Sunday, November 8, 2009

Seeing the Light with Zack Arias

Somewhere between ZZ Top and a big teddy bear stood our muse for the weekend in NYC, the talented Zack Arias. Zack is well known for his music photography and now, with his national sold-out OneLight workshop tour, he’s mastering a new title by guiding others to see and to make the light.

On the first day of the workshop, which was hosted in the super cavernously-cool Bond Street Studio in Brooklyn, twelve curious and/or confused light-minded subjects, including my co-goer photographer-friend, Carolyn Aeschilman, met Zack and his team in the morning for bagels and coffee (from Starbucks by request – thank you Zack). If you’ve seen the OneLight trailer, you know that Zack will go for as long as it takes to answer everyone’s questions even if it’s until 2am, but because we were limited to cutting the lights at midnight, he wasted no time launching into the fundamentals so that we could get our cameras out and begin shooting. And sprinkled in between strobes, umbrellas, soft boxes, grid spots, radio triggers, exposure, inverse square laws and light fall off were some equally, if not more important, messages. One that stopped me in my tracks was that “many people will choose photography, but not everyone will be chosen by photography.”

Damn it Zack, couldn’t you have just let me bask in my euphoria with a long wish list of the hottest new gear that would change my life? I chose photography because I love it and feel that I might perish without it, but would I be chosen? It made too much sense. Who wouldn’t like to become a photographer? Who wouldn’t want to gear up, explore and capture the beautiful world around them? Creativity is limitless, learning is endless, camaraderie among photographers is magical and getting that perfectly-lit, composed shot can be as exhilarating as the first time you shimmied up to the top of the tire swing with your parents clapping down below. Ecstasy and magic aside, he’s right; to take photography beyond the hobby, you have to embrace and master many things: technology, patience, people of all kinds, faith (in yourself and beyond), knowledge of what truly moves you, discipline, resistance to buy too many $2k lenses (or to be your own accountant) and the list goes on. I have great admiration for my fellow photographers because I now know what goes on behind the picture. At one point, I might have believed that it just took passion, creativity and a pile of gear to choose photography as a career. But, I now know that it’s so much more than seeing and making the light in your pictures. Let’s just call it seeing the light beyond them. So along with a number of stars aligning, I’m out for now to work on making that happen.

Thank you to Zack for revealing more than just strobe light and peace to all of you photographers who give and share so generously to help others find their way.

{To see more of Zack’s work or attend/purchase the OneLight DVD: or read his blog}

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thank a Thief

There are some places where people will ask you what you do and others where it’s more natural to ask, “what do you like to do?” But no matter where you live, it’s a noble exercise to dig deep, pull out your authentic self and sing loud enough for the world to hear.

Paulo Coelho, in his beautiful book, The Alchemist, wrote, “when you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true.” And in some cases, the conspiracy may come when you’re least expecting it. Such is the case with Seventh Room, a band of four who ripped through the stages of Boston hard-rockin’ it for seven golden years in the mid 90s. Those boys lived their dream until the what-do-you-do duty called. So they hung it up and became professional craftsmen and engineers until one day they found their old recording studio pilfered, their music pirated and their past uploaded to My Space by a group thieving fans.

That Stone Age whack-over-the-head sent them back to the stage with new material and a fresh sense of purpose. After all, who could ignore such a sign? Leading the quartet is songwriter-guitarist, Rob Foley accompanied by guitarist Paul Mangiaratti, base player Ian Cariolo and drummer, Mike Dwyer. Their sounds err on the modern hard rock side with a 70s twist. To dish it straight, they just rock , as muscians and as people. No worries if you missed them at Copperfields, Church of Boston or Gillette Stadium this spring, the boys of Seventh Room will come back out of their recording hiatus to bang out freshly-recorded tunes in the fall. Stay tuned for upcoming shows at Cds are still available for purchase on their website.

Now, back to where we started in doing what you like to do. We all either pursue it, quietly hope for it or just stumble upon it. It’s a luxury, a gift, sometimes a way. In the case of Seventh Room, it’s the only way. So believe in thy bad self, spot the signs, have some faith even if you have to thank a thief who cracked your code.

