Pre wedding photographs for this couple getting married in DC. Their family and friends have never been out to Sedona. So they thought why not bring a part of Arizona to their wedding day. These photographs are to be shown on a big screen during cocktail hour for their guests to take in the beauty of Sedona. Payal + Kathan are contagiously positive, fun, and have this deep friendship. We had so much fun dancing around the red rocks!
Let all women be free.
And let it start with me.
Bangladesh is a tropical lush country bordering the East of India. It’s people are beautiful and kind. I have NEVER in my life felt so taken care of everywhere I went even if it was some remote little house with dirt floors and no electricity out. I was given the best hospitality in food and hugs. Their culture is alive and well. I learned much from walking the streets in the hot humid air, with the clouds boiling up for a monsoon storm later in the afternoon. People are themselves. They are not trying to hide or be something they are not. Most are just trying to survive.
The smells of the country are thick of turmeric and campfire. Think India but on steroids. Everything is rugged and loud. There are constant beeps from cars and honks from trucks. The colors will invade you like a carnival at night. The brightest of pinks and shades of yellows and and deepest of blues race through the town everywhere you look, especially from their clothing. They are not afraid to be bold in their clothing choices- unlike so many of us who dress in all black to conceal the layer of fat we’re ashamed of. Oh there is not much to hide but everything all at the same time.
Only men were on the streets. Everywhere I looked. Men and their cows. Men buying rice, men talking to each other, men walking, men riding bikes, men arguing, men praying. Where are the women I think at the very same time Jenna asks Troy loudly over the tutt cart zooming through the streets while rain pours down “Where are all the women?”
Troy says “They are all at home. With the kids. Cooking.”
I ask, “Do they get to come and pray in the mosques like the men do?”
Troy answers looking out the open side door, “No. They are at home. They do not get to come to the mosques. Maybe in a large city like Dhaka they’ll have a separate room but not out here. So they pray at home” and all of a sudden I am offended in a way that goes beyond a little argument I have with my roommate over my lack of cleanliness in the kitchen. This offense feels deep in my bones. It feels like a river I have always been looking at from the banks, sometimes a splash would get on my skin, but never had I entered the river and understood the magnitude of what it felt like. By the end of the trip, I was submerged in the river.
I got to photograph these girls faces that hold such maturity and yet immaturity at the very same time. I want them to stay small. I don’t want them to get married at age 14 to a man she’s never met and be forced into having sex with him just to have babies. I don’t want them to stop their education because they are pregnant at age 15 and have complications during birth because they are so small. I don’t want them to miss out on the chance of pursing their dreams because they have been handed down generations of a poverty mindset.
More than anything I wish they could all have the childhood I grew up in. Where my parents were and are the constant supporters of my dreams. Where I would get ice cream on a Wednesday after my mom picked me up from 8 hours of school. I hated school. I hated it all the way till I went to art school in college and I thrived in how my brain worked best. But now I see I took school for granted. When the choice was between private catholic school or public school, I had no idea at the time the gift I had being given. Not until I saw the opposite- where education is a luxury not a normal daily trap I felt it was , is when I started to inch into the river slowly. I started to realize knowledge is power. Knowledge can change the world. Knowledge can change our hearts.
I have never seen such happy faces though. Each one of them is fighting for their freedom. Freedom of choice, expression, and future. We go to a 7th grade seminar where all the girls from 30 different villages come together once a month on a Friday. There was LOTS of dancing, lots of singing, lots of laughing. Because what else do you do in 7th grade when you get with your girlfriends? The women teachers do a little class on women’s health and mensuration. I wish I could have understood what they were saying! I wish I could have encouraged them as a woman myself who also has a period, how beautiful it is. They would have all probably giggled and not took me serious. But eventually it was our time to talk to the girls. We talked about dreams.
When Troy first visited some of these villages, he asked the girls “What are your dreams?” They all started at him and said “Uncle we do not understand what that word is.” He said again, “ok what do you hope for your future? What do you want to do?” They all looked around and laughed and said “Oh I don’t know, maybe just a nice husband. I hope he is good looking.” And that was it.
The first time I heard that there was a splash of water that burst forth from the river and drenched me. Something hurt as a woman but also has a human.
