Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The sky's the limit

Shooting in a studio certainly has it's limits.  Besides being confined to a certain area, knowing that you're indoors, and working with what artificial light you have, can be very restricting.  And in the beginning, it can seem that way.  But once you know your resources, master them, open your mind to other possibilities, the studio turns into a blank canvas with the freedom to transform ideas into images fairly easily.  Yesterday was such a case.  Having to deal with very unique and themed products, the studio can look intimidating.  How can you show a hard to read product and introduce it's meaning besides a simple silhouette and white background seamless?

The answer is...visible cues.  To the average person and buyer, visible cues are just the information surrounding a product that make sense in being there and belonging.  To a graphic artist, photographer, art director, they're genius ideas relating to the product in making the whole image read easier, make sense to a viewer and ultimately, S E L L.

Using simple props and knowing how to emulate certain types of lighting, I was able to create such images.  And in post process, I simply color corrected and dropped in simple backgrounds/scenes.
Plant Shelf

Himalayan Salt Lamp

Monday, January 25, 2010

Nunda Your Business

This past weekend, the BF and I traded the bustling noise and busy Saturday streets of Rochester and headed down South to the serene hills and farm-scapes of Nunda, NY.  Yes, I ventured again out to another small town in hopes of finding some hidden treasures in the town's thrift store.  The day was warm and sunny and very much dress appropriate.  Sometimes it's nice to get away from all the daily commotion and experience a new surrounding.  So after a nice and leisurely 45 min drive, we arrived at our destination, the Town of Nunda. 

Side Note:  Another peculiar thing about small towns is that there are as many pizza shops as there are Tim Horton's in Canada or Star Bucks in New York City.  This town didn't disappoint.  I believe that there were literally 20 ft between two shops on the same side of the street!  Silly.

We ended up walking around the few blocks that the town could afford us and visited the thrift store.  I ended up not getting a thing because the store held more knick-knacks and miscellaneous objects rather than the clothing I was looking for.  But it was fun, nevertheless, to see toys from our childhoods and beyond. 

On our way out, we did end up eating at a small diner right outside the town called, Poor American Cafe.  With a name like that, one has to stop and eat there just to say that they did!  The place was an oddity for sure.  The building was more of a make-shift house surrounded by a yard of gravel and mud.  A tall and brightly colored giraffe statue stood candidly outside, giving the whole odd impression.  I find such places tend to always leave an impression after I leave. . . 

We entered to find the place in an organized chaos.  Mix-matched chairs, tables and decorations gave the impression of a theme of no theme.  A Family with young children sat at a round table by a window and pairs of older couples sprinkled throughout the rest of the one large room with an attached kitchen.  Thom and I sat by a window at a booth and looked over the menu.

Now I realize that people make impressions of others all the time.  And perhaps it just comes naturally and we find ourselves making our judgments before we even know a poor soul.  But that day, I found myself being sized up and down and judged.  It was like the strike of a gavel.  Our waitress came over, took one look and as quick as a strike, her faced changed from friendly to cold abidance.  Maybe not as dramatic as I make it out to be, but there was a noticeable difference in how she acted from there in out. 

We did receive our meals and drinks and eventually our bill but with as much avoidance as possible.  We were like the magnets that repel when like poles are close to each other.  Thom and I left thinking of people and how we're all different and the same.  Odd.  Nunda.  People.  And that's all I could really think about on our way back to Rochester.  I guess we saw small town, Nascar and deer hunting folk and perhaps they saw a guy with a credit card and an odd girl in bright fushia tights with a camera.  

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mustard Yellow

I really can't find a good logical explanation, but mustard yellow has got to be my favorite color of all times.  And I realize there are so many other brilliant and beautiful colors out there but honestly, I'm sticking to it.

Perhaps the reason is because I notice so many things in that specific color.  I find that like a big yellow school bus, the color just sticks out.  You can't really miss it because it catches your eye's attention right away.  Another idea that I associate the color with are sunny days and warmth.  And being stuck right in the middle of Rochester's cold winter season, a person would want nothing more than sunny days and warmth.

And when purchasing items and objects that I like?  Well you can assume that my first color choice will always be, mustard yellow.
I swear by all that I am, that one day when I buy a house, the first thing I will do is paint my front door mustard yellow.  I don't even care if the color looks mix-matched with the house. The house will have to fit with the color.

