Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Akilah: Senior Pictures!

Alright, so I know it was a long time ago, but I did promise the story of my own senior pictures, and I aim to please, so I'm telling it, but not till the end because I am so excited to get on with the pictures. Who's ready for some cuteness?!?!

This is Akilah, who I got in touch with via KimO, who does choreography for Akilah's dance team at Pike High School. Kim told me that Akilah would be a good model and she was so right, and not just because she's a pretty girl, but also (and mostly) because she's just so comfortable with herself, which is one of those great intangible qualities in a person.

This one was taken in front of a certain now-infamous door where we did Megan's bridal shots. Thankfully, we did not run into the same ... problem ... this time.

Most people take a little while to relax and to warm up to the camera, but these shots have all been from really early on in the session. She was comfortable the entire time, which was awesome and pretty rare.

How cute is this?!?! We were still in The Magic Alley as I call it, again where we did Megan's bridal shoot, and I seriously love that place. This pretty piece of plywood was a new find, and I kept saying while we were taking the picture that this was so going to be a black and white. I was just so convinced, but it ended up working better in color, and I like how the darker color in the wood goes with the lighter color in her hair. Plus, the pose, the sleeves ... love.

Okay, now here is something you all may not know, so let me pass on a little info for you. Ansel Adams had a "zone" system for skin tones. Lighter to mid-tone African American skin, such as Akilah's, is the perfect shade for metering. I hadn't thought about this since art school, but when I looked at all these pictures, they all metered out perfectly and I barely had to do any color correction at all--anything I did was pretty much optional. This was awesome for me! So thank you, Akilah, for having such beautiful, perfect skin and making my job so easy. :)

The east side is just so full of treasures to photograph in front of.

Like this door! And it went perfectly with her shirt, so of course we went for it. I should also mention here that it was raining off and on the entire time we were doing this. It more or less cooperated, but there was some dodging in and out of the car, wiping off the camera, and scurrying about, trying to avoid the next little storm. But it was also kind of fun, like being on a mission. :)

This one had a natural vignette in the upper right hand corner that I totally loved. Yay!

Ooooohhhh! This one! Alright, this is one that we had planned in advance. I asked Akilah what kinds of stuff she did for fun, and since she is on the dance team and that takes up a lot of time, she said that one of the things she likes to do is unwind with her iPod. So I suggested a dancing silhouette like the iPod ads, and she totally agreed to it! She has the iPod in her lower hand, but I'm not sure you can see it. Anyway, we found this alley which made a nice silhouette, and then she put on some tunes and danced, and can I just tell you that I am the world's WORST dancer, and I was so impressed with her skills? They were awesome! Anyway, this one was my favorite, with the hair flying around, and I added some purple in the shadows, since that's her favorite color. So it doesn't look EXACTLY like an iPod ad, but it's definitely inspired and I LOVE it. :)

Everybody needs a little black and white! Here, besides the gorgeous subject, my favorite thing is the lights that you can see through the glass in the door. It makes the whole thing seem more old-fashioned to me, although you know I just make this stuff all up in my head, so it may look totally different to you. :)

Ah, wind blowing the hair!

Ooooh! This one and the next one are both in my new favorite corner in Fountain Square. I LOVE the rusty door, and I also love her hair up.

We both agreed on the blue-on-blue love here. Also, I don't think in this one but also on the one above, I broke out my little stool that I bought at Midland Antiques Market for two bucks so my "models" won't have to sit on the ground. It's padded and everything. Great investment. Also, I do keep a couple of props in my trunk, which is sort of funny, but I'm glad I got the chance to use one.

One of Akilah's other hobbies is swimming, but obviously it was cold, pools weren't open, indoor ones would be a hassle, etc. ... so this is her swimming picture! Also, as a sidenote, I totally complain about that mural all the time (just to be funny, I don't really mind it) because it seems so out of place and has nothing to do with anything, but this is the second time I've photographed there and it was my idea both times, so there ya go!

