Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Little Trooper

The weather in Phoenix has gotten a little chilly recently and I don't think our rose bushes are loving the colder temps! Last week I noticed that there was only one flower left, and he was hanging on for dear life. I decided to grab my camera and honor the little trooper with a few photos. I ended up with these 4 images that I thought did him justice.

What I liked so much about this flower was how the color changed from a pink in the very center to a darker, almost red at bottom and I was attempting to capture this in the first two images...

I liked how the veins (is that the proper term for a flower?) stood out in black and white...

Something about the curving folds of the petals grabbed me in this one...

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area.
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© 2013 Michele Whitacre Photography LLC

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Up Close and Personal

When I take photos of Zoe and Lexi I always use one of my zoom lenses.  Admittedly, they are used to being photographed and do a good job of posing most of the time.  However, they do have the tendency to creep their way toward me while I'm shooting, as they get more and more anxious for the treats that they know are coming.  If I have a zoom lens on my camera, I can quickly and easily change my focal distance as they inch their way in, and keep right on shooting.

I'd never tried photographing them with a prime lens because it just sounded like too much work.  I knew that as they kept moving closer to me I was going to have to keep repositioning myself over and over again.  But it is impossible to beat the image quality of my 50 mm.  It takes such pretty pictures that a few days ago I decided to give it a try with them and see what I managed to capture.  (For the non-photographers reading, this lens focuses at a single set distance so instead of zooming in and out with the lens I have do it with my body by moving closer or farther away from my subject.  Not an easy feat when I am sitting or laying down to take all of the photos.)

It took a lot longer than it usually does, but I did end up getting a few good portraits. I also ended up capturing a lot of interesting close-up images of each of them. As they moved in closer to me, I just kept shooting until they got too close to focus on any longer.  Because the clarity of this lens is so freaking amazing, I ended up digging some of these images and decided to toss them on the ol' blog for something a little different.

Zoe and Lexi: Up close and personal...

As always, thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed the photos!

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area.
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© 2013 Michele Whitacre Photography LLC

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Photography Goals | 2013

But first....

I'd like to take a brief glance at my 2012 goals and review how I did.

Last year I declared 3 photography goals:

1. Dedicate more time to photography
Perhaps I should have been more specific in declaring this goal, but what I meant was dedicate more time to getting my photography business up and running after our relocation and to start accepting clients again.  I did reopening my shooting schedule in early April 2012 and continued to do sessions throughout the year, so I'm declaring this goal a success! 
2. Get outside of my comfort zone, and start exploring more areas of photography
Again, I wasn't super specific, but my intent with this goal was to gain experience with other types of photography: nature, landscape, food, architecture, abstract, etc. With the exception of a couple of coward's attempts at street photography, I must admit that I really didn't make much progress on this goal in 2012. But no worries. It reappears slightly altered in my 2013 goals.
3. Create more emotional and symbolic personal photographs
When I added this goal to my list, my intent was to try to create personal photographs that moved people. I wanted to create images that provoked an emotional response for my viewers. I got down to business with my self-portrait for January 2012. And I provoked an emotional response, all right. I posted this image and ended up getting phone calls and emails from friends and family more or less asking me if I was suicidal.  After repeatedly reassuring everyone I know that the image was staged and meant to be dramatic. (Notice that only ONE eye has tears coming out of it.) That I wasn't really crying (even though the feeling behind the image was real, it was a horrible time in my life, and I had been doing more than my fair share of crying off camera).   And that I wasn't planning on doing any bodily harm to myself.  I decided that perhaps this goal should be set aside for the greater good of everyone who knows and loves me.

OK. Moving on to this year's goals. Last year I didn't get around to declaring my goals until February, so I'm already ahead for 2013.  Look at me go.

2013 Photography Goals

1. Blog more

I know some people who keep a business blog view it as a bit of a chore, but I actually enjoy blogging.  I like writing and I loving sharing my photos, so my thinking is why not spend more time doing something that I actually like to do?  Especially if it can potentially help grow my business!  Blogging more will also have the natural added benefit of keeping me behind the camera more regularly since a photography blog pretty much demands to be filled with new photos.

