Je t’aime, France

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”― Mark Twain

 

GrahamEiffelTower (1 of 1)

We travel. We explore. We adventure. We experience.

Even better, we take our children. Every time I’m on another flight, or someone hears that we are traveling AGAIN and comments to me about it, I constantly remind myself how lucky we are. Garrett and I made a decision a long time ago that we would live a life of adventure and that our kids would go along for the ride.

I can’t tell you how many times I told my students that they needed to travel. I would have a bulletin board in my classroom, dedicated to my travel photos. I would print, laminate and label them and the kids would always look at them and then ask me: Mrs. Lewis, have you been to all of these places? Always, with a smile on my face, I would say: YES, and they are some of the best experiences of my life!! Then I would tell them: start saving now! Save your birthday money, your holiday money…whatever you get, save it and travel….you will never regret it. Forego the bigger house, the newest gadgets or $175 shoes….TRAVEL! I would like to think that some of them took that to heart.

Garrett and I traveled before Graham and Ellis were a part of us, but when our 15 year anniversary came around, we decided to go to Prague. This was our first time to the Czech Republic and it was Garrett’s first time to Europe. He loved it. The travel bug got him and it hasn’t let up.

In fact…I’m sitting here, at DFW airport writing this blog post. We just got off a 10 hour flight from Paris and are still feeling the effects of dizziness, foggy brain and vertigo. HAHA But I wanted to share while the memories were fresh.

A lot of people ask me for travel advice. I guess I qualify for that? LOL Not sure. But I will tell you that we are budget travelers. We subscribe to Scott’s Emails for deals on flights (we got this Paris flight from Fort Smith for $480 *reg nearly $2000* and will be going to Maui in August out of OKC for $320), we stay in Airbnb’s and we always shop at local markets, wherever we are. We don’t have “extravagant vacations” per say, but we do have fun ones!

This time, we took Graham with us for the week and he had an awesome time. Truly. Last night, as we were packing our suitcases, in our small apartment, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, he said: “I miss Ellis, but I don’t want to go, I’ll miss Paris. I’ll miss this place, I love it here.” He’s 6 and he’ll remember this week and the experiences he had and that makes my heart so happy.

Below, are some photos I took. If you don’t know by now, I quit teaching after 13 years and decided to go with photography full time. People call me a professional photographer, but I don’t know if I’ve reached that status yet.

Nevertheless, here are some photos from our time in France. I’ll label below them so you’ll know where they were taken.

These are all from Paris. Eiffel Tower, River Seine, Notre Dame, Sacre-Coeur, The Louvre and the infamous Arc de Triumph. We also went to the Palace of Versailles, but it was so cold, I don’t have many photos from there LOL

We stayed in the southern part of the city, near the University. It was a lovely neighborhood with great restaurants and bakeries and the metro was only one block from our apartment, which made for easy access to the rest of the city.

These photos are from the small town of Bayeux. It’s a town of about 14,000 people and sits in the region of Normandy. We took a high speed train to get here. The train ride was about 2 hours and we were able to spend nearly an entire day. We had to take a taxi to the American Cemetery and Omaha Beach, which was an additional 20 minutes.

I believe this was my favorite part of the trip. Bayeux, itself, was such a charming town. Cobblestone streets and traditional French flair. It was amazing. We decided we would stay in Bayeux a couple of days, when we go back.

It was the first town liberated by the Allies, after they regained control of the beaches of Normandy, from the Germans. Nearly 18,000 French civilians from this area gave their lives to stop the German’s from progressing even further. Their efforts were shown by the preservation of the town.

The American Cemetery was a beautiful tribute to those lost in the battle against the Nazi regime. Garrett and I could not contain our tears and Graham looked at us, inquiringly, and asked: why are you crying so much?

It was a great lesson for him and the sacrifice that was made by a lot of people during this time in history. We hiked down to Omaha Beach and were able to see Nazi bunkers that were dug into the side of the hill and zig-zag trenches that were still in the grass as part of their defense. I would highly recommend making the trip to this area. It was so beautiful and moving.

