Friday, February 28, 2014

Open Minded Photography

I am not your run of the mill photographer. 

First off: I'm known best for animal photography. 
Yup. I'm that "Sloth Photographer". 
I have worked with dogs, cats, sloths, hedgehogs, birds, turtles...

I'm not picky. 

I highly recommend not being picky. 


Because it puts you in the perfect position to get to work with subjects you might never have considered otherwise. Working with new and varied subjects gives you a chance to hone your craft and try new techniques and editing options. 

Lately, I've been lucky enough to work with some very talented costumers. 
In their world, they're known as Cosplayers. 

These were all shot last Saturday up at the Utah State Capitol building.
Each costume was made by the model wearing it. 
This was the first session in a two part Final Fantasy 9 shoot. 

These two were part of a Fruits Basket shoot that I wasn't scheduled to do. 
My youngest daughter was set to model for the shoot and the photographer 
didn't show up. I had just returned home from my sloth tour of Costa Rica and 
I happened to have my Nikon with me. 
I got to save the shoot by saying YES to opportunity. 

If you've been following me for any length of time, you already know I'm a geek. 
I set up my own Persona 4 shoot just so I could enjoy taking photos of characters I love. 
It was great and it gave me a chance to try some new editing techniques and lighting design.

Katie is well-known in the cosplay community. I was very happy to help her 
round out her cosplay portfolio with some photos for her parents. 

Learn to say "YES" to opportunity! 

You may find that it will take you exactly where you want to be. 
Last year, I was honored to be asked to shoot the engagement photos for two of my very best friends in the entire world. Because I have been working hard to hone my skills and improve, I was able to provide them with the kind of art I could be proud of. 

My friends were married on February 1, 2014 in California. 
While some issues evolved from both of my cars breaking down and I was unable 
to attend the ceremony in person, I am so happy that I was able to contribute 
to their wedding invitations with this photo shoot. 

I love my job 
and I wouldn't be half as good 
at it if I didn't say "YES!" 
when opportunities to improve 
present themselves.

I love this: 

Every image in this post was created entirely by me between 2011 - 2014. 
All rights reserved. Have a question about photography? Hop on down to the comments section and let me know! I'll do my best to answer as quickly as I can. I'm still learning, but I'm happy to share my experience with those who are interested. Thanks! 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Most Gorgeous Way to Stop Human Trafficking

I adore handmade jewelry. 

I rejoice in supporting independent artists. 

Most of all, I love doing things that help bring positive change to the world. 

So of course, I really love this mala! 

I met Linda through Kickstarter in early 2012. We both had projects to support our Artist in Residency work at the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica. We both managed to find full funding. It was great and our friendship evolved as we shared our art with one another. 

Last year for Mother's Day, Linda was doing a project where she made teddy bears for children in devastated areas. I ordered two. She sent cards explaining the project and I gave the cards to my Mom and Mom-in-Law. It was a huge hit. 

Just before Valentine's Day, Linda introduced a new project: Malas to support an Anti-Human Trafficking Charity! From her Etsy page: 

I ordered mine with a few other items from her site. When they arrived, I couldn't help but swoon. I took the above photo the same day and within hours, I'd been asked by several people where they could purchase their own Mala. Now, I'm working on ordering two more: One for my Mom and one for my eldest daughter. Linda's goal is to raise $1000 by March 15. This is a pretty amazing goal, but I believe we can help her reach it! She's already raised $420! 

Please visit her Etsy page and share this post or link her page to your social media sites. Let's get the word out and do a little good by buying some fabulous new jewelry! Remember that this is the sort of thing that makes a wonderful gift and that Mother's Day is not as far off as we may tend to think. 

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival

2011: My first year volunteering for the Sundance Film Festival. I took as many volunteer hours as I could and I loved working at the Main Box Office and at the Broadway Theater. The volunteer jacket for this year was a sleeveless blue vest.

2012: My position was moved and I was able to be on the Theater Team for the Salt Lake City Library during it's first year of the festival! The bright tangerine jacket was my main jacket/coat for the rest of the year. It even traveled to Costa Rica with me.

2013: I nearly didn't volunteer for 2013, knowing I would be very pregnant at the time. The volunteer coordinator was quite eager to find a way to make it work, though, and I would rather not miss a year. In order to make it possible for me to volunteer, Abe volunteered, too. We were both assigned to the Main Box Office and we managed to work it out so we both have the exact same schedule. This way, he could drive me to and from my shifts and I always had someone with me who knew what was going on with me medically. The jackets for 2013 were the same cut and style as 2012's tangerine jackets. They have zip off/on sleeves that I love. The vest portion of the jacket is bright red and the sleeves are black.

2014: The jacket design from 2012 and 2013 returned, but the color changed. Ice blue for the vest and black detachable sleeves. Abe returned to the festival with me this year and we resumed our posts at the Main Box Office in Salt Lake City. Sundance Kids was introduced and we used our Locals Ticket window to order tickets for "Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang", "Life After Beth" (which we missed. Long story.), and "God Help the Girl". We took our daughters to Zip & Zap and they loved it! We stayed for the Q&A after the screening and were able to get a photo of our daughters with the director. Our eldest couldn't wait to get home and email her boyfriend about it.

