Stop Should-ing Yourself.

Often times I find myself “should-ing” all over the place. Yeah….you heard right. “I should be blogging” or “I should really give Napoleon a bath”. It’s all of these obligations we give ourselves that take up space in our mind, keep us occupied in the past or present, never in the actual moment, and often times take all our hard earned money. “I really SHOULD buy this new bag…”. No Ashley you should GET OFF AMAZON! Driving from a hot and sweaty yoga session this morning I passed through the mountainous range that divides part of O’ahu and through the heavy hanging rain clouds got a view of the waterfalls that sometimes make their way into the crevices between the peaks. I let all of the self devised obligations fall to the wayside as I took in the awe of this island and the beauty that surrounds me. No matter where I am I really should stop sometimes to enjoy it., shouldn’t I? ;)

A few snippets of Hawaii (Kaua’i + Oahu), that make me realize we really ARE #luckytolivehawaii. And that GECKO! He posed for me. ;)

2 comments

July 21, 2014 - 11:41 am

Jessica Horton - Those carrots SHOULD totally hang in my kitchen!!

July 23, 2014 - 2:54 am

Kate O’Brien - Love seeing your images from around Hawaii! Makes me a little jelly jelly but it is so beautiful!

Copycat.

The minute the shiny news proudly dinged it’s way into my inbox, my heart sank. A fellow photographer was proudly announcing the launch of a new division of their brand and instead of being happy for them I stared blankly at my computer screen, crushed. That was something IIIIII wanted to do I sulked, allowing myself to wallow in a million feelings of guilt that I hadn’t put my ideas to action sooner, annoyance for not ‘trying harder’ and sheer defeat that someone else made my idea come to life before I could. For some RIDICULOUS reason I found myself in a spiral of thoughts and doubt and had myself convinced I would never get to introduce my bright and exciting new ideas to the world because someone else was already doing it–and if I pushed on and did it too, that I would surely be considered a copycat. It probably doesn’t help the world and creative industries perpetuate this ideal as do the people around us in the form of “Bitch stole my look”. I’ve been asked if the recent popularity and trendiness of film among new photographers bothered me and once someone close even questioned if I thought such and such was “copying me”.  In a profession where new looks and the next great marketing strategies are coveted, it’s no wonder everyone wants something fresh and brand spanking-new to call their own. But the truth of the matter is this: nothing is ever original. EVEN IF YOU ARE CONVINCED YOU THOUGHT OF IT FIRST. Often times I find myself testing my ideas in the form of this quote from the movie Inception, “The subject’s mind can always trace the genesis of the idea. True inspiration is impossible to fake”, analyzing where I got my ideas, but even then the things we do are never ever the only versions out there. Take this instagram photo of mine, for example:

When I took my first image similar to this scene it sprung from a desire to tell the story of a wedding day. Offered beautiful lookouts from high atop Waikiki hotel rooms, I wanted to showcase what a bird’s eye view from the bridal suite looked like on a couple’s wedding day. I shot these in film, as I drool over the crisp and sharp detail they provide of the minuscule scenes–appreciating every little perched umbrella and paddling surfer. I am drawn to the colors, the scattered elements, the life each corner has. They really embody all that is Waikiki on a beautiful Hawai’ian day, and the vibrancy just pulls my heart that much stronger. Not to mention it reminds me of Where’s Waldo, in which I can let me imagination run wild for hours. I began taking these photos out of true inspiration and proudly displayed them as my own works, mentally appointing them my new signature thing. A few weeks later, someone gave me a kind compliment on a similar photo and indadvertedly stated it “reminded them of Gray Malin“. I had no idea who the artist was but headed for his website out of curiosity. And damn if my new thing didn’t look just like his all the time thing. Days later alongside this instagram photo someone ELSE noted the shot looked a lot like his and I felt the need to defend myself, proclaiming “I swear I didn’t knock him off! I thought I thought of it first!” because, well, I did. I just KNEW I did! (And don’t even ASK how much my heart went into sad mode when I saw he uses those damn balloons. I swear, I have a Pinterest board now of beach + balloon inspiration before I even saw that. IS HE IN MY BRAIN?!?!?!)