WARNING!  Eye's might roll after reading this paragraph! 
But my favorite dream car that I wish I could drive everyday for the rest of my life is...an El Camino.  Yes yes yes!  I know!  Shush!  I am completely aware that GM doesn't make this unique model anymore and that the cars get literally 5 mls to the gallon BUT, I absolutely love them!  And of course, my choice color will be mustard yellow.
And of course, regarding all things clothes, yellow it usually is.  And I've mentioned before about the color yellow and Asian skin tone?  And really, I say boo to that.  Who ever follows that white after labor day rule anyway?  Not I.  And I especially won't follow any silly color rules as well regarding my favorite color, mustard yellow.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A picture is worth...

...one thousand words, or so they say.  But what a picture really can do is change the way you feel about things.  Photographs can really make a detrimental impact on how we relate to any subject matter. 

Take our most current event of today.  The disaster in Haiti.  I know that on my part I have heard the call and watched the news.  I've read the articles and felt the compassion build up inside me to reach out and help.  If anything, I would love the opportunity to go down to Haiti and rebuild.  But that's not what Haiti needs right now.  What the country needs is money readily available to help send down medical supplies, food and water.  And over these past days, I've heard that cry to help and donate money.  But it wasn't until I viewed an article and looked at the photographs did I really stop to think and feel and finally, give. 

A few photographs took my compassion and sympathy and turned it into empathy.  And I only hope that those out there that do feel how I did, can take a look and realize the disaster in that poor country and truly feel empathy for the country of Haiti and her people.

To view the article and photographs, please click here

*Viewer discretion is advised due to the graphic nature of the photographs.

Reputable Donation Sites:

American Red Cross

Habitat For Humanity


Courtesy of the Boston Globe, REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Courtesy of the Boston Globe, REUTERS/Hans Deryk
Courtesy of the Boston Globe, Getty Images/Marco Dormino/Minustah 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

She had the heart of a Lyon

So yesterday was a very warm and sunny Rochester day.  And going on my thrift-ing kick, a friend and I made a trip to a small town called Lyons, NY to visit a new thrift store called "Be Thrifty".  Little did we know, that when we got there, there was a vacant town and a mean little closed sign hanging from the store's window.

Now coming from a small town, I should have realized that certain general rules need not apply to the small town attitude.  Certain situations like forgetting your wallet at the general grocery store and knowing that your word is good to pay it back as soon as you get home to retrieve that said wallet...only in a small town.  Or how about the town grapevine and the tempting appeal of hearing about your next door neighbor?  Be careful, it might turn around on you...but only in a small town.  And of course the leniency of store openings and closings?  If its a slow night and things are dwindling down, don't be surprised to find things closing before the 8pm closing time.  Some things are higher on the priority list, like dinnertime and Sunday Night Football, but only in a small town.

So really, I should have known better.  I wasn't all that irked to find the store I wanted to go to on Saturday closed and instead, I left with sentimental feelings and memories of my home town and it's quirky behaviors.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Shameless Shoutout to my wedding site

I know that this might seem a bit distasteful to put a shout out about my other website, but it's Friday and really I have nothing better to say at the moment. 

Really though, my other website, Something Blue Photography, shows a lot of my and the other shooter's, Shinay McNeill, wedding work.  We started to come up with the idea after shooting a friends wedding together this past October.  It was so enjoyable that we've decided to partner up and shoot weddings into the 2010 year.  And hopefully beyond... 

What I like the most about wedding photography though it can be borderline cheesy, is always 100% personable.  What I mean to say is that the work speaks so much of two people making a decision to stay by each other for the rest of their lives.  And for us to be able to document that?  To see emotions and help create such wonderful memories?  It has always been a pleasure doing so. 

There is no need to coax any emotions out of someone during a day like that.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Self-Portrait

The self-portrait usually gets a bad rep. Words like vain, egotistic and narcissism can be related.  And I would have to say that about 1/3 of my photography are self-portraits!  Yikes.

But the true definition of the self-portrait is the representation of the artist.  A representation.  There is so much creative freedom in that one word.  And there lies the complete appeal of the self-portrait.  When I was younger and used to play dolls with my sister, we would always begin a barbie story with, "Imagine that...".  The same goes with my self-portraits.  I will always imagine different scenarios and ideas that my character is going through.  It's fun and usually a good way to express my feelings and ideas.  And something so personal can only hold a deeper respect and meaning for the photographer and hopefully the viewer.
"Um, excuse me, I'm trying to take a self-portrait???"
"Really now, you're being quite rude."
"Don't be sad, we can share."
"See, this is nice."
Dress:  Plato's Closet
Tights:  Target
Cardigan:  J. Crew Outlet
Necklaces:  Thrift Store and Plato's Closet

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

La Dolce Vita

"We must get beyond passions, like a great work of art. In such miraculous harmony. We should love each other outside of time... detached."

