Through the Lens and Beyond, Deborah Owen, Photographer

Competition

YES-16

YES bassist Chris Squires (1948-2015)

First let me say the title of this blog post is a bit misleading.  You see I am not in competition with anyone,  I am a photographer that is confident in her work and who is constantly taking classes and being mentored by pro’s who have been doing it for a lot longer than I am.  I feel this is a key element to my growth, I must continue learning; I also enjoy sharing my knowledge to those just beginning too.

Interestingly enough I recently was “accosted” on a facebook concert photography group because I stated I shoot so I don’t have to edit and was told that it was impossible to do, well I’m here to tell you 95% of my concert photos are straight out of camera.  I do try to get it right in camera which saves editing time and I am able to get the photos placed in a gallery before the concert is a “past thought” and out of the mind of the fans.  I am also a Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and various other social media user and it’s imperative that I follow the subject I am photographing.  More than once this has paid off with my photo being shared and used within the social media world of the artist; this is a success to me.

Heart (21)

Back to competition, I’m not speaking about online competitions which have no bearing to my photograph or my over-all self-esteem.  I don’t need to “prove” I am worthy to the general public, I receive that often with simply posting my photographs in social media.  Nothing beats having artist management contact you to use your photos within their social media page! One day I am sure to venture in the world of photographic competition, but when I do it will be for something a lot more prestigious than a simply “attaboy” in an online gallery.  The competition I am writing about is that which something deep inside says “I must be better than everyone else” or I am a failure.  You see I had this mindset for a few years, thinking that everyone was so much better than I am.  This sort of self-talk degrades a person’s self-esteem, trust me I have been the queen of negative self-talk.  A couple of years ago it finally dawned on me, I don’t need to be in competition with anyone except myself; to challenge myself to become better and grow in knowledge of my camera and all aspects of photography.  As soon as I changed this mindset I began to draw clients and create opportunities that few will ever realize in their life.  I competed with myself and I am winning! I am in more venues that I could have ever imagined.  I have been privileged to photographed rock bands, country artists and met some incredible people along the way.  I have photographed happy brides and ladies diagnosed with cancer in their most vulnerable moments, and I have photographed some incredibly beautiful women who would not allow just anyone to take their photo; to me this is success and to think I didn’t have to enter any competitions to do any of this.  Keeping a positive attitude and a smile on my face is my way of life.  It’s amazing how many incredible people you draw into your life when you are positive and upbeat.  Every single day I look at how far I have come in just a few short years and I am really excited about where my future will take me, I know it’s going to be somewhere great! Why do I know this? Because I am in competition with no one, but mysef.

Mother's Day shoot-16

Wind of Change

Wind of Change

With all the controversy going on within social media lately it’s wonderful to be able to remove myself from it, even if for a short while and get out and shoot for myself. I did this yesterday at the park; the flowers were incredible.

Lakes Park-11

Solitary

This week I was asked to assist on a model shoot, no camera in hand, but I learned so much about off camera lighting using Speedlites and modifiers. It was fun to see someone work in high fashion and to be an integral part of it.  I want to go out now and play using my two Canon Speedlites off camera.  It was a wonderful learning experience and the photographer I worked with was incredible.  I am really blessed in this area; I have gotten to know some incredible photographers, who know how to use their camera to create the look they are wanting. Sometimes I feel like a sponge soaking in knowledge that is making me better and more creative.

I am pleased with where I am in life, there is nothing I can’t accomplish and I will continue to grow and move forward. I am working more on marketing myself and getting my name “out there”.   I have had a few set-backs, but nothing that I could not handle.  I have realized that what I have to offer is of value and not everyone will see it and I’m perfectly Okay with that because I understand my style and price may not be for everyone; I’m not the most expensive photographer out there, but I’m not the cheapest either, and I’m fine with someone telling me I am too expensive, because I know I am not the photographer for them and sometimes you get what you pay for (or don’t pay for).  However, the hurdle I have to overcome is when a potential client spreads the rumor that I am too expensive; how would they know what my value is to someone else? I am confident in my skills and those of my second shooter. These are simply character builders and it allows me to provide services to the type of clients I am looking for; those who value the meaning of their photographs whether it’s portraits, commercial or even weddings.  I will never compromise or devalue myself just to score the job, it’s not fair to myself or to my potential clients.

