Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hello, World Wide Web

Hello out there, wide world of the internet.

My name is Lara and this is my first entry in the blog, which from now on will be known as Lara’s super amazing photography blogs of photography and other things of similar interest. Well, no…it won’t quite be called that. But this is my space to discuss photography with you, or at least to write things that are picking my brain at the time.


The Works


Here are a few of the works I have done. Sorry about the watermarks! You just can’t be too careful, you know. You can see more works at my Website (LaraHamdan.com), or at my Flickr. I also have a DeviantArt page if you’re interested in purchasing some of my prints.

Fashion:




Candids and Street:



Still-life:





Portraiture:





The Beginnings


I’ve always been into photography, though I only recently started the practice of photography. My dad was really into still-life when I was a kid, and one of my best friends in college was an avid photographer, also very into still-life. My dad no longer practices photography (he gave me his tripod, which is cool), and I am no longer friends with that person. But I am thankful to each of them for giving me the desire to learn and begin photographing.

I am also thankful for my best friend’s encouragement. NJ and I spent the entire last summer (2007) together, doing what we called “photoadventures,” and some photo shoots. “Photoadventures” is the activity of going to a new place every so often and just photographing what the area has to offer – still-life, candids and street portraits. We started out with still-life, progressed to portraits, and I have since taken a great liking to candids. They are challenging to do, especially to get a great shot, and that’s what makes it so fun and rewarding.

We dabbled with fashion photography for a little while, left it and then picked it up again. We started off photographing each other, then worked with our first model TFCD, Aki, and then worked with a female model named Chelsea. Now, we have both decided we enjoy fashion photography more than any other type, and I am eager to progress in this aspect.

However, in September 2007, NJ went back to uni, and I left for Egypt to continue my education and pursue other career interests. All of this has put photography somewhat on hold. Models are hard to find here, and walking around with a camera is considered somewhat taboo, especially if you photograph people without asking them, or sometimes even if you ask them. Heck, people look at me funny when I take still-life pictures. Egyptian society is also very conservative, so it’s not like I can walk around with a model in a little dress and snap photos of her, unless both of us don’t mind being harassed.


The Way I Tick


The main aspect of fashion I enjoy is editorial and high-fashion. I also enjoy some glamor, so long as it is interesting. I love conceptual fashion shoots and working on location. I think concepts are as important as the photography itself, because they tell a story and make a photograph interesting. I believe I have an eye for photography, but also a mind for concepts. The beauty of fashion photography is that it allows you to be imaginative, to make something fantastical.

My favorite photographers include Richard Avedon (of course, of course, of course), and smaller known names such as Lara Jade and Jingna Zhang.

I’m not sure if I want to take photography as a career. I enjoy it so much, I sometimes think that by trying to make money off of it, I may ruin it for myself. I also have other career goals which are important to me, and everyone knows it is very difficult to make a living from photography.

The only thing I do know is that I want to make art, and I want to share it with people.

My financial constraints (I just got out of college and am scaling the ladder of corporate America) make it hard for me to pay for make-up or models. Thus, I work with models and MUAs one a TFCD basis. This means I am always looking for fresh faces, since the models that actually have the look I want should be getting paid for it – unless they’re completely new to the game. Or, once in a while, I meet a really cool, experienced model or MUA that takes a great interest in my work and is willing to work TFCD.

Notice I didn’t mention stylists – this is because I prefer to do all of my own styling. I like to mix high-end and low-end, modern and vintage. So generally, I am in no need of a stylist, unless I am working with a very particular theme (or with a guy!). I would be willing to work with one with pay.


The Equipment


I have up until now been working with a 35mm Canon EOS RebelG. It’s about ten years old and I bought it for $30 from a guy on Craigslist. He also gave me the standard lens, a sigma telephoto lens (70-300mm f4/5.6), the manual and a bag. I named the camera Malcolm, because I name everything. I think this was a pretty good deal, and I certainly have used the camera enough to make the money worthwhile.

I chose film because, well, the camera was cheaper for one. Secondly, I do enjoy the surprise when you develop the roll, the sound the camera makes after each photo, and saturation in the photos. I couldn’t afford a digital camera at the time, so the film was fine.

However, film has its downsides. One is that film is prone to get ruined sometimes, and this happened a few times in the states, many, many, many times since I got here to Egypt. I don’t know how to us a dark room, which is bad and is something I need to learn. So developing my photos was up to a lab. Here in Egypt, ever single lab messed up my rolls. One developed them all with a weird soft focus over the pictures. Another messed up the coloring and gave me these weird black lines along the sides of the photos.

I became demoralized, and decided I needed a digital camera if I intended to continue photographing. I paid $400 for a Canon Rebel XT, a slight upgrade from my last camera. I purchased the body only with the intent of using my current lens with it. It should be arriving sometimes next week, and I can barely hold myself with excitement!

Any self-portraits you see of me have been done with my crappy point and shoot and then edited to make the colors look like the photo came of a proper camera. This will change when that new camera comes…and I will of course let you know when that happens.

As for lighting, I generally use natural light when available. I have yet to buy a lighting kit because I am not going back to the states for a while, and I am not sure I want to buy one here, but I am looking into it. Photos with artificial lighting, taken before I came to Egypt, were actually taken using work lights, meant for construction, and I would recommend them as a cheaper alternative to anyone seeking to get into photography but isn’t interested in immediately investing a lot of money into equipment. My experience tells me that you need at least 600 watts to photograph indoor, and that’s exactly how much these work lights provide. They are halogen so the color will be a little off, but this can be adjusted easily with photoshop.

I do want to get a lighting set when I go back home, and I have set my eyes on this one. I also want to purchase some light gray background paper and a stand to do some more portraiture and editorial style works.

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