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

How I will Move Out!

cropped-logo-2.jpg I made a decision over two years ago to work toward becoming a full time photographer. Life events changed and I needed to see if it was something I could do on my own. I set some small goals and took a year to see if I really could make it in this world of younger, more beautiful work.  Of course that notion is one self-perceived and I have found my work speaks for itself. I went into 2015 with some specific goals in mind and then I was approached about the possibility of opening a studio. That’s a bit scary because I am not sure how I would actually fund that venture, so instead I am scaling back and reassessing my goals. I belong to a women’s group called National Association of Christian Women Leaders, Inc. (NACWL) and the past few months we have been talking about a vision of moving on, moving up, and moving out. I have taken the first step in all this with the moving on. I actually moved on very quickly because I had already made that decision months prior to actually doing it.  As difficult as it was I felt it was something I was being led to do.  That’s when I decided on the year of rebuilding and finding my footing again.  I am now in the process of moving up.  I re-evaluated the goals I had set in a five year plan (which has been accelerated) and I’m collecting the information I need to become a business owner, by doing research, talking with other photographers and relying on my mentor and friend who is an extremely successful small business owner and one who gave me stellar advice which I am implementing and I trust him explicitly, he sugar coats nothing and I adore him for that. He’s only a phone call away and if I need to talk something out, he’s there to listen and to help me see things a bit differently and to give me a reality check. I’m currently in phase one of creating an intimate in house studio in a small room in my small odd shaped apartment.  During phase two I will be helped by a friend who is incredibly talented when it comes to ideas and construction (so glad I don’t have to rely on my own strengths for this).  I know I can rely on him to help me decide the best method for rigging my drops and creating movable V-flats; another gem of a friend who has championed me through some decisions by helping me to look at things differently. I believe I will be in the moving up portion for a longer period of time than I was with the moving on portion. I know God has a hand in my life by the way things are moving, because there is no way I could be doing any of this without his guiding hand.  I know that he has placed some incredibly positive people in my life to encourage me and love on me and to help me, and  he’s brought me to a group of women leaders of whom I can learn and glean incredible knowledge from and gain a huge network of support.  And to think this all came about with a ride on the back of a horse and some tough questions I needed to answer.

A Weekend of Retrospect

I sometimes get so busy I forget to actually take time for myself and refresh.  I decided to take a weekend away and go camping, something I truly love to do and yes I do it by myself because I don’t have anyone to enjoy it with me.  If I didn’t do things because I’m alone, life would be boring, would it be more fun with a companion? Yes of course as long as the companion enjoyed it as much as I do.  I hike and trudge through some of nature’s finest swamps and wild lands without really thinking about the dangers that could lurk there.  God created the natural world for us to enjoy and after being really busy and feeling the “stress” of daily life seeing green for a few days is exactly what the doctor ordered.  My mind clears, I get more creative and I am able to bring that creativity back to my day-to-day photography.  I spent the weekend at a private campground, in a very private area, which was nice because they were having a festival of Grateful Dead music called “Skunkin Grateful”, so this actually allowed me to be away from the craziness.  The attendees were well behaved and the atmosphere was incredible.  I sat back and simply enjoyed the music, the fire dancing and the huge bon fire.  I lasted until about 1:00am and understand it went on until about 3:30am or so, by that time I was fast asleep bundled up in my tent because even though the temperature was in the high 80’s during the day the night-time was still in the low 60’s and being a Florida girl that’s cold!  It was so beautiful, between looking at the million stars through the roof of my tent, hearing the distant sound of music wafting through the air and the occasional hoot of an owl lulled me to sleep.

During these away times I look back at what I’m doing and what I have done and wonder how I can be better.  I rely on my intuition to guide me through the lens of my camera and try not to be so technical.  I find when I really let go and listen to my heart instead of my head, my images are 100% better; too bad I don’t do this with my personal life. I feel the image instead of simply seeing it.

It was a wonderful weekend and not sure when I will get the opportunity to do it again, but if I feel myself being pulled in too many directions I simply may disappear again for a couple of days.

Click on the link to check out my photos My Weekend

Mentors & Friends

I have been fortunate enough to become friends with some incredible photographers.  I have learned so much from them and their wealth of knowledge.  One in particular has really hit a nerve with me (in a good way) as to what kind of photographer I want to be.  One of the things I really dislike is editing, I want my images to need very little editing and one of the things he said this week is that we should control the camera and not allow the camera to control us.

I mainly shoot concerts and they really require me to think on my feet and to “feel” the environment, whether it’s the lighting, the fog used in many stage performances or even where I am shooting from (pit, back of house or with the VIP crowd.  Those situations change from concert to concert and It’s those very reasons I love photographing them.  I go into each venue moments prior to turning on my camera and getting off the first shot, so I must analyze quickly in my mind where my camera should be with regard to ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed; I have to, because the time I’m in the pit passes quickly and I must have at least a starting point.  The lighting for each concert can be a multitude of programmed lights and lasers or it can be a simple spot.  All require me to know and understand my camera to a point I can find my controls in the dark and change them quickly and often.  Not everyone is cut out for this type of work because it can be stressful and crowded and sometimes a bit dangerous depending on the band/crowd.  I have to be constantly aware of where I am and those around me.  Many times there are video guys and fellow photographers around me not to mention VIP ticket holders or the front row audience.  I have been bumped, pushed and grabbed by attendees who don’t like that I may be in their way, yet I try to be respectful to the ticket holders, however sometimes it does require the use of security. But, I still get my shots off even in the most difficult of situations.

It’s because of photographers like Jason I have learned and grown and will continue to do so.  I will never learn it all and there will always be new things to learn. I am fortunate to have a mentor such as this who will keep me challenged and inspire me to learn as much as I can and to keep learning.

Overall I am really fortunate to have some incredible people in my world, photographers and non photographers.  They are positive, uplifting and honest.  I except nothing less.

2013 03 15_Dierks Bentely-Miranda Lambert_2725_edited-1Near perfect lighting

2014 01 25_RoXStock_0817_edited-1 Fog machines

Luke Bryan-29 (Medium)Hot spots

2013 05 01_Midwest Express Tour_3922_edited-1Crazy colors

Cocofest 2014-90and wild crowds

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.

Luke Bryan-31 (Medium)Luke Bryan-29 (Medium)

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.

IMG_8239 (Medium)

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.

IMG_8348 (Medium)IMG_8345 (Medium)

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.

2013 03 15_Dierks Bentely-Miranda Lambert_2759_edited-

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.

 

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