Unconventional Shoot

Most of the time, my shoots are aimed at styled and street. When Kaitlyn messaged me, she had an outfit in mind and knew exactly how she wanted her hair and makeup. You see, she was one of the original girls that I took to New York City for our first Destination Session and she knew exactly what her shoot needed.

So when we met that morning, on shooting day, I simply mentioned to her that I had read a blog post about a photographer who took the challenge to shoot in a home improvement store and that I wanted to do something along those lines with her shoot and she immediately said yes.

Now, am I the first photographer in history to shoot in these places? Probably not. But it’s VERY rare that a client is excited about a shoot of this nature. So, thanks Kaitlyn….what a fun day!! I hope these images inspire you to do something different as an artist or suggest something to your photographer the next time you book a session with them!

As always, comments and questions are always welcome. You can email me at: ablewisphotography@gmail.com

Follow me on Instagram: ablewisphoto and DM me to collaborate or shoot!

We started off in Harp’s Grocery:

Then, onto Lowe’s Home Improvement:

The Party Place

Downtown

(specifically, in locations I had NEVER shot)

Blacktop Backdrop

This blog post was originally written for the Click Society.

There’s this notion that street photography is strictly for those who don’t really want to interact with the subject or for landscape/architecture photography. I guess that can be true for some, but really, it’s taking any type of session into the streets and making the magic happen. Whether it be a complete stranger, stand out architecture or a styled shoot with a model….shooting in the streets can be really eye-opening.

Other photographers (professional, just starting out and hobby) ask me a lot of questions when they see my street shots. Most of these questions are:

 

  • How do you frame up the shot?
  • What kind of lighting do you use?
  • How do you style your shots?
  • Where do you go to shoot?

 

So today I’m going to share with you the 4 best tips that I’ve learned over the years and hopefully they will also help you!

I think the first time I was ever really proud of one of my shots was when I saw an image of the Eiffel Tower on my upload screen and from that, a love for photography was born.

It was a simple photo. I snapped it with my point and shoot digital camera as I was walking through the streets of Paris and saw the famous structure for the first time. I know, you’re thinking: uh, duh, it’s Paris, but I honestly never thought about composition or framing or lighting or any of those things before that very specific moment, looking at my screen.

For thirteen years I was a teacher in the classroom and I guess you could say that these photos are like the students I taught. Doing the same thing every single year, but seeing things in a new and different way.

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It wasn’t until seven years later that I knew what type of photography I wanted to create. Street Photography. I’ve always been a city girl at heart and I’ve always loved the look of the streets and the people in it. I wanted to approach my photography, the way I approached teaching: You don’t know what you don’t know and I was determined to learn more about capturing the moments as they happen. Natural moments. Happy moments. Sad moments. Moments without the artificial. Non-posed moments. In a phrase…I wanted to capture life as it happened. Unscripted and not staged. So I did a lot of research and contacted a few photographers in New York City and I finally settled on the professional I felt would be able to truly show me how to shoot in that way.

It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We walked all over Manhattan and I was taught how to look for the perfect shot, how to frame up what I wanted to capture and how to make it authentic and not seem awkward.

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  • How To Frame Your Shot

 

The biggest advantage you have in street photography is the abundance of material you can shoot; buildings, unsuspecting humans, animals and/or your client/model. But you have to be patient, especially if you’re wanting the shot that perfectly screams your style.

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I always try to frame my shots up in a way that leaves something for the eye to look at in every corner. In this photo, take notice of the statue to the far right and the gate behind her. I intentionally put those in the shot so that the eye doesn’t stop, it keeps going. If you make things interesting in the image, people are more likely to find it pleasing or thought provoking and will remember it. I could have certainly cropped the statue out, but to me, it made the image more interesting.

Depending on what the image is conveying, I’ll use the “Rule of Thirds” or “negative space” in the shot to add more interest and/or depth, but once again, this goes back to your particular style. If you’re unsure of these terms and their meaning, there are great articles out there. I encourage you to do some research on these photography fundamentals. It seems simple, but will have dramatic results.

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In this landscape image, framing it up to where there are multiple points of interest was my goal. The bridge, the fish market, the graffiti, all of it is in one frame to keep the eye moving and interested. Like I said before, this is my style…everyone shoots differently, but hopefully this will be a good jumping off point for you when you’re walking around and see something that’s a street-worthy shot.

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In the image above, I was simply looking over a balcony and saw a flash mob dancing and thought it was interesting.

  1. Finding The Best Light

With indoor photography, there’s this frustration of “finding good light,” but with street photography, the light is there and there’s a lot of it. I always try to shoot 45min after sunrise or 45min before sunset, that usually produces that “golden hour” glow and pretty lighting. However, if it’s overcast, then your shooting day just got easier and if you’re in a big city (like NYC), then the buildings offer great light bounce and you’re not in direct sunlight.  

