Bio

I have had a camera and a penchant for capturing and recording memories since I was a child. What you see on this blog, however, is a product of my current interest in photography, which began with scrapbooking over five years ago. At first, I simply wanted better photos for my scrapbook pages. Though my passion for photography now goes far beyond scrapbooking, I am still an active scrapbooker. The images I share here are what I consider my better photographs. I welcome comments, questions and feedback.

Impromptu family photos

Thursday, January 2, 2014
Family photos by me are the family photos I wish I had. Authentic expressions, capturing our connection with and love for one another.

I have had my family's photos taken by others, and I've taken photos of other people's families. Getting a group shot where everyone looks natural yet they are also looking their best, is HARD.
I have many photos of everyone in my family all dressed nicely; we are beautifully coordinated; the lighting is great, the setting/background is lovely -- but we look like we are posing for a photograph.

It's better than nothing, of course, but this is what I would prefer to capture:
Clearly it can be done -- there are thousands of photographers out there who are able to combine their photographic talent with an ability to get families to interact naturally and lovingly and really capture their connection.

These were lucky shots - this family was happy and relaxed, and they are good friends. They know me well as I do them. I was in a unique position to capture them truly feeling connected to each other. And they were still in their church clothes, so though not perfectly coordinated, they were all nicely put together.
This is what I aim to capture every time I photograph a family - and what I wish I had for my own family portrait.

Still Life(s)

Friday, December 20, 2013
Are two still life images "still lives"?

Something about the light captured my attention here, and the juxtaposition of the objects. That's what still life is all about, isn't it?

Do you see what's lurking in the shadows?

Beach Life

Thursday, December 19, 2013
Westmoreland, Jamaica

Sing out loud

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
I take a lot of photos of school events for my children's school's Facebook page. This one got the most likes of any photo ever posted on the page:

Pure Potential

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pure Potential® is a wholistic Social Interventions Development Company that supports and encourages the growth and development of individuals, groups and organisations, through specialised healing-wellness events, retreats, conferences and luncheons for the entire human family. It is owned and run by a wonderful person who I am happy & priveleged to call my friend, Marie Sparkes.


She and her team are now working to help the survivors of the terrible Armadale Fire of 2009. Seven girls died and over 30 were badly injured, many with severe burns that have left bad scars all over their bodies. Her group is called Step Up 4 Armadale, and they are working on a variety of initiatives to help these girls.

I took some photos of her and some of her team members at one of their brunches earlier this year.




She is doing great work.


Body Forte

Monday, December 16, 2013
Amazing pilates studio right here in Kingston, Body Forte, owned & run by world-class physiotherapist and Pilates instructor, Summer Lopez.

I did a session with them recently and they used this one for their Christmas card.
I'll see if I can share the others soon.

Family portraits

Sunday, December 15, 2013
I love doing family shoots for close friends. I am a strong believer in families having nice family portraits. My last family session was with my sister and her beautiful family last summer.

I am sure to get a photo of mummy & daddy. Very important, in my book.

If the kids will cooperate, I will get solo shots of them too. I got this of my daughter and her BFF cousin. It's one of my favourites.

Hopefully I'll have some family sessions to share here soon.

They know where they're going

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
On their way to their regular daily hangout spot.

Happiness is...

Sunday, November 17, 2013
... three children who can pump their own swings.

Lensbaby portrait challenge

Thursday, May 9, 2013
 For the portrait challenge in my Lensbaby learning group:
One of the nice things about the Lensbaby is that bright spots that would be distractions in an "ordinary" photo become part of the beautiful background blur.

It works in black & white too.

Love connection

Sunday, May 5, 2013
I got into photography because I wanted to take better photos my children. But my favourite subjects aren't my kids, it's couples.

There is just something about capturing a love connection that is such a pleasure for me to photograph.


And I love that couples have these images of themselves. Especially if the relationship endures, how great will it be to have these photos years from now?


It also helps that couples who want their photo taken will do what I say, not run away and won't make funny faces at the camera. That beats my children any day.


If I ever were to try to earn money from my photography, this--couples photography--would be what I would want to specialize in.

Breakfast special

Wednesday, May 1, 2013
I don't know who has it better -- my friends in the restaurant business who have me taking free photos for them, or me who has friends with great dishes to photograph.

My friend who is the co-owner of Cannonball Cafes is running a special and needed a photo to promote it: 
An egg-and-bacon bagel and a freshly brewed coffee for a little over J$300. That's better than any of the fast food places, and you can eat it in such a nice cafe with internet too. That's a deal, to me. And it tastes really good, like real food, kwim?

I think I get the better end of the deal, because I get to practice my food photography AND I get a meal on the house. This was my reward for taking the breakfast special photo:
Kibbies & hummus, one of my favourite dishes. Yum.

I've tried to tell my friend, who is also the co-owner of Grill 71, that I can show her how to take photos of her dishes. The most important thing is positioning the dish in good light and putting the camera on a tripod. Photos like this can be taken even with a point and shoot. Even though I used a macro lens (on a tripod, near a window, no flash).

