlight could help me even while shooting in daylight. After my third shoot I picked up a 430EX II. What a difference! It took a long while before I used it off camera.

3. How to use layers in Photoshop to create that creamy, glowing skin

4. How much better it is to do this in Lightroom

5. How much I love, love love shooting pinup

6. That you shouldn’t go crazy with the skin softening tool

7. To pay attention to those backgrounds! You don’t want a tree sticking out of someone’s head. On that same note, try to notice the rest of the background even while you’re zeroing in on the model’s eyes. Once I was so busy focusing on the model’s face I didn’t notice she’d fallen out of her dress.

8. Studio lighting is fun, but even more fun when your teacher actually lets you touch the equipment. Once I paid $150 for a lighting class that took all afternoon and I never got to actually touch anything.

9. It is fun to experiment with all types of photography when you first start, but think about what you really, really love and learn to focus on that.

10. If people try to dictate how your shoots are going, just remember, you’re the photographer. You’re the one running the show.

These are my two of my favorite shots from this year’s shoots:

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I do wish I would’ve moved the salt shaker and menu out of that shot! What I would say I want to work on is lighting and confidence with posing people. Sometimes I’m using lighting equipment for the first time and get nervous if I struggle with positioning the lights or I’m not sure how to pose people. I feel like I need to look like I know what I’m doing, even when I’m just shooting with a friend. Sometimes I have no freaking clue what to do with a person. Especially men, they’re tough to pose. Pre-planning is always good, even just looking for some general shots that you want to try out if there’s no particular theme. I want to have a wardrobe or sources for wardrobe, so if I want to plan a particular look it’s not totally on the model to find this stuff. I need SO much more practice with lighting. I always feel like I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to get. I’m always a little nervous. I want to start using the reflector stand I bought. And how to use single point focus successfully. Those are just a few things!

But I’m very proud of how my work’s coming along. For me, a sharp, clear photo full of light and color of a beautiful subject makes me happy in a way that nothing else does. Anyway just wanted to share. You can see my whole Flickr page here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bluelux/sets 

 

Let It Go

Funny how we can get so attached to our things. I’ve been talking for some time about getting rid of the bed we have in our front guest room where I also keep my computer desk and all my camera equipment. Without it I’d have enough room to set up a little practice space for shooting. Instead of lugging my equipment around I could say, “Just come over here and we’ll take some shots!” It’s not a huge room but there’s good natural light and there would be enough room to set up my background stand. And I’ve got two rolls of seamless paper, a couple soft boxes, speed lights and a new AlienBee b800. Basically ready to go! It’s something I’ve always wanted.

I bought the bed in 2008 before I met my husband. That year my best friend from when I was in my 20s died, then my grandparents passed a month or so later, and I started having a lot of trouble with insomnia (and still do today). I went through trying yoga, meditation, then a bunch of different sleep and anxiety medications. I wasn’t making much money but I saved up for a long time to buy the bed in the hope it would help me sleep better. I didn’t have it that long before I moved in with my husband but it was THE most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept on, also the first thing I ever spent that much money on. I used to sleep on it when he was snoring, but that’s been a few years, and it’s been well over a year since our last overnight guest. Now it’s just a big cat bed.

I’m usually really big on purging and not holding on to things for sentimental reasons. I feel like, if I haven’t looked at it or used it in over a year, I should just get rid of it. Salvation Army can come pick up the bed on Friday (my work at home day) and that would be it. Time to move forward, right? Gah. Maybe I’ll post a before and after shot.

 

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