Thursday, October 31, 2013


     Growing up I was always the weird kid. I had an amazing imagination that could take me anywhere at any time of any day. I used that all the time too. I used it to get away from the bullying I endured, I used it to get away from family issues (hardly any but when they did pop up...), I used it to get away from all the problems I've ever had to encounter. It was never hard for me to cope with stress, pain, or even emotional problems but my imagination wasn't what others thought was socially acceptable.

     I took up numerous different things to deal with everything. I started off drawing and singing. I loved both so very much but I was always too shy to show people my talents. Even today when people compliment my work to my face I blush and get bashful over it. I guess I'm so used to the rejection that when I finally get "praise" for my work I still do not know how to take it. I continued to draw and sing but also picked up piano along the way. This was something that I could physically, with my own hands, express how I felt about everything that ever happened to me. I love classical music... it's so dark and bright all at the same time and it all expresses exactly how I feel, an emotional extremist. 

     When I finally had the courage to show off my work people called me a liar. They said that I wasn't smart enough or talented enough to be able to create some of the things I did. I had people tear up my drawings or draw over them (scribble them out). It was really hard for me to show anything I loved to other people because they would constantly tear it down. Everything I loved was a joke to them. I didn't actually start getting good feedback until I was in the 8th grade. Even then, I was still very shy about it and never felt like I was good enough. 
     One thing that I knew I was good at, according to everyone, was being weird. Halloween was easily my favorite holiday/time of the year. It gave me the opportunity to be as weird as I wanted without being judged, though I still was I just didn't care as much. I never dressed as anything cute, I was always a devil, witch, grim reaper, anything that let me be something else than this shy little girl. I was still weird but it allowed me to embrace it without it being weird... does that make sense? 

     October is the best time ever for me. It's so full of happy memories of trick-or-treating, hanging with my true friends, and being with family. I obviously outgrew it for the most part but fall will always be my favorite time of the year. The leaves change, the air lightens, I become a happier person. Every day I walk outside and feel the weather it flashes me back to a happier time and instantly puts a smile on my face. This month and holiday made me fearless as a child and eventually formed me into who I am today. It has a lot of influence on my work as a photographer and influence on my life as a person. It gave me a creative outlet that allowed me to just be myself and not be shy about it because I was "hiding" behind a mask. I don't think it's always bad to have something to hide behind as long as that something eventually lets you be a stronger person and grow from it and eventually you can let go of it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Flak to Encouragement

     As a photographer I go through so much criticism daily. You would think it would be from random people about my work but it's not. Other photographers can be harsh in this type of work. I've seen people completely destroy someone just because they're a beginner and their work isn't up to the standards of other more experienced photographers. It makes me sad because while it is weeding out people that can't handle the pressure, it is also making the photography world lose a potential artist. I'll admit that it's pretty hard to give people compliments because of how people treat each other in this day of age. Bullying gets younger and younger each year. Not my point though.

     Since I've started doing my work and publicly displaying them whether it's on facebook, blogs, deviant, or printing for gallery hangings (wish I had more of these, ha ha) I've noticed just how discouraging other's can be.
              "Oh, she copied that idea!"
      That seems to be the running quote of other photographers. While some things are obvious that they may or may not of copied another photographer's idea, we all have to remember that nothing is original anymore and if another person does something similar to you just know that you encouraged them! It could be as simple as taking a photo with balloons in it and then someone else a couple of days later will take one similar. It's not a bad thing for other people to do this, yes, it does get irritating, but it has taken me a long time to just let it go and know that I stand in my own area in photography and my work is original to myself. I've tried to be a family, children, newborn, etc. photographer but that's not me. That type of work doesn't reflect who I am as a photographer.

     We all influence someone in our lives, whether it's good or bad, and we have to keep in mind that what we to do others can really make or break them. Referring back to my first post, Art As An Outlet , I've been heavily hurt many times by other people's actions and words. I eventually too fell into hurting some people that I cared a lot about because those bullies rubbed off on me. Now, I didn't do anything extreme and it ended real fast when I realized I hurt this person. Basically, if a person doesn't ask for criticism then don't give it to them. That's what this generation is lacking is passion and if everyone lets their jealousy take over then we're all destroying each other and eventually you'll destroy yourself.