2. Do more good

I've been thinking a lot recently about finding a way "do good" using my photography.  I'd like to volunteer my services to an organization that I feel would benefit from it.  I'm still not exactly sure what I want to do but I'm leaning towards finding an animal shelter that needs photos of the animals up for adoption or perhaps a service that offers free family portraits to families with sick children.  If you're reading and know of a worthy organization to fit either category, I'd love to hear about them!

3. Feel the fear

Growth does not come from sticking with the status quo. In order to expand my abilities and my creativity, I'm going to have to force myself to get uncomfortable. I'm going to have to feel the fear that comes with the uncertain and the unfamiliar. Only then will I begin to experience true growth. What this means for my photography is that in 2013, I am going to stand on the ledge, look into the deep abyss of everything I don't yet know or understand, feel the fear of all that unknown, and then jump in with both feet, trusting in my ability to succeed.

4. Get some guts

I've been talking about wanting to try my hand at street photography, but I just haven't been able to get up the guts and do it. That is going to change in 2013!

And there you have it. My goals for 2013. It is going to be my year to soar!

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area.
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© 2013 Michele Whitacre Photography LLC

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Saturday Morning Cuteness

I caught Lexi and Zoe cuddled up together on a pile of blankets on the couch this morning.  I think they've grown accustom to the warm Arizona temps and they don't know what to do with the morning chill that has settled in the past few weeks.

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area.
Visit Michele's Website | Like Michele on Facebook | Follow Michele on Instagram | Follow Michele on Twitter

© 2013 Michele Whitacre Photography LLC

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Best of 2012 | Portraits + Furry Friends

As 2013 makes its grand entrance, I find it impossible not to look back and reflect on the year I am leaving behind. This is a common theme in my world every new year so if you were here for The Best of 2011 a lot of what I am about to say will probably sound somewhat familiar.

I'd be willing to bet that if I asked those people who know me best to come up with some words to describe me, hard working, over achieving, critical and perfectionist would probably rank somewhere in the top 10. While those qualities have served me well and gotten me through many challenges, they also tend to be a bit of a curse.

In so many areas of my life I am my own worst critic and I find faults where none really exist. Instead of celebrating the many successes, I dwell on the few failures. Instead of recognizing the massive accomplishments, I fret over all that is still left undone. Instead of feeling proud of all that I now know, I feel shame over everything that is still left to learn.  No where is this more apparent than in my pursuit of my photography business dream.

As DSLR cameras become more affordable and information about how to use them becomes more readily available, more and more professional photographers are hanging out their shingle every single day. It can be a tough market to compete in, and sometimes it can be so tempting to compare my work to that of others and feel that mine falls short.  It can be difficult to watch other's businesses appear to take off virtually over night, while I'm left dreaming of the day that mine will do the same.  And some days it is impossible not to wonder if I should just give up the dream and call it quits.

I think it is important to stop and remind myself that no matter where I am on my path, there will always be people who are better off than I am and people who are worse off than I am.  The important thing to concentrate on is my own growth, and the best way for me to do that is to look back at all that I have accomplished this past year and realize just how far I have traveled.

I set out at the beginning of 2012 to try to realize that I am enough and I deserve to be successful in my photography venture, and in life.  I actually wasn't sure if I would ever manage to accomplish this goal, but I can honestly say that I have finally reached the point where I do feel like I am enough.  I am talented enough.  I am creative enough.  And my photos are good enough.  It's been a long, hard, uphill hike to get to this point in my photography journey, but I finally made it.  Whew!

I've recently begun to realize that the real joy in life must come from the journey, not the destination.  Because let's face it, there is no final destination.  Life isn't a race with someone standing at the end of it to let me know where the finish line is located.  No matter where I am along the path there is always something greater to aspire towards.  If I can't celebrate the success along every step of the way, happiness will forever be out of my grasp.

The goal for 2013 is to concentrate on finding the joy in the journey.  I need to learn how to be content with the fact that my facebook page has 500 likes instead of depressed by the fact that it doesn't have 600.  I need to be happy when I get 1 comment on a blog post instead of upset that I didn't get 10.  I need to be thrilled at the opportunity that I am given when a single client chooses me to capture their special memories instead of upset that several more aren't waiting in the wings. Because let's be honest, spending my life doing nothing but reaching for that next number is a recipe for a never ending cycle of disappointment.

