So What Do You Want Out of 2018?

Paula Hagiefremidis writing about her intentions for 2018 which I can't help but agree with 100% because it resonates with me in so many levels with my own work:

Chelsey Wilkens

With photography the thrill and chase in finding a new location to shoot adds to that fantastic challenge of creating new work. Sometimes it's easier said then done and with the current winter season we're experiencing here in New York, I wouldn't say it's the ideal time for chasing sunsets which I've come to accept because it's provides more of a pathway to focus on studio time.

Fitness is a space that I absolutely continue to find fascinating and luckily New York is in no shortage of elite athletes that not only have a wealth of health knowledge and experience but who have also had such fascinating backstories and side hustles all which blend seamlessly to where they are now, where they aspire to be and how every little decision they make is basely solely on whether it's fuels anything positive to their active lifestyle. What better people to draw inspiration from then them!

 
 

I recently had the opportunity to shoot in Brooklyn with Chelsey Wilkins who grew up with fitness being a dominant part of her life. "She began gymnastics at a young age and continued on to compete at an elite level around the world. After retiring, she joined the circus as an acrobat and began coaching gymnastics with a focus on special needs athletes and worked with the Special Olympics. At this point, 10 years ago, she fell in love with yoga."

Exercise should be a way to connect your self to yourself. Understanding how your body functions, getting it to a place where you move without pain or resistance and are able to use your body as a tool for health, movement, and aesthetic desire. This is why I love being a coach!
— Chelsey Wilkins

I personally would find it difficult to shoot anybody in the fitness industry if I wasn't genuinely interested in how they live their life, especially if their body is a complete reflection of their dedication. I'm a very active person myself so unquestionably it's always an honor having moments with people who do for a living what I do as passion for living a healthier life.

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For those that are interested in the gear aspect of the shoot, I use the recently purchased Godox AD200 along with the Photek Umbrella Diffuser. Camera-wise I used the Sony A7R II in combination with the Sony Batis 85mm f/1.8 and the Sony 35mm f/2.8.

Why You Need "White Space"

I’m always curious to know what anyone’s typical day looks likes because if it’s anything like most people, I would say often times we feel overbooked, overwhelmed, feeling like we’re going through life’s movements without necessarily nurturing our own.

All of this “life stuff” has had me thinking about Jocelyn’s advocacy in ensuring we’re creating the necessary “white space” in our daily routine as a way for us to “focus properly on anything”-

As a parent of 2 kids (6 & 4 year old), I’ve come to accept that parental guilt is something every parent experiences and it will continue to linger until a certain age so it's best to be at peace with its existence.

I obviously love spending time with my kids but during the moments when I may have a photo gig booked, those are the instances I equally cherished not just because of the monetary aspect but because it provides me the breather I need and that every parent shouldn’t feel guilty in taking to pursue something they love. Photography for me is the “white space” I seek because it takes me away from just being a father, a husband and fuels me to continue appreciating what I have.

Adjust As Needed

You become what you do. If you want to become a certain kind of person, outline the actions that kind of person does, and then do them with unwavering consistency. Evaluate your progress every month. Adjust as needed.

Isn't that a FACT!

I think 2017 was a time for me to experiment a lot with my photography, specifically with the intention to focus and discover what type of work excited me the most to shoot. If it wasn't a "hell yeah" then more than likely it wasn't worth my time shooting, editing and ultimately never having the enthusiasm to share the photos right away. With that came strategically observing photographers who I deeply admire and seeing how consistent they are in saying "yes" only to projects that will enhance their existing body of work and challenging them in areas that are worth putting yourself in uncomfortable situations for.

In addition to always putting out banging Tweets, Brad Stulberg also writes about health and the science of human performance for Outside Magazine. He's also a co-author of Peak Performance, a book which I highly recommend that combines inspiring stories of top performers across a range of capabilities and teaches "people to discover how they can get the most out of themselves in a healthy and sustainable way."

Grateful: A Gratitude Journal

Very often it becomes a challenge in keeping a positive outlook in life, especially when it seems like the most unexpected things tend to transpire at the most unfortunate time but I'm pretty sure that the end of the day, regardless of how we may end of feeling, we all end our day with at least few things we're grateful for.

