Whirlwind Weekend

April – what can I say? It’s been one of those months and we are just halfway through.  My weekends are here and gone before I realize it, yet I’m invigorated by the bustle of it all.  I have had something every single weekend and will have until mid May.  I’m still booking portraits and other shoots on top of this during the week so my time to sit and write has been limited, but I wanted to share with you my audience what I’ve been about the past few weeks.

The highlight has been Stars on Ice.  If you are not familiar it is the Ice dancing show with our Olympic Champions.  It’s so exciting to mingle with these young people who are so passionate and excited about their sport, many fresh off the plane from PyeongChang at the 2018 Winter Olympics.  This was my second year being hired by Stars and it was even better than last year, the show was incredible!  The skaters so kind and friendly and fresh faced.  Adam Rippon (Silver medalist PyeongChangcame) up to me and introduced himself , Charlie White (Gold medalist with his partner Meryl Davis, Sochi winter Olympics) remembered me from last year and did something quite special for me……I still get chills thinking about it (you’ll see it in the photo).

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I take nothing for granted, I know how special this is and I look forward to doing it again next year!

 

Treasures of Time

This past weekend I briefly took a step back in time.  I attended a reunion of friends from my youth.  As a young girl I attended a Baptist Church and became very active within the youth group.  We had a Pastor who loved the youth as well as his entire congregation and we had a youth leadership team who led us, and encouraged us to grow and to seek Jesus, we had a bond that was unshakable.  Yes, we would argue and fuss at each other, but we truly loved each other and knew how to say those two little words “I’m sorry”    Still today some of my greatest loves have come from this group; my life long best friends, respect for leadership who treated us like their own kids, and a love of the Lord that has grown stronger through time.

I was asked to document the weekend through photographs, which I did with portraits and candid moments, a book will be created from this collection and I look forward to working on that project.

The weekend began on Friday night with an informal gathering, skits, fun, and fellowship, reminiscent from days past. And of course it would not be a Baptist get-together without food, LOTS of food, an entire row of tables full of homemade fare.

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We told stories and shared memories and hugged each other, laughed and ate (did I mention we had lots of food?). One of the event organizers created a beautiful slideshow of those who were once a part of us, but have now graduated to heaven.  I never made it past the second slide before the tears started, even writing about it gets me choked up.

On Saturday evening, we met at a local restaurant in a private room.  Again with stories, laughter, hugs and lots of great food!  We gathered with some who could not attend on Friday and caught up with their life.  The evening ended with a group photograph and singing.  I’m sure the restaurant has never experienced anything like us before.

Sunday we gathered for worship as a group, and were surprised to see our very own Pastor Hammond in attendance.  I cannot say enough about this man. He is gracious and loves the Lord.   We could not wait to see him and talk to him, many of us  ran to greet him before he even sat down.  I was one of those, and he greeted me fondly by the nickname he had bestowed upon me years ago………’Trouble’,  yes, I cried just hearing him call me that. There is a story behind the nickname, someday I will share that story.

As I sat in the service, I really can’t recall what the current minister was speaking on.  My thoughts were encountering past memories, treasures of the mind; and for a time, we were teenagers, Pastor Hammond was up in the pulpit Randy Willett was sitting next to him, Tim Davis was at the Piano and Steve Wright was directing us youth in choir, and for a moment, time briefly stood still.  My heart is still full, and my eyes are still leaking with the thoughts of those I love.  We all experienced this weekend, those treasures in time.

Until we meet again……continue to let your light shine.  “You are the light of the world, like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

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Holiday Wedding

On December 30, 2016 My son Tommy and I photographed a wedding at one of the prettiest venues here in our Fort Myers area, The White Orchid.

This venue consists of a beautiful old Florida style home, with a courtyard full of native plants and flowers a beautiful fountain, and an expansive lawn which reaches to the Caloosahatchee River and a dock perfect for formal photos.

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Due to unforeseen circumstances the wedding party was unable to utilize the beautiful building, however the owner of the venue set up a tent and it was impeccably decorated, and the DJs up-lighting added to the ambiance of the day.

