Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Steel Bond

I had the great pleasure of meeting a little newborn named Camren this past weekend. He was teeny, teeny, tiny, sweet as can be, just a month old. It's always amazing to me to contemplate how tiny the body starts out. Tiny toes, tiny fingers, little ears and little heart. It is such a blessing to me when I have the opportunity to spend time with a family more than once. Seeing their children grow and develop, watching their personalities weave together...it's a joyous thing for me. But that's for another post later this week that will highlight our favorite flower head band diva, Miss Lily.

Camren was not feeling the solo portraits. Frankly, he wasn't having it. He wanted to be fed, cuddled, fed some more, cuddled some more. The cycle continued. And let's face it, with parents as cool as his clearly are, I can't blame him! If I was him, that tiny and new, with parents that awesome, I'd want to stick close to them too. In light of his aversion to solo shots, we opted for a more abstract, casual approach. True lifestyle photography. While they fed him, I clicked away with my shutter. While they rocked him, I clicked away some more. The result was what I found to be a really organic approach to newborn photography. Rather than focusing on simply the newborn, I was focusing on what it is like to be parents. What their day to day life consists of. Over and over and over. And some neat things came into play.

I noticed something. Camren and his family are almost always physically in contact with each other. And not in that weird, clingy, overly protective way. In that steel bond, circle of energy, I am bound to you body, mind and soul kind of way. Very cool. Something simple I noticed when they fed Camren. His father held him, cupping his head. Without thinking, his mother reached up and cupped her hand under his, both providing loving support to a precious being.

Then, when I asked them to sit in what constitutes my tiny (TINY, RIDICULOUSLY SCRUNCHED!) white wall corner to try and snap some family pics while they rocked Camren to sleep, his mother cradled him gently, and his father instinctively reached out and put his hand on Camren's head. Then his mother tipped her head toward her husband, her child's father, and almost forgetting I was even there, they just watched Camren, with love, with patience, with awe. It was powerful to see the energy encompass them and flow round and round as if they were in a perfect bubble. I felt Camren's confidence in knowing THIS IS MY FAMILY.

I guess my point in all this is to remember to keep watch. Don't let a non-conforming portrait session sidetrack you from the beauty of life. Keep your eyes and heart open. Sometimes the best pictures are the ones you least expected. Let life do it's thing and you'll find yourself amazed.

And since my evil blog apparently doesn't want me to post pictures this evening, be sure to follow the link to the Facebook gallery to see them!


UPDATE: Ha ha! Victory! Pictures!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I am a Photographer

Ok, so I have about 30 seconds to scribble out this post, as I have a million “to-dos” looming that have been screaming for my attention for weeks. I had a moment last night. A little burst of sunshine that must be shared.

A friend and I were joking about the crazy pace of our lives and the endless list of creative projects we had promised to tackle together only to watch a whole summer pass by with only one converging of our creative minds at a crazy cool underground art show. She remarked that maybe when we were eighty, we would have more time. I casually quipped back, “I sure as heck hope my life has slowed down a little bit by the time I’m eighty.” My professor, who was sorting papers quietly nearby, smiled and looked up,

“Your pace of life will never slow. You’re a photographer.”
And he laughed.

It was a passing comment, nothing special and certainly not delivered with some deeper meaning. It was a single solitary statement in friendly conversation, but it struck me. I, Katy Blevins, am a photographer.

In that moment, when my incredibly-renowned-photographer teacher acknowledged me as a part of the elite group he himself belongs to, like I was part of “the tribe,” I paused. I realized that photography was no longer something I was trying to achieve, working to discover, a disconnected task or hobby. For the first time I realized it is a lifeblood characteristic of Katy. A foundational piece of my inner being. True, deep art in my very fibers. I am a photographer. My eyes, my heart, my mind, my hands, my feet. My whole being. This is me. I belong here.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Boudoir: Less is More

It is my firm opinion, that with boudoir photography, less is more. The female form is breathtaking. A celebration of art and love depicted through elegant images that highlight the curves and details of the body. That is ultimately what I am reaching for. The best photograph is the one that leads your eye and thoughts elsewhere. I don't mean that in a distracted fashion. I mean that in a way that the image prompts your imagination to "fill in the blanks." This is the heart of my boudoir photography. To tease and hint at the powerful beauty of a woman's body, to spark the brain and the heart to fill in the blanks around the edges of the photograph. Because quite honestly, how he sees you is more beautiful than anything I could ever duplicate in a photograph. Because he loves you. In his eyes, you are perfection and the most stunning being on this planet. I strive to let my photographs remind his heart of his most favorite aspects of you. The curve of your neck, the dimples on your back, the softness of your skin. The photos should let him dream that dream he always has about you. In that way, boudoir photography is all about class. Leave the best kept secrets just that. Let the heart speak beyond the edges of the photograph. Because you are beautiful. And he knew that well before I ever picked up the camera.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Good Pair of Heels

