Monthly Archives: May 2012

Eddie-Service Love

Everyone meet sweet Eddie! He is a service dog in the complex I help out at during the week. We are lucky enough to get to see him each day when he comes by the office to greet us. The love he shows his owner, and the dedication of his unconditional service is one in a million.


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Final Project – New Beginning

It’s Wednesday, and Robyn and I have just met up to begin our day. I mentioned this previous, but for those of you who may not have had the opportunity to catch up, Robyn decided that she was going to change up the itinerary on me, just a bit. One of my fears moving forward in my pursuit was, will I be able to be creative enough? Robyn realized this throughout in our conversations up to this point, and decided that she was going to put a little challenge before me. And, when I say ‘little’ I’m being sarcastic…LOL…She dropped da bomb, and here was my challenge; Robyn was going to drop me off at Texas Asylum and leave me for the rest of the day to pull together a concept and photography project. That was about all she said. She left it open ended, in that, that was all she was going to tell me. She wanted me to take it from there and the rest would be up to me. What I put together and how I presented it would be left up to me. I wasn’t so sly about hiding my fear, but Robyn said she was confident I could pull it off, and off we went. Texas Asylum is a repurposing shop filled with amazing vintage items ranging from dolls to bike tires, to old books, hats, and well, you get the idea. This is Robyn and Nicole’s favorite place to draw inspiration from. And where I would have to begin to free my mind. Robyn stayed behind a bit to talk to Ramonna and Jen, the owners and explain my assignment, and then like a mama birdie leaving the nest, Robyn was off, and I was in the middle of the store looking around thinking WT—Heck!? I pulled my phone out and immediately dialed 2 of my friends, hoping they would have some words of wisdom for me, and no answer. (heart beating fast here) I left my cry for help on a message, and no lie, I was a little freaked out. Ok, a lot freaked out. What the heck was I going to come up with!?

I pulled my trusty spiral notebook out, and began to think of anything. First, the obvious stood out to me, the dolls, the creepy old ‘to-e up from the flo– up’ dolls. Was I going to be too cliche with this one? Noted the creepy dolls. Then the American flag stood out to me. Hmmmm. No, too obvious. I looked up and there were some angelic wings hanging from a hook in the corner. Hmmmm, the wings. Wings noted. I passed by a shelf of tires, hats, buttons, notes were flying onto the page. Then I rounded the corner, and there was a wall of vintage books. Some days before I had just pinned an idea on Pinterest for a backdrop with some vintage pages layered on a backdrop for a cute photograph. Robyn had encouraged me leading up to the mentorship to begin pinning away on Pinterest, and here began to pull together some method to Robyn’s madness. Pinterest would be my friend this day. I went back to Pinterest and referred specifically to that very pin, and wanted to determine how realistic would it be to pull something like this off. I began to feel the confidence rise in me. Ok, I can do this. I actually can think of some ideas, whether good, or bad, but ideas sure enough to make this all come together.

After the vintage pages came to mind, I rounded the corner and there were those wings again. Like a light shining down from the heavens, they just spoke to me, and there came the flood gates of and idea. I hadn’t mentioned Nicole up to this point, only because she and Robyn had only recently reconnected, and Robyn wanted to announce Nicole’s return as her assistant and artistic genius till after Pocket Shots on Saturday. So, to give an understanding of the meaning behind my idea, is to share with you a bit about Nicole, and her special foster dog, Archie. And by foster dog, I mean he and Nicole have this special connection, and likely he isn’t so much of a foster dog anymore. Just sayn’! For anyone who follows Robyn’s photography page, you will recognize Nicole’s amazing artistry in the Pocket Shots backdrops. She will probably cringe at me showering all of the compliments on her, but it’s true; her talent is amaze-balls. All of Robyn’s backdrops you see in her photos are hand done by Nicole. No joke! They are not your run of the mill purchased backdrop that you see in ‘Joe Shmoe’s’ photographs hanging in a picture window on main street. They come up with a concept together, and then Nicole brings their collaboration of ideas to life. No two are ever the same. And, Nicole to mention is a photographer in her own right. She’ll probably kill me for that mention too, but true dat! She is awesome. If I could only climb into the minds of these two, I would be left with no worries on creativity. And that is no booty kissing, it’s just the facts. Ok, so back to the story of Nicole and Archie. Archie came into Nicole’s life when someone found him a stray, and skin and bones. What his life had been up to that point is anyone’s guess, but likely not one filled with tons of hugs and kisses. Nicole took him in with the intention of him as a foster for when the right home comes along. But, likely I think these two are meant for one another.

