Mamiya mia | Personal

Because change is good.

Because I fall in love so easily.

Because I enjoy pushing my limits.

Because apparently Im never satisfied.

Because growth comes from trying new things.

Because I know how to take an idea and run with it …

All this, and I went and bought myself a new toy. A medium format camera, a Mamiya 645 to be precise.

Now y’all know this obsession I got with film right? Well, I’ve been having a blast recently with my 35mm, but I wanted more. I wanted bigger negatives, I wanted to experiment with different tonal range. And I just wanted a little challenge, a new one. I’ve learned so much about photography in the last few weeks, with the help of my 35mm, that I could only imagine how much Im going to learn with my new Mamiya.

The day after I received it, I inserted a film and off I went. Right away I noticed how much bigger and heavier it is compared to what I’ve been used to these last few years. The buttons are in different places, and even the viewfinder is awkward, but to say that I didn’t love it immediately, would be a lie.

Once I looked into the viewfinder, I realized that I had NO.IDEA how to use the in-camera meter. I googled, I read, I asked, and no one had a clear answer, other than ‘get yourself a handheld meter’. I don’t have one, and Im not sure when I’ll get one. But I still took my pictures, even if it was just to take them. I used the knowledge I have about the settings I’d use for this particular environment I was in, and hoped I’d get something. Anything.

And I did. I got some shots!

Maybe not great, but Im happy enough. The camera works, I loaded the film right, and I realized that I understand lighting more than I ever gave myself credit for. My first roll on a medium format came out O.K.

2013-09-05_0001047100092013-09-05_0002047100132013-09-05_0003(Portra 800, scanned at a local lab)

And now to load another film up in that Mamiya. Stay tuned.

Thanks for looking!

NDuran

The Break | Personal

About two years ago, I took a ‘break’. I took a break from the sessions, from blogs, from research, and sadly from my cameras. I stepped aside quietly, but eventually I came out, and spoke about it a little bit. This is something I’ve dealt with for a few years now- I lot of thinking, evaluating, and general back and forth. But one thing has been for certain- I’ve been very low-key for a while, ever since I took my break.

At the time, its something I felt I had to do, and looking back, I don’t regret having done it. Did I miss my photography? I think I did, but didn’t realize it. Not until now at least.

While I had a bunch of wonderful sessions in my portfolio, and so many great images that I personally loved and took pride in, there were a handful of sessions that I wasn’t particularly proud of. These few ‘bad’ experiences pushed me into this little corner, where I felt the defeat was greater than my urge to ever get up and keep trying.

As time passed, I remember thinking that I was just bored; that I wasn’t cut out for photography; that I wasn’t good enough for any of this… Really, what was the point? So I put away my cameras (except for the cell phone), I rarely turned on my computer, and stopped reading books. I felt ok, but I felt I was missing something all along.

‘Cause you know what? I wasn’t bored. I didn’t dislike photography. I don’t think my work was horrible. This hobby had become such a part of me, that it hurt to see it fail sometimes. In retrospect, I can now recognize that I was merely burned out. I was one of those burned out photographers you read about when you’re just learning the basics of the photography business.

Being a caseworker, I KNOW what burn out is. I KNOW how it aches, how it can rip you up, and kill your strength. But photography burn out? I didn’t get it. Now I do, but back then? No. Again, I just thought I had gotten tired of this whole thing.

In these two years, I’ve managed to step back, and see what I had done wrong, and where I made careless decisions.

Here’s the thing. I was doing so many sessions, but for cheap. Meaning, I was putting so much work, time, effort, and love into my sessions, but wasn’t adequately compensated. Bottom line. As with any job, I was away from my family- during sessions, during post session. I was commuting, I was providing a service, and product, basically all for free. Back then though, I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. I loved what I was doing, so it didn’t bother me to get ‘little’ in return. Also, I was ‘learning’ so I wanted to take it easy. But each time, Id go to edit a session, my energy went flat. I loved what I was seeing on the screen, but I wasn’t connecting, and I think it was because I wasn’t valuing my work. Love and value are two different things.

Yea, I loved my clients, but meeting with them for two hours, hoping Id get some smiles, and pretty looks, heading home to edit, to then send them a cd with their pictures, then most likely never hearing from them again, was so impersonal. And that’s not the foundation I wanted to build my work on.

