Seeing the world through the lens and beyond – Deborah Owen, Photographer

11496_10153201783940136_1553834160_nAs a woman who sets goals for herself I work toward those goals through a timeline of individual ways of reaching those goals. Last year I wrote out a five year plan and as I completed the first year I realized I have begun a life that will allow me to be working for myself and enjoying my many passions. This is the year to really establish myself as a photographer and market myself and actually make an income.  I have also decided what type of photography I want to work in. I want to photograph weddings, portraiture; especially women and of course my events and concerts. I feel that this is where I do my very best work and I am so incredibly passionate about these avenues.

It’s not easy when people don’t value my time or effort and think all I do is “push a button”. They forget the time spent in preparation of the work, time spent actually photographing and all the post work that goes into the captured images. I belong to several online groups where I am able to share my frustrations and gain some input into how to handle those clients who don’t understand I’m creating a lifetime of memories for them. What I do is unique to me and I only put out my best work to the clients. In this day and age anyone with a digital camera is a photographer, but I would like to think my lifetime of experience sets me apart from those who have never looked through a viewfinder until they purchased their first basic DSLR. It’s incredibly frustrating to have someone tell me how wonderful my work is yet they feel they can cheapen what I do by wanting me to lower my prices for them. If I am going to make a living doing this, I need to help my clients to understand my value.

Being the daughter of a professional photographer I grew up understanding the basics of what it takes to make an incredible photograph, and the lessons learned in that darkroom have manifested into how I see and process the images I take. I view things as a painter of light and I can see composition in the simplest of ideas. I know a few photographers who take incredible photographs simply with their cell phones and yes I call them photographers because they understand light and composition and see things so uniquely, they are constantly producing some of the most creative images I have ever seen.  The camera is simply an instrument of what the eyes see and the heart feels.

My job as your photographer is to creative an image that first tells a story and second will leave a legacy to your family and lastly to make you feel and look incredible no matter if you are male or female. You cannot put a value on that. Anyone who has taken photos of their children understand this concept. When people lose their homes to flood or fire or some natural disaster they first thing they either take with them or look for is their photographs, why? Because many of those photographs are from an era that has passed and it’s all they have left of a loved one. I am so honored to have many of the photographs my father took and those from my mother’s family.

So when you see my work and you visit my menu of services, remember the value of those photographs, they are my passion and understand my frustration when you undervalue your legacy.

Giving up?

You know, I write so often about what I have done and where I’m going and sometimes I have to take a step back and breathe, because there are days or weeks that I feel as if I have no time as I am going from show to show or portrait to portrait.    This past week was one of those weeks.  I really try to balance out my life with work, photography, friends and family then add to that learning opportunities.  For the ordinary person I’m sure my schedule seems to be overwhelming, but for me it’s my life.  As a creative I also need to take time to renew myself and spend time alone with the natural world.  I also need to spend time with people I care about. I prefer that one on one time as it gives me opportunity to open up (something that only happens with a choice few) and it allows me to get some much needed feedback.  These are things I need because living alone I don’t have anyone to come home to where I can bounce off my day/evening so I have to rely on myself, and I am my own worst critic. The other night after a huge concert I came home totally upset with the way I felt the shots turned out and I wasn’t sure I would be able to use any of the images as the lighting was a complete nightmare, I wanted to cry. As I was reminded this weekend I am a painter of light, so surely there was something I could use.  Turns out I had a few shots that many would call the “money shot”.

I love concerts; I love the challenge of the lights and the thought process that goes into it, but it’s stressful especially when you know someone is relying on you to do you best work.  I really felt it this week and when I looked at the images, I wondered if this is really what I should be doing.  However, that thought was fleeting as I brought up the images and I know there is nothing I want more (ok there is, but I’m being patient).  I love this and I know I am doing exactly what I should be doing as opportunities are opening up for a future I only dreamt about.  Spending time with a few friends this weekend and time out in nature has refreshed me for another busy couple of weeks. So I take a breath and keep going because my passion is being a photographer.

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Cinderella’s Magic

Last weekend I was privileged to be asked to attend and be the “official photographer” for a ‘Senior’ Prom.  Now I know we all have flash backs to our own prom, but this one is quite different where as the ‘seniors’ are way older than high school.  Personally I didn’t attend my senior prom, I had attended as a high school junior and was escorted by a young man I liked, however it was a bit of a disaster, he was so nervous he would not talk to me and I think we only danced once……I was a bit disappointed and did not attend in my senior year.

However this prom is so special and very well attended and what makes it so wonderful is the fact that the youth of the church are there with the elderly members dancing and enjoying the festivities right along with them.  The prom is always themed and this year was a gorgeous Cinderella theme complete with a beautiful carriage.