Those who follow my work know me well. I live for shoes. There is nothing, NOTHING, on this planet like a good pair of heels. The funny thing is, I hate feet. They "ick" me out. But put those feet in a hot pair of killer shoes and suddenly I can't keep my eyes off them. Shoes are empowering. Any woman will agree...you put on the right pair of shoes and you can conquer the world. Today started off awesome. Because of these.

Friday, August 20, 2010

He thought of everything.

Just a quick post tonight before I head downstairs to finally relax after a busy, but amazing week. A lot has happened in my life in the past two weeks: some very, very good, some very, very bad. One thing is absolutely certain: God has thought of everything.

I have heard God's voice, clear as a bell, direct and purposeful, two very distinct times in my life. I have seen His handiwork in a million nooks and crannies of my life, but His voice...only twice. I bet some would say hearing it even once is an overwhelming event, so even here, I am blessed beyond reason. The first was when I first laid eyes on my husband. I've never been a romantic and quite honestly, when I saw him for the first time, I certainly wasn't in the mood to date, much less contemplate marriage. Yet, ringing loud and true, bright and striking, I saw my husband and heard God tell me that I had to meet this man because I was to spend the rest of my life with him. After much persuading on my part with God, a whole heap of embarrassing moments that I'll save for another blog, I finally got the courage (or as I like to think, was pitched forward by a swift heavenly kick from behind) to talk to him, and the rest was history.

In just the past two weeks, I heard God's voice again. This time, with a distinct clarity of comfort and knowing, an affirmation that a door being closed was only an opportunity for Him to open a window. A very big window at that. I heard a very clear no on a very clear question and in obedience I listened and it has brought me a depth of peace and a confidence in knowing I am on the exact path I am meant to be.

I just finished up my first week at an amazing new job. My coworkers are delightful, my boss is charismatic and a powerful woman with a keen sense of business intertwined with a deep heart for the arts, my work is challenging yet void of that stress that sometimes lingers and drips its way into the home after hours. Even the tiniest detail, like being rewarded with a job where the partners like things done just so, and my obsessive need for order and precise execution for the task before me is celebrated and encouraged. Good Lord, He thought of everything. He even knows I have OCD.

Suffice to say, I stand here in awe. I am sure this post seems scattered and has some gaps and holes that leave you wondering. I do this in that same sense of peace knowing that God has asked me to close a chapter in my life with dignity and grace, and I therefore leave some things unanswered because that is between me and Him. But at the heart of my post is this. He thought of everything. The tiniest details of your being are His sweetest thoughts. He cups you in the palm of His hand and isn't satisfied with your life just being ok. He loves you to the point of excellence. Perfection. Exquisite delight. He cares enough to think of everything and to make your life more invigorating and fulfilling than you ever thought possible. The journey may take you down a path you never anticipated, and frankly, don't understand, but at the most amazing moment, you will see. And you will find comfort and awe at hearing His voice.

Lately, I keep playing this great song by Michael Buble over and over and over. In fact, Emily and I are known to be singing at the top of our lungs as we roll down the highway. A few lyrics strike a resonant chord in me, and I smile.

It's a new dawn.
It's a new day.
It's a new life.
For me.
And I'm feeling good.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Freebie: The Quest for a Free Portrait Session

I've said more than once that it is the story behind the photo that makes me truly love what I do. At the bottom of my heart is the hope that my pictures reflect the true essence of a moment, the true emotions that were present and that the love spoken there tells the story of a hundred days before that picture and the hundred days coming after.

With that in mind, I have decided to offer out an opportunity to win a free portrait session. This would be The Simple Life package ($200 value), which includes 1-2 hours of shoot time on site at one location of your choosing within 30 miles of Virginia Beach, VA. The winner would receive all digital negatives, plus a file of "best of" edited images for print and an online gallery with free downloads for friends and family.

What I want is this: your story. You can nominate yourself or someone else, but you must email me (blevins.katy@gmail.com) with your written story of why you (or the person you are nominating) should win this portrait session. I am looking for deep-hearted stories, obstacles overcome, truly memorable moments that deserve some recognition and a day of special attention and a lifetime reminder of strength, character, triumph, etc.

