Plaza Hotel NYC Engagement Photoshoot

Inspiration

Jersey and Luis are the most adorable couple. They’re born and raised New Yorkers who run a wellness Instagram together where they coach others and help people on their fitness journey. They’re also foodies who love cooking elaborate dishes together in their Upper East Side Apartment.

I asked them if they’d want to do a quick couple shoot near The Plaza Hotel and Central Park, and it just so happened that the day we shot together was their four year wedding anniversary! It was meant to be. From the second we met, they were all laughs, high energy, and so sweet. You could tell from their infectious smiles that they’re best friends and have so much fun together.

I tried a variety of poses and angles with them on this shoot. Walking together, sitting, crossing the street, facing each other and holding hands are all great options for couple photos. In some shots, like with the walking and crossing the street, I like to add a bit of movement, so I had Jersey move her skirt so it flowed a little bit.

The Pulitzer Fountain and trees made a great backdrop and bokeh, and for some of the shots I also tried a technique where I laid on the ground and angled up so The Plaza was directly behind them. As always, we had the best time shooting and I can’t wait to collaborate more with them. We’re planning a fitness shoot for them soon, so keep an eye out for that.

What are your favorite poses for engagement shoots? Also, are there any places in NYC that I just have to shoot at?! Drop a comment below with your thoughts and tell me what you think! And check out my favorites from our shoot at The Plaza below:

If you like these photos, make sure to have a look at my website and follow me on Instagram! Feel free to drop me an email at gdeimz@gmail.com for any shoot requests, questions, or just to chat! If you’re in the NYC area, let’s grab coffee and talk lenses and shoot locations 🙂

The Color Factory NYC Photoshoot

Inspiration, photography tips

My friend Cameisha modeled for The Color Factory for their opening last year, so she asked me if I wanted to go back and take some fun fashion shots! I knew that the pop up was filled with dozens of colorfully painted rooms with awesome activities, so I was super excited to explore with her and shoot some photos.

One of the first rooms we walked in was bright ombre red and orange. There are all these balloons that are blowing around with words and phrases on them (my favorite was “a lot of pizza”). We had fun trying to make the balloons stay still long enough for a quick photo.

Another cool thing about The Color Factory is that all the walls have stripes, rainbows, and colors galore! Literally every hallway, door, room, and corner are covered with colors, murals, and art pieces. It makes the entire experience a prime spot for all photo taking. Of course we had to do a quick outfit change with her fun sequin pants to match the vibrant walls.

My personal favorite room is the Disco room! It’s covered in sequins, a dance floor, neon, and is blasting with music. You feel like you’re in a nightclub of color. Cameisha’s black feather coat and neon pink bodysuit made for the perfect combination.

We went a little crazy and even had Cameisha lay on the disco lit floor for a few shots. People did stare, just a little bit. That’s the only downside of shooting in a public place–you have to be okay causing a bit of a scene. Fashion shoots in public are not for the faint of heart!

The last room is definitely the best–a massive blue ball pit filled with literally thousands of balls to jump in, play with, and of course, take photos with. To get this shot, I had to dive in with her so I could shoot from a little bit of an overhead angle. I highly recommend flash for these types of pictures, because lighting was a little dark. The last thing is to be patient, because there were a lot of people also playing in the ball pit, and the last thing you want in a fashion shot is random strangers in the background.

Overall, we had a blast, and I highly recommend you check out The Color Factory, or maybe The Pint Shop, or the newest pop-up in NYC, Pixinity. Pop-ups are a such a fun way to take unique photos and get creative!

If you like these photos, make sure to have a look at my website and follow me on Instagram! Feel free to drop me an email at gdeimz@gmail.com for any shoot requests, questions, or just to chat! If you’re in the NYC area, let’s grab coffee and talk lenses and shoot locations 🙂

Best Graffiti Walls in NYC to Photograph

Inspiration, photography tips

When my cousin asked me if I’d shoot some fun engagement photos for her and her fiancee, I was immediately excited. They’re a super fun couple who hate the traditional cheesy engagement shots, so I knew our shoot would be fun and totally out of the box–something I’m always down to try with photography.

