Category Archives: Portrait

Hard Decisions…

 

The last few weeks have been about making hard decisions.  Jae and I moved to Salem in the fall and it has been amazing living here… there is such a fantastic, supportive, creative community and we feel quite blessed to now be a part of it.  The flip side of this move is that our financial situation has changed a bit, and my business has suffered from the move.  After much thought and considering all my options, I’ve decided to go back into retail management.  April will most likely be my first month of working full time (not to count my chickens of course…)

Going back to work full time will definitely change how much time I can devote to my photography.  While I will still be taking select commissions for painterly portraits, model development sessions and head shots, I will probably have time for only a few sessions a month.  I will be focusing most of my creative energy on my conceptual Archetype Project and will be devoting the majority of my time to continue to develop this work.

I have a few amazing projects in the works, with some fantastic models, designers, hair stylists and makeup artists and I can’t wait to share in the coming months.  Thanks to everyone for your continuing support!!

I’m going to finish off this post with one of my favorite shots from a portrait session I did recently with Christopher Allen, from Manners Supply Co.

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Also posted in Female Archetype Project, Fine Art Tagged , , , , , , , |

Happy International Women’s Day!

      Today is International Women’s Day, which intends to bring awareness to the oppression and inequality of women globally.  Personally, I think it is insane that in a world which is so advanced in so many ways, that antiquated belief systems which support the idea that any human being is lesser than any other still exist.

      As women especially,  it is important that we support each other, and help lift each other up.  It is always my greatest joy to create images which show the immense variety of beauty that exists in the universe, and some of my favorite sessions are portraits that reveals both inner and outer beauty for a woman to see in herself.  Celebrate and share yourself, your inner and outer beauty, for all the world to see.

You are amazing and you deserve for everyone to see it.

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Also posted in Beauty, Fine Art, Inspiration, Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Spring is in the Air

So, 2015 is going to be the year that I actually stay on top of posting here… I am terrible at writing regularly, probably because I spent 8 years in high school and college writing and was pretty over it by the time I was done.  But, seeing as that was 15 years ago (holy hell… I can’t believe its been so long!) I figure its time for me to get back into it.

Last year was a pretty rough year and when it ended I was pretty excited to see it go.  When it started, I was very excited to pursue my new fine art concepts for The Female Archetype Project and to do a bit of traveling.  I was disappointed with the outcome on both of those fronts.  Other than the trip I made with my husband to Portland, OR last February, we pretty much didn’t leave MA, and my lofty goal to shoot 20 or more concepts for the Female Archetype Project fell quite short as I only produced about a half dozen images.  We moved to Salem, MA in October, and it was probably the best move we could have made from a creative and general-life-happiness perspective.  This winter has been rough though, as it has been for most New Englanders… but it hit me unexpectedly hard because it was more difficult to see friends and family since they live much farther away now and also because I wasn’t running my husband’s business anymore, I was also not leaving the house, and wasn’t really interacting with many other human beings.  That was pretty much a recipe for disaster with my creative process.

So, here we are, close to the end of the winter and I’ve started to meet some local folks and my brain is starting to right itself.  I have decided to expand the Archetype Project to explore more than just female mythology, so it will now include male characters as well.  I have been renewing my obsession with comparative religions/mythologies and I am fascinated by how many stories repeat from culture to culture, even amongst groups that have no obvious connections geographically or historically.  I am excited to start the expansion as soon as the snow melts and I’m in the midst of the insane amount of planning it will take to pull a very epic shoot together to explore a ubiquitous character and the many tales that he is featured in.

To wrap this up, I am hoping to blog a few times a week, so keep your eye peeled for more posts.  I am planning to release some behind-the-scenes videos, photoshop tutorials, and the many tales that will come with the photoshoots that are on the books already in the coming months.  And to tide you over until the next post, I’ll leave you all with a few shots from a recent day of fun I had with a local model, Charlie Vagabond, and a photographer/model/adventurer Grace, from Fading Grace Photography.  We had a great day of playing dress up and created some fun images that I am quite in love with.  Enjoy!

 

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Credits:

MUA: Crissy Zarbano

Charlie’s corset: Jane’s Corsets

Charlie’s Vest: Redfield Design

Feather Mohawk and Distressed Armband: Discord Industries

Also posted in Fashion, Photography, Wardrobe Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

How is your LinkedIn profile photo affecting your career or business? or, Why professional headshots matter!