She's not taking me on though.

Lensbaby newbie

Monday, April 29, 2013
I got a Lensbaby Composer Pro with a Double Glass Optic a couple of years ago and I am finally learning how to use it. I would have loved to take a class, but I couldn't find one, so I created a learning group with some other Clickin' Moms members.

A Lensbaby gives you a small spot of focus and then blurs the rest of the photo. It's a lovely effect. But it's tricky to learn to use effectively.
The best piece of advice I got from the others in my learning group was to zoom in using Live View on my camera in order to focus. Also putting the camera on a tripod helps a lot.

And I have learned on my own that the lensbaby is not useful for taking photos of my children! Cooperative models are essential.

My next challenge is to capture some good images with the other optics I have.

Clarity

Friday, April 26, 2013
The quest for clarity has been, up to now, my main goal in my photography. It has meant I have had to study and understand all that it comprises. What is clarity? Clarity is a result of good light, good focus and depth of field, good processing and to a lesser extent good cameras and lenses (not my original definition, I got this from a photography teacher.)


I took this with a Canon 7D, 85mm 1.8 lens. This is a very sharp lens, and I have found it is even sharper on a full frame camera than on a crop sensor. SS 1/2000 | ISO 800 | f/4. I had the shutter speed so high because I was pointing upwards and my arms were getting tired and I couldn't rely on them not to shake.

For me, the most important aspect of attaining clarity in my images is understanding how light works, and hence, understanding exposure. Some people understand light intuitively, innately, and thus good exposure and clarity in a photograph is natural for them. Not me. I am still learning light and how it works. But I am getting there. With this bird in the tree I was dealing with mottled light plus a black subject -- both difficult to capture effectively in an image. But after about 100 or so attempts, I got it. 
I still need to work on processing. One of these days I will find a teacher who can show me how this side of the equation works.

Now that I know how to get clarity in my images, for the most part, I am focusing (no pun intended) on the other equally important aspect of creating a good image -- composition.

Blog etiquette

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
So what am I doing with this blog? I have lots of photos to share, and the blog is for sharing photos, that's why I started it. But it is a bit blah and even I think so because not even I'm coming here to post anything.

I have another blog, and I haven't posted there either. But that's a scrapbooking blog and I haven't been scrapbooking much recently, and when I have, the pages have been too personal to share. That blog is, however, more interesting, because I really shared there, and I was very passionate about scrapbooking, and the passion drove the blog. (Why am I not scrapbooking as much anymore? Mainly lack of time, and also a conducive space to spread out all the stuff. Also I've discovered photo books, and I'm trying my hand at my second one in any spare time I have.)

But I am passionate about photography, I suppose I just haven't quite figured out the tone of the blog. I have been reading Sue Bryce's blog. She's an amazing portrait photographer based in Australia.  If I ever go to Australia I will try to have a session with her, or with one of her protoges. Her blog is wonderful, and I found this there that she shared about blogging etiquette. A blog should comprise:

40% Knowledge
40% Positive Opinion
10% Personality
10% Self Promotion
 

And there should be two blog posts a week. 

So here's a photo (after all this is a photography blog):



Mincepies that I made at Christmas. I'm not much for baking, cooking, etc., but I love mincepies enough to get in there and do the work. 

Here's how I took it (some knowledge to share with you, whether you want it or not): I used a macro lens, Canon 100mm 2.8L. ISO 250 f/11 ss 1/40. One of the reasons I got this lens was for food photography, so I could get really close up and capture details.  I took the plate of pies outside to a covered shaded area (so there was no direct light on the pies), and put the camera on a tripod to avoid camera shake. At a shutter speed of 1/40 a tripod was essential.

I think my personality already took up more than 10% of this blogpost. (Do you feel like you got some of "me" here for those of you who know me?)

And self promotion... that one is hard because I'm not here to sell anything. Not even my photography services, because I am a happy hobbiest. And in the services that I do sell, I'm not looking for any takers right now.

Oh yes, positive opinion. No clue what that really means in the context of a photography blog so I'll have to research that one a bit more. 

So look out for me in another few days.

{PHEW!}

ps. Sue Bryce is really, really fabulous -- phenomenally talented and her personality makes her blog wonderful to read. I am NOT trying to be Sue Bryce, just trying a bit of her advice.

Life in Paradise

Sunday, April 7, 2013
Paradise... that's what many people think when they think of Jamaica. And it is paradisiacal... at times... in places... but it's also a complicated country with a lot of frustrating problems. I don't think I'm alone in finding it really hard right now to stay positive.
In times like these, as we do what we can to make the best of the situation, we also have to be present to the good around us, and one great thing about Jamaica is there are lots of beautiful photographs to be taken!