We immediately started scouring Instagram for the best spots in NYC with the coolest graffiti. I’d walked by a lot of cool spots in passing, but I had never really put together a definitive list on the best spots to keep track of. So, after we ran around shooting all day–and I do mean the entire day–we had tons of good spots that I would recommend for you guys to try if you’re looking for good shooting spots. Here they are:

  1. Freeman Alley

This spot was perfect for them because they don’t love having to take pictures while an audience of people watches. Freeman Alley is pretty hard to find if you don’t know that it’s there, so there’s never a ton of people hanging around, which makes pictures easier. The graffiti in the alley is always changing, but theres a diverse selection to choose from. Also, while you’re there, grabbing a bite at Freeman’s is never a bad idea!

2. Houston Bowery Mural

This is one of the more known spots downtown, but that doesn’t make it any less photogenic! The mural gets changed every few months, so there’s always something new to shoot with. Queen Andrea is the most recent artists selected to decorate the wall, and it’s filled with vibrant colors and a massive “Believe” script over the top. It’s massive, so you’ll have plenty of room to get your shots for The ‘Gram. Just be careful though, because it’s right next to the busy street.

3. NOMO SOHO Graffiti Wall

We saw this wall in our inspiration pics, but didn’t know exactly where it was, so it was a huge surprise as we were strolling down Crosby Street and came across this piece and the ivy archway. It’s definitely a great spot for pictures, and the pastel tones on the brick come across beautifully in camera. Just note that this is an entrance to a hotel, so people will probably be walking back and forth, but don’t let that stop you from getting your shot!

4. Dumbo Love Wall

I told you we went everywhere–we even made it to Brooklyn before the sun set! If you’ve walked around NYC, chances are you’ve probably seen some heart murals. Those belong to JGoldcrown, a British graffiti artist based in NY and LA. We shot at the Dumbo one, but he has murals up in Freeman Alley, Mott Street, St. Marks, and Williamsburg. This is such an iconic NYC graffiti stop, and I think it’s a must for your graffiti photo list.

5. Wandering!

My last tip for you: wander around. Here’s just a few other places we went that ended up having super cool or cute graffiti. The coolest part about NYC is that it’s constantly changing, and a piece you love might be replaced next week with a totally new one. Definitely pick out your spots, but make sure you plan in some time to wander around and see what you can find in the city. If you do happen to stumble onto some great spots, let me know and I’ll add them to the list!

Special thanks to A and Ty for such a fun day in NYC and trusting me with their pictures. And if you like these, make sure to have a look at my website and follow me on Instagram! Feel free to drop me an email at gdeimz@gmail.com for any shoot requests, questions, or just to chat! If you’re in the NYC area, let’s grab coffee and talk lenses and shoot locations 🙂

UES. Ice Cream Photoshoot

Inspiration

One of my favorite things to do in NYC is bring my camera to places that have cute backdrops and cause a huge scene doing a mini photoshoot in a public place with lots of people staring at us.

Okay, I’m joking, but seriously, sometimes restaurants, graffiti walls, and NYC popups are too cute to just snap a pic with my iPhone. So I get all dressed up, trudge to the location in heels, bring my wide lens and a flash, and just have a full-on photoshoot wherever we are. Pro tip: You can’t be embarrassed by this in NYC. Everyone is doing mini photoshoots for The Gram, so I just go with it and act like it’s perfectly natural to be staging a shoot in whatever public place we’re at that day.

A few faves: The Pint Shop. It’s a pink paradise with larger than life pints of ice cream and sprinkles. The Gucci photo pop up. It’s a room filled with hundreds of old photographs and Polaroids. And most recently, UES. ice cream shop, well, in the Upper East Side. This place has a twist, though. You have to say a codeword to the shop manager, and suddenly the wall of hundreds of pints of ice cream opens to reveal a secret door that leads you into a hidden speakeasy in the back!