     I think what makes us all so critical is that we're jealous... jealous of other's potentially "stealing" clients from us, being better than us at our own game, or even maybe they're a better person in general. Instead of giving people flak if you're honestly jealous of another's work or personality then why not just change yourself? Now, I've seen cases where people take that literally and try to become that person and that is definitely not what I mean at all. If you're jealous over someone's kind heart then soften yours. You don't have to act, talk, walk, and photograph like that person but inspiration can come from anywhere including other people. I personally wish I wasn't so head strong and against most people. Childhood bullying can either kill you, make you a weak person, or make you too strong of a person. I kind of fall into both weak and strong. I have a very kind heart towards people in general but at the same time I can hate a person pretty easy as well. I feel like I keep trailing off on my original topic, ha! Sometimes my thoughts just take me away!

     Critiquing isn't at all an extremely bad thing but only when it's necessary. A humorous example would be one time a new photographer buddy of mine, which is still new a producing some great work ideal wise, posted an engagement session and in one of the photos I realized she had her butt hanging out of the bottom of her dress. I instantly messaged him and told him to change it. That is an example of a friendly not asked for critique. I could of easily said to him that this, this, and this was wrong just because it wasn't my style of photography and to me certain things are "wrong" in my book (which there wasn't anything wrong but the butt). Since he is still learning, I don't give him the boot, I give friendly yet firm suggestions and let him take what he wants from it.

     Let's face it, the art world is dying. When I say art, I mean ART. Yes we still use photography and other artistic forms for advertising and other things but art in general is getting less and less each day and we should all encourage one another to continue what we love no matter what. I chose the path of a starving artist and while I struggle with a few things in my life... I am more thankful and happier than I've ever been because I'm doing what I love and not settling. I'm also so very happy to be able to encourage others to better their work or even themselves.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Artistically Placed

     Recently I have decided to quit all general public photography and just focus on my Fine Art pieces. In the beginning I only shot inanimate objects or animals, mostly still life. Once I progressed into more creative photography I had other friends doing similar things to what I was producing. We would all share ideas and work together as a team until all of us found our style and kind of went our separate ways photography wise.

From my old Sony Alpha 300. One of the first photo shoots
I did. July of 2011.
Same girl but I used my Canon EOS 7D.
September 28th, 2013.
     Being around these people helped me a lot with getting my name out there and it gave me practice with models as well. Eventually I started to slip into doing "normal" portraits of children, adults, families, and within the last year I've added weddings. You can tell the obvious change from when I first started to what I produce now but it got to the point where my heart wasn't in it anymore. Doing this type of photography is not what I ever intended on doing in life. While I love shooting weddings and I still have a lot more to learn, especially with indoor photography, I still can't get myself to completely just love it.

     When I do my fine art pieces I lose myself. I forget time exists and I don't stop. I don't feel temperature when I'm shooting... I just have my mind set on what I want to accomplish and forget the rest. I've stepped on glass, falling through wooden floors and stair cases, and I've even been destroyed by insects just to get that shot I envisioned. My models, when I get great ones, go through so much for me as an artist as well. A shoot I had last August is a great example of what my models do for shot as well. We went to an abandoned house and one of the areas that was the most beautiful to me had the floor completely missing minus the supports. At this time I was still using my Sony camera so unfortunately we didn't get a great shot but I still have that image in my head and one day I'll get it! I spend hours on my editing and making sure it's exactly how I want it. My love for my creative pieces far exceed any kind of emotion I could have for normal photography.