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Because of the nature of the event the photos taken were to be printed on site and to be given to the attendees.  I asked a friend to help and he being so gracious did the uploading and printing for me as I was taking the photos.  It was wonderful to have someone I could trust do this most important part of the evening.  The couples love getting their prom photos as a remembrance for a wonderful evening.

We had a great time watching the couples and seeing some of the interaction between them.  They were so cute as they posed for their “Prom” photos.  This is why I enjoy being a photographer, I think I wore a permanent smile embedded on my face.  I was also a bit envious, because I saw a very deep love in many of the couples and I want that.

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The end of the evening saw the crowning of the Senior Prom King & Queen and also the Jr. Prom King & Queen.

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An incredible evening and a hopeful heart.

 

When Change is Good

Looking over some of my photographs from the past year, I realized how much my shooting style has changed, not just my style of photography, but the way I shoot and what I consider prior to laying out my sessions or getting to the stage. I used to simply put the camera in front of my eyes and snap a photo and hope for the best. However this past year that changed;  because I wanted to be more authentic within myself my work has become more authentic and I rely more on my intuition. Those who know and understand me, know I am not a fan of editing and if I don’t need to spend time doing so, I won’t, but I do realize that there are those sessions where it’s needed.  Portraits and weddings are those areas that require a bit more work simply to make the photos what the client wants, however I still keep an open and honest feel about the work.

I allow my intuition to control more of what I am looking for whether it be a bride on her special day, a portrait session with a woman battling cancer, or an event or concert. I know when I put that camera to my eye, what I see will be what comes out in my images.

For example,  during concerts I  simply don’t snap every move the artist makes, but I watch the timing of the lights and choose to hit the shutter in anticipation of the lights going across the stage in a specific manner. In large shows the lights are synchronized to the music and will repeat numerous times, I watch for this to get that spectacular backlighting on the artist.  Some artists are known for their moves on stage and that too is something I look for.  With only getting three songs you have to take advantage of the moment.

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During weddings I wait for that intimate moment between the bride & groom where they feel they are the only two people around; you can feel their love. Or, that moment when you are talking to a cancer survivor and you see that look in her eyes, knowing she has beat something horrible, feeling her emotion and relating it to her situation.

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Intuitively I capture a moment in time which will never be repeated and preserve it for years of wonderful memories.  Change has been good, and I embrace it with fervor and passion.

 

Pizza, Art and a View

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I had a craving for pizza, not just any pizza, really great pizza, and in the area I live the only place I have ever found great pizza is a little joint called Downtown House of Pizza in the River District of Fort Myers.  I contacted a friend to see if he might want to join me.

Arriving late, I parked in an area I normally don’t park in and was totally turned around in the city, I actually turned down the wrong street and had to reorient myself in the proper direction.  I think his last text to me was “Follow the pizza smell”, the aroma is distinct and most delicious.  Walking to my destination I passed a gallery and overheard a conversation from a family of four which the small boy asked his mom why they were not going in to “look at the naked paintings” smiling I listened for the mom’s response, because you simply never now how a parent will react in these situations and sometimes the response is better than the question.  Her answer was “no we are not” and when he pressed on and asked “why” she simply stated “we are not going in there”.   I continued on my quest for pizza but made a mental note to go back.

I confessed prior to going in for our food, I had not been to any other restaurant in the river district, because I simply can’t pass up DTHofP….it’s AH-MAZING!  We received our hot slices and headed out the back door to see if any empty tables were available, we found one, ate and talked through 3 different sets of random strangers joining us.  Finally, we decided to venture out to a few galleries as this was the monthly “Art Walk”.  The first gallery we came to was the one I had noted earlier and it was quite active with people; curiosity maybe? Not really sure of the reason, but what I found was not just “nude” paintings, they were photographic works of art and quite thought-provoking and beautiful. Incredible composites deep in feeling and meaning.  I found myself wishing I could create those sorts of things; not nudes, but works of art that have deeper meaning than what you are initially seeing.  I think I read each and every label on each and every piece, they were unique and I kept wondering what the artist was thinking and feeling at the time of creation.  From there we were a bit aimless on our direction which really seemed to fit my day (I had done a few aimless things) and we walked down to the larger art hall to see what was displayed.  It was one artist who had taken on several different styles from collages to oils and it felt as if you were looking at paintings from three or four different artists.  We started with her Holocaust work. There simply aren’t any words to describe the feeling except emotional.  The deep fear which must have come upon the people experiencing this horrific event is unfathomable to me.  The images were strong and emotional which made it difficult to speak.  Progressing through her work we picked up on a more “old Florida” feel, very 1940/1950 vintage even though some of the paintings had been created in 2014.  I loved those pieces, the theme was light and airy; I could feel myself on the beaches of Sanibel and St. Petersburg and had the opposite effect of her Holocaust work which were dark and sometimes difficult to look at, these vintage type oils were fun and free and stirred up the longing to be at the beach.  We also noted she had a few watercolors dispersed in the collection which gave the collection the third feel of the evening.  They were mostly western Native American watercolors and I had commented to my friend to capture the imagery  she must have been out west.  A few minutes later we overheard her husband speaking to someone and mentioned she had spent time with the Indians which inspired the watercolors.