Here’s the thing: I didn’t knock him off. I had never even studied an image similar to mine that’s why I was so proud! But it doesn’t matter because someone, SOMEWHERE will ALWAYS do something similar. Been there done that. I mean, haven’t you ever seen these historic dopplegangers? It’s astounding. After a conversation with my wise and mutuality talkative friend Becca, we discussed business ideas both present and future, and how professionals may have already done them but we should never let that stop us from living our dreams, shooting what we want, and making things happen, regardless. It will always have been done, what matters is how you do it. Because as Rebecca poignantly eased my email induced heartache, she reminded me of the truth: “Build on the eyes God gave YOU…take in and appreciate what others have done without being intimidated or threatened [and know that] at the end of the day it’s how you see the world…you have to capture it the way you see it, and that’s what sets you apart.”

Cann’a getta amen?

 

7 comments

July 16, 2014 - 12:37 pm

Marsha - AMEN! :)
So well written and wise words indeed!
Love it so much I’m sharing it! <3 Thank you!

July 16, 2014 - 12:38 pm

Sarah Goodwin - Amen sista! I have always said that nothing is really original, it’s all in how you make it yours!

July 16, 2014 - 12:38 pm

Norma Mitchell - AMEN SISTER!

July 16, 2014 - 1:25 pm

Christina Farrow - AMEN. Well put, Ashley! Keep on keeping on, your work is absolutely stunning and i cannot wait til the day i can hang some of your gorgeous images (including this beach shot) on my walls!!

July 16, 2014 - 2:32 pm

april - I NEVER comment…strictly a lurker over here :)
BUT! I LOVE this–and it’s so true! I keep following the photog wars over copyrights, and sometimes I think, just get over yourselves and enjoy life!
PS We lived on Oahu for a few years also…your pics make me happy and wistful :)

July 17, 2014 - 1:13 pm

Dana L - totally am there with ya! it’s so hard when things move so fast these days. there’s a local photographer who has come out with 3 different ideas I’ve had before me! it’s crazy- was she in my head?! but can’t be afraid to dream on and act fast :)

July 18, 2014 - 12:17 am

Jenn - Thank you so much for this! There have been so many times that I have had wonderfully lovely ideas, and the next day someone else will launch my idea. Then paralyzed in the fear that folks will think I’M copying, I just wouldn’t proceed. And really, who does that benefit?!! Not me because that was my dream. Not my client because they deserved my wonderful idea. So.. From now on I am putting my blinders on and moving forward on the things that make me tick. :)

Thanks again!!!!

Favorite Film Cameras For Beginners

You’ve been eyeballing all those pretty pastel-y shots and want to take your creativity to a new level. You don’t know if you’ll do it for work or fun, but something about the nostalgia of shooting film appeals to you, the need to slow down and soak it all in. You’ve scoured forums, read books and now know nothing is better than learning through practice. It’s time to take a leap and purchase a film camera. Just do it already, shesh! But…what to buy? I have two suggestions for finding + purchasing your first film camera:

1. Start Simple: If you’re itching to be shooting and learning the ropes but aren’t sure of the ‘look’ you’re most drawn to, pick up a modestly priced camera, or heck, dig one out of your closet! I am willing to bet a family member or friend has an old Canon Rebel or Nikkor they’d be happy to let you borrow. Then grab some 35mm film and start practicing! I’d absolutely say start with a 35mm camera paired with 35mm film as it’s slightly more accessible than 120 film (and their medium format camera counterparts), more affordable, and offers more frames on a roll (36 frames vs. 16 on a roll of 120).

2. Do research: If the the idea of more complex or interesting cameras intrigue you (like the Yashica Mat G–it shoots frames in 6×6 squares!), do a bit of googling. Find what you think may be a great deal on Ebay but not sure if the camera style is up your alley? Search the model on Flickr and see what types of photos turn up! This will give you an idea of the images each camera is capable of producing.

MY 4 FAVORITE FILM CAMERAS FOR BEGINNERS

//35mm:  easily accessible, affordable, and fun! Typically the most similar to current digital set-ups. 

Canon EOS-1N ($150 via Ebay): Has 5 focusing points which can be selected manually (similar to your current digital camera). It also allows for 1/2 and 1/2 exposure increments, which means you can be more precise with your settings (my Contax only allows full stops in shutter speed!). I personally use this camera during weddings for wider shots + fast moving candids.