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Here, I used the buildings as my natural light bouncers and made sure to find some color that would pop in the photo. I didn’t use flash or any type of reflector, just the natural light of the good ol’ outdoors.

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In this photo, we were shooting in Times Square and luckily, even at 11:00 at night, there was plenty of light from the screens so that I didn’t need to use a flash. I know this isn’t always the case, but I felt it was enough.

  1. Styling The Shot

Framing a shot up interestingly is style. Sitting in a spot for however long it takes to get a person to interact with that one location, for that perfect shot, is style. Having your model in certain clothing, their hair and makeup a specific way to tell the story is by definition style. Sometimes, I can head out for the day, with my camera in hand and just people watch. I may not have a particular type of “style or theme” in my head, but when I see it, I know it. Other times, I’ll have a very specific style in my head and the only way to get it out of my brain is to see it come to life on a person. I’m sure many of you reading this can relate. Editing your street photos a particular way is also style. How you crop it, if you desaturate it or up the contrast…all of these elements portray your street style.

Some photographers like to use props. I approach my style a little differently. I like to start with that street, that canvas and let the story write itself. Let the world be your studio. The elements of a great photo are already out there, it may just take some new insight with a new sense of adventure and curiosity to capture it on screen.

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  1. Finding A Location

I trained in NYC and go back there frequently; all of the example photos in this post were taken in the streets of Manhattan. For instance, this one was in Chinatown. However, finding a location to shoot street style really isn’t that difficult because hopefully there’s a street somewhere around you with people walking or has interesting architecture, just look for lines and pops of color. Local farmers markets are good places to shoot street style, a pretty busy location in your downtown area or state/county fairs, outdoor concerts. All of these events/locations lend themselves to lots of interesting people, buildings with character, pretty lighting and lots of color. This type of scouting can work with unplanned shoots and planned, specifically styled, and model shoots.

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If you haven’t dabbled in any form of street photography, I encourage you to just walk around with your camera one day and click away! Or, take that next step and find you a model, style their hair, makeup and clothing. Take them into the streets for a session they’ll never forget! It’s a lot of fun and hopefully you’ll learn more about your shooting style. Don’t worry about the other people who make it into the shot (like in this image above, with the produce-picking man). Remember, street photography isn’t just for the non-interactive or landscape artist, it can be a new adventure for you stylistically and hopefully offer a different sense of adventure in the process.

If your wheels are turning right now and you have a question, email me! ablewisphotography@gmail.com

I would love to hear from you!

All Tucked In

“When you hold your baby in your arms the first time, and you think of all the things you can say and do to influence him, it’s a tremendous responsibility. What you do with him can influence not only him, but everyone he meets and not for a day or a month or a year but for time and eternity.” –Rose Kennedy

If I said that I get tired of going to hospitals and photographing newborns, I would be fibbing. The crazy thing is, I never cared for anything like that…until I became a parent myself. What a beautiful thing it is to see a new child’s first interactions with the voices it had heard for so many weeks before. I had the privilege of photographing this new member of the B family recently and I just LOVED going through the gallery….over and over and over again. Baby Tucker’s face is so sweet and to be able to capture this moment, freeze it and give his parents the gift of remembrance is so exciting for me. Tucker is a lucky boy. He has an older brother who he’ll be able to play baseball with and two parents who have very selfless jobs as educators. He is now part of a wonderful family of 4 that have great hearts, simply said. I’m so happy for you Tucker and I count out thousands of wishes for you and your dreams.

 

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A Crazy Kind Of Life

“What I love most about this crazy life is the adventure of it.”– Juliette Binoche

Here I am, focusing the lens, about to hit the shutter and the guy in my photo session gets down on one knee. Did I know about this? No. Did she know about this? No. We were totally shocked and if I said I didn’t cry, as I was shooting, I would be lying. It was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever been a part of. Now, I must disclose: she is one of my closest friends and I’m biased….but it was wonderful being there.

Shanda and Chase have a crazy life. They dated for years, broke up a couple times, moved away from one another a few times and yet, found themselves back together….in the same state….at the same time. What do people call this? Oh yeah, “meant to be.”

They knew they wanted to get married. She had just taken a new job in Arkansas and he had just graduated from pharmacy school. They bought a house and began their new journey together. About 6 weeks after they had moved in, I met Shanda for lunch. I was planning on talking about wedding plans, but she had something else she had to tell me.

Let me step back a bit. Shanda was basically told most of her adult life that she would probably never have children of her own. Without going into all of her medical history, it’s as simple as this: her chances were slim, very slim and Chase knew this and he was okay with it.

Fast forward to our lunch date. She sits down, looks at me and says: “I’m pregnant. It’s REALLY early, like we just found out. But I’m pregnant. I’m really pregnant.” I sat there, stunned and then I cried. It was such wonderful news, but not without reservations.