-A quote from Steiner in La Dolce Vita, by Federico Fellini, 1960. 

Such a powerful movie with more told in-between the lines rather than on the screen.  I find that we are all "Marcellos" in this world- trying to find our happiness within something or someone, never fully satisfied with what we have and can do.  More more and more. It speaks of our fight with our morals and society's ever present opinion and weight of her cruel judgement.  I think that La Dolce Vita tells more on the human condition then any great story.  More than Fitzgerald's Gatsby or Dreiser's American Tragedy.  So dark but true. 

And beyond that, La Dolce Vita is a brilliant show of light and portraiture.  Watch it.  Then watch it again but this time stop and pause the movie at ANY establishing scene.  Fellini is brilliant, he'll always be!  His use of light, movement, angle and arch are so far superior that the viewer is set within a particular mood and feeling without ever knowing it.  You are instantly drawn in and held captive by Fellini's beauty.  There is so much emotion in each "portrait" shown.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Blue and Black

There are two color combinations that I never seem to match up correctly.  Brown/Black and Blue/Black.  Perhaps it's because of my father.  He works as a principal and has to wear a suit and tie everyday.  Sometimes my mother has to help pick out his clothing the night before because he can't seem to make out the subtle difference between a dark blue/brown pant and a black sock.  Like wise, I can't seem to find success with outfits. 

Lately, browns and blacks have found a perfect harmony thanks to great riding boots that seem to be on every Rochester girl alike and anything from cute black leggings and tights to dark washes of black jeans.  This also works vice-versa.  But as for blue and black?  Besides your favorite pair of comfy jeans and a nice pair of black boots, where else do you see a successful matching?

Over the weekend I went out thrift-ing again with a friend managed to pair together some items to make a surprisingly workable outfit.  Not only that, but I renewed my love of cheap costume jewelry.
Cardigan:  Gap, Gift from friend
Dress:  Thrift Store
Belt:  J. Crew Outlet
Tights and Necklace:  Plato's Closet
Boots:  Seychelles

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sunday Wash

Yesterday the BF and I made a trip out to wash his dirty car.  Now for some, washing a car in the middle of the Rochester's winter season seems a bit redundant and silly since it tends to switch between snow, sleet, slush and rain daily, but you'd be surprised to find a huge accumulation of stuck on salt and mud covering your entire vehicle.  So off to the instant wash we went. 

Maybe it's the new year but I can't help but become re-inspired to shoot more frequently during my days.  So as the wash passed through it's various stages of cleaning, I snapped some candid shots of the water trickling down the windows.  I know I sound pretty sentimental and all, but I love to rediscover such normal and mundane events that we all trudge through in life and turn them into something more grandiose.  Instead of going to get the car washed, it turned into a beautiful sequence of water patterns and light.  Silly but so true.  I think that photography can really change our feelings and ideas of what we normally know and see and turn them into something more heightened with a bigger sense of dignity and respect.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A sunny Saturday in Rochester

What a joy.  Honestly, to be able to wake up and see the sun come streaming into your bedroom?  "Sigh"  Today is a rare Rochester sunny day.  Though it is very cold and in the 'teens, I'm sure everyone doesn't mind the cold so much when they look up and saw bright blue skies.

Today is "Erin's catch up" day.  Or is that for every Saturday we come across?  Since I missed some hours at work this week, I went in today to make them up.  Afterwards, I stopped by a Target and scoured through the bargain shelves and aisles.  I was lucky enough to find some colorful tights at $3.50 a piece.  And when I got home to try them on, size-wize, I laughed a little to myself for buying yellow colored tights...  My mother has always told me that yellow is an unfaltering color to my asian skin tone.  The tights won't disappoint her.
 When I got home, I realized that some friends were coming over for dinner, so I cleaned up a bit.  I ended up trying to organize the freezer in the process and came across some frozen pre-made X-Mas cookies that I had forgotten.  So in the oven they went!  I really am a sucker for cute seasonal looking cookies, recipes and cutters.  Shameful, really but soooo tasty!

