Fantasy Photoshoot | Haunted Overload at DeMerritt Hill Farm in Lee, NH

It’s no secret that I love to “play photography”, pushing the envelope, trying new lighting, lenses, posing, and editing techniques is just the type of good clean fun I like to have in our off-season.  What’s the saying, “Champions are made in the off-season”? ..well that’s how I feel about photography – our creative pursuits makes us better photographers in every possible way.  Even if we never ask you to flip upside-down and walk down the stairs of a creepy haunted house, we would know how to shoot it if you requested such a photo.

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I have some friends who have been trying to get me to go to Haunted Overload for years. However, there is a teeny tiny problem with their plan, 1) I’m afraid of my own shadow. I’m literally a baby when it comes to all things scary. Like I run up the stairs from the basement, not for the cardio (like I tell the kids), but because there’s an invisible zombie behind me.  2) I’m out flat all fall. There is no time in my schedule for fun and games – which is also the prime creep season.

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But my friends are clever and resourceful. This winter they wrote with “an idea” that I couldn’t resist. A photoshoot at Haunted Overload. Sure it was closed and boarded up, but they had permission for us to use the location as well as props and outfits. I was in.

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The only actual problem was that it was 2 degrees outside. I told them I was in once the weather warmed up. Then I checked the weather forecast, and miraculously I saw a 55 degree day in the extended forecast. We all circled that day on our calendars. It was ON.

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Then a thing happened. I was struck with bronchitis. I mean, it hurt to breathe. I’m not exaggerating, breathing felt like I was swallowing knives. Very sharp knives. But I knew my friends had put so much effort into the shoot, even taking the day off of work, and it’s not like 60 degree days come along often in February. So I drank some tea, warned them that I had no voice, and wrapped a scarf around my mouth and nose to buffer the cool air and somewhat contain my germs.

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What happened next was pure magic. Maybe dark magic, if I believed in such things. I got through the 2+ hour shoot without any knives in my throat. I believe the adrenaline of shooting heals all things. I felt nothing but pure bliss while we shot.

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The location was absolutely freaking amazing. I have never seen anything quite so glorious. Creepy? Yes. Even boarded up. Even without the “characters”. Even with snow on the ground. Even in broad daylight.

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But also gloriously cinematic.

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And our models were perfect. I have photographed Marina and Emalee many times before, so I knew they were going to bring the magic. Plus THEY LOVE SCARY CREEPINESS, it’s like their thing.  They didn’t need my non-existent voice telling them to do creepy poses and expressions, they just brought it.

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Then for the rest of the week while I was recovering I had these images to play with in Photoshop.

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Creating different scenes and giving each picture it’s own story and vibe was such fun.

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Thank you Obycs for such a fun day. I love you ladies.

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Erin

 

Fall Fashion Photoshoot | Portsmouth, NH

Somewhere buried under lots of fun photoshoots are pictures I took about a month ago for our fashion friends at Pretty Little Things, with hair and makeup by Redhead Studio.

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Our fashion partner, Michelle, who owns Pretty Little Things is the brain-power behind these shoots.

PLT Sept2017-11I basically just show up with my camera.

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The concept behind this particular shoot was a glamping vibe with a retro feel.

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Michelle is always pushing me to produce images that are beyond the boundaries of my normal portrait work.

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Which I love and hate.

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I love shooting differently; utilizing lenses that don’t come out of my bag much, and new lighting techniques. These shoots are an opportunity to me to grow, practice and learn. Last year I actually learned a whole new off camera flash system doing these shoots (which I now utilize with ease). Which is freaking awesome.

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Then there’s the matter of editing. I love clean edits. However, editing styles are subject to trends (thank you Instagram filters). Several years ago it was a low contrast matte look, then a pastel light & airy edit, now it’s a dark, contrasty film look – all so fun and wonderful…but I want my photography to look timeless. So this is where I bite my lip and work on edits per the shoot’s vision board.

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I take a deep breath and then use photoshop techniques to create an edit that will give the photo the desired look and feel for the shoot …which I jokingly refer to as “ruining my pictures”.

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Although I sort of fuss about it, if I’m honest, it’s a nice creative excursion for me. Creating film-like effects has forced me to use different editing tools and learn more about Photoshop.

Learning is always good and playing photography reminds me that this is more than a job, it’s also a hobby.

 

 

We All Live on Mercy Street.