Archie is a dog like no other. Seriously makes me tear up. (no lie) He has the spirit of an angel, the heart of a giving soul and the sweetness of a dog like I have never seen. And that even compared to my adorable ‘fattie crew’. He goes with Nicole just about everywhere. I think he’s even gone into the ‘Apple-MAC’ store with Nicole. No lie there either. He touches most everyone he sees with his gentle nature and calming spirit. I truly see him as not only being blessed to have been brought into Nicole’s life, but an angel that was meant to be a part of her life too. It is just too endearing to see the connection between these two. And felt it the first time I met them both. Something about Archie just made me fall totally in love with this incredible guy. He is truly what giving to animal causes is all about. An ambassador of sorts.

So, to truly appreciate where my concept originated had to be to understand this special bond between Nicole and Archie. I hope I did justice in my description. When I looked back up at those wings, a light shined down, and there it was so obvious to me. Archie, is my subject, and he is an angel. An angel brought into Nicole’s world. I know I get so deep sometimes with my thought process, but just can’t help it. My nerves were gone, and there was the inception of my project. Vintage page backdrop and Archie as this angel in our midst. A four legged angel. Then it all came together in my mind; the pallets back at the studio would represent the backstreets of Archie’s previous life, and the vintage pages the backdrop to highlight him in his angel wings. My initial thought was to include some words on the backdrop such as ‘love’, ‘rescue’, ‘save’, ‘adopt’, and maybe some others, but you get the idea. Archie would represent all that saving dog’s lives is all about. We are not only there to save them, but like Archie, they save us too in some way. Brilliant, right? I mean, I couldn’t have been any more certain then when it all came together in my mind.

Now was the task to pull it all together. I was going to have to create an entire backdrop of vintage pages, and Nicole was going to have to be ok with me using Archie as my muse. Robyn said be resourceful, and I was going to have to truly make it all happen, AND without Robyn seeing the final product until I was all done with the design, the photo, and then would be presenting it to her. I still had much to plan out. Now as sure as I was with the idea, I still felt the need to run the idea by Michael (Robyn’s interior designer/handyman), and Nicole, of course. I was going to need not only Nicole to allow me to use Archie, but help me pull off the photograph itself. She was busy creating the backdrop for the Pocket Shots. I needed to make sure I had 99% of the work created and then have Nicole help me with posing Archie. I spent Wednesday and Thursday nights completing the backdrop, and without Robyn seeing. So, I had to creatively cover the backdrop so Robyn had no hint of what I was doing. And for those of you who know me, know how difficult it was not to tell her before the official unveiling.

Thursday night came, and the backdrop complete. I still needed to create the words, but could not seem to pull off what I envisioned without it looking crafty. Thus, the words left out, and knew that Archie would be able to make a statement on his own. I pulled the pallets together and after a few shots with Nicole holding the wings, and Archie being as patient as Jobe I hoped I had the shot that would be the final masterpiece. While Nicole finished her backdrop, I edited away, and knew that the final photo I had was ‘Magic’.

Friday morning came, and I decided to not cover the backdrop for Robyn to see. I hoped that what I chose to do did not seem obvious or too contrived. But I knew I loved it and that was all that mattered, right? Of course not! I truly wanted Robyn to love it as much as I did. She entered the studio Friday morning, and immediately was struck by the backdrop of vintage papers. In fact her reaction was beyond what I could have hoped. She loved it! She asked how I was able to put it all together, and pull it off. I was so much more at ease. Then, she said she had to see the photo. I was like a school kid pulling out my final project, nervous as all heck. Robyn went bananas over it. And for anyone who knows Robyn, knows she aint no liar! She is as straight shooting as they come. She acted like a proud mama, and I acted like a geeky kid. I think I not only surprised her, but myself. Although, this was what this process again was all about, was for me to understand that I have the ability, I just need to have the confidence. Robyn just wanted me to open my mind, and allow myself to be me, not anyone else. To take my ideas and be confident that I could make it all come to fruition. I think at that moment Robyn was ready to push me out of the nest, and I was ready to take the leap. It wasn’t for anyone else to believe in me, but for me to believe in myself.