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When was the last time you updated your headshot? Does your LinkedIn profile have a blurry, awkwardly cropped iPhone photo of you instead of a clean, professional headshot? Did you know this could be hurting your business or career and limiting your network?

In an age in which we often are introduced to new people via the Internet, their profile photo is the generally the only visual cue we have to figure out what kind of a person they are.  On business related profiles, such as LinkedIn, where our personalities often don’t come out in the text we write, how do we communicate something about ourselves that encourages people to connect and get to know us better? It is our profile image that will make the quickest and most direct impact, and will encourage a new viewer want to learn more about you.  In fact, TheLadders did a study tracking the eye movements of recruiters on LinkedIn while they looked at profiles and resumes.  What they discovered was that the recruiters spent 19 percent of their time looking at the profile photo, compared to an only cursory glance at the candidate’s actual resume.  That is a pretty astonishing piece of data!

So, with that in mind, look at your current profile photo.  Does it say at a glance who you are and what kind of a person the viewer should expect to encounter? Is it a weirdly cropped photo that contains the shoulder of your best friend from a fun night out? What does that kind of a photo say about you? Is it a vacation photo? A crooked, poorly lit selfie? Do those images speak to how amazing you are at your job and how dedicated you are to your work? These are some serious considerations to make if they are influencing your professional life.  Would a potential client or employer give you a second glance with the photo you currently have?

If the answer to those questions is no, it’s time to think about having a professional headshot taken!  Now, I know that getting in front of a camera can be a stressful situation for a lot of people (heck, that’s why I’m behind the camera, not in front of it!), but some of the stress can be alleviated by walking into the situation prepared.  Think about what you want to convey about yourself: Do you want to appear approachable and confident? Funny? Serious? What is your message? Depending on the business you are in or the job you’re looking for, it might be a much different picture.

Generally speaking, you want to wear clothes that are appropriate to your industry.  If you work in an office that requires you to wear a suit every day, then you’ll want to put on your best suit for the photo.  If you work in an environment that is more business casual, you should try to wear the same kind of clothes you would normally wear to work (although, if you’re trying to move up the ladder, so to speak, you might want to consider dressing the part, whatever that might be).  I always recommend wearing wardrobe that makes you feel good, fits really well, and shows off a bit of your personality.  This should help alleviate some of your stress, because you’ll already know that you look amazing and it will give you some confidence walking into your headshot session.

For women, make sure your hair and makeup is both work appropriate and flattering.  You want to keep it natural so people can see who you truly are, and you want the photo to remain relevant regardless of current trends.  Consider hiring a makeup artist to make it perfect and to give your self a bit of pampering before your session for some additional relaxation.  For men, grooming is important as well.  Is your hair styled appropriately? Is your facial hair groomed or if you’re clean-shaven, you’ll want to make sure you don’t have that 5 o’clock shadow going on.

My final piece of advice is RELAX!! Stop over thinking it… Once you take a deep breath and shake out all the tension, you will naturally be able to share a bit of your personality!   Leave the rest of the image-making to the professionals, and just try to be yourself in front of the camera!

Start the year off right by having your professional portrait made and watch the impact it can have on your career or business!

Also posted in Headshots Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Tintypes: What the heck are they and why do I keep talking about them?!

The wet plate collodion process was developed by Frederic Scott Archer and introduced in the 1850s.  It became a very popular photographic process by the end of the decade and virtually replaced the first photographic process, Daguerrotypes.  It remained popular until the 1880’s, when it was replaced by the gelatin dry plate process, which was a more convenient process, due to its increased sensitivity (leading to shorter exposure times) and the fact that it could be prepared in advance and used at a later time.