{Rock on boys – thank you for letting me shoot you in all of your glory}

Monday, June 22, 2009

Baring It All


Hmm, let's see. White polo with khakis? Uh, too roasted-marshmallow. Blue Gingham with a touch of navy? Not until he goes to Harvard. Denim overalls with white socks? Whoa, we’re way too far north for that. Fisherman knit? Not bad, but it’s too hot. Red Sox shirt? Oh, please no. Crew neck? Button down? Onesie? Pjs? What else we got? As we pored through Shane’s clothes, he sat there with his big, blue eyes, cherub-rounded cheeks, perfect folds, pooches, dimples. There it was staring us in the face, just Shane baring it all. We (he) had it all along. So, not to leave a fold unturned, we even took off the diaper. For those long, naked hours, he cooed, rolled, smiled, scooched, chewed as we clicked and ga-gaaed at him. We came away with some images almost as perfect as little Shane, but more importantly, the reminder to simply show the true you, to bare it all. You dig? Right on. Now give me some skin.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Mother at Rest

Stravin Family 2009
Originally uploaded by Elena Gormley
Oh Trisha, O Trisha
What can I say?
How do you do it?
Can you show me the way?

Your girls are so precious, all pink and aglow,
Let the photos tell that story, but there’s a secret I have to know.

There’s some magic hidden within this motherly nest,
It’s not in those photos, the smiles or the pink dress.

To witness it up close is a picture of awe,
And you don’t need a camera to see what I saw.

With grace, a calm heart and a nice gentle stride,
You’re a mother at rest, deep down inside.

And I thank you for sharing not only your girls, who take from you the fair skin, a freckle and some curls.

But today what I took was a lesson for me.
If I had to name it, I’d call it “just be.”

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Day with the Thorns

Thorn Family 2009
Originally uploaded by Elena Gormley
Camera? Check. Lenses? Check. Fresh batteries? Check. Blankets, flower petals, silly props just in case? Check. Sun? Not going to happen. Woo? Got it.

Of course, because I was on a mission last Saturday morning to see the Thorn Sisters for the first time since our photo shoot last summer on the beach. With all signs pointing to go - quivering bottom lips in, new-girl-in-the-house-with-camera accepted and sun (finally) pouring through the windows - we hunted for treasures room by room and surfaced with more gems than expected along with a new definition of the color blue. I could have stared those eyes all day. Forget it Crayola, that color's taken, but feel free to enjoy it in the images below.

Thank you to the lovely Thorn family for a wonderful Saturday morning.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Sun is Setting

When I was about ten years old, I was out on an adventure with three of my best friends, Compton, Beth and Muffy. We had woven our way up hills, through creeks, into backyards, under trees, but it was late and we were all standing on the top of steep hill panicked as we looked up at the sky. We must have been at least a mile away from Compton’s house where we had to be by dinner time. Those were really the days. We could wander aimlessly for hours anywhere – no cell phones, watches or fenced in yards. Rules were pretty simple – be back before dark. But if you couldn’t follow that simple rule, you know…it just wasn’t good.

We had two bikes and there were four of us. We stared into the sky and concocted our plan. My designated spot was on the handle bars and my answer was, “no way.” The last time I rode with Compton, it was on a ride-on tractor and she rode us up a tree flipping the tractor (thanks Compton). For the next hour, all I can remember was, “Elena, the sun is setting!” Compton was shaking her arm up to the sky, Beth way lying on the ground knowing I wasn’t going to budge. They all stomped, waved and yelled, “The sun is setting, Elena,” but true to character, I didn’t budge.

We all walked home that day and we all got into major trouble. Lucky for me, they are still my best friends.

So at the last photography meeting when our group leader asked for those of us who didn’t have a blog to raise our hands and then asked, just out of curiosity, “why not?” I watched her mouth the words, but all I heard was, “Elena, the sun is setting!” Before I could uncross my arms and exclaim, “I’m not riding on the handle bars!” I realized there was no reason to resist anymore, that I just needed to climb on and take a spin.

So welcome to my blog. I’m now a blogger. I’ll be blogging about photography, nonsense, life, inspiration, stuff I think you need, who knows, but for now, I’ve got to go, the sun is setting.