During the 7th grade seminar we talked about how their dreams will change the world. That what they are suppose to do – no one else can do on this planet. How they show up in the world is perfect and needed. We went into a little dream exercise and had them come up to share their dreams on the microphone. We all cheered after each shared her special dream spoken in broken English. Amidst the sweaty faces and loud giggles there was something swirling in the room I could have almost reached out and touched. Something all women are keenly aware of at certain moments in her life. It was the familiar feel of when women come together after one gives birth and tells the story of how baby entered the world through her body. It felt like when a woman sticks up for another in the face of injustice. It felt like all the energy from the women who have gone before to lay down this path was lighting the way, cheering along, and singing the most beautiful melody of freedom. It gives me chills thinking about it now.
To be a woman in the modern world is to be a woman anywhere. I also completely disagree with that statement at the very same time. The two live in harmony understanding that we all have felt disregarded maybe more than others, we all have a mensuration cycle that creates a connection to the wild being, and we all are unified with feminine energy coursing through our veins. To be a woman can look very different but their are similarities that goes beyond age, language, religion, and race. Once we get into the river, there comes an understanding of what it’s like to be a woman in an opposite lifestyle as you. The river invites us all into unification and connection which in turns leads to deep compassion. This trip opened my eyes to see all women deserve to be free (free to choose their future, their mate, and their bodies) but it first MUST start with me. It must start in the hearts of those who recognize their freedom and education but maybe take it for granted. It must start in those who stay in unhealthy relationships because they are scared to be alone yet they actually have a choice in who they marry. It must start with love and understanding of self that flows to each other.
ABOUT SPEAK UP:
Bangladesh has the highest rate of child marriage under the age of 18 in the world. It’s a cultural norm that is slowly being broken but takes hundreds of years of unlearning. Speak Up has three different programs simultaneously which help to create new reality for these girls through education.
- The Dorm in Khnula – which is where about 75 high school + university girls live together to get education. There is a house mother who acts like an RA, mother, and teacher. These girls are learning English and pursuing their dreams such as Nursing, police woman, and lawyer etc.
- Learning Center- are all spread out across the villages. They have over 30 learning centers in these villages where girls come after their normal school for continual education, english class, and more.
- Funding Alingon Home – is a home for girls who have been trafficked into prostitution or were born into a brothel. They provide housing, education, and so much love.
I saw first hand the tension of two side when it comes to a girls future. We were visiting a village where one of my sponsor girls live. She was not at school, so Troy (the director), 3 teachers, me, and 20 village girls went to her house to see how she was doing. There was instant tension in the air between the teachers and the parents. Even though I don’t speak the Bengali language I could feel the anger from the parents when the teachers were simply asking why she was not at school. This story ends like so many, the reality of this little girl’s life is that her parents are going to marry her off to an older man. She is 15. She must stop school and start having babies. There is no future for her in education or pursuing her dreams or marrying for love. Those three areas are choices we have in abundance here in America and we can take those for granted or we can help to fight for the rest of the little girls across the world.
Learning these girls names, stories, and dreams only pushes me into pursuing after mine. Which is to free all the women, connect the world, and create beauty. My dream from this photography business is that I get to be free, connect humans, and create beauty which supports these little girls to pursue their dreams. If you give a girl education- SHE WILL CHANGE THE WORLD.
LEARN MORE HERE: https://speakupforthepoor.org/
DONATE HERE: https://speakupforthepoor.org/support/
TWO BOOKS great for women empowerment and education:
- Half the Sky
- The Moment of Lift
What to do with Your Photos NOW!?
So you got amazing professional photos taken. You may have budgeted money for new family photos this year or you invested into wedding photography. But you haven’t printed ANYTHING because you feel overwhelmed by the process of how to choose photos, where to print, and what to print. WELL friends I’m here to help!
I believe as a photographer it is my job to help clients print their work. It’s always been the photographers job since DAY ONE of photography but it’s been lost in the digital age due to DSLR cameras. Often times printing gets slipped on the to do list because it’s just ONE more thing to get done.
Say you carve out the time after the kids go to bed or when you have a free night and glass of wine- NOW WHAT? How to you choose what photos? Frames, canvas, album? Then what size? What color? How many?
Here are some visual ideas you can do easily that will transform your walls with the memories of your heart.
Tips on Choosing Photos:
- Go through your online gallery and “Heart” or pull the photos that instantly make you laugh, smile, brings a tear to your eye.
- Think about the season of life- what photo speaks most to that season? Remember you are printing photos that will remind you of your life, so choose photos that bring you back to a place of joy.