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Photo take by Tommy Owen

 

Our couple were from the cold north and enjoyed the comfort of a Florida winter day. However as the sun dipped into the horizon, so did the temperature, but the wedding party didn’t allow the cold to keep their party from heating up.

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As the formal photos were winding down, the sun was just beginning it’s show of magnificent colors.

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Photo take by Tommy Owen

 

This was the perfect ending to a perfect wedding and we wish Kaylynne & Ryan all the best for their future.

Perfectionism at it’s Best (Worst)

Ever make a mistake? Yes, me too and when I do they are normally doozies! I consider myself a perfectionist.  I was the kid who would not erase, but start over on a paper, it always took me longer because of this.  I still carry that bit of perfectionism into my life today and in doing so it imparts undue stress which is something I try to avoid.

When it comes to photography, I rarely have to edit, not that my photos are perfect, far from it many times, but I try to get my settings right in camera to avoid having to spend time in front of a computer to edit.  Last week that completely changed and I had an extremely humbling experience.

The story begins when I was asked by the lead singer of a headlining band to take their final bow shot at the end of the evening.  I knew it would be difficult because the lighting at these shows are less than stellar.  I accepted the challenge convinced I’d be able to give them something great.  Throughout the show I really fought with my settings and the non existent or highly saturated stage lighting, but I still thought “I can do this” because there is one thing I rarely do is question my skills.  Finally the moment came I climbed the steps up to the stage to position myself behind the drum kit and on my way I kept thinking, “I should have grabbed my flash”,  I really didn’t want to use flash because the idea was to capture the crowd behind the band.  I shot off the first few frames and thought my settings were adequate, however I had nothing to focus on as the stage lights were completely off except for this glaring green light bouncing off the cymbals. Still no realizing what was happening I continued to shoot as both bands took a final bow and my job was done.

On the way home the lead singer sent me a text message telling me how he couldn’t wait to see the photos.  I felt the same way, until I downloaded them into Lightroom. My stomach dropped, every single photo was dark; except for the green lights reflecting from the cymbals on the drum kit.  What was I going to do?  I completely broke down; THESE were the MOST important shots of the night and I had completely failed.  I began to question myself, my abilities and my judgement.  For three days I tried to work on the photos and just could not get anything usable.  I was devastated, I had ruined the photos.

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Before

 

On the fourth day once again I received a text message from the lead singer asking when I would be sending the photos over, I told him they would be done later that night; again I broke down, but something at that moment hit me.  I could and would salvage the photo!

I needed to believe in myself and my abilities and understand I could solve the problem (with a lot of prayer and pleading to God).  Finally it came to me what to do and three hours later, the band had their photo.

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After

 

 

Here is what I didn’t realize at the time: The green lights were reflecting from the cymbals back to the sensor on my camera, so when I thought I was exposing for the faces, I exposing for the cymbals. I should have stepped forward instead of staying behind the drums and finally I should have used my flash and deal with the crowd in post processing.

Here is what I learned about myself: Always go with your gut! No matter what, do what your instincts tell you to do.  I should have used my flash.  Next I learned that I need to not stress over this, just breathe and work until a solution is evident.  And finally I learned I am human, and I make mistakes and I need to learn from them.  However, the biggest take away from this is that God has given me the gift of creativity and I need to rely on him and not on myself no matter how impossible the situation seems.  Thanks for following me, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Season Is Upon Us

Where I live in Florida we don’t have four distinct seasons, we have two; Snowbird season beginning in mid October and the season when they go back north which is normally after Easter.  During this time in South West Florida the events and concerts pick up and my camera sees a lot of action.  The weather is a lot more pleasant for outdoor events and weddings.  My season started on October 15 with a wedding held at one of the most historic country clubs in Fort Myers; The Edison.  I am fortunate enough to be able to work with my youngest son.  He is an incredible photographer and one I trust explicitly. The long view of the couple facing The Edison was taken by him.  Please visit his website at phloridaphoto

Between the special events I also schedule portrait sessions and was able to photograph an interesting fellow whom I believe is one of the many spirits which lurk in Historic Downtown Fort Myers, complete with orb and gargoyle (look closely).