So thankful that Robyn and Nicole reunited when they did, because it was inspiring to be in the studio when Robyn was gone, and Nicole was there working her magic, Archie in tow. I’m sure that I would have still had an amazing experience and gotten so much out of my mentorship with Robyn either way, but the meaning of it all was that much more with sharing that time with Nicole and Archie as well. There truly is magic that happens with Robyn and Nicole, and so glad to be a part of it all. And, of course Archie, ‘The Angel’. So, hopefully you can feel what I had when you see my final project

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Mother’s Day

Yesterday morning was filled with mixed emotions. Sad to leave Houston, and my mentorship with Robyn Arouty, but so excited to get back, see my family and put myself out there for my new endeavor. With everything coming together as it has, I can’t help but know this hasn’t all been for nothing, and that truly this is what I am suppose to be doing with my life. I have never felt so comfortable with a decision as I have with pursuing this passion I have for photography as a living. Definitely my experience this week was the bump I needed to feel absolute about it all. And Robyn’s therapy each day telling me I could do it, helped a bit too. (my therapy bill is in the mail, right Robyn) hee hee.

I am now officially announcing myself to you all that I am open for business, and ready to shoot! My camera that is… The ideas are abundant, and can’t wait to see them come to life. My main focus will be dogs, and maybe a pig or two. LOL. Also, children and families. I want to be able to capture the individuality of who my client really is, not some boring posed blah blah blah photo. I want to bring life and character to those who will allow me the privilege to get behind my lens and create that magic. It’s what makes me so excited to do this. It’s a chance to be relaxed, off guard and maybe even a little silly. A photo session is meant to be a fun experience; not some boring backdrop, head tilted, and posed smile. If someone is willing to be adventurous and have some fun, I’m the one to do it!

As yesterday was Mother’s Day, it was only fitting to announce my important decision to my family, especially my mom. I could only hope she would embrace my decision, as of course her opinion always counts. And, I know my parents are the traditional kind that may not see what the possibilities are as I do. They have traditional values, and way of seeing things, and wasn’t sure how they would respond to this news. Of course they knew I was away in Houston doing a mentorship, but really didn’t understand what it meant, and the depth of passion I have had for photography. They’ve seen me pick up my camera, photograph the family, and I’ve shared the photos I’ve been taking along the way of friends, clients, dogs, etc.. Just not sure they really understood that I have been serious about this pursuit. I even mentioned my blog, and they still didn’t understand what a blog was…LOL… My silly parents. They’re just beginning to figure out their answering machine and computer. So, how could I make fun of them? Well, I still did, but in a kind hearted way, of course! I’m not that cruel…

I think it’s a parent’s instinct to want to want to make sure that their children don’t fall and make mistakes, no matter what age, 30′s, 40′s, 50′s and so on. It begins when we take our first steps, and doesn’t end there. No matter how many times we swat their hand away, and want that independence, it’s just their nature. So hard though to step back from that as a parent I’m sure. I’m that way with my animals. I guess I just want them to trust that they instilled in me the motivation and desire to want to do the best I can, and to allow me some room for mistakes along the way. That’s ok, right? Because if not, I’ve severely messed up big time! Hahaha. No doubt on that foooo shooooore.

Mother’s Day was so awesome to watch the kids play, adults chat, some debate; well, ok, a LOT of debate. Who’s family get together doesn’t have debates? You’re lying then. LOL. Or, we’re just plain crazy. :) Either way, it was a great afternoon/evening. I know it makes my mom happy to have us all there. These are her golden years, and she earned it my friend. I took tons of pictures, of course! No matter how much my brother Mark objected. Drives him crazy when I am always taking photos. I just love to drive him crazy. Sibling rivalry ROCKS!!! Wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, here I am taking a ‘GINORMOUS’ step, and can’t wait to see where it all goes! And, I truly must thank, ‘Miss Thang’, Robyn Arouty for taking a chance on me, allowing me to crash in her studio, invade her space, and open her mind and heart to someone she barely knew. For her generosity I am grateful. I told her she is stuck with me now, whether she likes it or not. ;)

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Behind the Scenes of Pocket Shots!

Well, the last full day is upon us, and it’s a big day. As mentioned in my previous post, Robyn had her Pocket Shots scheduled for today, and went from 8am-7pm. Nicole, did an amazing job on the backdrop. All hand done, by the way. So when you take a gander at the photos I post, make sure to appreciate the fine artistry and detail of the backdrop. Nicole spent two full days until weeee hours into the morning painting and sketching this all out by hand. Amaze-balls (my new trendy word for the month). She worked, while I slept. It was a great partnership.