- Textures + details always help to tell the story- not just faces! If you are printing two side by side photos pull one photo of faces and another one up close tight detail or far away landscape shot. It helps the eye give rest while looking over all on a wall.
Now you choose your photos, you must decide in what format do you want your memories to be hung on the walls or held in your hands. Below are 4 different options in photo formats for printing!
There are 100000 photos for you to print but only so much wall space. First- choose based on the above recommendations by season of life and what brings you the most joy. Then… PRINT THEM! DON’T WAIT.
I highly suggest going through the online gallery from where the printers are designed to communicate color space + pixel size with our high quality professional cameras. I’ve said this so much but I will say it again- print quality matters. Please whatever you do don’t go through Shutter Fly or Walmart- their printers are not designed for the professional camera. They are designed to communicate better with iPhones or quick photos. You paid HOW MUCH to get professional photos taken? Well professional printing matters JUST AS MUCH. Please.If you don’t go through your photographer- again which I highly suggest- here are a few other places that are quality prints:
- Artifact Uprising Prints
- Time Shel
- Nations Photo Lab
- Staples- They actually have great printers + quality for large prints (poster size)
- Your location Print Shop! Most towns have great local family owned businesses
These are my favorite way to add a little color and spunk to any wall in ANY room of the house. There are SO MANY different types of frames. You can find them inexpensive, custom, or unique as you want. Often times I will go to GoodWill and find old frames- paint them and put a photo in there for all under $1.00. Tips on buying frames:
- Bigger the better- in my opinion. If you have a large wall I would suggest 1-2 large frames to fill the wall next to each other
- Colors + texture- Think about accent colors in your room. Do you like gold? White, Black?
- White borders in photographs help the photograph stand out. But remember when you print you are trying to fit within the little frame not the full frame.
- Amazon Gold Frame
- Artifact Uprising Frames
- Hobby Lobby Frames
I have so many canvas’s in my house! I LOVE them so much because you get the full photo without the frame. They are statement pieces that stand off the wall and add an extra boost of boldness to any room.
I HIGHLY suggest going through me to order a canvas through CG PRO PRINTS. They are some of the best quality canvas’s I’ve seen for a fraction of the price at other places.
If you are a client of mine you can order wonderful canvas’s through your online gallery as well!! It makes it easy and quick.
I rave about Kiss Wedding Books because they are THE BEST high quality albums I’ve ever seen. With thick pages, the most premium leather + linen covers, with the best customer service made right here in the US, they are the best heirloom gift to pass down through the generations. But if you cannot afford one of these $200-1000 custom made albums here are some other options:
I RAVE about Artifact Uprising and won’t stop. They are some of my favorite printers in the country because of their quality work and customer interface when designing albums and printing prints. They have options for quality books, large albums, and quick little magazine style books for little gifts.
From family vacation memories to baby books to wedding albums- they create the most beautiful gifts + memories to have on the coffee table for reasonable costs. You can even customize the front covers with gold embossing.
- Kiss Wedding Books– Family Heirloom lay flat leather + linen books ordered only through a photographer.
- BLURB! Great place to order little or large quality books
- Artifact Uprising- Matt paper + trendy styles + minimalism
- Chatbooks- on going subscription books made from instagram posts
This process can be stressful to choose which photos to print but once you do, you will be SO HAPPY you did!
Here are a link to order a handmade Kiss Album that can be passed down through each generation.
FIRST, DON’T FORGET:
-Don’t use flash PLEASEEEEE— try ambient (the light already in the room) first before you shoot with flash. But there are some situations where it’s pitch black like it’s 4th of july waiting for fireworks and it’s really dark and you must turn flash on. Thats ok:)
-Don’t ZOOM!!…this creates grain and unwanted “noise” (a film term which is the little dots on the photo)
-Clean your lens off. Sometimes they get smudged by being in our pockets or purses causing blurry images.
-Manually set the focal point by tapping on the subject. This will ensure focus!
Many many many people ask me how to take a good photo…so I thought I would share some of my iPhone photos and tricks I’ve found to take good iPhone photos. (These are all my iphone photos over the last couple years.. there might be a lot of photos of me and Jacob sorry, not sorry!!)
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS: reading the light.