My goal has been to serve 5 years with Sundance. I had somehow decided that this was my goal before I ever worked a single shift. There have been times when my personal life has tried to corrupt this goal, but it's never succeeded. I've never called in sick. I've never been more than 10 minutes late (and both times I was 10 minutes late were due to unforeseen parking issues. Welcome to the festival!) I've never wanted to pawn off my work while I've been on shift. This is not because I'm some sort of saint: It's because Sundance treats their volunteers well. I've never felt unappreciated. I've made friends that I adore. In fact, now that the next festival will be the end of my 5 year mental commitment, I can safely say that I'd be comfortable serving another 5, 10, or even 20 years - as long as we're living in Utah.

My Sundance FAQs:

1. Do you get paid?

No. I receive benefits (like film vouchers) for my hours served. Which benefits I receive are decided by how many hours I work. Volunteers can work as few as 24 hours and as many... well... I've never heard a full-time volunteer complain that they don't get to work enough. All volunteers receive their exclusive volunteer jacket (which they get to keep) and a selection of other items that can change from year to year. Every year that I've volunteered we've had Brita as a sponsor and they've provided us with wonderful water bottles. Sundance and Brita work together to help eliminate plastic water bottle waste by encouraging volunteers to use their Brita bottles during their shifts. L'oreal is another repeat sponsor. They've given us things like mascara and nail polish in the past. We never know for certain what we'll get. This year, they had a lipstick vending machine in the Volunteer Hub up in Park City! You'd just tweet with the code displayed on the digital screen on the machine... and POP! out comes a free lipstick. Super cool promotion!

L'oreal offered free mini makeovers including hair and makeup in Park City throughout the festival. 
They also offered free nail polish for people who tagged them in Instagram posts. 

2. Do you get to see free movies?

They ask us not to answer these questions (in part because different people answer the question differently, causing confusion) but I'm going to do my best. This goes back to those vouchers I mentioned in my last answer. We are compensated based upon the hours we serve. Sometimes we are able to see films with our vouchers. Sometimes we can earn very special vouchers for our friends and family (This is NOT common and it takes a ton of hours, so don't ask a friend for vouchers. Seriously. Don't do it.) Full time volunteers are eligible for special passes, too. Here's the big thing, though: A volunteer with a pass is NEVER going to take your seat. Sundance cares about their patrons and every volunteer knows that they can be bumped from a screening. The festival organizers work hard to help us see films, but that doesn't always mean that we're attending regular festival screenings. We have occasional free volunteer screenings. This year there were volunteer screenings of "The Babadook", "Dinosaur 13", and several other films. In addition to these screenings, locals (including volunteers) can pick up Best of Fest tickets. These tickets are released to the public before the festival and are good for Best of Fest: A day of screenings the day after the festival has ended. The films are not chosen until late in the festival so you never know what you'll see! This year we saw "The Case Against 8" and "Whiplash" at Best of Fest.

None of this has stopped us from purchasing Locals tickets.

3. Do you get to hang out with celebrities? 

Don't volunteer to hang out with celebrities, please. It does happen, but that's not why we are a part of the festival. Yes, I have stories I could tell. I had coffee with Bobby Kennedy, Jr. during my first year as a volunteer. I was in the wings during the Q&A with the director of "The Raid 2" this year.

I took this for him after he mentioned he didn't have many festival photos to show his Mom.  

But that's not why I do this. In fact, my favorite Sundance stories often involve other volunteers or the absence of celebrities. Our 2012 screening of "West of Memphis" was on the night that Damien Echols got snowed in up in Park City and couldn't make the scheduled Q&A. Several people had poor attitudes about this, but as Abraham and I walked back to our car, we watched the snow fall and discussed how beautiful it must be for Damien to be in one of the most beautiful resorts in the world with his wife during this storm. After all those years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit, he could be free to spend this time with his wife. How could we be upset? 

4. What's your favorite movie? 

Sundance or otherwise? I'm pretty sure my favorites are mostly Sundance films anyway. I don't know that I can pick just one, but I'll list a few of my ultimate must-watch films:

"Jess+Moss" (Not everyone's cup of tea, but it's on Hulu right now... so... go watch it? I loved it.) 
"West of Memphis" (Graphic, but amazing.)

and from this year: 
"Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang"
"God Help the Girl" (If you like Belle and Sebastian, you'll love this. I pray it gets a wide release.)

Non-Sundance films I love: 
"Clue: The Movie" 
"Ghostbusters" and "Ghostbusters 2"
"Silver Linings Playbook"
"What Dreams May Come" 
"Undercover Blues" 
"Lilo and Stitch" 
"How to Train Your Dragon" (Don't get me started. I'll talk your ear off about this one.)
and, who could resist it... 
"Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" 

5. Why do you volunteer? 

I love it.