My friend Emily Brown is the founder of MbarM. She creates the most amazing, leather products that I've ever seen, concentrating mostly on custom-designed bags. (Seriously. If you feel like being blown away by gorgeous leather designs, go look at her website and Instagram under @mbarmleatherdesign)
A couple of weeks ago she asked me to take some 'out and about' pictures of me with the knapsack she made for me a couple of years ago. And I was thrilled to oblige. :p
The knapsack in question has something of an interesting story - I obtained the original bag from my grandfather several years ago, as a regular olive-green military bag. To my understanding it was used during his military career as a Marine. I'm not sure when it came into his possession but I do know that he was on active duty during World War II, the Korean war, and maaaaybe Vietnam? (I'll have to double-check on that last one)
I used the bag for 4-5 years, every single day, to the point that the cross-body strap disintegrated and I was reduced to using the backpack straps clipped together to carry it over my shoulder. Then those straps were starting to give, and the body of the bag was starting to disintegrate in earnest. (Dragging it all over the great outdoors of Colorado probably didn't help either)
It finally got to the point where I couldn't use the bag anymore, and I put it in my closet for several months since I didn't have the heart to throw it away. And then I had the great idea to send it to EB to see if she could recreate it for me.
Thankfully she agreed to take it on! After a few weeks, the 'Wade Knapsack' was born (named after my grandfather)
Most of the hardware is from the original bag, and she had the brilliant idea of incorporating the serial numbers in windows on the front and back. The leather is like a bomber jacket -- it took a few months to break in, and the longer I use it the softer it gets. What gets me is that I've not conditioned or treated it in any way, but it's still beautiful and lustrous.
I look forward to using this for the rest of my life....and probably passing it down to some younger relative because I fully expect it to last longer than me. :p
A last note on the actual photos: I took them all with my camera, a tripod, and a self-timer. It's been years since I attempted such a feat...as a result I'm rather proud of how they turned out.
After the success with getting hired by Kyle on Thumbtack, I have kept up with the site in hopes of getting more clients. So far I've been....mediocrely successful. (Is 'mediocrely' a word? My spell-check says no....but I don't care.) I think I need more reviews and examples of what I can do....for now I'll stick with it.
Thanks to sticking with it, I was hired not long afterwards by Jeremi and Eva! This couple needed some simple headshots for Linkedin, resume, website, etc. Originally we were going to shoot at Lake Fayetteville. Thankfully I arrived first to make sure there were some good spots...I then had a panic attack because there were NO GOOD SPOTS, and then called them to suggest meeting at the Fayetteville square instead.
(At first I was worried that they would think I was flaky, but thankfully they were super easy-going about it)
Also, I canNOT get over how spectacularly gorgeous Eva is.
I love this one because right beforehand I said "Look at your husband - it makes you smile", and it got her to laugh.
I call this one 'the smoulder'
This beautifully dramatic spot was the entryway to a business on the square....I'm guessing it was black marble? The light was gorgeous too.
We played around with some couple-style poses....
All in all I had a great time meeting some new folks through Thumbtack! This business headshots gig is pretty fun too - I hope to be doing more as the opportunity arises.
When I first moved to Arkansas the only people I knew here were my aunt and uncle. Those first few months I spent a lot of time at their house...I enjoy their company but it was also because my highly introverted self had no idea how to go out and find friends. (Hilariously, one of my first NWA friends I discovered through Google - but that's another story for another time.) Obviously that has not remained the case, as I've developed friendships through work, church, and volunteer opportunities (and Google, of course).
I joined a Facebook group a few months ago sponsored by some amazing photographers, Amy and Jordan Demos, while going through their photography course...part of the reason was to improve personally, but I also was really wanting to see if there was anyone in the area who would like to meet up to toss business ideas back and forth, try out some different techniques, etc.
I've almost always been in the position of teaching other people (not saying that to brag by ANY means, it's just your average person doesn't spend hours poring over certain topics to learn more about them), so being around someone who knows more is something I really crave.
Enter Candace! (Take a second to look at her website, I'm in love with the style)
Our first meeting was in Fayetteville, when Candace had asked me if I wanted to tag along with a shoot for a couple she knew. I pounced on the opportunity to meet up AND take pictures of a beautiful couple, so after coffee at Arsaga's we walked to the University of Arkansas campus and spent about a couple hours taking pictures, trading back and forth on technique, etc.
I had never used a reflector (for bouncing light back on a subject) or the Expodisc (which creates perfect white balance), and she had both for me to play with. Life. CHANGERS. They are amazing tools and I can't believe I've never used them before!
After that first meeting we decided to meet up again at Lake Fayetteville to do some practice shooting (I was working on white balance consistency and posing ideas). I can't speak for Candace, but I certainly had a lot of fun!