These are my photos, taken and edited by me and are owned by AB Lewis Photography. Please don’t use them without my permission. Feel free to comment or even shoot me an email if you have travel questions. I love to help plan, give recommendations and just offer up traveling advice! ablewisphotography@gmail.com

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” -Gustav Flaubert

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.

EiffelNew (1 of 1)

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.

NightMarket (1 of 1)

 

  • 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.

JordanGate (1 of 1)

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.

NYC2016 (19 of 78)

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.

NYCOtherPhotos (2 of 8)

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.  

DSAD1 (1 of 1)

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.

Carly (1 of 1)

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.

KaitlynChinatown (1 of 1)

  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.

KadyDSNYC2 (18 of 32)

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!

Beautiful People

Today was a busy day for me…..I photographed two news anchors and two “just turned one” year olds. Two, totally different types of photography….one being more professional style and the other, well…having fun with 1 year olds of course! I have to admit though, being nearly 36 weeks pregnant doing this much today was…..wait for it….exhausting. Thank goodness the feeling of excitement for photography overpowers my tiredness. Enjoy these beautiful people!

Garrett1 (1 of 1)Melissa3 (1 of 1) Charlie1 (1 of 1) Sophie1 (1 of 1) 

   

Mind The Gap

IMG_8851.JPG

 cropped-ablewis_logo_bw2.jpg

I particularly have never minded the gap when it comes to photography. This one, for instance, stuck out to me immediately and was very spur of the moment. I was sitting on the subway and took the shot. The two did not know one another, but the symmetry looks almost intentional. They were obviously minding the gap.

Freedom Towers

DSC_0284

cropped-ablewis_logo_bw2.jpg

“Freedom Towers”

This shot was taken at sunset, while standing on the Williamsburg Bridge in Manhattan. It was the most perfect of elements coming together. The sun setting behind the skyline, Freedom Tower standing tall, some could say even proud and the swirl of multi-colored clouds. A great reminder that even in the shadows, freedom towers over everything else.

Street Lights, Big Dreams, All Lookin’ Pretty

Vibrant colors, new sounds, a different language and the smell of……fish? Welcome to the Melting Pot, or technically, I think it’s offically called “The Salad Bowl” now, but whatever you call it, culture is definitely not lacking in this city and I LOVE IT. I spent nearly all day in the oldest parts of New York, mostly in Chinatown, learning it’s history.

DSC_0323

cropped-ablewis_logo_bw2.jpg

Even though I can’t even remember how many times I’ve actually been to this city, today I felt like I had hit the trifecta: the city I adore, photography and history, all rolled into one. What a day. It’s so refreshing to be reminded as to why this country is so unique. The different cultures, how so many lives are interwoven into one, the clusters of people that represent all corners of the world. It’s hard to imagine what America would be like without it’s diversity. As I walked the streets, and composed my shot, I did wonder what their big dreams were…what they envisioned their life would be like when they made the very difficult decision to move to an unknown country. Was it to escape a harsh government? To give their children a better life? To be one step closer to freedoms they would never have in their native country? Whatever the reason, their big dreams may not look too different from mine. Afterall, all we really want is something better for ourselves and our family, right? They don’t have easy jobs. They’re probably doing a job I wouldn’t want to do….yet, there they were smiling and laughing and serving their customers and genuinely looked like they were enjoying life. I wish I knew their stories.

This photo has a lot of elements to it. Walking through Chinatown there were so many interesting things to look at, that it was impossible to capture all of them through the lens, but each image is still such a unique perspective of life. Where I live, you would NEVER see anything like this. I guess that’s why I love spending time in the city: street lights, big dreams and they’re all looking pretty. Well said, Jay-Z, well said.

What is your eye drawn to first as you look at this photo? Comment and let me know!