Archive | March 2011


Snow coming tonight but I’m still on the edge of my seat waiting for good weather. So inspired by this type of summer-airy-feeling photos. .

And here are all of Onken’s latest work,

most of it with film, and all of it the reason I recently started getting into film. Ready for warm weather.



I took 6 pictures on Monday. I had a 25 pound bag, 2 cameras and 4 lenses. I had 5 rolls of film and a 32gig card. I used it all to take 6 pictures. The one on this post was the only image I took with my dslr, the other five still existing only on the half-exposed roll sitting in the back of my Canon AE-1. 6 pictures of some friends on a white bus. What I didn’t do was create amazing pictures or use light to tell a compelling story–none of that fantastically romantic stuff. What I did do was help to provide food for some 300 people. And somehow, even for me, that is more satisfying.

Photographer Jeremy Cowart often blogs/talks about when it is time to put the camera down and get your hands dirty. He said that when he is in Haiti, he knows it is more important to help another person clean rubble away from their home than to take pictures of them. I apologize if I am butchering his words. Anyway, I thought that during a trip to the soup kitchen, I would have a great opportunity to sit down, meet people, photograph them, and find a way to provide them with prints. It didn’t exactly flow this way. I never went to fetch my camera bag from the back-room because that wasn’t what I signed up for. I was working to provide food and I wanted to continue to do so.

But I wanna go back. For the past two years I have thought about doing a Help Portrait project. I’ve contacted people to collaborate with, contacted organizations that could provide names of people to photograph. But each year has turned into nothing. And it is my fault they have. Now that this project has become more personal though, I have a new-found drive. I want to photograph the people in that church hall in Waterbury. I want to provide them with the same joy they provided for me on Monday.


Just wanted to share a quick video. We were assigned a 30 second radio commercial project in computerized music class. We said why not make it a 30 second video commercial? Super corny and super fun.


I was lucky enough to attend the Connecticut State Leadership Conference on Friday at Wesleyan University. I had an awesome time and met some awesome people (shout out to group #4)!

I enjoyed myself even after the hours of bullying talks, which made everyone either drowsy or irritated, simply because we had breaks to hang out. And things got better yet when the sun came out and the outside temp rose to 70. Hurray Spring!

I’m already looking forward to the National Conference on April 1st. It’s just a bummer that everyone from the State Conf. isn’t going. And before that I’ll be going to the Waterbury Soup Kitchen on Monday. Student Council trips have really been pulling through for me lately ;). I’ll post some pictures and stories from the soup kitchen next week.


I’m so excited to say I met Jasmine Star today. Really, she’s just the coolest. The iJustine of photography as far as bubbly energy goes, and the Francis Bacon of business as far as logic and practicability go. In her four hours CTPPA talk this afternoon, which felt more like four minutes, she taught me a whole bunch of stuff.

Jasmine talked a lot about transparency. That is something until today I thought I had just about mastered. I share entire layer pallets out of Photoshop composites, I explain all of my exposure information and blog a lot of behind the scenes posts. But now I realize this is trivial. Valuable, sure. There are loads of photographers who could be aided by this type of exactly-how-I-did-it writing. On the other hand, I’ve never shared anything really personal. No stories about my dogs, or expressions of the thoughts racing around my head. Turns out it’s not very dorky, it’s just human. Now I have a better grasp on transparency, and now it allows readers and viewers to not only learn technical information, but to learn about me as a person.

Transparency goes even further. When talking about setting goals, Jasmine said she wants to “keep it real.” .I liked the things she said about keeping it real when interacting with prospective clients. If you read my blog and love me, that’s great. If you don’t, that’s just as great. If you don’t want to hire me because I mention God sometimes, that’s fine because you were never going to be a client anyway. I love the what-you-see-is what-you-get attitude. I feel the same way sometimes. People pressuring me to go to a photography school often say, there will be clients who won’t hire you if they don’t see the credentials that you went to a photo school. That’s fine because they were  never going to be a client anyway. If a college degree is a deal breaker for someone, then I’d rather not work with them. Simple as that. Keep it real.

Titling the story is the last step. If I remember correctly this was actually mentioned in Jasmine’s intro video but it hit me. The basic idea is that if you title a story before you write it, then that title becomes the definition, and the boundary of sorts. Don’t let your title define your story. Let your story define your title. This can be applied literally, as in wait till you’re about to click publish before titling your blog post, or more figuratively. Instead of letting your name or situation or history define your story, let your story define your name and situation and history future. At least that’s what I got out of it.

I’m looking forward to sitting down tomorrow to go through my notes and begin applying all of the great information and lessons I learned. To sum it up I had a blast at the CTPPA and am now super inspired. I want to thank Jasmine Star for sharing with everyone.

(You’d think when you hand your camera to the guy next to you at a photography convention he could take a decent pictures. I guess we can blame it on the light. 😉 )

Energy Management

People talk a lot about “time management” but I’ve yet to hear “energy management” be mentioned. It is equally or more important as it governs the enjoyment of certain situations.

Ask a student why she misbehaved in class. She’ll tell you she was bored. It was either make distracting comments or fall into a somewhat painful slumber.

Ask a student why he got a D in history last quarter. He’ll tell you he was bored. It was either receive a D or spending many hours banging his head against a textbook.

Now, the student who consistently earns high honors does not necessarily wake every morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed hoping to get to class extra early. Interest however, certainly plays a role in academic success and the real problem occurs while exterior powers try to auto-correct it.

That girl may have been disruptive in the class room but when she gets to her ballet class after school she really excels. The moment when she’s no longer expected to sit still is the moment when she creates. When she loves. But due to her fidgeting in class she has to stay after school for extra help. Now she gets to dance later and spends less time enjoying herself.

While the boy has a red D on his report card under History, he has an A under English. He loves studying language, reading, and writing. This is where he is passionate. History is a school requirement and he understands that if he fails this year, he’ll have to retake it next year. So with the energy that used to be absorbed by English class, he now pours into the thick history text-book. The next report card comes and he has two C’s. One in History and one in English. Oh, and Shakespeare isn’t so exciting anymore.

It is unfortunate that novelty is deemed inappropriate for young people. And it is just wrong that some try to correct it. Why not respect the student for his creative science experiment instead of nagging him about his missing Spanish homework. Jack of all trades, master of none.