chantal stone photography: the blog

February 28, 2007

What’s Next

Filed under: Personal,Photography — chantal @ 4:22 pm

I’ve been thinking and talking a lot lately about my next step. In the past week three different photographers whom I admire each asked me a question that really made me think, were difficult to answer, and have set me on a particular path. The questions were (in summary):

  1. What do you prefer to do most within the field of photography?
  2. What is it you are trying to say?
  3. What is your end goal?

To add fuel to the fire, I’ve been working on my portfolio site and I’m having trouble finding a coherent vision. You can look at it now, but be warned, it changes every few hours as I add and take away images that one minute I love, the next minute I hate.

Let me try to answer the questions here:

1. I love photography. Period. And as long as I have a camera in my hand I’m happy. Lifestyle & editorial are probably my favorite style of photography, and I think it covers a broad enough base that I can do just about anything—commercial, weddings, portraits. I also love fine art, that’s what I started out trying to do…and the current trend of contemporary fine art photography totally fascinates me although I don’t think what I shoot fits into that genre (more on that later).

2. I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I’m not 100% convinced I have to say anything…do I? Maybe some of what I do says something and I don’t realize it yet. I do have a few projects that I’m working on, and a couple others that I will be working on soon that I think say something. They are longer term projects, essays if you will…this type of work interests me a lot and I plan to pursue it further.

3. My goal. *sigh* This is how I answered my friend who asked the question: “the end goal is fuzzy; I don’t want to be amateur anymore, the end goal is to gain exposure, be published, be hired for assignments. The point is my kids are getting older, and more expensive, and we are quickly outgrowing our house. Sooner or later I need to get a job and I don’t want to do anything else. So I have to make this work somehow, that’s how I see it, that’s my motivation.”

This is where I am. I’ve sort of answered the big questions. I have an idea of what I want. The question now is how. Given the area that I live, and my level of experience, the easiest thing for me to do is to go into wedding/portraiture. Which is great, I love to photograph people, I love highly emotional situations…weddings are perfect for that. What I don’t love, and need to improve upon, is all the after-stuff…having the prints made, wedding albums, etc. I want to be photographing, not putting together albums, so I need to figure out a niche where I can fit.

The other week I went to my daughter’s dance teachers house to photograph her baby. I loved every minute of it, and she was really happy about the final images. THAT I can do every day. Not limiting to just babies…but one-on-one portrait assignments, on location so to speak, not the formal studio style. I was in heaven. I love the personal interaction of weddings and portraits.

A couple of weeks ago I assisted Jez Coulson on a corporate shoot. It was fun, a great experience, very exact, having to fulfill the needs of an art director. I could do that, maybe not everyday, but certainly I would love the occasional corporate assignment in between other jobs. I did love the intensity of the shoot though, the ‘having to get it right to meet a deadline’. I’ve always worked well under pressure.

So I have an idea of what I’d be happiest doing. That would be for pay. I love the versatility of these different areas. And I would certainly continue my personal projects and my artsy stuff. It’s in me to produce that type of photography, so I don’t see the commercial, for-pay stuff getting in the way of my personal work.

Now what’s left is for me to put together a cohesive portfolio to show off what I can do. I have a large body of work, but cohesive it is not. I’ve got bits and pieces here and there; things that can lead to something else, but aren’t quite there yet. For the next several weeks I will do nothing else but get this done. I have some ideas, I just hope I can implement them successfully.

February 25, 2007

The Source of Motivation

Filed under: Inspiration,Photography — chantal @ 12:49 pm

Paul Lester has an interesting post today on his blog about motivation and facing rejection…it gets to the root of why we shoot.  (He linked to a post on George Barr’s blog….read that too.)

Both articles deal with dealing with rejection, and force one to ask the question: why do I photograph?

I do this for various reasons:

1) I love it.  Photography is it for me.  It’s the purest way I feel I can express myself.  It’s exquisite in its impressionism and in its honesty, and in its subjectivity, all at once.  Photography, for me, is non-judgemental, unpretentious, and knows no boundaries.

2) I’ve had other jobs and I enjoyed most of them, but in the end, I got bored and ended up hating what I did because eventually I began to think “what the hell am I doing here, I want to be a photographer, not a ____”.  You can fill that blank with just about anything including a retail manager, a soldier in the Army, a cook, a waitress, Mary Kay consultant, or visual merchandiser.

3) My kids are getting older, and I want to teach them to follow their dreams, to follow their hearts.  I want them to learn that they can be successful at doing what they love and that the measure of success shouldn’t be the size of one’s bank account.  And I want to them to know that no matter what it is they do, they can be successful, financially and otherwise, if they work hard.

4) Deep down, when I really think about it, when I’m truly honest with myself, I keep doing this because I need the validation of public success.  I need to know that someone besides my mother thinks I’m a good photographer.  I need to know that this lifelong love and obsession isn’t in vain.

5) I’m a photographer because I really believe that someday I will be successful at it. (I don’t think I’d be successful at anything else.)

So when faced with more rejection (and I will be) I remind myself of these things.  This is why I photograph, and why I can’t ever stop.

February 23, 2007

Dancing Queen

Filed under: Personal — chantal @ 9:38 am

Tomorrow is my daughter’s first dance competition, in Dayton, Ohio. Chanel is 9 and is in her 4th year of dance. She does tap and ballet and will be competing in both.

getting ready
getting ready for the Christmas Show, 2006

It’s amazing for me to see how motivated, determined, and competetive she is. She has a ton of talent (and this isn’t just the mom talking)…and on top of dancing several hours every week, she maintains excellent grades.

