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You can make AWESOME Images | Photography Workshop | + Debra

People always ask me how to take better pictures. I used to, and still do, ask Mark and Leah how to take better pictures. In a shutterbug society, we all want to take better pictures. It’s a common mantra around here that ideas are more important than equipment. It’s a mantra, and a truth. By now we all know how Leah and Mark picked up their entry level DSLR’s, and with ideas and alot of work made a thriving business, an internship program, and continue to turn out beautiful pictures ALL the time. As an alumni intern, and a plus, I have been through the Make Better Pictures bootcamp, and am a better photographer for it.

Last Saturday, Alumni Intern Jo and I went out to teach a small workshop on how to take better pictures, or as I would think it, make better images, to the Red Hots. The Red Hots are a group of youth affiliated with Refugee Family Services who meet weekly to learn new cool things, and focus on education and enrichment. I was very excited to meet the students, and thrilled to be able to teach about my own passion in photography.

There’s so many things to be said for making better images, thousands of theories, and ideas, so it was a challenge to focus on simple concepts with broad impact.

We started with discussing why we ask people if we can take their pictures. How it is polite to ask “may I take your picture/” and then once we have permission, to take pictures and have fun. By connecting with the people we are photographing we are able to take more meaningful pictures. A photograph shows how well we can communicate with the people around us, whether through words, eyes or body language. A photograph that is good and meaningful will hold a conversation, and the viewer will be a part of that conversation.

The most important things to making better, more exciting images are: (drum roll)

1) ZOOM with your feet.  Move around.   Look at the scene from all angles, and distances.

2) Focus on PEOPLE or focus on DETAILS.

3) Use ACTION to make pictures more exciting.

I also took lots of pictures, and didn’t try to get the “perfect”shot, it was fun, and relaxed.

ZOOM with your feet

Focus on People 

 When I am taking a ‘power portrait” I am focused purely on the person, their energy, their story.  Before I take the picture I speak to them, I am open, I want them to be comfortable.  I ask them to look into the lens, straight into the lense.  They don’t have to smile, or frown, or anything.  They just have to be themselves.

Focus on Details

Focusing on details tells us about the environment where the people are.  We can tell the season, the time of day.  We can show pretty leaves and shadows. Objects can convey ideas.

Ideas are always more important than equipment.  Always.


Portraits with multiple people are fun, having action included in the portrait can be interesting to look at.  Its very common for me to have people jumping in pictures.  Jumping gets the blood moving, and keeps us having fun.  it makes us forget that we are having our picture taken, and keeps us relaxed so that we can look into the lense with ease.  

Jo and I will be returning to the Red Hots in early December to help them select images for their very own show at an Art gallery. More details to come!

ATL: Acceptance, Tolerance, Love

Click here to see the Gallery of Photos:

The infamous Westboro Baptist Church has been hanging around Atlanta the past 2 days.  These are the folks who hold hate-filled signs at military funerals, Jewish community centers, and high schools all over the nation.

Grady High School student Becca Daniels wanted to spread a different message, so she organized a demonstration of her own, and Atlantans from all walks of life came out in droves to show their support and share messages of love and acceptance.

It was a pretty awesome sight.  Including angels with 10-foot-tall wings.

The Westboro group… all 8 or so of them… left after 30 minutes, but the ATL group continued their demonstration all along 10th Street.

I am proud of my city.

Click here to see the Gallery of Photos:

Graduation Celebration

Wow.  The past two years have been intense.  Filled with so many changes.  I moved twice. I worked 4 different jobs and 2 different internships.  I went to school. I took 18 classes.  I got married.  We started a business.  The business grew (and grew!).  I found my birthmother… and a bunch of awesome new relatives.  I made 60 new friends.  I graduated.

And that brings us to today.  May 3, 2010.  My life is richer and more full of love than ever.  I have credentials!  I have a basic understanding of various tools for facilitating social change.  I am even more passionate about advocating for social justice, standing up for those in our society who are treated, directly or indirectly, as less deserving, less worthy, less… human.  I am more self-aware as a result of this.  Regularly checking in with myself to make sure I am living the ideals I promote, that I am making my own microcosm a better place by treating myself and those around me with the love, respect, and compassion I believe everyone deserves.

Life is so good.  I have a job I love and care about deeply, working with talented, intelligent, kind people who I look forward to seeing every week.  I have a fun and successful business, with my amazing, artistic husband and a team of passionate interns and a boatload of ridiculously awesome clients and supporters.  I have an ever-growing circle of family and friends who surround me with love, support, and inspiration.  Other than world peace, marriage equality, an end to racism and poverty…what more could a person want?

I have to give a huge a shout out to Mark for being so supportive of me these past two years.  From cooking me breakfast, to doing tons of laundry, to working ‘round the clock so that we can pay our bills and still donate to various causes – he has been incredible, untiring, and unwavering in his support and encouragement…  and I really couldn’t have made it through these two years as happily or sanely without him.

Now I have free time!  I can blog!  I can see people!  Let’s go out!  Call/comment/tweet/email/FB me!  Oh happy day.