Helping hands 1 D-242

Life is definitely working in my favor and I am meeting great people every single day. I wouldn’t change a thing about my life.  I get to do what I love and share it with others.

On another sad note, the music world lost an incredible bassist.  Chris Squires from YES passed away yesterday from cancer.  My thoughts go out to this band and the members.  I was fortunate enough to photograph Chris and YES last year in St. Petersburg, FL.  RIP Chris Squires you will surely be missed.

YES-16

Going “Old School”

cameras

I have been involved with an incredible group of photographers for about six months and one of them does not shoot digital at all.  He actually shoots large and medium format and develops his own work.  This has intrigued me because I grew up with a father who shot mostly black & white and did all of his own developing.  My dad owned a couple of medium format cameras; of course back in the day I didn’t understand what that meant.  I actually inherited one of those cameras the Yashica Mat 124 G and have wanted to learn how to use it all over again.  I grew up using film (mostly color that had to be taken somewhere to be developed).  I want to go “old school”.  I’ve added to my collection of cameras by purchasing a beautiful Nikon F2 from a yard sale with a multitude of lens.  Both cameras have simply been on a shelf, but it’s now time to move forward and face the fear of re-entering the world of film.  I have ordered black & white film for both cameras, plus a polaroid film for an upcoming project.  I’m excited and nervous at the same time.  I feel that taking myself out of my comfort zone and tackling film will help me to be a better photographer.  I’ll be posting photos once they are processed and scanned.

A New Adenture

I’ve taken the next couple of days off to expand my Memorial Day weekend and to give myself some much needed mental health time, and decided this morning I would try a new place I read about.  I got in my car and headed to Bird Rookery Swamp.  Anyone who knows me, knows I enjoy adventures and I really enjoy finding new places to photograph.  I’ve been so busy I’ve not had time recently to get out and photograph the natural world.

Entering a new place for the first time, I’m always amazed at what I may see and I was thrilled to be the only person on the path.   I thoroughly enjoyed the coolness of the trees and the wonderful breeze on this hot, almost summer day.  The first thing I came upon is a Red Shouldered Hawk, he’s watching me almost as intently as I am watching him.

Bird Rookery - CREW-19 (Large)

 

The next unusual thing I came across is a Shelf Fungus on the top of railing on the boardwalk. It was quite beautiful and delicate looking.

Bird Rookery - CREW-3 (Large)

Walking further on the path, I came upon something called a Witch’s Broom, it’s about halfway up a Cypress Tree, and is an odd growth of parasites and insects which cause damage on the tree and causes the tree to have a strange growth and it looks like a large nest.

Bird Rookery - CREW-9 (Large)

The sounds were incredible, a Piliated Woodpecker pounding on a tree which echoed throughout the swamp.  Juvenile Red Shouldered Hawks were a constant source of sound along with various other songbirds.

As I continued to walk I watched a White-Tailed Deer run across the path in front of me and I went searching to see where it had gone, turns out it was a gorgeous six-point buck with a full rack of undisturbed velvet still in place.  He too looked right at me.

Bird Rookery - CREW-14 (Large)

A couple of young raccoons were looking for their morning breakfast and feasted upon numerous lizards they were chasing, sometimes up into the trees.  They were curious of me, but we gave each other a respectful distance.

Bird Rookery - CREW-11 (Large)

This place was truly amazing and I will be going back again soon.

