Allison English Watkins - Master Photographer, Craftsman, CPP
I am a big believer in education. Sometimes I go to a class, sometimes I teach but I always learn a ton either way. On Monday I had the great opportunity to teach a class to professional photographers about painting their own backgrounds and other alternative backgrounds. Kris Doman who is a gifted photographer helped teach this class with me. I think everybody involved had a total blast. I honestly have to say I think is was the MOST FUN class I have ever participated in. Twice a year the Professional Photographers of America offer one day classes taught by various photographers around the country. This class was part of their one day education blitz. Because of the unique hands-on nature of this class we really had to keep the class size small. So besides Kris and I, 5 other fabulous photographers spent the day sharing information and then rolling their sleeves up and painting a background for their first time. The results were awesome!
So I finally needed some answers for my blogging photo problem. The good news is that I figured out a solution, YEAH ME! But I do think our culture has a weird sense of customer service. After searching for a few minutes on the adobe website for a phone number to technical support I began my 45 minute phone call and trip around the world. Of course the first customer service agent was located somewhere in India. I have no problem with this but my phone call didn't just visit 1 call center with elephant parking out front... I talked to 3 more levels of support. I totally understand the need to filter phone calls to the technical people so they aren't having their time waisted. I realize that the people I need to talk to are locked away in a secret location that is only accessible after you travel through 5 warp levels of Super Mario Brothers. After the 4th transfers I could tell I was not in India any more, although I am not exactly sure where in the world I was, the accent was very american. One more transfer later I finally unlocked the secret world of the truly technically advanced people who could help me. My techy guru was great and helped me patiently. As I thanked him for his help I asked where he was physically located. He stated he was in Portland Oregon, I laughed and said that's along way from India where I started out. He also found this funny and confirmed the journey my phone call had made. So when you asked me what I did today, I'm going to state, "After Jonas had gymnastics I ran to India and Portland on my way home."
Well, it's definitely THAT time of year. It the time when everybody realizes Christmas is just around the corner and it's time to start gearing up. I noticed the seasonal aisle at my grocery store has already taken down most of the Halloween decorations and replaced them with Christmas. Can't i just finish October before the full brunt of the stress descends upon me? In my situation... of course NOT!
A number of years ago these beautiful women were little girls and their mom had a wonderful painting commissioned of them together. It is an absolutely gorgeous painting and worthy of gallery hanging painted by a very talented artist. Now these girls are 13 and it was time to photograph them for their family tradition. At the end of the session they decided they wanted to re create the painting from their childhood since we were at the same location as the painting. If you could see this painting you would understand the feeling of intimidation and pressure I was feeling. It is always a challenge to match the greatness level set by another artist. The difference between painting and photography is that I am limited to the way things are, such as lighting and location. But I always love a challenge! (It's like playing tennis with someone who is better than you... it always seems to raise you up to their level.)
This is one of my very favorite families to photograph. Every 3 or so years we do an updated family picture. I am laughing to myself because the first time I photographed these great people they only had 4 grandchildren in the image, the count is now at 13. It has been so fun to be a part of their lives for so long, I am truly honored!
Most people think of family pictures as an opportunity to gather together and document what their family looks like so that they can hang it in the house and show off to friends and family that... yes, indeed, it is possible to get everyone in the same place at the same time. Let me tell you there is SO MUCH MORE to it than just documentation. Family pictures are about making memories.... not just to hang on the wall, but to sit around and laugh about with each other. I can always provide the picture on the wall, but when I see the opportunity for a family to MAKE A MEMORY together, I go for it.
I feel like I own this family an apology, although I'm not quite sure what for. Actually.... as I type I just figured out why. I used this cute family session to satisfy my own creative urges more than just capturing the family grouping I was hired to do. Of course, this is a win/win situation.... this is NOT a bad thing. I just went totally overboard creating fabulous family portraits because they let me. Because the kids were such fun ages and totally cooperated, I just kept going... and going... and going! It is not normal to have 5 different and gorgeous family groups in one session not to mention the other groupings I am not posting tonight. I am sure this family did not have as much fun as I did at their session... (although, I think they had a good time)