Thursday, January 26, 2012

Olympus- Reaching Higher

Welcome to Olympus apartments!
I drive by this place at least once a day. It will be completely gone soon. Some of the people in this community (the Gentilly area of New Orleans, if you need specifics) are refusing to let this community go to waste. They're spending their time, energy, money, patience, and hope to rebuild this area. It, like many houses in New Orleans, has remained mostly vacant and devastated since Katrina. I say mostly vacant because there are people who are desperate enough to have considered it a place to stay.

Through the efforts of people who love this community and see a future for it, this place will be torn down and something new will stand in its place soon. They are looking for a revitalization of an area that has seen better days way before my time.
Don't we need more people who don't give up on a community because a building looks like this? People who give their time, effort, and, let's face it, money to revive a culture? I'm grateful for people who spend their lives serving others. They are my heroes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Family Photos: This ain't ya mama's photos no more!

I had the best time photographing this great family. The kids were so lively (meaning, I got my workout for the day) and precious! I wanted to photograph them as themselves. I really didn't give much instruction at all that day. I like capturing real smiles or even sad faces. I think that letting them guide the time made for a relaxing but very fun shoot. And I was proud of the parents, too. I know for me (and I'm sure that I'm the only mom who is like this), I use to make my girls wear what I wanted them to. But I LOVE how this family came as they are. The kids (minus the cute little one) picked out their own clothes.

While girls love to be pretty and pose like their idea of a supermodel, boys love to emulate their favorite things- superheroes! So, maybe for a tip if you need a boy to come out of his shell, ask him who is favorite character is. His, above, is Buzz Lightyear. He had us cracking up all day with his expressions! And it's almost the same with girls, but I ask them to act like their favorite princess. I notice that when my girls act like their favorite princess, they all of the sudden just know how to act "proper" (said with a British accent) and use their manners. I try and get them to act proper all the time...

While I didn't ask the kiddos to do too much, I did promise to take them to a really cool place (aka a fountain) if they did a few smiles for me. I know we're supposed to frown on bribery, but really is there a better parenting tool?

When you get the whole family together, what becomes the most important shot? A picture of the WHOLE family together. I did get a few goods one that day, but the kids wouldn't stand for much. Which is okay, because I can be spontaneous (picture Steve Martin in SNL: I'm a wild and crazy guy! No? I'm getting too old...). I think that one of the my favorite family shots is the one where even apart from each other, they still look like a cohesive unit. So, look, when doing family photos, be creative. Make use of your time in capturing who they are as a family. I didn't bring props. I didn't set a scene with tons of cool vintagey items (which I am NOT saying is bad because I'm really jealous of people who have a bunch of cool vintagey items). Just have fun and enjoy being a part of that family's life for a time.
Happy photo-ing!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Favorite marketing product!

I can't wait to share what I got today! I think with the craziness of starting a business and working at a job, I haven't had too much time to put into marketing products. And let's face it, until my marketing budget is larger, I'm really limited on what I can do.
A week ago I visited the major Photographer's Expo in New Orleans, where 100s of vendors showed their products. And then I saw the ones I'd been hoping for...The people from Moo! Not heard of them? You have now, lucky duck!
They have a range of hot products from business cards to branding stickers! Yes, I know vistaprint makes that too. But moo has a system which you can print everything with different pictures! What? Leslye, you mean I don't have to have the same boring print/photo on every card or stick? Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying! See my cool examples below...
And stickers will be in later this week!
So go to and have a big smile on your face, too!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Photoshop Tip #1: Keeping the transparent background

Can I safely assume that almost everyone in graphic design, photography work, other artists, and even non-artists have used photoshop? And can I also make the assumption that everyone who works with photoshop has/currently hates it. At the very least is sometimes ready to throw the computer out of the window. Based on experience, that doesn't work. It will still haunt you.

I get excited when I learn new things. I think mostly because I surprise myself that I can figure new things out. I'm not dumb...just pretty. And, since I don't know how much you know about photoshop, I want to share a new little tip that I just learned.

I'm changing my website logo (2012- new face and all. not literally. not like I actually changed my get it), but I keep getting that silly white background when I want it to be transparent. Know what I'm talking about? When you save to jpeg and a plain background pops up. It's frustrating because I've seen people logos and watermarks with the background showing through, but I couldn't figure out how to do it without the white block surrounding the image. (example above. It's actually saved with a transparent background.) I have PS CS5 if that makes a difference for anyone.

So, to do your logo/watermark with a transparent background: 

1. I'm assuming that you know how to get the transparent background in the first place. If you open up up a New File, when making your dpi/pixel, etc. settings, the background contents should be listed as Transparent.
2. When ready, head to File>Save for Web & Devices
3. A new window should pop up, which mostly looks confusing. The second information listed should give you a choice of how to save it- from jpeg to png. You want to choose the png (I chose 8bit). And click save.

So, hopefully this tip saved your computer (and your window). or maybe save you from a headache after banging your head against the wall (if it came to that, take Advil.).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday Beats: Lagniappe Brass Band...Part 2

This year, I got to celebrate my New Years in the French Quarter. It was the best New Years experience I've ever had. The big event is held on Decatur St, right in front of Jackson Square. The street is blocked off so that people can gather and hear an amazing lineup til the ball (or in our case, the fleur de lis) drops. 
Lagniappe Brass Band was the first to play. And they were exceptional! The crowd was absolutely lovin' them! Not many people can get at least 1,000 people to get low all the way to the ground.