As a photographer, there comes a time when you realize you do more than just take pictures. You are a family historian, adorning the pages of family scrapbooks with sweet moments, freezing time, resuscitating memories, keeping loved ones alive – you illustrate life’s stories. It’s an awesome “side effect” of being a photographer (one that I did not know about until I started falling in love with my clients as I watched their stories being written over the years).

That being said, I would like to share a story with you that I had the unique pleasure of being involved in, without my camera.

One Sunday morning I was driving myself to church. I was alone in the car, the kids had overslept and I was running late myself, and if I’m honest, I traded the hassle of dragging them out of bed for the peace of hopping in my car alone and driving myself to worship. Not a shining moment for me as a Christian, or a mother.

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As I drove towards church I felt prompted to pray for a family. I knew this family had been trying to sell their house for many months. I also knew that the dad and daughter had already moved down south because he accepted a job, and the mom and sons were still living up in this area, desperate to be together. This isn’t a family I really know, I had gleaned all I knew from Facebook posts over the last year. I saw occasional posts about buyers coming and going without offers – and the sadness and frustration they were experiencing. So as I was driving along, enjoying my solitude, this family popped in my mind. Literally as random as me thinking about how jelly beans are made, or what unicorn poop smells like. As I thought of this family, I felt compassion for their situation, and I prayed for them. I actually sort of begged the Lord to give them a break and sell their house so they could all be together.

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Then I felt the Lord tell me that they needed to lower the asking price of their house, not a lot, just a little bit, as an act of faith, and He would send a buyer. I felt in my heart that he was saying just $5000.

Nooooooooooooo.

I knew what he wanted me to do and I was like, “no way, Lord, I don’t know them like that, I can’t just contact them and tell them, ‘hey, God wants you to lower the price of your house and then He’ll send a buyer’ – that’s crazy talk“.

Just to back up a minute, I am sane. I do have all my marbles (even though they occasionally get misplaced). When God speaks to me, it’s not like an audible voice that I can hear with my ears, it’s also not a thunderbolt from the sky, or an angel with a scroll, or Morgan Freeman in a white suit, or a paper airplane from Heaven, or morse code, a white light, brail, a magic 8 ball, or anything else physical or audible. When the Lord speaks to me it’s like he’s whispering directly to my heart, and it’s super easy to sort of second guess or pass off as my own inner voice. Except that if I were talking to myself, it wouldn’t have been about lowering the price of this family’s house, I’d be about what I’m going to have for lunch or how much work I have waiting for me at home, or other thoughts, probably very holy ones.

So I negotiated with God, “Okay Lord, I’ll do it, BUT only if you put them in front of me again today, that way I’ll know its from you“. With that, I felt complete peace. I went on with the rest of my day without giving the matter a second thought. Not.one.single.thought.

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Until 10pm when I finished my computer work and went to shut down before heading up to bed. I clicked on Facebook and there she was, at the top of my newsfeed.

Crap.

So I wrote to her telling her the whole thing (except for the $5K because that was just a little too specific, like how am I going to tell this lady how much to lower her house when I know nothing about the house, or the value, or her life in general?). In my message, I acknowledged that this probably sounded crazy, but I had to let her know. She responded immediately, thanking me for the message. She shared that she had been really struggling that day, feeling abandoned by God, but me writing showed her that He had not left her alone. She also shared that she couldn’t reduce the price of her house because her realtor was out of town.

With that I felt a sense of mission accomplished. Me reaching out to her was an encouragement. Yay. I was so pleased and humbled that the Lord used me for that purpose. I told her I would continue to pray.

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The next day she wrote back. She lowered the price of the house.

The following day she had a showing scheduled.

And then another showing just sort of happened, a couple who drove by and wanted to come in and see the house.

Within 5 days they had a buyer.  God had sent them a buyer!  A perfect buyer.

Crazy right?

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The woman and I knew we had experienced a miracle, God reaching down into our lives and creating circumstances for us to come together and praise Him. We met for coffee and she shared the details of their story, things I hadn’t known, like their daughter’s prayer for them all to be together on her birthday, on the 20th (their move date was the 19th). Complexities about their home that required a specific type of buyer, which this buyer was. How they had lowered the price of their house twice already and they were down to the wire and could not possibly go any lower than a $5k reduction.

That’s about when I started crying. “Did you just say that you lowered the price by $5000?”

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Oh Lord, you must shake your head when you look at me with my small faith. But you do so in such a loving way, I feel you chuckle at me and lovingly pat me on the head with your warm hand. You are so infinitely merciful, you not only let me photograph stories of people, but you let me be a part of them sometimes and for that I am so grateful. We all live on Mercy Street.