That Last Moment

February 25, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

 

I’ve been congratulated a lot lately by other photographers for my dedication to event photography. I stay until the absolute end, no matter what, and especially if everyone around me is already packing up for the night.

 

My first New York Fashion Week experience was, or as I like to quote a veteran fashion photographer friend of mine “I cut my teeth on fashion week” in September of 2010. It was an overwhelming week rich with great lessons! Of everything I learned in those 8 sleepless days and nights, the most important thing was to keep the camera in front of me for That Last Moment. Stay connected to and aware of what’s happening and commit until the end.

 

I made a beautiful, elegant picture from a final moment. It was a frame of the last gown of an enormous collection exiting the runway. It’s not one that Vogue would print for fashion; instead it’s a fine art image worthy of framing and hanging. It’s a graceful and unique image but what I like most about it personally is that it’s truly mine, not one other photographer on earth has that frame. I was shoulder to shoulder with photographers from top media outlets around the world. They were already folding their monopods up in a frenzy and thinking about the next designer on the schedule they had to get to.



10 Things (of many) that I Learned in 2011

January 06, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

More or less a list of reminders to myself for 2012:

10. When a person tells you they are “damaged goods” don’t waste your precious time and beautiful heart trying to talk them out of their story. Wish them the best, back away slowly and find someone with love to share. Life is just too short and the world too big (7 billion and counting!) to get entangled in and dragged down by the black hole of another person’s self-inflicted suffering and clinging to the past. Be compassionate, know that we are all doing the absolute best we can with the information we have in any and every given moment; but understand that their work is not yours. It’s not your job to “fix” anyone or get caught up in accepting someone who is unable to give you what you need and deserve. Worse, hang around them long enough and you’ll begin to think you’re “damaged” too. That’s a tough hole to climb out of! Love them, but love yourself more, and let them go. Also: Cherished friendships will come and go. People will come and go, often without your invitation or permission to do either. This is the ebb and flow of life, and there is no end to practicing the loving art of allowing in and letting go.

9. True, the best camera to use is the one that you have with you which for me has meant mastering my iPhone and struggling with sub-par and borrowed equipment. It’s important to make the investment in yourself and in your career and save up for pro rated gear to have in your arsenal. Not only will your work output stand up to your talent, but you’ll be less stressed on shoots, less stressed when delivering to clients, have more confidence, and overall carry yourself in an entirely different manner. You’ll be willing to go after bigger fish, and you’ll grow in many ways as a result.

8. Your current life is a direct reflection of your level of self worth and beliefs about deserving and Worry truly is using your imagination to create something you do not want.. It is not a reflection of the world economy, it is not a reflection of who is in office, it is not due to where and how you grew up. You are the author of your story, the master and commander of your own ship. Take responsibility and stop using what you see in the media circus or blaming your parents or a shitty boss as an excuse and a crutch to live impoverished and limited in any way. Stop giving things outside of you your precious power! OWN YOUR LIFE! Also: you can’t control others’ decisions, and that’s perfectly alright. Their decisions aren’t really about you anyhow. Their stinginess, crankiness, rejection, attacks, judgements, etc. aren’t about you at all. Don’t pick up that rock! It’s hard enough to overcome your own misaligned and harsh self criticisms than to take on others’ that is really all about themselves in the long run. It’s also typically fruitless trying to stand up for yourself against someone’s convictions so give them the boot and make room for people who know and value the true you. Everything else is an illusion. And you are wonderful, naturally, whether you see it that way or not!

7. It’s an absolute blast to be on the cover of a magazine in your home state for a month! It was completely unexpected and a truly unique experience that I savored as much as my blushing cheeks and quiet nature would allow.

6. Speak kindly. See the best in everyone around you, always. Every time you’re compelled to complain, acknowledge that. And then find things that you’re grateful for about the situation, the person. Look into the mirror and speak kindly to yourself as well. You’re the only you that you have, may as well make peace with that and give your Self lots of love. Talk to yourself as you would your best friend, be kind, forgiving, encouraging, complimentary. Never say anything about yourself or the world around you that you don’t want to become true. The more you practice this, the more loving situations show up in your life. You know this is true because you are already familiar with the results of the opposite… And Speak up. If you want something: say so! If something isn’t okay with you: voice it! If you need help: ask! Let someone know! Be brave and speak up! Might seem like a no-brainer to many of you but it was a good lesson for me this year.

5. It’s a LOT OF WORK to put on a gallery exhibit. And it’s terrifying! Not to mention one that’s to be up for an entire month! Or a show that’s a commemoration of a major trauma in national and personal history! In a space not built in the first place to adequately show work! With a shoestring budget and lost negatives! And the cookies! May the refreshments forever be, well, FRESH!