WHAT! Pretty sweet, huh?! When my friend told me about it, I was excited to go and check it out, but I knew that I wanted a cute photo in front of that adorable ice cream wall, so we rounded up a few girlfriends and met outside the shop to get our ice cream and drink on.

When we got there, we realized that the shop was tiny, and only about 4-5 people can fit in there at a time. It was a tight squeeze, but we managed to get a cute waffle cone with sprinkles and snap some fun shots (with strangers onlooking, but you can’t be bothered by that in NYC) before saying the secret phrase: “I’d like to volunteer for your storage room.”

Then suddenly, an attendant whisked us to the back, revealing the speakeasy! We spent the rest of the evening in ice cream bliss, enjoying our sweets, ice cream flavored drinks, and the excitement of the hidden secrecy of the place. If you’re in NYC, it’s definitely worth a visit for the delicious ice cream and drinks in the back.

Check out some of the photos we took below:

Having a Career You Love

Inspiration

My parents wanted me to have a practical career. Something stable, with normal business hours and a steady salary. And then when I was twelve, my mom handed me a camera to take to a concert, and that concept went promptly out the window. Luckily for me, throughout high school and college, my parents realized that my passion for image making wasn’t going anywhere, and they were not only supportive but insanely helpful in making sure I had opportunities to develop and cultivate my craft. They helped me get my first photography internship, and agreed that I should study photography in college. 

Fast forward five years and I’m living the dream in Manhattan. And by “living the dream” I mean I work three part time photography jobs, often work nights and weekends, and haven’t slept since February. But guess what? I love it. I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s the most rewarding career I could have imagined for myself.

I’ll be honest: having a career you love is hard. You’re 100% invested. You live and breathe it every day. You wake up thinking about it and answer those last few emails before bed at the end of the day. It’s not going to be the easy route, because the hustle is just as important as the passion. That whole “Get a job you love and you won’t work a day in your life” phrase is quite honestly garbage. I have to work hard day in and day out to further my career, and all the weight and responsibility of that is solely on my shoulders. It’s intimidating, but that makes it even more rewarding when there are successes. 

If you are ready for a challenge, if you’re ready to get to work, if the unpredictability excites you, then take the leap and go for it. Lately my office has been in a Chicago airport, the Rocky Mountains, a coffeeshop in Manhattan, a farm in Missouri, and who knows where else in the world I might be. There’s not a lot of stability, and there are no guarantees, but it’s what I love. It takes a lot of work and a lot more self discipline, but the challenge is part of the excitement. So get out there and make that dream a reality. I promise it will be worth it.

I Like Photography Because It’s Perfection

Inspiration

In a boundless world full of life and people and action and movement happening in an endless constant every instant, my task feels simple: fill a 2 x 3 rectangular frame, and capture. It’s entirely my choice what to fill it with, and the possibilities are delightfully endless. You can add–or subtract–anything your heart desires. Color. Contrast. Intense, sharp drama. Sparkle. Beauty. Excitement. Sweet, nuanced emotion.

When you’re holding the camera, you’re in charge, which means you have complete control of the orthogonally shaped box where 22.3 Megapixels will be swiftly preserved in multitudinous quantities. I painstakingly pick what’s special and what sits inside my picture. I create the rules. I choose the light, the tone, the angles and the presence or absence of any and all form. Then, later, I alter and meddle until it’s exactly what I want, until it’s precisely how I envisioned it in my head. It can be an exhaustive undertaking.

I’ve done it for so long that it’s now familiar on an instinctual level; I know how I prefer the smallest details in minute ways I could never verbally convey. It’s ambling into a room and surveying the light like it’s a tangible object. It’s immediate, automatic previsualization for composition and the slight, specific angles I hold the camera, in a manner that doesn’t even always make sense to me–but sometimes you just know, and it just feels right. It’s the way I can work my Canon with my eyes closed (and, once, inebriated, but I’ll save that story for later).