Then there was thing about my ‘vision’. When you’re starting out, you hear all about it, from other photographers who speak about their visions, ideas, and styles, and you keep wondering when life is gonna smack you in the head with your own vision. For years, I knew I liked photography. A lot. And early on, I knew I had a knack for pulling emotions out with my camera. And for a long time, I had a list of favorite things I liked to photograph. Still, my vision took sometime, like a couple of years, to emerge. But it finally did. And I eventually realized that I wasn’t always photographing how, and what I loved, but despite knowing this, I kept shooting what other people wanted of me, and not what I preferred. I kept doing this, and I’d feel my creative spark diminish each time. I was constantly reminded that I needed to take a step back. And I eventually did.

While on my break, I thought a lot. I knew what I missed, I recognized what I wanted, where I saw myself going, and I finally acknowledged the worth of my work. I have a very long way to go, and so much to overcome, in regards to my confidence, and to photography in general, but I now have a different approach, and new plans in place.

In the last year, I’ve picked up my cameras a zillion times. Among some of the wonderful pictures I’ve gotten, and sessions I’ve had, I’ve taken some crummy pictures, but that’s fine. Im learning as I go, and I don’t necessarily mean photography-wise, but rather in regards to the emotional side of this business. The same way I embrace the images that make my heart skip a beat, Im also learning to weed out what I don’t want, nor need, for me or my clients.

So here’s my reminder to you- take your breaks. If you feel you need a break from a hobby, from the kids, from your job, from family, from a project, whatever it may be, then you need a break. Don’t apologize for it, and don’t feel guilty. And don’t condemn anyone for choosing to take a step back. Sometimes its just what a person needs.

Breaks are good for breathing, for reflection, for prioritizing, and for planning. If we were to sit and sulk in the midst of our stresses, we’d never grow. We would be so consumed with the agony from ‘burning out’ that our thoughts would be clouded, and taking further steps to be better, would be nearly impossible. Just keep that in mind.

Beach

 
NDuran

Gia’s 6! | Birthday Portraits

A month ago, she turned 6.

In the last 6 years, she’s developed to become the sweetest, most passionate, moody, and funniest little person I know (little person, literally).

Oh, and she’s probably one of the most photogenic.

As it’s become a habit with all my children, I planned a birthday photo session with her. I immediately knew that I wanted to approach this particular session, in a way that would reflect who she is becoming- again, moody, passionate, dramatic, and photogenic, you know, kinda Anthropologie 🙂

Can I just say, I think we nailed it!

Gias6cGias6gGias6kGias6aGias6iGias6eGias6jGias6dGias6hGias6b

Thanks so much for looking!
NDuran

And a second roll, in just two weeks | Personal

And I did it again. I shot another roll of film, and again, I’m in love.

No, not all images came out right- under/over exposure, and bad composition took precedence in some of the pictures. And I’m actually not as happy with this roll, as I was with my last set, but content I am!

To look at these prints, and see how far I’ve come, is just so gratifying.

When I first picked up a film camera (after so many years), about two years ago, I had no idea I’d struggle, the way I’ve struggled. For some reason, I thought it would be second nature, since I was an avid digital photographer, and my dad shot film for so many years. But no, it wasn’t as easy. However, I did anticipate learning a lot more about photography in general, and that did happen. It’s still happening.

I find it impressive that I have such a better understanding of light compared to a few months back, and that my framing has gotten so much more interesting. And although I have a long way to go, I’m finally grasping the technical aspects of capturing a picture!  And all this without a lcd preview screen? It is mind boggling to me.

With each load, with each experiment, with each print, even the bad ones, Im understanding more, and I’m becoming more interested. Its becoming an obsession to want to take pictures all.the.time. The fact that I’m making my mistakes, learning from them, and even finding beauty in those mistakes is what has me so intrigued.

Like I wrote before, I’m just so in love with this format.

2013-08-13_0001 190800182013-08-13_0002 190800172013-08-13_000319080021

Fuji Xtra 400

Thanks for looking!
NDuran

365 Days Photo Project | July, 2013 | Personal

Despite being the the worst 365 photos photographer, I do have a few images of my July subject- Gia. Gia, my little girl, my July baby, my mini crab.

She’s one of the most photogenic, and charismatic individuals I know, so getting pictures of her is rarely difficult, and it makes me fall in love with this art a little more.ImageThanks for looking!!
NDuran

365 Days Photo Project | January, 2013 | Personal

I did it! I completed 31 days of pictures, for my most recent 365 Day Project

Lil' Mikey

So, ok, I admit, I cheated a few times- missed a day here and there, and had to then take two pictures a day to make up for it, but still, I did it!