4. It’s better to trust your intuition and be wrong than to go against it and find out it was right. Learn to tap into your inner GPS and become your own best friend. That small, still voice is powering your very heartbeat and is driving you toward the fruition of your dreams. Honor those inner nudges, live with awareness of the poetry of life that is speaking to you always. Open your mind, follow your heart. This life is so much more vast than your five senses are able to perceive. Believe in a little magic and mystery and trust, trust, trust in You and in your place in this wild and delicate journey.

3. There really aren’t any mistakes. Stop beating yourself up and move on. Talk to yourself as if you were talking to someone you love. Would you beat him or her up for an outcome that wasn’t expected? Give yourself an hour to feel utterly wretched about whatever it is and then forgive it and anyone else involved. It’s already in the past, therefore it only has as much power as what you bring from it into the present. It doesn’t define who you are. In fact, there’s a treasure of wisdom you’ve gained from it that you now will always have. You’re not meant to figure absolutely everything out at once. We never will. Life is a process, and a team effort. Appreciate the discovery of things, the process of things, the journey. Go about it with kindness for yourself and curiosity about everything around you. Breathe. When all else fails, LAUGH.

2. Live love forward and start with loving yourself first. It’s a waste of time to live any other way. There’s a reason why our physical heart is central and vital to our physical living, when it ceases to beat, our lives in this world end. Live life through your heart, not your head (your head/ego will intellectualize the fun out of everything based on old information that rarely applies to the present like an old worried – but well meaning – Jewish grandmother!). Live passionately. Let emotions flow through you like blood and let them go (emotions are e – motion, energy in motion). When you deny or suppress your emotions, you cause your physical body great distress. It’s not healthy. I once knew a man who, out of fear and pain from past experiences, became very adept at blocking his emotions. I watched him experience quintuple bypass surgery as a result – surgery for a nearly completely blocked heart! Either that or he held onto the pain from a relationship not working out so desperately that he actually really broke his own heart! Or a culmination of the two! Who knows – nature can be quite literal! I’m audacious enough to believe that physical problems are direct results of a spiritual misalignment i.e. a limiting belief or an entire limiting belief system. Also: Allow people to do nice things for you. You deserve it. Strike a balance and do nice things in return, for both yourself and those around you. Treat yourself well and so will everyone else in your life. Love, love love!

1. The imagination is the most powerful and magical thing we have. As we grow up, we become socialized to downplay and ignore it in many ways. Second only to the power of a vivid imagination are the powers of love and of this very moment, of Now. Ease up! Don’t be so serious all the time! Dream and dare something worthy. Spend a little time each day to daydream the impossible, to daydream about your heart’s desires, then open your eyes, write them down, tuck them away gently, and find gratitude for what you already have around you, practice the knowing that you are solid and okay in this very moment no matter what, that everything passes but the trajectory into the future depends on the power of our thoughts (and the actions we take based on them) today. Reach for positive ones, cultivate the use of your imagination as often as possible, and step out in faith.

—-

And a bonus #11, because I am so infatuated with the number:

11. I am not “normal”. And that is 111% deliciously okay. There is a big difference between being “adaptive” and plain trying to hammer one’s square peg self into someone else’s idea of a round hole. Get away from anyone who for any reason makes you feel less of the beautiful and intriguing being you inherently are. Run in the opposite direction of anyone that refuses to treat you with utmost respect and kindness. Anyone who decides you’re not rich enough or not accomplished enough or not _______ enough, defenestrate them immediately. I believe we must take responsibility for all that shows up in our experience, which in part means that we should take a look at the viewpoints of those around us that we’ve (either knowing or unknowingly) invited into our orbit. There’s some part of what’s being projected that we deep down feel must be true else it’d not be on our radar. In science, like vibrations attract like vibrations, and we are all made up of energy. It’s worth taking a bit of time to consider the views of another as they are ultimately a great mirror showing us what deep down we may think of ourselves, to shed some light on these untruths, and then eject them from our personal belief system once and for all. Once we do to our core like minded people will begin to show up and the others will fade away on their own or as you decide to let them go. Celebrate what sets you apart, celebrate all the big and little things that make one-of-a-kind you. Embrace exactly YOU. How else will the person looking for someone exactly like you ever find YOU if you’re hiding behind some facade? There will never in the history or the future of existence be another you and that’s a gorgeous miracle and a profound GIFT. An absolute GIFT. Be who you really are and be unapologetic, be authentic, be honest, be real, and when you can’t be those things, don’t be hard on yourself about it! And if you’re being hard on yourself about it, get it out of your system and then cut it out! Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become more important than YOUR opinion of you. And be aware of the filters through which you’re looking at yourself. Most times they weren’t even yours to begin with. Let it goooooo…

To 2012!