So, right there, over lunch, we planned on pictures for the spring. These are those pictures. These are the images of her, Chase and their unborn baby, Henry. These are the images of her becoming a fiancé. These are the images of undeniable happiness. These are the images of a new chapter in her crazy life.

Henry was born April 30th as a very healthy baby boy. I haven’t had the opportunity to photograph him yet, but you better believe that will be happening as soon as possible. Now Chase and Shanda’s life is even crazier than before, but I do believe they wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

 

Brandon + Erica = Ever After

“Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it.” –Sai Baba

I stood to the side as speeches were given at this couple’s reception. The words brought laughter, but they also brought tears….heartfelt and sweet.

Brandon and Erica have known one another for years, but life took them separate ways. She had fallen in love with someone else, had children and lived her life. Many years later, when the kids were older and she was alone, Brandon walked back into her life with open arms and an open heart for the children that would soon become his. Brandon filled a gap and he filled it well. He went to the kid’s games, helped them with their homework and became Erica’s best friend. He also became a father and eventually, a fiancé.

Now, he’s a husband and she’s writing a new chapter in her book. She has a new partner, a new job, a new college degree and a new beginning. Capturing their wedding was an honor for me, the entire family was precious. So, cheers to you Brandon and Erica, I wish you all the happiness life has to offer.

 

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Cooper | Fort Smith, AR Senior 2016

Cooper wanted some photos by the water; recently he had been near the banks of where the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers meet, skipping rocks. I had never walked down before because, honestly, I didn’t know if I would be able to hike back up the hill…haha…but I’m glad we made the walk and the scenery was the perfect backdrop.

As a senior boy, I know being in front of the camera wasn’t his #1 priority that day, but he was so easy to work with and I’m sure he did it out of the love for his mother. After all, she was about to send her oldest son off to college and being a mom myself, of a boy about to start kindergarten, I can’t imagine how proud and sad she must be during this last year of school.

One of the lasts I’m sure she will treasure most, will be Cooper’s last baseball game. Just being with them for a short time, you could tell baseball has played a major role in this family’s life throughout the years. So here are some images from Cooper’s senior shoot. I know, as a mom, she will treasure these last images….one day I know I will as well.

 

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Brooke & John

It has taken me a couple of weeks to sit down and write about this truly, AMAZING couple. Life has become very busy and it’s prime photography season, but lets meet them.

Brooke is an elementary school teacher and her eyes definitely show it. She has the kindest eyes and I’m sure her students feel very lucky, safe and loved around her. John is goofy and full of personality, I don’t think we went more than a few minutes without laughing during this shoot. Together, they are SO much fun to be around. Their story consists of chance meetings, failed job opportunities and being in the right place. The ring is an heirloom that holds special memories for John’s family….something you don’t give away to just anybody. Love definitely shows, but their friendship is what’s so great. Brooke and John, may you always laugh together, love together and continue to have fun….can’t wait for the big day!

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Brand New Baby

I told my friend Megan that she has blind confidence. She laughed, but my statement was true! Lets throw it back to a very pregnant Megan and how she asked me to come take photos of her brand new baby, once he made his arrival. I told her no…and I meant it.

I photograph a lot of children, but babies…..babies are an anxiety booster. First off, I’m just not good with babies and I currently have two children, one 4 years and the other, almost 6 months. I feel like I just don’t have the patience to photograph babies. They cry, they’re hungry, they want to be held…etc. it’s REALLY tough to get that “cute, posed, sleeping baby” shot. I have a friend who mostly photographs babies. I took both of mine to her to photograph. She has a gift…really, she’s amazing. I watch her in awe and cannot believe she can position, calm and photograph a baby like that. I cannot do this and I don’t act like I can. I guess you can say I’m a work in progress.

However, Megan wouldn’t take my “no” as an answer. So fast forward 4 days after she gave birth and there I am, walking around her house with my reflector, looking for a good light source. Trying out as many shots as possible that will keep with my style. Trying not to be anxious around her because she has trusted me to capture this special moment. Trying to be patient. This post is a sneak peek into my session with Megan and her new baby. It’s not cute and posed, but it’s them and that’s what I’m most proud of. My friends challenge me in so many ways and I’ll be forever grateful for that. Four-day-old Parker is beautiful, has two wonderful parents and a very proud, big brother. Look out world, he’s here.

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Newborn….New Interference

So I had a baby in late July and she’s a beautiful girl named Ellis. I’ve been shooting a little bit since her arrival, but haven’t blogged….AT ALL. It’s shameful, I know. I’ve been feeding, feeding, changing diapers, feeding, cleaning up projectile vomit, feeding, re-watching the entire series of Sex and the City for the millionth time and cherishing every single second of my time with my little girlfriend. So first, I have to show you my baby girl with her daddy….the rest of the photos are a hodgepodge of the last couple months and what I’ve been up to. Enjoy!

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Chris + Ashley = Baby Girl G

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Carly| University of Arkansas

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