As I attempted last year (operative word being attempted; I failed miserably with my 365 Day Project last year), this year will consist of monthly themes. For January, it was all ‘Lil’ Mikey’, documenting my little boy’s daily life as best I could, being that his birthday is January 29th.

I now look back at the pictures, and realize I missed a few shots that I had planned to get, but it’s really ok, ’cause I look back, and also notice that my boy really has the best smile, seriously has great hair, loves his little toys so much (this year its Super Mario Brothers), and is addicted to playing with the tablet. Eh, just a tad. And Im reminded of all this, when I look back at this series.

And THAT’S my drive to keep taking these daily pictures. I may not always get ‘the shot’, and not all the pictures are guaranteed to come out good, but to be able to look back at a series of pictures, and remember something, notice something, or want to print a great image is reason enough to take more pictures. If it weren’t for a 365 photo project, I would rarely pick up my DSLR. I’d stick to my phone, which really is heaven sent, isn’t it? But so many pictures go missing in the phone memory. Sometimes we upload, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we share, sometimes we don’t. And sometimes phones crash and die, and with it go many, many pictures. I know. At least for me, with the DSLR photos, I usually upload, maybe fix up a picture or ten, save it 3x, and then share (on FB, blogs, via emails, albums, prints, etc…).

I get busy, lazy, even uninspired, and then I quit. But each time, with all sincerity, I hope I can continue. This project is just so important to me. It really is.

And now on to February. Stay tuned for those pictures. I hope… 🙂

Film. Back at it. | Personal

06_6A copy

30_30A copy

25_25A copy

21_21A copy

31_31A copy

PicMonkey Collage copy

17_17A copy

08_8A copy

05_5A copy

01_1A copy

These images are from a roll, that sat in my camera for about 6 months. A roll that I put into a brand new camera that I received for Mother’s Day.

Im not sure why it took me so long to unwind the film, and furthermore, Im not sure where that enthusiasm to see what I had photographed, was. But I do think a lot had to do with the fact that I flunked so many times before, with getting great images. And so many rolls of film were wasted.

Yea, I did get some pretty good shots, shots that I actually do love, but still, so many more images were never even recorded. Maybe it was the processing, maybe the lighting, maybe it was a fault with the (old, now broken) camera. Or maybe it was just me- Maybe I wasn’t made for film photography. So once I finished this film, its was no surprise that I wasn’t in any rush to see how bad of a ‘photographer’ I had likely been.

And so, it sat in my camera (my brand new Nikon film camera), for months. But then, I decided I had to see what, if anything, I had captured.

I dropped off my film, and left, but not before leaving a warning,’they probably wont even come out. But if they do, can you include a cd?‘. I then waited a few hours, and prepared for the ‘worst’- another blank film.

And then I got the film back. I received a thick envelope with so many prints, and a cd. I took the prints out, and saw one decent picture, then another, and another. And not only was I happy that the pictures were visible, but also, those prints were proof (for lack of a better word) that I do ‘kinda’ know what Im doing; that i have a good understanding of lighting and exposure; and that my eye continues to develop nicely.

So yea, you can bet that my spirits have been lifted, and my confidence boosted.

There is now another roll in my camera. A few shots have been taken, and Im excited to continue. Perhaps not all the images come out. Most likely a few will be over-exposed, and others out of focus, but whatever the case, Im going to be ok with that. I cant expect to get better if I don’t fail, then learn to understand the mistakes, and ultimately find a way to alter my technique, and try again.

NDuran

March, 2012 | Visual Snippets

Busy.

Continuous play-time messes.

Growing orchids (and keeping them alive!).

Weekly dance classes, and a dance competition.

First outdoor play of spring 2012.

Noticing the spring sunset, everywhere.

An undying obsession with Spiderman.

Dresses and open-toed shoes.

Summer-styled drinks.

Letting my hair down to dance with warm breezes.

Falling in love with film, all over again.

Kindergarten prep classes, over.

Flowers.

First park visit.

Cleaning pink rooms.

Non-boots shoes.

Mid-morning coffee breaks.

This was my March.

(Majority of images taken with my Epic Touch 4G, and shared on instagram- nduran11)

Thanks for looking!
NDuran

Black and White Film

Just want to share some film images, taken last spring 😮

Better late than never though, right?!

Kodak, black and white.

I just bought a new roll of film. Its loaded, and ready to go. I hope to share those images before next year 😀

Thanks for looking!
NDuran