The winning person and their nomination piece will be shared upon announcement of their award and their session will be included on the blog, website and Facebook pages as chosen by Kathryn Blevins Photography. Please be mindful of this in your submissions, especially if you are nominating someone other than yourself. Both parties will need to sign a release form.

I am looking for something special here. I will only pick a winner if I see a truly momentous and worthy nomination. If I receive many worthy pieces, I may choose to linger here for a bit and carry this over the course of several months. This is a first time trial of this sort of thing and we will have to see how it goes. In any event, I am looking to give back. To celebrate life and all it's glory.

For the sake of this first round and some parameters, please submit all nominations, including contact information, titled "Free Portrait Session Contest: My Heart Story" by August 31, 2010. That's over two whole weeks to prepare and submit. Be mindful: winning sessions must occur within 30 miles of Va. Beach, VA, nominated persons must be willing to sign releases and have their story and photos shared via Kathryn Blevins Photography. Kathryn Blevins Photography reserves the right to choose more than one winner or no winner at all depending on submissions received. Portrait session will be scheduled within 90 days of winning announcement unless otherwise agreed upon by both parties.

I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

15 minutes or less...Children's Portraits

Anyone who has kids, knows this. When you don't have your camera, they are all smiles, cuteness and perfect posing. As soon as you lift the camera to your eye, smiles can turn to frowns, scrunched up faces, whines and all kinds of awkward angles. Getting a great photo of your kids can be trying to the patience to say the least.

This is actually what draws me to children's portraits. It is hands down, my favorite. I like the challenge! I love working hard to connect with a little body, getting down to their level, laughing, chatting, taking my time, letting them be them. I follow three rules with my children's portraits. Well, four.

1. Work quickly. This doesn't mean plan on accomplishing a portrait session, start to finish, in 15 minutes. Some kids need time to warm up, some kids are chomping at the bit and ready to go. You have to read the situation. Give it some time. Feel the scene. Observe. But...when the moment strikes, be ready to move. Quickly. Don't waste time. Because whatever it is that is striking you (and striking the child!) at that particular moment, is fleeting. Know your camera and be ready!

2. Don't be afraid to move. I spend most of my children's portraits sessions on the run. Literally. Running all over the Botanical Gardens. Running all over the house. The railroad tracks. The beach. I keep my 50mm 1.8 on and always have good sneakers. Follow them! Don't make them come to you! Wherever they are about to take you will always be much better than where you try to put them.

3. Get down on the floor. Like Lil' Jon says, Get Low. Ha! Kids are discerning in that weird kid way. A towering giant with a big lens and clicking shutter button is no friend of theirs. Get down on the floor. In the grass. In the sand. Meet their eyes on their level. You are, after all, entering their terrain. If you want to capture their spirit, you need to be willing to meet them on their terms. I usually spend the first part of a session sitting on the floor with them, playing, talking. I'll snap a picture and then show them on the screen what they look like (this is always a big hit!) and then go for silly faces. Silly faces are key. I mean, seriously, who doesn't want to smush up their face and stick out their tongue for a good picture?

4. Never stop shooting. If you wait for the moment to come, and then pick up the camera to take a picture, you missed it. Always be ready. Always be shooting. Even if you throw away 75% of what you took later on, you won't have missed it. Because that one key shot is usually buried amongst a million duds. Be patient!

Here are a few examples of a recent shoot with my favorite little model, Matthew. We tried to start outside on my back deck and were met with a resounding NO. Tears, whining, squirming and a downward spiral. Matthew was right, it was too darn hot out! So, we improvised and moved into my living room, under the window, against a nice clean wall. Here is Matthew's first shot:

Silly face accomplished. And I have to say, I love that shot! In the next 3-5 minutes tops, I took the following:

Then, scene change! He was over it and ready to be on the move. A swift promise to move on to lunch and play time if he would give me a few more smiles in one of the upstairs rooms on a beautiful white wall and that would do it! We took another 2-3 minutes here and got the following:

After a quick lunch to perk up the energy for our next adventure (Don't be afraid to feed kids if there is a storm brewing in their mood. It's a miracle worker. I've sat through newborn feedings, rocking babies to sleep, full on meals, etc.!), I knew I had to pull out all the stops to get Matthew back out in the sun for some outside shots. Solution? Railroad tracks. All boys like railroad tracks. And their plastic hammers. And not having to wear a shirt. And being told to just go play. I chased Matthew up the tracks. Down the tracks. I told him to catch me and ran away. I told him to show me how cool he could jump. I told him to catch butterflies. He just got to be a boy, playing outside, doing boy stuff, and totally forgot that I was a photographer. I was now officially his friend. A comrade in arms on the railroad track adventure. And here's what we got:

Total time invested for this day: About 4 hours. Total dead on shoot time: 15 minutes. Yes, my time included letting Matthew play for awhile with Emily, lunch with a good friend, and some much needed "kid breaks," and not all sessions are like this, but the moral of the story is, 15 minutes of shoot time can go a long way if you are prepared to be flexible and remember what it's like to be a kid! Happy shooting!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mr. & Mrs. Tull: Wedding Party Shenanigans

A quick post just as a reminder: DON'T BE AFRAID TO HAVE FUN WITH YOUR WEDDING PARTY!