For the Pocket Shots today Robyn worked with PugHearts of Houston, and a portion of the proceeds went to this wonderful rescue run by Cindy, who is the Director, and Emily her right hand pug gal. They are a dedicated group, and care a great deal about their pups, I mean pugs. I love their motto “Pugs, Not Drugs”. Cool, right? I’ll have to think of some snazzy catch phrase for my guys. Side note (or, A.D.D): On a future blog I’ll have to share with you all my wonderful songs I’ve created for my pups. Kind of catchy. Now back to the regularly scheduled post. There is a great deal of effort, time and energy that goes into these events that Robyn does, but it’s so rewarding, and with the passion Robyn and Nicole have for animal rescue causes, the outcome is all too worth it, all in spades. I had the opportunity to be a part of it all, and appreciate how it is pulled together and executed.

We were in the studio early to make sure all of the final details were prepared for our starting time of 8am. Cindy and Emily arrived with Starbucks in hand. Oh bless you both! Non-fat latte is the fuel that gets my neuronal pathways firing (for my science buddies). A few sips and I was ready for some shootn’ to begin. For those of you that know me well enough, and Robyn who got to know me “really” well quick enough, you’ll appreciate Robyn’s strict instructions: ‘sit and watch’, ‘no speaking, unless spoken too’, and ‘if my help was needed they would ask’. I’m sure a few of you are laughing and picking up what I’m putting down with the vibe of these rules. In other words, “Chatty Kathy, pie hole shut please”. Ha! No offense taken. I know I can get flappy gums. It’s all good, in the hood. I didn’t want a can of ‘whoop a–’ to come out, so big booty in seat, and pie hole was shut. In fact, Robyn looked over at me once, and commented that she almost forgot I was there. I can take instructions….hee hee. I told her not to let me get too comfortable, who knows what I’d do!

The first crew arrived! Teresa came with her lovely girls, and how beautiful they were! And of course ‘she loves her dogs so!’ Robyn and Nicole will appreciate that one. If anyone thinks that photographing dogs is an easy business, please think again! It’s crazy town! But in a good way to me. With Nicole’s quick moves and slight of hand, and Robyn’s fast maneuvers with the camera, Teresa’s pups got a beautiful portrait. And, to mention, if curious at all to see these amazing photos, Robyn posts them on her photography page for all to see! Go to Robyn Arouty Photography (please like), and you’ll see the full set of Pocket Shots. She spends hours after the shoot editing to get these up for their owners and the rest of us to appreciate. So, her work continues long after the sessions are concluded. So, while we’re all getting comfy in our jammies, sipping on hot tea before bed, enjoying some ‘Dancing With the Stars’, or what not, Robyn is glued to her computer screen fine tuning these works of art, just so she can get them out for all to see.

I think I mentioned this in a previous post before as well, so apologize for repeating, but a photographer’s job does not end right after the photo session does. Oh nooo. There is so much time spent making sure that the final edits look good, because only a great photographer would care about these things, right? So, hours of time spent to do all this for the clients. I must say though, that because the passion is there, and this is the art of it all, it’s time creating, like an artist with a painting or sculpture. Only it’s photoshop or lightroom, instead of a brush or clay. So, the reward in the end for the photographer is seeing how happy these moments in time captured makes the clients. And it truly does! Especially for us dog geeks, I mean lovers. (quirky smile)

The day continued with all sorts of wonderful furry friends! We had Heidi, the dachshund. And, oh you must see how pimped her photo turned out. Diane Keaton inspired ensemble (tie and hat). Truly a must see! And, there was Jiles, the english bulldog. I posted a picture of the crazy adorable guy. You know I swooned over him. Slobber and all! We had Shy-anne and Macey, American bulldog mixes with their kitty sister, Coco. Shy-anne’s story would turn your heart upside down. It did me. And the resilience she has shown. Lots can be learned from these guys for us humans, but that’s another post sometime. The day was like a fairy tale land for me. Different dogs to visit with, enjoy and hear their amazing stories of overcoming adversity, and the courage to move on from it, and trust again.