I drag the bundle of pixels into Photoshop and begin my surgery. Observe the mess and mayhem. Begin work. Spot remove the imperfections. Adjust the color balance, smooth things out. Scrutinize. Carve out the important pieces; let the rest melt away. Make it clean. Precise. Intentional.

I find an absolute perfectness in the chaos of it all: the way the human face and figure will never be exactly symmetrical. How ordinary light can create enchanting and extraordinary photographs. The way nothing can be replicated ever again. The feeling you get when all the elements come together faultlessly and are captured exactly as you envisioned.

The odds of getting a flawless, immaculate shot are almost none, and yet I still wake up every day in search of another, no matter how elusive. It’s an art form of creation not quite like anything else, and it’s become a part of who I am. And for a girl in a constant strive for perfection, sometimes, during brief moments of magic, she achieves it, and contained within the lines, according to her, is something beautiful. Something perfect.

Moving To NYC

Inspiration

I always had a feeling that I didn’t quite fit in, in Callaway County, MO, Population 44,000, but it started to become extra obvious around my preteen years. While other girls were decorating their rooms with butterflies and stars, I filled canvases with skyscrapers and pictures of the Eiffel and the Arc de Triomph. I asked my parents for supplies to learn knitting and screen printing and video editing and painting, and once they put the camera in my hand, it never left. 

My mom had given it to me to take pictures at a concert, but while I was waiting in line, I saw a lady wearing a gorgeous cream-colored sun hat with colorful beads on the rim, just barely covering her eyes, and I took a picture of her face. When I showed my mom, she scolded me, saying, “Gaby, stop taking pictures of strangers!” She didn’t understand yet, but I did. Even then, I knew I wanted to capture people, to make them timeless, to show the beauty in life, to show the essence of being human. It wasn’t until almost a decade later, in college, when I was told the word for what I was creating: portraits. 

Some kids ask for a car on their 16th birthday. I asked to take a trip to New York City. I stepped onto the concrete playground and fell in love. I walked around Manhattan with wonder and Central Park in awe. It was even better than I’d hoped. I knew I wanted to live there. And now, somehow, my dream is finally coming true. Today is the day. My plane leaves Lambert in an hour. But it’s still pretty scary. I just want to find a place to call home in the creative world where I know I belong, because, for my artistic side, that place was never Missouri.

I cant wait for the adventures, the art, the creating and hating and loving and funny moments and small still silences and the crazy bustling streets and coffeeshops and the overwhelming sense of movement and life and progression and finding yourself and getting lost on the way and everything in between. A city I love, a craft I love, and time. Fingers crossed. 

As I paid for my one-way ticket to LaGuardia airport, I had to chuckle, because it asked, “Business or Personal?” It’s both.

Success Tips For Emerging Creatives

Inspiration, photography tips

I know what you’re thinking: here we go, another one of those vague articles about how to be successful that doesn’t actually explain anything at all, except ending with some inspirational quote like, “the world is yours, so get out there and do something!” They’re kind of inspiring, but also never really say what you’re actually supposed to do. Well, this week is my one year anniversary of being a college graduate, and so far the real world has taught me a lot more about failure than success. So I thought I’d write about what I’ve learned thus far, in hopes that other young creatives might find it helpful.

Stop Comparing Yourself. First of all, in creative careers especially, your definition of success will most likely be wildly different from someone else’s, even in the same field. As a creative, you can’t compare yourself to other people. My graphic designer and illustrator friends are amazing, but they do a totally different job than me, a photographer. You should appreciate the value of the other people in your team, but you do a highly specialized and individualized job, too, and that’s worth a lot. And just because you have less experience doesn’t mean you’re any less of a professional. That’s something I had to learn to accept. When I’m bidding jobs against other photographers who have ten or twenty years more experience than me, I have to be confident in my craft (that, or fake it ’til you make it).

Identify What You’re Trying to Achieve. As a freelancer first starting out, it can be especially difficult and confusing to determine where to even begin. Should you make connections? Advertise yourself? Do a few free jobs to get your name out there? The most important thing you need to do is figure out what you’re trying to achieve. What’s your end goal? Analyze your objectives and determine what quantifiable steps you can take to move toward them.