From there we headed to a hotel I had never gone in and my friend surprised me by taking me to the roof on the Skybar because I had mentioned I had never been.  The view was breathtaking!  It overlooks the Caloosahatchee River and is in between the two bridges.  The images shown are showing the downtown area and the river area.  I realize they are not the best images as they were taken with my point & shoot camera, but they really captured what we experienced.  The night air was balmy and breezy and the view allotted to an incredible conversation.  This was one of the most relaxing evenings I had spent in some time and it was the perfect ending to the an evening of enjoying great pizza, experience some incredible art all combined with a view to be envious of and conversation to match.  And to quote my friend, “we really do live in an amazing place”.

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A Final Farewell

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I really had not planned on writing tonight, but I’m home instead of being out celebrating and I didn’t know I would be as emotional about this whole New Year thing, but here I am at the computer typing my thoughts for the world to read.  So here goes….

This time last year on December 31, 2013 I was also alone, but I went out and enjoyed an evening at a local establishment (which sadly is no longer open), listened to a band who was losing their lead singer to cancer, it was to be his final performance, he passed a month later. When I first arrived at my table, I was a bit upset, they didn’t seat me with anyone……I was in a huge outdoor seating area, sitting alone at a table for four and I felt really awkward and thought maybe I shouldn’t be there.  You see I had just ended a four-year relationship and was determined that my life was going to be better alone than what I was enduring the last couple of years in that relationship.  As I sat at my table being served a wonderful surf & turf dinner by the best waitress ever, I kept thinking “2014 will be my year”.  It was quite chilly and I wasn’t really dressed for the coolness, but I endured to midnight, had a glass of champagne and toasted what was to come.  A young girl came over to me and gave me a huge hug and invited me to her table, I declined,  You see I was holding back tears, because I wanted her to know I was fine and really wasn’t staying much longer.  I finished my glass, and took the rest of the bottle to their larger table and wished them all a Happy New Year and left.  Driving home I was almost smiling at the thought that I got through the evening and I was going to be just fine.

Life simply got better, I was surrounded by friends who rallied around me and kept me encouraged in the midst of those sad few trying to discredit me and my work.  I threw myself into my photography and began to pick up more and more work.  I realized I was much more successful on my own and was regaining my self-confidence and finding my lost identity once again.  I have talent and my photography is good and even though the gossip mongers were trying to tear me down I was surpassing my own expectations!  I also picked up a new partner in my photography; my son Tommy who is incredible and he knows how to use his camera, he’s so amazingly talented and creative. We are my father’s prodigies, he would be proud of us.

Tommy allowed  me to photograph him and in return I succumbed to the front of his lens as well, not an easy task for a photographer.  It felt awkward and unnatural, but after a few minutes I began to enjoy the experience and really loved the images he produced of me.

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As the year progressed I was able to add an incredible amount of images to my portfolio and actually had the privilege of photographing my all time favorite former Beatle Ringo Starr (bucket list).

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Ringo Starr

I have had a set back or two, but I never allowed them to get the best of me, because I know I’m right where I need to be.  God is in control of my life and what I am doing.  My faith is unwavering.  The end of the year has been trying with finding out a close friend was diagnosed with cancer, thankfully she is a fighter and it didn’t win, she did! I’ve added friends to my very small circle and I love each one of them.  I also just sent a text my to my son and his response brought on the emotions.  I have two incredible boys and my youngest is a lot like me in more ways than with a camera.

So here I am ending my year in a puddle of tears, yet I know 2015 is going to be even better than 2014.  I will find love again this year because I’m ready and I know God is preparing someone for me, and I will be one step closer to realizing my dream of being a full-time working photographer.  I am beginning the new year documenting the journey back to health of a woman in the fight for her life and hope to highlight her here in the very near future.  So to all of my followers, stay tuned, it’s only going to get better.  God Bless each of you, treat each moment as if it could be your last….Love, laugh, dance and sing…… 2015 is going to ROCK!  Happy New Year!

A Year In Review

Wow can you believe 2014 is just about over?  What an incredible year and I am simply blessed with all the wonderful things I have seen behind the lens of my camera.  From wildlife to rockstars my camera has been there to document the best of the best.  Thank you so much for your continued support of my blog, it’s been incredibly successful.   Please enjoy the slide show I have prepared and HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

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