Monday, January 30, 2012

Street Photography {on a whim}

I know I've mentioned it before, but I am a portrait photographer at heart. While I love experimenting with other subjects, my first love will forever be taking pictures of people.

I spend a lot of time looking at portraits taken by others, and I am always drawn in by the gritty, real life photos often captured by street photographers. Many of the images seem to speak a truth that words could never convey, and the haunting images have become a part of my soul.  While I long to capture the same types of portraits myself, the simple truth is that I don't have the guts.  I've lead too sheltered of a life to feel safe or comfortable spending time in the inner-city areas where so many of the images I love so much are taken.

However, I have been toying with the idea of taking street photos in more warm and fuzzy areas of the city.  Not too long ago I posted a thread on Facebook asking for opinions about how people would feel if they were approached by a stranger asking to take their photo.  The responses were mixed, and I'm still a bit hesitant to jump in with both feet and try my hand at it but I'm still giving it very serious consideration.

Which is probably what made me take the following photo while I was photographing my husband recently.  This girl was sitting there on the ledge, talking to a male who was sitting inside the opening on the other side of that large cement structure with the writing on it.  I was taking photos of Kevin, and she was off to my left just a little bit.  On a whim, I turned slightly, aimed the camera at her and fired off a quick shot.  I felt a little silly taking her photo, and barely took a second to compose the shot before pressing the shutter, and quickly turning the camera back toward Kevin.

You can image my surprise when I got home and looked at the image, only to realized that I actually liked it.  I look at it and can't help wonder what her story is... who is she?  where does she come from?  who is she talking to?  And then there is the writing... who wrote it?  who was the intended recipient? was it this girl or someone else?  if it was someone else, did she see it?  There's just also something about the position of the girl and her expression that I find myself drawn to for some unexplainable reason.


I will probably find myself taking more street images in the future, but I suspect they will probably be images I take on a whim, like this one. It will take a while to work up to being able to walk right up to someone and asking to photograph them.

So, have you ever done any street photography? If so, what was the experience like?

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kevin's Sneak Peek

Although, I'm not sure sneak peek is really appropriate since he's already seen all of the photos, but I figured I may as well stick with tradition.

On Sunday, I twisted Kevin's arm into allowing me to take some photos of him. It was the first time that I've taken any portraits (except for my own) since we moved!  It felt good to be behind the camera, but my brain felt a little slow to wrap itself around the idea that it was supposed to be acting creative and scoping out good shoot locations.  Luckily my husband was a good sport, and just stood there patiently as my sluggish brain tried to kick into gear and remember it's job.

Kevin has had the same photo as his Facebook profile pic for almost a year.  It is a photo I took of him last Spring when we were visiting Phoenix, trying to decide if we wanted to move here.  It is one of those candid "caught off guard photos" where I sort of called his name and fired off a few shots as soon as he turned.  I'm not denying that it's a good photo of him; I'm just getting sick of seeing it.  So, being the evil plotting wife that I am, I decided that maybe I could convince him it was time for a change if I took a new photo of him that he liked.  Since he's wearing his sunglasses in his current profile photo, I thought maybe I'd have better luck convincing him to choose a new one if I gave him lots of options with him wearing his sunglasses.  So, for most of the photo session, I had him wear them.

I always have an easier time selecting and editing photos of Kevin, compared to anyone else I photograph. I suppose because I spend so much time with him and his face is so familiar to me, it is easy for me to pick out the photos where he looks like himself.  I've narrowed it down to these 5 favorites from the photo session to share:





This one is by far my fav!...


As always, thanks for stopping by!  If you'd like to put your vote in for which photo should be his new profile pictures, feel free to leave a comment telling him which one you like best.

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Self-Portrait | January 2012

As I embark on a new year of self-portraits, I can't help but stop and reflect on the journey that has brought me to this point in my project, and my life. I feel the need to pause and remind myself why I am taking these monthly portraits, and refocus my attention on my goals for these images.

I started taking my self-portraits with four simple goals in mind, which I listed along with my very first self-portrait back in August 2011. I still want these images to be a way for me to put my face on the blog, and allow my readers a chance to get to see more of me. I also still want these photos to be a way for me to document my life, and to help me be better about accepting myself for who I am. And I definitely still want these photos to be a way for me to practice my photography skills. However, my purpose has also grown and shifted into something bigger.