To start the year off headed firmly in the right direction, please join me as I find the joy in some of my favorite portraits of 2012, in no particular order.  I'd like to send a HUGE thank you to all of these wonderful and amazing individuals, who allowed me to capture these images and to share a special moment with them and their families.

I didn't take as many pet photos in 2012 as I did in 2011 so I didn't think my furry friends needed their own post this year. Below are a few of my favorite pet portraits from 2012, in random order...

Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area.
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© 2013 Michele Whitacre Photography LLC

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Self-Portrait | December 2012

Some months are easier than others to decide what to capture for my self-portrait, and luckily December was a piece of cake!  While most people have an insanely busy holiday season to contend with, I have the opposite situation.  Since Kevin and I don't have any family in the area, we weren't running off in a million directions attending holiday celebrations like most of you probably were.  So, I spent the entire month of December blissfully relaxing and regrouping while I was curled up on the couch watching movies.

One of my favorite holiday traditions is to watch Christmas movies and I have developed quite a collection over the years.  I usually get the movies out the day after Thanksgiving and watch them all before New Years, when I once again tuck them away until the next holiday season.  Unfortunately, I ended up coming down with a cold the day before Christmas this year.  So once I ran out of Christmas movies, I continued to run through several more random movies from my perch on the couch while I attempted to nurse myself back to health.

I opted for a bit of an environmental self-portrait for this month because I wanted to include my surroundings in the photo.  This was the first time in 3 years that I put up a Christmas tree or set out any decorations, and I have to admit that I found myself really enjoying the season for a change.  Now that I no longer have to deal with the cold winter weather in conjunction with the Christmas season, I've started to find more joy in it.  I absolutely loved glancing over at the lit Christmas tree and seeing all of my favorite holiday decorations surrounding me while I was enjoying my movies.

I was trying to make this image as authentic as possible, so I let the dogs curl up with me like they usually do when I'm sitting on the couch, pulled my hair back, put on my favorite old sweatshirt, and snuggled under one of my favorite blankets.  And I think I succeeded because when I look at this picture, I definitely see my month in a nutshell!

As I look back over my 2012 self-portrait series, I feel like I want to label them "all or nothing" because they are either shot from a wide angle and show all of me and a lot of my environment or else they are an extreme close up showing just a very small part of me. Perhaps in 2013, I can shoot for (no pun intended) a few more "middle of the road" type photos.

I can't help but look back at my self-portrait project and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.  First, it feels like an accomplishment that I've simply managed to keep it going all this time. Second, I feel like I continue to grow and stretch my creativity month after month while taking these images. Capturing interesting photos, while staying true to myself and what is happening in my life each month is a constant but welcome challenge. I look forward to embracing it and continuing along my self-portrait journey in 2013. I hope you will continue to join me for the ride.

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 Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

BBL 2012-2013 | Send a Message in a Bottle


Why did I include this on my Bucket List?

When I was in elementary school we did a project where each of the students attached a card with their name and the school address to a helium balloon and then we released them into the sky. We asked whoever found them to write and tell us where the balloons landed. I always thought it would be neat to try the same experiment with a message in a bottle cast to sea.

Was the experience what I had hoped it would be?

I guess I won't know how it turns out until I wait to see if my bottle is ever found, but the sending of the bottle went pretty much as planned.  The only exception was that I intended to take some photos of the bottle once I'd released it into the water, but sadly that didn't happen.  As soon as the bottle hit the water I lost sight of it in the blinding glare coming off of the surface of the water.  I guess that's what I get for deciding to throw it overboard in the late afternoon sun!

The details...

I ordered a message in a bottle kit online and took it with me when I went on our recent Christmas cruise with Kevin and my parents. During our day at sea (on December 20, 2012), I wrote my letter, including my contact information, sealed up the bottle and threw it overboard somewhere in route between Cozumel, Mexico and Miami, Florida, U.S.A.  I tossed the bottle off the back of the ship to make sure that it actually hit the water and didn't end up coming back onto the ship and landing on someone's balcony.  I saw the bottle hit the water and start floating, but by the time I raised up my camera to take some photos I had lost sight of it and couldn't find it again.

Here is a photo of the kit all packaged up before I opened it...

And here is my bottle all ready to cast out to sea...

Do you want to see my entire 2012-2013 Birthday Bucket List? You can find it here.  Or did you miss my 2011-2012 Birthday Bucket List? You can find it here.

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