January 28, 2009

Self Care

It's easy for me to get caught up in all the things that I want to, need to and have to accomplish in my day to day life. Often this leaves me burning the candle at all ends.

So this past weekend after shooting for An Event to Remember by Meghan Guerin I jetted over to a friends place, had some amazing pizza (never had Panago and need to find one near me), a few beers and then crashed.

We woke up relatively early (me nursing a sore throat and the start of a head cold) and headed up to Collingwood and Blue Mountain for a girl's weekend, just me and two university friends, Les and Steph. We checked out the village, grabbed lunch and some beers in the pub, window shopped and then headed over to Le Scandinave Spa for an afternoon and evening of relaxation in outdoor hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas and relaxation rooms.

It may sound like a chicks only type thing but we were surprised to see the large number of guys also enjoying the soothing warmth of the hot water, steam and saunas. I could have spent an entire weekend there, but eventually we were getting rowdy and ready to head out for dinner.

Fixed ourselves up and headed back into the village for dinner at my favourite Huntsville restaurant 3 Guys and a Stove. Turns out they've opened another location at the Blue Mountain Village. Fantastic! Put our names on the hour long wait list for dinner and headed out for martinis across the way. Two hours later and we've all had great food, great wine and great martinis and we're ready to head to our hotel.

The next day I was hurting...sicker than a sick dog. Head cold, sore throat, sore sinuses, sore ears...the works, and I want back in that steam room. Anyways, so since coming home from girls' weekend I've been recovering from being sick: antibiotics, chicken noodle soup, tv, movies, books and the intarwebs.

More soon...

January 23, 2009

An Event to Remember by Meghan Guerin

Shot some pictures this evening for Meghan of An Event to Remember by Meghan Guerin.

She's a totally organized gal with some very cool party ideas. Check out these for an upcoming baby shower:

Thanks so much for allowing me the chance to shoot some pictures for your site Meghan! Good luck with your business as your dreams start to grow!

More soon...

January 21, 2009

Lindsey's Session!

Had an awesome time last night taking pictures of Lindsey. We laughed our pants off doing this shoot! Always an enjoyable time when you can combine photography with good old fashioned laughter.

Thanks so much for a hilarious time Lindsey! You made my cheeks hurt from all the laughter and Cleo is the cutest cat ever. I see why she gets so many treats!

More soon...

January 16, 2009

Bringing Out the Dead

I realize this post title sounds creepy, weird and very morbid, but it is related to photography I promise.

Growing up and visiting my family out west I would often spend the hours at my grandparent's place looking through the family albums. Some were from the last three decades but there was one really old album that looked like it was from the turn of the century.

It was a black paper book with a binder twine clasp to keep it closed. The black and white photos inside were kept in place by black photo corners.

This photo album is unique because it's not only a historical record of my family's history at the turn of the last century and onwards, it shows all important family events, but it's also a record of a strange and not often discussed photographic practice. That of funerary photographs.

Yep, that old photo album has many graveside pictures of my ancestors about to be buried. I was reminded of this at Christmas time while talking with my good friend who lives in Vancouver. We were discussing her wishes for burial etc (she's healthy and fine but it's a good conversation to have cuz you just never know... right?) and then somehow we came to the conversation of death and grief rituals. She commented that it freaked the poop out of her one day when she flipped through my own family photo album and saw pictures of my grandparents in their coffins with the grandkids gathered round.

It comes up again today because I was looking through a website with photography books and came upon one about the "Spirit Photographer" William Mumler (in the 1860s he claimed to be able to take pictures of the ghosts that hang around the living) and then some other books about the aftermath of Chernobyl and Katrina.

It also comes up because of an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. A photography service that has photographers donate their time and expertise to photograph recently deceased newborns with their parents.

Some quick googling on the practice of funerary photography brings this info:

-It was certainly something people did in the nineteenth century, when photography was first gaining popularity. At least one author traced the emergence of the modern notion of the nuclear family through the conventions of funerary photographs, where families posed together with their loved ones' remains.
-Or this long post by "Clover Bee"
-Or over here on this forum where some wedding photographers discuss being asked to photograph a funeral.

So back to the photos in that old album. They're interesting. They're open casket photos. Some show just the casket tilted up at grave side, while others show the casket in a similar way with family members gathered round at grave side.

It shows a way of life that is long forgotten. A very simple way of life. It shows customs, clothing, and ancestors both living and deceased. It acts as a historical record of burial (both who was burried and the location). It shows that many of my ancestors didn't make it past childhood and that a death at old age was actually a rare thing. It shows the process of mourning, remembering and celebrating.

Even though this is likely creeping the pants off a lot of you, I'm finding it really fascinating. In fact if I was to go back to school and study a Masters of Fine Arts in Photography or something like that, I'd most likely do a thesis on 18th and 19th Century Funerary Photographs.

It's also interesting that there are still many people who practice this custom. One side of my family still does, and I'm sure there are many more out there who do too.

More soon...

January 15, 2009

Note to Self

Get ISO down to 100 before Friday night.

More soon...