For me right now, as an emerging photographer, success means networking, making connections, promoting myself and getting new opportunities. Once you have that outlined, you can make an action plan. Sometimes small steps make the biggest difference. For example, to get my name out there, I made some flyers of my images and my Instagram username and posted them in areas around London that I knew models and makeup artists would see them. It took an hour of my time, and around $15 to get color prints, and I’m still getting emails from designers to shoot their lookbooks and new collections.

Say Yes, and Keep Saying Yes. Since I’ve been in London, I made a little deal with myself. I agreed that I would accept all the shoots that I’m offered, even if it’s not my specific niche of fashion portraiture. In the past few months, I have shot concerts, a designer handbag collection, street style for a fashion blogger, red carpet events, and even the London Fashion Week runway. It totally pushed me out of my comfort zone, and every single one of those shoots taught me something new. 

My point is this: while new opportunities can be terrifying, they are are important, if not crucial to expanding your knowledge and skill set. Those shoots made me think outside the box and determine creative solutions that I had never dealt with before. Besides cultivating a deeper understanding of your craft, those kinds of skills will be useful in any potential future job. That’s why I think it’s highly important to say yes, even if that particular job isn’t specifically part of your end goal.

Put In the Work, and Work Hard. This one might seem obvious, but from observing my peers in the industry, I think it’s a pretty underrated and necessary step. You have to put in the work. You will have long shoot days and late nights editing. You’ll have to carry a reflector and sometimes get coffee for people, but it’s not for nothing. It’s propelling you closer to that end goal, even if you can’t see it just yet. For example, I assisted for a photographer in London on a one-day shoot, and it wasn’t a big deal, but I made sure to be as helpful and cheerful as possible on set. A few months later, he came back to London to do a cover shoot with a big magazine, and he asked me to assist again. Because of that, I met the entire creative team of that magazine and was able to make connections with them.

Every opportunity leads to another one, if you let it. You just have to be paying attention. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you aren’t putting effort into actively promoting yourself and trying to get clients and make contacts, they won’t come to you. You have to go to them. You have to be a little pushy sometimes. Make calls to agencies, send a lot of emails, and accept that you’re going to get a lot of rejection replies. They will still sting a little, but it hurts less each time. Send more.

So, while I can’t tell you that adding all the editors of Vogue on LinkedIn will be a guaranteed way for you to make new connections in the fashion industry, I can tell you from personal experience that if you try these tips, you will be pushing yourself and making tangible strides toward the success you want to achieve. And the most rewarding part is that you’ll meet some really talented and likeminded people along the way.

Living Abroad + Creative Problem Solving

Inspiration

As I strolled into the train station at precisely 8:21 am this morning in Newcastle, England, I checked the departures board to find what platform my 8:59 train was leaving from. And then, at the top, I saw it in big, bold letters: Cancelled. A train was derailed in Edinburgh, so my train was not coming for me anymore. Slight panic. Here I was, standing alone in a train station in a foreign city, and my ride back was currently nonexistent. This meant I was officially stuck in Newcastle for the rest of the morning, except that plan wasn’t going to work, because I had a mandatory class to attend in London. I quickly scanned the board. Think. I noticed there was another train going to King’s Cross, but it was leaving in 4 minutes! Could I make that? It would be a risk. I looked for the ticketing desk, but it was still closed since it was early in the morning. That wasn’t going to help. So, I did the only think I could think to do. I ran to platform 3 just as the train was pulling up. A few brisk strides and long breaths later, I found the nearest ticket attendant, who handed me off to another ticket attendant at the other end of the train. I swiftly explained my circumstance, and asked if there was any way I could get my ticket switched to this earlier train. Luckily, she told me that we could sort it all out on board, so I hopped on, literally seconds before the train rolled out of the station. Exhale. I breathed a sigh of relief. Who knew it was going to be such an adventurous morning?!