And this is where it all comes together for me. Although along the way during the week I have had my feelings reinforced that this is what I must be doing, my passion; in the midst of hair flying, dogs peeing, pooping, jumping, running and just plain being adorable, I felt at home. And although we were in the studio from 8am-7pm, and then more time (for Robyn) on editing, I had this sense of certainty run from the top of my head down to the tips of my toes, come over me; this is truly what I am suppose to be doing (light bulb moment over my head). I felt in my heart at home, at peace with this decision that has been stirring inside of me these past months (now a tear in my eye). I could be working 7 days a week 24 hours a day doing this, and I wouldn’t feel put out, or beaten up, unappreciated, or unfulfilled. I would be in the perfect spot, happy, content and thankful that I finally found what truly makes me happy. I’ve always heard, do what you feel passionate about, and it won’t feel like work. TADA! This is it. Will I be rich monetarily? Maybe not, but as I have realized through all of this, I feel rich in my heart and soul (so sorry for the sappiness). But it’s not meant to be corny, just authentic. (deep breath out).

I am excited to share with you on another upcoming post my final project. I am truly proud, and if I can say, I think Robyn is too. (big smile on my face). I am a work in progress, such as my photography is, and so glad you have joined me on this journey.

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Moving on Up

TGIF. Well, not so much, because only a couple of days and I leave Houston, and so ends my mentorship with Robyn Arouty. (sad face). It’s amazing how fast the week has gone by, and to look back at all that has taken place in it. Today was about tying up loose ends, and getting things situated for the big day ahead tomorrow, “Pocket Shots”! Which I will explain in a minute.

Robyn has been assigning tasks along the way, even before I arrived in Houston, and although knew it was all helpful, now realizing that there was a method behind the madness, so to speak. Such as my final project, (which will be revealed on Sunday) and how I was able to develop and create in a much different way then I might have before the mentorship, only a week ago even. I imagine it to be like never venturing beyond the block you live on. Then one day, you’ve been given the approval to do what ever you want, go wherever you want and explore. Almost like Jim Carrey in the movie, ‘The Truman Show’. He’s been living within the structured boundaries all of his life, and just knows there’s more out there. That gut feeling. Then in the end, he’s freed physically and emotionally. I know, pretty deep stuff, but this process I’m discovering hasn’t been just about the photography for me. It’s been about following a passion. My passion. It didn’t begin in photography, but something stirring inside expressing itself in other forms along the way. My card making, writing and art in general. It’s all surfacing, and here I am still vulnerable in my skin, yet feeling free to be who I am, and ok with it.

One of my favorite parts of the mentorship was Robyn so generously taking the time to take my bio pic shots. I am not of fan of having my picture taken, so I left it in Robyn’s hands, and did my best to roll with it, and relax. Robyn had to crack the whip a bit (and you know she does that well), but it all came together and so happy with the final result. Bam! One thing to mention is the backdrop in my profile pic is the one I created for my final project. Nice, right? A little hint of what the final project will look like.

Sit down one on ones with Robyn for Lightroom and Photoshop have been so helpful, and taking the time to fine tune my skills is going to help me get to the next level. Holla! (another Robynism) LOL. Followed the one on one with some time out and about today to get some more shots to practice my natural lighting ability, as well as composition style. The area we’re in has some great urban texture and backdrop. Love me some train tracks, rusty metal and rotted wood stairs. Who wouldn’t?! Our day was coming to an end, and attention needed to be turned toward tomorrow’s big shoot! Pocket Shots!

Robyn created Pocketshots with animal welfare organizations in mind—more specifically rescues, who work so tirelessly to save Houston’s precious lives every day. Each event benefits a different group & Robyn has donated over $30,000 to area rescues since pocketshots began in November 2010. Saturday’s shoot will be working with PugHearts, a wonderful rescue located in Houston. There is much that goes into the planning of these shoots. Backdrops are created from scratch, props are determined, and much effort goes into getting the word out for this great event. People go crazy for Pocket Shots! Generally these events get booked up within minutes of notice being announced. Women will buy shoes especially for this event, make-up will be applied just right, and dogs fluffed to perfection. The set for this specific event is AMAZEBALLS!!! Can’t wait to share with you.

So, off to get ready, and will continue tomorrow!

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The Progress of Creating

A little over half way through my mentorship with Robyn Arouty. How time flies when you’re working hard, having fun and learning lots! I would be lying if I said it’s been easy. However, it’s been truly enlightening and empowering. Especially to know that when I leave here I will have learned more then anyone could in many months time. With that I feel a great foundation has been laid to build upon and grow as my business grows. Tool belt in hand, and ready to shoot; photos that is. Heehee. Never had this excitement over anything; except my pups and pig, no doubt.