Like anyone else, I was the type that made mental notes of things here and there which played a significance role in my life in any given day but that's pretty much where the acknowledgement ended. I didn't necessarily have any regular gratitude practices. In fact, I wasn't even aware it was a thing until it surely became a recurrent thread in people who's books, blogs or podcast I religiously follow.

Simply journaling 10 minutes a day in a physical leather-bound notebook is something I already do in addition to sporadically publishing here on the site as well as maintaining a family journal in Day One. All this to say that the last thing I had in mind was to incorporate yet another app or notebook that required me to write when I already felt spread thin. But as it turns out, "those who pay attention to what is good in their life instead of what is bad are more likely to feel positively about their life."

There's so many scientifically proven benefits in keeping a gratitude journal that I was sold on the concept and the only way I would consider digging deeper into it was if I found a fun app that kept me motivated to use it every day. In comes Grateful.

Granted I've only been utilizing the app for 3 days but so far it's keep me interested and enthusiastic in documenting the things in life that I'm thankful for but rarely ever take the type to express gratitude towards. My favorite part of the it are the gratitude prompts because there's nothing more intimidating that a blank screen attempting to be vulnerable to yourself.

Shoot like a Pro?

If 100% of your income is not coming from your photography and you're more like me, where I'm functioning on the sidelines while maintaining full time employment with a company, it's natural for us to ponder what it's like pursuing photography professionally. I know I have and luckily, I have colleagues in the industry who are very candid in sharing their ups and downs in spite of how magical and unworried the professional may seem from a bird's-eye view.

It's hard shit and if there's anyone who's a true wordsmith in dishing out the type of information you're not willing to hear because we're too enamored with the idea of being a full-time photographer it's David duChemin. As a side note, I own several of his books, which I've refused to buy digital versions in spite of being a true Kindle fanatic simply because I love the feel of the hardcopy as well as referencing back to the endless notations made on it throughout the years.

David recently talked about what it's like being a pro photographer and while I encourage you to read the entire article, I couldn't help squeeze out the real eye-opening points made if by any chance we've failed to consider that being a professional photographer is not so much about shooting all the time but about everything surrouding it:

Yo Akalu + Brooklyn

I really want to begin establishing this habit of not just publishing photos I take but also to speak more on the topic of how I carried out any particular session because it allows me to reflect back on what worked and what areas of opportunities were left behind.

A year ago, the very idea of even utilizing an off-camera flash was so foreign and intimidating that at one point I internally considered myself just a natural light photographer. In fact, I've seen that very description in people's bio before. Eventually I came around and realized I was just looking for excuses not to fail in something I knew would be difficult to comprehend. Fast-forward to now and I currently own more light modifier that I ever thought I would ever use.

I've always been very intrigued by the use of gels but before I can actually commit to renting out a studio, which cost money, a good friend of mine Yo Akalu (shoot 1 & shoot 2) was kind enough to have me over at her place to do some test shoots. I was very please with how the portraits turned out considering it was my first time.

Gear Used:

BTS setup: Photek HSD-60 umbrella & a Godox 80x80cm softbox with gels.

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Towards the end of our indoor experimentation, we had a little bit of time left, so we took advantage of some lingering sunlight and took some shots on her epic Brooklyn rooftop in which case I still utilized the Godox 80x80cm softbox.

Planning and Shooting a Portrait Project

Sean Tucker, on a recent trip to South Africa set out to capture portraits of 3 men who have played a pivotal mentor role in his life. I'm a sucker for some well capture portraits and even more so when they're accompanied by a compelling backstory that validates their purpose. In the video, Sean equally goes into detail on his technique for lighting as well as the planing stages leading up to the shoot.

His lighting was simple, as it tends to be for a lot of the portrait photographers I admire such as Joey L. Sean used a Godox AD200 to light the portraits which coincidentally happens to be the light I'm very close to pulling the trigger on in combination with the Flashpoint Xplor 600.

At the moment I'm currently using a Canon 430EX and a Yongnuo YN560 IV speed-light which have served me great thus far but the more I've delve deeper into the fitness space the less these two units have been able to keep up with photographing moving subjects.

As for personal projects...I'm really excited about a portrait series I've marinated on too long already and that I'll execute for the New Year. What other inspiration other than Sean's video do I need? I say none!