What’s even more amazing for me is to see her with a level of confidence and self-esteem I never had.

surprise!
backstage surprise, Christmas Show, 2006

She doesn’t realize it, but she inspires me in so many ways.

February 20, 2007

From Film to Digital

Filed under: Personal,Photography — chantal @ 2:17 pm

Next week (hopefully next week) I’m going to be purchasing a Nikon D200. I’m really excited about it—what photographer wouldn’t be…a new camera, c’mon!! But I have to admit some ambivalent feelings about switching from film to digital.

First of all, I know I’m somewhat late to the game. But up until recently, I was fairly content with doing a more ‘fine art’ type of photography, and the way I was shooting, film was perfect for that. Somewhere along the line, however, I realized that there really isn’t anything else I’d rather do, photography is IT for me. I began to seek out and accept more commercial types of assignments so my workflow now requires for me to shoot digital.

I just can’t help but feel sad though. I LOVE film, the look of it, the feel, the smell, even. A silver print made from a negative is just so delicious, I can’t resist it. But more and more, I’m seeing my future with film fade, and it makes me sad. I don’t think I’ll ever give film up totally. An afternoon with a few rolls of HP-5 is just too good to resist. But today in particular, the thought occured to me, that the days of film for every day use are wearing thin.

This afternoon I picked up some prints that I had processed from film. 8 rolls of film, processed and printed cost me $55.00. I know by most standards that’s pretty inexpensive, but when you factor in my workflow, plus the cost of the film itself….we’re looking at about $90 for every 8 rolls of film I shoot. I can easily snap off about 8-10 rolls during a single shoot. And up until now, I’ve been rather conservative with my shooting, but I know it’s in me to go completely shutter happy. So by going digital, I’ll save myself a several hundred dollar a month habit.

The pictures were good enough, I guess, compositionally speaking—I still have to study them a bit further…but what bothers me is how they are printed. I hate how photo-processing places now, to increase their own production and reduce costs, all will scan the negatives and give you a digital print. The print quality is just horrible and the colors are almost always way off. And these days, to have 4×6 prints made by traditional methods will cost you about $20 per roll of film!

So I know I’m doing the right thing by switching to digital. The D200 is an awesome camera and I’m confident it is perfect for my needs. But it’s bittersweet for me. I don’t have the time or money or space to invest in darkroom equipment, at least not right now. And I know I’ll still shoot film for special occasions, or to continue some on-going projects (for continuity’s sake). It’s just a little disappointing to see how the industry is leaning more and more towrds digital processing, making traditional methods scarce and expensive. Who would have though that by spending nearly $2,000 on a new camera kit, I’m actually saving money.

February 18, 2007

“Nursery Wines”

Filed under: Uncategorized — chantal @ 7:58 pm

This has nothing to do with photography but…

Wine aficionados will hate this, but I don’t really care. I once bought a bottle of wine because I thought the label was cute. It’s a Pinto Noir called Pinot Evil, with three silly little monkeys covering their eyes, ears and mouth, and I saw it one day in the grocery store. I’m certainly no wine connoisseur, but I know what I like. And I knew what a risk it was to purchase a bottle of wine based on the label…I’ve had enough bad wine to have learned my lesson. But this little discovery was quite the pleasant surprise.

Pinot Evil is a light, airy red, perfect for those who prefer a less full-bodied wine. I read somewhere too, the it’s best when allowed to breath for at least 15-20 minutes before drinking…I’ll have to agree. It’s a French wine, and even though I found it in the grocery store, it’s carried nationwide at World Market.

Now the reason for this post isn’t to talk about Pinot Evil. Today, again at the grocery store, I saw another label that caught my eye…a brand called Three Blind Moose. There was a Pinot Grigio, a Cabernet, a Merlot and a Chardonnay. I didn’t purchase any this time, but I may in the future. The label pictures three urban-chic looking moose, sipping wine.

How cute is it to name your wine after a nursery rhyme? It’s a little bit kampy, a little bit trendy, and kinda cool to boot. I wonder of there are any other “nursery rhyme wines” out there…I’d love to start a collection.

February 16, 2007

Happy Blogiversary!

Filed under: Inspiration,News,Personal — chantal @ 9:34 pm

Today my blog is one year old! This really shouldn’t be that big of deal but it is only because one year later, I’m still here. I have the habit of losing interest with things, becoming bored, and I admit that when I first started blogging I was secretly wondering how long this thing will last.

After 12 months, 3 blog hosts, 3 blog titles, 65 entries, and countless templates, I’m still at it…and I’m writing now more than ever! It was my interest in Blogcritics Magazine that got me interested in blogging in the first place, and it was my passion…..obsession…with all things photography that has sustained this project for so long.

This has truly been a personal journey and I feel I’ve come a long way. A year ago, I was still saying things like “I want to be a photographer”…and now I am one! My photoblog continues to grow and challenges me to shoot as often as possible. I’m a contributor to a number of amazing websites. I’ve learned a lot about myself and have a renewed sense of self-confidence. And the icing on the cake is all of the incredible blog-friends I have made along the way.

Here’s to another year…thanks for reading!!

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