Had a wonderful morning to spend enjoying my neighborhood surroundings while walking about and taking photos; of course! Made my way down to the local coffee grind (pun fully intended), and savored my first latte in 5 days. Withdrawl was setting in. Reenergized and rearing to go, I was able to capture some great shots of the eclectic neighborhood the studio is surrounded by. Including some darling dogs around the corner. Two each, scotties and boston terriers. Feisty little guys. Of course, no surprise there. For my Sacramento peeps, a feeling of the East Sac 40′s, off the H street side. My kind of vibe, ya know? After soaking in the local neighborhood sites, it was time to head back and meet Robyn for some serious one on one creative burn. Kind of like a good workout, only for the mind, and editing skillllz. Sound easy? It’s not. Myth: Take photo, and a few minor tweaks later, and voila! Maybe on a few, but not by any stretch of the imagination. Detail on a good photo takes some time. So again, bon bons to the side, and some serious time and knowledge of the editing process is required to get the outcome we all enjoy so much from the seriously talented photographers.

Part of our day yesterday was spent with Robyn teaching me the ropes on proper studio ediquite; which included the basic equipment needed (LOTS), lighting, setting up the staging and all the basic prepping that it entails to create a fabulosity shot. Vanessa, who owns a vintage clothing business (of course I was all on top of that) and her darling 6 month old baby boy, Kai, were the lucky subjects of the day. Of course Vanessa had some darling vintage attire for her little man, and ready he was for his photo debut. Kai showed off his baby modeling skills like no other 6 month old baby I’ve seen. Pose after pose he smiled away, until he didn’t. As any baby of his age, Kai gave us the sign that time was up; a cry and pouty lips. During the shoot I took some behind the scene shots, to edit and share with you all on the blog.

Robyn shared some of her tricks of the trade during the editing portion of our training. It made me realize how much I still have to learn in utilizing Lightroom and Photoshop. Does one ever truly learn it all on these to apps? But what a transformation that can happen to just an ordinary photo if they are used in just the right way. A tweak here, a smoothing here, a color change there, and magic happens! Well, maybe not just like that, but you get the idea. Robyn has been honing her skilllllz for some time now, which is obvious in her photographs. I can only hope that if I could master even a small amount of these apps, that I too can make something beautiful and magical.

Our day winded down, and it was my homework to venture out, shoot in RAW, yes you read it right, not jpg., but RAW. How masterful I felt! Don’t make fun of me, I truly felt like the door opened and the world became my oyster. Camera in hand and walking shoes on I was on a mission. Another part of my homework assignment was to edit my shots just as I learned earlier with Robyn. PHeewwww. Right? What a day, and lots learned! I was exhausted, yet so happy with the progress of it all.

I stayed back at the studio while Robyn went home, and was left to my assignments. And last, but not least is to mention tonight was the big project photography shoot. Can not wait to share with you all in the next post my ‘Final’ portrait. I am in love, and hope you will be too.

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To Be Continued

Another early morning rise, and the preparations for the day have begun. Coffee—check. Blog—check. Brush teeth—check. Fedora on, and so the day awaits. I am learning a great deal from Robyn about all the necessary details when coordinating photo shoots. You see a photo, the people look pretty, right? But that’s what is the beauty of photography, is if done right, looks seamless, and the average viewer truly has no idea ‘all’ what went in to making it appear so. So, the process continues, and the finer details begin to be pulled in, and the bigger picture begins to take shape.

Besides, location and creating the concept, what do the clients wear? Are they casual? Dressy? Hair up? Lots of make-up? Little make-up? No make-up at all? These are the details that although we see pulled together and we enjoy the final outcome, how did it all get to that point? Sometimes it’s as simple as giving the clients some direction as far as ideas for what to wear, and they feel comfortable doing it all themselves. That’s the most common way, but many times when someone is getting their photograph done, of course they want to look their absolute best. Of course they do! But no need to worry your pretty little faces, literally. This is where your hair, make-up and stylists come in. See, this is no sitting on the couch, eating bon bons, hold your camera up, snap a shot kind of business. Sorry to disappoint ya. Did I take away the mystery?

Robyn and I met with a stylist she was interviewing for some upcoming shoots. It’s a matter of determining is this person’s way of styling fit the needs of the photographer’s style. Well, Titi fit the bill! A preacher’s wife at that! She had swag, she had style, and then some. To witness her and Robyn discuss ideas for her upcoming shoot, was like watching a fine ballet. But a hip ballet. heehee. Robyn described her concept, and who the client was, and there it began. a pliet, a lift and twirl and a leap through the air! I mean hair ideas, make-up concepts, clothing options, will there be wigs, hair up, down? It was brainstorming at its finest. When the fit is right it all begins to take shape. It was extraordinarily helpful for me to gain an understanding of how collaboration, when it’s right, can make the process that much smoother. As Robyn would say, “Titi is the Bomb.com”.