A little laughter goes a long way. And while there is a time and place for formal portraits and the "official wedding party" shot, don't forget to leave some time for life to happen. My favorite photos are when everybody is willing to let loose, forget about the ball gowns and fancy shoes, laugh and let their personalities shine.

Of course, Andrew & Anna's wedding party did not disappoint!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Adventures of Katy & Melody: Pyrotechnics

The wonderfully amazing Miss Rachel May Clarke inspired Melody and I to conduct our own series of pyrotechnics experiments after finishing up a late night wedding reception for the glorious Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Tull. Melody and I grabbed several boxes of sparklers, a lighter, and snuck around to the deepest darkest back corner of the reception hall to try our hand at some neat effects. Melody apparently has a hole in her skirt now from burning sparklers, I was afraid I was going to fall in a ditch and be violently murdered by snakes and spiders, and who knows what the departing guests were thinking as they heard giggles and frantic screaming "We did it!" from off in the pitch blackness of night.

I've played around a bit with some Lightroom presets to see what it did to the sparks. I haven't decided on what I like best yet, but here's a preview of one that I tried!

And here is one that I left myself in (I ended up being the better sparkler fairy wand waver and Melody ended up being the better photographer. Ha!) so you can see where I stood and what it looks like when it first comes out. We had the shutter speed on Bulb and the aperture on f/22 to block out as much extra light as possible and give us the time to write in the sky.

Melody, you were a fabulous second shooter, but even more so, I had so much fun playing with you and concocting our weird experiments by moonlight. Can't wait for our next adventure!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Life with Purpose...The Sweetest Start

I had the incredible honor of watching Anna Hammond & Andrew Tull get married this weekend. I have grown to love the both of them deeply. It amazes me to think we met only a few months ago and I'm overwhelmed at the blessing of knowing two such beautiful people. I've blogged before on the depth of their love and commitment to each other, so I'll keep it short and sweet today.

Andrew & Anna's ceremony touched my heart. I've seen my share of ceremonies, different styles, moods, lengths, traditions...but mostly they are pretty similar. Andrew & Anna's was not. It was truly exceptional and uniquely heartfelt. Anna & Andrew are wholeheartedly committed to the Lord. They radiate love, peace, grace and true humility as perfect reflections of the depth of their faith. Getting married for them was so much more than exchanging rings. So much more than committing themselves to each other forevermore. So much more than a life to be spent together standing before them. It was first and foremost a commitment before the Lord. To love and cherish each other and to be united together in faith and devotion to the path He has in store for them. And Andrew & Anna weren't afraid to let anyone and everyone know this was their greatest calling together.

They started their ceremony in worship. Together as one, praising the Lord for the moment before them. It was tender and personal and I was captivated and moved to see the power of the Lord around them and to hear their voices raised. Words don't really do it justice.

After they exchanged their rings and said their vows, they took communion. The first act they shared together as a married couple was the Lord's supper. With their heads bowed and their officiant, a personal and dear friend, crying as he read the Word, I found myself struggling to hold back my own tears and amazed at my even being there to share in this moment.

But the most special thing, the most incredibly unique, amazingly powerful moment was this. Their family was invited to the stage to gather around them in prayer. To see their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandmothers and more gathered around. Well, I couldn't hold back the tears then. Generations of faith coming together to pray a blessing over two people they deeply loved and knew were headed on an incredible journey that God had destined for them when they were knit together in their mother's wombs. It was intimate. It was captivating. And it was a powerful statement of faith.

Anna & Andrew, I am so proud of you both. You are truly beautiful people with hearts of gold. God's hand on your life together is evident already and I know He has amazing things in store for you both, individually and together as a married couple. My prayer for you is this: May you hold your hearts steadfast to each other and to the Lord and never lose the remarkable strength and inner grace that God has crafted into your souls. I pray confidently knowing that you will be used in a mighty way for His purpose and praise Him for his thoughtfulness in bringing you together. Thank you for showing me what true love is.

And ps. I cried again while writing this post. I'm going soft!
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