January 13, 2009


So after the insanity of last week and the ridiculousness of running around doing hanging out type stuff this weekend, I crashed last night.

It helps that it's cold out right now. So when I got home at 6 last night I just hid under blankets, saw that Return of the Jedi was on tv, hunkered down and promptly passed out for a few hours. Sorry Mr Lukas, no offence to your work. It was obviously much needed rest.

I also caught up on most of my blog reading (who knew you could get that many feed upates in the span of four days!) and then opened up Photoshop and started creating some of my own actions and droplets.

Got my retouching action down solid with stops and all (so proud of myself!) and then started working on the action and the droplet for my Photography by Kat logo. Saw a cool idea a few days ago that I'm wanting to use so that it's not just this K thingie in the corner but more of a band that goes across the picture.

I'm having some trouble though with getting the plain white version of the logo to load in the action and so the resultant droplet doesn't really want to co-operate either. I also have to figure out how to have the action/droplet work for images that are landscape. Thought I saw some information somewhere on the web last night about how to allow for different picture sizes, perhaps it's just a setting I have to give it when I create the action? Not sure, but will check again tonight.

Pondered doing two separate droplets, but then that would defeat the point in having a droplet if I had to sort out my portrait and landscape orientations. It would be a major pain.

I am liking these actions and droplets. DEFINITELY makes life a lot easier. Thanks MC.

Today I finally uncovered an open source sound editing software called Audacity and even managed to stumble upon the right tune to sample from.

As a rule I HATE music on websites...maybe this is because it's not music I've chosen to use on the site, and I think that the music you do like is very personal and so everyone's selections are gonna be vastly different.

There's also the annoyance factor. I tried very carefully to not pick something that had a TERRIBLY repetitive core to it...you know like running thirds. Seriously, looping running thirds is enough for even the most sane person to shoot themselves (think constantly hearing The Twilight Zone tune while you're trying to look at pictures).

So while I'm flipping through my music library I come across this intro section of a song that's awesome (well at least to me). Except it's an 8 minute song...yeah, even considering using the whole song wouldn't be a good idea. So opened the thing up in Audacity, saw that the intro part lasted around a minute, cut, chop, paste, export as wave file and then...oh...can't upload a wave file.... crap. So found an open source music file converter (Switch Sound File Converter) and TADA, properly sized MP3! I hope the thing dosen't annoy too many people who are also like me about sound on sites but I was finding it was missing something. Hopefully it actually adds to the site and doesn't force people to flee.

At work I'm starting to receive those promotional e-mails from photographers trying to get me to hire them for freelance work. I hate to say it, but they're wasting their time emailing those to that inbox...I mean good on them for doing the speculative emails, but our company has never had the budget for photographers (I know, talk about hypocrisy. I'd have it differently if I could). The upside to this is that you can glean some awesome ideas from their work.

Inspiration sometimes comes in the form of spam :)

More soon...

January 12, 2009

It's ALIVE!!!!

That's right!

The Photokat.ca site is up and running! Took a bit of extra muscle this week for me to sneak this into my crammed schedule this week, but it was worth it.

Thanks to: Jolene and Mike for having an early look see and giving their opinions, and then giving their honest opinions. Much appreciated. It's good to have people around who can shoot straight when you need it :)

More soon...

January 9, 2009

I'm a Litte Tired

It's been a busy week.

My 2009 is filling up really quickly it seems. Between shooting photos, editing photos, reading about shooting and editing photos, my job, volunteer activities, hanging out with friends, and just doing all those every day normal things like eating, coffee drinking, laundry, house cleaning and what not, I think I'm going to be a busy gal!

This is good.

A dating relationship that I was in for a number of years, ended over two years ago now. I've dated a bunch of guys in the mean time, but nothing that's lasted. It's tough to be single and watch those around you quickly meet wonderful guys and form lasting relationships.

Now what I'm NOT saying is that photography is filling a void in my life or that I'm desperately wanting to date someone.

No, in fact I'm realizing that even if I wanted to date someone right now, there just isn't the time to put any effort into it. That's great! All those late night phone conversations, dates, worrying, anxiety...effort... is being funnelled into something productive. And even better... a life goal; one that doesn't depend on someone else to make me happy.

I can shoot pictures for myself, when I want to, or when I've set aside time to shoot for someone else. It can be at midnight, middle of the day or early in the morning (uh that one's probably not going to happen often). I don't have to please photography. I can't let it down. It won't get upset if I'm late. It doesn't get annoyed if I'm in a crappy or whiney mood. I don't have to cook it dinner or worry if it really cares about me.

All that is really cool!

Even though I'm tired or maybe even borderline on exhausted I'm happier than a clam.

More soon...

January 8, 2009


So if the first full week of 2009 is any indication of how things are going to be going this year, well lets just say "I'M GOING TO LOVE 2009!"

In the last five days everything has sort of just fallen into place. I've had multiple requests for photography sessions from a number of people ranging in everything from portraits of kids and small families, to actor headshots and commercial web portfolios and even large family gatherings.