And for dinner?  A Cuban braised beef with tomatoes and peppers over rice.  Sometimes I like to think I can cook well and when I do find a slightly ethnic dish that can satisfy the American in-grained creature of habit in me, I cook.  And really, if you ever do get a chance, try this recipe.  Though a lot of credit goes to the BF for actually getting it all together today and a co-worker for lending the Crockpot!

All in all, today was just nice to take the time and do the things that I've wanted to do during the busy week.  I used to hate catch-up Saturdays since they tended to be so typical but lately, I really do like to slow down and enjoy the little things.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Current 2010 Loves

So to start off this 2010 year, I've decided to focus on something that I enjoy to do and really expand upon it for the whole year.  And the things I do enjoy are photography, shopping and cooking.  Hopefully by putting this down in writing, I'll have to follow through and actually do these things!  Lately, my so called passion for fashion has taken over and I have rediscovered my love of thrift-ing. 

Now, when I mention my made up verb, "thrift-ing", I mean going to second hand stores, family hand-me-downs, my grandmother's closets and garage sales.  I try to find vintage and old pieces of clothing that I try and force together into an appropriate outfit or accessories that I feel fond for in the moment that don't necessarily go with an outfit but are too unique to be left on a shelf.  And how about that thrill of about 10 items for under $20??  Sensible ladies alike must nod their heads in agreement.  I am one for a bargain deal.

And I realize it's not only I that has felt this excitement before.  Check out Liebemarlene Vintage or The Clothes Horse.  These girls blogs really take the idea of clothing, fashion, vintage ware and photography to a completely different level. 

So over the wintry and long holiday break, I ventured out to some local Salvation Army's and Amvet Centers.  And behold!  What gold I did find. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Erin Rademacher, Catalog Photographer

So I get asked from time to time what I do now since I graduated.  And I always tend to give the same lame excuse or answer like, "I'm a catalog photographer" or "I shoot Snuggies".  I never fully go into detail about my job and what I do exactly.  But I suppose one can only speculate so much about a catalog photographer.  Usually bad photography and cheap looking sets are run alongside this job and many of the products my company does happen to sell are quite silly.  Ridiculous in fact.  And I only mean that in the sense that a lot of these products are so far fetched and unique, one would have to find them all situated between the pages of a catalog.  No one else would want to sell them any other way. 

The job is fun and I get to test out a lot of the stuff too.  (If it doesn't break on me)  Mostly it's the people I work with that makes it great.  So below I compiled a small bit of what I actually shoot and do during my days here at Home Trends.
 Pretty much everyday I get to shoot something new.  Sometimes I come across reshoots or outdated images that MUST be reshot or else a subscriber might think they came across an old 1989 verision of Home Trends.  And beyond that, I edit, help with layouts and prop shop.  Four months in and I still haven't found a sound routine with what I do weekly.  And really, that suites me fine.

 And when I talk of prop shopping, I usually mean going out to buying more things for the photograph we need and then store it in the ever expanding prop room.  Eventually, I think they'll have to get me a new one, room that is.  There is so much stuff everywhere!  Sometimes I get to buy food.  That's really a good thing, since I get to eat afterwards.  Today though, just paint.

 O and did I mention that my studios don't get heat?  Or maybe we do, perhaps the remnants of another part of the building?  Anyway, the most usual part of my day would mainly consist of me turning on my space heaters and/or standing/sitting by them.  Quite sad I know, feel free to send me gloves anytime!  And since I went out in the cold, cold snow to buy paint, I had to stand by my trusty space heater once again to dry my boots.  But anyway, I digress...

So let me tell you about some of those wacky products that I get to shoot.  This one here is a mosquito repellent necklace.  You simply turn on the high frequency pitch that insects and mosquitoes hate hearing and enjoy your stay outdoors, bug free.  I'm not sure of the radius that this product can yield but a fellow employee and I did turn on the necklace and could hear the "high frequency pitch".  Hmmm...perhaps the label should read, "Repels mosquitoes, dogs and some humans"?  It was a pretty annoying sound.
The next product is lye soap.  A "working man's" soap.  I suppose those that garden, work on cars or just have bad hygiene and habits would use such a heavy duty soap.  It took a while to think of a good and wholesome concept for such a plain and dull product but hey, that's why they hired me!  So going with that "Lets go to Grandma's house!" kinda theme, here's the end result. 
 Another, called Zerust, is a small eraser-sized product that will repel rust damage from any metal tools or objects from a chemical reaction within it.  It also boasts a radius of protection of 2 feet.  Oh and a side note, don't let it near any paper, or that starts to yellow as well.