Shooting From the Hip | Documentary Photography

I’ve been trying to think of ways to keep my creative juices flowing, but it’s been getting more difficult. Without a workshop to encourage me or events to look forward to, and with daylight shrinking (I am so sad about this! Every year!), it can be hard to stay inspired. And while my Project 52 keeps my wheels turning, even lately it’s felt like the weekly themes are just… blah.

So I decided to try something new.

I’d heard of “shooting from the hip” a few years ago when a group of local photographers got together for a photo walk and all tried this approach. Shooting from the hip is a technique which is most often used for street photography, with the camera resting low on your hip. It creates a different point of view and allows the viewer to react differently than if shot from eye-level. And since as the photographer you aren’t able to square things up in camera or over think the scene, the end result is you photograph things you may have not seen from your own perspective.

I thought it was interesting, but never tried until recently. And I have to admit I like it.

Not all images are winners. And I do end up adjusting my images so they aren’t completely sideways. But the I like the final images and the overall approach of it. Definitely going to be trying this more – especially after it rains because I just love how the sidewalk is reflective in some of the images below.

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Project 52 | October #2016CMP52

If you missed Weeks 36-39 of Project 52, click back to see September’s #2016CMP52 Photos.

October is the first month in a while that I’ve like every single picture I’ve taken. Every single one. Whether it’s because I like the story behind it or the final image itself. But I like them all and I’ve been quite proud of my shares for the past four weeks. And this is my favorite thing about having a weekly photo theme.

The project itself is a nice representation of the year and I do like the community aspect of sharing with a group of people who are like-minded, but the ebbs and flows, the growth and wins that happen along the way are what make it worth while. And I know that I’ve complained [more than I should have] about the weekly prompts this year, but it’s got me excited for next year. And, honestly, you should get excited too. ;)

But right now 43 weeks are a wrap and there’s only nine weeks left until the end of 2016 – I have no idea where the time has gone.

Week 40: Photographer’s Choice

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This is a new favorite of mine. I had experienced a royally crappy day at work and ended it with having to defend the team’s work on a current project. I was tired, I was over it and I truly felt defeated. When I got home I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to start dinner or even eat at all for that matter. I didn’t want to settle in front of the TV or grab my book. I didn’t feel like myself at all and I remembered something that was said in my documentary approach workshop: If you feel uncomfortable, you’re doing it right. I wanted to document this utterly shitty feeling.

There was a bit of light coming in through the office that caught my eye. I set up my camera and tripod, tested the focal length and just pushed myself against the wall. I took about 10 frames total and told myself that was enough. And the image above was the first frame.

It conveys everything I was feeling. The light reflected off my hair and my face stayed shadowed. My red shirt adds a pop of color in an otherwise dark photo.

This photo made a lot of people uncomfortable. When I posted it on Instagram and Facebook I didn’t expect to get so many comments because I usually don’t get many. But people left words of encouragement and I appreciate that they took the time to do that. But you should also know that 30 minutes later I was eating ice cream and was starting to get over myself. But it goes to show how powerful an image can be.

Settings: f/4.0, 1/125 sec, 35mm, ISO 10000
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF35mm f/1.4L USM

Week 41: Fall / Four Seasons

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I knew that when we took a “winter” photo in February that I should expect the rest of the seasons to eventually be announced. But I didn’t realize that my first four seasons photo would inspire me to do a little project within a project. Through them all, winter, spring, summer and now fall, I have taken each photo from my perspective, looking at the ground and the shoes that follow each season.

And while some might think it’s boring or uninspiring… I don’t care. Because I love seeing all four seasons together.

Settings: f/4.0, 1/100 sec, 35mm, ISO 800
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF35mm f/1.4L USM

Week 42: Low Light

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Week 42 is a week I complained. Because I had taken a kickass self-portrait two weeks prior that fit the “low light” theme and I was coming up dry with any new ideas.

I hate when that happens.

But late in the week I decided to shoot from the hip on the walk to my car after work. I got some pictures that I really do like; it had just rained and the reflections of the street and sidewalks were perfect. But when I finally got to my car, I do what any woman alone in an empty downtown parking lot with a big camera around her neck would do – shoved my big ass into my car as fast as possible and locked the doors. But after I got all my bags off my shoulders and started the car, the rain on the window stopped me.

So I took the camera out once more, pointed it at the window, stopped up to f/2.5 to knock out the background completely and fired. And just as the third frame clicked, one drop traveled down the window. It’s a simple shot and can be recreated at any time, but something about it sets a mood. I’m into it.

Settings: f/2.5, 1/200 sec, 35mm, ISO 100
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF35mm f/1.4L USM

Week 43: Whatever the Weather

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Week 43 was another week I complained. Only because the week’s theme, “whatever the weather,” was inspired by our hostess’ recent trip to Seattle where she loved shooting in the rain and encourage us all to get out into the weather in our regions (because we are all over the world), and just shoot. Sunshine, rain, snow, whatever the weather.

This was right after I took dozens of awesome photos in the freaking rain. Gah. I can’t win.

So I started thinking a little harder. Can I take a picture of how the weather makes me feel? Is there something else that withstands the weather? Or someone? Boom.