Speaking of bombs, Robyn laid one on me, when Titi left and we began to discuss the rest of the day. As part of the learning aspect, Robyn came up with a great idea to have me put together a photo project, due by Sunday morning that consists of a concept, and use what resources I needed at my whim. BOMB! What? I tried to appear very relaxed and and unshaken. Obviously I’m terrible at it, because at the end of her giving the assignment, Robyn pauses, and says “Ok, what do you think? You look nervous”. Crap, I am terrible with hiding anything. I wanted to appear confident and ready to go. No lie, my stomach kind of did a twirl. However, I composed myself, and thought, this is what it’s all about; putting my skills to work, and excercising my left brain, or is it right brain? You know what I mean. I pulled up my britches, tugged on my fedora, and off we went to the ‘Texas Assylum’.

Don’t worry, I didn’t lose my mind. ‘Texas Asslylum is a store filled with repurposed items. A thrift, craft and antique store all in one. Robyn decided she was going to drop me off at the store with Ramonna and Jen, the owners, and let my creative juices percolate. The rest was going to be up to me to plan and create. From there, I was responsible for determining whatever else I needed, get around as I saw fit, and meet Robyn back at the studio at 2pm. Ok, no lie, I turned into a 16 year old wanting to please the teacher, and a bit of fear was rambling around in my gut. I had spiral notebook in hand, and off I went. I gave Robyn a quick glance of “save me”, then off she went. But then it came to me, this is truly what this whole process is all about! Right? I won’t have Robyn when I return home. So, this is where the rubber meets the road (for my corporate friends). This is what I want to do, and will be doing when I get home, so what was I afraid of?

Off I went. Down each isle, taking notes as the ideas began to flow. Dolls, books, paints, toys, household items even some bike wheels. Buttons, ribbons, hats, boots, chairs. It was all there, I just had to open my mind and let it flowwwww. Once I did this, it was amazing how the ideas began to poor out onto paper. I could hang this there, I could place that there. So, this is what it is all about; letting go and opening my mind. It was such a ‘light bulb’ moment (for you Oprah fans). Robyn knew what she was doing. She had the trust in me, why couldn’t I? And where best to put it out there, but while I am with Robyn. (Deep breath out) I felt home. I was in my element, and the ideas abundant. A flowering blossom, a butterfly from a caterpillar. Can’t you picture it? So, my master idea is underway, and that is all I can share for now, because it needs to be a surprise for my presentation to Robyn. Will it turn out? Will I flop? Will I succeed? No matter what, lesson learned. Robyn wanted me to just let go, and allow myself to just think and create. And, so create I will.

There was more to the day, but I feel the need to end on this note for now. I will definitely fill you in on the rest in my next entry.


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It’s a Process

The day begins like any other; wake up, drink my coffee, gather my thoughts, but then it stops there. Predictability and routine is for the 9-5 business man walking through mid-town, brief case in tow and cell phone in hand. So, maybe the cell phone in hand might be the same, but that’s where the similarities end. It is in shadowing Robyn that I have learned quickly that photography is not just about standing behind the lens, snapping a photo and making your peeps look good. If that were all, a big fat ‘yawn’ (hand over gaping mouth). It is truly an art-form in the process alone.

Our day begins with a meeting with an important client of Robyn’s who is interested in updating her business portfolio. She has expressed that she doesn’t want the same old photo you can find on just any website bio pic, but something that will capture who she is as a person, and what she represents in her professional life. Sounds so easy? Put them in a suit, gray backdrop, and smile! Not… At least that isn’t for me, and nor is it for Robyn. It is through the process of getting to know the person that provides the backdrop (literally) of how this one shot will capture the essence of who and what they are about. It is in the discussions with Robyn’s client that she asks all that she can, to begin her process to determine where the photo will be taken, what the person will be wearing, how they will be posing. Alone? With someone? Not so simple, right?

