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”.

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! 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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