I have made it my goal with each self-portrait to try to capture the important aspects of my life that month in a single photograph. I want to be able to look back at each photograph and be reminded of where I was in my life - what was happening, what I was thinking, feeling, seeing, and doing. For what is a photograph, if not a way to capture a memory or evoke an emotion?

I've been giving a lot of thought to where I want to take my personal photography this year. I'm still in the early stages of this consideration, but I do know that I want to expand my creativity. I want to step outside the box, and find new ways to say what I want to say with my images. I want to start branching out and capturing more emotion with my photography. And the place I want to start is with myself. Not only do I want to be able to look back at my monthly self-portraits and remember what I was doing, I also want to feel what I was feeling. Perhaps a tall order for a single photograph, but I think I have succeeded this month.


I usually start out saying something about each photo like, "January's self-portrait was taken at our rental house in Phoenix," which is a true statement, but a bit irrelevant for this particular photograph.  Instead of the where or the how, I think the important commentary for this image is the why.

I'd love to be able to say that my relocation to Phoenix has been all puppy dogs and roses, but the truth of the matter is that the past six months have been some of the darkest of my life.  Picking up and leaving everything I've known isn't easy, and this is the fourth time I've done it.  With each move, I leave a little bit more of my soul behind and starting over is beginning to take a toll on me.

I don't regret moving here, and I still feel like it was the right decision for us.  Unfortunately, we didn't settle into a new life here as smoothly and seamlessly as I had hoped, and I am still really struggling to find my new place in my new world.  This month was the breaking point for me, where I finally realized that the things I am doing aren't working, and I need to take this new life of mine in a new direction.  Sometimes you must reach total darkness before you can begin your ascent into the light.

Did you miss some of my past self-portraits?  Clicking here will take you to all of my self-portrait blog posts. Clicking here will take you to my self-portrait Facebook album.

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Best of 2011 | Furry Friends

I couldn't let the people have all the fun, could I? Here are some of my favorite dog photographs from 2011, in random order...











Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Best of 2011 | Portraits

Do you ever feel human beings are pre-programed to be too hard on ourselves? It seems so easy for us to look at where we are at in our lives and feel like we aren't enough. We aren't talented enough, pretty enough, thin enough, rich enough, or smart enough.  We look at those around us, and feel that we don't measure up no matter how hard we try.  The lives of others seem so much more exciting and successful than ours do in comparison.

Each new year, we vow that things are going to be different in the coming year. We promise to improve ourselves, and correct whatever it is we feel is lacking in our lives.  We resolve to work harder, be more organized, stop procrastinating, and to lose weight.  But, have you ever stopped to wonder why we never bother to look back at the road we have traveled and acknowledge how far we have come?  Why is it so hard for us to feel proud of ourselves? To pat ourselves on the back for a job well done?  To feel like we deserve everything we have, and more?

As a photographer, it is incredibly easy to look at the photographs that others have created and feel like you fall short. It always feels like there is someone out there that is more talented and more creative than you will ever be no matter how hard you try. It's easy to feel like everyone else is more successful than you are, and it's easy to wonder if you should keep going or just hang up your camera and quit. I've certainly thought all of those things a zillion times in the past year. But no more! 2012 is going to be my year to stop all of those negative thoughts. My motto from here on out is I am enough. I am smart enough. I am talented enough. I am good enough. I deserve to be happy and successful, and so do you!

Two years ago, I had never held a DSLR camera or used photoshop.  Since then I have spent most of my free time reading every book, article, and online website I can get my hands on.  I have looked at thousands of photographs taken by others, and I have taken thousands myself.  I've taught myself an overwhelming amount of things in a relatively short amount of time.  When I stop and I look back at how far I've come, I can't believe it.  I really do have a lot to be proud of!

So, please join me for a short look back at some of my favorite portraits of 2011, in no particular order.  All of these people are wonderful and amazing, and I owe a lot to them for taking a chance on me and helping me get started.













Thank you for joining me on my journey in 2011, and I am looking forward to see what 2012 has in store for me.  Best wishes for happiness and success in the near year to each of you, too!

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.
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