Photography is the study of light. Without light there is no photograph——it would be a black image. Here are some basic tips on reading light or how to take photos in different types of light. The sun will tell all. What matters is where the direct of the sun is hitting. We’ll go through a few options with examples that explains where the sun is and how to shoot with it.
The easiest possible light to photograph in would be shade. When you are out in bright bright sun this is one of the hardest times to get a great photo. Many people think “oh yay, the sun is out, so therefore it must be a good photo” buts not the truth. Usually when the sun is high you are squinting right? That will show up in your photo with harsh shadows on your face or squinty eyes. If you want to take a good photo but the sun is really bright… FIND SHADE. Next to a building that is casting a shadow, under a tree, etc. OR CLOUDY– is best of the best. The clouds block the rays of the sun and defuse the light so you are able shoot at high noon without shadows (usually). These days are the best for wedding photography because you can shoot all day without issues of the sun casting shadows.
**Pro tip: While you are in the shade still FACE THE DIRECTION of the sun. This allows light to still hit your subjects face without creating harsh shadows. Basically, the light is bouncing say off the ground and back up to your face. (indirect light)
If there is no possibility in finding shade and you want to play with the shadows the sun casts GO FOR IT!! I do this a lot for more artsy shots or silhouettes. For this though I don’t have my subjects look at the camera. It’s more about them being in surroundings. These are not the shots where you look and cheese at the camera. (find shade for that if you want a good photo) Below are some examples of full sun shots but still looking good:
**Pro tip: Play with the shadows by having your subject face the sun and you shoot from behind or side. You get their shadow on the ground which turns out artsy.
OR… have sun on their backs and shoot their face with side light or back light. !!
ALWAYS find the windows. ALWAYS face the windows. Windows are acting as your light source (sun) so you want your subject to face the windows if you a nice even lit face. Or when you want to photograph a beautiful plate of food you just made, find the windows. They will cast even light on your subject without casting too many shadows. This is one of the major issues people have when they want to take a picture inside say at a wedding reception, out to dinner, or of their kids. FACE THE SUBJECTS TOWARD THE LIGHT!
**Pro tip: although if you turn your subject around to have the light hit their back you can create a cool silhouette. But you would want a big window with it realllyyyy bright coming outside. Say… a cute prego lady and you want the shape of her body.
THIS IS THE BEST EXAMPLE I HAVE (the the above of us 3 girls) where facing the light “inside” will make a difference. We were at a wedding underneath a tent but the sun was behind us. I saw the photo and was like no no sorry we need to retake that but flip so we are facing the light!! I personally like the second one on the right where we are fully lit evenly! Because we were facing the light source.
This is my very very very very very favorite. Can I say very again?? Because lighting your subject with backlight is FREAKING BEAUTIFUL and will give you an image with a pretty sun-flare even with an iphone. This turns out best an hour before sunset and through the sunset. First find some sort of tree hanging down to defuse the light (until it’s perfect timing). Then what you want to do is find the sun and turn your subject away from the sun. The sun will be on their back/head. Your subjects face might be a little dark/or shady. This is ok but you can click on the iphone to brighten exposure. My examples show better what I am talking about below. This creates a beautiful halo look on the subjects face or head. You can do this with landscapes as well. Be careful because shooting directly into the sun can be hard. You really have to play around with your direction, angle, and objects you are using to defuse the light.
BUT if this isn’t working turn the subject around to face the sunset (usually right after sunset is best for this, pretty light). This will ensure a well lit photo.
**Pro Tip: What I like to do is block the sun with the subjects head or body which creates even more of a sun halo. Sometimes you can catch little sparkles in the air floating around.
This is a great example above of SUNSET backlight and sunset front light. Both pretty evenly lit. You get to choose what you like best with the scene.
-Portrait Mode for Depth of Field!! You know those professional photos where the subject is in focus and everything else is out of focus?? YAA iphone 8’s and up have this new portrait mode which does some similar!!! Here are a few examples with and without the portrait mode:
-Use Foam white board to bounce light or use for clean background if you want to stylize products
-Use Fabric to style- adds texture and makes photo interesting
–HDR mode!!! High Dynamic Range. This technique will take 3 photos (shadows, the highlights, and midrange ) and combine them all into one shot with all three. I use this mostly for landscape shots!! It will amaze you.
Okay friends!! Ask me any questions you have. I hope this helps you take better iphone photos!! So good you want to print them out!!!
xoxo Hannah Rose