Canon EOS-1V ($300-$500 via Ebay) Boasts 45 focus points, which is helpful when trying to nail a shot in film!

I am a fan of each of these Canon cameras because they both are compatible with current Canon lenses and have a very similar set-up to their digital counterparts which makes the transition to shooting film a lot easier, less intimidating, and financial do-able! They also imprint (not like the werewolves) camera data onto your film, kinda like “metadata”, so when you get your negatives back you can see what the settings were for each frame. This is exceptionally helpful when learning. (I’d also encourage you to take notes as you shoot instead of waiting for the negatives to see your settings–those can sometimes take a while to receive from your developer). Paired with a 50mm 1.2 these babies are gorgeous! They do, however, introduce more grain into photos than medium format cameras.

[Canon 1n with Canon 50mm 1.4 + Fuji 400h film]

//Medium Format: if the look of 35mm (which has the same framing and look as a ‘full frame’ digital camera) just won’t do and you love the shorter + fatter frame and less grain look, go with one of these:

Mamiya 645 AF (the AF stands for “Auto Focus”)($800-ish via ebay). A super awesome and affordable medium format set-up. Similar to the Contax645, this baby isn’t nearly as hard to find and is a whole lot more affordable! It shoots wider frames with the required 120 or 220 film.

Pentax 645N: ($600-ish) I have never personally used this camera, however it’s getting a lot of love lately! And honestly, I’ve seen some beautiful images come from it. Again, similar but more affordable than the Contax 645. I hear it’s heavy and loud as heck, though!

 

 

 

 

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Ff | How to carry film during a shoot

This morning I slept in late, gently and slowly rolled out and bed, stiffly walked downstairs, feet groaning in pain and am in taking copious amounts of dark roasted coffee to nurse my mini wedding photographer hangover. I had a Thursday wedding at the Halekulani (yayyyy for weekdays!) and would be lying if I said I didn’t consider just skipping blogging in lieu of lounging. But #FilmFridays are my favorite, and yesterday I tried out a new style that pretty much may be a lifesaver so I’d be straight up selfish not to share. Always on the lookout for handy items to make life easier (I’m the queen of trying to find the perfectly functioning bag for every occasion) I stumbled upon a conversation thread on Facebook that sparked my curiosity: talks about using an apron on a wedding day. Yes…you’re probably thinking what I’m thinking, “an APRON?!??!”, I know. I like to keep things stylish and chic, my hair is already enough of a mess at the end of the day the rest of my body needs to be as polished as it can be. But when I remembered I had a thin, simple black one from my serving days hidden away, I figured “what the heck…I’ll take it along…” And now, my life may never be the same. Tied tightly around my waist against my black dress, the apron was practically camouflaged. I had planned to use it for only the quick moving parts of the day but when I put that baby on it was too good to take off. There is a pocket for film, a place for exposed film, and a pocket for my light meter/tissues/bride’s lipgloss, etc. I could even stash a lens in there if I wanted! (Which helped during the ceremony but didn’t stay all day). B humorously noted out I can’t call it ‘my apron’, and I suppose I agree, it needs a more stylish mention, but when I pointed it out to guests they laughed and said they hadn’t even noticed it (maybe they were just being nice? Yeah…probably). Towards the end of the night I did think “I should take a photo of me wearing this” but my hair was already long gone–absolutely not a good moment for photos of Ashley Goodwin.

If you’re looking for something helpful to keep film on you during shoots, manage your little bits of gear, or just give extra pocket space without the expense of sore shoulders the next morning, a task apron is seriously a great option (opposed to those lens waist belts that look like bongo drums. Have you seen those?!?) Wedding vendors have the never-ending struggle balancing the sacrifice of style for comfort and function but it doesn’t have to be that way — I’m determined! You can look polished while still easily getting the job done. I doubt I will be wearing my apron with dresses that aren’t black (I will keep my small studded + snake skin shoulder bag that I carry for those days), but these things are the bomb–kinda like a shoot-sac but lighter, easier to access, and without the painful always in your way strap that comes from a bag! And luckily fairly easy to find in tons of different looks. Here are some stylish photography options: (sorry gentlemen, if you don’t wanna sport the apron guess you gotta stick to the bongos…)

Anthropologie Task Apron  |  Custom Aprons  | Cafe Apron | Simple black apron 

 

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