 Photographing bands- especially at night- is tricky. It's an art that I'm still trying to figure out. But I love it. I love the challenge of it. I love the action. I love that I'm not making them be still, pose, and smile while I take their picture. It's alive and vibrant. And you never know what you'll wind up with.

But here's the biggest tip that I can offer if you ever try it: have patience! You want them at their best- even if it's not the typical photography. Watch for facial expressions. Watch for character. Musicians follow a rhythm, right? They have patterns- certain things that they do a lot- on rhythmic cue. I know it sounds silly, but if you watch, you'll catch the little things that will make the picture great- for you and the musician.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thursday Beats: Karikatura

Thursday Beats is back! Usually by Thursday, I am SO ready to crash (I think that last week I was in bed by 8:30. Yeah. Lame.). But I have to get you ready for the weekend! You need something exciting in your life! : ) Trust me, this weeks band can add so much spice. (Okay. that was cheesy. my bad.)
I hope that you can say that you have so many great memories of different events in your life. I think almost all of my top ten include my husband. When I cook, I use to love to turn on latin (especially salsa) music and dancing (um the basic moves that I do know). It's even more fun when my husband joins me. He can't resist the rhythm, baby. Fast forward the time that includes a deployment, then lots of moves, crazy schedules, and the introduction on my latest obsession- The Black Keys.

My husband and I got to venture out on the Thursday before New Years, and we head to the Maison (where else). A band gets up to play, so we're just talking (okay, fine, eating. You've never had crab balls like these. And, no, that's not a disease.) while they get set up. Then, this amazing, latin voice just belts out. My head just pops up, and I was smitten. Immediately, those great memories with my husband just flooded back. This band got me with their first note, and I hope that you have the chance to experience them live. Their home base is Brooklyn, but they are traveling everywhere. Go visit their sites, listen to their music, and send them some love!
I didn't take the video, but I thought it was great to add!
Have a great weekend!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I promise I'm long as I stay in New Orleans

I fully blame my uniqueness (fine. strangeness.) comes from living in New Orleans. I never realized how different I was until I started moving around the other cities. Try explaining Mardi Gras beads and parades to someone who has never heard of it. Not as easy at it seems. Also, who celebrates the dead like we do? Not too many other places.

Now that you know this, I can share that I had a mini date with my a cemetery. We visited St. Patrick Cemetery on City Park Ave. I could spend a whole day exploring one cemetery. I love reading the headstones and viewing the beautiful pieces of art that the living used to describe the dead. 
I came across this beautiful statue (below), but I can't quite figure out its meaning. It doesn't look like Mary or an angel, and I'm flower illiterate (some flowers represent resurrection). If anyone has a guess, please leave a comment! 
Below is an example of a temple with a beautifully rusted iron gate to keep out trespassers. I'm not 100% certain on who the Kohn family is/was. I found numerous listings for a textile company and a middle school with the Kohn name. 
Being of the ever-curious mind, I attempted to research the Slark family. They had two of the most impressive resting places in this cemetery (one shown below). I found a couple of references to an Abigail Slark, who seemed to be a nice woman with impeccable taste, and a Slark who owned a hardware firm.
One grave did lead me to some interesting history of New Orleans. Come back tomorrow for that story!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Run! Hide! The kids are coming!

What a strange world to go from being a stay at home mom to a working mom to being at home with the kids again. Talk about culture shock. Did you know that a game of hide and seek can work highly in your favor as a parent? Case and point, I was able to finish reading a whole chapter of a book once while hiding in the shower.
Needless to say, after a week of the kids being home on Christmas break, I felt a lot like the picture below...

I asked my husband for just one day off as my Christmas present. I just want a day to stay in bed with a book and Chinese food. I don't want to break up any more girl drama. The only way that  I can describe his face was that he looked...scared. After some hesitation, he just asked if he could buy me a present.

It was an excellent present...

I have to give a HUGE thank you to my mom for making these beautiful dresses for my girls! Didn't she do an amazing job? The back is my favorite part. I was able to use extra fabric to make their headbands. 

As much as I would've like to find the best hiding spot and stay there throughout Christmas break, I knew I had to be smart. I needed to find things to do with the girls that were FREE (I bet your ears perked up) and let them have great experiences.

Now, I can't plan your whole time, but one thing that they loved doing was visiting the local fire department. Love the guys who serve. We took them a huge batch of mini brownies, and they took the girls on a tour. 

My second idea was to visit the beautiful Audubon park (a beautiful day out AND exercise!). I took the opportunity to update their photos. They change so quickly. So, we loaded up some new props: a cute tea set, a picnic basket, and a great little bench (thanks so much to my hubby for making it!). I haven't finished editing all the photos, but here's one little snapshot...

My other favorite idea is to visit the library. I love searching for books, especially since my girls are fascinated with them. My oldest reads through big, chapter books faster than I can keep up with, so a more cost effective way is to check some out for awhile.

If you're still looking for ideas, my last one is one that was passed onto me. The kids got so many toys that it was overwhelming. So, I actually put away most, and everyday I brought out a new gift.

I hope that you are having a great start the your new year!
Stick around because I'm hoping for a great year, and I'd love for you to join me on my journey!

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