You would never know that this green wall was the side of a pavilion and that there was a trash can just out of view....ahh, the magic of cropping ;)
Attempting the Expodisc in this area resulted in some VERY warm photos....but I'm still hoping to get one and figure it out for a more consistent output in the future.
I'm not sure if this is a confession or a bragging moment....but through the process of editing these pictures I learned how to 'brighten' eyes in Photoshop. The technicalities can be kind of confusing if you don't use Photoshop--suffice to say I was quite pleased with the results and hope to get better/faster at it.
After the lake we went to Tacos 4 Life (my first visit--I've already gone back once since then) and took advantage of their huge, amazing windows. I haven't seen a whole lot of the 'reflection' portraits, but they are so dreamy and mysterious-feeling that I'm sure I'll be doing more in the future.
See what I mean?
Pro-tip: make sure the sun has set or at least is not glaring across your subject's face when trying this technique.
Candace very generously gave me permission to use some of the photos she took of me for my Facebook page and website, and for that I am HUGELY grateful. I'm also looking forward to meeting up again and trading some more business ideas/working on photography ideas!
In February I joined a website called Thumbtack. It's a platform by which people who are needing a service - for example, photography - can advertise their need, and professionals can offer quotes in an attempt to meet that need. I stumbled across the site in January, and figured 'eh, can't hurt to try it out'.
After sending out several quotes (6 or 7, maybe?) I was hired by Kyle! He needed some business headshots for his new website. I've been delving more into the business headshot side of photography, and really enjoying the process/wanting to do more, so the opportunity was really an answer to prayer.
We met outside the library on the University of Arkansas campus - the day had been gloomy and rainy, but thankfully it cleared up just in time to get a few shots.
On a funny side note: I used to be extremely nervous to meet strangers in person, especially if it's through the internet. (I blame it - with good reason - on a very bad experience with an online stalker. Which is another story for another day.)
However, last year I decided to try out online dating. The process of going out with a variety of strangers really expanded my comfort level, to the point that as long as it's in a public area I have no problem meeting pretty much anyone at any time. I didn't really think about the parallels of online dating with putting forth a professional presence until after I joined Thumbtack....but it's really quite similar.
Except the pressure to follow up with clients regarding referrals/reviews/etc is NOTHING like the pressure to follow up on a date. AT ALL.
Kyle is a super nice former CPA who is branching out to become a consultant. He was easy to work with and didn't mind when I did some gymnastics to get a better angle (I was crouched on the wall for this picture).
I had Kyle do some more casual poses....it was a great way to showcase those delectable columns. (The architecture on the UofA campus is pretty amazing.....just sayin'.)
All told my first experience with an online client was a major hit! Since this session I've had another person hire me through Thumbtack, which I'll be blogging about soon.
Melissa is one of the first people who befriended me when I moved to Arkansas two and a half years ago. We met at church, and since then she has included me in dinners and outings with her family, we've served together on the worship team, started a couple of ladies' groups (one of which is going strong in its second year!), worked out together when she still lived five minutes away, and she has always 'had my back' while I've figured out this whole living on my own thing.
(She DID help to set me up with a guy, which turned out disastrously....but I forgive her. And her dad for instigating. :p )
I approached Melissa at church a few months ago about doing some headshots for my portfolio and her professional presence....and thankfully she agreed. (Not that I expected her to refuse but there's always that niggling doubt that I'm annoying people when I ask to take their picture)
It was a bit overcast on this day in particular (middle of January), but I've been doing some practice with natural diffused light and the cloud cover was PERFECT...if I do say so myself. :p
We meandered around her yard on the farm looking for some nice spots - this one you can't even tell that I had her huddled under a pine tree and I had tied a branch back so it wouldn't hit her in the face. (Ahh, the hidden secrets of setting up nice shots!)
This is one of my favorites because I caught the perfect genuine smile with the little tiny scrunch to the nose. (Did I say something funny? I don't even remember now.)
While Melissa was changing clothes I coaxed Buddy the horse over with some sweet feed....in between chewing and dribbling grain he very graciously posed for a couple of pictures with his ears forward. He's really quite photogenic as well.
One of my other favorites....a sweet little moment with a beloved pet....
(Also because I Photoshopped a pole and a bucket out of the background, and you can't even tell. But I digress.)
I LOVE this sweater.
Her folks live nearby, and they have approximately 8 million goats.
That may be a slight exaggeration. But not by much.
One goat (with babies) thought we might have some food....the rest didn't stick around to find out.
Proof that Melissa is outstanding.......in her field.
I couldn't resist, y'all. Puns are my love language.
I love this one too! Very natural and the goats are just so darned cute.
The baby goat looks like it's smiling too..... (In reality it was shivering from the new experience of being held, but it was a remarkably good sport about it all)
Melissa was a remarkably good sport for me as well, and I greatly appreciated the opportunity to take her pictures. Thanks, M! :)
Sessions, life updates, and musings.