All of this through a lifetime of connections, this blog and marketing my skills on Facebook. Strange how the Facebook revolution has taken off. Would never have expected it to be this powerful of a promotional tool, but it's proving itself extremely useful.

Earlier this week I was also able to finally gain access to my photokat.ca site and in any spare time, and time that should be used for other things, I've been working at sprucing it up efficiently. Creating links to other people with startup businesses that have supported me and I in turn them, reworking which photos I want to have highlighted on my site, what I want to say on my site, design etc.

I'm now really glad that I spent a portion of last weekend getting my portfolio together, it is making it much easier this week to just drag and drop specific photos onto my site and as it turns out, it looks like I'll have a need to show my portfolio to people soon.

So what I'm discovering is not only am I starting to do my goal of shooting professionally, so far, I seem to be succeeding at it. So far... I'm super excited about this, and of course at the same time, really nervous (but in a good way) about all of this.

At this point that's all I can really say, or care to share, but it makes for a really exciting and amazing time in my life.

More soon...

January 5, 2009

Post-Shoot Analysis #1

Okay, so the plan from now on is to analyze my shoots the day after and look at what went well, what didn't and what I need to work on.

This is an exercise mostly for my own benefit, but I thought why not share.

I had someone comment a few weeks ago that it looks like I never take a bad photo. Part of me thought "OH DEAR GOD IF ONLY YOU KNEW!" and the other part of me thought "YES, that's a good sign! Keep thinking that!" I mean if I was to share the garbage that I quickly delete in case they ever accidentally get out there, well then all mystique and allure of me as a photographer is lost and NO ONE will EVER want to stand in front of my lens ever again. :D

I often turn to scrap paper and notebooks to get my thoughts down (I find it easier then a computer screen some days) so here's my scribblings for all to see:

Bought: Water Bottles, Fruit Tray, Veggie Tray (good idea over meal time hours for snacking...do this again)

Light Setup
--> SB900 Shoot Through L
--> SB600 Bounced Front middle low to ground
-don't know if this is my favourite setup.
Tripod is crap. Needs to be higher (my height at least. Bent at waist) and not fall -->Find one better. Velbon ONLY for walks. Can this be repurposed for something else? Reflector holder?

-Shoot went well -->setup day before helped with light placement, levels, and feeling more relaxed about whole thing.
-Taping up more sections of white background paper would have helped with having a wider shooting area.
-Taping light stand and tripod marks on floor helped get back to square one.
-Remember to screw in flashes. 600 almost fell several times.
-Work @ reassuring clients/models --> skills & patience
-Felt relaxed, at ease. Music/radio helped mood. Showing pictures to models and client helped all feel at ease. (Shot list in advance would help further).
-Directing was easier this time although group posing was difficult -->Need to practice more at this. Studying group shots would also help.
-Also need to practice manual focus.
-Don't forget that dial has light function so it can be read.
Generally things went well --> More useable shots. Less crap to discard. Focus off on some, practice. Eyes have it.

NB: Find more groups/couples for practising.

More soon...


At the start of December I did a boxing shoot for Joey and his company JS3PT. Well he's in the last stages of getting his website redesigned and so it was time to get the fashion type shots of his logoed athletic wear.

Thought I'd share some of my favourite picks from the shoot.

Joey also asked me to shoot some pictures of his trophies and medals from some body building competitions and boxing matches.

The other thing I was asked to shoot was Joey's medal from his tour in Afghanistan.

It's a really cool feeling to have someone trust you with photographing items like this that mean something not only to them, but the rest of the world.

Thanks Joey, Monica and Jolene for an awesome shoot!! Oh and keep on eye on the countdown clock at JS3PT.com

More soon...

January 3, 2009

Facebooking of Thanks

Okay, so I realize it's taken me two days to wish ya'll a Happy 2009, but here it is. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thanks to you! Thanks for being in this group, for sending words of encouragement, for having conversations of encouragement and for volunteering to be photographed.

It means a lot to me, and although those words seem a bit cheap because they're used so frequently, those are really the only words that sum things up.

Photography is a strange thing. Your work is only as good as the last photo you took and even these ones are never up to snuff. But that's the fun part, you can always study, and practice to become better.

So with all that said! I've posted a few of my favourites to this facebook group, and have also posted another bunch on my blog: photosbykat.blogspot.com

Also, reminder that there are a few months still available to be part of my photoshoot a month project. If you want to participate, contact me and I'll get you slotted in to a month!

Cheers and Thanks!

January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!!

Hope everyone has safely arrived in 2009. Whether you were freezing your butt off in Time's Square, painting a bedroom or playing poker, I hope you had fun doing it.

It's funny, I keep reading on the blogs these last few days how glad people are that 2008 is done with and how terrible of a year it was. Really I'm not glad nor sad that 2008 is done, but pausing to look back over the last 12 months, it's interesting to remember what I was up to this year.

Generally it was a good year. I didn't severely injure myself, I did a LOT of new things, took a lot of risks, stepped out of my comfort zone and I think have become more comfortable with who I am.

In short: I've grown a lot.

So! Here's a look back at a few of my favourite photos from 2008.

More soon...