Sunsets

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
I once heard a talk by Virginia Vergara, a fine art photographer, who had done an installation using thousands of photos of sunsets that she had gotten off the internet. The main point of her work was: why bother taking a photo of a sunset when there are already so many out there? I agreed with the premise of her argument, but when a beautiful sunset subsequently came my way, I could not resist attempting to capture it.
 This was taken in Negril, where the sunsets are legendary.

So was this one, some months later.
 I am sure there must be some psychology of sunsets out there -- why it is that we are so enchanted by them.

fish

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Just caught, for sale on the beach in Ocho Rios.

Designer Interiors

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

One of the pluses of doing real estate photography is getting to see inside different homes, and getting ideas for interior design and decor.

This was taken for an editorial article (ie, not showcasing a for-sale home) on interior upgrades. One of the most beautiful bathrooms I've ever seen:
This photo was in the Summer 2012 edition of Kuya Magazine.

This photo of a kitchen didn't make it:
 
 One corner of a just-finished designer kitchen.

Macro beads

Monday, February 11, 2013
I am taking an online photography class at Clickin' Moms, Introduction to Macro Photography. I got a macro lens for my birthday last year and am glad for the opportunity to get some guidance in how to use it properly.
This was one of the shots for my first week's assignment, a favourite bead necklace.

Cupcake bakery

Friday, February 8, 2013
These photos were taken to feature a cupcake bakery in Kingston, that has since gone out of business. I was asked by Kuya Magazine to take them, but they told me they weren't going to use them. Imagine my surprise when I saw this one in print in the magazine, credited to another photographer: 

I was told it was a mistake, but it still smarted. I had put a lot of effort into this shoot, and was disappointed when they told me they weren't going to use any of my photos.

 
I'm still not sure what the lesson is from this incident.


Nevertheless, though the images weren't used (well not all of them), I am glad I have them for my food portfolio.

It's not often I get to photograph such gorgeous baked items, and with such great elements to style them with.

Evoking Dorothy Dandridge

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
One of the assignments in the intro photography class I took at Edna Manley was to do studio portraits under the theme, "A Day in Hollywood." I knew immediately upon hearing the assignment that I wanted to do something vintage.

I chose some classic images of the Hollywood actress Dorothy Dandridge, and recreated them with the help of my classmate Deidre. 


I had the help of Marlon (James), Stefan Clarke, and for this last photo the input of Marvin Bartley. (I know!) Makedia, another Edna student, did the makeup. The lighting setup was very difficult; I could never have done it on my own. 

Deidre is not only beautiful, she is the most amazing model.

This assignment taught me that a photography shoot can be a lot of hard work.

In Motion

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
There is a local photography club, the Kingston Photo Club. For the past few years I have had quite a few friends who have been a part of this club, but I never felt I was in the same place as the members. I was in learning mode, not sharing mode. But my friends in the club continued to invite me and I agreed to attend their January meeting as a guest.

The club designates a theme each month, and each member creates an image in line with that theme. For January the theme was "In Motion", and I contributed this image:
Each member critiques one photo, and then all the members vote on which photo is the best. (No names are attached to the photos.) My photo did not win, but the members gave it a very positive and detailed critique. 

I am so glad I went to that meeting; I have now joined as a full member.

On the road

Monday, February 4, 2013
I travel back and forth regularly between Kingston and Mandeville. Even though much of the journey is on highway, there are still some beautiful views to be had.

Heading out of Kingston, having just gotten on the toll road from Portmore. The birds appeared as if on cue... magical.

On Highway 2000 heading west. (Photo taken on a different day.)
It is the light that helps to make such an ordinarily drab vista appear so beautiful.

Kuya Magazine

Friday, February 1, 2013
The Jamaican franchise of Coldwell Banker Realtors publishes a glossy magazine twice a year called Kuya. The name is taken from the Jamaican expression meaning, "look here!" The most recent two issues of the magazine contain my images of properties for rent and sale around the island, mostly in the form of listings photos.
This one has appeared in both issues magazine. It is a beautiful house at the top of Jack's Hill. It's for sale if you want it!

Most of the real estate pictures I take are with natural light; I do use my speedlight (external on- camera flash) for some interior shots, but not often. I primarily use my wide angle Tokina 12-24 lens, and a tripod.
They chose a shot I took from a different angle for the listings photograph of this house on Red Hills Road, but I liked this picture the best. It just seems so charming, in my view.

I don't intend to make a career out of real estate photography, but it is nice to use my equipment and my skills doing this from time to time.

Grill 71

Thursday, January 31, 2013
Two of my childhood friends opened a restaurant recently in Kingston, Grill 71.
They have been kind enough to let me practice my photography by taking pictures of some of their dishes.

 Quesadillas:
I enjoy photographing food and look forward to adding more food images to my portfolio this year.

Hoisin burger:
The food tastes as good as it looks; I go there often with my children. It is a very kid-friendly restaurant.

Onion rings:

I have a few more that I'll share another time. And they're changing the menu soon, so hopefully I'll get some photos of their new dishes.