Alright, so maybe these are a TINY bit ... expected, if you will, but I don't care, I love them! Dogwoods are like my favorite thing ever in the spring, at least while they're flowering, and they just went with her dress too much to pass it up. And I think it turned out really pretty. :)

Also, this is me telling her about how I have a slight obession right now with going to Hawaii, so she was kind of laughing at me talking about how the flowers near her hair were reminding me of Hawaii. And seriously, it is all the fault of the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall (which, obviously, I totally enjoyed). But right now, I have Billy on a huge mission to save all of our spare change, and if we can buy one ticket to Hawaii with our change, then we can basically go for "half price". Well, at this rate, we will be saving change for a LONG time, and all the panhandlers downtown are going to be very disappointed with me, but that's life, right? Plus, I like having the goal, and when Billy drops change into the frog and says, "Thirty-five cents closer to Hawaii!"

We had planned to finish up at Starbucks, because sometimes you just need a Starbucks, am I right? But it was good timing, because the rain finally quit holding back right around that time.

After this one, Akilah (correctly) pointed out that we are basically just advertising for Starbucks and they should give us our drinks for free. Amen to that!

And here she is, sipping on her latte while I try to spy on someone having a meeting with a wedding photographer. Not in a bad way! I wasn't going to try to like, poach her clients or whatever, I just wanted to know if I knew her! But we were both getting a little slap happy by then (which I'm sure the caffeine only added to), so we got a couple of giggly pictures and then ended our very fun afternoon together!

I seriously had SO MUCH FUN doing these. And I loved that Akilah really seemed to appreciate the fact that her pictures weren't going to look like anyone else's. She commented that she could always tell from people's pictures which studio they had gone to, and she was happy to have something unique. And that's awesome for me, because that is so what I'm about. Plus, she was chatty and fun and up for anything, and it was just really good, creative day.

That last paragraph kind of segues into the story of MY senior pictures. Okay, so there I was, the summer after my junior year, and I found myself talked into, of all things, Junior Miss. Now yes, it's a scholarship pageant, and yes, I did get a little scholarship money, and yes, it was pretty fun (don't tell anyone), but it's just so not the kind of thing I would usually do since, as I said, WORLD'S WORST DANCER. So uncoordinated.

Anyway, where I grew up there were basically two photographers who did all the senior pictures, and one especially was The One to go to. The wife of The One Photographer did some choreography for Junior Miss, so as like a ... I don't know, I guess it was a gift, we all received a free sitting for our senior pictures.

So I make an appointment and pick out my outfit and go to the studio, and I do all the normal stuff--sit in front of a backdrop, lean on a fake barn (which will later become sepia tone), put on a dress and stare thoughtfully out a window while holding a flower ... you know, whatever you do in these things, I don't know.

But the thing is ... all I remember the photographer saying to me was to not squint so much when I smiled. Ummm ... hello! I'm a squinty smiler! That's what I look like! I embrace that. So when I got my pictures back, I looked totally unhappy, not like myself, and if I'm being really honest ... a little deranged. I did not order a single senior picture and as a result, really have no "senior pictures", which makes me a little sad. In fact, I am thinking of having someone do them for me now that I am older, wiser, and stubborn enough to squint if I want to (which I do).

But that's a tangent. The whole point is that I really feel like that one experience really shaped who I became as a photographer. I don't want people to look how I think they SHOULD look, I want them to look how they REALLY look. I mean, I could get into the whole "everyone's beautiful" thing, but you get it. The point is, relaxed, happy people have cute, happy pictures that they can actually enjoy. And for me, there was nothing more stressful (or depressing) than having someone tell me that I shouldn't look the way I look.
Anyway. There's a little insight into my mindset when I do pictures. I think it's the way to go.


j.ro said...

sarah i LOVE these! and the ipod pic ... awesome! great job!

James M said...

wow. She is beautiful and you captured it beautifully!!!

Also, thanks for the insight re: the Junior Miss - I never would have guessed...but I picture beautiful but spunky, a la Miss Congeniality. Thanks for being honest. It's a quality I admire (as you know).

beth j said...

You are never going to live it down that you did Jr. Miss....Hilarious. I think I need to make you a sash.

The pictures were also great! I am enjoying so much watching you evolve as a photographer.

Kimberly said...

Could not be more thrilled to see these! I'm so glad you two had a great time--I suppose I could have expected that knowing both of you. I think my favorites are the second shot in front of the rusty door--she looks so cozy and natural--and the blue-on-blue because it just looks like Akilah being happy. Of course, the iPod dance has a special place in my heart, too. Great job, once again.

tiffani said...

She is so adorable! I LOVE the second one for sure. She is just toatlly relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera! The ipod idea was so cool too!