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Frederick Scott Archer – by Robert Cade c. 1855

The wet plate collodion process is a fairly simple one, requiring the photographer to dissolve a soluble iodide into a collodion solution and coating a plate with it.  The plate was then immersed in a silver nitrate solution in the darkroom, put into a special plate holder, and while stil wet, put in a camera and exposed.  The solution is only sensitive while it is wet, and so it was imperative to expose the plate during that time.  It is developed by pouring a solution of iron sulfate, acetic acid and alcohol.  It is finally fixed with a solution of sodium thiosulfate or potassium cyanid.  Again, the plate must be developed and fixed while still wet, because as it dries the collodion layer becomes waterproof and does not allow the solutions to penetrate and react with the silver nitrate layer.  The final part of the process involves applying a varnish, to protect the surface of the image from scratches, although often they were immediately put into protective cases and left unvarnished. This process was valued because it shows a high level of detail and has amazing clarity when exposed properly.  It is also interesting because the silver halides in the silver nitrate solution are sensitive to actinic light, which means that it is more sensitive to blue and uv light, so colors and light-waves in that spectrum show up extremely light and colors in the orange and red end of the spectrum show up significantly darker.

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Preparing and processing a collodion wet-plate. From Gaston Tissandier, A History and Handbook of Photography edited by John Thomson, 1878.

A Tintype, which has also been known by the name of melainotype and ferrotype, was a process patented in 1856 by Hamilton Smith,  using the collodion process on a metal plate.  Originally a thin sheet of iron was coated with a dark lacquer, also known as japanning, which is similar to enamel paint and was used in China and Japan as a decorative coating for pottery and made its way to Europe in the 17th century. With a tintype a direct positive is made on the sheet, which is slightly different from using glass, in that you can make either a positive or negative image with a glass sheet.   Tintypes were also less fragile and cheaper to use, which was a great benefit to photographers who, as the process became more popular, would travel around the country, working at carnivals or fairs, or would travel on their own, going town to town with a cart of their materials, a portable darkroom and props. The process also became popular because, when compared to the daguerreotype, it is a much quicker process, taking only a few minutes from start to finish, and is significantly less fragile.  They were easy to carry around on a person, and were popular during the Civil War for this reason, as they would survive the difficult conditions soldiers were in and would not break or add much weight to their belongings. 34_4_amelia_tintype   Tintypes experienced a level of popularity through the 1870s and 80s, as it was finally supplanted by paper-based photographic printing processes, though some carnivals and fairs continued to see its use at photo booths and it continued to be used on smaller levels throughout the 20th century. 34_2_amelia_doll_tintype The contemporary resurgence of the wet plate process is a fascinating development in the photography world, with many new users responding to the ubiquitous nature of digital photography in our lives and the lack of value in an item that literally anyone can produce at any time with a number of devices.  We are lucky that a group of photographers and chemists studied the process in the late 20th Century and after much experimentation and researching old photography manuals, were able to put the pieces together to recreate a number of these processes, which allows those of us finding ourselves interested in the 21st Century to have clear sources of information as well as a number of workshops and groups available to participate in to learn the process.

 

 

There are many reasons that photographers explore wet plate, and is currently used for fine art images (including still life, conceptual portraits, and landscapes), traditional portraiture, portraits during Civil War Re-enactments most commonly.  Tintypes can be produced on tiny plates as small as a 35mm frame and as large as the wall of a box truck and every size in between.  Cameras are found in antique shops, but are also being made new by a few companies world wide, or sold as kits you can make yourself.  You can also modify cameras that you already own and shoot wet plate using toy-cameras like Holgas and Dianes, Polaroid cameras, Pinhole cameras and any 35mm you can find… it is a pretty amazing medium to be able to explore and there are almost endless possibilities for its use. I am obsessed with the tintype process because it reminds me of my first photographic experiences as a child, when making pictures was like magic.  I played with photo-sensitive papers and created silhouettes of insects, flowers and leaves and thought it was possibly a miracle.  Later, I was able to take my tiny little camera and capture images of my family, friends and pets, send the cartridge away and get back a few days later a permanent record of those events, which was only slightly less magical.

 

When I first started collecting tintypes, it was because they were so different from other vintage photographs- there was something haunting about the images and something timeless.  When I finally was able to attend a workshop with Mark Osterman at the George Eastman House, I saw the magic of the process and it reminded me of my childhood, at which point I was hooked.  As my first plate was developed and the image started to appear, and then when I fixed it and the cyanide swirled away and exposed the image underneath, I knew this was going to be a process that I would love and would add another dimension to my photography.

 Here are some iPhone shots I took during the Tintype workshop we attended last fall at George Eastman House with Mark Osterman:

The whole still life set up plus camera

The whole still life set up plus camera

The back of the camera: everything is upside-down!