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© Alessandra Nicole



Standing Up for your copyRights

November 10, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

Hi, My name is Alessandra Nicole and I won’t be bullied by petty thieves. See: http://www.photolaw.net/faq.html

It’s not the first time this year this has happened. An acquaintance of mine chose to use two of my older images on his Facebook and cropped out my watermark. I sent him a few quick notes simply asking that he remove them and use the ones with my watermark. His response was that he had “more important things to do than to engage in a back and forth” with me over some Facebook pictures.

Luckily there is a form on Facebook where you can report copyright infringement and they follow up within hours. I reported the images to Facebook and they were diligent and swift with removing the work from the offender’s profile. I quickly had him banned from my business page and “unfriended” him from my profile, as he was already posting needlessly nasty remarks on both.

He then sent a message to my email:

It can be difficult to keep up with work floating around on the world wide web, especially if you’ve maintained an online presence for a number of years. As photographers, we are entitled to go after image thieves for upwards of several hundred dollars per image under basic copyright laws. If the image is registered, it is then worth upwards of a thousand dollars per use. It behooves us to protect our business by having all of our work registered. More info on this from the American Society of Media Photographers website: http://asmp.org/tutorials/best-practices.html

What are some of your experiences with copyright infringement and image theft and what did you do about it? I’m compiling research for an article. Please share your stories with me at novembergirlfoto@gmail.com and put “INFRINGED” in the subject line.



on Photography: Live Music

November 09, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

Brandi Carlile | Copyright Alessandra Nicole, All Rights Reserved

My love affair with music began when I was very small. My father used to take me to the record store with him to buy albums every weekend. He kept me adequately steeped in some of the greatest classic rock music in history. I would pour over the elaborate album jackets on the living room floor on Saturday afternoons which would later help inspire me to major in illustration in college. Led Zeppelin’s most sinister track Kashmir would put the fear of Hell in me on hot summer nights when the electricity would threaten to go out. The Cars and E.L.O. would have me dancing around our small house in my footie pajamas. And I’ll never forget eating t.v. dinners to most of the Doors and Fleetwood Mac albums. I grew up on everything from Allman Brothers to Zappa and most everything in between.

After a stint in news photography that ended with an event that caused me take a lengthy hiatus from the camera, I was urged several years later to return for the sake of a music production business someone I once knew wanted to start. I began photographing bands around my tiny city in order to get up to speed with a digital SLR. From there I’ve been fortunate to graduate from the small town local band scene and cover national acts from time to time though my photography is no longer music industry centered.

I love these shots I’ve posted because each one conjures the song that was being sung when the frame was made and gets stuck in my head. I also studied film making in college and my mind works cinematically as opposed to in stills. This made it difficult for me to slow myself down to steal a moment out of the air that conveys the emotion of a full performance. It’s a bigger challenge as I am not afforded sound and several minutes of footage in order to capture the ambiance and motion of a performance.

At first the transition was extremely difficult, and while the advent of digital photography made many things easier than the film days where I got my start, I was very challenged to find expressions and compositional elements that could tell more of a story than just to set out to make a “pretty” picture, though of course that is important too. I had to rely on intuition, look deeper, and seek out a compelling element, a magnetic detail. Motion-swept hair, an expression of pure glee, the particular arrangement of band mates as they perform in close proximity, a moment of bliss, a note of anguish, the way the light falls in a particular moment, an interesting instrument, a guitar strap with personality, in front of the crowd, through the crowd, for God’s sake – move around!, always look for more.

Dawes| Copyright Alessandra Nicole, All Rights Reserved

One thing is for sure, it pays to work for bigger acts as the lighting quality is most often professional. This means I’m no longer fighting the awful lighting of a dank hole-in-the-wall where some beer-breathed bar star is performing and thus am not wasting my precious camera actuations on images that will not do my talents and technical aptitude justice, the results of which can actually blemish a sound (so to speak) reputation and make one work harder in post trying to make chicken salad out of chicken crap. I used to like to carry my camera along to local gigs convinced it was helping me “keep up on my chops” but I realized what a waste of my valuable time it became. As acquaintances and their broke bands would expect to grab images off of me for free, I realized what a waste of time, money, and equipment maintenance it was for me.

A lot of photographers I know are spoiled by the digital technology, get lazy, and over shoot. I still have a film photography mindset and tend to shoot very conservatively, lining everything up and making each frame count. Film was not only expensive to process, but you had to know your exposures by memory as there was no way to make any adjustments before taking the film into the darkroom and seeing what you had. Many photographers (and clients, too!) today wrongly think that digital affords them unlimited shooting however a camera body is only good for so many presses of the shutter button (500,000 seems to be the standard) before it begins to fail! It still behooves you to be on top of the technical aspects of photography and make each frame count!