I was also at Fright Nite where The Sick Puppies and Devour the Day headlined, there were also a few interesting characters out that night as well. You can see more of the photos from this frightful night by clicking on the photo below.

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October Madness

October is the month where my photographic life starts to pick up. With the cooler temperatures come more outdoor events  here in the beautiful state of Florida, specifically South West Florida.  I shoot more concerts, festivals and portraits during the fall & winter months than any other time of the year, and some weeks it’s totally crazy.  I  don’t mind  the crazy because October is what I call my “sad” month; it’s the month my father passed away thirty-three years ago on October 17.  I have written before that he too was a photographer and I know if he could see what I have done with a camera he would be incredibly proud of me, but I miss him.  This is also the month my oldest son Jimmy turns 33; where has the time gone?  I was just a young girl of twenty-four when this all took place, truly a lifetime ago.

I have a lot of wonderful events on the books and I’m sure I’ll be writing more as they unfold, but for now………daddy, this one’s for you.

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My father Azle Marteney and my first real camera

2014 A Year in Review

 

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The year of change

Looking back through this year, I am simply humbled by what has transpired. The concerts and artists I have been fortunate enough to photograph has been incredible, I have worked with some of the best folks in the business from radio, television and beyond.  Venue management has been incredible to work with from locally in Fort Myers throughout the Tampa Bay area, just top-notch all the way.  I’ve had some incredible referrals from those I’ve worked with and photographed for which has opened up some amazing opportunities and I am so very grateful for them.  I’ve had my work featured on some major artist’s social media outlets which just astonishes me; it simply staggers my mind to know they are looking at my work.  And I have been able to meet a lot of new people in areas I would have never expected.

2014 was all about change and learning who I was as a photographer, going into the new year I wasn’t quite sure what direction I wanted to take with my photography, I knew I wanted to film events, but beyond that I still wasn’t sure. After engaging in a few different subject matters I know what and who I want to shoot.  The concerts, festivals and events are my number one choice for photography; I love the lights and bending my creativity to make the lighting work around the artists.  I have also found I enjoy weddings, especially the small destination weddings, but I really enjoy shooting them more than I thought I would initially, and I get to work with my favorite photographer, my son Tommy.  The other subject I enjoy immensely is shooting women over 40, I find that empowering and also joyful for myself and for them, especially when they see how beautiful they are.  Finally I will continue to relax by heading to the woods, ‘Glades or a local zoo and simply shoot what I want. This keeps me balanced and focused on what really matters.

This year also taught me all about those who have supported me and how incredible they are.  One of my very dear friends has fought the battle of her life, but will be starting out 2015 completely cancer free!  I love my friends, they understand me and have been there to cheer me on.   I have made a few new friends too, those who went from being acquaintances to full-fledged friends.  I can’t imagine life without them now.

Looking to the Future

With 2015 right around the corner I have to come up with my next steps in my five-year plan;  I need to sit down with pen and paper and write out what I would like to see for this next year that will fit within my goals.  I’m a planner and goal setter and for things to happen in my world I must have a plan.

2014 – This was the year for getting my feet wet as a photographer, deciding what I wanted to focus on and where I want to take this awesome business.

2015 – This will be the year of marketing myself more, hitting  major goals such as becoming an LLC and setting up a full business plan and scope of services and opening more doors for myself.  I know I’m good enough and I am constantly wanting to learn new techniques and learn from those more seasoned.

2016 – Begin the transition to becoming a full-time photographer

2017 – Open a fully operating gallery and studio

2018 – Retiring from full-time job and taking on photography full-time with my son Tommy

These are lofty goals and I know I will hit each one of them.  I don’t need to compete with anyone as my work speaks for itself and those who are in front of my lens are there for a reason.  I have been blessed with a talent, but more than that I have been blessed with the passion, to hold a camera, to view what is in my lens and to create greatness from that image.  A long time friend told me recently that my dad would be incredibly proud of me for where I have taken this love, and I understand now, what I did not understand then, my dad had a passion for capturing images and freezing time; it was his superpower.  This year I will make it mine.

Happy 2015 Everyone!