     One of the biggest reasons I stopped, well I think my lack of passion is the main thing, is the way people treated me. Not just me but photographers in general. I've had people complain about my prices being too high, too cheap, not enough photos but when I did give more than expected they complained about them all looking too much a like. I've had other photographers try to drag my name into the ground just because they messed up something or I took "their" client. I've had people threaten to sue me over photos and I've had people complain about the times, locations, just anything people could complain about... they did it. It got to the point where it made me hate photography. I dreaded doing these sessions and I dreaded editing the photos from it. The difference between my regular works and my fine art pieces is apparent. I wouldn't even pick up my camera to just photograph anymore. That wasn't me. I completely stopped doing my fine art pieces and fell behind in what I wanted to achieve with my photography which is art. I was trying so hard to make other people happy that I wasn't making myself happy and in the end these people don't care about me, they just want my services and then they're done with me. I know that's an emotional approach to the situation but if I'm not happy then this isn't where I need to be.

"Self Reliance" Taken October 25th, 2013. Canon EOS 7D.
    Now that I quit that type of photography I feel like I can breathe again. I can be myself and create. Let my mind and heart be exactly where it needs to be. I feel refreshed and whole again. This is what I want to do and I have big dreams and one day everything will happen for me. I just have to wait until it's my turn to shine. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Art As An Outlet

     Hello! My name is Samantha! I've been wanting to make a blog for a really long time now and just didn't know where to begin. I actually had a post from March here but I removed it because it wasn't what I wanted to say. I've started a couple of other different blogs and the only one that I ever really kept up with as a kid was my xanga. Saying that out loud makes me feel really old... I'm only 22. I'm at the perfect time in my life to start this blog because of all the changes that are happening and will be happening in the future for me.

     Growing up I always had an active imagination. Outside was my canvas and I used it up that's for sure! I think I finally stopped playing outside and with imaginary friends when I was 13. My childhood was kind of a dark one when it came to school and dealing with other children. I was constantly the outcast and it didn't matter what I did to fit in kids always picked on me. I remember when barbies were a big deal and just because I didn't have the next-best-thing basically I wasn't allowed to play with the other girls. Eventually I got heavy into the 2 in. Polly Pocket dolls and everyone loved them and wanted to play with them but after they bought their own they wanted nothing to do with me anymore. It's not like I was one of those kids that was a constant annoyance because I kept to myself most of the time. 

     Eventually it got to where I gave up on fitting in and then I got picked on even more! What can a girl do to just be left a lone? As a coping mechanism I started to draw and sing, though I was very shy and didn't show anyone my drawings until I was in the 5th grade, I loved it with all my heart. It gave me the perfect outlet to let me get emotions I had inside from being bullied out in the open. I used to go home crying almost everyday because of how the children treated me. The most pathetic part is that I went to a private Christian school and the kids still acted that way. I was bullied for not having the best clothes, toys, house, etc. 
     My parents are smokers and kids would always cough really loud around me and ask what was burning just to embarrass me for something that I couldn't control. One time in the 5th grade a girl spread around that I was a lesbian just because I wanted to hang out and play with the other girls, like a normal female child. At that time I didn't even know what being a lesbian meant! I tried to ignore it and eventually talked to my parents about it and they went straight to the school about it. It's been so long that I can't recall if being called that stopped right away or not but the name calling definitely did not.

     Girls were the worst to me growing up. I was always shoved over, my drawings ripped up, being called names... the list goes on. Girls aren't the only ones to blame, I've had my fair share of boys bullying me as well. There were two guys in the 6th grade, I was in the 5th, that would purposely kick soccer balls at me during recess. It didn't matter what I was doing a soccer ball would come from nowhere and hit me. Eventually it got to being punched in the face. I don't want you to think that I didn't fight back because I did. I wasn't afraid to tell a grown up what was going on and who were the ones that hurt me. 
     Being bullied in middle school wasn't the worst because the names got more intense and so did the bullying.

