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March 6, 2014

Photo Field Trip: El Capitan Canyon, CA

So, it's been four days since Field Trip! I miss California, our little cabin and all of the creative people I hung out with over the weekend. It was such a good time -- random west coast rains and all. Since writing my brain dump post the other day, I've sifted through all 200+ photos I snapped and chose the best ones to share here. 

I even learned a thing or two about my DSLR while I was in California. In the photos below, you can totally see the progression of my photos: my previous comfort zone was the non-flash setting; now I'm doing my best to shoot in manual all the time. My roommate Rensche ("Rains-ka") taught me how to adjust my settings according to the light -- things I've been meaning to teach myself by way of my owner's manual...but it's always sounded particularly boring to me, so I never got around to it. She taught me so much in just minutes! I'm a learner by doing, really, so I'm so thankful she took the time to show me a few things. Every day I'm learning and practicing and slowly but surely, I'm feeling more comfortable shooting this way. Let the light shine in, literally. 

But without further ado, here are some of my favorite photos from El Capitan Canyon + Field Trip:

I learned so much from all the people who taught me great things last weekend. One of my favorite parts of the trip was definitely meeting Paul OctaviousInstagram superstar + very talented photographer. He is also the nicest, most humble guy. As if I couldn't already admire him enough, he said that the thrift store is what inspires him as an artist. Obviously that sealed the deal for me. Birds of a feather. What I took away most from him this weekend is to self-assign as much as possible. His "Same Hill, Different Day," is a project he came up with to shoot during his down time. His insanely popular kite photo on Instagram is how I found him in the first place (I very badly want to buy the print!) I find it very challenging to come up with good ideas like these, but challenges are good. They help us grow as artists. They send us to new places where we could meet new people. So, lesson #1: self-assign. Go out in the world and create, and good things will happen.

Paul's 30th birthday was Sunday, so of course we had a bit of a celebration with cake, glitter and bubbles -- captured in my photos, below.

The other major highlight of my weekend was Anna Naphtali's "Art of Styling" class. My post on Tuesday was mostly inspired by her -- seeing the beauty in your everyday surroundings is a choice, but you can train your eye to see the world in a new way if you try. Successful stylists see the world in colors, shapes, sizes and textures. They know how to quickly arrange objects to make a photograph that would be fitting for any major magazine cover. It's a talent, but it's also a skill that anyone can learn through practice. One thing I took away from Anna is to arrange your photos to tell a story. What are you trying to say through your photographs? Be mindful of your composition, and be a great editor of your work. Don't post every picture you snap to your blog or website; edit down and choose only the ones that best narrate an event. Self-edit when you're behind the camera -- you'll save yourself a ton of time later. Don't be afraid to move a table to grab the best natural light in a room, and take a second to move any trash or random objects out of the background. I already do this a little bit, but I'm guilty of feeling awkward about it sometimes. Maybe now I know most photographers move furniture around and are meticulous about backgrounds, I'll feel more comfortable? Ha. I could write for days about Anna's class, so I will at a later date. Maybe the best nugget to take away from the weekend, though, is to learn from those who are better, and be kind to those who aren't there yet. Wise words to always keep close. Thanks, Anna. 

In a nutshell, that's my trip! I'm so glad I took a leap of faith and jumped on a plane and went -- with the company my friend Natasha...we had the best time. I'll be posting our day trip adventures here soon from the dreamiest town on earth: Santa Barbara. Really, I want to move there (in my dreams, or maybe when I'm a cool millionaire one day.) More to come. Happy Thursday! -- Natty

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