And so my capture of the week is of my teammate, David, during his smoke break. Because if there is any group of people who are more committed to their vices than smokers, I don’t know who they are. There are smokers huddled outside everyday, no matter the weather, and the idea just inspired me. Luckily, David was game and was super easy to work with. We walked away with more awesome images, but this anonymous portrait was my favorite. The focus is sharp and the whirling smoke makes it a bit more dramatic.

Settings: f/4.0, 1/400 sec, 35mm, ISO 1000
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF35mm f/1.4L USM

See more of Project 52 by clicking through to see November’s #2016CMP52 Photos.
If you’d like to follow me on social media, check out my #2016CMP52 photographs on Instagram and Flickr!

NOLA Revisited

Ever since I’ve discovered Lightroom, I’ve been itching to edit photos. Which is not the norm. At all. But I’m finding for the first time in something like four years, I have no unedited, raw images just sitting on my desktop. Like… zero. Because I’ve Lightroomed them all. And since I haven’t taken many photos over the last couple weeks, I have no new photos edit. All of this is weird…

So I went to the archives, baby.

Earlier this week at work, while catching up with coworkers and talking about weekends, I had mentioned that the New Orleans zoo has been one of my favorites to visit. I really did love it and we were really lucky when we visited in January 2013 to not only hear the tigers roar like crazy, but to have a pretty mild day of weather to enjoy it fully. I mean, the Sugar Bowl was AMAZING, but with that trip down memory lane, it only made sense to revisit those photos.

So I’ve done that. I opened up my archive from almost three years ago and looked at each photo again. I selected the images carefully, trying think of what the final outcome would look like. And while most of them are from the New Orleans zoo (I’m not lying when I said I loved it), I’m happy with this collection. The format is a bit more square because these were actually taken with a mirrorless camera, but even so…

It’s not always important to have the right camera, but just the fact you have a camera.

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I think there’s something to coming back to old photos. Not only to remember, but to revisit completely. To approach with completely fresh eyes and think of what should be done differently. I might have to do this more often until I’m back on my photography bandwagon full time. ;)

Doggin Love No. 28 | Girls Weekend

This past weekend it was just me and the dogs. Mike was away for work (in Key Largo – don’t feel too sorry for him), so we spent the majority of Saturday in bed. We watched true crime shows, read a little bit, I had recorded Baby Boom the week before so that happened (movies of the 80s, anyone?), took a nap… or two… maybe three.

It was a really nice – and super lazy – day.

But I also happened to keep my camera close.

I’ve been trying to be more mindful of what I shoot and wait for the scene that makes me want to pick up the camera. Therefore the camera must be close. And while these are just some pictures of me lounging with the doggins in a severely messy bed, it makes me smile. All of their little fuzzies just make me happy. And that’s all that really matters.

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Chicagoland

Last summer, my husband decided that we were taking a road trip to Chicago with a work colleague. I was hesitant – I hadn’t met this colleague, Jessica, and was worried about spending a weekend with her but Mike said not to worry. She, on the other hand, was excited once he mentioned it. You see, she works at the Shanghai office and has been to America several times, but has only visited Louisville, Kentucky. In her own words, “I want to see a real city! New York! LA!”

Chicago was closer.

The weekend itself was great. We did a lot of sight seeing and walking around the city. The architecture boat tour was perfect because Jessica wanted to see as much of the city as possible. What better way than to ride down the canal at a leisurely pace and learn about the city’s past with a beer in hand? We stopped in Millennium Park (Jessica didn’t understand the bean – or any street art for that matter), walked to Buckingham Fountain, and let her experience some Chicago-style pizza at Giordano’s.

We spent an entire afternoon at the Art Institute – that actually lent itself to some interesting conversations! Jessica had asked us questions the entire time – what is that statue, why is it that way, how does she wash her hair, who is Father Time… you name it, she asked it. But at the art museum, I couldn’t help but laugh a few times.

First, there was an Asian exhibit. After Jessica read the placard in front of a gigantic and beautiful Buddha, she turned to us, pointed her index finger in our faces and declared “YOU STOLE FROM CHINA!” I was flabbergasted, but Mike pointed to another placard that stated that Japan and Korea was loaning the exhibit. “Japan and Korea stole from China then.” (I still giggle thinking about it.) But as we went through the exhibit, she took time to explain a lot of the displayed artifacts to us – a personal tour through Chinese history. When we were touring the American wing, Jessica took a picture of American Gothic and then just looked at it and all the people crowding around it, trying to take selfies with it. She finally said, “I don’t get it.” I told her that it was an iconic American painting of farmers. “But they’re not happy.”

Anyway, I tell you this short story to give the background. I took my camera to Chicago that weekend and decided to play tourist with Jessica. To be honest, I didn’t like many of the photos I took; I threw a lot of them out and even the ones I kept are still mediocre. I’m only sharing them a year later because I haven’t looked at them since then – no lie, they’ve been sitting in a folder untouched, raw files just taking up memory.

But now I have edited images. And they help me remember how inquisitive Jessica was. I know she enjoyed the trip and I know she’d like to go back – living in a large city like Shanghai and coming to Kentucky for every visit just isn’t as exciting as the “real cities.”

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