One of my very first extreme edits on a photo
probably around the age of 14.
     When I got into the 7th grade I remember watching America's Next Top Model and just for hours obsess over how beautiful the models were and more specifically the photographs. This become my new creative outlet. We didn't own a camera but we did have a web camera! I started to take "snap shots" on the webcam we had and I felt so artistic and beautiful. It was something I looked forward to doing all the time. When MySpace came around I met this one girl on there with the name of "Mary Miyavi" and she would post the most amazing photos I've ever seen! I have more of a darker personality so her gothic photos were right up my ally. I would follow her page constantly and just wanted to be like her one day. She was also and amazing artist, she drew, and that's what made me look up to her even more! I started to play around with photoshop at 14 years old and I would be on it for hours doing nothing productive but just playing, learning, and creating. My first manipulation was a photo of me in a mirror and I made the other side all dark looking. I thought I was the most amazing artist ever! I look back on that image now and laugh because it's nowhere near what I'm at now. 

Jason. One of my very first
photography subjects. I
have many photographs of
him when I first started
using a camera. 
     I moved from a webcam to a Silver Kodak point and shoot. I could not stop taking photos. I took photos of myself, my animals, glasses, everything! I couldn't control the love I had for photographing things. I chewed through so many batteries that it would make my parents mad because when they needed the camera it was always dead. My parents knew my creative side and knew how much I loved photography but could never afford a dslr. 

     One day a family friend bought me my very first dslr! It was a Sony Alpha 300 and I loved that thing more than life itself. I entered a photo contest a couple months later and entered a macro (not very great I should add) shot of a drop of water hanging off a Daisy petal with more daisies reflecting in the droplet. Needless to say I didn't win. I was so confident in myself. The image that won looked like something from a magazine, it was so amazing and perfect I didn't understand how my images were not coming out the same.

     I still continued to photograph as much as I could. Eventually just taking photos was NOT enough for me. I wanted to create worlds and show people what I dreamed of, so I started doing photomanipulation pieces. They were all stock images and could never actually be used for art but it was something that helped me to learn what I really wanted to do in life which is to create these worlds.
Obviously a bunch of stock photos and brushes but this was a
piece that I was truly proud of because I worked really hard on
it and it was the type of work that I've always wanted to produce.

    I took my very first creative class in college and my very first photography class as well! It started out in film and I instantly fell in love with film and the process of developing and just how tranquil the dark room is to work in. I still love it and would love to have my own dark room one day! College is were I really developed my talent because I was open to critique the other students and teachers had to give me. I think everyone should just let their guards down and let others in to help and everyone will improve dramatically. I know I did. 
My weenie dog Ella. Shot with a Minolta 35mm film camera
with a 50mm lens.
My old roommate Mandi helping me out with a class project.
Shot using a Minolta 35mm film camera with a 50mm lens.

     I got the courage to make a facebook photo page, Sleeping Awake Photography, back in July of 2011. I soon received a lot of positive feedback that helped me in so many ways. All the love and support really helped me to keep pursuing my dreams and to just continue to further my education and love for photography. There isn't a day that I'm not dreaming up a photograph to create.

    My fans and friends have been a great support but most importantly my family has been there through it all. They encouraged my piano, drawing, singing, photography, or anything I put my mind to! My parents play different roles with my photography. My father is the one that has helped me buy things for my work like lenses, backdrops, photoshop, etc. and my mother is the one that helped at shoots or with my self portraits. She even buys me all the dresses you see in my works. My mother even let me wrap her up in yarn for a conceptual piece I had in mind! Link: Mother of Yarn! I couldn't ask for better parents! They've kept me going all these years with their constant love and support and even if I made mistakes they never once told me what to do. They just stood back and let me make my own choices as a person and was here for me when I made bad ones. They never judged me and still to this day continue to support and give me as much encouragement and love I could ever ask for! I am truly blessed!

    Many years of searching for myself and finding it then losing it and finding it again, I never once lost who I was as an artist. I can't wait to show the world what I can do and what I have planned! I have dreams bigger than myself and I just want to share my world with others. I thank everyone who has modeled or supported my work. You'll never completely understand the gratitude I have towards everyone's hard work with creating my portfolio!
My latest piece titled "Breathe No More". Created and posted on October 17th 2013. Shot using a Canon EOS 7D with an 18mm lens.  ISO 400 @ f/3.5