It is from that meeting that Robyn has a basis for her idea(s). This is only the first step. Next, off to potential locations. Not just any location, but to the actual home of the client where she has generously allowed us the freedom to explore and determine the best setting. And, not only one location, but a couple. Sometimes it can be easy enough to have only one location, but some jobs require moving from one place to another for shots. We are fortunate in this circumstance, because the client’s home is incredibly beautiful, and the wheels are spinning with ideas. Off we go to the next potential location. Of course, even getting from one setting to the next wouldn’t be easy for us, especially if I’m helping with directions. Robyn made the mistake of handing me the map. Uh, yeah, that should say it all. Of course we took a bit of a detour, and almost ended up on a three hour tour. (Gilligan’s Island reference for any of my fabulous 40′s friends). And, Robyn is going to kill me for this, but for anyone who knows my driving, I’ve met my match in Robyn. However we arrived at our next destination, and still some gas in the tank.

And, that is only the first part of the day. We are on the move to our next meeting with Robyn’s good friend Teresa Schwartz, owner of Deogi Dog Day Care and Resort, and of a rescue, Lone Star Shih Tzu and Lhaso Apso Rescue of Texas. With the passion for photographing dogs, also comes the passion for advocacy and rescue for the ones that don’t have the wonderful lives I, and my friend’s provide for ours. There are many that are discarded and treated poorly, thus individuals like Robyn and Teresa are there to do what they can to help save lives, and hopefully for many find a loving home. I could go on and on with this subject, but will save that for another posting I can solely dedicate to that topic. It is in this meeting that Theresa imparts her knowledge of how I can work with local rescue organizations in my community, providing services that can benefit various groups, and these poor animals that don’t have a voice of their own. Also, getting into the trenches of rescue, not just the photography end to really gain an understanding of this process, and as well developing the relationships along the way.

You would think the day was over, but oh not yet! Robyn has a fur family of her own. OF COURSE! I had the privilege of meeting Robyn’s six furry friends; Diego, L.D., Apples, Ozzy, Harriet and Beau. I was in heaven. They were as darling as Robyn described. Lots of bad breath, butt rubs, licks and love was exchanged in our meeting. And mainly from the dogs. LOL. Don’t go there.

The end of our day was capped off with a wonderful dinner at a sushi restaurant with a couple of Robyn’s friends. Mattison Grey and Paulette Goodreau. Mattison Grey is crazy smart, and is a business coach. I need one of them! She has recently published a book, and has great insight with helping individuals take their business to the next level. Robyn thought it would be nice to meet Mattison and be able to understand how she has provided her with some great tools in her business. I truly need some of that FO SUUURRRE! Also, had the delight of meeting Paulette Goodreau, an amazing artist in her own right. She is the creator of these amazing collector dolls. To even try to describe wouldn’t do them justice. If you go to this link, you will be amazed at the depth of creativity in these dolls. Not your average doll to give your 3 year old, and do hair and such. Just go see! http://www.thebeautifulpeopleproject.com/2012/05/paulette-goodreau.html Paulette provided me with her views from a client’s end, and what she saw would be helpful for me to take my next step. And, then I drank my Saporo.

There you have it! Each day in a photographer’s business is not the same, nor is it stagnant, mundane or just taking a pretty picture. It has this process that tells it’s own story, a new one each day. All building on the other to enable a final product, the photo, to be created and tell the story of the client. Phewww, and now a new day begins!

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Operation Mentorship with Robyn Arouty

I have fallen into the eclectic and creative world of Robyn Arouty. No, it’s not the rabbit hole in ‘Alice in Wonderland’, but it’s darn close. I can’t even express the excitement I have built up for the awesome opportunity I have been granted to mentor under Robyn this week.

Have you ever shied away from taking a chance, only to regret missed opportunities? I can certainly say I have. Only one day a month ago I decided that regrets are wasteful. I took that chance, and messaged Robyn on Facebook one day about an idea I had with my pursuit as a professional photographer. I had admired Robyn’s whimsical and innovative style of photography for quite some time, and never thought she would have the time nor the interest in such a venture. To my surprise, Robyn welcomed the idea with open arms, and by days end dates were set, flights were booked, and my adventure began! Regrets, a thing of the past.

So today begins ‘Operation Mentorship’. I would love for you to enjoy this ride with me as I maneuver through the week under Robyn’s wing (no pun intended, or, if you must LOL), and gain a broader appreciation of a successful photography business. I am at this moment writing this from the studio. I am staying the week in the studio! I can not think of anything more awesome! My first steps into the studio were just as I imagined; colorful, eclectic and filled with Robyn’s personality. And, what does one do when left a night in Robyn’s photography studio, why, take pictures of course! These photos are just a sample of what you can find in Robyn Arouty’s world.

This is the first of my daily posts for the week. Enjoy, and there will be more to come!

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