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 🙂

Brooklyn Bridge Sunrise Wedding Shoot

wedding photography

I met my good friend Stanley when I first moved to NYC. He’s the sweetest guy in the entire world, and his wife is even more adorable! Stanley and I are both photographers, and through some of the wedding shoots we did together, he told me that he didn’t hire a professional photographer for his wedding!

As a photographer, I was like, “Dude, you’re crazy!” A photographer not getting high quality pictures at his own wedding?! I knew we had to remedy this. So when we got the opportunity to shoot some new Hayley Paige dresses in NYC, I thought, THIS IS IT!

Dress by Hayley Paige

I pretty much insisted (and wouldn’t take no for an option) that he and his lovely wife model the looks, and get some much needed gorgeous wedding photos. We decided to shoot on the Brooklyn Bridge at sunrise. It was a substantial undertaking, because we knew that to be *at* the BKB by 5am, we’d have to get ready, do makeup, etc. wayyy before that.

We ended up meeting around 3am to start the project (Stanley was late per usual). There were some very sleepy eyes and tired brains involved. But everything was worth it once we got to the bridge. There was nobody on the bridge, besides a few cyclists here and there. It was the perfect setting, and the sun was just about to rise.

Sunrise on the Brooklyn Bridge

And they turned out to be the MOST gorgeous photos I’ve ever taken there. Stanley and his wife looked absolutely stunning, and the backdrop of the city was even better than I could have hoped for. They were so natural together, and the intricate detail of the dress matched perfectly.

The second we started shooting, we knew that waking up in the middle of the night had totally been worth it for the shots. We shot everything in about 45 minutes, and just like that, the sun had risen and people started to wake up. Tourists began walking on the bridge, and we headed home for a nice nap.

To this day, they are still some of my all-time wedding photos I’ve taken EVER. Because, look at how adorable they are! When I do styled shoots, I almost always like to use real couples as the models, because you can tell how authentic their love is in the shot.

Tips For Shooting On The Brooklyn Bridge: Go for sunrise. Hardly anyone will be there, which will mean you can grab the perfect shot, and get the gorgeous golden hour tones. Walk over from the Manhattan side, I’ve found that the lighting is better this way.

Check out the rest of my favorites from the shoot:

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.

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.

Making the Most of the Golden Hour

photography tips

What is this sorcery that some of us call the Golden Hour? It’s the time of day right after sunrise or before sunset where the light is warmer and softer because of how low in the sky the sun is. Cool and science-y, right? Well, it’s a dream for photographers because of how appealing the lighting is during that short time!

Any professional photographer will tell you that golden hour light is pure magic. It has a cast that’s warm and seems to caress the face like a bright hug from the sky. Golden hour light feels like love formed into rays of light. It’s literally light from heaven that’s the most gorgeous thing ever. So how can we use this amazingness for better results in photography?

Time it Just Right. Since the golden hour only happens for a short period of time each day, make sure to come early and prepared. Get set up and be ready for when the sun sinks lower and the magic starts happening.

Shoot Shallow. If you shoot with an open aperture, not only will it make your subject pop, but the glorious light streaming through the trees will create the most amazing bokeh you will ever see. Here’s an example of that:

Some other things to consider: fill light, contrast, and color balance. Color balance is crucial because you want to create a balance of warm but also don’t go overboard with warm tones. That’s really up to artistic merit, so just work with the images in Photoshop to get a balance you like. Same with contrast. It can be easy to overdo it, so really focus on a nice medium. And you can always try a speedlight to create some drama and to add a little pop of fill light to the images during the golden hour! The key is to experiment and see what you like.

Lens flare, shadows, and silhouettes. The golden hour can be a great time to play with silhouetting objects since the sun is so low. Lens flares can also be fun. Here’s another example of a golden hour silhouette. Feel free to play with shadows and use the lighting to create the emotion you are going for!

Overall, there is no better time than the golden hour to get outside and experiment with natural light photography. It’s a great time for me to gain some inspiration and shoot some personal work when I’m feeling like I need some photo creativity. Grab some friends, a speedlight, a reflector, and have fun! 

Why I Do This Photography Thing

Inspiration

Usually I focus on writing about tips and techniques within photography, but with my college career culminating this year, I have been thinking a lot lately about why I even got into this in the first place. And the truth is, I fell into it.

I picked up my parents point and shoot camera, like many kids do, in middle school. I remember it was summer, and I took a photo of a lady with a white sun hat that had blue beads that matched her blue shirt. She was looking away, and I clicked the button. I gasped when I saw it, without even realizing that I shot my first portrait. When I showed it to my mom, to my dismay, she scolded me for taking photos of a stranger. She didn’t see what I saw: the beauty captured within that moment.

Moments. That’s really what it all boils down to, for me. I capture moments, sometimes insignificant and easily forgotten, sometimes grand and gorgeous. I look for things that other people might miss, for moments in life that carry emotion, and connection, to other human beings. That’s what I love about shooting portraits, whether it’s weddings, seniors, or just a candid of a stranger in the park. 

On days like today, when I have a long day of my internship, then night class, then Photoshop homework, then answering emails, setting up shoots, and applying to grad school, I try to remind myself why I do this. It’s for those moments. They keep me going.

So, What’s Bokeh, Anyway?

Uncategorized

Bokeh is a camera term and a Japanese word that translates to “blur.” It’s the quality of being out of focus rendered by the camera’s lens in an image. Bokeh is visually appealing to the eye because it forces us to focus on the subject and blurs out everything else in the image, creating a shallow depth of field.

Why am I bringing this up? Because bokeh is what changes everything. Bokeh takes the casual amateur photographer shooting pictures of their family and makes them a high-quality portrait photographer. I know, because that’s how I got started.

People always ask me how they can take better pictures. This will always be my first answer: Get a lens that can create bokeh. The problem with kit lenses that come as a standard with the DSLR camera body is that they create virtually no shallow depth of field.

To have a shallow depth of field, the aperture on the lens must go to somewhere in the gorgeous range of 2.8-1.4, but kit lenses only go to 5.6, on average. So, all the pretty little blurry circles that make the subject pop out in a sharp image just blend in with the subject, and therefore there is no bokeh. What a shame.

There are other benefits of shooting shallow, too! The aperture is open much wider and therefore more light gets let in the camera, so you need a faster shutter speed. This can be really helpful when wanting to capture motion, or if you are in a low lighting situation.

For those looking to try it out, I recommend a 50mm f/1.4 lens of any brand. It’s prime, which means that you can’t zoom in with the lens, but it’s a great way to get an inexpensive lens that you can practice with.

If you don’t feel comfortable shooting on manual, try aperture priority! It will let you set the aperture that you want (anywhere in that nice bokeh range—f/1.4-2.8!) and then the camera will do the rest! And remember, when in doubt, just shoot shallow and see what happens!