The back of the camera: everything is upside-down!

Jae is pouring his plate

Jae is pouring his plate

Draining the plate prior to putting it in the Silver tank

Draining the plate prior to putting it in the Silver tank

Jae putting in the plate holder with the sensitized plate.

Jae putting in the plate holder with the sensitized plate.

Jae rinsing the plate after fixing it.

Jae rinsing the plate after fixing it.

Jae drying the plate prior to applying the sandarac varnish.

Jae drying the plate prior to applying the sandarac varnish.

Tintypes are all about chemical mixtures and finding the right combination of the basic components to create the right solution for your environment and your needs… it is about experimentation with both chemicals but also with light and exposure.  It isn’t like digital photography, you can’t change it later in post-processing— you make one image, that can never be replicated and cannot be changed once you are done… it is a finite process with a number of variable that will effect your image.  And for me, it is magic… it reminds me that while sometimes it isn’t a perfect plate, not everything has to be perfect to have value.  I love that I mess it up and don’t know what changed, what I did wrong this time that I didn’t do the last 10 plates I made…. is it more humid, colder, dryer?   All these things change how the chemistry will work and have to be taken into account… and then exposure can be an issue… is there more daylight or less? What color is the subject wearing?   It takes skill and practice and still it sometimes even then, it doesn’t work out the way you think it will.

The portrait of Jae created during the workshop:

TWallDuggan_JaeDuggan_Tintype-4   I am just starting on this journey and I can’t wait to share this experience with as many people as I can.  I am creating tintype portraits at the studio in Watertown so anyone can have access to this unique process and can have a one-of-a-kind image made of themselves that they can treasure and pass on to their descendants.  It is important to remember our roots and to understand how things that we take for granted now, came to be.

One of my Skull Still Life images:

TWallDuggan_Skull_Tintype-2One of the Portraits I’ve created this Spring:

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Also posted in Fine Art, Headshots, Photography, Wet Plate Collodion Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Amanda’s Dark Art Portrait Session

A few days before Halloween, I had the pleasure and privilege to photograph a portrait session of a young mother and wife who wanted to treat herself to a session for her birthday.  She told me during our consultation that she loved creepy things, halloween and Rob Zombie…. my first thought was, “YES!!!”  My creative tendencies lie in the direction of dark imagery to begin with, and being able to create art like that for a woman who not only appreciates the art, but wants to be a part of the image is my dream!  We decided to work within a few different concepts, and created a broad variety of image styles.  Here are a few of my favorites from the session!

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Hair and Make Up was created by Lyndsay Simon, of Makeup By Lyndsay, I created the outfit in the last two images, as well as the train on the black dress in the top two images.  The autumnal headpiece was created by me for my Discord Industries Etsy shop.

Also posted in Fine Art, Photography, Wardrobe Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Black Friday through Cyber Monday Promotion!

I just want to let you all know how much I truly appreciate your support!  It means so much to me that I have people who are interested in my art and are enthusiastic about the pieces that I create… I love being able to share my creativity and passion with you all!  To show just how much I appreciate you guys, I am offering a promotion from Friday Nov 29th through Monday Dec 2nd on my Etsy page: www.etsy.com/shop/ArtandDiscordStudios and enter BLACK25 during checkout to save 25% off any print purchase.   I’m also offering the discount for prepaid session or print vouchers, just use the CONTACT page to send me a message about what you are looking for and I’ll get you all set up!  Hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving and enjoy the Holiday Season!

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Also posted in Fine Art, Photography, Products Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Beauty Test with Erika and Makeup by Lyndsay


Erika is a gorgeous girl who came to our rescue last minute, when the model that Lyndsay, from Makeup by Lyndsay and I had planned to work with last week was terribly ill, and we had to track down a model an hour before our shoot.  Erika had never been in front of the camera before, but she did an amazing job and we had a ridiculously awesome day!  We started off by experimenting with a bit of a grungy rock and roll inspired look, which we transitioned into a bohemian/warrior style because we were having so much fun… it gave me a chance to finally pull out one of the vintage slips I found at Brimfield this summer and I was also able to incorporate the Fire Dragon Mohawk I created a few months ago.  For our second makeup look, Lyndsay created a fun glamour inspired look, and I got to pull out a cute pink dress I picked up a couple of years ago-  all in all, we had a blast and I was able to not only create some amazing beauty headshots, but we got to play a bit with fashion and fine art images as well.  Here are some of my favorites for the day!

