Never to old to learn...8 week Portrait Class - Lesson One is Skrebneski!

I have a mentor of sorts in Donald Giannatti of Lighting Essentials.  He is a commercial photographer who loves to share (as Wizwow on social media) and teaches workshops.  He is currently teaching an 8 week Portrait Class and each week features a different photographer to study and learn from.

We are learning lighting techniques, editing, style, composition and posing from these great photographers.  Our assignments require us to interpret what we learn in our own way.  I've seen many photographers I admire "borrow" from other photographers in their work, testing an inspiration in their own style.  I didn't realize it until I started researching and seeing the work of many famous photographers as I payed attention to the stories they were telling in their work.

The first photographer we studied is Viktor Skrebneski.  I would show you a google search but there would be lots of NSFW images, beautiful bodies shot in an artful manner but not everyone wants to see them.  He also shot many iconic advertising campaigns for Estee Lauder, Tiffany's and of course, many celebrities.

One of his famous series of images is his "Black Turtleneck" series.  I loved those images and the lighting.  He shot with film, I saw a Hasselblad in one video I watched.  I think I would like to do my own black turtleneck series because you can really capture the personality of a subject by distilling the styling so simply.  Here are a couple of my shots inspired by this series.

Inspired by Skrebneski's shot of Andy Warhol lit by a silk Japanese lantern over a bare daylight balanced fluorescent bulb.

Inspired by a shot of Bette Davis holding a cigarette.  A smudged chalkboard for a backdrop, same silk lantern lighting.
Inspired by Victor Skrebneski campaign for Estee Lauder of my makeup artist (how appropriate!)

So google Victor Skrebneski, notice his beautiful lighting and how the light drops off to darkness so as to accentuate the subject.  So how do you think I did?


Am I too old for dreams to come true? Has my time passed? Is it over before it's begun?

A reality check for an old broad trying to chase big dreams is the invisibility of age.  When you want to be included in conversations, industry events, even a celebration of something you worked hard to help accomplish yet get left out, cancelled on or ignored because, well...you're old!  It's like a synonym for invisible, unimportant and disposable.  It can happen when you're young, like being picked last for kickball.  I remind myself that life is full of moments like these, they just happen more often when you compete with younger people for attention, clients, success, inclusion.

But I think it's like the LA freeway system.  There are lots of ways to get where you want to go.  Sometimes you miss your offramp or your views are different.  Life goes by fast.  But I don't always have to take the freeway, I choose the scenic route (with stops for love, romance, great friends and food)!

Time to explore.


The Epic Blog Adventure!

For someone who always has a lot to say, blogging is pretty hard!  It commits to public viewing my two bit opinions, grammatical errors, misspellings and sometimes a great lack of knowledge on the subjects I love to talk about.  But I am always learning and willing to listen.  Hey, I'm not dead!  Always a good thing.  I started blogging recipes.  I like to cook and people kept asking me for the same recipes over and over so I figured a blog would keep track of them, provide a permanent place to refer people so I didn't have to write the same thing over and over.  It's a great idea however a big glitch in my plan happened when I had to go gluten and corn free.  Now I am learning to cook all over again and documenting my misadventures in cooking isn't what I had in mind.  It's pretty sad when you've built  up a reputation as a good cook only to have it destroyed by a dietary change. 

Then I started a photography business with my daughter.  I was the assistant and needed to keep up quick.  So I started this blog to remember the things I was learning and see if I was improving.  I also found out how hard it was to keep up a blog.  It got even worse when my beautiful wordpress blog got inundated with spam and then hacked, locked out and erased.  Do people have nothing better to do than tear down what other people work so hard to build?!  Now that I really have learned a few things, I am starting  The Epic Blog Adventure!  I cleaned and decorated my office with lots of light, weekly flowers and pretty desk accessories (blogged HERE) so I could have a spot to work.  I also started researching how to blog staying up late writing copious notes in bad light from magazines  (my favorite on blogging and business from Stampington) and blog experts like THIS ONE.  I decided to ditch wordpress and go back to bloodspot - where I started in the first place.  Simple, easy and Googable!  My old blogposts get action even though I hadn't blogged so I figured I should take advantage of that.  What would happen with regular blogging?  Of course that meant a great professional design for my business blog.  I looked everything up on my phone which taught me the importance of responsive design that matched across websites, blogs and social media.  I also looked to inspiration from other photographers

Everyone should see this photography website by wedding photographer Kari Bellamy.   She has branded herself with the cutest website (she is very cute!).  The work is amazing, cute is just a package for the powerhouse of a photographer she is.  Her images...I die!  I had the privilege of second shooting for her. She has fun, a great eye and works hard.  I love learning from photographers of all ages.  I have a lot to learn! Kari has a great business and continues to work on improving herself.  She has also made a commitment to blogging regularly this year.  It will be fun watching her efforts and blogstyle evolve. It also inspires me to keep blogging as well.

So I realized I couldn't just blog, I needed to rebrand as well.  More work!!!  A photographers job is not just taking lovely photographs (Kari has a pie chart on her blog explaining the whole thing).  I've been mulling over this whole rebrand for months.  I tried lots of colors, textures, some nice and some hideous.  But sitting in my pretty creamy white office with linen boxes holding a collection of vintage photography, advertising and ephemera, a shiny gold stapler and girly teal Anthropologie curtains...duh!  Most people have AHA! moments.  Mine are catching up to the obvious.  So here you go, my new rebranded Modern Vintage Photography blog using a great template I found on etsy.

It will be quite an epic adventure for me because I bought a book telling me to make it so.  It's an editorial planner.  I'm hoping it's not like all the other planners I buy and start out great but then by June it's in a drawer.  I plan on keeping it front and center on my desk as I also work to keep my desk clean and neat.  One month into 2015 and I'm good so far!Come back and see what I get myself into and what I learn.  I'll be checking in on Kari and other people who inspire me as well. 

My brain on a desk, all the important things to think about this year.
Who inspires you?  What do you hope to accomplish this year?  Did you buy the gold stapler at Target too?  Tell me in the comments, I'll be paying attention!

Virginia Smith


February Calendars to Download for FREEEEEEEEEEE!

I'm having fun making these, printing them and having them handy by my coffeemaker, bathroom and bedside table with the fun images I've worked so hard to create.  I hope you enjoy these!  You can download them free to print as a 5x7 HERE.

Did you notice February is a perfect calendar month?  Just sayin'.