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Mother’s Day

One of my life’s greatest achievements are my children.  I have two grown boys 31 & 28 and I take delight in what wonderful young men they are.  I don’t see my oldest too often, but he holds the place in my heart where  I was hurting most. During the last few weeks of my pregnancy I lost my dad and Jimmy came along a week (to the day) later.  He kept my mind occupied and I was able to move forward with life. He is my first born and is an incredible athlete and loves the outdoors and strikingly handsome, at the age of 11 a young lady from his school class came to me and said “Mrs. Owen Jimmy is so fine”  and  I would have to agree he’s is fine in all areas, he’s a great man.  Three years and three months later, my life was completely turned upside down once again with the birth of the cutest little blonde blue-eyed guy….Tommy was early and from a really difficult pregnancy and I wasn’t sure if either of us was going to make it.  Make it we did and he was so full of vim & vinegar.  Always into something and taking life by the horns.  We were told when he was little that he would grow up to do great things…..and he has;  In his 28 years so far he has been on a PBS Zoom program based on the Everglades and it’s still featured on the teacher’s portion of the PBS website.  He’s was sent to an environmental camp for Hispanic kids (he’s NOT Hispanic), and he went back the following year to film it.  He’s paddled the entire Mississippi River not once but twice by kayak and canoe, second time alone with his dog.  He wrestled a 10 foot Python out of the water, lived to tell about it and is a featured article in the 2105 Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Special Edition and he’s an incredible photographer and guide in the region he grew up in.  I spend the most time with him, because he’s closest.  It was no different this Mother’s Day.  I went down to visit him and his boss surprised him by giving him the entire day off to spend with me.  We began the day with a picnic lunch at Turner River Road and then took a short drive down the road to see if anything interesting was out.  We continued from there to the Fakahatchee (where he grew up) and walked down a newly forged path and so glad we did.  He has a keen eye for wildlife and is always looking at his surroundings for the live and interesting.  This time around he spotted something that seemed out of place, it was the entire skeleton carcass of a very large deceased alligator.  We surmised it was the remains from the emaciated alligator we had seen a few months prior, one we thought had already died.  Even though it was not in the same pond area, we felt it had moved to find deeper water and breathed it’s last in this area.  The bones were pretty much intact and some were a little scattered due to scavengers on the body, but the bones were clean and the head and jaws were massive.  We had a bit of creative inspiration with the head and I was able to get some great photographs of the alligator and of my extremely photogenic son.

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“Ride the wave baby”

Today was not just any day at the beach, it was a sort of celebration with friends.  One of those friends has been having the battle of her life; cancer.  But not today, today we are celebrating the fact that she is 100% cancer free. Her journey began last October when she wasn’t able to stay awake for very long at a time. Not a good thing when you are driving back and forth to work. She finally got to the point where she was having a difficult time waking up at all. A visit to the ER ended up being several weeks long as they immediately did surgery and found two small brain tumors which turned out to be a Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. She was given radiation and chemo and with the prayers from so many, now six plus months later she has been set free! So today we her friends gathered on the beach to simply enjoy the company of her in our life and rejoice in the fact that we are here WITH her.

I have written about her before and I guess this is a sort of catch up on that past article.

We need to make sure we love on those that are close to us because life can change in a heartbeat literally. For me personally I love hard & deep, but sometimes it’s difficult to let those important folks in my life know how much I do care. I’m trying to be better, I’m working on being more open and authentic with how I feel, it’s especially difficult in new relationships because not truly knowing the person makes it difficult to open up……again an area I’m working on.

You may be wondering what all this has to do with photography, well of course I am going to post photos of our outing, but it’s more than that. I did take photos of my friend after she lost her hair, but they were for her eyes only, because I felt she needed to document this blip in her life. I wanted her to have not just the memory, but the fact that she can look back on this and KNOW she beat something that could have taken her life and to give her strength whenever she needs to have a dose of it.

This experience has changed how I think and how I view life. I’ve learned so much from her, how to be strong in the face of life’s greatest adversities, how to share love with the people I care about and most of all to embrace the passions in life and to not put off my “bucket list” items. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, so we must live today as if it’s our last, and we must love like there won’t be a tomorrow.

I also see a difference in how I take photos as minor as that may be. I am becoming less technical and more intuitive, allowing my heart and my eyes direct what I shoot, I feel it’s making me a much better photographer.

On Saturday Fort Myers, FL held one of their largest festivals of the year.  Fort Rock, which boasts some of heavy metal’s biggest names, like Godsmack, Papa Roach and the infamous Slipknot.  I arrived about an hour prior to show opening and located the media tent where I picked up my passes for the day.  This day I was shooting for 93X FM and was excited to be in the midst of some wonderful concert photographers as well.

I enjoy these types of concerts; not so much for the music, but for the characters that are brought onto the stage.  I was also able to photograph a few of the meet & greets and watched how they interact with the people who buy their CDs.

The day started with me shooting some lesser known bands and worked my way up to shooting bands I shot over a year ago, then of course the finale of the top performers in metal music. The bands and their music are dark and mysterious when on stage, it’s simply a persona.

Please enjoy the photos and the trip into my world even if briefly. It was a 12 hour day and I getting home I was exhausted, yet exhilarated.  It took me another 6 hours of culling and editing to get them posted.  You can see the meet & greet photos and all concert photos at facebook.com/kdphotocreations

Below are a few samples of what was posted.  Enjoy.

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