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Also posted in Fashion, Fine Art, Headshots, Photography, Uncategorized, Wardrobe Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Playing Princesses

Every year my sister Erin and her four amazing children take a trip from their home in North Carolina up to Massachusetts to spend the summer with my parents. Every year I have only gotten to see them a couple of times due to my crazy work schedule, however this year I was able to set aside a day every week that I could go hang out and spend time with my family! It was so great to see them so often and spend some real time playing and hanging out with them all. I decided that on my last visit I wanted to do something fun with my nieces Julia and Noelle, who are adorable, energetic young girls! I made them each a long tutu (one white and one pink) as well as a small lace crown and we had ourselves a little princess and fairy photo session! The girls were so much fun to work with and we created some beautiful images! Here are a few from the day… I can’t wait to do some more portrait sessions like these!

 

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Also posted in Fine Art, Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Creating a Classic Romantic Ballerina Tutu!

I’m always looking for new ways to add to the wardrobe I have available for clients to use during our portrait sessions and I’ve been pondering adding a series of tulle skirts to my selection to provide some more fun, romantic options for softer looks.  I finally decided a couple of weeks ago that I was going to create a beautiful 6-layer Degas style classical ballerina tutu for my first attempt.  I found a fantastic Tutu tutorial on Youtube by Anjou Clothing (who happens to be from Maine- it’s awesome to see such beautiful work from a fellow New Englander) and I chose to make an attempt at creating something similar with some of the tulle I purchased online in February.

The first step in the process is to pleat all 6 layers (of 128″ long) of the tulle, so that it is a neater gather at the top of the skirt.  I spent a few hours a week or so ago hand pleating the tulle as she instructs in the first video (its a 2-parter), but hadn’t had the time to sit down and actually sew the 6 layers together.  Finally I had some time on Monday to make the attempt to put the whole thing together. I cut out a piece of fabric for the waist band (I used a random piece of blanket edging I had lying around from a box of gifted craft items), and started the process by beginning to sew the first layer of tulle… about 3/4 of the way through my bobbin thread snapped and I lost all my pleats… I was horrified and realized that I had too much tension on my thread… so after making some adjustments, I set aside layer one so I could revisit the pleating and started on layer two.

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Layer two was going fine until I finished, I gave myself a few feet at the end of the stitch so I could adjust the gathers, but it wasn’t enough room, as the tulle had bunched up significantly more than I’d anticipated… I lost about 6 pleats, so after re-pleating and restarting the stitch, I managed to save the layer before I lost any more.  I was better prepared for layers three, four and five, and although I had some glitches, I was able to work them out with minimal hassle.  At this point I realized that in my haste last week, I neglected to pleat layer six… So, needless to say, I decided that creating a four layer tutu would not be a bad first attempt, and setting aside layers one and six, sat down to start attaching the tulle to the waist band.

Pinning the bunched up tulle was a bit tricker than I had anticipated, and adjusting the gathered pleats to be even, sit relatively flat and also be the correct length for the waist band was a bit more time-consuming than I had expected.  The first layer was easiest to add, since I didn’t have to worry about the other layers getting in the way, but beyond the pinning process, the sewing went much smoother this time around (I only had one tiny glitch where the tulle from an under layer was sewn into the waistband along with the layer I was currently sewing).

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The final part of the process was adding the black satin ribbon waistband, which in retrospect, I should have pressed in half first before sewing it on, but was too distracted to get out the iron at the time.  The waistband ended up being a bit ripple-y, due to the softness of the layers of tulle and the fact that I didn’t iron the ribbon, but it is easily covered by wrapping the excess ribbon around the waist, so I’m not too worried about it.

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After about a total of 5 hours of work, I ended up with a lovely romantic black tulle tutu, that will be about mid-calf on anyone over 5’7″ and floor length on anyone shorter… it is a beautiful addition to my wardrobe and I can’t wait to get someone into it!

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I hope to get a dress form soon, so I can take a better (not iPhone shot) picture to post in a gallery of wardrobe options… stay tuned for my next wardrobe additions which will include similar ones in pink and white, as well as versions for little girls (so we can do some ballerina and princess sessions in the next few months)!

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