In live music situations razor sharp, fast glass and a high ISO sensitivity (big sensor) are absolutely key. Few things get under my skin more than skimming through my files after a performance and finding facial features a little soft in an otherwise stellar capture. For an example, note the image of the lead singer for the UK band James below:

JAMES| Copyright Alessandra Nicole, All Rights Reserved

It’s also important to do your research. If you’re covering an act whose music you are not familiar with, look them up and get to know at least two of their hits. You shoot differently when you’re connected to the music because it’s a song you’ve heard and that comes across in your images. The connected energy translates over because suddenly not just your sight and mind but your hearing and heart become engaged with the way you are seeing. Most likely when you’re processing your images the ones that were captured during a song that you knew will be your strongest. Even if nothing stands out visually an image (or several) will have an alluring quality to them for seemingly no reason at all! In photography and in any situation in life the end result is a thousand times more successful when your heart is engaged.

One of my most favorite acts to have covered this past year was Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. A great pro music photographer friend invited me along to experience the Electric Forest Music Festival up in Rothbury, Michigan over the summer. I photographed anywhere around five to fifteen great bands and music acts a day over the course of four days but I got most caught up in the lead singers Alexander and Jade’s incredibly tender relationship toward one another on stage. I’d seen them perform on the Letterman Show, on NPR’s YouTube channel, and in several music videos with such a clear love for one another but to have seen the way she lights up around him in person expanded the hearts of everyone in the audience that afternoon. Also, Alexander was extremely personable with an audience of more than 25,000! He somehow made such an enormous outdoor event as intimate as a living room set.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros| The infamous "pre-show band huddle". Copyright Alessandra Nicole, All Rights Reserved

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros| Copyright Alessandra Nicole, All Rights Reserved

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros| Copyright Alessandra Nicole, All Rights Reserved

 

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros| Copyright Alessandra Nicole, All Rights Reserved

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros| Copyright Alessandra Nicole, All Rights Reserved

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros| Copyright Alessandra Nicole, All Rights Reserved

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros| Copyright Alessandra Nicole, All Rights Reserved

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros| Copyright Alessandra Nicole, All Rights Reserved

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros| Copyright Alessandra Nicole, All Rights Reserved

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros| Copyright Alessandra Nicole, All Rights Reserved

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros| Copyright Alessandra Nicole, All Rights Reserved

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros| Copyright Alessandra Nicole, All Rights Reserved

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros| Copyright Alessandra Nicole, All Rights Reserved



I am Thankful

November 01, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

In honor of Thanksgiving (and my business namesake) this month I am posting something every day for which I am thankful over on my Facebook page, and will keep a running list here. Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

11/10/11: Clean running water – there’s been constant construction on the water main outside of where I live which has had the water off for a couple of afternoons in a row. Each evening, the water came back on rusty and smelly taking hours to clear up. It was an “inconvenience” for me for two days – hard to imagine nations around the world that never have clean running water! Please donate: http://www.charitywater.org/

charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. 100% of public donations directly fund water projects. Learn more or donate.

11/09/11: Music – whether created by musicians, monks, or wind through a set of chimes.

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.  – Aldous Huxley

11/08/11: Our veterans – War isn’t ideal but when it’s decided that there must be one, I’m thankful for the bravery and willingness of our soldiers to do what it takes to take it all on. I’m thankful I have the freedom to be with the people I care about and work on whatever projects and embark on whatever adventures I dream up.

11/07/11: Today I am thankful for…. all the reasons, big & little, to keep on going. Because, seriously, at times it ain’t all that easy.

11/05/11 & 11/06/11: The “log out” button – I am thankful for being able to periodically unplug from virtual reality and enjoy physical reality.

In this complex and overbearing technological era, it is important for me to at times detach from the tentacles of the internet and remember a simpler, more enriching life and all of the delicious present moments and people that deserve my 100% undivided attention.  It’s vital to remember to be here now and rise above the addicting but superficial connections to the masses online and take time to balance my online interactions with cultivating and maintaining healthy connections to the people who are actually in my life, to connect with nature, and above all: to connect with myself.

11/04/11: Today I’m thankful for my mistakes, exes, and “enemies”. Every one of them. They’ve exposed blind spots, weaknesses, things that I needed to learn so that I keep growing and reaching for better and higher.

If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner. – Tallulah Bankhead

11/03/11: My 5(6) Senses – I say this as I bite into a creamy Belgian chocolate truffle while the aroma of rich black coffee permeates my little studio area.

Mmm! Take a moment to honor all of your senses and this crisp, gorgeous  autumn day that supports us.

A counted number of pulses only is given to us of a variegated, dramatic life. How may we see in them all that is to to be seen in them by the finest senses? -Walter Pater

11/02/11: Love – For letting me feel what it means to truly be alive

Love is definitely not limited to romantic relations or even people. As an artist, for me it helps to look at the world around me through the filter of love. Without it I definitely would not be the kind of artist that I am.

11/01/11: My friends – for being my kin & companions in life

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. – C. S. Lewis


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