Originally from central Missouri, I’m currently living in London for the next 12 months, and through my time here so far, I’ve noticed how living abroad has strengthened my creative problem solving skills in a multitude of ways. You have to be able to adapt to change quickly, think on your feet, analyze the situation, and make a decision. For me this morning, that all happened in the span of a few minutes. But in a less extreme way, that kind of cognitive dexterity is constantly being developed every day, from planning ahead, organizing, and deciphering maps in foreign places to calculating train routes and travel plans. London public transport is wonderful, but it’s not always reliable, and never on time. I’m constantly evaluating, rerouting, determining the best options, and creating new solutions to problems that arise. Instead of panicking when I realized my train was cancelled, I took action to resolve the issue in an immediate way, and I don’t know if I would have had the same mindset, had I been home in my comfort zone in America. 

Even though that was just a small example, I’m convinced that living abroad can help develop a lot of skills that will have a real-life, practical impact. Things like being flexible, creative, and willing to rapidly formulate a new plan when thing change. Being able to discover, interpret, investigate, surmise. All of these get tested at a new level. I believe that travel can not only pull you out of your safety net and show you experiences more incredible than you could have imagined, but the skill set and competence you will develop will be invaluable, and make you a better person. A more understanding, innovate, focused, creative person, who can see things in complex, multi-faceted ways. For me, the takeaway from this experience is that we have a lot to learn from the world around us, if we can be willing to expand our minds and try new things. And if all that doesn’t convince you, do it for the gelato.

Finding Inspiration In New Places

Inspiration

I’ve been in London almost a month, and I’ve barely unpacked my camera. I’ve settled into my flat, successfully navigated the Underground to make it to my fashion photography courses, and even managed to make some friends and go out with them. But I haven’t been taking any photos.

At first, I was getting a bit exasperated with myself. I’m a photographer in London and I can’t find anything to photograph? What’s wrong with me? But sometimes when you are in a brand new place, it can be overwhelming. I haven’t had any big ideas for conceptual shoots yet, and at first, that freaked me out. I wondered, where had the inspiration gone?

It’s not that I wasn’t interested or inspired; actually, it was quite the opposite. I’ve been going to art galleries–Tate Modern, The Royal Academy, Bjork Digital at Sommerset House. I was being inspired, I was just overwhelmed. Sometimes your headspace can get so full of absorbing what’s around you or being busy with routine tasks that it can feel like there isn’t any room for creativity or inspiration.

I often find that when I’m in need of an inspiration increase, it’s because I haven’t been giving enough attention to working on creative projects. While some things just have to be done during the day–work, cooking dinner, answering emails, binge watching Stranger Things— I think it’s important to carve out some time to focus on your creativity. It doesn’t even have to be a lot of time. Take ten minutes before bed and sketch or write. Allow yourself one hour in a coffeeshop to sip tea and brainstorm. Use a lunch break to collaborate with coworkers. Share and discuss ideas. Take a walk with no distractions. Leave your phone at home and look at the amazing world around you.

Dream, ponder, create. Let yourself think of ideas, even if they are terrible. Especially if they are terrible. Start somewhere, because you can build off that to find better and more cohesive ideas. See a play, or take a yoga class to clear your head. It’s all about your mindset. You are uniquely you, and you have the imagination to do it. You just need to refocus and revitalize your creative energy and vision.

Other ways I combat the creativity gap: organize. Keep a list of ideas, mood boards, photo samples, drawings and snippets of inspiration from anywhere. I take pictures of spaces in restaurants, billboards, even just people walking down the street. Cut out visually interesting pieces from magazines or newspapers. Designspiration is a great website that I use to get the wheels turning in my head.

Most importantly, give yourself a break, and realize that mental inspiration blocks are pretty common with creatives. Inspiration can be found all around us; it just takes time to process and interpret. Just be patient, keep going, and be open to letting yourself absorb the world around you. If you are mindful in those ways, I promise that inspiration will follow.